Let Go and Float!

My husband knows me so well.

For Christmas, he completely surprised me with a gift card to Omaha Float Spa for three one-hour floats (read: an hour and a half all to myself…three separate times!! Every mom’s dream). My hippy heart was so excited.

This weekend, I finally jumped on the opportunity to float. My time in the tank was unlike anything I have ever experienced and I couldn’t wait to share! Disclaimer: This post is longer than allowed in Blogging 101 and I apologize in advance. Skim at your own risk!

According to it’s website, Omaha Float Spa dissolves 800 pounds of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)  into a shallow pool of temperate water, hoping to create a healing experience similar to a mineral salt bath at the Dead Sea. Epsom salt baths are part of my ordinary wellness routine, but this (obviously) takes it to a whole new level!

Why Float?

One only has to read a few of the MANY benefits to understand how valuable this experience is. Some studies suggest that 80% of us are magnesium deficient; mainly as a result of the nutrient content being depleted from our soil (see my post here) and our over-consumption of caffeine and sugar (yep, guilty).

Why is magnesium so important? It is used by every organ in our body and is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions, impacting things like blood pressure, metabolism, immune function, serotonin production, digestion and more! SO IMPORTANT!!

Since the skin is our largest organ and is made of pores, our body is easily able to absorb things from our environment through the skin (hint: think twice about what you’re a putting on your body). Soaking in Epsom Salt creates a reverse osmosis state in your body, drawing in magnesium and pushing out toxins. Also, SO IMPORTANT. Our every-day life exposes us to environmental toxins through the air, water,  food, personal care products we use, etc. How nice it is to completely relax while letting the Epsom Salt do all the detox heavy-lifting. Thanks Epsom Salt – I owe ya one.

Plus, floating provides a space to relax, relieve stress, meditate, pray, brainstorm, etc. Read more benefits of floating here.

My Experience.

The spa has a zen-like feeling from the moment you walk in; cool colors, quiet music and a fabulous smell. Shelley, the receptionist, checked me in and answered some of my initial questions. She had me fill out a health form/waiver and showed me to my private flotation suite. Because it was my first float, she recommended that I start with “The Cabin” instead of diving right into “The Capsule” – it’s less claustrophobic. I obliged, although I am looking forward to trying The Capsule next time.

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My suite had a chic-cabin feel in that it had a modern-looking barn door as decoration. Not much is needed, but it was very nice – it had a bench to set my things on, a shower adjoined to my tub, a towel and a robe. Shelley provided me with a couple of “props” that I didn’t end up using: a small foam noodle to place under my knees and a head rest. She instructed me to shower with body wash and wash my hair with shampoo (no conditioner) immediately prior to floating. She then told me to put ear plugs in as the salt water can irritate the ears and finally, turn off the lights. I’d be ready to float!

 So I followed instructions: shower, ear plugs, lights, float!

I stepped into the tub (separated from the shower by a shower door) and there was soft music playing. Shelley informed me that the music would play at the beginning and then turn off, allowing me to enter a completely sensory-free experience.

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The room was warm, but not like a sauna. I was informed that the water in the tub was about 98 degrees – comfortable. Not hot, not cold. I sat in the tub and my legs floated up to the top of the water. Totes cray! I then laid back, and wouldn’t you know it, I floated! It took me a minute to relax – I think we are ingrained to keep our body stiff from our days of learning to back float. So I had to tell the muscles in my arms, shoulders, core and thighs to relax. And relax they did – along with the rest of my muscles!

 I did a pretty good job of relaxing and just “being” for about 35 minutes (meditating). Then I got antsy and started doing things like lifting my arms up out of the water (hard to do, for whatever reason) and gracefully moving my head back in forth, in which I was imaging my hair was flowing like a mermaid’s.  Naturally, I got water in my eye and HOLY COW that hurts like a bizzo! Thankfully, Shelley warned me that this might happen (perhaps she also tried having mermaid hair?) and had a spray bottle of fresh water and a towel handy. So after the painful eye situation, I decided to take it easy on arm tricks and mermaid impressions, and thought I better stick to floating.

Mermaid Shan
Mermaid Shannon
After an hour, the soft music begin playing again, signaling that my float was over. I showered again, washing away the salt. I grabbed my robe and (carefully) ran to the restroom down the hall because I had to pee terribly. I drank a lot of water prior to my float, but I believe it was my body quickly flushing toxins from my body. SO cool!

I got dressed and thanked Shelley. She offered me a bottle of water and asked if she could schedule my next appointment.

My Results.

Beyond detoxification, I observed many changes in my body as a result of my float.

  • Immune boost – I had been battling a cold all week and my symptoms were greatly improved after my float. I honestly couldn’t believe it; significantly better in an hour.
  • Soft skin and hair – I immediately noticed how soft my skin was. Seriously, SO soft (and, still super soft over 24 hours later).
  • Elevated mood – I was in a calmer-than-usual mood and just all around happy. Energized.
  • Eased muscle pain – I’ve been having pain in my right hip and it was temporarily relieved (Back today though. Need to visit my chiropractor! 😊)

Bottom line? I loved my experience and would highly recommend it. I can’t wait to do my next float! Note to husbands out there: not a bad gift for your wife!

Drop me a note if you’ve done a float! I would love to hear your experience.

Float Your Boat

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Selecting Supplements: A Quick Reference in Sorting Out Quality from Crap

I’m a big proponent of consuming QUALITY supplements. Why? Here’s a few reasons:

  1. A diet consisting of processed and preserved foods doesn’t give us quality nutrients our body needs to function at a high level. And, are you eating the recommended amount of fruits and veggies each day? (the Standard American Diet) I’m totes guilty of eating processed foods and not always eating all the fresh stuff that I should….I’m a work in progress, people!
  2. Thanks to modern farming and the use of fertilizers, the soil where our food is grown has been ripped of nutrient-dense vitamins and minerals, leaving our fruits and veggies also depleted of these important elements. Furthermore, fresh foods are often shipped long distances and stored for long periods of time which causes nutrient quality to decrease. Buy local and support Farmer’s Markets when possible! Best for you AND the community!
  3. Can’t forget to mention those pesky (understatement) pesticides and herbicides. Do they effect the nutrient content of our food? Of course they do! The chemicals in our food, combined with the chemicals in the air, water and beauty/self-care products we use daily, increase our need for extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to combat formation of free radicals and the attack on our immune system.
  4. Many fruits and vegetables are genetically modified to improve visual appeal and crop yields, not nutritional value. So the mixing and mingling of all those genes ultimately brings the quality down and disrupts the natural awesomeness of the food. Just say NO to GMOs….selecting-supplements_

What are some important elements to consider when buying supplements? Here are some things to look for and consider:

  • Ingredients and Source. Our bodies were made to absorb nutrients from real food. Are the supplements made from raw food, making them more bioavailable? (ideal) Or from synthetic chemical “nutrients” made in a lab? (not ideal) Do you know where the ingredients come from? Where they are grown and what farming practices are used?
  • Organic and non-GMO. This is more of an issue of what to keep OUT of supplements. If pesticides/herbicides deplete the nutrient content, seems pretty counter-intuitive to consume supplements that are made with harmful chemicals, right? Read my blog on the importance of organic here.
  • Production and Quality. Are they made in pharmaceutical-grade facility? Recommended by doctors and practitioners knowledgeable about nutrition? (read: not all physicians are created equal) Tested for quality? Packaged responsibly?

Trust me – if you are going to invest in your health and buy supplements, be sure to take a little time and research the company. Check out their website for the above. Supplements bought at Target/Wal-Mart/Walgreens are most likely going to be a huge waste of your time and money. Head over to Natural Grocers, Whole Foods or order online.

Supplement companies I use (bonus: recommended or approved by Dr. Patricia Ryan, MD, CCN aka Dr. Mom/GiGi): Thorne Research, Metagenics, Garden of Life, Rainbow Light, Body Bio, Perque, and Nutriwest.

Happy Supplementing!

Black Bean Brownies

Gluten-free. Guilt-free. Yummy-full.

Have fun watching your friends faces after you tell them they are eating black beans in their brownies!

Disclaimer: Are these as good as Betty Crocker boxed brownies? Hell no! But they are pretty darn good and much more healthy. Enjoy!

lucy-bbb
I have no guilt letting my littles eat these!

In Blender:

  • Add: 3 eggs
  • Blend for 10 seconds
  • Add: 1 can drained & rinsed black beans
  • Blend one minute
  • Add:
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • ¼ cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
    • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil – melted
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt
    • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ cup coconut sugar
    • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

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      Yaaaa-um!
  • Blend all of the above
  • Add:
    • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
    • 1 tablespoon almond flour
  • Blend again
  • Bake at 350 degrees
    • 30 mins in 8×8 pan or
    • 15 mins in 13×9 pan or
    • 18 minutes for cupcakes
    • Grease pan with coconut oil

 

 

Organic : Prioritized

The importance of eating organic (and non-GMO) has been written a million ways by a million people way smarter than me so I’m not even going to go into how EXTREMELY critical it is! (Robyn O’Brien is my fave blogger/expert on this topic if you want more info.)

So, how does the average person on an average budget know how to prioritize? I really struggle in making decisions on where to splurge on organic and when its OK to buy conventional. And if you’re anything like me, I dread coming home after a grocery store visit to my husband asking, “K how much did you spend this week??” So, I wanted to share a few tips.

Now, I must include a disclaimer: most of the information I share in the post comes from my mother, Patricia Ryan-Carlson, MD. I quickly picked her brain while she gave Kate a bath last week (seriously, she’s the best) on why she recommends certain foods MUST be purchased organic. Her order of importance is as follows:

1.) Meat and Dairy – MOST IMPORTANT

Why? The pesticides and herbicides are fat-soluble, meaning they accumulate and are stored in the fatty tissue of the animal. The EPA reports that meat is contaminated with higher levels of pesticides than any plant food. Animal feed that contains animal products compounds the accumulation, which is directly passed to the us. In addition, antibiotics, drugs, and hormones are a standard in raising and slaughtering livestock, all of which accumulate and are passed on to consumers as well. Ick. So much ick.

Grass-fed beef (and butter/milk/yogurt/cheese) and free-range chicken and eggs (Note:  not just “cage free”) are absolutely worth the splurge.

2.) Fruits and VeggiesDirtyClean

Why? There can be as many as FORTY (40!) different pesticides sprayed on each piece of produce (strawberries being the biggest offenders). Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 here. This guide can help you prioritize which produce items are critical to buy organic and which ones are OK to purchase conventional.

Quick tip: While fresh is always the best, I am big consumer of frozen organic fruits and veggies. It’s totally cheaper!

3.) Everything else: Grains, snacks, processed goods

Work this stuff into your budget when you can. Thankfully, grocery stores like Bakers, Hy-Vee and Costco have their own store-brand organic items. The smallest ingredient list is best and avoid HFCS and artificial dyes. And, remember: just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

My last tip? The 80/20 rule: be good 80% of the time. 20% of the time, give yourself a break. Perfection when it comes to any sort of “diet” is unrealistic. (Hellooooo Bruegger’s bagels and cream cheese).

K sorry. One more tip: Baby steps! Start small. Small changes over time DO make a difference. Slowly move more organic items into your diet.

Cheers!

Kate Berries

Picture because…who doesn’t love a cute baby eating organic berries?!

Baby, Back That Glass Up

This mama is a proud consumer of glass when it comes to food/beverage storage. Glass water bottles (my ello is seriously my bestie), glass cups, glass food storage for left overs (this is a great Pyrex set!), glass baby food containers (LOVE Wean Green!) and glass BOTTLES! Buying glass items is second nature to me and I forget how “odd” it is until someone comes over to my house and sees glass bottles drying on my counter.

Decades ago, bottles made of glass were the only bottles made. Did you know that glass bottles are STILL available to purchase?! In fact, Philips Avent Natural glass bottles were the only bottles I bought when I was expecting Lucy. I had to do a bit of searching, but Babies R Us carries a couple of awesome glass bottle brands.

Plastic has become such a staple in our society, and while MOST (not all) food-grade food storage containers no longer contain BPA, plastic unfortunately still leaks toxic chemicals into your food & drinks, ESPECIALLY if you heat them up! (Um, hello! So scary – that is exactly what we are doing with bottles!)

I couldn’t fathom the thought of spending countless hours, meticulously pumping my “liquid gold”, only to have it tainted the second I put it in a plastic bottle for my baby to consume the next day while I was at work.

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So, why did glass bottles go away? Here’s my thoughts:

  • Plastic is lighter – true; glass can’t compete here
  • Plastic is cheaper – eh, questionable; my glass bottles were more up-front but I’m two babies in and they are still in perfect (dare I say, pristine) condition. I bet I’ll be able to re-sell them at a fair price.
  • Glass will break – well, this is technically true…BUT you guys, I have dropped countless bottles on the floor (a couple of times with my milk actually in them with no lid on – so painful to see that milk spill on the floor) and the bottles DID. NOT. BREAK. I have had not ONE broken glass bottle.

Are you intrigued yet? Here are my top 5 reasons for using glass bottles:

  1. Glass is completely nonporous and even impermeable. The quality and flavor of your milk/formula will in no way be impacted. Maybe you need a wine reference….wine references always bring it home for me. Q. Why do you think wine is stored in glass?! A. As to not disrupt the flavor!
  2. Glass is made from NATURALLY abundant materials (i.e. mosly sand) and won’t breakdown over time
  3. There is NO risk of man-made chemicals leaching into your baby’s milk
  4. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity AND 80% of the glass that is recovered is made into new glass products
  5. They are easier to clean and keep looking nice

Do you have a favorite glass bottle? How do you use glass in your daily life? I’m always looking for tips!

“Girl ya look good….won’t ya back that glass up?” You know you’re singing it.