Avoiding Holiday Food Comas

Did you end up in a food coma like me on Thanksgiving? The holiday season is upon us when opportunities to overindulge seem frequent and plentiful – from parties with endless treats to munch on to family dinner gatherings with feasts that offer seconds, thirds and more of our favorite dishes. Despite the immediate satisfaction, overeating can lead to hours of discomfort and lethargy.

Here are three easy tips to practice in an effort to stop a food coma before it strikes.

1. HYDRATE: Drink water before, during and after indulging. Drinking water at optimal times will help avoid indigestion and keep the body hydrated. Water may also help you to eat less, since our bodies often mistake thirst for hunger. Start by drinking a full glass of water before you even leave your house and then make sure to drink up (water that is) while socializing.glass-531203_1920Image: PredragKezic via pixabay

2. FRUITS AND VEGGIES: Whether you’re cruising the appetizer table or victim to a full dinner buffet, aim to fill most of your plate  with fruits and veggies (go heavier on the veggies to avoid too much fructose). Fruits and veggies are not only hydrating foods but they also tend to be fiber-rich, which will fill you up faster and thus help to prevent overeating.salad-587669_1920Image: Kechn via pixabay

3. HERBAL TEA: When you return home with a full belly, treat yourself to a cup of  of herbal tea or better yet, make a cup of warm water with lemon and honey to help ease bloating and stimulate the digestive system. After you finish your warm drink, do a few yoga poses to improve digestion, and you’ll be in even better shape!tea-428306_1920
Image: Jarmoluk via pixabay

In addition to keeping these three hydrating tips in mind while you mingle, you should also be sure to stay clear of too many sweets (easier said than done). Large quantities of any food can cause a food coma, however, sugar, or sucrose, found in desserts tends to be the main culprit. When we consume sugar, our bodies produce extra insulin to help absorb the spike of glucose. In turn, the extra insulin causes our brains to produce more serotonin and melatonin, two neurochemicals that can make us feel drowsy and lethargic.

 

featured post image: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay

 

Make a Conscious Choice: Tap Versus Bottled Water

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) holds all public sources of drinking water to strict safety standards, ensuring that the vast majority of U.S. citizens can trust the water that comes straight from their tap. However, in spite of this, many Americans choose to pass over free and clean water in favor of paying for bottled water. “There are many attributes that contribute to bottled water’s undeniable appeal to U.S. consumers,” said said Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). “Among them are bottled water’s healthfulness, convenience, reliability, and safety.”

Bottled water drinkers are part of a large and growing trend. In this decade alone, Americans have increased their annual consumption of bottled water by more than 11 gallons per person, from 25.4 gallons in 2005 to 36.5 gallons in 2015. In fact, bottled water is expected to overtake soft drinks as America’s largest beverage category by volume by 2017, if not by the end of 2016.

While it’s good news that Americans are choosing bottled water as a healthy alternative to other bottled beverages, including soft drinks, it seems that we’ve taken this health-conscious beverage swap to an “unhealthy” extreme. Sure, it’s great to buy water instead of soda, but our careless over-consumption of bottled water has a huge and growing impact on the environment.

I’d like to start by debunking the attributes of the ubiquitous bottled water that, according to the IBWA, have “undeniable appeal” to U.S. consumers.

  1. Healthfullness: While bottled water is healthier than soft drinks and other bottled beverages, it is by no means healthier than tap water. Pick yourself up a refillable water bottle and make a habit out of visiting the many refillable water stations that are popping up around the world. If you live somewhere that hasn’t quite caught up with the refillable trend, consider buying a refillable bottle with a built-in filter so that you’ll feel good about filling up with tap while on the go. There’s a wide range of filter bottles from this simple Brita to the extreme Lifesaver bottle, which can also get you through an emergency.
  1. Convenience: Americans love the convenience of a portable plastic bottle but does it really need to be disposable? Again, invest in a refillable container and make a habit out of keeping it full. In no time this solution will feel more convenient than anything else. Especially when you factor in the option to customize your water by adding booster drops, such as these Alkaline Drops with Antioxidants or natural flavor, such as H2wOw. There are small portable enhancers to meet just about any supplement or flavor boost you want, giving you the ability to completely personalize your water and have some fun with your hydration.
  1. Reliability: Is bottled water really any more reliable than tap? I would argue that tap water is one of the most accessible things in the U.S. We are so fortunate to basically be guaranteed clean and safe tap water, this is a luxury that should be appreciated!
  1. Safety: Many people choose bottled water because of concerns about the safety of their tap water, in some cases, these fears are reasonable however for the vast majority of people in the U.S. tap water is just as safe, if not safer. And, according to several blind taste tests, such as this one, tap is just as tasty as well. In the U.S. tap water is held to higher safety standards than bottled water. Tap water is regulated, often screened for dangerous pollutants and city government offices are required to share water information with their residents. Bottled water isn’t subject to the same reporting standards and doesn’t usually have to state what source it comes from or what methods were used to treat it. In addition, some microorganisms, that are normally of little or no public health significance, may grow to higher levels in bottled water. For example, Food Safety News reports that in June 2015, 14 different brands of bottled water had to be recalled because of possible contamination with E. coli bacteria. What’s more, the plastic used in single-use bottles can pose more of a contamination threat than the water itself.

When you look closely, IBWA’s attributes of so-called appeal aren’t valid, and are quite “deniable”. These claims are fueled in part by the huge marketing effort of the major water companies and bottling industry and in part by consumers, who need to justify their frivolous purchase of water.  In general, bottled water is no more pristine, tasty or healthy than water straight from the tap.

However, there are, in fact, real attributes to consider the next time you think about paying $1.50 or more for a bottle of water. The cost bottled water has on the environment and your wallet is very real. Bottled water is far more expensive than tap water, and it also uses many more resources to package, ship, and dispose of when the bottles are empty.

  1. Price: A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That’s about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water. Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, but it costs us a thousand times more than water from the faucet. Furthermore, when you pay a price premium for bottled water, what you’re getting is often just tap water that’s been filtered or purified in some way. Both Dasani, bottled by the Coca-Cola company, and Aquafina, bottled by PepsiCo, start out with public water sources.
  1. Environment: Bottled water is a drain on the environment. The bottled water industry uses 1.5 million tons of plastic annually to package water, and the manufacturing and disposal of the plastic sends toxic chemicals into the environment. Transporting the bottles and keeping them cold also burns fossil fuels, which give off greenhouse gases. And, according to some estimates, it takes up to three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water! In addition, groundwater pumping by bottled-water companies draws heavily on underground aquifers and harms watersheds. Some major bottled water companies are making the drought in places like California worse, and violating local communities, by taking water for bottling on expired (and potentially illegal) permits.  

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that bottled water has a place and plays a vital role when public water supplies are compromised, such as in the aftermath of a natural disaster. So much so that I even wrote a post just last week urging readers to purchase bottled water to have on hand in case of an emergency. When clean tap water is unavailable, I appreciate that the bottled water industry is instrumental and has been (and will continue to be) there to ensure that people have access to safe, quality water. In developing countries where there is not a safe source of tap water, bottled water is necessary. And sure, even with our access to clean, safe tap water, there will always be times when buying a bottle of water is justified, such as on days of travel or when forgetting your refillable container. It’s not an all or nothing situation but it is an opportunity to be mindful of times of careless over-consumption. Bottled water clearly comes with a cost, both for consumers and the environment. We can each make a difference individually by choosing tap water more often. untitled_chart-1

Hydration During Exercise

Last week I wrote a post about the best times of day to hydrate, and I’m sure it came as no surprise that key times to hydrate include before, during and after exercise. While it’s obvious that exercise requires increased hydration, many people are unaware of just how much water intake directly impacts performance. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance, impeding energy and performance.

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Image Rubbermaid Products via Flickr

Sweat is one of the obvious things that happens during a workout; it’s the way our bodies cool down when they start to heat up.  It follows that the more a person sweats, the more water they should drink to replenish. Sweat rates vary by individual and are further influenced by factors including exercise intensity, exercise duration, the climate (including temperature and humidity), and the body’s pre-exercise hydration state.  It’s straightforward to check your individual sweat rate by weighing yourself directly before and after exercise and accounting for exactly how much water you consumed during the workout……you’ll also have to either hold your pee or take your pee-volume into account. You can google “calculating perspiration rate” for more details on how to compute your rate or use a handy sweat rate calculator like this one that I found on the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s website. Another quick metric of proper hydration is to note how often you’re urinating. Ideal hydration leads to urination every 1 – 2 hours, even during exercise.

Depending on your gender, age, size and perspiration rate, you lose about four cups (approximately one liter) of water per hour of exercise.  If you’re working out in a hot climate, you can easily lose up to two litres of water per hour during a cardio session.

Adequate water intake before, during and after exercise does more than replenish water lost from perspiration, it also plays a key function in maintaining blood volume and electrolyte balance. Electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium, are lost from the body with sweat. However, except in extreme cases, losses are small and replacement during exercise is not a priority. ‘Sports drinks’ often contain electrolytes, particularly sodium. These have the effect of stimulating water absorption from the small intestine, which is beneficial during exercise. In addition, after exercise, replacing lost sodium is essential for full recovery and rehydration. Extreme athletes will require fluids from a variety of sources, not just water. However, if you’re not an extreme athlete who requires a sports drink, consider something, without the sugar and calories, that will provide a mild electrolyte boost, such as Glaceau’s smartwater or H2wOw’s all natural water enhancer, with extracts of real fruits and mineral electrolytes.

I had planned to use infogr.am to make a cool graphic that listed how much water the average person needs before, during and after a workout but during my research I found something better than anything I would be able to make! The graphic below is from a post on greatist.com and includes recommendations on how much water to drink while exercising as well as a lot of other great information.

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Make a Small Change That You Can Maintain: Start Each Day With a Glass of Water

I recently read an article in the New York Times, Rise and Shine, about what kids around the world eat and drink for breakfast. As a mom of two young daughters, I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration. I wasn’t overly inspired by the food, much of it sugary and carb-filled, like the typical American breakfast (i.e. bread with butter and sweet sprinkles, Oatmeal with sugar, baguette with butter and jam and sweet cake). However, I was even less inspired by the beverages that children around the globe begin their days with, and surprised that only one of the 11 breakfasts featured in the article included a glass of water! Almost all of the children began their day with milk, chocolate milk or juice, which is probably similar to what happens in the US. Clearly this is just a small sampling but I still find it striking that less than 10% of these children have a glass of water in the morning.  After reading this article, I had to pause and give myself quick kudos for having at least one healthy habit that I’ve managed to pass on to my children 🙂

At my house, we all start the day with a glass of water. I’ve always enjoyed warm water with lemon (or sometimes lemon and honey) first thing in the morning and I make sure my girls have at least one glass of water before they leave the house because I know that they’re not always drinking enough during the day and I try to stay ahead with their hydration. I find that our little ritual of drinking our water together first thing helps us start the day off on the right foot – I am hopeful that doing something good for our bodies in the morning makes us more mindful of making healthy choices and drinking more throughout the day.

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I start my day with a tall glass of lemon water and my girls each chug a short glass of plain H2O. It’s a healthy way to start each day.

Most people know it’s healthy to start the day with a glass of water, but not everyone knows why or remembers to do it. Hydrating in the morning can make you feel more energetic by keeping your metabolism in check, helps remove toxins from your system, improves digestion and stimulates elimination. Having a glass of water first thing and then drinking more throughout the day will help you avoid health issues that may be related to dehydration.

If you don’t like to drink plain water, then try squeezing some lemon, lime or orange into your water. Not only does lemon give water a nice burst of citrus taste but it also provides many health benefits. For a really fast and convenient way to switch up the taste of your water but still keep it super healthy and natural you can also add a few drops of essential oil or try a natural water enhancer like H2wOw.

I know that it may not be a common practice to begin each day with a glass of water but it really should be. It’s such a small and easy change to make and keep but it is also a habit that can make a big difference. My girls and I toast our water glasses each morning — give it a try with your kids too.

I’m a “Personal” Water Bottle Addict – Here Are My 5 Faves

In Search of the Perfect Water Bottle

I’m always on the search for a great water bottle. I take my water bottle with me everywhere. I love leaving home with my bottle full of Hetch Hetchy water and a few squirts of H2wOw. Since I am usually carrying some kind of purse or bag, it’s really no big deal to throw my bottle in there. When I say I take it everywhere, I really mean it…..I’m not just talking about the obvious places like the gym. Last week I flew to Boston and so did my water bottle — I emptied it out before I went through security and then filled it, as soon as I was on the other side, at one of SFO’s awesome filling stations. It really does come everywhere with me and I honestly can’t remember the last time I paid for a bottle of water. Since my water bottle is such an important accessory to me, I’m always on the search for the newest and best one — and I insist on having different bottles for different types of occasions (which I always remind my husband is much better than a shoe fetish). When searching for a new bottle, the criteria that matter most to me include:

  • Size — I don’t want it to be too big but it also can’t be too small. A bottle that can hold around 20 – 24 ounces is generally the best size for me. This is equal to 2.5 – 3 cups of water and is big enough to get me through a workout at the gym or a few hours out and about.  A shape that is narrow enough to fit in car upholders is also important.
  • Materials — While I love the designs and ease of some plastic bottles, I worry too much about the chemicals in plastic and it just isn’t for me. I only use bottles that are high quality stainless steel or glass (I like them to be labeled BPA and toxin free). I also make sure whatever other materials are included (straw, spout etc) are made out of high quality materials, like silicone. For the stainless steel bottles, I want them to be double walled and vacuum insulated with a sweat-free (no condensation) surface.
  • Weight — I do love glass bottles but they’re just not practical to go very far with. I have a Lifefactory bottle that I often use at home but, beyond a car-only trip, I’ve stopped bringing it out of the house. Glass is much heavier and by the time it’s filled with water it’s just not something I want to lug around. That said, drinking out of glass (either a water bottle or a cup) is my favorite way to go and if it wasn’t for the weight I would always choose glass.
  • Drinking Valve — I like drinking valves that are easily accessible but that don’t come in contact with anything when they’re closed — meaning, I don’t ever want to touch the drinking valve or spout to open or close it and I don’t want it coming in contact with other items in my bag or wherever else my water bottle travels (like the back pocket of an airplane seat — ewwww). So, ideally, I like valves or covers that pop up with the press of a button and are designed so I don’t have to touch the spout (at all) to get it closed.
  • Leakage — I can’t believe it still happens but it does. I won’t name the bottles that are on my list of least favorites, but most of them have made the list because they leak (as in all over my purse and other places that don’t mix well with water). Leaky water bottles are the worst……weather it’s because the valves are not completely leak proof when turned sideways or because the top has threading that isn’t great quality and sometimes causes the lid to go on crooked, I have had my fair share of bad experiences with leaky water bottles, and leakage should in fact  be at the top of my criteria list.
  • Ease to Clean — I like a wide mouth top so that I can easily fit a bottle brush inside. As I mentioned in my post Keeping My Family’s Reusable Water Bottles Clean and Yucky Free, as awesome as reusable bottles are, it’s no secret that they’re also a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. I clean my bottles daily and want it to be a simple task. And, if you’re a cold water person, a wide mouth bottle also makes it easy to add ice to your water.

So in summary (because it sounds much less high maintenance this way), I prefer a 20 – 24 ounce stainless steel bottle that has a protected drinking valve, wide mouth and doesn’t leak! Trust me, it’s harder than you think to find such a bottle, but fear not it is possible, and I’ve found some that do make the cut. Here are my current five favorites:

  1. Under Armour Dominate 24 Oz – This is a great bottle that is actually made by Thermos. I love the Locking flip top lid with one hand push button operation and the flip up carrying loop. I also love the silicone grip for a comfortable hold. It’s a bit on the pricey side and too wide for some car cup holders. This is my favorite bottle to bring to the beach as the lid really keeps the sand out and the water stays very cold for hours, even in the hot sun.41GUzi0WjnL._SL1024_
  2. WaterVault Sports Tumbler 20 Oz This is a straight-forward wall vacuum insulated stainless steel bottle at a great price point. I like it’s slender design and protected “sipper” style top. There’s something about the sipper that just works for me — it doesn’t dribble all over my cheeks when I tip it back for a big gulp, it feels more dainty than some of the wide mouth spouts. I like bringing this bottle to yoga class.

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  3. Fliptop Aquatix 27 Oz This is a really great bottle that meets all of my criteria, except for the fact that it’s a tad big at 27 ounces. The pop up top functions similarly to the Under Armour bottle above and feels very sturdy. I do wish it came in other fun colors – I’ve only found it in boring black. This is my go to bottle for SPIN class, as it’s easy to get a big gulp quickly and I find I need and go through the extra volume it holds.Screenshot 2015-05-08 at 12.29.23 PM
  4. Contigo Autospout 20 Oz This is my go-to gym bottle. I love the convenience and functionality of the pop up silicone spout (yet it’s still very protected and covered when not in use). It’s much easier to drink water at the gym by sucking out of a spout versus tipping — trust me, tipping a bottle on the elliptical may not end well (it certainly didn’t for me). The only down side to this bottle is that it’s much harder to clean the straw and spout than it is to clean any of the drinking areas of the first three above.contigo
  5. Thermos Pop of Pink 18 Oz My favorite bottle for throwing in my purse for a day of errands. A great pop up lid with a silicone straw. At 18 oz. this bottle is slightly smaller than my usual but that’s perfect for days, with a lot of walking, when I want to lighten my load. With a the straw spout, it’s still slightly more time consuming to clean but still way easier than my Contigo. Thermos makes many great designs that are similar to this and also has awesome kid-sized stainless steel bottles. All-in-all they’re my number one brand.

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And, to see my favorite refillable bottles that are made with recycled materials read this

DIY Sparkling Chia “Soda”: A New Way to Wow Your Water

My two young daughters love to drink kombucha. We are a household without soda or juice so kombucha is a very tasty treat for them. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that contains a high concentration of b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and good acids including lactic acids. Although I make or buy locally brewed, high-quality kombucha, and I believe in it’s many health benefits, I also am very careful to only let my girls drink it in moderation. While, the fermentation process does get rid of most of the sugar and caffeine from the tea, some does remain. In addition, kombucha usually contains a small amount of alcohol, depending on the length of fermentation, that ranges from .5% and 3%. So, despite all the great benefits of kombucha, the sugar, caffeine and alcohol do make me think twice before giving it to my kids. Read more about the health benefits of kombucha here: 18 Healthy Reasons to Sip Kombucha

pictured above are three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite bay area businesses: Threestone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen.

Three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite Bay Area businesses: Three stone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen

Over the holidays, my girls had a two-week vacation from school so there were lots of extra snacks and meals together, as well as more time for them to ask for “treats”. I found myself giving them more kombucha than I was comfortable with and decided to try to come up with an alternative that would satisfy them and make me feel at ease. This was also right after the official launch of my all natural water enhancer, H2wOw, which proved to come in handy for my new concoction. The girls and I have been loving our new drink so much that I decided to dedicate this post to what it is and how to make it.

Here's Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent "treat" drink

Here’s Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent “treat” drink

Our Yummy Effervescent and Kid-Friendly Drink Recipe:

We always soak Chia seeds to include in our kombucha, I knew this would need to be part of the mix. Chia seeds have more omega3’s than salmon, more calcium than milk and lots of antioxidants, they’re also fun to eat – similar to a gelatinous tapioca drink. In addition to including chia seeds, I knew our concoction would need to have an effervescent quality — since this is what makes kombucha such a “special” drink to them. Finally, there would need to be some sweetness and flavor to turn it in to an actual “treat” and not just sparkling water with chia seeds.

So for step #1, we prepared our chia seeds, which is really easy to do and I highly recommend adding this superfood to almost any drink, even if it’s just to plain water (my kids even like chia seeds in milk).  They add so many nutrients and can really help to take the edge off hunger for hours. We use high-quality organic seeds, such as Nutiva or Navitas, which are also raw. To make your chia seeds gelatinous and yummy, you will need to soak them first (preferably overnight). Soaking your seeds will work best if your water is hot but room temperature will also get you good results. I start by adding around three tablespoons of seeds to a 16oz. Mason Ball jar, then I add approximately one cup of hot water.

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To make glutinous chia seeds, simply soak 3TB of seeds in one cup of water in the fridge overnight.

Once the seeds and water are added, I cover the jar and give it a good shake. I allow it to cool a bit and then put it into the fridge to soak overnight. After a night in the fridge, your chia seeds will be blown up and completely gelatinous and the “water” mixture should be more like a gel. Depending on how much chia you like in your beverage will determine how much this yields, I usually add a couple of tablespoons of “gel” to each drink so one jar’s worth is enough for several drinks and will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.  A jar of chia “gel” is a staple in our fridge and I am usually making a new batch every other day or so.

So now you know how to make yummy seeds, like the ones you find in drinks that costs upwards of $5.00 each, such as like Mama Chia and Synergy Kombucha. Even if you stop reading here, you should have enough to play with to make your own nutritious and delicious drink recipes. However, hopefully you’ll keep reading and try our recipe too!

One of our most used kitchen appliances is the Soda Stream. We use it multiple times everyday and go through lots of sparkling water at our house. So, for step #2 we prepared our sparkling water. Of course, you can also used plain store-bought sparkling water but it’s certainly less expensive and less wasteful to carbonate water yourself. There are lots of ways to carbonate water, you can check out comparisons of some of the best choices here: The Best Soda Maker

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After making our sparkling water, we were ready to bring the pieces together and flavor it. I added a couple of tablespoons of our chia gel to a glass and filled it the rest of the way with our freshly made sparkling water. This brought us to step #3 adding our flavor. I wanted to make this part fun and “experimental” for the kids, so we played around with trying different combinations of stevia and essential oils before we brought out the big guns….H2wOw. As I mentioned in my last post, New Year, New Goals, I recently (or should I say finally) launched my product that I’ve been working to develop for three years. H2wOw is an all-natural water enhancer — and I do mean truly all-natural, it’s made with NOTHING ARTIFICIAL and is the first all-natural water enhancer made from the essential oils and extracts of real fruit and botanicals.  I know it’s a product I created so you might take this with a grain of salt, but I must say, H2wOw tastes absolutely fabulous in our chia seed drink! We played around with all the flavors. My favorite is the Ginger Lime, but, with the chia seeds, the kids love the Mandarin Grapefruit the most.

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Finally, we added the flavor. We used H2wOw for a natural and healthy alternative.

With only three natural calories and less than one gram of sugar per serving (H2wOw is sweetened with a hint of Organic Agave and a touch of Organic Stevia), I feel good about my kids drinking it, especially in this “treat” drink which is really more of a “trick” drink since it is also sooo healthy. Between the awesome health benefits of the chia seeds and the natural electrolytes in H2wOw, which  help them stay better hydrated, I even let them have seconds – but only on vacation 🙂

If you don’t have any H2wOw, you can still make a yummy effervescent drink that’s completely natural (although it doesn’t taste quite as good). Play around with different essential oils and stevia to find a combination that works for you. Or, simply order your H2wOw today from Amazon to make this chia drink and add to your water all day long.

New Year, New Goals

I have been so busy launching my company, H2wOw , that I’ve barely had time to blog. Between the business of the holiday season and the demands of starting a company, I’ve been a bit frazzled to say the least. From hosting family for Thanksgiving to the non-stop festivities that Hanukkah and Christmas brought (our family celebrates both), November and December felt like an iron man race to me……getting out holiday cards, baking cookies, bringing the kids to a slew of fun events, attending holiday parties and school events, making and buying the “perfect” gifts, staying up until the wee hours wrapping the gifts, recognizing the people in our lives that we appreciate (from the mailman to the kids’ teachers), traveling to see family, packing and unpacking, cooking special feasts, putting the tree and decorations up and taking them down, trying to capture it all, doing too much, staying up too late, remembering and appreciating the true meaning of it all and not getting caught up in the flurry, oh and trying to fit in the launch of H2wOw during any and every spare moment. The last two months have been exhausting and hectic but luckily the drudgery was also full of merriment, thankfulness, abundance and blessings. Nonetheless, as the December 31st finish line approached so did a sense of relief in knowing that the whirlwind was coming to (at least) a pause and that there would soon be a reprieve from the crazy pace, a chance to slowdown, reflect and set new intentions.

Waking up on January 1st always feels marvelous to me and 2015 was no exception. Although much carries over to this new day and new year, it still somehow feels like a clean slate, even if the slate is only a representation of my own attitude and outlook on life.

For the new year I was away with my family at a beach house we rented on Silver Strand Beach in Southern California. The beach is definitely my happy place. I love the smell of the air, sand between my toes, soothing sound of the ocean waves and beautiful ocean sunsets. I started each day of our getaway combing the beach for sea glass, an activity that I’ve always loved and has become incredibly cathartic in recent years. My husband and daughters enjoy it too and it’s become one of our sacred family rituals. At home we have a large glass jar that we collect all of our sea glass in. I know it’s a little hokey but this jar is full of fond memories and favorite places and brings me such joy.

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Our family sea glass collection – one of my favorite possessions.

On New Year’s Day morning I went out for my daily beach walk and immediately spotted a big chunk of blue sea glass. I had been looking unsuccessfully for a blue piece for days so finding my first blue on this beautiful morning felt like a sign and a glorious way to start 2015. For those of you who collect sea glass, you know how special it is to find blue. To me it represented the start of a great year and the hope that my stars would align and all of my effort and hard work would begin to be rewarded. When I returned back to the house I grabbed my journal and headed to the deck to contemplate the things I wanted to work on in the coming year. I set the blue glass on the table in front of me and began to write.

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My “Find Your Happy” Journal and first piece of sea glass in 2015

Each year I try to be realistic with my resolutions, taking time to really consider what’s important, to question why it’s important and then to decide if it’s something I can truly commit to. I already prioritize a healthy lifestyle so the forever popular resolutions of new exercise routines and healthier diets are already habit for me — sure I could do better but there are other areas that need way more of a self commitment. I would love to resolve to make time each day for art or writing but I’m also nearly certain that after a few weeks I would fail at this. Time is already way too limited and any extra moments I have will be spent with my family or on my other passions of running, yoga, clean eating and cooking. After much thought I came up with the following three:

1.) A commitment to going to bed earlier and getting more sleep. For the past several years it seems my sleep has been slowly deteriorating (it’s no coincidence that this cycle began a little over six years ago when my first daughter was born). It has nothing to do with being restless or not being able to fall asleep — as soon as I allow my head to hit the pillow and my eyes to close I am down for the count. My issue is that there simply are not enough hours in the day and after dinner is done and the kids are in bed I get a second wind and feel as if I have been given a gift of uninterrupted time to get stuff done. Whether it’s editing photos, my Pinterest addiction, an episode of Orange is the New Black or work, one thing inevitably leads to another and before I know it it’s well after midnight before I’m even thinking about bed. I wake up at 6:00 AM feeling completely exhausted and then spend most of the day in a daze, whether it’s trying to be a patient mother, getting the most out of my workout or attempting to get quality work done, I’m unable to put my best self forward. Although the hours between 8:00 PM and my too-late bedtime feel wonderful and indulgent and like a free gift of time, the practical side of me knows that these late night hours are making my regular waking hours way less productive. So, my first goal for the new year is to get more sleep and to be in my bed by 10:00 PM and asleep by 10:30. In the short-term I expect to feel like I have way less time but my hope is that after a few weeks of an extra two hours of sleep, I will be able to function way better during the day and be much more focused and productive.

2.) Renew and Establish Deeper Connections Another thing that has deteriorated for me since having children but feels attainable to work on are my relationships outside of my immediate family. This includes both friendships and my larger extended family. I used to pride myself at being great at nurturing friendships and family. I was the planner who organized great trips to visit friends who had moved faraway and planned great holiday vacations with family. I was always thoughtful, calling my parents and grandparents regularly and sending nice notes and photos. I knew what was going on in my loved ones lives and felt connected. However, this has all changed so much over recent years and I am really ashamed at how I’ve put my friendships on the back burner. I haven’t made myself accessible to anyone beyond my immediate family. Once I got married and started my own family, I began to pour all of my love into these three people. And, while I believe these three amazing people do deserve most of me, I know that there is room to spread my wings a bit. This feels like a great year to make a concerted effort to rebuild deeper connections — my children are growing a bit older and not as reliant on me and the product I have been working on for three years has finally launched. Although I am still an extremely busy person, I can certainly find ways to fit in more regular phone calls, emails and texts. The face-to-face time and  fabulous vacations may still need to wait but this shouldn’t stop me from connecting.

3.) Keeping Myself and My Family Hydrated, because this is something that I’m completely passionate about and I just launched a business around it!! As some of you may recall from my first blog post, https://momloveswater.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/keeping-my-kids-hydrated-with-water-packed-foods/, I once had to take my daughter, who was five at the time, to the emergency room because she was dehydrated. I had already noticed that she wasn’t drinking enough and had been doing my best to change this but being told by the ER doctor that her severe illness and immobility was due to dehydration gave me a fright and caused me to take this effort much more seriously. This wake up call was a big catalyst to my product launch and the reason I decided to center my blog around hydration and all things related to water. I too need to constantly stay aware of my fluid intake, if I don’t stay conscious of drinking, I can easily go a whole day with just my coffee in the morning, wondering why I have no energy (beyond lack of sleep). So, hydration is always on my mind and I track my water intake and love to add natural things like lemon and honey or H2wOw to make my water yummy and more interesting. Adding a little natural flavor to my water has really helped my whole family to enjoy water and drink much more of it. This year I plan to continue my hydration efforts and hope to help others along the way. One of my hopes for 2015 is to partner H2wOw with at least one refillable canteen company and launch a hydration campaign (even if it starts small).

So there you have it, after much contemplation (at least for the first two), these are the three things I want to work on in 2015. In a few months I will write a check-in post to let you know if I’m sticking with it and what kind of progress I’ve made. Happy New Year! I’ll be blogging later this week about adding Chia Seeds to still and sparkling water and how yummy it is with essential oils or H2wOw.