New Year, New You: How to Use Resolutions to Become a Morning Person

Woman Waking Up

Be honest: would you say you're a morning person? If the answer is a resounding no, you're not alone.
Lots of people dread waking up early or can't function until they have at least two cups of coffee coursing through their veins. While molding yourself into a chipper and cheerful morning person may seem unlikely, it's absolutely possible.

With a new year comes a renewed commitment to health, wellness, and personal goals. Like everything else, you just need to tease out those bad habits and develop a strategy for eliminating them. Here are a few great tips to help you beat the morning blues and attack every day with everything you got.

Alarm Clock

Say No to the Snooze Button

The snooze button is an evil temptress. You tell yourself "just a few more minutes", only to find that an hour has passed, and now you're late for work. While it's best to not use the snooze button at all, it can be difficult to go cold turkey completely. Once again, technology comes to the rescue. Smart alarm apps offer creative ways to snooze, including math problems that must be solved before you can secure that ten extra minutes. If you're not a math person, don't fret. The act of working out a problem can help wake up your brain, even if you don't get the correct answer.

Glass of water

Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking

It's true that coffee is associated with a quick pick-me-up in the morning, but water is a better choice of beverage. Water rehydrates the body, fuels the brain, and gives you the burst of energy you need to function optimally in the early hours. For an even greater rejuvenating effect, make the first beverage you drink in the morning a chilly glass of ice water.

Good night


NEW cinnamon burns stomach fat

Only use it if you have more than 15 pounds to lose.

>> NEW “Cinnamon Trick” for Rapid Fat Loss


Establish a Sleep Schedule

A consistent sleep schedule gets your body in tune with waking up early each morning. Additionally, your schedule should extend to the weekends as well, meaning if you get up at 7 am for work during the week, you should get up at the same time Saturday and Sunday. If you have problems falling asleep at a reasonable hour, develop a bedtime ritual. Avoid exercise, digital screens, and caffeine at least two hours before bedtime. Make your bedroom a work-free zone, meaning no laptops, no emails, and no texting. Try reading or taking a relaxing bath to get you in the mood for sleep.

Morning Yoga

Exercise Right After Waking Up

Much like math problems help wake up your brain, exercise helps wake up your body. Now, that doesn't mean you should pop out of bed and go run a half-marathon every morning. Something simple and low-key, like yoga or stretching exercises, should be enough to get you up and moving. There are plenty of free videos online featuring quick and easy exercises you can do each day. Fair warning, the first morning of exercise will probably be difficult. Stick to it, and you'll find each day getting easier and easier.

Cup of coffee

Invest in a Wake-Up Alarm

A bit of sunlight is just the thing to get you up in the morning. When your bedroom lacks strategically placed windows, or you're faced with a gloomy morning, a wake-up alarm is the next best thing. Also known as sunrise lamps, these devices gradually illuminate to mimic sunrise. This signals to your body that it's time to wake up, which is a more comforting process than being roused out of sleep by a blaring alarm.

Anyone can be a morning person when properly motivated. Using one or more of the above techniques can change your perspective, and your life. With the right attitude, you'll be greeting mornings with a smile before you even know it.

5 Tricks To Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Woman Sleeping

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Do you wake up many times every night? You’ve love these five easy and effective tricks for getting a great night's sleep all year long:

1. Eat Breakfast at Night

What kind of nonsense is this?! Breakfast for dinner? Well, according to scientists, absolutely.
I know it’s hard to eat a mouthwatering omelet, some lean bacon, a fresh banana and some delicious whole-grain toast for dinner, but … oh, who am I kidding? Breakfast is amazing!

Eating breakfast at night is good for falling asleep because most breakfast foods are rich in the right nutrients. Eggs are packed with protein, toast has filling carbs and bananas are rich in potassium. This combination makes your muscles relax, which is just what your body needs to fall asleep.

Bananas

2. Go Outside

I’m not encouraging you to sleepwalk. What you need is to get some sun and fresh air during the day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, go for a short walk, admire your summer garden or watch your dog play around in the snow. Sunlight keeps your normal sleep rhythm balanced, so when it gets dark, your body understands that it’s time to sleep.

Sunny Day outside


NEW cinnamon burns stomach fat

Only use it if you have more than 15 pounds to lose.

>> NEW “Cinnamon Trick” for Rapid Fat Loss


3. Try Some Spiced Almond Milk

Just about everyone has heard the secret of drinking warm milk before bedtime. But did you know it doesn’t have to be cow’s milk? Almond milk has a ton of tryptophan, melatonin and magnesium, natural compounds that get your body in the mood to sleep.

Plus, I’ll be honest. The idea of sipping warm cow’s milk doesn’t appeal to me. On the other hand, I love this spiced almond milk recipe. It’s delicious and relaxing, and it helps me sleep like a baby.

What You Need

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or honey

How To Make Spiced Almond Milk

This recipe is really easy. Just put all of the ingredients in a small pot and heat on the stove until it’s warm. Serve in a mug and sip calmly while listening to soft jazz or classical music. I recommend Etta James.

Almond Milk

4. Invest in the Best Sheets

Your mattress isn’t the only thing that makes a huge difference in sleep quality. So do your bedsheets. Look for breathable cotton or silk. Yes, they cost me more than polyester, but they were so worth the investment.
Trust me, if you wake up a lot during the night, tossing and turning, you won’t believe how much great sheets can change that. They keep your body cool, dry and comfortable all night long, so you wake up more refreshed in the morning.

Bed Sheets

5. Let There Be Dark

Your body won’t know it’s sleepy time unless your bedroom is dark. A dimmer switch or lamp is ideal. Turn down the lights about one hour before bedtime, turn off your smartphone or tablet, and try reading a book or listening to an audiobook. You’ll be asleep before you know it.

Dark Bedroom

These are just some of the sleepy-time tricks I have up my pajama sleeves. Next time I’ll tell you about the benefits of wearing socks to bed! Do you have other questions about sleep troubles? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help.

5 Coffee-Enhancing Hacks To Elevate Your Brew For Optimal Health Perks

Coffee Cup

As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when scientists announced that not only is coffee not a bad thing, it’s actually really good. Did you know there are way to make this amazing drink EVEN BETTER? You have to check out these 5 incredible hacks for taking coffee to the next level:

Coffee Smoothie

1. Supercharge a Smoothie.

Coffee can increase your metabolism (helping you burn more fat than you normally would) and give you more energy. It’s awesome for prepping for workouts. Turn iced coffee into a cardio-boosting smoothie with this recipe:

  • 1/4 cup chilled brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup almond milk or skim milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (or another nut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon un-brewed ground coffee
  • Ice for thickness

Before you ask … yes, it’s safe to include ground, un-brewed coffee in your smoothie. It gives you extra caffeine and antioxidants.

Cinnamon Bark

2. Curl Up With Cinnamon.

Cinnamon isn’t just for spicing up (pardon the pun) your coffee’s flavor. This delicious ingredient also has lots of health benefits. It gives you major manganese and antioxidants, helping to protect your heart, lower inflammation and help with menstrual pain. Cinnamon can also lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and strengthen the immune system. Yes, please!

The easiest way to get cinnamon in your coffee is to add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder to the grounds before brewing.

Almond Milk


NEW cinnamon burns stomach fat

Only use it if you have more than 15 pounds to lose.

>> NEW “Cinnamon Trick” for Rapid Fat Loss


3. Ask for Almond Milk.

For me, creamy coffee is irresistible. In fact, I’m a “no sugar, 2 creamers, please” type of girl. The only problem with that is that milk and creamers add a lot of calories to each cup.

The solution? Choose almond milk instead of dairy. Almond milk still has that supersmooth, creamy texture I love, but roughly half the calories. At the same time, it gives you lots of vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium.

Cup of Coffee

4. Go Bulletproof With Butter & Coconut Oil

Homemade bulletproof coffee uses medium-chain triglycerides to kickstart fat burning. Unlike normal fats, MCTs tend to get turned into energy packets for fuel instead of stubborn belly fat. This helps you avoid the energy drain that sometimes happens with keto diets. At the same time, keto coffee helps fill you up so you don’t feel the temptation to cheat.
To make your own keto brew, here’s what to do:

  • Brew a cup of coffee. Your favorite beans are fine.
  • Pour the coffee into a glass blender jar.
  • Add 1–2 tablespoons of unsalted butter or ghee (clarified butter).
  • Add anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or MCT oil.
  • Blend until creamy.

That’s it! Enjoy the frothy, energy-enhancing drink on your way out the door or before working out.

Turmeric Latte

5. Try Turmeric Lattes.

One popular drink in India is called golden milk, a type of bright-yellow latte made with milk and spices. You can put your own twist on this energizing, depression-fighting beverage by adding some to your coffee. Here’s how:

  • Make a golden milk base with 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, sprinkle of black pepper and 1 tablespoon water.
  • Brew some coffee.
  • Combine 2 1/2 cups of coffee, 1 1/2 cups almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon honey and a few drops of vanilla extract.
  • Blend everything together until it’s smooth and enjoy!

Turmeric is an incredible spice. It has anti-inflammatory benefits, mood-boosting properties and powerful antioxidants for keeping your whole body healthy.

Do you have other health-boosting tips for my morning java? Please, I’m begging you. Share them with me!

3 Gifts I Will MAKE Instead of BUY

Presents

OK, it’s time for a reality check, and I’m not going to sugar-coat it. The holidays are knocking at your front door, and if you don’t have your gift list nailed down, it’s time to put your game face on. This year has been a crazy one to put it lightly, and if you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a little more sentimental than usual. In the past, I’ve bought most of my gifts online, but this year I decided that my friends and loved ones deserve a little bit more thought. So here are three gifts I will make this year instead of buy. Feel free to use these ideas to make gifts for your own family and friends.

Knit Blankets

1. Blankets

Warm, cozy blankets are some of the best gifts I’ve ever received, which is why I’m going to make a few for my loved ones this year. If you decide to make blankets, be careful. It’s easy to overestimate how many you can make in the days and weeks leading up to the holidays. The last thing you want to do is overburden yourself with so many blankets that you’re stressed out trying to get them done in time.

If you know about how long it takes you to make a blanket, create a schedule for yourself. Figure out how many blankets you can reasonably make by the time the holidays are here. And by “reasonably,” I mean, at a pace that you can sustain while still taking time to clean your house and watch your favorite Hallmark movies.

If your blanket-making skills won’t win you any awards, don’t try to tackle a bunch of King-size quilts. Instead, go easy on yourself and make a few simple lap blankets or throws as gifts. If possible, ask for pictures of your gift recipient’s living rooms or bedrooms in advance so you can create throws and blankets that match their home décor and color themes. Of course, if you’re going for the surprise factor, this isn’t an option. In that case, choose neutral colors that are likely to complement any color palette.


NEW cinnamon burns stomach fat

Only use it if you have more than 15 pounds to lose.

>> NEW “Cinnamon Trick” for Rapid Fat Loss


Homemade Tree Ornament

2. Christmas Ornaments

Christmas ornaments make great handmade gifts because they provide memories and cheer year after year. They’re also extremely affordable, which is great news if you’ve already overextended your holiday budget (no judgment here!)

Call me old-fashioned, but I adore making classic cross-stitched ornaments featuring adorable little Christmas characters or scenes. But if you don’t have the time or patterns to make ornaments like these, try making dried citrus ornaments, wooden bead ornaments, or even wood slice ornaments. I’ve found so many online tutorials that make homemade ornaments a cinch to make. So once you decide what type you prefer, go online and figure out how to DIY it!

Stovetop potpourri

3. Stove Top Potpourri Kits

OK, this gift isn’t one that can be used year after year, but it’s one of my favorite gifts to make (and receive). Stove top potpourri kits are so simple, festive and cheery. To make them, just get a few small jelly jars and fill them with holiday-scented items that can be warmed in a pot on the stove to create a heavenly aroma. Here are my favorite ingredient ideas:

  • Small peppermint sticks (make sure they contain real peppermint oil)
  • Pine sprigs
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Dried lemon peel
  • Whole cloves
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Anise pods
  • Cranberries

Mix and match ingredients to create your own custom scents. Place the ingredients in your jar, put the lid on, and tie a festive bow around the neck. Consider including instructions or a label so your gift recipient knows what it is. This gift idea can fill a home with warm, comforting holiday aromas. Plus, it’s just so adorable! Figure out which gift idea you want to try this year and get ready to help create the most sentimental Christmas yet.

5 of the Best Dance Classes for Weight Loss

Dance class

For me, what makes dancing amazing for exercise is the way it keeps you motivated. A great beat keeps you energized and helps you push through the burn for even better results. Here are five of my favorite dance classes:

1. Hip-Hop

Do you love to bounce and sway when your favorite songs come on the radio? I do. If you're like me, a hip-hop dance class is perfect for you. It involves a range of motion for your entire body, including arm punches, shoulder moves, high steps, hip slides, spins and jumps. These classes are a blast, and they’re amazing for slimming your waistline. You can easily reach 400–500 calories burned per hour or more.

Dance class

2. Freestyle

Freestyle classes are a great choice for people who love to dance but don’t like having to remember steps. Whether you’re into hip-hop rhythms, Latin music, electronic vibes or even classical music, freestyle lets you do your own thing. The important thing is to stay active the whole time, but you can move your feet, arms, hips and tummy however you feel like.


NEW cinnamon burns stomach fat

Only use it if you have more than 15 pounds to lose.

>> NEW “Cinnamon Trick” for Rapid Fat Loss


3. Belly Dancing and Bollywood

If your goal is to specifically target stubborn tummy fat, then belly dancing is hard to beat. This exotic dance comes from places such as Morocco and Egypt. It involves precise movements of the hips, belly and buttocks, from slow gyrations and twists to sexy slides and vibrations. All of these movements are heaven for your midsection, burning fat while toning abdominal muscles and glutes like no tomorrow.

Bollywood dances use some of these motions while including whole-body moves and unique hand and arm flairs. Think hip-hop with a touch of gracefulness. These are some of the best feel-good dance activities out there. Trust me, you will have a huge smile afterwards.

Tango

4. Tango

Ballroom dances such as tango may burn less calories than intense aerobic activities, but they’re also gentler on your body. It takes some practice to learn the steps, but showing off your tango prowess is kind of the point. Other options include foxtrot and waltzes.

5. Salsa or Merengue

Latin dance rhythms can help you burn TONS of calories. You only need to learn six simple steps and the rest is up to your mood! Salsa is a high-energy, fast-tempo dance that gets your feet moving. It’s excellent for cardio and moves your lower body and hips a lot.

Merengue has a slower tempo than salsa and is lower impact for people with tender joints, but it still gives you a great workout. Salsa and merengue exercise your legs, glutes, hips and abdomen. Add in some arm movements and you’ve got a great whole-body workout that keeps you pumped.

Dancer

All the Benefits of Dancing

One hour of dancing can help you burn 400 calories or more, which is what you get from riding a bicycle, jogging or swimming. That makes it great for weight loss. In addition, you get tons of other benefits:

  • Better flexibility
  • Stronger bones
  • Higher energy levels
  • Happier mood
  • Less stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Lower risk of memory problems

Want some extra fun? You can do most dances with a partner for excitement (or some romance). Burning calories as a team is a great idea. No matter what dance class you’re interested in, my advice is just try it! You won’t believe how awesome you feel and how many calories you sweat.

10 Days and 70 Ounces of Water — This Is What Happened To My Body

Glass of Water

For the past 10 days, this brave work-at-home mom with nerves of steel made sure she got exactly 70 ounces of water a day. Over this time, I learned why doctors insist people drink more water. Here’s what you can expect:

1. I Peed … a Lot

The first thing I discovered is that if your body isn’t used to drinking so much water, you’re going to use the bathroom at least a couple of times a morning. One interesting side note is that my pee was much clearer than usual. After a quick Google search, I learned that this meant my kidneys were working great. So, thanks water for protecting my kidneys!

Woman drinking Water

2. The Munchies Disappeared

This is one of the things that surprised me the most. During my 10 day experiment, I gradually noticed that my cravings for chocolate started to disappear. I wouldn’t turn down a few scoops of chocolate ice-cream if you offered, but I don’t feel the same pull for chocolate or snacks as before. It turns out this is real science. The munchies are often caused by dehydration, not because you’re hungry. Yeah, the brain is pretty weird sometimes.

2 Minute Ritual
Potato Chips

3. I Have More Energy

As someone who LOVES coffee with her heart and soul, I was pleasantly surprised to see that drinking more water meant I didn’t need to brew a pot for the afternoon. I wasn’t sleepy, depressed or dragging my feet. My mind is more alert. I rely less on pick-me-ups during the day. Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue, so it’s no surprise that staying hydrated feels SO FREAKING INCREDIBLE for your muscles, your brain and your mood.

Woman Running

4. My Skin Looks Phenomenal

I’m not the kind of person who spends tons of time with makeup. I tend to focus on my “natural beauty,” AKA pray that my hair doesn’t get tangled as I toss on my pajamas for working from home. However, I made a surprising discovery after upping my water intake: My skin is shockingly lustrous and smooth! Apparently, staying hydrated on the inside directly leads to the amount of moisture your skin gets. In fact, drinking plenty of water can be more effective than applying moisturizer to dry skin. Who knew?!

Woman Looking in Mirror

The Secret To Staying Hydrated

I’m not normally forgetful, but remembering to get those eight glasses of water was more of a challenge than I expected. Here are a few ways to stay on track:

  • Set a BUNCH of water alarms on your smartphone: After a while, you’ll start to remember.
  • Use a squeeze bottle and keep it with you: No idea why, but squeeze bottles made it more exciting to drink water.
  • Drink water BEFORE you eat: This helps you remember and helps you lose weight, too.
  • Eat more fruit: Fresh fruit has water, keeping you hydrated. It also comes with tons of nutrients for your body.
  • Make it fun with an infuser: I started infusing my water with grapefruit, peaches, cucumbers and kiwi. It was so tasty that I actually looked forward to it.
Water infused with cucumber

In case you’re wondering, 70 ounces of water is basically half a gallon a day. It’s about eight glasses, but eight of those tiny plastic cups, not eight huge drinking glasses. I definitely recommend taking on your own 70-oz. water challenge!

Fun and Stimulating Outdoor Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer

Dad and daughter on beach

Summertime is a time for your kids to unwind and reset after a long, stressful school year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should let them be couch potatoes for the whole break. As a work-from-home or stay-at-home parent, you want to keep your kids active and their brains engaged while making fun, life-long memories but without making them feel as if they’re in back in school. It can be tough to strike this balance, but don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Below are outdoor activities that are great for little minds and bodies that kids of all ages will love.

Participate in Nature

No matter where in the world you live, summertime is full of natural wonders. While it’s one thing to appreciate those wonders visually, it’s quite another to engage with them. To raise children who really appreciate Mother Nature in all her glory, try doing the following:

  • Plant a garden, and have your kids take care of it.

  • Make a bird feeder, then try to identify all the birds that come to your yard.

  • Visit a “Pick Your Own” farm.

  • Gather bits of nature, such as old bark, fallen twigs and leaves, and make a fairy garden.

  • Lay out on a blanket and watch the clouds. Encourage your littles to use their imagination to spot different shapes.

Berry Picking

Explore Local Landmarks 

If you’re like most people, you make it a point to visit each landmark at every one of your vacation destinations, but you have yet to explore the sites in your own city. Make this summer the summer you change that. From local art galleries to living museums to state parks to historic farms, identify what your city has to offer and visit a new place each week.

Don’t stop at museums and parks, though. Get a schedule of all the local flea markets and farmer’s markets and shop there instead of big box stores. Have breakfast as the same diner once a week to get to know the locals better. Go to a demolition derby, and have fun at the fair when it’s in town.

2 Minute Ritual

Stimulate the Brain 

Your child doesn’t need to be doing math problems or reading a book to stimulate the brain (Though, math and books are good!). Encourage your child to take up a new hobby, such as juggling, bike riding or surfing, as a fun way to engage the cerebrum and get them moving. Play a game of I-spy or Simon Says, or set up a scavenger hunt in the backyard. Set up an obstacle course using household items to enhance your child’s visual perception, motor skills, coordination, motor planning, critical thinking and problem solving capabilities.

Get Creative

Arts and crafts are another fun way to stimulate the brain. Bring the art supplies outdoors and let your kids gain inspiration from nature. Better yet, let your kids gather the materials they need from Mother Nature herself. Press flowers, paint rocks or hold a photoshoot using your landscape as the backdrop. Bust out the sidewalk chalk and let your little ones turn the side of your home into a mural. Play with clay, string beads together or make a summer sketch diary. Let their imaginations run free to see what they can create.

Boy on bike

Just Play 

Sometimes, it’s just best to let your kids be kids. In between interacting with nature, visiting local landmarks and painting the sidewalk, give your kids the tools they need to just have fun. Though they can likely come up with ideas on their own, below are just a few that every kid enjoys:

  • Have a water gun or water balloon fight.

  • Run in the sprinklers.

  • Have a bubble blowing contest.

  • Play a game of HORSE.

  • Climb trees.

  • Ride a bike.

  • Have a hula-hooping contest.

  • Go fishing.

Whether you have all day to spend with your kids during the summer or just a few hours each week, use the above ideas to make the most of their time off. Taking the time to do something new will ensure they make memories that will last a lifetime.