Check Out A Feng Shui Designer’s Blissed-Out NYC Apartment

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Today on Holistic Home Tours, we’re checking out the New York City home of interior architect and feng shui designer Anjie Cho. 

Perched in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, Anjie Cho’s space feels worlds away. The interior designer has used her knowledge of feng shui to deck out her new apartment—which she shares with her husband, Jeremiah, and their two Chihuahuas, Javier and Pearl—like only a pro could. She’s letting us in on how she used feng shui to create an oasis in the middle of the city, and you’re going to want to take notes.

What are three words that describe your design philosophy at home?

Simple, bright, calm.

What was the first room you tackled when you moved in?

Definitely the bedroom. We needed a place to sleep, and in feng shui the bedroom is thought to be the most important room in the house since it represents who you are. Since I have a home office, we split the bedroom up with some white fabric panels to create separate spaces. My husband loves how soft and tent-like these feel.

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Love it! Speaking of feng shui, can you point out a few feng shui elements in each room?

In the living room, the sofa is in the commanding position of the room so that you can see the door. That puts me—as well as my guests—in a comfortable, secure position. I also have five plants in the window to add more of a wood element to the Completion area of my home. The green plants also add vibrancy and life energy.

The living room also contains my meditation space and shrine. There is an image of the Shambhala Rigden Thangka, which represents unconditional confidence. The singing bowl was a gift from a beloved friend, which I ring at the beginning of each day. The ikenobo cutters are a tool in my ikebana practice. They sit on my shrine to remind me to “cut” my thoughts. This area is located in the benefactors area, as all my teachers, mentors, and the lineage holders (feng shui and Buddhist) before me offer teachings and support in my life.

I haven’t done much to the bathroom since I love the vintage feel of the original cast-iron sink and crooked medicine cabinet. I do keep amethyst and nine pieces of clear quartz in there, though, as the bathroom falls in the relationship area, and these provide clarity and high vibrations I can share with others.

In the bedroom, the bed is in the commanding position so we can sleep with peace and ease. The round mirror is above the bed is meant to create a calm friendly relationship with my husband. Circles have no corners or sharp edges, and this is the feeling it can create for a marriage when above a bed. We also have a solid headboard that connects and supports us in our relationship, as do the matching nightstands and lamps.

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The wall next to my bed also has plenty of personal touches that relate to self-care and self-love. It holds the first Yantra I ever painted, an image of a lion since I’m a Leo, Tibetan prayer flags because I practice Tibetan Buddhism in the Shambhala lineage, and other sacred objects like crystals, sleep-promoting essential oils like lavender, cards from my husband, a photo album from my 40th birthday party, etc.

Our kitchen renovation is still in the works, but it will house a convex mirror to reflect the space behind me while I’m cooking. We will also have another convex mirror set up to reflect the image of the East River across the stove. Water brings in wealth, and carrying the reflection across the stove increases it even more! I will leave the walls white since it’s a good color to offset food in feng shui.

My home office most notably has the fiery image of the durga yantra in the fire area of my desk. This mandala is also part of my logo, and Durga destroys and recreates—which is what I do as an interior designer. My desk is also very stable and sturdy, to give weight and stability to my work.

Lastly, the entry of my home has a sort of “tokonoma,” which is an alcove in a Japanese home that traditionally contains a calligraphy scroll and an ikebana flower offering. Flower arranging is a contemplative practice, a meditation in action, and seeing it right when I walk in is a reminder to meditate, touch nature, and see the beauty in everything.

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What’s your favorite room in your home and how do you use it?

My favorite area is my meditation area, since it’s a space for me time. The phone goes on “do not disturb,” and I can just sit and get to know myself and observe the world during my daily practice. I start each morning practice with three sounds on the gong, recite my chants, then sit.

What is your favorite season in your home?

Up on the fourth floor, we’re basically living in the trees, and we have a wonderful unobstructed view of the East River. We love watching the nature change and shift from green to earthy tones, then to brown and white in preparation for winter. Since I’m a California girl at heart, I always love the summer, but I have to say I’m enjoying autumn more and more lately. We can turn off the air conditioning and open up the windows to let in the crisp air. I love that autumn is such a transitional season. The light and temperature changes, things come to an end, and your heart gets so full of sadness but also eagerness for the new energies to come.

What’s the most sentimental thing hanging on your walls, and what’s the story behind it?

The two pieces of art above my couch. The first piece—a silhouette of Jeremiah and me—was a wedding gift, and we found it so unique and thoughtful. The second is a thangka (a Tibetan painting) I created and painted with my teacher. It illustrates the five Buddhist families, which represents the five elements. As I worked on it, I was able to hash out some issues and start learning how to embody those five Buddha family energies. I just love it.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received on your space?

Friends always comment that the space is peaceful and really embodies a sense of nourishment and love.

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To peek inside more feel-good sanctuaries from around the world, check out the rest of our Holistic Home Tours.

Cannabis-Based Wellness Products Are Now At Target

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Ever feel like health news is too overwhelming, fast-paced, or hard to decipher? Us too. Here, we filter through the latest in integrative health, wellness trends, and nutrition advice, reporting on the most exciting and meaningful breakthroughs. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know—and how it might help you become a healthier and happier human.

It may have taken a while, but the medical community is starting to accept and embrace the healing potential of marijuana and its derivatives. And it seems they aren’t the only ones: Cannabis-based wellness products have gone mainstream with the announcement that CW Hemp, a leader in cannabis-based health and wellness supplements, are now available at Target.

You may have heard some of the buzz about CBD oil lately. And for good reason! CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is derived from the hemp plant and contains natural anti-inflammatory chemicals that are known antioxidants and neuroprotectants. And from the relaxing CBD Oil Hot Chocolate at The End Brooklyn (also home of the famous Unicorn Latte) to using CBD oil for sore muscles—cannabis-inspired wellness products are becoming more and more prevalent.

So what’s so great about CBD oil? For starters, hemp-derived CBD oil is thought to help with ailments ranging from insomnia to anxiety and stress. Not to mention: It doesn’t get you high. And that’s because it’s virtually absent of THC, which is what gives marijuana its psychoactive effects. CBD products products are safe for the whole family (even pets!) and their products are legal to buy in 50 states, in retailers and online—without a prescription. Target.com is currently carrying four products in both liquid- and capsule-form, and we don’t know about you, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for more.

5 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Blame On Getting Older (Even If You Want To!)

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How many times have you chalked up weight gain, loss of libido, and memory lapses to getting older? If you’re like most people entering the second half of life—probably too often. But sometimes symptoms we dismiss as a fact of aging actually have different (and treatable!) causes.

Here are five common problems that women often ignore but that can be solved successfully once their root cause is determined and taken care of:

1. Foggy brain and memory issues.

It’s happened to most of us at one point or another: We forget what we’re talking about midway through a sentence or pay the same bill twice. But foggy brain and memory lapse aren’t just the exclusive territory of seniors; I’ve seen it in young patients and middle-aged ones as well. Often, the thyroid—one of the body’s most important organs—is to blame. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to find out if your thyroid is underperforming and, if necessary, prescribe bioidentical (naturally derived) hormones to restore balance. Birth control pills, which suppress the production of certain hormones in the body and often cause symptoms of menopause, can also cause foggy brain and memory issues. This is just one of many reasons that I encourage pill users to switch to a nonhormonal method of birth control.

2. Chronic fatigue.

Overwhelming fatigue is another common and complex problem I see in my practice. It stems from many different causes, and one of the major sources is adrenal deficiency. I’ve devoted a full chapter of my new book, Radiant Again & Forever, to the story of Antonia, a patient who came to me with fatigue so crushing she could barely get out of bed in the morning. At only 42, her blood work showed extremely low levels of all four adrenal hormones. So together, we developed a blueprint for helping her regain her energy, one that involved quality sleep, a better diet, and bioidentical natural hormones. There are also several other sources of debilitating fatigue that are not necessarily age-related. Among them are toxicity from heavy metals, gut issues, mold exposure, physical and emotional trauma, Lyme disease, and Epstein-Barr syndrome. The take-away? Don’t sit back and accept being tired all the time. Together with your doctor, you can get back to your best.

3. Weight gain.

As we get older, it seems harder—if not impossible—to lose or maintain our weight despite healthy eating habits and regular exercise. It can be really frustrating but a lot of the time can’t be blamed solely on a metabolism slowing with age. The good news is you can lose weight if you and your doctor identify and address the real causes of the problem. These can stem from hormonal imbalances, low thyroid, high blood sugar and insulin resistance, stress and adrenal fatigue, digestive problems such as intestinal parasites, yeast, or leaky gut, food intolerances and allergies, toxic exposure to metals such as mercury and lead, and even the use of antidepressants. It’s time to stop feeling helpless when it comes to your weight.

4. Loss of sex drive.

In my practice, I see so many women (of all ages) who are suffering from loss of libido. Many of these patients are naturally curious about flibanserin, or Addyi—the little pink pill that received FDA approval last year. But I encourage them to look beyond quick fixes like this. Instead, if we take the time to identify the root causes of low or absent libido, we find that nature and science offer solutions that don’t involve drugs or chemicals. Your doctor can help you get your appetite for sex back naturally. It all starts with blood analysis to determine your hormone levels, and find out if you may be in perimenopause. The right mix of bioidentical hormones and supplements will restore that balance naturally. With this approach, instead of taking a drug that may not even be effective, you are activating the body’s own healing mechanisms. Next, we examine mechanical reasons for poor orgasms and offer you natural ways to improve vaginal muscle tone. And of course, it is important for us to consider the state of your union itself. Finally, we look at natural alternatives to medications such as birth control pills or antidepressants that might be suppressing your sex drive.

5. Depression.

As a hormone specialist, I know that when body chemistry is out of balance, depression is common. But depression can also be related to poor diet, toxicity, digestive health, and other lifestyle factors. Deborah, another subject featured in Radiant Again & Forever, is a textbook example of the complexity of depression and its root causes. Her depression began after childbirth. During her pregnancy, Deborah’s thyroid hormone had become depleted, and after giving birth, her estrogen levels plummeted as well. Unfortunately, the antidepressants she took did not treat these fundamental causes of her depression. Instead, she became exhausted, gained weight, and lost her libido, which only compounded the situation. Her consumption of diet sodas was also a problem. And perhaps most importantly, she felt aimless and needed to find a new purpose for her life. One by one, we addressed these issues, helping Deborah “clean house” by rebalancing her hormones and removing toxicity from her diet. She also began therapy and enrolled in some mentoring programs.

Deborah’s story and the others in my book offer powerful evidence that working together, doctors and patients can pinpoint and address the real reasons for symptoms that should never be accepted as a fact of life. Aging is inevitable, but what it looks and feels like is up to us. I want your second half of life to be the best.

Having trouble with your weight? Here are 10 reasons why you STILL can’t lose weight.

The Psychological Reason You Get Defensive (Hint: It’s Not A Character Flaw)

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Recently, I met with a couple for whom even the simplest request from one partner—for example, “Would you be sure to park your car under the oak tree?”—was interpreted as an insult or attack by Sam, the other partner.

“Don’t you think I would have thought of that on my own?” he would say.

With some digging into their personal histories, I discovered that Sam’s father had always corrected his kids by telling them they were worthless; as a result, Sam became “allergic” to any request or statement that could be interpreted as suggesting any kind of inadequacy on his part. This caused him to develop a defensive response, which, while effective in rebuffing a real attack, only serves to close down communication and invite passive-aggression in an otherwise healthy relationship.

It is an unconscious and automatic response to perceived danger, whether or not it makes sense to others.

 

If you know (or are in a relationship with) a defensive person, it can be extremely frustrating. You know you aren’t doing anything wrong, and yet you can’t communicate with this person without fear of triggering an aggressive reaction. It’s exhausting. In a healthy relationship, neither party should feel like they have to walk on eggshells to “keep the peace.”

So, what can be done? If you’re a defensive person, are you doomed to drive people away with your defensiveness forever? If you’re in a relationship with a defensive person, should you just cut and run? Not just yet.

Navigating this emotional minefield begins with understanding the cause of this automatic defensive response.

You might wonder why you can’t just “get over it.” Your partner might think you’re just refusing to do the work. It might appear to be a fatal character flaw, a personality disorder, or willful oppositional behavior, but in most cases, it is none of those things. It is an unconscious and automatic response to perceived danger, whether or not it makes sense to others.

Why do some people have this defensive emotional response while others don’t?

Well, as a matter of fact, we all do have it. The difference is each person’s unique biological stress set-point—the point at which your fight-or-flight stress response is activated. Think about it: What causes one person to flinch with fear causes another person to experience joy or pleasure; think about rappelling, paragliding, or getting close to wild animals.

Did you know that there are serpent handlers in West Virginia who have a tradition of handling rattlesnakes as proof of their faith and who claim to do so without fear?

On the other hand, there are people who are distressed by just a photograph of a snake and others who can’t even bear the thought of one. Each of these three groups has a different set-point for the fear of snakes.

Our reactions to criticism can be filtered through the same lens as our reactions to snakes or heights or small, confined spaces. The serpent handler is to the person who cannot stand looking at photos of snakes as the person who hears criticism with curiosity is to the one who perceives everything as an attack.

The anatomy of defensive reactivity.

“Defensive reactivity” refers to the sensitivity or responsiveness of the brain’s defense system, especially the amygdala (our emergency response center). Situations that we have learned are threatening (or that we perceive as threatening) trigger that danger center before we’re even aware of it—it’s instinctual, not intentional—and our reaction is instant. A perceived threat increases cortisol levels, notifying the body of danger; the heart and metabolic rates go up, and the individual becomes more alert.

The good news is, defensiveness can be managed. If you are a person who has been called “highly defensive,” then consider whether there might be a grain of truth to it. Remember that this is not a character flaw; it may well be something that was once a protection for you but is no longer. Remember that we all suffer from the same human condition of imperfection, and we can change outdated behavior with intention, willingness, and skill. The following tips will actually help to heal the most sensitive people, because hearing someone else’s complaint gently means learning to manage one’s own inner critic.

1. Be aware when it happens.

Begin to notice the signs of being defensive: a tense body, self-justification, and a sense that you are being criticized or rejected.

2. Be kind when you notice the signs.

Do not criticize yourself for reacting the way you do; instead, slow things down, and try to be compassionate with yourself the way you would to a loved one feeling the same way.

3. Find a mantra that helps you stay in the right frame of mind.

I like this one: “Cultivate curiosity instead of judgment.” Another is “Cultivate inquiry instead of reactivity.”

4. Develop the skill of self-soothing.

Once you can recognize the signs of becoming defensive, learn to do something to change it, such as deep breathing or a simple stretch. Acknowledging what is happening (“I’m becoming defensive, and I want to take a moment to calm myself so I can hear what you are saying”) provides time and space—and often, compassion—for you and the other person.

Often, the people who have the hardest time acknowledging their part in situations carry around the harshest inner critic. But to love ourselves doesn’t mean that we’re above criticism. It means that we hold a deep conviction of our own worthiness and our right to be treated with care and respect. If you are a person who is overly defensive, don’t make it something to criticize yourself for. Reframe it as your human struggle, which we each have, and one that you can change.

Want more insights on how to level up your life? Check out your weekly horoscope, then find out why holding on to past relationships is the worst thing you can do for yourself.

Yes, You Can Get A Massage Every Day Without Breaking The Bank. Here’s How

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As a health coach, there’s no recovery method I rely on more than massage. Additionally, it’s the number one thing I recommend to my clients. Unfortunately, massages can get expensive—but that hasn’t stopped me.

In fact, I’ve found several cost-effective, time-efficient ways to hack my own self-massage. I’ve relayed these methods to my clients, and they love having these tools at their disposal and often report how much better they feel in their bodies. They’re recovering faster, breathing easier, sleeping better, and rocking their workouts.

If you’re ready to incorporate self-massage into your routine—or want a few tips for a less expensive massage—here are a few foolproof ideas for you:

1. Roll out your feet and glutes with massage balls.

Runners and sprinters, listen up: I swear by this specific mini green ball ($6) for rolling out achy feet and a standard lacrosse ball ($6.99) for digging in to tight glute muscles. If you’re lifting heavy weights, wearing heels, or sitting a ton, you’ll also want to pay specific attention to these areas before you develop inflammation issues like plantar fasciitis, tight calves, or chronic pinching in your lower back from overactive glute muscles.

2. Buy a foam roller and keep it by the TV.

If your legs, butt, or back feel stiff, spending 10 minutes on your foam roller melts away tension, stretches out your muscles and fascia, and promotes circulation of fresh blood for true healing and regeneration. Foam rolling can feel awkward at first, but I promise, after just a few times, you’ll build up a rhythm and spot the tight spots right away.

Try to roll 10 times over each sore muscle and pause over the tightest areas, breathing through the tension. I recommend this standard one from Amazon for just $18.99. Split the cost with your roommate, and remind each other to roll when you’re home watching TV.

3. Go to the nail salon for a $10 chair massage.

Here’s a cost-effective idea: Got to a nail salon and ask for the 10-minute massage. Be specific with what you want: Request attention to a tight neck muscle, and ask for deep pressure. I like paying in cash and tipping $3 or $4 for good service. Bonus points if you play hooky from work and sneak in this 10-minute massage for an energy-boosting, stress-relieving midday reboot for your brain and body.

4. Take an Epsom salt bath.

Next time you swing by the pharmacy, pick up a $4, 3-pound bag of Epsom salts. Pour the entire bag into a hot bath and soak for 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll melt your muscles and sleep like a baby because of the mineral magnesium in the Epsom salts. Don’t have a nice bathroom? Buy yourself a foot-soaking tub instead, pour in the Epsom salts, and enjoy some magical self-care for your feet.

5. Trade foot massages.

Here’s a completely free idea: Sync up with your partner and exchange foot massages while watching a movie or enjoying the early fall sunset. Promise each other you’ll give it your best efforts, and if one of you is slacking, give each other a nudge! Set up a timer if you’d like, or just massage until you lose steam. Five to 10 minutes a foot seems to work best.

Want more recovery ideas? Here are four unexpected reasons you’re sore—and what to do about it.

This Single Dad’s Adoption Story Makes Us Cry Every Time

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Here at mbg, we believe you’re the expert on your own wellness journey, and becoming a parent is no different. Yet from the moment of conception, or often even before, mothers and fathers are told what to do. Our Parenting Paths week celebrates a handful of parents who’ve listened to their intuition and gone their own way. One family traveled the world while raising their daughters; this single mom takes a spiritual approach to parenting; and more. 

You may remember Hill Harper as a keynote speaker at mbg’s annual wellness summit, revitalize—this year, he opened with a beautiful monologue about the importance of coming together as a community, finding your holy key, and closed onstage in gratitude with his adopted son, Pierce. There was not a single dry eye in the room!

You may also know Harper from television. He’s an actor by trade and has been on CSI New York, The Good Doctor, and Homeland, to name a few. Or perhaps you’ve read one of his books—like his motivational speeches, they’re meant to inspire and empower underserved youth.

Harper always knew he wanted a big family. “In my head, I was thinking around five kids, plus a wife, and in a traditional family unit, so I thought everything was going to happen in that order.” Of course, as it goes, life rarely follows our plan. “But that doesn’t mean we still can’t manifest the most fundamentally important things in our life. And maybe in a ‘nontraditional’ way,” he said.

That said, he always thought adopting would be part of his journey. What he didn’t realize was that he’d end up adopting his son, Pierce, as a single dad.

“God was on the phone.”

Here’s how it all happened. A few days before Thanksgiving, he got a call from a friend who worked with an adoption agency. She asked if he wanted to speak to a young woman who was having a son in three weeks. This mother also had a 20-month-old daughter and felt like she wasn’t in a place in her life where she could adequately care for her son. “I knew without a question that God was on the phone.” It was in that moment that Harper knew he’d become a single, adoptive father.

“My son chose me to be his dad.” It’s hard not to get emotional when Harper describes his connection to Pierce and specifically recalled the moment he was born. His focus was to make sure the birth mother felt comfortable and supported. “It was really a surreal experience,” he said. He was flying in from shooting a show and wasn’t sure when she was going to go into labor, so he went straight to the hospital.

“You know, doing this alone has really reinforced the reason why God set it up with two parents.”

Believe it or not, Harper had never changed a diaper before taking his son home from the hospital. He recalls the first days of being with Pierce. “He was so tiny, so fragile—I always checked just to make sure he was breathing. I had a steep, steep learning curve, and I was really nervous.”

He said that every day, there’s a different set of decisions that need to be made that, at this early stage in life especially, seem to have a huge impact. Lucky for Harper, the village helping him raise his son is extensive. He describes it in circles—your immediate friends and family, your extended network of doctors, caretakers, and people you don’t even know, who, in some small but not insignificant way, are looking out for and your kid.

For example, he knew it’d benefit Pierce to give him access to breast milk. A friend of his who was part of a moms’ circle in New York City reached out to her network, asking if they’d be willing to pump milk for a single adoptive father. She was skeptical, but people were willing to help! “These women responded so beautifully to my friend’s request. There I was, showing up at women’s houses doing what felt like a drug deal.” He would show up with a cooler, and they’d give him breast milk, usually late in the evening. “They were giving me this offering of love—the most intimate of beautiful offering of love. Many of them I’ve stayed in touch with, and they are part of this amazing village,” Harper said.

“If you have any intuition whatsoever to be an adoptive parent, follow that intuition.”

Did you know that less than 3 percent of adoptive parents are men? Men who adopt on their own are an even smaller percentage. If you’re thinking of adopting a kid, Harper has some great advice. “Follow that intuition—there is a child out there who will choose you to be your parent. That child needs you,” he said.

Feeling inspired!

The 5 Food Rules This Beauty Guru Always Follows For Radiant Skin & A Healthy Gut

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The first step to healthy, radiant skin is balancing digestive health. If you think about a garden, the soil is like our gut. It needs the right nutrient levels and bacterial balance to support the plants and for them to be strong, their leaves robust, and their flowers to blossom. For our skin to be strong and lustrous and radiant, we also need the right bacterial and nutrient balance in our gut.

Our gut is home to a large portion of our immune system. It’s where we make nutrients (that make collagen), antioxidants (that protect our skin), metabolize hormones, neutralize pathogens, and make neurotransmitters and detoxifying enzymes, so it’s little wonder that the state of the gut has a profound effect on our skin.

The cell danger response (CDR) is the evolutionarily conserved metabolic response that protects cells and hosts from harm. The skin, hair, and nails are the last places to get nutrients that go to more important organs first. If we’re not getting enough nutrients or digesting our food properly due to poor gut health, our skin will start to starve. This affects skin elasticity and collagen production and will manifest in dull, lackluster skin with poor tone. Studies show that those with good digestion have a healthier fatty-acids profile in their skin, making their skin plumper, more hydrated, and more moisturized.

Here are a few ways you can go about achieving a healthy gut and a radiant, glowing complexion.

1. Consume high levels of antioxidants.

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Photo: The Beauty Chef

A diet rich in antioxidants is nature’s internal skin care regime, helping to fight rogue free radicals and repair cell damage. Antioxidants are abundant in vibrantly colored vegetables; fish; mushrooms; legumes; seeds; leeks, onions, and garlic; green tea; and black tea. My new book is filled with gut-loving recipes that are nutritious, delicious, packed with antioxidants, and will feed your cells and your gut microbes.

2. Stay hydrated.

Drink 2 liters of clean, filtered water daily. It goes without saying that drinking lots of clean water is key to keeping the skin hydrated and cleansed. Studies tell us that the skin contains approximately 30 percent water, which contributes to plumpness, elasticity, and resiliency. Water intake not only improves skin hydration but can also improve skin thickness and density.

3. Eat fermented foods.

Fermented foods improve digestion and the absorption of minerals and nutrients. Fermented foods are rich in bioavailable nutrients to feed the skin from within (fermentation predigests the food, so the nutrients are more available for the skin and body to use) and are great for improving digestion as they contain both prebiotics and probiotics.

4. Chew, chew, chew.

The more you chew, the more saliva you mix with your foods, which is a good thing because saliva contains digestive enzymes that lubricate the food and break down fats, all of which is beneficial to your digestive system.

5. Consider enzymes.

Good health is not only about what you eat but what you digest, and enzymes in food help our body digest beauty nutrients. The enzymes themselves, such as proteolytic enzymes found in papaya, are also anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, detoxifying, and healing in the body. All raw foods contain enzymes, but certain foods like lacto-fermented foods, sprouted seeds, figs, mango, pineapple, avocados, and bananas are extra powerful.

Plus, the plant-based superfood you should be eating daily for glowing skin.

How To ACTUALLY Become A Minimalist, Based On Your Personality Type

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Do you ever stare at a closet full of clothes and still somehow feel like you have nothing to wear? We’ve all been there. Thankfully, crafting a curated, minimalist wardrobe of only the clothes you use and love is a surefire way to make getting dressed easier.

If you’ve always found minimalist living impossible, you may just be approaching it from the wrong angle. Here, I’ll outline a few strategies geared toward specific personality types—whether you hate parting with your clothes or feel like you never have time to get organized—that will turn even the most disorganized closet into a carefully edited masterpiece.

Step 1: Start with a clean closet.

No matter what your personality type, this should be your starting point. Whether your closet needs a total purge or simply a clean out, start with the no-brainers and get rid of clothes you know off the bat that you won’t wear. Identify pieces that you haven’t worn in over a year and place them in a box for donation. Or, if they’re in good condition, sell them to a consignment shop or online retailer for some extra cash.

Anything that’s stained, ripped, or otherwise unwearable should be recycled or repurposed. Bring them to a recycling center or clothing drop box where they can be turned into textiles. These days, programs like Planet Aid receptacles and in-store clothing donation program make it a lot easier to recycle clothes than you might think.

Step 2: Narrow down which strategy works best with your personality.

For the one who loves a challenge: Project 333 or 10×10.

This minimalist fashion trend challenges you to choose 33 pieces from your closet and wear them—only them!—for three months. This helps you learn to build your wardrobe around versatile pieces like simple tees, blouses, and denim, with a few fun pieces sprinkled in to complement your basics. I’ve tried this one myself and approached it as a sort of game I need to conquer. That mentality helped tremendously when I went to get dressed each day.

If you’re not sure whether you’re up for the task, start with an abridged version. The 10×10 challenge, for instance, limits you to 10 items over the course of only 10 days.

For the busy bee: The Cladwell app.

For those of you who have serious trouble getting out the door in the morning, I recommend the Cladwell app, which creates outfits for you every day based on your existing closet. And no, you do not have to take a photo of each item in your closet to use it! Instead, you simply go through the app’s catalog of pieces and select items that are similar to those you have.

From there, you can either create a look from your whole closet or select an occasion or season and narrow down the capsule. You will receive three outfit possibilities (they even take your local weather into account!), and voilà! You’ll go from what seems like infinite outfit options to a narrowed-down collection of looks in no time.

Plus, recording each outfit makes it easier to start noticing patterns in your wardrobe. You’ll be able to identify the items you wear most frequently and get rid of the ones you thought you would wear but never did.

For the sentimental shopper: The Reverse hanger or Last 14 methods.

Got a closet piling up with clothes you never wear but really, really can’t part with? The reverse hanger method could be your savior. To get started, simply turn all of your hangers so they face the same direction in your closet. Every time you wear something and hang it back up, turn the hanger backward. After a month, you can see which items you haven’t worn. Sure, there are exceptions like formalwear, but I have found this method extremely helpful. It might surprise you how little you actually need those extra pieces!

And if you want to give a minimalist wardrobe a go but aren’t ready to commit to paring down your closet for good, box up any items you haven’t worn in the last two weeks, then stash them away in an attic, basement, or under the bed. After a month, open up the box. Put back any clothes that you genuinely missed, and donate the ones you didn’t. If you forgot the box existed entirely, consider donating everything in it.

Step 3: Look for patterns in your wardrobe.

Once you’ve found a good base of clothes that work for you, take note of the styles you’re drawn toward. Do you tend to build your wardrobe around your work clothes? Do you follow a particular personal style—whether it’s boho, preppy, masculine, or girly? Look for patterns or similarities in your favorite styles and write them down so you can reference them the next time you go shopping.

Inspo alert: Here’s how one shopaholic’s foray into minimalism totally changed her life around.

Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen: The Difference and Useful Tips

8f5f6edcb47e9625f92b4f1ba3c05f56 - Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen: The Difference and Useful Tips
meprof.png 1 - Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen: The Difference and Useful TipsMegan Patiry

Not all collagen is created equal. Two of the major sources of collagen that you’ll see are bovine and marine, or cow and fish collagen. So which one is best?

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body (1). When we have enough, it keeps our skin supple and elastic, while also keeping our joints strong. Unfortunately, collagen production begins to decline as we age (cue: sagging skin, wrinkles, joint pain, and other symptoms of aging). Not only that, but diets high in sugar, nutrient deficiencies, and too much sunbathing also help speed up collagen breakdown.

The Benefits of Collagen

Collagen - Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen: The Difference and Useful Tips

On the other hand, when we reduce our sugar intake and consume collagen-rich foods like bone broth, we experience a range of benefits such as:

Collagen Improves Skin Health

Consuming collagen has been shown in studies to significantly increase skin firmness and elasticity. As we know, this can do wonders for turning back the aging clock. One study found that women aged 35-55 who supplemented with collagen hydrolysate for eight weeks experienced greatly improved skin elasticity and moisture levels, as well as reduced roughness (2).

Collagen Helps Heal Your Gut

It turns out that patients with inflammatory bowel disease have lowered serum levels of collagen in their bodies (3). Considering that collagen helps repair the tissues along the digestive tract, it makes sense that low collagen levels would cause irritation of a weak, collagen-deficient gut lining.

Collagen Eases Joint Pain

When we’re young, a healthy amount of collagen sits between our joints, providing lubrication for easy movement. When this begins to break down, our joints become less oiled and can begin to grind together, causing pain and inflammation.

Luckily, studies show that collagen can help. One showed that collagen hydrolysate supplements helped reduce joint pain in athletes, while also stating collagen could prevent joint degeneration (4). Another showed that collagen supplementation helps reduce osteoarthritis pain while also acting as a promising treatment (5).

But the list doesn’t end there. Some other benefits of collagen include:

  • Reduced hair loss (6)
  • Improved liver health (7)
  • Less cellulite (8)
  • Improved wound healing (9)

Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen

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Interestingly, not all collagen is the same. Depending on where it’s sourced from, collagen can contain different types, ranging from Type 1 to Type 10, each with its own benefits.

Two of the major sources of collagen that you’ll see in supplements are bovine and marine, or cow and fish collagen. While both have benefits, each has a different makeup of types. So which one is best?

The Benefits of Bovine Collagen

Bovine collagen, which is made of the skin, bones, and muscles of cows, is rich in Type 1 and Type 3 collagen. Both of these types are some of the most abundant in the human body, making them an excellent “fit,” if you will, for our consumption.

Bovine collagen is also a rich source of proline and glycine.

Type 1 and Type 3 collagen are major components of ligaments, bones, tendons, blood vessels, eyes, and skin. This makes bovine collagen excellent for maintaining bone and gut health and healing wounds, as well as promoting strong joints.

Bovine collagen is also a rich source of proline and glycine. These amino acids have a host of benefits, from reducing fatigue to repairing sun-damaged skin (10, 11).

The Benefits of Marine Collagen

Marine, or fish, collagen is sourced from discarded fish bones and scales. Like bovine collagen, it is also rich in Type 1 collagen, proline, and glycine. However, studies have shown that fish collagen peptides are smaller, giving them superior bioavailability and digestibility (12).

Since it’s easier to digest, fish collagen is excellent if you have digestive issues or if you’re using collagen specifically to heal your gut. Not to mention, the enhanced absorption also makes it easier for your body to flood your skin and joints with more of the anti-aging and bone-building molecules.

Fish collagen may prove to be one of the best types to take, especially if you follow a high-antioxidant Paleo diet.

Also, while all collagen is beneficial for your skin, fish collagen may prove to be one of the best types to take, especially if you follow a high-antioxidant Paleo diet filled with colorful fruits and veggies. One study showed that participants taking fish collagen combined with antioxidants for just two months showed remarkable improved skin elasticity, moisture, and dermal ultrasonic markers (13).

These results could be due to the fact that fish collagen also contains higher levels of a certain amino acid, hydroxyproline (14). Hydroxyproline is unique in that several of its peptides are not digested completely, which allows them to be detected in your blood. Because of this, they help stimulate collagen synthesis by activating skin, joint, and bone cells.


The Short Answer

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Regardless of whether collagen is sourced from cows or fish, it’s bound to benefit your skin, joints, bones, and more. After all, studies support both forms when it comes to its benefits. However, with that being said, fish collagen appears to be superior when it comes to absorption and digestibility, which is extremely important when it comes to reaping the benefits of any type of collagen to begin with. If you’re concerned that you are sensitive to beef proteins, your best bet will be to try marine collagen.


A Note on Hydrolyzed Collagen

Another thing you should look for when purchasing collagen – whether it’s bovine or marine – is that it’s hydrolyzed. This form of collagen is broken down for even easier digestion and absorption, which is great if you have trouble digesting or breaking down proteins.


How to Get Your Daily Dose of Collagen

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Collagen is virtually tasteless, making it an easy addition to dishes you already make. Some ideas on how to reap the benefits of collagen:

  • Add collagen powder to soups and stews
  • Create a rich bone broth from grass-fed bones
  • Add a couple tablespoons of collagen powder to your smoothies
  • Replace your protein powder with collagen protein powder
  • Add powder to muffins, cookies, and other baked goodies

As a side note, studies show that collagen synthesis is stimulated by vitamin C, so it would be beneficial to take both collagen and vitamin C together, or increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods (15).

Choosing a marine or bovine collagen supplement truly comes down to your personal situation and the state of your digestion. If you can’t decide which to choose, try rotating the two and see which seems to give you more benefits.

Either way, you’ll be glad you cashed in on some of the best anti-aging body “glue” around.

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(Read This Next: Collagen – Benefits & How to Cook, Bake and Drink It)

Bone Broth Cookbook - Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen: The Difference and Useful Tips

From Zero to Macro: An Easy Guide to Measuring Macros

b42423317497036cda74dd612bc89b98 - From Zero to Macro: An Easy Guide to Measuring Macros
mcnew - From Zero to Macro: An Easy Guide to Measuring MacrosAimee McNew

Calorie counting is out, and measuring your macros is in. But what are macros and why should you be measuring them at all?

Calorie counting used to be the gold standard for weight management or for monitoring one’s food intake. But the calorie is no longer king – and that’s a good thing, since it was an inefficient way to manage one’s diet. After all, not all calories are equal, and calorie counting doesn’t take food quality into consideration.

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We’ve created a FREE Guide that shows you how you can heal your thyroid.

Instead of calories, people are counting their macros now, but what exactly are macros, and should you be doing it, too?


What Are Macros?

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Macro is short for macronutrient, and refers to the three large groups of food nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins

Macronutrients differ from micronutrients, which refer to smaller groups of nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Many people are familiar with the concept of a low carb diet, where carbs are reduced to a lower percentage of overall diet intake. These days, tracking macronutrients is about much more than just carbs.

When someone is tracking their macros, they’re paying attention to how many grams of carbs, proteins, and fats they’re eating. Typically, the aim is to keep each one within a certain percentage of the day’s total food intake.


How Counting Carbs and Macros Is Similar

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  • Both require a food tracking app or journal to record each day’s food intake.
  • Both require a greater awareness of what one is eating vs. just winging it.

Counting Calories vs. Macros

  • Macros allow greater customization of one’s diet, whereas calories lump all food into a single caloric count.
  • Macros offer a wider range of benefits; for example, athletes and bodybuilders who don’t want calorie restrictions can benefit from tracking how much of each macronutrient they’re taking in to achieve a better balance of nutrients.
  • Macros are applicable to every person; calorie monitoring or counting is only relevant to a select group of people who are focused on weight loss or gain.
  • Macros are more effective than calories at producing desired results. (1)

Bottom Line: Macros are a different way of measuring food intake that more thoroughly takes into consideration the value of individual nutrients than simply counting all calories as equal.


How to Calculate Your Macros

journaling - From Zero to Macro: An Easy Guide to Measuring Macros

To measure your macros, you need to have an idea of how many calories you need per day to achieve your goals. While this isn’t strict calorie counting, it gives you a baseline to start with. For an average weight female who is also average height, 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day would be reasonable. For weight loss purposes, 1,500 to 1,800 calories might be more appropriate.

To measure your macros, you need to have an idea of how many calories you need per day to achieve your goals.

Keep in mind that macro tracking is highly individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works. Your calorie baseline needs to take the following things into account:

  • Your current weight
  • Your height
  • Your age
  • Your situation (e.g., pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum, premenopausal, trying to conceive)
  • Your activity level

For example, if you’re a healthy weight woman who isn’t pregnant and who works out every day, you’re going to require more calories than an overweight woman who is inactive.

To get an idea of how many calories you need per day, and how that translates into macros, you can use a simple online calculator, like this one, or you can calculate the math yourself, as follows:

*Note: These calculations are tailored for women.

10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5 = total daily caloric baseline

Next, you need to take into account your activity level, because if you’re active at all, you burn more calories than the baseline.

Sedentary: Caloric baseline x 1.2
Light activity: Caloric baseline x 1.4
Moderate activity: Caloric baseline x 1.6
High activity: Caloric baseline x 1.8

In this example, a 5 foot 3 inches, 140-pound, 40-year-old woman who has light activity would require a baseline of 1,783 calories daily to maintain her current weight. In order to lose, she would want to reduce her calories by 15 percent or else change macronutrient ratios to reduce carbs and prioritize protein.

Let’s say, though, that she wants to maintain her weight. Breaking down her 1,783 daily calories into macros is best done using an online calculator, but you need to know what you macro goals might be. The following section will help you narrow your focus on what macro range might work best for you.

Bottom Line: You can’t follow someone else’s macro plan. You need to customize it to work for you based on your individual variables. Even within these calculations, there will be some room for flexibility or tweaking, but it is a good place to start.


5 Reasons to Measure Your Macros

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Whether you need to lose weight or not, being mindful of the ratio of macronutrients that you’re eating can take your diet and health goals much farther than just flying blind. Here are five reasons why you might want to track your macros, and a basic guideline to get started for each.

1. Weight Loss

Macro priority: 45% protein, 25% carbs, 30% fat

While it’s not true for everyone, a good majority of people who need to lose weight aren’t getting enough protein at breakfast and they are eating too many carbs. Focusing on protein spread evenly throughout the day will help to keep blood sugar balanced and limiting carbs will prevent fat storage from excess carb intake.

Another important note: don’t fear fat for weight loss. It’s choosing fat quality that matters, so opting for 30 percent fat from excellent sources like salmon, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, and the like will produce better results than limiting fat and eating more refined or junky carbs.

2. Thyroid/Autoimmunity Health

Macro priority: 40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carbs

Many who have thyroid or autoimmune issues may also need to lose weight, but in this case, it’s needing to lose weight and equip the body to heal. Healthy fat is nourishing for chronic and autoimmune conditions, and slightly more carbs may be required to increase energy in the face of a depressed immune system or thyroid.

3. Strength Training

Macro priority: 40% protein, 35% fat, 25% carbs

While most women aren’t aiming to get ripped, athletic women who do CrossFit or lift weights might want to focus on improving their muscle tone. This is most often accomplished with a low carb diet and consuming slightly more protein than fat. Still, when it comes to building muscle definition or being a higher performing athlete, the type of activity and individual body type may require further macro customizing.

4. Fertility

Macro priority: 45% fat, 30% carbs, 25% protein

Women who want to get pregnant and grow a healthy baby need fat. They don’t need to be fat, but true, natural fertility is based on optimized hormones, and fat helps hormones properly communicate. Fertility fats can’t come from any old thing though, and need to be sourced from high quality, Paleo-friendly fats like avocados, grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, salmon, olive oil, lard, tallow, and coconut oil.

Fertility carbs also depend on quality, should be sourced from high fiber vegetables and fruits, and should completely steer clear of refined products, sugars, and grains.

5. Menopause

Macro priority: 35% protein, 35% fat, 30% carbs

Women who have gone through the major hormonal shift that is menopause may find that their body responds differently to food than it did before menopause. A fairly balanced macro plan for this phase of life can be most effective at keeping weight balanced (as well as hormones), although women may still need to customize their ratios based on activity level, other health factors, and food sensitivities.

Bottom Line: Macro counting is intended to serve your individual health needs and might need to be adjusted based on different seasons of life. Tracking macros in a food journal app, like MyFitnessPal, keeps things simple and easy.

INFOG Calculate Your Macros - From Zero to Macro: An Easy Guide to Measuring Macros

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