Life Hacks – Saving Money!

Hi guys! So, if you’re anything like me, you’re often looking for hacks which can help you save a little bit of money. As a student, it’s really hard to save money for a rainy day!

So, I thought I would conduct a lifestyle audit to see where most of my disposable money is going. My thinking was that based on this audit I could identify places where I need not spend money and can therefore cut down on my costs.

I live a pretty busy life and have generally been suckered into the idea that I don’t have time to pre-make my lunches, which generally leads me into purchasing a lunch wherever I happen to be that day, which is generally at school. Unfortunately, lunches out aren’t very cheap. When you think about what you getting in a typical lunch (usually a fairly ordinary sandwich), you realize the markup is pretty high! An ordinary sandwich usually costs something like six or seven dollars, even though the ingredients probably cost something like a dollar!

In addition to that, it’s hard to know exactly what’s being put into the lunches you buy elsewhere. You can always go to a very healthy lunch spot that makes you feel confident that you’re getting a healthy meal prepared the right way, but there’s no guarantees. I can recall plenty of times when I had what I thought was a healthy lunch out and then experienced a nasty tummy ache later that day! Who knows what may have been in the lunch that I thought was so healthy?

So, one of the things I’ve done is started preparing very simple, healthy lunches on Sunday of each week so that I have enough lunches to take to school with me for the remainder of the week. I still don’t have a ton of time, so I keep these lunches super simple. For example, I’ll boil up a bunch of eggs and store them in the fridge so I have a hard boiled eggs to put into my lunch. I’ll also chop up a bunch of carrots, celery, and broccoli, and put them in my fridge in a big container so I have some quick veggies to throw into my lunch bag. In addition, I buy these very hearty loafs of brown bread and put a few slices into my lunch every day.

At the end of the day, I probably spend less than five minutes on each lunch, and they each probably cost a dollar or less. I also know that I’m getting super healthy meal, because I’ve put it together myself and I haven’t used any artificial seasoning or other nasty stuff. So, it’s a healthy result at a very low cost. What more could a girl want? How about you guys? What sort of ways do you try to cut down on your expenses and stay healthy?

Loving My New Copper Water Pitcher

So, I got this really cool new copper pitcher that I have been loving. Did you know that drinking water from a copper pitcher has incredible health benefits and is recommended by doctors and health experts around the world? Water stored in a copper pitcher (which is known as “tamra jal” in Ayurvedic medicine) balances each of the three doshas in your body (vata, kapha and pitta) by positively charging the water.

To maximize the health benefits, it is suggested that you leave water in your copper pitcher overnight for at least eight hours. Immediately after waking in the morning, drink 2 – 3 glasses of water from your copper pitcher on an empty stomach. Water stored in a copper pitcher is gently infused with the positive health properties of copper. When stored in a copper pitcher, water transforms into natural alkaline water that is excellent for your health. Water stored in a copper pitcher is also anti-bacterial, acts as an effective anti-oxidant, improves immunity, supports good health, prevents aging, eliminates toxins and free radicals, and stimulates the brain!

I was amazed to see how healthy a copper water pitcher can be. The website I bought my pitcher from also has a great list of the top ten reasons why drinking water from a copper pitcher can change your life. You can check it out here. In particular, it improves the digestive system, builds a strong immune system, supports weight loss, prevents aging, prevents cancer, maintains cardiovascular health, supports the thyroid gland, stimulates the brain, fights arthritis and inflamed joints, and keep skin healthy and acne free. Sign me up!

Since getting my own copper pitcher and drinking from it religiously I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my digestion and skin quality. Excited to see how much more my health improves! 🙂

Summer Time is Here!

There’s nothing I like better in the summer than spending some time in the great outdoors. And, with spending time in the great outdoors, often comes the camping experience!

Now, I’m not a particularly girly girl. If anything, I’m a bit more of a tomboy. And so it’s not surprising to most people that I would enjoy the odd night or two in a tent every now and then.

My propensity for spending time in the outdoors is increased by the fact that, as a student, money is not exactly plentiful. Accommodation can be very expensive these days, even with the multitude of Airbnb and other short term rental accommodation being available. In general accommodation is also pretty pricey near beautiful places in nature, since they tend to attract lots of tourists which often have more disposable income than moi!

Anyway, that is all to say that the order of the day is camping! I haven’t yet decided where to camp this summer, but I’ve always had my eye on Yosemite. I’ve seen so many photos of Yosemite and have been absolutely blown away. I would absolutely love to head there for a long weekend, put up my tent in the shade, and spend some time with some friends around the campfire, taking in the majesty of mother nature.

When I tell people I enjoy camping, a lot of them assume that my version of camping is a pretty watered down version of camping. In other words, people think I am enjoying the benefits of a camper van or something like that. But, make no mistake, when I mean camping, I mean camping! In essence, I have a tent that fits four people that I bought from MSR a few years ago, along with a couple sleeping bags. Added to those are a few pots and pans that are fairly lightweight and suitable for cooking by the fire, and that’s pretty much it.

Some of my friends can’t believe that I actually camp and rough it this much. But the reality is that I enjoy the experience. There’s something lovely about falling asleep outside next to a stream or babbling brook. There’s something about breathing the fresh air too. It’s funny, but I think I’ve never slept so soundly in my bedroom as I have in a tent outside. Everything seems in complete harmony when I do that.

That isn’t to say that camping doesn’t have its awkward or scary moments. All of us have some story about waking up in a tent in the middle of the night and needing to go to the bathroom, and the hilarity that ensues! I also had a few scary experiences where I heard sounds of large animals outside my tent, checking the place out. I’ll never know exactly what was out there, but my mind was certainly imagining all sorts of big, ferocious beasts as I laid there in my tent, sweating it out!

Anyway, I’m in the course of planning my next camping trip and I couldn’t be more excited! I will write up another blog post cataloguing my adventure, which will perhaps inspire some of you to get this whole crazy camping thing a try!

 

My New Love of Barre!

Hi everyone! I recently tried barre and absolutely love it! I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you what barre is all about and perhaps persuade some or you to give it a try like I did!

Most barre classes basically use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and pilates. The bar (which is literally where the name barre comes from!) is then used as a prop for balancing while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training, which is basically training where you hold your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles. The isometric strength training is combined with high volume of repetitions of small range of motion movements. In addition, a lot of classes incorporate handheld weights which increases the burn during all of those repetitions. There is often also a portion of the class that is dedicated to core work on the mat.

The great thing about barre is that it helps you develop long, lean muscles without bulk. In other words, it provides you with a sculpted ballerinas body, as well as enhanced flexibility, and improvement in terms of our balance.

I’ve been to only six or seven classes, but already I have seen some incredible changes in my body. I see that I have gained a lot of strength, and I have definitely toned those hard to target muscles in my core, arms, and legs. All of this is pretty cool, particularly because I’m pretty uncoordinated and definitely not graceful like a ballerina! But, no matter your age, weight, or fitness level, it looks like you will be able to get some great results from barre!

The history of barre is also pretty interesting. Given that many of the positions in a barre class are based on classic ballet positions, it’s no surprise that barre was developed by a ballerina. After injuring her back, a German dancer living in London came up with the idea to combine her dance conditioning routine with her rehabilitative therapy. She opened her first studio in 1959 in her London basement. The workout was imported back into the United States in the 1970s and grew first in New York City. Over time, instructors begin branching off to create their own unique variations of the workout. The barre trend has definitely heated up in the last 10 years!

Although barre has its origins in ballet and dance, people as awkward and as rhythmically challenged as me need not worry! Luckily, you don’t need any dance experience. Most barre classes have the same essential structure. You start with a warm-up that is full of yoga moves like planks and push-ups, you do a series of balancing exercises, and you continue your workout at the bar to work out your lower body, particularly your thighs and glutes.

Anyway, give it a go and let me know how you like it!

Thinking About Sleep

As a student, I often don’t get as many hours of sleep each night as I would prefer to get. To be honest, I almost never wake up feeling absolutely refreshed and ready to start my day. I always feel somewhat lethargic, drowsy, and wishful that I could spend a little while longer snoozing in my comfy, warm bed. My family has often compared me to a little cat during early mornings…!

As we all know, sleep is a very important part of our health and well-being. Most of us will spend up to 30% of our lives sleeping, which seems a bit depressing at first blush! Most of us also know that getting enough sleep each night is essential, but very few of us actually consistently make sure that they get those hours of restful sleep. A lot of scientists describe this problem as what they call sleep debt, and say that those who have sleep debt have forgotten what it feels like to be really, truly rested.

I must say that it seems to me to have become quite difficult to achieve the right number of hours of sleep each night. The first problem is that we all lead very busy lives and have a ton of competing demands. In this fast-paced, achievement-driven world, getting enough sleep per night can often be viewed as laziness, and can often mean the difference between getting that dream job and staying stuck in a role you don’t enjoy, or the difference between having a moderately successful business and taking it to the next level.

In addition, society is literally flooded with a variety of stimulants, like coffee and energy drinks. In addition to that many of us live in cities filled with bright lights, loud sirens, and other distractions that make it hard to wind down at night. In addition almost all of us now has a smart phone at our side, which is addictive and can, if used to later in the day, interfere with our circadian rhythm and natural sleep/wake cycles.

Sleep needs actually differ depending on a person’s age, and are also impacted by a life style and health situation. Accordingly, to figure out how many hours of sleep you should be getting each night, you need to examine the lifestyle factors that are impacting the quality and quantity of your sleep. This includes considering your work schedule and stress levels.

If you’re anything like me, you might be frustrated to see that the key metrics for how many hours of sleep each of us need is constantly being revised. It’s so hard to know how to behave with all of this conflicting information! Luckily, the National Sleep Foundation recently released a study which apparently took more than two years of research to complete. This study re-examined the question of how much sleep we need.

In brief, the report concluded that all though research cannot identify the precise amount of sleep people need, research was able to determine rule of thumb minimum and maximum ranges.

But, before you can find out the number of hours of sleep that you need to optimize your health, you need to ask yourself a few questions. In particular, are you productive, healthy, and happy with only seven hours of sleep, or does it take you more time to get the quality sleep you need to feel your best? Also, do you have any health issues, such as being overweight, and are you at risk of any disease? Furthermore, do you ever depend on tea or coffee, or other sources of caffeine, to get you through the day? And, do you ever feel sleepy when driving?

The report essentially showed that younger adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have an optimal sleep range between seven and nine hours. In addition adults between the ages 26 and 64 essentially have the same suggested optimal sleep range of between seven and nine hours. However, older adults, being those 65 and older, have a sleep range between seven and eight hours. There are also sleep ranges for children, which are generally much longer.

So, how can we change our lives to sleep better and be more productive, healthy, and happy? Well, it begins by frankly assessing your own habits. One thing you can try to do is spend a few weeks sleeping a different amount of hours and seeing how that makes you feel. In addition, try keeping a journal in which the log your mood, energy and health after each night, along with a comment as to how many hours of sleep you got and what you did immediately before going to sleep. This can help you better understand what factors are most likely to result in a great sleep.

Another great practice is to develop a sleep schedule and to adhere to it, even on weekends where we can be tempted to stay up late. In addition, consider practicing nighttime rituals which relax you and prepare you for sleep. This could include reading a book, meditating, or listening to relaxing music. Another great way to improve your sleep quality is exercise on a daily basis. You may also want to conduct an audit of your bedroom to ensure that it’s the ideal temperature, and that it adequately blocks out sounds and light that could disturb your sleep.

Anyway, although I do not have a ton of time to sleep (the life of a student, sigh) I have implemented some of these techniques to at least ensure that I am getting maximum bang for my buck when it comes to my night time zzzs. 🙂