Posts in Wellbeing

My Protein Bar Obsession: The Good And The Bad

Hi friends, how are you doing?

So. With all the bike riding and other outdoorsy activities going on, I started looking into snack options that were light to pack yet nutritious and efficient. This led me to check out what my local supermarket had to offer in that department and I quickly ended up at the huuuuuuge (really) energy and protein bar aisle. Now, hear me out. I know that they’re a bit controversial, so let’s dig a little deeper to understand better, especially if you’re into trying out energy or protein bars yourself (Disclaimer if you didn’t know already: I’m not a nutritionist that’s just what I found when doing a bit of research online. Also, some of the mentioned brand are also available in Europe, such as the Clif bars for example. And yes, I took my bars to a park for a shooting, in case you’re wondering).

Some of The Things You Want to Look For In A Bar:

  • At least 5 grams of protein
  • Organic
  • Dairy-free
  • <10 grams of sugar

What Not to Look For:

  • Ingredients you don’t understand
  • High in sugar, non-natural sugars
  • Artificial flavors or preservatives

The good and the bad

Rxbars has a “No B.S.” claim on the front packaging that pretty much says it all in regards to the ingredients. What I also like about it is the different product packaging (I’m such a sucker for nice packaging, I know). But let me tell you, they’re delicious, too. Only downside, they come with 14 grams of sugar, I assume, however that this is mostly due to the dates. So we’re good?

I discovered the Bearded Brothers bars when I was on the hunt for vegan snacks. While they keep things simple and understandable on the ingredients front, they don’t do too well in regards of sugar count (17g) and protein (3g). And this is something I quickly realized: The majority of protein bars share one thing in common: extra sugar. Lots of it. Considering protein bars are frequently seen as a health-friendly snack or post-workout bite, this came a bit as a shock.

Let’s move on to the famous Clif bars. I first got to know Clif bars at volunteering on the Rose Kennedy Greenway as they are a sponsor there. So far so good. What I’ve also found out quickly is that as they have SO SO many different bars and types of bars, they are quite different when it comes to nutrients etc. Take the Nuts & Seeds bar for example that does kind of good with 11g of protein. However, it is quite high in sugar (17g) and calories overall. As another example: The Clif Bar, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter only has 10g of sugar.

Hugely famous are the Lärabars. They vary according to the flavour you’ll pick, good ingredients though.

Larabar

Lastly, the Thunderbird Bars seems to be a reasonable choice on light activity days, when you’re looking for a snack. They do pretty well with 9g sugars, 5g protein, 148 calories overall.

Thunderbird Bar

Ok, so quick excursus here: We know now to try and avoid high-sugar protein bars but what about the protein? Most bars range from 3 to 20 grams of protein. Generally, the amount of protein you need depends on what you’re looking for and your activity levels. If you’re sitting at home all day, you don’t need 20g of protein in a bar, but if you don’t have time to eat lunch that might be a good choice. Likewise, if you’re into an afternoon snack on a walk with your dog, a bar with 6g of protein could be perfect. It is up to you, so use common sense based on your goal for the bar itself.

If you’re not into bars, eat real food instead

Instead of eating lots of protein or energy bars all the time, most experts will say “eat real food” instead. High-protein foods are quinoa, hummus, cottage cheese, lentils, brown rice, natural nut butter, oatmeal, turkey or edamame for example. Or dates as an all natural energy booster.

Are you into energy or protein bars yourself? What are your favorites? I’d love to know!

Have a great Thursday!

Motivational Monday: Simple Ways To Motivate Yourself

It’s Monday.

Need I say more? Sometimes, especially after an amazing weekend it’s not always easy to get back to daily life mode (even though I have to say, since I am not working I haven’t been feeling that Monday feeling for a looong time, which is nice). Nevertheless, I also sometimes find it hard to motivate myself.

Hopefully some of the tips will help you out whenever you don’t feel super motivated.

Have a great week everyone!

  1. Kickstart Your Day – Plan out your day the day before. I like to look at my agenda in the evening and catch up on what lies ahead the next day so I can mentally prepare for it. Getting an organized start into your day will make you feel accomplished and motivated to take on the day.
  2. Celebrate the little wins – Say you’ve set yourself the goal to work out x amount of times this week or to finish a part of a project by a certain date. If you’ve managed to do it, you should be proud and happy about yourself and celebrate. Even if it seems like something little and unnecessary. Still, reward yourself (could be anything really from ordering that beauty product you’ve been eyeing for a while, a night out at your favorite restaurant etc., whatever floats your boat). I personally also do it and it keeps my motivation going and just makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t you want that? Yeeeees, you do.
  3. Surround yourself with inspirational people – One of the things that motivates me the most is talking to interesting people. They usually talk about interesting things, have inspiring thoughts, which in turn will make me think and motivates me. So. Surround yourself with interesting people, talk to your friends, colleagues or family members who challenge your thinking and keep you positive. Alternatively, you can find inspiration at talks, conferences, lectures by inspirational people, which is something that I enjoy a lot right now.
  4. Make time to think  – It sounds strange but once you’re running around like hamster in a wheel day in day out it takes extra effort to assign some time for you to just sit down and think and be alone with your thoughts without anyone interrupting you. It will give you the opportunity to reflect on what you want to do, which projects you want to take on next etc. Everything you do begins with a thought, and when you stop thinking you stop taking action. Take some time for yourself and see how your creativity will take off!
  5. Remember why – Sometimes motivation can fade as time goes on. Make a list of reasons why achieving your goals ist important to you, and keep it where you can see it (e.g. hang it up in your office or put it on your desk). Read it whenever you need a boost to get you going again!

7 Ways To (Instantly) Make Your Day Better

Hi friends

How are you today? Having a good day? No? I totally feel you. I had a bad day yesterday. Just feeling really ‘meh’ all day, not my usual self. Maybe it’s the depressing weather here or I don’t know what. Sometimes it’s just like that. It made me think what small things brighten up my day so I came up with the following seven ways. In case you’re having a ‘meh’ day today as well, I’m with you. And maybe some of those ideas might inspire you and make it a little better again.

If you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below! Bye!

#1 Make your bed when you wake up

It sounds SO SO stupid yet just the fact of doing it (and let’s be honest it only takes you less than a minute) will make you start your day on a productive note.

#2 Tackle your most daunting task first

When you prioritze your to do list and place your most dreaded task at the top, its power no longer looms over you all day. Whatever it is, once you check it off your list, you’ll feel so accomplished and ready to take all the other tasks on.

#3 Do something thoughtful for someone else

Doing something nice for someone else is scientifically proven to make your day better. Call or message a friend, send your grandparents a handwritten card, pay for your friend’s coffee at the café, bring your mother a bunch of flowers, the list is endless. Not only will this help take your mind off of whatever is bothering you, but it will also make someone else’s day better.

#4 Listen to your favorite song on repeat

Do you have a favorite song that you like to listen to when you’re in need of positive vibes? If not, it’s time to find one. Scientific American reports that “music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort, and may even promote metabolic efficiency.” So. Today’s to do: Find a go-to power song, or go the extra step and create a playlist so that you’ll never run out of options.

#5 Say “please” and “thank you”—and mean it

Being kind is important, right? Being kind AND sincere is even better. The more genuine kindness you offer to others, the more genuine kindness you’ll see in return. Hold the door for a stranger today, thank people for their efforts at work, say “please” when you order your morning coffee, smile AND MEAN IT.

#6 Have a relaxing bath

Rather than having that quick shower, make some me time (read more on how to practice self-care here) and have a bubble bath. You can also do a face or hair mask or whatever makes you feel good! It is a great treat after a long and hard day.

#7 Sniff something lemon-fragranced 

Yep, you read that right. To improve your day, simply sniff a lemon, light a lemon scented candle or get yourself a citrusy perfume. Scientists at Tel Aviv University suggest that citrus fragrances – particularly lemon – can alleviate depression and boost our mood. Why that is? The smell of a lemon boosts your levels of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) and lowers levels of norepinephrine (a stress hormone).

My March Favorites

People, IT IS APRIL. ALREADY.

I sound like a broken record I am aware because I seem to keep repeating myself every four weeks. Time’s flying though, don’t you think? Anyhow, I’m sparing you any more “how fast time goes by” comments and am jumping right into this month’s favorites. What have your favorites been, let us know in the comments below!

So, March has been a cold, snowy, grey and rainy one over here. Yes, Europeans reading this, you had a way nicer month in terms of weather. However, I loved spending a little more time inside cuddling up than I usually do. Most favorites relvove around me warming up on the couch watching or generally consuming something (not uber proud of it but such is life sometimes).

Drinks and Food 

I have been drinking a LOT of Yogi Ginger Tea (with an added slice of lemon if I am feeling fancy) in the mornings. There’s just something about it that makes me feel energized. Plus: I am even happier if I get to drink it out of my favorite (new) mug that Philipp surprised me with as he knew that I was so sad about the old one breaking (yes, he’s great. I agree).

On the alcoholic side of the drinks spectrum I have been loving Downeast Cider. It’s a locally produced cider only containing fresh table apples and ale yeast. Such a fresh and delicious taste. I will force everyone that is visiting me to drink it.

I am that annoying friend. yes.

You will (must) like it though. Haha.

Downeast Cider

Friends and New Plants  

Do you know the feeling when you finally think that you’ve arrived in a new place? We are slowly but steadily building a group of friends and you cannot believe how grateful I am for them. Plus, if they bring mini baby plants and orchids when they visit for brunch, I like them even more!

Books

Well, this is an interesting one that much I can say for sure. I am still reading it but will be sure to give you a review if you would like me to. Let me know if you do!

The Life Changing Magic of not giving a fuck

Spotify

I have rediscovered my love for Spotify this month, I am listening to it all the time. I have especially been enjoying Maggie Rogers, Agnes Obel, Ed Sheeran, Lorde and many more. I have put together a little playlist (check it out here) if you want to give it a listen.

Watching stuff (lots of it) 

You must have heard and read about it a million times already but I still had to include this as it just brought back so many memories and just downright melted my heart. So here goes the trailer for the mini-sequel of Love Actually. The full 10-minute film has already been released in the UK while it is going to be broadcast in May here in the US.

What do think, who has aged best? (Colin?, Hugh or Liam?). Also, check out some behind the scenes here.

What may sound odd at first is that I have been enjoying watching a show on Netflix called “Call the Midwife“. Hear me out on this one: It’s a story based on the real memories of a young midwife in East London in the 1950s. I find that you learn a lot about history, medical and social issues. I love it! There’s also a new season coming in April, yay!

Ok, so like millions of other people we gave in and went to see “The Beauty and the Beast”.

It’s crazy how much hype this film has gotten. A lot of people were saying how Emma Watson had turned down the role that Emma Stone (so many Emmas) later took in La La Land because she thought that “Beauty and the Beast” had more potential than “La La Land”. Well, I don’t know. The film itself was entertaining, I loved the music, the costume design and the effects. The story is pretty much what you’d expect. I feel like they kept it extremely close to the original tale.

I also had to laugh about articles I read beforehand saying that the beast was waaaay to ugly and how that was a huge disappointment. I’m going to be honest with you, I thought the BIGGEST disappointment of them all was seeing the prince’s face after two hours.

Seriously? Couldn’t they have casted a better looking prince than that.

A New Backpack Love 

I’ve done something I have never EVER done before. For the grand opening of a new Fjällräven branch here in Cambridge they offered the first 5o people in line on a Saturday morning a free Kanken.

As I was in need of a new backpack and had time that morning I went for it. I felt weird at first, because when I arrived there seemed to be two homeless guys lying in front of the entrance. I later found out that they had arrived at midnight to be the first in line. I got to talk to them and another girl in the line for almost three hours and had the best time. They served tea and coffee, good times.

fjällräven cambridge

And to be honest, I would have never expected that. Bonus: I walked out with a new forest green backpack and I LOVE IT.

Feeling those school kids vibes.

fjällräven

What Makes My (Minimalist) Home Homely

Hello everybody! How are you today?

Having moved across the ocean with two suitcases in hand has shown me that I really don’t need that many things in life. When packing up my stuff and being forced to leave things behind like clothes and furniture, I thought at first, ‘this is going to be hard’. A few months into the adventure of living in the US I can safely say that I don’t miss those things at all.

We moved into an empty apartment and had to furnish it ourselves. Ikea was obviously called to the rescue (which btw was a HUGE disappointment). The American version of Ikea is totally different from the European version it seems (Americans seem to have a totally different taste when it comes to furniture if you know what I mean). Anyways, as we will only be staying in the US for a limited amount of time we didn’t want to go all out and kept things fairly minimal.

I enjoy having a clear living space (other people would call it empty and sad). It gives me peace of mind and not seeing clutter and stuff everywhere is liberating. Also, the items that we now have in our flat all serve a purpose and are therefore greatly appreciated.

What are your favorite items in your living space? Why do you appreciate them?

Here goes a small overview of the things that make our rather minimalist home feel homely to me.

Plants and flowers

I LOVE flowers and plants. ALL of them. They are the best roommates you can wish for.

Minimalism

Photos and small gifts

They were easy to pack because they’re small and light yet mean so much to me. Love looking at them and feeling instantly happy and grateful.

Books

Cozy cushions and blankets

White bed sheets

 

Would love to hear what your favorite pieces in your home are! Let me know! Have a lovely Tuesday!

How To Get A Really Really Good Night’s Sleep

The older you get the more you learn to appreciate the simple things in life. Such as SLEEP.

Yes, this is a random one yet it is relevant to all of us, isn’t it?

Not getting enough sleep can lead to having trouble concentrating and remembering things the next day besides not feeling your best and fittest.

You know how it feels. We’ve all been there.

I thought it could be interesting to share a few little ‘hacks’ on how to get a good nights sleep. Ready to dive in?

#1 Go to sleep and get up at the same time everyday

This is such an obvious one yet so important. If you find this a tricky one, then some technology aka apps/your phone might help you out here. I have been playing around and testing the two below, you might want to give them a try for yourself, it’s interesting:

  • Clock iOS 10: If you’ve got an iPhone running iOS 10, you already have a pretty good sleep aid built into your phone. The iOS 10 update introduced Bedtime as one of the features in the Clock app. You can set what time you want to go to bed and when you want to wake up. Your iPhone will send you a notification prior to your scheduled bedtime, and, come the morning, it will wake you up with gentle music.
  • Sleep Cycle: This app uses the sleep cycle theory and aims to wake you at just the right time to ensure optimal rest. You first set a window of time (say 30 minutse) instead of a traditional pinpoint alarm time, and when the app judges that your sleep movement is just right, it will ring the alarm to wake you. I have been using this for the last 3 weeks and I’ve loved it!

#2 Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime

This is a tricky one. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. The latest iPhone has a night mode that you can set to if you ‘need’ to grab your phone (even though you’ve put it away a few minutes ago).

#3 Clear your head and room

I try and make my bedroom as calm as possible. I will always make sure to put away clothes lying around  before going to bed as well as putting other stuff away. When I am feeling extra motivated I’ll lay out my clothes for the next day (that actually never happens, now I’m thinking about it).

#4 Have a routine

I find just having a few things that you do each night can be really calming. It can be something as simple as applying hand cream before you go to sleep but when you do it often enough it can help your brain understand that it’s bedtime.

#5 Introduce something lavender-scented to your bedroom

This one might sound like a myth, but, weirdly, there is research that backs it up. A study reported that lavender oil sprinkled on bedclothes helped participants to drift off easier. I actually bought a pillow spray by the brand ‘thisworks’ and….it works. Haha. At least that’s what I tell myself if I’ve used it and had a good nights’s sleep.

What are your tips for a good night’s sleep? Have a good weekend with lots of good sleep!

8 (Realistic) Healthy Habit Hacks You Can Try Today

Hi guys

Hope you are doing well! We’re still talking about self-care until the end of the week. And today we’re talking about specific (and most importantly not too unrealistic habits) you can implement into your daily routines. Some seem really obvious and I see you going like “come on Sandra, be a little more creative than that”. But as with lots of things, it’s often the small things that make a difference. Be sure to share your healthy habits down below in the comments so we can learn more. Have a great day!

Don’t eat straight out of a package

This is a very dangerous one that I often don’t think about. It’s easy to just get out a package of pita chips or a box of ice cream (don’t judge)  to eat while watching Netflix, but ooohhh is it bad (because I eat the whole package easily). Instead I put a certain amount in a nice bowl and will a) eat more mindfully b) enjoy it more and c) maybeeee fill up the bowl several times?

Keep a secret snacks stash at work

It is essential to have a drawer with snacks in reach that can help you out when your lunch gets cancelled for some reason or you’re super stressed out. I am of course not talking about a sweets snacks drawer but thinking more about nuts, dates, dried or fresh fruit. To make things a little more “fun” you could share your “secret” drawer with a fellow coworker that also fills it up with little healthy surprises every now and then. I wish I had done that earlier, because the multiple times I got hungry at work, not fun.

Chew, chew, chew! 

This might sound weird but a very dear friend of mine (hola Laureta!) is a doctor (so she knows her stuff) and she always inspires me to chew my food more and not just devour it in one sitting. I try to chew the food 24 times (don’t ask me why, this number kind of stuck with me, I’m not even sure if she told me that).  Apparently it is better for your digestion, you enjoy and appreciate your food more (because you eat longer, haha) and you ingest less air while eating, which will make you feel less bloated. Win, right? 

Make drinking water fun

It’s a boring but important one. Drinking water is so good for your body, it helps with everything. So if you’re not already an avid water drinker fill up a bottle of water every morning and try infusing it with freshly cut lemons, cucumber or basil for example to give it a more interesting flavor that will make you actually reach out for it more. Also, it’s pretty to look at, which is a bonus in my books.

Meal prep on Sunday for the upcoming week

Salads are a good one to prepare ahead. Just chop all the vegetables up, store them in the fridge and take them out when you need them, all ready on the day you want to eat them or take to work. Pre-cook protein or grains (such as lentils, couscous or the infamous quinoa), and make a portion of your favorite dressing to use all week. Assembling will take no time at all.

You don’t have time to exercise today, try interval training! 

I know you’re busy today but you actually don’t need more than 20 minutes to get a great workout. In fact, short bursts of HIT workouts can even be more effective. So hop on the treadmill, do some sprints, and enjoy the post-workout energy boost (read more about my favorite HIT videos to do at home in this post).

Walk that body! 

The average job requires sitting in front of a computer for the majority of the day. Add that to sitting down for dinner and driving or taking the train to work, and that means you’re sitting for 70 percent of an average workday. Sneak in some exercise by running errands on foot, taking the stairs, parking farther away from your destination, or getting off the subway a stop before you actually need to. All those extra steps add up!

Love your to do lists

They’re your friend, not your enemy. At least I think so. Write all your tasks of the day down and prioritize them. It will help you stay on top of things and feel good about it. Ticking them off afterwards will feel even better.

50 Things That Make Me Happy

Hi everyone

I’ve inspired myself (haha) with yesterday’s post and suddenly felt the urge to write down 50 things that make me happy (sometimes such things do happen). I found that just the simple act of thinking about things that make you happy, writing them down and reading through the list once you’re done will make you smile. FORREAL! (Or maybe I am weird?! No, it’s really nice).  Try it for yourself, you’ll see how it will make you feel happy realizing how many things, be they little or small, make you feel good in life.

my family

philipp (he’s a funny one, makes me laugh ALL THE TIME)

all of my talented, beautiful, funny, smart and thoughtful friends

sleeping in a bed with freshly washed sheets for the first time

the taste of real (and) good food and eating it

 eating unhealthily (heyo you donuts, cakes, cookies, waffles and chocolate, i’m talking about you)

spending a rainy day inside all cuddled up on the sofa and being lazy AF (i’m talking when getting up to the bathroom ends up being a major accomplishment)

looking at and admiring the shapes and colors of all flowers and plants (there might be no plant I don’t find pretty)

doing yoga

listening to the stories of my grandparents

enjoying a good glass of wine and watching netflix (in this exact combination)

reading a really really good book (the ‘you don’t want to put aside’ kind of book, they’re a rare breed)

watching a really really good movie that makes me laugh/cry/think really hard

riding a bike when it’s nice outside

watching live performances (be it musicians, artists, actors etc.). it always makes me so happy seeing other people perform their arts with passion

doing a picnic in a park (on a picnic blanket, that is an essential. without that less happy points)

learning a new language and getting excited about the fact that you can start reading (and mostly understanding) the articles of a cool Dutch online magazine (cool)

genuine people that never expect anything in return (they’re the ones that deserve everything though)

the smell of things that come out of an oven (pizza, bread, cakes, cookies… a lot of good things come out of an oven i realize now)

exercising

buying delicious bread at a bakery (going into a bakery generally makes me very content, it’s a good place)

going for a hike on a sunny day and feeling connected with nature (yes that’s a thing)

(strongly connected to the above and equally as important) sitting on the ground and eating a lunch (that you’ve been carrying around in your backpack for the last couple hours) outdoors. It’s an accomplishment!

the smell of freshly cut grass

listening to music that gets you in a really good and productive mood

drinking cider (O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D)

doing skype sessions with my friends and seeing their faces on the screen

the sound of waves crashing at a beach (being at the beach is generally a good thing)

all baby animals (of course they’re nice and fantastic as grown-ups too but you know what I mean, right?)

good quality ice cream

Horchata

trying out new restaurants and bars

winter (a little less than the others, especially the boston edition of winter)

cleaning the apartment (maybe less the cleaning itself but the result afterwards. remember i’m an old lady at heart)

visiting a farmer’s market and seeing the people behind the produce you buy

intelligently funny people

people who laugh loudly (especially when they laugh at their own jokes)

catching up on youtube (don’t judge, it’s called escapism people, it’s something i’ve learned at uni)

sleeping in

travelling the world and discovering new places (extra fun challenge: going to a country where you don’t speak the language, makes it all the more interesting and great an experience)

planning travels (equally as great)

summer and the sun in general

autumn

spring

waking up early if I have to and feeling good about it

looking at old photos

going to Austria and Spain and feeling like it’s a bit like home

seeing all my friends together, getting along well

drinking tea out of a nice mug

getting voice messages on whats app (even though I am really bad at them, I LOVE hearing messages that people send me!)

awww I just read the list again (hope there are no typos) and it makes me happy. i might have (surely) written this post more for myself than for you, sorry about that. i hope it will inspire you to write your own little list.

The Gratitude Challenge

Let’s talk gratitude.

I’ve seen a TED talk a couple days ago entitled:

Want to be happy? Be grateful.

David Steindl-Rast, a fellow Austrian (monk and now well-known interfaith scholar) that emigrated to the US in the 1950s says something very easy yet so compelling: The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy. And happiness, he suggests, is born from gratitude.

Research actually backs up this hypothesis. Being grateful has has a multitude of positive effects on your physical (e.g. lower blood pressure, stronger immune system), psychological (e.g. higher level of positive emotions, more optimism and happiness) and social (e.g. more helpful, generous, compassionate, more outgoing) well-being. Read more about it here, if you’re interested.

tea

How to practice and cultivate gratitude?

Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in studies done by the University of California, Berkeley, researchers often have people keep gratitude journals for just about three weeks. And yet the results are overwhelming. They’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a lots of the benefits mentioned above.

The Gratitude Challenge

Let’s get a little more specific.

  • Why not write down at least three things you are grateful for for the next 10 days?
  • If you’re not a writer you can also totally make mental notes when standing at the bus or train stop waiting or munching away on your breakfast in the morning. It’s a great time killer I find instead of staring at your phone. If you do it in the morning you can also think about what specific things you are looking forward that day. I find that if I do that before the day really gets started I really enjoy going to things or doing the things even more.
  • If you’re more of an evening person you can also think about three things that made you smile or happy that day before going to sleep. It can be relaxing and calming I find.
  • If you’re lazy and need an input as to what to write down, there are a LOT of apps around where you can quickly type in a few words.
    • Grateful: It’s a quick job and very easy to use.
    • 21 Gratitude: If you’d like to invest a little more time, this one is quite elaborate and makes you reflect on specific questions.

Let me know if you did it! You’ll see that what starts off as a little challenge will turn into a habit, which should be the end goal.

I have been doing it for the last 6 days and love it. I think it really does make me more aware of what’s in front and around me everyday and of what I can be grateful for.

BTW: It doesn’t have to be deep stuff all of the time. I one day was grateful for the (most delicious ever) ice cream I had bought that day. Another day it was a warming tea in my favorite mug after being out in the cold for a couple of hours. That’s life though. Small things make a difference. 

Why Self-Care Is The Best Care

When was the last time you took care of yourself? Be honest.

You have a ton of things going on at work and your calendar is packed with tasks and deadlines.

I feel you. Been there, done that.

To try and make it all work, you think it’s a good idea to start skipping lunch and eating at your desk, stop going to the gym, and forgetting about your friends and family. When we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing that has to go. It’s easy it seems. And that actually only makes things worse. Why? We’ll find out in a second.

Even though I am using it myself, I think that the word self-care has been thrown around as a buzzword lately when it essentially (in my opinion at least) only means the act of doing something that benefits your well-being. It’s the constant repetition of habits, which together make you happy and be at your emotional and physical best.

If it’s that obvious a thing, why do we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves?

It’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves because when we’re busy and overwhelmed. In our culture, hard work and endless to-do lists are valued high for some reason. When balancing school, uni, homework, work, and a social life, adding self-care to our list can seem like another time-consuming task. When we neglect self-care, however, we run the risk of experiencing high levels of stress and exhaustion, making it more difficult for us to complete everyday tasks.

Morale of the story: Self-care is important in helping us be healthy and happy individuals.

How to practice self-care

Maybe you’re already a pro a taking care of yourself. In that case I say: YAY, GOOD FOR YOU!

If you feel like you didn’t do the best job in that department, do not worry, I’ve got good news for you: There is no wrong way to practice self-care. Because the only right way to do it is the one that feels right to you.

If you find it difficult to maintain a practice of self-care, try blocking off a specific time for it and incorporate those habits (be they big or small, long or short) into your everyday life. Now the fun part begins: Think what you can do to take care of yourself and challenge yourself to do something for you every day, ok?

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Don’t skip breakfast and prepare something delicious today or go grab your favorite pastry at the bakery on your way to work.
  • Use your way to work to also look out for five beautiful things, moments, encounters.
  • Set yourself the challenge of drinking enough water this day (you can also flavor it with fruit or cucumber to make it more interesting).
  • Take a walk during your lunch break or go for a run, regardless of the weather situation. The fresh air will do you good. 
  • Have a date with yourself today: Spend an hour alone doing something that you enjoy (visiting a museum exhibit, go to a café, read a magazine in the sun, go for a walk around town, do something creative).
  • Get yourself fresh flowers
  • Bake something (maybe one of these absolute, even kind of healthyish beauts?)
  • Plan a weekend trip with your best friends 
  • Have a relaxing bath in the evening
  • (while watching your favorite shows maybe?)
  • (while having a face mask on maybe?)
  • Express gratitude (it’s a good one…more on that tomorrow on this space, don’t miss it peeps!)

Be sure to share your #ThisIsHowWeSelfCare (total bad English, never mind, it’s one that’s not taken yet, let’s conquer it!) moment with me on Instagram if you do something so we can inspire each other!

Have a great week!

7 Days Without Sugar: An Experiment

Hello everyone!

It seems like I enjoy depriving myself of things when you look at my last couple of challenges/experiments (e.g. no electronical devices, no make up). I wonder if I should look into that. Anyways, here goes my report on my little experiment of going sugar-free for 7 days.

The Rules

  • No added refined sugars (white sugar, corn syrup, brown sugar etc.)
  • No added artificial sweeteners (Truvia, Splenda, NutraSweet, aspartame etc.)

Most processed food contains added sugar, even the ones you don’t suspect like ketchup, granola, flavored yogurt, salad dressing, and potato chips.

How it went down

Firstly, I like sugar. I love me a cookie, chocolate, a cake or pastry every once in a while. This could be tough as I’ve never done it before.

Day 1 I’am highly motived (of course, it’s day 1) and therefore think it’s super easy.

I’ve got this. 

I review my breakfast options. It cannot be cereals because they usually are full of added sugars, it will most likely be porridge (you know me by now) in different variations and with different toppings to still keep things a little interesting. For lunch I mostly go for big, filling salads. My favourite snacks are fruit and nuts. Dinners usually are pasta, rice, vegetables, lentils or something the like.

Day 2 No problem. I think. Until I realize that I totally failed. For breakfast already (see featured image on top of the page).

While I was focussing on getting the free of added sugars and overall more natural peanut butter I didn’t pay attention that the toast I put it on had added sugars in it. Damn it. I blame it on America. There is sugar in EVERYTHING. I’ve never realized that there is added sugar in toast bread. Stupid me. Rest of the day was unspectacular in terms of no sugar. I find that grapes are my go to snack as they satisfy my sweet tooth. Not so interesting, I know.

Day 3 Had volunteering in the morning at the American Red Cross. First social interaction where I was tempted to have a cookie as they offered the volunteers some at a quick break.

I refused a cookie. What kind of person have I become? I start to question this experiment.

In the afternoon I went to a social get together of Harvard spouses for the first time (yes, such things exist and I am now a proud member may I say). We met up in a cute little café in Cambridge. This was definitely a moment where I would have loved getting something sweet with my coffee.

But. I. RESISTED. Booya.

Day 4 No major crisis to report. What might have helped: I was especially looking forward to a visit to a small local brewery called Aeronaut in the evening. Yes, the thought of alcohol was kind of making up for my sugar loss. Just kidding. Haha.

Day 5 Just when I thought I could totally do this forever, I had lunch at flour bakery, which seriously do the best and most creative sandwiches EVER. So I went with my dear friend Anca.

When you’re out of home and get food at a restaurant or café you obviously cannot control what ingredients they put in your food or in my case if they put sugar in it. Still, I checked that my iced green mint tea was unsweetend. And I also think that my sandwich was clear. Seeing all the pastry and cookies on display really was tempting as they do some of the best in town. In the evening we took a tour of the Downeast Cider brewery (officially my favourite cider ever!!) and even though they don’t add sugars it is of course a sweet drink.

Day 6 This was definitely the hardest part because we go to the market on Saturdays where there are all those amazing treats. I would have usually gotten a pain au chocolat but instead I just walked by (staring a little at them, I admit it).  I start to question my choices.

In the evening we went to the movies and saw ‘Get Out’ (more on that tomorrow) and of course, when Americans go to the cinema snacks are a MUST. We went for a safe option: popcorn! Don’t judge the size. It’s what’s normal here.

Day 7 I am proud of myself for having made it through this week and seriously think about prolonging the experiment. I am not sure yet. However, what will surely stick with me is that I will consider more if I really should have something sugary because I know now that everything goes perfectly fine without it.

Morale of the story aka lessons learnt

  • I survived, it was fine. You will survive, too.
  • It was good for me to reconsider how much (too much) sugar I tend to eat (and to realize that sugar is EVERYWHERE). It might be worth a try to balance things out because you will definitely feel better, more awake and healthier overall. That’s how I felt anyway.

You can do it too! If you want to challenge you for a short little week, do it! And let me know how it went!

Have a great start to this new week, it’s March people! Spring is coming!!!