Helllooo from Spokane! It’s a little chilly and gray here today, a true sign that fall is upon us! I spent the weekend in Leavenworth, WA climbing and spending time in nature. I absolutely adore sleeping outdoors and waking up to a beautiful sunrise (or before the sunrise in my case lately). Just waking up and being surrounded by such beauty is a really great start to the day.
#1 Nature as Church
Stick with me here. The concept of nature as church was brought to my attention by Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30. I really resonate with this connection because I do believe humans are meant to have a spiritual piece or practice. However, I don’t think this looks the same to everyone and much like diet, is highly bio-individual.
I am not religious in a traditional sense – I don’t attend church, or pray or necessarily believe in a God. I do, however, believe that there is something greater that connects us as human beings and that creates things like synchronicity. Synchronicity is a bit like a coincidence but with meaning behind it. Say you are thinking that you need to call your grandma and at that moment she calls you, coincidence? Maybe, but I believe the universe is connecting the dots. These meaningful coincidences lead me to believe that there is something greater at play and we are all connected through “something.”
To me, that “something” is nature. It is a powerful life-force and even has proven health benefits associated when you spend time outside. What exactly can nature do for you?:
- mood boosting (aka stress relief!)
- increase positive affect (how positive you feel about the world)
- decrease rumination (negative self-talk and negative thoughts about yourself)
- improves memory function
- boosts immune function (for up to 7 days after spending time outside)
- enhance creativity
- decreases anxiety
- lower inflammation
The last one on the list is HUGE for living a healthy and disease-free life. Since most diseases start with inflammation the body, this could be considered a key piece to a healthy lifestyle. Head here for more info.
There really is something special about spending time in nature and being surrounded by all the natural beauty. Especially those moments before and during the sunrise. To me, that is the most special time of day. I feel the most myself at that time and can really live true to my beliefs. I saw on social media the other day a quote that I really liked:
“The best days start outside with no return time in mind.”
#2 Blue Lotus Chai Teas
Specifically the Rooibos Chai Tea (insert heart eyes emoji here!). It is perfectly spicy and sweet, dissolves easily into hot water and give such a cozy and warm feel. I have been LOVING adding coconut milk and gelatin to make a sort of tea latte and look forward to it just about every day.
Blue Lotus also make a traditional black chai tea along with some spin-offs of the classic. Mandarin Masala Chai, Mint Masala Chai, Star Anise Masala Chai and Golden Masala Chai (with turmeric and maca!) are all available.
Completely free of additives, sweeteners or fillers of any kind these chai teas are perfect for heading into those cold winter months! I love how customizable they are and can create the perfect cup every time. Traditional chai is made with a little honey but I think these are divine even without it.
Today marks the start of my second Whole30 journey! I am really excited to see what I can learn about myself throughout the month. My goals for this Whole30 include trying to break my sugar (read: chocolate) addiction, lowering inflammation in my body and creating a better relationship with Food Freedom in the end.
Though I eat pretty closely to the Whole30 template daily, I do sometimes eat white rice, peanuts and sugar in the form of chocolate. I am most excited for the reintroduction phase where I can really see how these foods work (or not!) for my body. For more on Whole30 in general head here. For more with my experience with my first Whole30 back in January 2018, head here or here.
My must-have favorites during a Whole30 include:
- Tessamae’s Ketchup (no sugar added, yay!)
- Primal Kitchen dressings
- Spindrift sparkling water drinks
- Chomps turkey sticks (see next section)
- cacao nibs
- dried dates
- coconut butter (homemade easy recipe here)
Things I will probably miss the most are CHOCOLATE, smoothies, stevia in my beverages and the occasional peanut butter. I think I am going into this second round of Whole30 in a better place food-wise so I am very excited to work on the mindset piece and get a better picture of what I want my Food Freedom to look like.
#4 Chomps Sticks
I am obsessed with these protein-filled sticks!! Chomps sticks have no-sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, artificial ingredients, nitrates or nitrites! What they do have though is 100% either grass-fed and finished beef or free-range turkey.
Along with being Whole30 approved, they have fun flavors like Jalapeño, Cranberry and Venison! With 9-10 grams of protein per stick and 70-110 calories these are the perfect snack to throw in your purse, carry on or glovebox in case you start to get hangry or are in a pinch!
I will definitely be consuming a lot of these in the next month and can easily find them at my local Trader Joes. My favorite is the Original Turkey Stick.
#5 Zico Coco-Lixir
These coconut water drinks from Zico are combined with juice for a super refreshing drink filled with potassium and other electrolytes. There are 3 different flavors including a green juice drink “unbe-leaf-able,” a beet-carrot drink “turn up the beet” and a ginger-lemon “for lemon’s sake.”
My favorite has been the green juice drink because of its relatively low sugar content and tons of electrolytes. I have really enjoyed drinking one of these after a run or climbing session to replenish what I’ve lost through sweat. I especially love that there is so much potassium to reduce muscle cramps from the coconut water and some greens to go with it! Win-win.