9 Fresh Ideas for Spring

Although its taking a long time coming in my neck of the woods, spring is definitely on the way! And what better time of year than spring to try something new? So in honour of the changing season, here are my 9 suggestions for embracing the season of renewal:

1. Try Some New Recipes  – my friend Sue actually inspired this article when she posted an idea on Facebook about handing cookbooks to her kids and telling them to each pick 2 new dinner recipes for the coming week. Brilliant! What a great way to change things up. Dust off your cookbooks and foodie magazines and hunt for a couple of yummy new dishes to experiment with (or check out the archives on my blog for some Lori Wilson classics ; ) Time to toss those same-old-same-old winter menus!

2. Switch up Your Pit Stick – as an all-natural deodorant devotee, I’ve found that it’s best to keep a few good brands in the vanity that I can keep rotating to maintain their effectiveness. They seem to work like gangbusters for a month or so and then I need to swap them out for a bit. Although I always keep Purely Great and Weleda on hand, my new fav is Penny Lane Organics Lavender Deodorant Stick – it’s chemical-free and works well even during my sweatiest workouts.

deodorant-lavender-pennylaneorganics

3. Read SOAT – I have been a huge  fan of author Elizabeth Gilbert since she first published Eat, Pray, Love in 2007. I just adore the way her words jump off the page like she’s a close friend who is speaking directly to me (check out her blog and follow her on Facebook to see what I mean).  That’s why I couldn’t wait to dive into her latest fictional work “The Signature of All Things“. Now I’m going to be honest and admit that I started and stopped this book at least 5 times before I dug in and got hooked but you need to keep in mind that it’s an epic novel so don’t give up – trust me it’s well worth the read.

soat

4. Make A Small Change To Your Living Space– it doesn’t have to be anything big – perhaps you just grab a frame and hang up that picture you’ve been meaning to hang, shift the furniture around in the living room or paint one wall bright red. My hubby and I bought a new quilt for our bed for $60 while we were in the away on vacation in March and it makes me so happy every time I walk into my bedroom. Sometimes even a small shift can bring a fresh perspective.

5. Buy Something New for Your Wardrobe– To celebrate a good friend’s birthday, I went on a little shopping trip with a few pals a couple of weeks ago. We hit up one of my favourite local stores I purchased a bright pink short-sleeved shirt that I plan to wear the heck out of this spring. Grab a new scarf, a dangly pair of earrings or a funky new pair of jeans and see if you can add a bit of colour and energy to your wardrobe.

6. Start a Meditation Practice – Thanks to a great tip from my dad, I’ve recently rejuvenated my own meditation practice via a fantastic free app called Headspace on my mobile device. Meditation guru Andy Puddicombe guides you through 10 minutes a day of quiet contemplation and offers insights into the importance of this routine. I’ve also signed up for Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free 21-day meditation session called “Finding Your Flow that will be starting in mid-April (I did their other free course back in the fall and loved it).

headspace

7. Tend To Your Pearly Whites – Tea, coffee, red wine, chocolate, lemon juice….all things that I love and all things that can wreak havoc on my teeth. In an effort to keep them nice and white without undergoing a chemical bleaching, I am a big fan of daily Oil Pulling using pure coconut oil. I also read an article by author Kimberly Snyder about rubbing orange peels on the teeth a couple of times per week to amp up tooth whiteness and another post from one of my favorite bloggers – Wellness Mama–  about swishing activated charcoal in the mouth to remove stains. Yes these ideas might sound wacky but all of these options are natural, economical and definitely worth a try!

8. Drink Up Some Fresh Juice – According to nutritionist Meghan Telpner: “Juicing is the easiest way to get essential nutrients in- detoxifying your liver and other organs, increasing energy and your mood and helping to make other foods more digestible….For those trying to include more raw fruits and veggies into their diets, juice is the answer. For anyone looking to shed some junk from the trunk, clear up the skin, have shinier hair, and way more energy and vitality…guess what? You got it. Juice. is. the. answer.” If you own a juicer, it’s time to pull it out of the cupboard and get juicing. If you don’t, you can hit up a juice bar for a shot of wheat grass and a green juice chaser. And if by chance you live in the Burlington, Ontario area – my good friend Lisa has started a business providing beautiful and nourishing fresh juice- home delivery and full cleanses are also available.  Contact her via her at lisa@flowfit.ca for menus and more information. (photo below courtesy of Lisa Faley – www.flowfit.ca)

juice

9. Get Outside– Yes it’s cold (at least in Southern Ontario) but nothing makes me feel more clear-headed than a good brisk walk. Whatever your exercise of choice (walk, run, bike, skip, dance) – try to get outside every day even for a jaunt around the block and some deep breaths of fresh air. Guaranteed to give you a new outlook on life.

I hope these suggestions put some spring in your step! I for one am ready to bid goodbye to a long, cold and harsh winter. Yay spring!

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Smelly Pits and Natural Solutions

As I’ve made the transition to a plant-based diet and began to really consider what I am putting into my body, I have also become more cognizant of what I am using for body care and putting on myself in the form of makeup, soap, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, perfume and deodorant. Did you know that according to Environmental Defense Canada the average woman applies over 126 different chemicals on her body on a daily basis- many of which are highly toxic?

So let’s tackle a sensitive area right off the bat – armpits! This is a tricky one to address because no one wants to be stinky and although sweat itself is generally odourless, the bacteria in our pits can really get rank.

deodorant woman

This has probably been the toughest area to find a safe and non-toxic solution for because to be completely honest most all-natural deodorants just don’t cut the mustard…or the stink. But I am absolutely determined to keep trying for a number of reasons. First of all, despite conflicting scientific research, I just don’t feel good about slathering a bunch of chemicals and sweat inhibitors into an area that houses lymph nodes- a vital part of my body’s immune system (not to mention how close my armpits are to my boobs and their fat cells that are prime receptors for toxins).

deodorant there's lead

If you don’t already have a copy, I highly recommend Gillian Deacon’s book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick. Gillian is an author, a broadcaster, an environmental advocate and a breast cancer survivor and she offers up a wealth of information regarding what is really in our body care products and what we can do about it. Here is just some of what Gillian has to say about our pits:

  1. Perspiring is our natural mechanism for releasing toxins and impurities from our bodies, regulating our body temperature and maintaining an appropriate salt level in our bloodstream
  2. Conventional antiperspirants essentially release aluminum salts that enter our pores to block this natural process
  3. If our skin isn’t able to properly eliminate toxins through perspiration, we may experience a trickle-down effect on our internal organs. The liver, kidneys and large intestine are challenged to work harder if impurities that would otherwise be released by sweating stay inside the body
  4. Both conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain many scary ingredients including parabens, triclosan, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, phthalates and aluminum

Source: There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, Gillian Deacon

As a mom, I also want to make sure my kids are armed with the safest and most effective products as they enter their tween years and begin to experience their own aromas. Their growing bodies are especially sensitive to chemical exposure and it is up me as a parent to introduce them to products that will leave them smelling fresh but will also lessen their overall toxic load.

If you are curious about the products you are currently using, check out the amazing Cosmetic Safety Database put together by the Environmental Working Group to get the scoop on your favourite brands. You simply enter the name of your personal care product and you will get a detailed report of toxicity, safety studies and a hazard rating.

So here is the best advice that I can give you when it comes to armpits and natural toxin-free deodorants– you’ve got to keep mixing it up. What works one month may make you stink to the high heavens the next so keep trying new things and alternating your favs to keep yourself smelling wonderful and your body chemical-free and healthy.

Here are some of the ones I like and what I’m using right now:

Crawford Street Deodorant Cream– this is a great lemon-scented deodorant cream and it works quite well but needs to be rotated after a few weeks with an alternate brand to maintain it’s effectiveness. I ordered mine online from their store in Toronto and it arrived within a few days.

deodorant - crawford St

Rocky Mountain – this is another goodie and it comes with a guarantee that it will work or your money back. I’ve ordered a number of products from this company out west from their online store and I’ve loved all of them. Again, I’d recommend switching it up from time to time.

deodorant - rocky mountain

Weleda Rose – I love this light rose-scented spray and I use it to top up my deodorant of choice or to spritz on other sweaty areas to keep me smelling….well, like a rose! You can get it at most health and natural food stores or order it online from Saffron Rouge.

deodorant Weleda

Purely Great – this is my current fav and I love it. It’s a bit of a pain in the butt because you have to scoop it out of the container with the little wooden stick that is provided but if you can get over the inconvenience it actually works really well. They also have special formulas for teen boys and girls. I bought mine at my local health food store but you can also order online.

deodorant - purely great

Dr. Hauschka– this is a lovely scented deodorant and works remarkably well but with the $25 price tag per bottle you might not want to pony up for this brand. If you want to add it in to your rotation it is quite effective. You can buy this one at high-end health food stores (like Whole Foods) or order online from Saffron Rouge.

deodorant - dr hauschka

Living Libations– the deodorants from this incredible company are also effective but quite pricey. They use only the very purest ingredients and essential oils, however you will smell like a bit of a hippy with their many of their scents of choice so if this bothers you at all this one probably isn’t your best bet (I quite like it). You can order any of their products online and they are shipped promptly.

deodorant living libations

Remember – perspiring is a natural function of our bodies that is in place for a reason. Instead of attempting to override sweating with artificial chemicals and fragrances, why not swap in a more natural product? Try some of these brands out and let me know how they work out. I’m interested to hear from you as well. Have you tried out any toxin-free deodorants that have been effective? Tell me in the comments!