4 Health Benefits of Socializing with ‘Strangers’

4 Health Benefits of Socializing with ‘Strangers’

I have got to be honest with you. I’m a bit of an introvert. I like small intimate settings with close friends, conversation and a nice meal. It’s not very often that you’ll find me hamming it up on the dancefloor or introducing myself to ladies that I don’t know. But you know what? You can teach an old dog new tricks!

 

Last month Serena and I had the privilege of meeting some of the amazing women of Catherine Grace O’Connell’s “Forever Fierce” movement at FierceCon in Redondo Beach, California. The panel of speakers was top notch; to hear other women share their stories of reinvention and creative inspiration was truly inspiring. Not only did I get out of my comfort zone but I connected with fellow entrepreneurs and made new friends!

Wendy Packer of Fashion Over 50 & Patricia Rubel of The Patrish Pages 

Serena and I with Tamara Batsell of TB Style Works from Dallas, Texas

We forget how important the simple act of connection is.

Serena and I maximized our time together and had a jam-packed schedule after the conference. We had meeting after meeting after photoshoot. Every day there was a new face and new experience. You may think that by the end of my week-long trip I was ready for a vacation, but honestly, I came home renewed. Having all of these new experiences and meeting so many new friends made me wonder: What are the other health benefits of talking to strangers?

We forget that new friends come in all ages and ethnicities.

Photographer Juhn Kwon and model/muse Ania Spiering

We forget that common language is always art and beauty.

Luckily for me, my friends at Kuel Life Magazine wondered the same thing. Here are 4 health benefits that might convince you to step out of your comfort zone and maybe say hello to someone you don’t know!

This post is in collaboration with Kuel Life Magazine. Check out Kuel Life and their inspiring magazine here

  • When you interact with people you don’t know who aren’t like you, you get the chance to break out of your comfort zone and change your view of reality altogether. This can spark creative ideas, give you new ideas to think about, and plenty more.” We don’t know what we don’t know; interacting with individuals who don’t share years of common experiences or maybe our can be eye-opening, educational, and expansive.
  • Comfort can decrease your productivity – without a little bit of unease and unpredictability we can get lazy, turn our minds to autopilot, and ‘phone it in.’ Spending time with individuals that you don’t know very well keeps your mind alert and active.
  • Being nice to others is good for you. You can’t be cranky with people you don’t know very well so of course, you’re going to put your best self forward in a social setting. Studies in The Journal of Social Psychology and the Journal of Happiness Studies suggest that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.
  • “You can meet fascinating, cool people that quickly turn into ‘non-strangers.’ For me, this one hits particularly close to home. I have a long line of lifetime friends that started as, not only strangers but people I didn’t like too well or didn’t like me. I know this about myself; one of the many benefits of aging is deciding to do things differently.”
Why You Should Plank, Every Day

Why You Should Plank, Every Day

The one minute plank will make you stronger in every part of your body.
Don’t worry too much about how you start it or how long you can keep it. Just do it!
If you can’t do a full plank start on your forearms and knees, hold it as long as you can and try to add a bit at a time.
You will be shocked how soon you start getting stronger.

We’ve teamed up with the Cool Editors of the online magazine Kuel Life to give us the 411 on this fitness phenome.

Why You Should Plank, Every Day

We keep hearing about the importance of weight bearing exercises, in particular, as we age. The popularity of bodyweight exercises is rapidly gaining. Why, you might wonder? There is practicality and ease in using what you already own and carry around with you, YOU!

Maintaining a strong and healthy core is essential. These series of muscles are located in your midsection, and are used almost every time you MOVE. Core muscles aid the transfer of force from one limb to another. They provide assistance to the muscles in your legs and arms. In effect, having a solid strong core yields big improvements in your ability to move and keep moving.

Not to take a backseat in importance, your abdominal muscles (part of your core) support your back and spinal column. Taking time to strengthen this set of muscles advances  overall back health. I don’t know about all of you Kuel Women out there, but I personally know several people of a ‘certain age’ that struggle with chronic back pain.

Enter Planks! Planks are one of the most effective exercises out there. First, they don’t take much time. Ever try to plank for ten or twenty minutes? Second, they don’t take much room. All you need is a bit of floor space.

Even if you start at 15 seconds a pop, who cares? If you manage three times over the course of the day; you’ve planked for 45 seconds. Every few days you can add five or ten seconds; ideally getting to a minute. Let me re-iterate…WHO CARES how long this may take. What’s critical here is that you are doing SOMETHING to improve the stability of your body and your overall health.

What should you expect if you start planking everyday.

Improve core definition and performance. 

Planks engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

  • increased ability to lift heavier weights – this may mean less straining in carrying heavy grocery bags or picking up your grandchild
  • improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
  • a supported back and a strong, shapely butt.

Reduce back pain. 

When done properly, planking requires minimal movement and contracts all the layers of the abdominal fascia – thereby strengthening your core. A stronger core yields a healthier, pain-free back.

Improve your posture.

Good posture allows muscles to work more efficiently.  You can prevent muscle fatigue and strain when your back and spine are in alignment. Issues related to overuse or back pain can be reduced. And, let’s face it you look BETTER and more confident when you stand up straight.

Increase your balance.

Strong abdominal muscles are needed to gracefully stand on one leg for an extended period of time. While it may seem silly; why do you need to stand on one leg? Don’t most of us have two? It’s not the actual act of standing on one leg that is important; that’s just the test of our balance. Balance is important for walking and going up and down the stairs. Activities we ‘take for granted’. Maintaining good balance as we age helps keep us vertical. Falling is a bad idea.

Increase your flexibility.

Flexibility is required to easily perform everyday activities. Activities such as; getting out of bed, lifting grocery bags, and reaching down to pick something up off the floor all require a degree of flexibility. Sadly, most of us lose flexibility as we age. I know personally the days of splits are behind me. Planking expands and stretches your shoulders, shoulder blades, hamstrings, toes and arches of your feet, helping maintain added flexibility.

Sold on PLANKING EVERYDAY?

How do you do it?

 

  • Get into pushup position on the floor.
  • Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
  • Keep your body straight and rigid. Don’t stick your butt in the air or drop it down toward the floor.
  • Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
  • Hold the position for as long as you can.

 

Are you planking yet? We would love to how your progress is going!

Sonia

Taking the Topic of Depression & Suicide Out of the Closet

Taking the Topic of Depression & Suicide Out of the Closet

I am a glass-half-full kind of gal, I joke and say “If I need my glass to be fuller, I’ll pour it in a smaller cup!” All that, tongue-in-cheek of course. I never understood depression. I thought you could “snap out of it.”

 

 

It was not until my mothers’ death that I felt the sting of it. After the month or so of packing and inventorying and selling mothers home, I came to the house in Montana and locked myself up in my bedroom. I turned down all the shades and stayed in there for three days.
It is only when you have experienced even a touch of it, that you begin to understand that depression is not so simple…

The importance of this topic lies in our ability to give suicide and depression life instead of death. Talking to your friends and family, asking for help and knowing that you are not alone is the first, and hardest, step in becoming mentally stronger during these bouts.

 

 

Sufia joined us during our multigenerational photo shoot. As a high school counselor, she is passionate about opening up the conversation to her kids, as well as, her community about the importance of suicide awareness and prevention.

“I’ve witnessed the devastation caused by suicide. The feelings of pain, guilt, confusion, and anger can be overwhelming for the family and friends of the victims of suicide.”  -Sufia

 

Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about, but just one look at the statistics and you can see why it’s important to address this issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2016:

  • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
  • There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).

 

 

It can be scary to think that someone we know could be thinking about taking their own life, but there are steps you can take to help. I encourage you to learn more about suicide prevention. 

I saw an interview with a young author, Johann Hari who wrote “Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solution.” Perhaps we don’t always have to mask and medicate our way through depression. In this book, he speaks to scientists and experts about the neuroscience behind depression and non-medical related treatments for getting through it all. I encourage you to check out this best-selling book.

If you don’t think you’re affected by this subject, I encourage you to take a closer look at your loved ones. Be kind to those you encounter. Share a smile with a stranger and a kind word to those who you may feel opposition from. Remember that depression can affect anyone at any given time. Don’t be shy, if you need anyone to listen; our door is always open.

How I’m quitting Sugar. Tips and tricks to healthier eating habits.

How I’m quitting Sugar. Tips and tricks to healthier eating habits.

Earlier this month, I was a little down on energy, very unusual for me, so I stopped into the nearest wellness clinic for a quick B12 shot. This is an old trick for an energy boost handed down from my mother (yours too probably). Honestly, I don’t think that they ever help but “what the heck” I thought, it can’t hurt either! I usually have high energy, I sleep well, work out regularly and have a great attitude, so getting a little boost here and there won’t hurt. Right?

While at the clinic I was asked if I had ever done a simple urine test to see how I metabolize my food. I had been eating two eggs for breakfast pretty regularly for years (I thought perhaps I was becoming allergic). I am careful to eat organically, and I stick to a clean diet of fish & veggies for the most part. (I’ve been off  meat for over 15 years now). Internally, I was feeling a little off, so I was curious what this test might say.

A month later I went in for my test results on my usual cloud 9 and was pushed off my pedestal immediately. A fungus had colonized my gut taking over my digestive track causing me to feel exhausted, unfocused, bloated and anxious. Candida. I had no idea.

“What’s candida” you might be wondering. Candida is a fungus, in the form of yeast, and trace amounts live in our mouths and intestines. Candida is a good fungus that lives within all of us to help with digestion and nutrient absorption. However, when overproduced it can be incredibly toxic, breaking down the walls of the intestine, penetrating the bloodstream causing health issues from digestive issues to depression.

What is the number one cause for this overgrowth? SUGAR of course! Sugar in your body feeds all sorts of culprits. It promotes fungus in your gut, destroys collagen in your skin, brings cellulite to the surface, and messes with your insulin levels. Sugar is truly addictive. Have you ever noticed that once you eat it, you NEED it? Sugar cravings are no joke. Contrary to popular belief, sugar is not the sustainable source of energy that some people rely on.

I think all of us could use a little sugar detox.

Here are a few tips if you are trying to avoid sugar:

Know your go-to beverage

Mine is a homemade lemonade with freshly squeezed organic lemons and a dash of Truvia. I also start and end my day with a glass of water with two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar this helps balance the system. I never ever ever drink soda.

Image Curtesy of My Family Kitchen

Image Curtesy of Refinery29

Cut down on your alcohol consumption

There’s no arguing with the facts on this one. Cocktails mixed with juice or soda are not only high in calories but sugar too. Aside from drinking too much, the sugar content in drinks is often what accounts for bad hangovers.

Eat protein when you crave sugar

Sugar cravings are usually a sign that you need protein. If I’m on the road, I will reach for Epic’s salmon bars for an emergency protein injection. Otherwise, I’ll quickly scramble an egg cook up some chicken tenders in olive oil.

You can find Epic Bars on Amazon

Image Curtesy of Julie Blanner

Make your salad dressing

This is huge! Eating healthily can be so confusing sometimes am I right! You order a salad filled with tons of healthy and filling veggies, but then you top it off with a dressing that is secret sugar bomb! Homemade salad dressing is the only road to go. Our house specialty is olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. When blended in your nutrabullet the oil and citrus emulsify creating a bright creamy dressing! Add in whatever herbs and spices you have hanging around, and you’ll thank me later!

And when all else fails, and you need to have that bite of chocolate try Lilly’s chocolates. I found this at my health food store, sweetened with Truvia. It is the perfect treat when you have that chocolate!

You can buy Lily’s on Amazon

More tips and tricks

  • I never go anywhere without some food. Usually organic almonds in a recycled glass jar.
  • I eat when I’m hungry I don’t wait for a set time. Just a little all day long.
  • When I’m out to dinner, I keep what I shouldn’t be eating off the table. (that’s you bread basket)
  • I keep my house devoid of what isn’t good for me. By the time you go out to get what you think you are craving you usually don’t want it anymore.

Eating well is a lifestyle, not a diet. When you get used to making good choices, your pallet changes and what we think was great (greasy, salty, sugary) no longer tastes great!

Good Healthy Food is Integral to your Well-being, and you are worth it.

You wouldn’t put diesel in your Maserati, would you?!

Inspiring self-worth in our children is a mothers manifest destiny. The road of life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. This trip doesn’t come with a road map, it’s all word of mouth! It is our duty to share with our children these fundamental truths that can empower them to find their own true path. Please share your thoughts with your loved ones and we would love to hear from you too.

Inspired by a Facebook post, author unknown.

“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”

-Yogi Bhajan

• It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. It’s also okay to smash (some) things; but, wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.

Happiness is not a permanent state. Wholeness is. Don’t confuse these.

Be less sugar, more spice, and only as nice as you’re able to without compromising yourself.

Can’t isn’t a word.

If you’re going to curse, be clever. If you’re going to curse in public, know your audience.

Seek out the

people and places

that resonate with your

soul.

5-second rule. It’s just dirt.

There are worse things in a fast food cheeseburger.

Just because you can,

doesn’t mean you should.

Hold your heroes to a high standard.

Never

lie

to

yourself.

If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.

Wish on stars and dandelions, then get to work to make them happen.

Your body.

your rules.

If you have an opinion, you better know why.

Ask for what you want. The worst thing they can say is no.

Fall in love often. Particularly with ideas, art, music, literature, food and far-off places.

Say Please, Thank You, and Pardon Me, whenever the situation warrants it.

Reserve “I’m sorry” for when you truly are.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Question everything, except your own intuition.

You have enough. You are enough.

You are amazing! Don’t let anyone ever make you feel you are not. If someone does….walk away. You deserve better.

No matter where you are, you can always come home.

Be happy and remember your roots, family is EVERYTHING.

No one will ever love

you more than I do.

Remember to follow your own advice and give yourself the hardest rule: Learn to let go and forgive. -Sat Nam

Inspired Posts from IG land

Hiking Over 50

Hiking Over 50

I have always loved the Wild.

Being out in nature; be it on the lake or in the mountains, is where I am able to feel grounded and at peace. Since moving to Montana, I have taken up nature exploration more than I was able to in West Texas. Montana is a land bursting with wonders that must be experienced. Between it’s National Parks and natural beauty there is a trail for experienced hikers and novices alike. There is very little else that gets you as closely in touch with nature and yourself as a hike in the woods. If you are in one of our National Parks or in your own back yard, the sights and sounds bring you back into peace.

Hiking is one of the greatest things that you can do for your mental and physical health.

Getting out there doesn’t require much in gear or expertise either. As a matter of fact you can take up this hobby with nothing more than the willingness to do so. And maybe a snack or two! Although “going on a hike” can sound a little daunting, it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as a jaunt around the neighborhood, exploring the “back 40” or a hike with your girlfriends on a nature trail.

Basically any time you are walking out in nature is a hike!

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Be prepared before you go though. Pack a light knapsack before you head down the road less traveled with these easy essentials:

  • water
  • trail mix
  • your favorite sunblock
  • a powered up cell phone
  • camera
  • and don’t forget the bear spray!

Visiting a National Park; whether hiking or by car, is a transportive experience.

At the end of the day, you come to realize and appreciate that all you ever really needed was the connection with family and friends in nature.

Styled By Serena: 

If you’re going to go out and explore the trails you might as well look good doing it! It’s my personal (and professional) opinion that if you treat yourself to new exercise gear you are more than likely to show off those new sneakers or sports bra while you exercise!! Check out these looks and let me know what you think! 

Wildflowers off the beaten path 

Floatation Therapy

Floatation Therapy

Nothing to fear but fear itself. Unless you’re afraid of small, dark, enclosed spaces. Don’t be! 

While it seems mysteriously intriguing, and to some of my friends even scary or intimating, floating can actually be quite fabulous.

Float therapy is unique, and in my opinion, a very relaxing form of meditation. The sessions are either 60 or 90 minutes. A combination of hydrogen peroxide and Epsom salt keep you totally afloat, so you can rest and let your mind drift away.

Flotation Therapy is said to improve Memory and Concentration. It stimulates creative thinking & problem-solving. And in many cases, it creates extra energy. And in my case, I slept like a baby!

Of course, I needed evidence…

for those of you who doubted my commitment to the work of wellness at hand. (No chickening out).

For those of you who have never done this, here is my advice. Embrace your positivity! Bring a joyful mind and a meditative spirit. It can be challenging to quiet the mind or to stay positive. Floating is the ultimate opportunity to do both.

If you want to know what I mean by this, read my blog, “The Universe Has No Sense of Humor.”

What are bio-identical hormones anyway?

What are bio-identical hormones anyway?

Feeling At My Very Best!

I first heard about bio-identical hormones through Suzanne Somers. Then Oprah got in the act! And they're still both right. Bio-identical hormones have significantly improved every aspect of my life.

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU READ OR HEARD ABOUT HORMONES IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS??

Maybe you have a special interest in hormones because of your age or another reason? Well, I am here to tell you that the media lumps all HORMONES into one big basket. All HORMONES are NOT created equal.

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF HORMONES.

Bio-identical hormones are one type and synthetic hormones are the other type. Let’s talk about the synthetic hormones first. Synthetic hormones are hormones that are made in a lab from either chemicals or even animal (horse) hormones. These fake hormones are put into pills, injections, creams and patches for human use. Birth control pills, Premarin/Provera, Estrace, Ogen, FemHrt, etc..are some examples of synthetic hormones. These synthetic hormones are NOT a perfect match for a woman’s hormones but hormone starved body sometimes thinks “close enough”.

On Top of the World, my weekend warrior, Dr. Jennifer Hawes,

Synthetic hormones are what almost 99% of all media is talking about especially when the article speaks of the dangers of hormones and hormone replacement. There are several studies that prove negative side effects of synthetic hormones. Doctors still prescribe them and folks still take them. WHY? I think it is because perhaps neither the doctor nor the patient knows of any alternative to synthetics. If you were sleep deprived from hot flashes you might not care what you are putting in your body!

Now let’s talk about bio-identical hormones. These hormones are from plant sources. They are tinkered with in a lab to make them active (you can’t just eat the plant and get active hormone) and then humans can use as a hormone replacer. They can be combined to form the perfect hormone regime for you…creams, gels, sublinguals, lozenges, or capsules. Bio-identicals are termed this because they are a perfect match for human hormones. Under a microscope, one could not tell the difference between plant hormone or human hormone! Doesn’t it make so much more sense to put a perfect match in our bodies? I wouldn’t choose horse estrogen when I could get a perfect human match. In theory, the bio-identicals get into far less trouble than something that looks different to our bodies hormone receptors. Are there studies saying the bio-identicals are safe? Yes, there are studies (mostly out of Europe) on each component of a hormone compound and the studies are anything BUT negative. There probably will never be a study in the USA on bio-identicals because they are non-patentable and customizable. There is NO money in a non-patentable drug. No money equals no study. The other reason they will not be studied in a huge study is that bio-identical hormones are mixed per patient and individualized per symptoms/lab tests.

You can’t put 30,000 women on the same exact mix of hormones…doesn’t that make sense too? So when a woman comes to see me with some hormonal issues, I first listen to her story and symptoms. I take in to account family history, personal history, and of course, lab testing for hormone levels. Then I may try to come up with a recipe of hormones just for her. The mix may contain estriol, estradiol, testosterone, progesterone, DHEA, or even cortisol. We might do a cream or sublingual drop…the patient gets to pick.

There are many benefits to natural hormone replacement. If you can convince your brain you are 35-40 versus 50-60, you are turning back the biological clock. One heals better, feels better, looks better, and IS better. Antiaging benefits are undeniable. So if you want to live a full, active life with a healthy body, consider hormones! There are medical benefits as well. Your brain and heart health are enhanced. Also, your bones appreciate the hormonal boost.

BIO: Dr.Jennifer Hawes was born and raised on a farm/ranch near Shelby. After medical school in Seattle, she hung up her shingle in the Flathead Valley and has practiced there for 18 years. Her philosophy is what separates her from conventional medicine practitioners: treat with natural things first and whenever possible but understand sometimes pharmaceuticals are required and necessary. Dr.Hawes uses cutting edge testing methods and treats with bioidentical hormones, nutrition, supplements, and much more.

Follow Dr. Jen on her Facebook Page

Crystal Singing Bowls and Meditative Sound Healing

Crystal Singing Bowls and Meditative Sound Healing

Using Sound Meditation to Aide Your Body’s Ability to Heal Itself

The Goal of Crystal Bowl sound meditation is to reduce stress and pain, promote deep relaxation, develop self-awareness, improve learning, and clarify personal values.

All in the Universe is made up of vibration. In a relaxed state the human body, including our brain waves, vibrate at a fundamental frequency of about 8 cycles per second. This allows us to be attuned to the basic electromagnetic field of the Earth itself—the Divine Vibration.

Our bodies are genetically pre-programmed to be self-healing instruments given a supportive environment and lifestyle. When the vibration of one body part is in harmony with the rest of the body and with the Divine Vibration each body part will be healthy. The body can heal itself in a state of deep relaxation. Sound and music are some of the easiest ways to evoke the relaxation response.

Sound can promote healing or dis-ease depending on the quality of vibration. The vibrations we surround ourselves with reach us where words and hands cannot.

Sound affects our organs, tissues, cells, and DNA. Sound vibrations can produce changes in the autonomic, immune, endocrine and neuropeptide systems.

One of the main properties of quartz crystal is to amplify. Crystal can also store, amplify, transfer, and transmute energy. Combining these properties with the Divine Blueprint vibrations they produce, Crystal Singing Bowls generate sound that restores the correct harmonic patterns for health.

I discovered the power of sound in 2013 while healing from a major health crisis. I acquired and began playing my set of Crystal Singing Bowls for public and private groups in 2015.  Seven of my twelve bowl set are tuned to the major body/chakra systems. Five bowls are tuned to the major endocrine systems of the body. Each bowl, when toned, can affect body areas associated with it.

My intention at all of my Crystal Bowl Meditations is to provide a relaxing experience to support the intention you come with for your own healing. I provide sessions for groups and individuals with a general or specific focus. Crystal Bowl sessions are great for all ages, environments and animals! For more information about Crystal Bowl Meditation contact me at kathymartin7314@gmail.com or 402.253.5027.

Love and Blessings,

Kathy

Is That Love I Smell?

Is That Love I Smell?

Ode to Staying Sane on Valentines Day

It’s February! Let the panic over Valentines Day begin! My “research” tells me that Valentine’s Day can be stressful for everyone involved. Some think that it’s a contrived holiday made up by Hallmark to fuel the pressure of performance. The other side feels dejected and left out of the general excitement of it all!

Whatever your take is on February 14th, make this one a day full of self love and gratitude!

Take matters into your own hands and be the master of your own destiny. Make reservations at that sexy spot. Buy yourself flowers and candy. Take time to honor yourself and all of your glory. And don’t forget the perfume!

I suggest dressing the part regardless! Here are some of my favorite looks (and Rules) for this Valentines Day. Weather you are having a romantic dinner out with your honey or staying in with the girls.

They say expectations are the root of all heartache. I say you create your own reality.

With much love and gratitude,

Sonia