#Whole30 Round 2 Kickoff

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Happy September & Happy #Whole30 Kickoff!

Immediately following completion of our first #Whole30 (May 1, 2016), Hubs and I agreed that we definitely wanted to do another round sometime this year. Not yet confident in our ability to adhere to the program rules over the food-centric Thanksgiving holiday, we decided September was our best bet for a successful Round 2. So off we go on our second Whole30 adventure!
During our first round, I relied heavily on the resources and downloads available at the Whole30 website. One resource I failed to mention during our first go-round was the #Whole30 Non-Scale Victory (#NSV) Checklist – available for download here. The NSV Checklist is a 2-page list of positive results (separate from actual pounds or kg. lost) achieved by Whole30 completers. I encourage you to check it out if you’ve never seen the NSV Checklist. Folks have reported some amazing achievements like “Whiter Teeth;” “Looking Younger;” “Longer, Stronger Nails;” and “Increased Libido.”

As a motivator, I reviewed my NSV Checklist results from our first round. Then, I made list of the #NSV items I hope to achieve this round. Here’s my list of benefits achieved during our April (2016) Whole30:
1. Less dimpled skin
2. Flatter stomach
3. Leaner overall appearance
4. Clothes fit better – this was huge!
As pictured below, I was (finally) able to fit into 2 pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans for the first time in a year!

Woohoo! Back in my fav jeans!!! (excuse the messy bedroom)

Woohoo! Back in my fav jeans!!!
(excuse the messy bedroom and my unattractive socks)

5. Less bloating
5. Feeling more confident in my appearance
6. Fewer PMS symptoms
7. A more regular monthly cycle
8. Less stomach pain
9. Less gas
10. Reduction in food allergies (symptoms)
11. Improved blood sugar regulation
12. Less stressed
13. Fewer carb cravings
14. Improved body image
15. Improved self-confidence
16. Friends and family came to me seeking food and healthy lifestyle advice or healthy recipes
17. Eating to satiety
18. Listening to my body
19. No longer afraid of dietary fat (this was a BIG paradigm shift for me!)
20. No longer using food as a reward
21. More nutrition in my diet
22. Food no longer had unwanted “side effects” (similar to #11)
23. Energy levels more even
24. I no longer got cranky when I needed to eat
25. I needed less caffeine
26. I became more consistent with exercise
27. I discovered lots of new recipes (see list at bottom of post)
28. Our meal prep was more organized and efficient
29. Our healthy eating habits brought us closer as a family
30. People asked what I was doing differently (esp. how I lost the baby weight)
31. Feeling in control of food (not the other way around)

Wow! That’s a whole lotta benefits. Just typing them out makes me really excited to see what successes we’ll achieve this time. In keeping with Hubs’ recommendation‘ to set goals before undertaking any lifestyle changes, I’ve identified a few more potential results from the NSV Checklist I’d like to see happen this time. Here they are:
• More energy to play with our daughter (this is always my #1 goal as she’s always our #1 priority)
• Improved attention span
• Fewer ADHD symptoms
• Fall asleep more easily
• More energy to exercise – I’m hoping to add a walking regimen to my existing routine of MUTU + 45-60 min yoga/daily
• Be outside more
• Create and try new recipes
• No more under-eye circles
• Brighter eyes
• Clothes fit better – I still can’t fit into several pair of pre-pregnancy jeans.
• Looking younger
• Fewer seasonal allergies
• Less fatigue
• Practice mindful eating

Speaking of mindfulness and improved mental focus, I’m adding a goal not listed on the NSV Checklist. By then end of September, I want to be practicing EmWave for at least 15 minutes each day.
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EmWave is a mental training product of the HeartMath company – available as an iPhone app, a stand-alone handheld device, or computer program teaches you to use “Balanced Breathing” to normalize your and balance out your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, thereby improving your focus and attention. If you’re unfamiliar with Emwave, check out their website for more information on the science and research behind this training, the benefits available from just a few minutes of practice each day.

Wisdom for the Day:
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” ~Job 13:11 (New International Version)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Ever wonder why all the beauty bloggers and social media makeup gurus have such huge beautiful eyes? Are they all just genetically gifted? Nope! They use special eye-tricking techniques to make their eyes appear larger. In this video the absolutely stunning Stephanie Lange shares her 8 best tricks for making eyes look bigger. It’s worth the less than 4 minutes of your time just to hear her adorable accent!

Be Sure to Check Out These #Whole30 Recipes from Daily Beauty Wisdom:
#Whole30 Creamy Spinach Stuffed Turkey or Pork Roulade
#Whole30 Veggie Puffs for Kids & Adults
Whole30-Compliant Sloppy Joes on Sweet Potato Toasts
Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

WHOLE30 Day #8 – One Week Down!!!

Mommy's Tired!
Well, we’ve completed a full week of our WHOLE30 journey. Seven days down and 23 more to go. As I pause to take stock and savor this accomplishment, I am struck by one overwhelming realization – I am completely and totally exhausted. I mean I’m tired like down into my bones. I’m so tired sometimes it feels like extra work to sit in the chair and breathe.

My primary job every day is taking care of our nearly 6-month old baby, cook and take care of the home, etc. I’m also blessed to have the help of my mother who lives with us. Her assistance is especially wonderful these days with my energy waning. I find myself craving a nap every day and trying to power through with alternate nostril breathing and coffee. It takes all the strength I’ve got to complete my daily yoga sessions, and I seem be more sore afterwards. Luckily, I’m still able to do my MUTU Core Exercises every day which is extremely important to me because I’ve seen such amazing results in reversing my diastase recti (AKA the “mummy tummy”) I developed during my pregnancy.

I can’t imagine how Hubs is managing his work load. I am grateful for his attitude. He continues to encourage me through the process and reminds me that according to the WHOLE30 authors, this fatigue has arrived right on scheduled and is expected part of the 30-day timeline.

Wisdom for the Day:
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.
~Psalm 54:4 (NASB)
Read more here.

Recommended Resources:
1. Art of Living – How to Alternate Nostril Breathing
2. What Is Diastasis Recti and What to Do about It?

5 Morning Habits for Happier, Healthier Days & Nights

5 Habits for a Healthier You

Habit #1: Mark Your Wakeup Time to Determine Your Bedtime
All healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Do not kid yourself into believing you need less than 7 hours. I personally need 8.5 hours or I feel really crappy the next day. That doesn’t make me weak or less of a person. It just means I have to plan to get sufficient shut-eye in order to be productive, especially with a newborn in the house. If you’re getting less than 7 hours sleep now or you just feel tired all the time, here’s how you begin:
determine when you absolutely must wakeup. Count backwards 7 hours from that time and go to bed at that time. If you must, DVR your fav TV programs that you’ll miss in order to go to bed earlier. Trust me. You will enjoy them more binge-watching anyway. If you still feel tired, go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night until you feel refreshed. That’s the amount of sleep you need per night.

Habit #2: Coffee, Glorious Coffee – Okay to me, this is a no-brainer. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 16 years-old. Thank God for all the recent research touting Coffee’s health benefits(since I plan to keep right on drinking it). Of course, green tea is even healthier if you happen to be so inclined. Me, I’ll stick with my beloved java.

Habit #3: A Breath of Fresh Air – Consider a short (3-5 minute) walk first thing in the morning while you coffee brews (or while that Keurig warms up). Enjoy your cup of coffee onto the porch, patio or balcony (or if you read ahead, you’ll see that taking a quick walk outside while your coffee brews is the best plan).

Habit #4: Get Some AM Physical Activity
Probably the best thing you can do in the morning is take a short walk outside. If you happen to have dogs, they will definitely appreciate a a quick AM stroll.
If at all possible, walk with another person, especially if it’s dark in the mornings where you live. Here are a few more tips to keep you walking safely: Safe Walking Tips

I find it’s easiest to squeeze in a few short bouts of exercise (especially strength training) spread throughout the day. There are a few things that are easily completed before breakfast or before that first cup of coffee. For me, the most effective strategy is to try to do 3 bursts before leaving the bathroom area in the morning (oh c’mon! I know your first out-of-bed pitstop in the morning is the bathroom).
Here are a few of my favorite quick strength bursts that can be accomplished standing in front of the bathroom sink:
– 50 Squats
– 10-25 Biceps Curls (stash some free weights under your sink or on a shelf in the linen closet)
– 10-25 Military Press or Clean-and-Press. Here’s a how-to video:

– 10-25 Overhead Triceps Extension with Free Weights. Video link:

Be sure to keep those elbows close to your head and tighten your core muscles to support your tummy and back!

– 25 Lunges per Leg
– 25 Reverse Lunges per Leg
– 10-50 Push-ups (if doing modified “knee” push-ups, be sure to put those knees on a bath mat or rug for support)

Habit #5: Eat Some Walnuts
Here are a few yummy recipes using walnuts:
Raw Date + Nut Balls (gluten-free, vegan, raw)
No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bars (vegan, gluten-free)
Crunchy Walnut-crusted Salmon (paleo, gluten-free)
Fresh Broccoli & Apple Salad with Walnuts (just plain yummy!)

De-stress Quickly

These days, we all have stress (or more accurately we all struggle with “stressors,” daily life events that cause anxiety, confusion or fear). Researchers tell us that chronic stress (again more accurately, chronic stress defined as “an inability to manage, resolve and appropriately deal with stressors in an efficient manner”). The experience of stress is literally caused by having more life stressors than you have strategies to manage without allowing stressful circumstances to impact your health, mood and activities or relationships) speeds up the aging process, is strongly related to common diseases of civilization – like heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Plus chronic, unmanaged stress accelerates the age process (Need proof? Check out this link: Stress Aging Connection at Prevention.com). Plus, feeling constantly stressed out is just REALLY uncomfortable.

So we all need to beef up our stress management strategies. Fortunately, scientists are also motivated to find stress tonics that provide relief quickly. Check out the list below from Stop Stress Now – Web MD and the added links to help you out along the mindfulness journey.

10 Ways to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

1. Put Stress in Its Place
How you handle stress makes a big difference in how you feel. It might even help your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and the rest of you. Use these calming strategies to stop stress ASAP.

2. Break Out the Bubble Gum
Next time you’re at the end of your rope, unwrap a stick of gum. According to studies, chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may improve blood flow to your brain, while others believe the smell and taste help you relax.

3. Go Outside
Spending time outdoors, even close to home, is linked to better well-being. You’re in a natural setting, and you’re usually doing something active, like walking or hiking. Even a few minutes can make a difference in how you feel.

4. Smile Like You Mean It
Don’t roll your eyes the next time someone advises you to “grin and bear it.” In times of tension, keeping a smile on your face – especially a genuine smile that’s formed by the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth – reduces your body’s stress responses, even if you don’t feel happy. Smiling also helps lower heart rates faster once your stressful situation ends.

5. Sniff Some Lavender
Certain scents like lavender may soothe. In one study, nurses who pinned small vials of lavender oil to their clothes felt their stress ease, while nurses who didn’t felt more stressed. Lavender may intensify the effect of some painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, so if you’re taking either, check with your doctor before use. (I love lavender essential oils which are reasonably priced at Amazon.com ).

6. Tune In
Heading into a stressful situation? Music can help you calm down. In one study, people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they listened to a recording of Latin choral music before doing something stressful (like doing math out loud or giving a speech) than when they listened to a recording of rippling water.

7. Reboot Your Breath
Feeling less stressed is as close as your next breath. Focusing on your breath curbs your body’s “fight or flight” reaction to pressure or fear, and it pulls your attention away from negative thoughts. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your chest and lower belly rise and your abdomen expand. Breathe out just as slowly, repeating a word or phrase that helps you relax. To reap benefits, practice abdominal breathing for at least 10 minutes per day. Need help getting started? Check out this list of best smart phone apps: Best Cell Phone Apps for Meditation & Mindfulness or invest in the amazingly fabulous Heart Math cell phone attachment. Link: Inner Balance from Heath Math (P.S. health professionals receive discounted prices on starter packages).

8. Be Kind to Yourself
We all have a constant stream of thoughts running through our heads, and sometimes what we tell ourselves isn’t so nice. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you calm down and get a better grip on the situation. Talk to yourself in the same gentle, encouraging way you’d help a friend in need. “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or “I’ll figure out how to handle this.”

9. Write Your Stress Away
Jotting down your thoughts can be a great emotional outlet. Once they’re on paper, you can start working out a plan to resolve them. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer pen and notebook, a phone app, or a file on your laptop. The important thing is that you’re honest about your feelings.

10. Tell a Friend
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out the company of a friend or loved one. Have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries as you? Even more reason to open up. You’ll both feel less alone. (Feeling some sort of way about laying your fears and stressors on a friend at 3 o’clock in the morning? Check out this super cool site which allows you to vent anonymously online to a caring and supportive stranger for FREE: Blah Therapy ).


Wishing you peace, joy and happy stress management my lovelies!



Hi I'm Karen.

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