Cut Down on the Plastic

Listen, I was a plastic user for years.  But since I became a health and wellness coach, I realized I need to change.  I grew up, like many of you, in a household chock full of Tupperware and Rubbermaid, just to name a few.  The containers worked for food storage and household storage.  Back then, what I didn’t realize is that plastics have chemicals in them that increase the risk of cancer and may cause hormonal imbalances in some.  Slowly, over time, I’ve been able to almost fully transition to a cleaner storage container.  And I want to help you do the same!

My first tip, and the one I think is the easiest, is to switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles.  The reason this is my number one tip is because plastic breaks down over time.  Even if you’re drinking from a BPA-free bottle, it could still have other chemicals in it that you aren’t aware of.  My favorite bottles to drink from are the Sip by Swell bottles.  You can find them at Target and they come in a variety of sizes.  They’re not insanely expensive either, which is great!  Next time you’re there, swing down the aisle and check them out.  The fun prints might just make you want to pick one up.

When it comes to leftovers, we have to store them somewhere, right?  I used to use Rubbermaid containers and would carry them to work, reheat them in the microwave and even use a fork and knife right in them, making scratches on the inside.  Totally bad news bears!  My husband always used to yell at me for it and I knew deep down he was right, but that’s what we had so that’s what we used.  Now we use these glass containers.  And that’s my second tip – use glass (or porcelain) containers to store and reheat your leftovers.  Using these types of containers is better because in the heat, plastic breaks down even faster.  The food that is in the plastic container, when heated up, will absorb some of the chemicals released from the plastic.  Are you somewhat grossed out yet?  I imagined creepy bugs crawling into my food from the plastic.  Eww!  Ok, let’s move on…

My third tip is to toss those plastic containers you have now that you know you’ve put in the microwave or run through the dishwasher.  Again, heat breaks down the plastic and releases those chemical components, allowing them to get into your food.  Remember those bugs I imagined?  Yup, same reason here.  But hey, if you are old school and hand wash your dishes, you might be safe.  But only if you haven’t microwaved them.  This will be helpful too because you can make room for your new glass or porcelain containers.

If you’re in a position where you really can’t toss all your plastic goods, that’s ok, but I still want you to be safe.  Tip four is to check the number on your BPA-free plastics.  Even if it says it’s BPA-free, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s chemical free.  Phthalates is one chemical group that can be found in plastics that are BPA-free.  They make plastics more flexible and harder to break, which is why companies use them.  So what numbers do you look for?  The numbers will range from 1 to 7 and if you see 1, 2, 4 or 5, that plastic is a safer choice.  The ones you want to avoid at all costs are 3, 6 or 7.

My last tip I think you’re going to love.  When you go shopping, you typically get a plastic bag for your purchased goods, right?  What do you do with those bags?  Most people, use them around the house or toss them.  But they pile up.  Especially after grocery shopping.  That’s why my last tip is to get reusable bags to use when you’re shopping.  When I’m grocery shopping, I literally get stopped every trip and get asked where I got my bags.  In the past my response has been “Oh, I don’t know, I found them online somewhere.”  Well, I really did find them online…and in the most magical place on earth (just kidding)…AMAZON!  Seriously, though, love that site!  The bags I have are called Pack-N-Tote grocery cart helper bags because they hook onto the sides of the cart and you can fill them as you go through the store.  It’s easier at checkout and we usually fit everything in just two bags.  As for non-grocery related shopping, those huge TJ Maxx bags are awesome.  But if you want one a little more classy, you can pick up the Market Tote from Vera Bradley for less than $10.  Their Painted Medallions is my newest favorite print.

Now that you’ve got the tips, what’s your plan?  My suggestion, start slow.  Baby steps make this transition much, much easier.  And do the swaps as you can.  It can be a lot of money to completely revamp everything you’ve been doing for the last, oh I don’t know, 10+ years but if you go slow, it will be much easier.  If you need more suggestions or help with the transitions, you know where to find me!

An Asthmatic’s Accomplishment

This weekend we’re traveling…again.  But we always try to make it fun.  So we decided to go to Bushkills Falls in Pennsylvania.

We both love hiking and thought it would be a perfect thing to do before we check into our hotel room.  We had never been there before but my husband’s boss said “Go right, there’s less stairs.”  Well, as we’re always up for a challenge, we went left.

Here’s the map of the trails.  Number 3 is the Top of the Main Falls and is pretty much your starting point.  We took the red route.  let me tell you, lots of stairs going down.  But what I didn’t realize until later is that would mean a lot of stairs going up.  As we got to Number 7 – the View of the Lower Gorge – we decided to keep going along this route.  There was a sign that basically said to turn around if you weren’t an experienced hiker.  We consider ourselves fairly experienced so kept going.  This is when I realized I left my Pro Air at home.

Now, this might be an asthmatic’s worst nightmare.  And I’m not going to lie, I was little nervous.  But mind over matter, right?  And I wasn’t going to tell my husband.  I kept going.  There was a part on the Bridal Falls Trail that made me huff and puff a bit, but I went slow and paid attention to my breathing.  “In through the nose and out through the mouth.”  I even had to stop a few times and catch my breath, but I knew I could keep going.  I kept telling myself I could do it.  And if I didn’t keep going, I would have missed out on views like this:

Gorgeous, right?

So what’s the moral to my story?  Being out in nature can make you have a different mindset and having a different mindset can push you to a point that you think you may not have been able to get to.  Another piece of the puzzle is believing in yourself because this is half the battle when it comes to facing something tough.  Despite not having my inhaler with me, I knew there would be a way to counteract my fears and have a great day.

I don’t know how many stairs we climbed, but I know it was a lot.  And at the end of the day, I felt so proud of myself.  For a lot of reasons…

One – I was able to have a successful hike without having an asthma attack.  The focus on my breathing helped tremendously!

Two – I found I didn’t even need my Pro Air.  If you asked me to do a hike without my inhaler 10 year ago, I would have said “No way, Jose”.

Three – I’ve found a way of life where I don’t have to be dependent on medications.  By changing my diet and increasing my physical activity, I’ve been able to find a life where I can live independently.

Sounds easy, right?  Not so much.  It has taken a lot of learning (about myself and how food affects the body), time and patience and encouragement from the members of my tribe.  I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs too.  But I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.  Ready and willing to take on life, head on!  So asthma-free living, I’m coming for ya, whether you’re ready for me or not.

5Ks May Lead to Marathons

Back in 2013, I ran my first 5K.  While I’ve never been a runner, I decided to run a 5K that involved obstacles because that was more my speed.  Here’s a pic from that race:

Yup, totally looks like I’m conquering all, doesn’t it?!  This race was called Tuff Scrambler and it was done down on a farm, hence the hay bails.  The race was designed to bring out the competitive side in the runners.  If you know me at all, you know I’m a competitive person.  The course was definitely challenging but not over the top, which was good for my first race.  The race has obstacles that are all man-made, has trails through the woods and has more mud than you’ll see at the finest spa in NYC.

How you’re probably thinking, “Why the heck would you want your first 5K to be an obstacle course?”  You’re smart in thinking that because I honestly should have asked myself that too.  BUT…this was a step out of my comfort zone and it was just what I needed.  After signing up, I became excited and nervous at the same time.  I was in decent shape and just kept telling myself I could do it.  Race day came and guess what, I did it.  I was covered in mud, was soaking wet and had a huge smile on my face because I accomplished something I thought I would never be able to do.

Which leads me to my next venture…a true 5K.  A bunch of coworkers are doing a 5K road race in a few months and I know I’m not a runner.  But again came the call of a challenge.  I signed up to be a runner…yes, a runner.  And then immediately downloaded the C25K app.  For any of you that don’t know what that is, Google it.  If you’re inspired to run or at least begin, check it out.  This is a training app that gives coaching queues and helps you learn how to run a 5K.  It helps you pace yourself and learn how to control your breathing.  And as an asthmatic, this is just what I need.

I’m only done with Week 1 of the program, but in just a few months, I’ll be able to (or should be able to) run 3.5 miles without stopping.  Seeing that goal seems big to me, but I just keep telling myself I can do it.  it’s a goal and I will do what I can to reach that goal. Remember, baby steps lead to big changes in life.

Do you have a goal to run too?  Are you a runner now?  Comment below if you’re just starting out or what tips you can share for a newbie runner.   I’d love to hear about your experiences – both the good and the ugly.  Because who knows, your tips might lead to my next challenge…maybe a marathon…