This post was sponsored by The Aetna Foundation. I may be compensated for sponsored posts seen within Nosh and Nurture, but know that I only work with companies whose initiatives and products I stand behind 100%. All opinions are my own.
How healthy is YOUR city?
If you're like most American's, you're unable to quantify this with a distinguishable answer, however, in a survey given by The Aetna Foundation, most residents would rate their city a C. This seems highly lacking to me and I know from experience, that where you live can have a major impact on your overall health and lifestyle.
Not only are we lacking in knowledge of upping our cities health factors, most American's perceptions of health are skewed. When surveyed, most American's, up to 77% according to the CDC, would rate their health quite high, stating that they live a healthy lifestyle 5 out of 7 days. Yet when we look at this countries health decline (50% of adults suffer from at least one chronic illness) and rising obesity rates, one could wonder if this is in fact the truth.
Geographical location, along with environmental influences, have a great deal to do with our state of health in any given point in our life. I know personally, living in southern California as compared to living in Arizona's West Valley, southern California greatly offered me more healthy fare, including vegan and gluten-free options, as well as more even weather temperatures and community health events that allowed me to walk more and exercise outdoors year round. Whereas, in an Arizona summer I barely make it outside, let alone to walk or get to the gym. Is part of this my doing? Of course. But part of it is the location factor. It all plays a part. My city is also greatly lacking in any eateries that aren't a mass chain, leaving very few healthy, locally sourced options.
That is why I was so passionate to pair up with the Aetna Foundation and their Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge. It's a beautiful initiative that helps motivate our cities to put new programs in place to influence the health of it's community.
And we, as our city's patrons, can play a part in the integration of improved conditions for how our area supports health and wellness. That fact is not only exciting, it gives us hope for a healthier lifestyle overall for not only us, but for our children's generation. The Aetna Foundation stated that 94% of America's are willing to do something in order to make their environment a healthier one.
How can we do that? I share six ideas below that you can work on over time. As for what we are doing, Mr.
69% of American's believe it is crucial to tend to our mental state to avoid stress, while 59% believe being in a good mood makes or breaks our day. This group also agrees that fitness and nutrition play an equally important role in our well-being. This means we are on a good path to a majority of American's seeking balance and understanding the importance this trifecta of details makes. There is hope!
Walking, yoga and meditation are wonderful ways to de-stress and its important to take time out of each day, no matter how brief, to check in with yourself and your state of well being. Even on the busiest of days I take a moment throughout the day to assess my stress level and decide if I need to step away and get fresh air, if a gentle stretch will help or if I need to break away all together for a short yoga or meditation session.
As we juggle work, family, home and social responsibilities, self-care becomes more and more a vital aspect we need not push to the back burner. Many feel guilty in doing so, but in the end your work, relationships and overall happiness will be amplified when you're centered, less stressed and happier overall.
The Aetna Foundation is looking for the top 50 healthiest cities and YOU have a chance to make an impact in your community and get them nominated. If you follow along the challenge you'll get to learn about the innovator cities that are making the biggest changes. Those include:
Before we wrap up, make sure to visit my post of tips on how you and your family can increase Health & Wellness in your home every day! The Aetna Foundation also gives some great tips, so make sure you check it out to see what we recommend! And, if you feel so inclined, pin and share with all your lovely friends and family.
And finally, we'd love to know what makes YOUR city great? Comment below or join in the conversation on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #HealthiestCitiesChallenge and let us know! If you also tag @noshandnurture, I'll feature a list of Healthy Rock Star cities here on Nosh and Nurture's Wanderlust to spread the word on how awesome your city is doing or what you are doing / eating / enjoying in your city to boost your health and wellness.
Young, Wild & Free
Exploring the world before, after and during college can be one of the most insightful times in our life. It’s where we learn who we are, what we want out of life, what we don’t want. All of that is enough to think about without stressing over what to have with you when you’re discovering these life-changing revelations. Whether you’re trekking cross-country or just driving to the nearest mountain lodge, you’ll want to pack light. For wardrobe, pack light layers and neutral outfits that can be mixed and matched with ease. For travel snacks, opt for granola, protein sticks and other items that will give you lasting energy. Also, Google a map of local farmer’s markets in each city you hit to have access to fresh fruits and veg and don’t forget your journal to document your memories.
As a pair, you’ll need to learn the fine art of compromise. I got lucky and married someone who has a similar goal list when it comes to our travel desires, but not all couples will. Mix it up and keep it spontaneous. Take turns choosing the destination or excursions along the way, allowing yourself to be open to new experiences. When traveling with your honey, always have a tent and a picnic basket with an unopened bottle of wine in the car (caution if you’re traveling where it’s warm. I learned the hard way, that in heat, corks will burst.) It makes for a great impromptu romantic night of sleeping under the stars. Also, travel with comfortable blankets and pillows and map out a local drive-in theater for a little nostalgia. Battle of the Sexes card games are always fun to have when driving long hours, as are books on tape.
Mommy & Me
Pile in the littles and everything changes. The days of packing light in a fashionable mini-backpack are long behind you, though I hope you’re still scheduling time for the romantic picnics when the kids are with the grandparents, and visions of “Are We There Yet” chants hang in the air. Have no fear. With the right essentials, you needn’t expect anything but a fun road trip where both you and your kiddos can be entertained. First, make sure the snacks you pack are healthy and filling. Think about how you’d feel if you were given a heaping serving of sugar and empty calories and then strapped into a seat for five hours. I’d probably throw a tantrum too. Snacks that are balanced and nutritious, such as fibrous vegetables, berries and healthy crackers and cheese (if dairy is tolerated) are much better alternatives to sweets. For in car activities, pack a variety of books and games that are a mix of stimulating, educational and fun. Another way to expel more energy and to add adventure, purchase tickets to a museum, park or children’s center along the route that can break up the trip and give the kids something to explore.
No matter the age, the journey is half the fun. With a little planning and knowledge, the stress can be taken out, leaving much more room for adventure and memory making. You can also check out my post on how to have a budget-friendly staycation.
This weekend, Mr. Charming and I traveled to Dallas, Texas on a writing assignment. From Friday night to Sunday night we were on the go, actually going nearly 36 hours without sleep for part of it, making it a hard schedule to follow when it comes to "me time". From museums and cultural centers, to tranquil gardens and delicious eateries, our schedule was packed with places to review and enjoy while "me time" looked like a distant possibility for us to take.
As I am always speaking on ways we need to disconnect and relax at home, I am a firm believer that the same applies when we travel.
Possilbly even more so.
From the stress of airport security, catching flights and the constant movement of travel, to the changes in our diet, climate changes and the rigorous schedule of sightseeing or working, it can take a toll on us physically, mentally and spiritually. Which is why its crucial for us to relax, refresh and reboot. Even while on "vacation".
Luckily, I had some of my favorite reading material, Real Simple Magazine and Sunset Magazine, packed in my bag from my trip to Safeway for entertainment on my down time. I am a fanatic when it comes to getting to the airport with plenty of time, so once we got through security, we settled in, grabbed a salad and I got to enjoy some me time to prepare for what was a crazy busy weekend.
Mr. Charming and I want to plan more trips for 2016 and Sunset had an article on Northern California's best sights, which was perfect because we are planning a San Francisco trip as one of our next stops. It was a great resource to start thinking of our next trip.
Nosh & Nurture Safeway shoppers: Take advantage of $1.00 off participating titles (PEOPLE®, InStyle®, People StyleWatch®, Real Simple®, and Sunset®) with this digital offer until 10/18/15 while supplies last.
We got into Dallas super early. As in, our plane emerged from the sky long before the sun did, so we headed straight to our hotels' coffee shop that, thankfully, opened early. While Mr. Charming started photographing parts of the hotel for me, I got to enjoy more me time as I sipped my vegan latte, flipping through the rest of Sunset and dreaming of more travel. A delicious morning!
It was an amazing weekend overall and we got to see a lot of what Dallas has to offer. Historically, culturally, their cuisine and their friendly residents, it was all a great sampling of what the great state of Texas has to offer.
Throughout the weekend I made time to cut-out more little pockets of me time. From sitting by the pool taking in the view of downtown to relaxing in our room while Mr. Charming went and picked up breakfast on Sunday. I was intentional in relaxing and I got caught up with Real Simple to get fall recipes and decor ideas, as when we get home, fall planning will be in full swing!
Either at home or when you travel, how do you take "me time"? Share in the comments below!
This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Real Simple® and Sunset® Magazines but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #BacktoMeTime http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
I've spent my fair share of time on planes. From the age of 18, and for many years to follow, I toured the US, Caribbean and South America as a headlining singer.
I havn't toured in a few years now, but Mr. Charming and I adore Hawaii, and since you can't road trip your way to those beautiful islands, I still frequent the friendly skies.
The problem with long plane rides is the hours-long sitting sessions. It's not healthy and it can be painful and uncomfortable at times.
Below are some stretches and yoga moves you can do 35,000 miles above the earth.
Plant your butt firmly in your seat and your feet firmly on the ground so your legs make a 90 degree angle. Lift up your right foot and place your right foot, ankle or lower calf onto your left knee or thigh - where you find it to be comfortable. Place your left hand on your ankle to stabilize it and place your right hand or forearm on your right knee. Inhale, puff your chest up and lengthen your spine. Exhale, lean forward. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, release into the sensation. You will likely feel sensation in your right hip. Breath into it and feel. Take as long as you'd like in this pose. After the initial shock of sensation, it starts to feel very good. Once you're done come back up to seated and repeat on the opposite side.
If you don't have your travel pillow, this stretch will help relieve tension in your shoulders and neck. Wrap your right arm underneath your left so the left elbow rests in the right arm's elbow crease. Then work to touch your palms together. Your arms will be wrapped around one another. Inhale, lift your arms up and you'll feel sensation in your upper back and shoulders. Exhale, lower your arms down toward your stomach while still entwined and feel the sensation in the upper backbody. Hold where you feel the stretch and breath. When you're ready unwrap your arms and repeat on the other side.
Modified Seated-Triangle Twist
Place your left elbow on your left thigh and grab your right knee with your left hand. Inhale, and lengthen your spine and reach the crown of your head towards the front of the room. Exhale all your breath out as you sweep your right arm up towards the ceiling. Spiral your chest open to twist and gaze up towards your right hand. Take three deep breaths here. On your inhales lengthen and on your exhales allow the body to twist a little deeper. On the final breath exhale your right elbow to your right thigh and grab your left knee. Repeat on the other side. If the person in front of you has reclined their seat and you can't fit, do a seated twist without leaning forward.
It never hurts to strengthen our core, so let's do it while we're on the plane. With your body in an upright position, inhale, lengthen your spine and lift your arms up above your head. Draw your naval into your spine and breath. Release tension in your shoulder muscles as your reach up to the roof. Engage your legs and core. Feel your feet connected to the ground. Keep your chin slightly tucked in towards your chest. After a few deep breaths, exhale and release. Repeat a few times until you feel a healthy burn in your stomach muscles.
Forward Bend with Calf Stretch
From a regular seated position, inhale lengthen your spine then exhale fold out over your thighs. Feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and feel your hips release. Move your weight out of your toes and into the heels of your feet. Grab the toes of your feet or shoe and guide them towards your knees for a gentle stretch in your calf muscles. Enjoy a few rounds of deep inhales and exhales.
Seated Cat and Cow
Usually this is done on your hands and knees, breathing in as you let your belly sway low while you gaze up (cow) then exhaling as you lift your bellybutton upward while looking between your legs (cat). However, this can be modified to a seated position, using the same abdominal motion.
These are good for increasing the circulation in your legs, as well as burning up the core. Grab or push down on the side of your seat for stability and simply lift your thighs up while pressing your navel back into the seat. This can be done one leg at a time for a lighter workout or warm-up, or use both to feel the burn. Holding it for a few breaths also ups the ante.
Ankle Rolls and Flexes
Start with rolls, moving in a circular motion a few times clockwise then a few counter-clockwise. Afterwards, use that gained flexibility to push your ankles even further, pointing the toes out as far you can then pulling them back in towards the shins for a few breaths. I also like to do a variation of this with my hands and wrists.
Seated Spinal Twists
Move to the edge of the seat, cross your right leg over the left, and use the left hand (on your right knee) to help you twist. Breathe in and lengthen your torso, then spin your right shoulder back and the left forward. Hold it a breath or two and repeat on the other side.
One elbow rests in the inside of the other while the higher forearm wraps around the other until the palms are touching. It looks (perhaps reads) super complex but is actually simple and effective.
Of course, one of the best things to do when traveling long distances is to sleep, hoping the time ticks away. The problem, however, is when you wake up and feel what has happened to your neck during that slumber. Neck rolls are great for both stretching the neck muscles, as well as relaxing. Remember to rotate slowly, inhale moving back and exhale when coming forward. Doing it consciously definitely enhances the effect.
I heard about Vimbly not too long ago and decided to try it out. You find your city (they currently offer things to do in 18 U.S. cities, but are shortly going nationwide.) and then search things to do. It's that simple. Classes, activities and date ideas are all at your finger tips, allowing you to schedule right on the site. No thinking, plan made, done and done.
Since we are currently in Arizona and haven't started our major yearly vacation travels yet, I wanted to see what was offered close to home, so I chose Phoenix. I noticed most of what they offered were scenic jeep, boat and helicopter tours of Sedona, and as I was looking for something more indoors, I switched my search to the dining and watching option and found a Murder Mystery Dinner! This is something Mr. Charming and I have always talked about doing and it was a fun date night match for us.
And since we scheduled a California Coast vacation next month, I also headed over to the Los Angeles and San Diego pages and set up some fun sunset sails and other excursions for us to try on our trip. Now those are pre-booked, all contained in one organized place and I even saved money off of the price of admission had I waited until we were in California to book it.
Once the site grows more, I will be excited to see all of the attractions, classes and experiences they will add, as my home town didn't have as much to offer as some of the coastal cities, but all in all still a cool tool to have when we need a fun Friday or Saturday night adventure.
This post sponsored by Vimbly. All opinions and experiences using the service are my own.
Mr. Charming and I are always looking for new, exciting fun things to do for "date night". When our future littles come this will remain an important part of our relationship. But sometimes, with busy schedules, tired bodies and social commitments, when it comes time to pick something fun to do, sometimes we fall short of being creative and end up hanging out at a local store to browse or on the couch to watch movies.
Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE these activities with him. I can have fun with him doing, well, anything, that's a perk of marrying your best friend. But sometimes, we like to get out, have adventures and get inspired by trying new things. Enter Vimbly.
Mr. Charming and I have been talking about going on a Wellness Retreat for a while now. These past few months have lent a bit of stress, through a career change on my part, to a new job with increased hours on his part, and we have been feeling a bit stretched and frazzled.
Always a fan of traveling whenever humanly possible, I finally made it a point to sit down and decide how we were going to use our timeshare points this summer. (we are NOT timeshare holders normally, I want to buy a house first and have a couple of littles before we think about something like that), however, we did purchase a "sampler package" that allows three getaways in a year for a lot less than what we would have spent taking them on our own.
Anyways. After booking an out of state resort for our wedding anniversary in the Fall, and another weekend away for my birthday with Mr. Charming and our closest friends, I was left wondering where and when we could use the third vacation. Use it to escape the Arizona heat in July or August? Save it for if we feel spontaneous? But then I remembered that we've been needing to disconnect from the daily stressors and connect to each other, so I booked us a room for this past weekend. There is a local resort in Arizona, that we love, and I thought what better way to spend a long weekend with my love.
I thought about how important this is to do, and the fact that it really doesn't cost a whole lot to do this, since we already had the points to get the room. Read on for tips on how to have a R&R Retreat for less.
1. Travel Bargains & Accommodations :
Look for travel deals ahead of time if you can. I love Kayak.com for hotel and flight deals that I have found to be cheaper than most other travel sites. If you are a last minute get-away girl like myself, an app called Hotel Tonight shows you discounted rooms for that night, as hotels just want to fill rooms. Also, when we want to stretch our traveling dollar we opt for places we can drive to, for us, living in AZ those places are within the state, California and Vegas. Leaving us plenty of fun options. We bought our car with traveling in mind and good gas mileage, and gas and healthy road trip food is a lot cheaper than flights. If you want to save this expense all together, your home can be a wellness sanctuary. Light candles, clear an area, throw down a yoga mat, soak in a tub and use fresh, soft linens in the bedroom. For our retreat we chose Cibola Visa Resort and Spa in Arizona. I highly recommend.
One thing I love about giving myself a chance to retreat and relax is cooking healthy, detoxifying food. I booked a room with a kitchen and took my own groceries so I could prepare the freshest meals. This also saved me a lot of money from having to dine all weekend at high-end or vegan restaurants where I could get food. If you're road tripping look for roadside farmers markets or fruit and veggie stands to stock up for cheap on the way to your destination. If you don't have the option to prepare your own food however, opt for lean meats, veggies tossed in olive oil and salads rich with fruit and veggies as your primary menu items during your stay when dining out. And remember, lots and lots of water. You can view my weekends menu and see photos, here.
3. Fun & Relaxation:
This is where all-inclusive retreat hotel packages get you on cost. I was thinking of signing up for a retreat put on by a company, but when I saw the hefty $3,000.00 price tag on just 3 days away, and staying in a room not even as nice as the one I booked myself for much, much, much, much less I knew it was the "in room massages" "yoga on the lawn" and the fact they take your cell phone forcing you into a tech-free zone that hiked the price up so much. So, I was determined to save. Some ideas to turn your hotel room into your retreat away from home.
- Bring your yoga mat and yoga DVDs. Set aside each time during your stay for "class". Our hotel even had a nice lawn that I planned on doing some poses on, but it was quite warm when I was there, so I opted to read on the lawn and did yoga in my room with the doors and windows open for fresh air.
- Most hotels have very nice bathtubs. Toss some LED candles in your luggage and set them around the tub, use lavender and epsom salt for a nice detox soak, and have a plush robe waiting for you when you emerge.
- Read or immerse yourself doing something spiritual. Whatever your belief, take time to just be. Being quiet and meditating can be so healing and rejuvenating. For me that meant starting each morning with breakfast in the quiet, with my devotional and in prayer before I started my day.
- As for the massages, resort spas charge a hefty amount for massages, pedicures, etc. Check for nearby spa, like an Elements Therapeutic Massage, who provide quality massages for considerably less, and for nails, I invited a girl friend to lay by the pool for part of the day, soaking up girl time that we get so rarely, and we kicked back in the room and did pedicures ourselves with my new Pixi polish. Not only did we save around $100 by opting out of pro pedi's, but we got to bond, chat and catch up on Cougar Town episodes that we never have time to watch.
4. The Extras:
- You can set the rules however you like. I didn't take the computer, because as a writer, I would have been too tempted to turn it on and work, check email or write. I took my phone for emergencies because I do work with a lot of staff, but I informed those who may need me that I needed some time away, and I turned my phone on silent while I slept, during meal times, meditation, devotionals and yoga.
- If you want to add adventure to your getaway look for nearby hiking trails, or excursions offered in the area. The resort we were staying at was near a lake with water toys, and offered horseback riding. This weekend for us however was about rest and relaxation, so we opted to stay in, watch funny movies and catch up on our reading.
To see the menus, recipes and photos from our retreat click here.
This past weekend Mr. Charming and I went camping with some friends of ours. There is a nice lake just over an hour away called Canyon Lake. Neither of us had been there before and my girlfriend set it all up for us, so we were excited to get away from the computers and the city and enjoy some good food and each others company. The weather was nice aside from it being really chilly the second night, so we had a nice roaring fire going from sundown until bedtime.... (I'm a baby, and seriously brought a snow parka) but the days were perfect.
During the day we lounged, read, fished (we didn't catch anything, too many boats and swimmers) and cooked. We also walked the lake and played bocce ball for some excercise. If you've never played bocce you have got to try it. It is super fun, and highly frustrating in an awesome way. The first time I played it I was seriously wondering if I should go pro. It went that well. But what subsequent games have shown me was that, beginners luck really does exist, and that no, no I shouldn't go pro. I'll keep on writing and leave bocce to the athletes.
I came prepared when it came to food. Mr. Charming and I packed a huge cooler full of Mandi-approved food for the weekend while the others grilled over the open fire. I did have my first fire roasted hot dog though!! It's true what they say, tasted way better than a home-cooked hot dog. I have outlined my menu below to inspire gluten-free, dairy-free eating on your next camping trip. On our last cabin trip I made my own gluten- free, dairy-free biscuits and gravy which I think I will do again on our next camping trip, we were more low key this time around, but its a delicious must-have for chilly mornings!
Day One- Friday Night
Dinner: 2 roasted Applegate Naturals Turkey Hotdogs over an open flame with Paleo Ketchup.
Snack: Yahuda's Gluten-Free Matzo Crackers and Almond Butter
Day Two - Saturday
Breakfast: Gluten Free oatmeal with organic blueberries and nitrate free pork bacon.
Lunch: Turkey lunch meat roll ups, seedless black grapes and gluten-free rice pasta salad.
Dinner: Turkey chili made with organic chili beans and sliced avocado
Dessert: Nana's chocolate cookie bar (sweetened with fruit and they taste like brownies!)
Day Three - Sunday Morning
Breakfast: Gluten Free oatmeal with organic blueberries
Lunch: Roast chicken, broccoli and rice pasta.
I want to feel free. I want to travel.
Leave fear behind in the rear view mirror as we drive away down the coast, breathing in the sea air and capturing glimmers of sunlight on the sapphire blue water in photographs that will last lifetimes.
It'd be delectable to live that way. Not forgetting our struggles, but instead, being thankful for our moments of bondage. Moments that pushed us to take great leaps of faith. To strip down to the essence of who we were truly created to be. Who we are.
My naked soul longs to connect to the dirty, beautiful earth, unleashing every creative whim that dares to come forth from a mind that is lost in abundant chaos.
I can hear the waves now, crashing thunderously, yet ever so gently calling our names. I can feel the sand beneath my toes, my toes that are aching to run along the shoreline. I can taste the salty air upon my sun chapped lips, and I can see the reflection of me in your eyes as you walk with me, hand and hand, each step writing a new word in our adventurous story.
hawaii 2009 - © Douglas photography
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.