Archives for posts with tag: wellness

Sunday morning was bittersweet as it was our last day at Hope Springs Institute, but we were excited about the activities Lotus Flower Studio had planned for us.  The day started off in the Spirit House for pranayama and meditation around the fire.  I mostly reflected on how simple all of this seems here at Hope Springs and whether or not I will be able to incorporate these techniques in my daily life.

Breakfast was amazing.  In fact, all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at Hope Springs were amazing.  I was thrilled that they were able to handle my crazy diet without it causing any problems.  In fact, the gluten free options tended to go as quickly if not quicker than the regular options.  It was amazing to have someone take care of you like that.  I’m still not used to having to make my own meals and it’s been a few days.  I was thrilled that Hope Springs has their own cook book ($20.00) so once I feel like cooking again I can recreate the meals I enjoyed there.

After breakfast we went on a hike, this time through the meadows and we got to see more butterflies and the clear blue sky.  I could get used to going on long walks after every meal.

I started not feeling great so I thought I would rest a while and took the time everyone was in the final yoga session to get completely packed and even felt ok enough after a while to venture to Spirit House since I think this is the place I will miss the most.  My sister came along later and we had fun recapping the whole experience.

After lunch, we had a raffle and I won a yoga strap and Beth gave me her eye pillow that she won because she says she can fall asleep anywhere at any time under any circumstances.

It was tough leaving such an amazing place and I’m really hoping to go back someday when I need another recharge.  (Umm, like this weekend maybe…)

For some reason, my mom and sister didn’t want to get up early for the morning yoga and pranayama practice so I went by myself and enjoyed the cool morning air and sun salutations.

After breakfast, we went on a hike to explore Hope Spring Institute‘s 100 acres of undisturbed nature trails.  I loved walking in the early morning before I would normally be done drinking coffee and thinking about what to do that day.

Later that morning, we assembled in the yoga studio to learn about how Pilates came to be and practiced some of the moves before seeing a Pilates Reformer in action for the first time.  It was very neat looking but I was a little afraid of it.  After lunch, we had some time to do whatever we wanted but we all had some scheduled appointments.  One was for a reflexology session with Donna Miller of Natural Balance Reflexology, LLC.  The other was for a session on the Reformer, which ended up being a very fun workout.

After free time, we got back into the yoga studio for a yoga session aimed at teaching us ways to grow our practice at home.  It was really helpful because we talked about ways to keep working toward your goal poses little by little.  I secretly have always wanted to be able to do full pigeon and I didn’t ever think of it as being particularly achievable until after this session.

Flowing right from the yoga, we got set on our mats for Yoga Nidra, which is the deepest relaxation I’ve ever had.  I didn’t want to leave the studio, even for dinner.

After dinner, we walked the labyrinth, which was the most enlightening experience considering I didn’t think I was going to get anything out of it whatsoever.  We all really came to the same conclusions even though we were all walking it separately.

My favorite part of Saturday came at the very end when we had a campfire in the woods (don’t worry, there was a clearing).  We had a drum circle, made s’mores, and looked at the stars.  I saw constellations I hadn’t seen since taking Astronomy in high school (and then the stars were in the planetarium, not in real life).  The best part was that there was a meteor shower that night and we saw so many shooting stars.  I think I’ve found my new happy place to imagine when life gets rough.

My mom, sister, and I just got back from an amazing wellness retreat weekend hosted by Lotus Flower Studio.  It was so relaxing and wonderful and packed with great things that I decided to make it a 3 part series on my blog to make sure I don’t miss anything. (Sorry the pictures are blurry!  I don’t know sometimes how to get my iPhone to behave.)

We started out on Friday around 2:00 pm and headed south to Peebles, Ohio where Hope Springs Institute is located.  We got there a little before 5:30 and were so happy with our rooms.  We had the opportunity to share a suite in the farmhouse because we were the only group of three.  That meant we each got our own room and a separate bathroom we didn’t have to share with anyone but the three of us.  We even had a little living room to hang out in and do a little extra yoga.  What made the farmhouse so great to my mom, sister, and me was that it looked and smelled just like my great grandmother’s house in Missouri.  It felt like we were transported back in time to the summer vacations spent in the country.

Right after orientation and dinner, we walked to Spirit House to meditate and talk about the weekend ahead.  The country air is so fresh and there is nothing to interrupt the calm and quiet except for the hum of bees and chirping of crickets and crackling of the fire.

Friday was the evening we started learning about Yin Yoga, which incorporates a lot of the postures from Hatha yoga and stretches the time to hold the posture by several minutes.  So instead of holding a posture for a quick minute or two, you might be keeping it going for 5-20 minutes depending.  It was pretty neat to learn about a new style of yoga and I plan on using that at home since the routine wouldn’t have to have a lot of different postures involved.

We watched a movie called Titans of Yoga, which is about yoga teachers and why they started doing yoga in the first place.  We ate popcorn and drank tea and when the movie was over we went back to our rooms to relax and rest up for a very full Saturday.

It has been requested that I open up my blog to questions from my readers.  Ok, it was more of a demand if you want to get technical.  Either way, here we go with our first question:

“Instead of a loofah, I bathe with a bacon cheeseburger.  Am I doing something wrong?”  Here’s the actual conversation if you don’t believe me:

Fit Sugar aptly calls bacne “an unpleasant side effect of working out.”  They also have some great tips to help avoid bacne and treating the bacne you already have.  I’ll sort of summarize plus add in some of my own tips:

  • Shower the moment you are done working out.  You know how your gym has showers?  Use them.  Pack a portable shower caddy (like the ones you used in college dorm bathrooms) to cart shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc.  If you really can’t stomach the idea of showering in a public place, shower the second you get home.  Consider at least bringing a change of clothes to the gym.
  • Speaking of the shower, use shampoo and conditioner before you wash your body.  All that creamy, oily conditioner might be great for your hair, but can cause bacne if it clogs your pores.
  • I know some people who think you should use a gentler acne wash for your back than for your face, but actually the skin on your face is much more delicate than the skin on your back, so scrub away!
  • You should be using a scrub with salicylic acid.  I recommend Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub because it’s cheap ($6) and plentiful.  Use a back brush (probably skip the loofah because they can damage skin and make bacne worse) to make sure you reach 100% of your back.
  • Some people’s skin responds better to benzoyl peroxide, in which case consider trying Clean & Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Scrub.  It’s also around $7 so it’s not terribly expensive to scrub your whole back with it.
  • If neither of these options are working for you, consider some other alternatives, although these will probably be more expensive:  glycolic acid and alpha hydroxy because they both promote cell turnover.
  • So important:  Using any acne medicated scrub or soap will make it easier for your skin to burn in the sun so please please please wear sunscreen.
  • Also, if you’re reading through this list and thinking to yourself that you’ve tried all of these tips and you’re still having trouble, consider making an appointment with a dermatologist.  She can possibly write a script for something stronger or even antibiotics to get you on the right track.

If you have a question for me, please use the Contact feature right here on my blog.  All questions will be 100% anonymous and I’ll do my best to get you the answers you need!

Well, another Heedfest has come and gone and I can say that after the 24 Day Challenge from Advocare, I lost 10 pounds!  I’m so happy with the results and recommend Advocare to anyone wanting to start a healthier lifestyle with a kick start in the right direction.  I didn’t reach my goal 100% but I’m confident with enough time, I could get back down to where I need to be.  Staying on program even gearing up for festivals you’ve been waiting for all year isn’t as hard as you would think, but I realize that I have a lot of practice with dietary restrictions because I’m a lacto-ovo-pesco-vegetarian (milk-egg-fish for all you non-Latin speaking people), so there have been plenty of times when I couldn’t eat anything at a gathering anyways.

And after the festival I lost an additional 2 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 12 pounds!

I decided to try Advocare, and the cleanse was really challenging but very rewarding.  Now that it’s over I’ve really learned to appreciate the foods I eat more than ever.  It sort of got me to start thinking of food as fuel again, rather than purely entertainment, comfort, etc.  I’ve cut most of the sugar out of my diet and I rarely miss it.  However, there are many temptations and it can be hard at times to stick 100% to the plan.  The worst thing is the beautiful free goodies people bring in at work (see below) because work is stressful and I love to eat sweets and carb-heavy foods when I’m stressed.

At the 14 day mark, I had lost 6 pounds and some inches!  More importantly, I’m feeling a lot better, which makes it hard to find good excuses to avoid the gym anymore.  I notice, too, that I’m working harder at the gym probably because I’m feeling less icky and tired all the time.  I realized that it’s probably not normal for a 25-year-old to be so tired just from working and so forth.  More updates to follow!

I’ve started taking a pilates class at Lotus Flower Studio and it’s been a lot of fun for me.  I originally wanted to take a yoga class but with nothing fitting into my schedule anywhere I looked, I went for the next best thing – pilates.  I normally would have steered clear because I had had bad experiences with pilates in the past, but at Lotus Flower, it’s a lot more relaxing and my instructor encourages us to just try everything even if we might look awkward or have more challenges than some of the more experienced pilates students in the room.  I never expected to have fun in pilates but this is a great class and I’m happy I found it.

Lotus Flower Studio (located inside At Peace Massage & Wellness)
8605 North Dixie Drive
Suite D
Dayton, OH  45414
(937) 307-9353

I avoided starting an actual diet for a long time, but I realized a while ago that I don’t eat all that well.  An average week’s worth of dinners would include pizza, ravioli, pizza, spaghetti, mac and cheese, pizza, and going out.  Obviously some weeks were better than others and we did get some fresh food in there sometimes.  But almost every meal started with getting into the freezer, which I’ve learned to be a bad sign because it could mean most of what we eat was heavily processed and barely nutritious.

So a friend at work suggested Advocare and after some research, I signed up and ordered their 24-Day Challenge (more on this to follow in another post).  I started Sunday, June 10 so I spent Saturday, June 9 pigging out on all my favorites that I knew I would miss – cereal, bread, sugar, etc.

I went for an iced latte at Ghostlight Coffee and got to enjoy their new patio.  (The delicious whoopie pie from Thistle Confections that I devoured was not able to be photographed for obvious reasons.)

I finished out the night by enjoying a beer flight followed by an Oberon at Chappy’s Tap Room.  (Mac and cheese not able to be photographed – again, devoured.)

Starting Sunday, I started my new diet and after several days, I can tell you I really am feeling a lot better.  The junk I was eating way too often wasn’t helping me reach my weight loss goals because it made me feel icky and sluggish and tired all the time.  I’ll let you know how much weight I’ve lost as soon as I finish the cleanse portion of the 24-Day Challenge.

Below, my sister, Sad Robots, continues her ongoing fitness rant (first seen here and then later here) by getting my readers primed and ready for the impending zombie apocalypse.  

Zombie Training

I’ve found that getting in shape is a lot more fun when I focus on being prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse. Personally, every time I get into one of my health “schemes,” it dies out because I get bored with the same old same old. Training for the zombie apocalypse keeps things interesting and ensures that I try new things from week to week. My friends and I have thus done the following so that when (not if) the zombie apocalypse happens, we will not only survive, but we will be the new leaders of the free world.

General health and fitness

We have to get the basics down before going into full-training mode. We’ve been getting into lifting and improving our nutrition in order to maximize fat loss, not necessarily weight loss. Our aim is not to be thin, but to be badass.


Navigating difficult terrain quickly, quietly, and with massive weight on our backs is a high priority in the zombie apocalypse. What is particularly helpful is the beautiful, varied, and vast Metroparks in the area. There are some great trails around here that have fairly difficult terrain, which maximizes utility. Eventually, we’d like to go on a weekend backpacking trip on the recently opened 22 mile backpacking trail, which has convenient campsites that you can easily obtain a permit for.

Note: I have yet to pee in the woods. I don’t think I really need to train this skill pre-apocalypse. I’ll deal with it when I need to.

Edible plants

We took an edible plants class at Aullwood recently. It was a Saturday morning (to the rest of the world: afternoon) so I kind of rolled out of bed and went, not giving a crap what I looked like because I assumed the class would be filled with elderly people who are tired of tending to their lawns so they want to learn how they should best eat their weeds.

I was not wrong.

However! The instructor was, well, “wowza” is the only adequate word to describe his appearance. The first hour of the class was a lecture and I would recount some of the information I learned, but it was very, very difficult to concentrate. The gist of it is that he recommended some books, warned against specific poisonous plants, blah blah, I really wasn’t paying attention.

Then we went outside to gather some plants, where the instructor promptly started grabbing random things and eating them. He called this activity “foraging.” He pointed out some plants for us to try and although most of them tasted like what you would imagine them tasting like (grass), some of them were actually really unique, delicious flavors. He also taught us which families were across the board edible and which you could eat the roots of, etc. and so on.

He frequently pointed out the best way to prepare most of the plants, and the answer was usually, “You could make a salad.” And then one of the elderly weed-eaters would point out, “Or you could make tea out of it.” It got kind of tedious.

The last stretch of the journey was actually cooking a meal with what we “foraged” plus what the instructor had partially already prepared. Our meal consisted of dandelion fritters and, erm, fried onion type things I guess. It tasted exactly like you would imagine such things would taste.

In all, it was a fun class, not really worth the money we paid for it, but we gathered some excellent resources and unique perspectives for surviving the zombie apocalypse.


We went to our first archery class a couple weeks ago at The Tackle Shack in Troy and it was a blast. The class is every Saturday morning from 10 – 11am and it’s a $10 flat fee. They also provide all of the equipment. There are people of all ages (and by that I mean there are a lot of young’ns but they were all very well behaved at the class I attended) and skill levels so it’s really not intimidating to go. My favorite part of the class was this conversation:

Instructor: So are you guys here because of the Hunger Games?

Friend: No. I’ve never seen it.

Me: [Looks down, shuffles feet because it’s secretly part of the reason.]

Friend: We’re here because we’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Instructor: [Totally serious] Ohh, I completely understand. I hear that’s gonna happen sooner or later. Well, I have some friends who got into blacksmithing to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Maybe you guys would be into learning how to wield a sword too?

All of us: YES.

Story writing

Although I am not often bored, one particularly slow day at work, I decided to text a few random friends the question, “You’re watching the news and see that a zombie infestation has begun in New York. It hasn’t spread elsewhere yet. What do you do?”

From there, I roleplayed my friends via text through their own zombie apocalypse. What I found was that the longer and more detailed their stories became, the more I was able to cohesively arrange their plotlines so that they were eventually all part of the same story. It was a really cool experiment and I’d be interested in making it into a series of short stories. You know, if anyone would be interested in reading them. [Looks down, shuffles feet again.]

What’s next

We plan to go on that backpacking trip, shoot some guns (I prefer bows… silence is preferable in the zombie apocalypse), get fully caught up on the pop culture lore of zombies (there really isn’t much to do there; as I’m sure you can tell, we’re kind of zombie experts), take more classes that we find available with the various organizations that focus on survival skills, and continue getting in better shape.

Since I’ve gathered decent participation among my friends, I was wondering who else would be interested in joining our little zombie apocalypse training camp. Members wouldn’t necessarily have to do things with us (especially if you’re not in the area), but maybe we could keep in contact with each other and our activities somehow. I also wouldn’t mind designing and making some badges (they’d actually be 1.25” pinback buttons because that’s the machine I have) as long as the shipping/supply cost was covered. They’d probably be about $3 a pop, which includes shipping.

So basically, my question is, if I turned this little hobby into a little club, would you guys join? Would you like badges for accomplishments? What have you already done to train for the zombie apocalypse?

Below, my sister, Sad Robots, tries to convince you of all the ways barefoot running is better than regular shoe running.  However, I want to point out that she never really goes in to how much not running prevents all running-related injuries.

Sad Robots’ Controversial Science Things

As a graduate in the field of psychology, the applied aspect of my degree was learning how to get whatever results I wanted to find from whatever test I was doing. I learned how to manipulate statistics to support theories like, “The belief in zombies is directly correlated to fitness levels in American males between the ages of 18 and 25.” Well, that might actually be legit, but you get my point.

What I’m really saying is that I’m difficult to sway when it comes to “scientific proof” of anything, specifically involving health. When it comes down to it, everyone is different, and some stressed-out grad student’s findings don’t necessarily negate last year’s stressed-out grad student’s opposing findings on the same topic. So when I read headlines like, “Heroin is healthy for you!” I realize that there are a multitude of factors to consider before I decide to become a druggie.

I tend to hand-pick random crap to obsess over (my dear sister calls these things my “schemes”) and trust that someone else has done the “scientific proof” for me. My “scientific proof” is using myself as a guinea pig because hey, if I’m going to do crazy things, it might as well be for the sake of science.

So, to answer some Sad Robots FAQ, here are the things I do and why in a series of guest posts I like to call “Sad Robots’ Controversial Science Things.”

Barefoot Running

In my last guest post, I recommended some handy dandy fitness gear, including the ever-awesome Vibram FiveFingers, and because of that, I have officially gained Girl About Town’s approval to delve further into the topic of barefooting.

To begin, I’d like you to consider what you wear on your feet while you’re at home. The answer is probably “nothing” or “socks.” Ask yourself why. If the answer is, “Because it’s more comfortable,” then I don’t get why you need to read any further.

Being barefoot is just more comfortable.

I get a lot of flak for this theory and I don’t know why. People really love their Nikes and they don’t like that I tell them that Nike is a huge factor in the American obesity epidemic. Nike is the reason you’re not happy with your body. Nike is the reason you don’t like running because you get shin splints. Nike is the reason you believe in crap like “arch support.” (Arch support doesn’t even make sense. Your foot arches support your body, like arches are wont to do [see: doorways, etc.] so why would your arches need support? If they did, we would have no doorways and we’d all be trapped in sad, dark rooms.)

Without citing my references, because, really, I don’t click on citations and I’m also just pulling from memory, the short of it is that in the 70s, the guy who made Nike decided that people needed cushioning for their feet. So instead of doing rigorous empirical testing on what that would do to the human body, he just decided to make it, market it, and shove it down the throats of the public. And we sure took it like a champ.

It turns out that putting a solid inch or so of rubber under our feet is really, really bad for our bodies. Just like having huge gloves on in the winter makes it more difficult for you to pick your keys up in the snow when you drop them, wearing sneakers on your feet makes it really hard to judge what kind of ground you’re walking on, what kind of steps you should be taking, how fast or slow you should be moving, where your center of balance should be, and so on and so forth. It ruins your walking gate, your running gate, the way you step, and how hard you step. For some reason, the image of putting rubber boots on a pug always comes to mind when I explain this to people. The pug has no idea what these atrocious, gaudy feet-thingies are, and so it starts to walk around all funny, trying to shake the boots off because it suddenly can’t feel the ground anymore.

I don’t need to tell you any of this because this great guy named Christopher McDougall wrote an amazing, enthralling, life-changing book called Born to Run. That’s my source. Read it.

Like a good narcissist, I’m going to bring this back to me now.

What has barefooting done for me other than make me a total snob? Well I’ll be happy to give you my first-hand account of spending the past year mostly barefoot.

It all started last July when I wanted to get into running. Like all good academics, though, before I ventured out my front door, I had to read 8,000 books on the topic before I was convinced that I should do this complex, difficult activity called “running.” Before I picked up Born to Run but after beginning my research, I had started jogging at the gym in a pair of Pumas I had on hand and had barely worn. After about two weeks, I got this horrible pain on the side of my leg accompanied by some swelling. I went to the doc, and he said to stay off it for a couple weeks. So I did.

I bought an ankle brace, and that helped a little. Then I splurged and bought the best reviewed, best priced pair of shoes I could find: Saucony Jazz 13s. When I put them on, it was like I was walking on clouds. I started getting more serious about running and I was logging more mileage per week than my car (Note: severe exaggeration). Like all things I get really manically obsessed with, something horrible happened that put a plug on my irrationally-founded dreams: I broke my foot.

It wasn’t like I tripped over a rock or got into a fight with a bear or anything cool like that. It was a stress fracture, so it took a couple weeks to set in. It took three times longer than that to heal, and my thus-far successful weight loss had to go on hiatus.

While I was healing, I read Born to Run. Suddenly I found myself walking around downtown Dayton during my lunch hour barefoot, holding my heels in one hand and my iPod in the other. In most other cities, you’d probably get stared at for this behavior. In Dayton, I didn’t get a second glance. That’s why I love this place.

What I found was that it was fun to walk around barefoot. I got asked, “But what if you step on something?” and my answer was, “I just pay attention to where I’m walking.” I mean, you don’t randomly grasp at things without looking at what you’re picking up, so why do you walk around without attending to what you’re stepping on? It really doesn’t exert that much mental effort. It’s the same as paying attention to stop signs while you’re driving. They may be in your peripheral vision, but you still, consciously or unconsciously, know to stop the car or you’ll probably get hurt. When you walk around barefoot, you eventually begin to attend to the ground unconsciously, and you avoid stepping on things that will hurt you.

My stress fracture eventually healed and I got a pair of Vibram FiveFingers to test out. I read so much literature on them and how to use them and what you should do before you run in them that I was pretty sure running in them for the first time would be a death sentence.

What I found was that all the pain I had while running in my Pumas or Sauconys just… disappeared. Instantly. What I also found was that my center of balance shifted downward while I ran and my heels didn’t touch the ground. I moved faster, lighter, and for longer distances. I was amazed.

Fast forward to last week: I’m kind of sick of getting guff for my VFFs. I still wear them when I run and when I go to the gym, but I find that the pair I have, the Sprints, aren’t really good for hiking. They’re for running on pavement. Vibram makes hiking FiveFingers, but I also decided I would like a pair of more “normal” looking barefoot shoes, so I settled on the Merrill Pace Gloves. It’s only been a few days, but I’m happy with them so far. They’re pretty and comfy and make my feet happy.

So here is my advice to you: Go outside without shoes. Step carefully. Take note of the things you’re thinking and feeling. Go inside and do a Google search on barefoot running. Read some reviews on barefoot shoes. Maybe read Born to Run if you wanna. Or maybe just take my word for it. Whatever. The point is you read this, and maybe it answered some questions for you that you were too afraid to ask that weird guy with dreads you saw at the bookstore wearing VFFs. Maybe you have more questions. If so, feel free to email me, or contact Girl About Town with your questions and I can answer them in YET ANOTHER guest post on barefooting, which I’m sure she’ll love. Really. Do that.

If you liked that, Sad Robots would be delighted to write about one or all of the following schemes topics:

Intermittent Fasting

Polyphasic Sleeping


Obsessive Researching