Coffee Chat #3: What I Eat + Instagram

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44892275 – two cups of fresh hot cocoa or hot chocolate on wooden christmas background, top view

Hey, everyone! I am so happy you could join for this morning’s coffee chat, where I share my day’s thoughts, mostly related to health and fitness of course. Huge apologies for the delay in this morning’s post: unfortunately I left sending photos to my laptop until this morning and then ran into some trouble.

In today’s post I wanted to share a little about what I eat, or rather what I ate yesterday. I have started an Instagram account with one of its main purposes being healthy meal inspiration.

I think when we are in the midst of bad habits, whether unhealthful eating or otherwise, we can forget what better choices look like! That’s why I started my account and why today I wanted to share some photos of exactly what I personally consumed yesterday.

I know that what I am exposed to really influences the choices that I make. So even if you are not personally surrounded by healthy eaters, it may benefit you to inform yourself through other means what healthy food and eating looks like.

I do not follow any diet whatsoever, and I don’t believe in diets. I am not here to sensationalize eating or my food or exercise routine, either. I eat simply, when I am hungry. I don’t subscribe to any philosophy, rather I trust that my brain and digestive system that have developed over millennia, eons, can take care of me well enough if I just trust. I do try to be mindful of the quality of food I consume.

I try to fill my diet with lots of plant foods, especially fresh. This is because I feel best eating this way, but science supports eating lots of fruits and vegetables for health, as well. One reason I love plants is that in addition to nourishing me, they contain polyphenols, which have “antioxidant and free radical scavenging abilities.” According to the same paper, food phenolics may also have an effect as “antimutagens,” preventing the mutation of DNA.

Meal one: Tim Horton’s oatmeal with a soy latte (they make good ones). Unfortunately, in their business, the Tim’s people served up oats that were too watery and not as fully cooked as they usually are. They weren’t good and I didn’t finish them.

Meal two: A smoothie. I mixed one full scoop of Vega One with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a large banana. I blended with ice and water.

Meal three: This salad was filling and tasty. I put all of my favourite veggies on a bed of spinach and arugula. There are red onions, red bell pepper, radishes, shredded carrot, avocado, and grape tomatoes. In the centre is a veggie burger with 9 grams of protein and I also added 3/4 cup of chickpeas. I used a balsamic vinaigrette for dressing. Read my recent post about one of  salad’s beauty benefits here.

Meal four: I had a late lunch so it was evening by the time I grabbed a handful of walnuts and two medjool dates.

How do you like to include plants in your diet? I’d love to know! And would you like more posts like these? Let me know! And don’t forget, my site’s page on Instagram is at Instagram.com/anastasiakaur 

About the author: thank you for reading my post. I am a lifestyle blogger, writer, and editor passionate about wellness and nutrition, and most recently a student at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where I am learning more about holistic nutrition.

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Winter Skin Care: Supplements

Hi, everyone! Welcome back to the second instalment of the winter skin care routine series. To read the first post, go to Winter Skin Care: Drink Enough Water. This one builds on the last with the supplements I have been taking for my skin this winter.

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Taking nutritional supplements for health is a contested issue. Of course, the traditional and perhaps best method to gain nourishment is through food. But for some people who are perhaps more susceptible to certain conditions, or who would like to help their body along its journey a little more than food alone can do, then supplements are an option—within reason.

My goal in taking these supplements and following the other steps is to maintain a strong lipid barrier in my skin so as to keep it as healthy as possible. The lipid barrier is formed in part when sebum (fat) released from sebaceous glands (pores) coats the skin. This is healthy and, along with other fats on the surface, protects the skin. Of course, there aren’t as many sebaceous glands in your legs, for example, as there are in other parts. But supplementing within reason can help to ensure the best outcome. An unhealthy and low amount of fat covering the skin can compromise its functioning and result in additional fluid loss.

I am taking vitamin C, E, and flaxseed oil for the omega-3s. In addition to this, I try to drink green tea for its antioxidant effects. It might surprise you I am taking on such a simple regimen when there are so many other skin-specific supplements out in the market. The reason is that I am frankly hesitant to put my health at risk, and I feel these along with the other habits and precautions that are a part of my skin care routine, are more than enough to keep it healthy.

The brands I take are the the Sunkist Vitamin C time release 1,000 mg, the Exact flaxseed oil 1,000 mg, and the Nature’s Bounty E-Oil 30,000 iu per bottle (100 iu per 5 drops). All of these are also essential nutrients required for the body’s proper functioning.

Supplementing is sometimes seen as harmless, but too much can put stress on the liver. In fact, some herbal supplements can cause liver injury and it’s worth noting that supplements are not overseen by the FDA in the same way that medications are. I try to stick to the tried-and-true ones. Thus it is important to remain reasonable when taking nutritional supplements and to only take what has been tested scientifically.

What is your opinion of supplementation and have you had a good experience with any?

Photo Credit:

Copyright: voneisenstein / 123RF Stock Photo

Coffee Chat #2: Cellulite Busting Diet

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Two cups of fresh hot cocoa or hot chocolate on wooden christmas background, top view.

I’m so happy you’ve joined for today’s coffee chat. After some thought, I’ve decided to post these in the mornings, so you can read them while drinking coffee. Today’s post is about the best cellulite busting technique I have ever tried that worked wonders. According to the Mayo Clinic website, little is known about the cause of cellulite. It occurs when the fibrous connective cords of the skin can’t hold in fat, which results in a dimpled appearance. While higher weight is a risk factor, it can happen in plenty of lean people, and I have seen this.

The amazing solution I stumbled upon is not a cream, massage, procedure, or workout. I didn’t know about it until I had been “doing” it for 3–4 months. I had been eating salad for nearly every meal (except breakfast) for that long in a bid for health and better digestion. It had worked wonders for all that, but then one day I noticed that I had no cellulite left. I’d had a tiny bit at the back of my legs and a little on my buttocks, but my skin looked amazingly smooth after following a few months of my salad regimen.

I hadn’t lost weight, but both my skin tone and texture had improved immensely. This might be a result of better nutrition, hydration, or circulation, or a combination of all three. I wanted to share this because sometimes we can get lost in the opportunity-making activities of other people (cream companies, for example) to think that we actually need those things.

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Healthy lunch bowl with avocado hummus and fresh vegetables overhead scene on wooden table. This is typical of the meal I would eat.

Sure, body lotions and creams and potions are great. I love them. But they are certainly not a requirement for healthy-looking skin. I really hope this inspires you to fill up a bowl with your favourite greens, vegetables, and pulses or beans. Drizzle with some dressing and there you have it: the magic cellulite solution! Take care of your body from the inside out.

You may be reading this and thinking you already have clear, smooth skin, but you really cannot go wrong with salad as a meal, and you can add quinoa or brown rice if you need the carbs to hold you over.

Photo Credits:

Copyright: jenifoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Coffee Chat #1: Working Out or Having Fun?

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Thank you for joining the first coffee chat on Anastasia Kaur Lifestyle. Today’s post is about fun workouts (or should I refer to it as just…fun movement?)! I am going to, hopefully, convince you to take “working out” off your resolutions’ list for good.

I think it is the secret wish of every gym resolutioner—and every person who’s begrudgingly turned on their TV to one more day of Jillian Michaels—that working out were actually fun. Of course, it can be, and I have proof to show you that it should be. Apparently, when physical activity is perceived as fun, people subsequently eat less than when it is framed as a workout. According to this study in Marketing Papers, “Engaging in a physical activity seems to trigger the search for reward when individuals perceive it as exercise but not when they perceive it as fun.” 

So, forget about how fun it would be to do something fun instead of begrudgingly logging another day at the gym: Letting go of a strict, almost institutionalized, idea of exercise has side benefits, too.

This can have huge implications on our personal and public health. In 2014, Stats Canada determined from a self-reporting survey that 46.2% of Canadian women and 61.8% of Canadian men were either overweight or obese. And overweight and obesity are associated with many health complications (though I do personally believe in the validity of health at any size).

What reading the study taught me is that there is a difference between actual effort and perceived effort in physical activity, and our perception of the effort can be altered a few different ways. One is to accompany the effort with pleasant distractions. This could be music, talking to a friend, a tv show. But another way is simply based on how we label the activity. When we frame exercise as “fun” instead of a “workout,” our drive to then compensate for all of the work by seeking good-feeling stimuli (such as food) is diminished.

One study reviewed in the paper found that even being exposed to messaging encouraging exercise increases intake of calories. The authors believe this is because it creates a licensing effect where people feel they’ve done more than they have, giving themselves a “license” to overindulge in food.

This paper was eye-opening for me. I am fit, but I moved away from a strict idea of exercise sometime ago. Now, it’s much more about creating a mood and atmosphere for me or incorporating the movement with something else I do. I will sometimes turn on candles to follow a relaxing yoga video, or do a more vigorous workout while imagining that I’m leading a workout class. These are just two examples: the commonality between what is now my exercise regimen is that there is always something intrinsically rewarding about what I do when I am exercising. I actually have fun! It’s interesting to know this also contributes to healthier food choices than I might otherwise make.

Would you be willing to try a fun workout? Here is a list of three ideas of fun workouts that you could do indoors and at home. Do any of these sound like any fun to you? Would you be interested in a Facebook group challenge for “fun workouts” come January 1st? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

  • Hula hooping in front of the TV/laptop while watching The Crown—I have been loving this new tv show, and 10 minutes of hooping with a light hoop burns about 60 calories for 10 minutes. Half an episode will burn you 180 calories. A full one, 360. You can buy hoops at most children’s toy stores and the lighter ones burn more calories. Check out Deanne Love’s other videos on Youtube, too (that link will lead you to one where she tests different hoops).
  • Doing a series of exercises, such as the one’s shared by Zuzka Light’s videos, here, while watching a tv show. Okay, I seem like a TV junkie now—I really am not.
  • Similar to above, doing the five daily moves from Tone it Up in loops while watching something or listening to a podcast.

 

Winter Skin Care: Drink Enough Water

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I am so happy you could join me for the first instalment of my Winter Skin Care Routine series—to see an overview, see my last post. Today I am going to describe how drinking enough water can make dramatic changes to your well-being. Winter is my favourite season. Its harsh winds and frosty air are no match for the many trimmings of hot cocoa, Christmas carols, beautiful garlands and ribbons, frosted cookies and pies, cozy turtlenecks, and family and friend gatherings. But as even the beatified HuffPo admits, “Let’s just put it out there: Winter and skin are not the best of friends.”

But in the spirit of the season, they can certainly coexist and more—I promise, even if the nearly disintegrating skin on your shins disagrees about now. And the first step to this at-first-trying civility? Drinking plenty of pure water.

It is almost laughable I would write a whole post on this. But drinking plenty of water is also without a doubt the most important skin care tip of all because without it the benefits of most others would not have the opportunity to ever come to fruition. Dry skin is a common problem that can result from lack of proper nutrition, dehydration, and a host of medical problems such as improper thyroid function. The first step to preventing dry skin is maintaining appropriate fluid intake.

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Water is essential to all life, and we lose it daily just by breathing, peeing, exerting ourselves, and digesting. Roughly 60% of our body’s mass is made of water, and the average-sized adult needs 12–16 cups of water per day to replenish their losses. Four of these, or roughly 20%, are usually consumed through solid food, and the rest can be obtained through beverages, the best one being pure water. The exact amount of fluid intake a person requires is affected by factors such as size, activity level, humidity, and diet. According to the Mayo Clinic website, one indicator of proper hydration is clear urine.

While any safe drinking water will do, I  personally drink purified water. Even the potable, safe water available through the tap can be contaminated with a number of chemicals and contain things like chlorine and dangerous trace metals. There is also a possibility of parasites in both tap and untreated spring water that is removed with proper filtration. A simple Brita filter that uses active carbon and ion-exchange resin can greatly diminish these.

Other drinks do contribute to the daily fluid intake quota, as well, but beware that some juices require water for digestion and that caffeine is a diuretic. For this reason, if you drink one cup of coffee, juice, or other, only count it as a 1/2 cup of your daily fluid intake, to be safe.

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Now, to get the roughly eight cups of fluid throughout the day, there is a reminder app that works well for me. The highly rated, and free, “Water Drink Reminder” app from the Google Play store makes a water noise and sends notification badges to remind you to drink throughout the day. This app also allows the user to log water intake on a really user-friendly interface. But I find that while I do log on some days, the best use of the app for me comes from the reminders.

I begin my day with a large amount of water to replenish the losses of the night, and I recommend this to you, as well. Just through breathing, we lose several cups of water in our sleep at night, but in winter this can be made worse by fluctuating indoor temperatures, heavy duvets, etc. that may cause extra perspiration.  If you ever wake up feeling hot in the middle of the night, you’ve likely lost additional water. This is why I prefer to start my day with 3–4 cups of water. It may be more than I have lost, but it is safe to “top up” and take in a little extra. This way, I don’t spend the day “catching up” with what I lost the night before; I focus on maintaining hydration throughout the day.

I will see you in my next post, which will tackle useful supplements to tackle dry, winter skin.

About the author: thank you for reading my post. I am a lifestyle blogger, writer, and editor passionate about wellness and nutrition, and most recently a student at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where I am learning more about holistic nutrition.

Photo credits:

Copyright: andersonrise / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: fortyforks / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: rido / 123RF Stock Photo

Winter Skin Care Routine

I feel SO humbled by the attention my first blog post has gotten. I can’t describe what an amazing opportunity WordPress is to me. The fact that I can write a message and people who are looking to read about that topic or the specifics it deals with can punch a few words into their browser in their own home and find it is nothing short of magical to me. Do you feel that way, too?

I have been considering what to follow my introductory blog post with. I want this blog to be authentic and honest, so that it’s inspirational, but oy vey, I don’t think that all can be divorced from a little good old information, either. So while there is a lot I am excited about, my winter skin routine is both fun, good for you (and me) and I can tell you exactly why.

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For starters, I haven’t build my About page yet, so  I will share that I am hugely interested in food and wellness and lately that has spilled over into me becoming a student at CSNN (the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition).

In the cold of winter, our skin is affected by a few factors that can make it drier than in more temperate seasons. The extra stress from the cold outside and heating inside can mean fluid loss and an increased need for water. As well, all of this causes stress on the skin, so I try to follow a few best practices in my winter skin care routine to stimulate collagen renewal, help my skin’s lipid barrier stay strong, eat nourishing foods full of vitamin A, and avoid habits that might dry out and stress my skin even more.

Seasons are a part of life and we can provide some reinforcements to adjust. So these are my personal favourite ways to defend my skin against winter. (Click the links to go to the corresponding blog posts.)

  1. Drink enough water
  2. Supplement with time release vitamin C tablets and omega 3 and vitamin e gel caplets
  3. Take short showers with tepid/warm water
  4. Apply jojoba oil to my skin after showering
  5. Drink fresh carrot juice
  6. Dress appropriately to protect skin
  7. And as a bonus: drink some green tea or supplement with pure green tea extract

In the next few days, I will expand on each in a separate blog post. I may eventually think of more to add and do separate blog posts on those, as well.

The beautiful photograph by Jonas Svidras. 

Come Say Hi!

Welcome to Anastasia Kaur Lifestyle. I am just a woman living in this modern world, unwilling to be anything less than uncompromising about the journey of life. For me, this includes health and fitness, but also more.

I will build the About page soon. I am so excited about this project—it’s been sometime in the making, though ultimately it’s a single stroke of “biting the bullet” that led me here to you tonight. What is this project? You can expect posts related to food, fitness, and other lifestyle habits. I may also post health and beauty product reviews, if that ultimately makes sense for the audience this blog will attract.

I am a writer and editor by profession, and while I love my job and appreciate that it’s more fun than many others, I don’t have a voice in my day-to-day work. I don’t often have the opportunity to read, research, or write about some of the things that spark my curiosity and passion. Creating a blog where I can share what truly interests me, what I deal with outside of work, built up to what began to feel like a bit of a calling.

So here is the grand release. I am releasing my dream to WordPress, committing my time, and having faith in what is ultimately a wish for genuine, authentic connections and community on this little thing called the web.

Of course, there is already so much information on the internet, and I struggled with whether to add my voice to what seems like a mountain of others. Ultimately, I decided that it isn’t the sheer availability of info and statistics that has in the past helped me to action or inspired me to make better choices. It is those genuine human connections.

Fingers crossed. Wish me luck!

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Writing to you from this gorgeous place called Canada. Photo credit: Gabriel Santiago