Watching the Eclipse Topless with Kimchi in Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina

Once I heard about the eclipse, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was going to go see it.

So I switched shifts with a co-worker at my weekend job, booked a hotel in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and tried to convince Ian to go with me.

Ian had to work so he didn’t want to go, but when I mentioned Rosetta’s, he gave in and we packed the cooler, the pooch, and headed south.

Turns out, everyone else had the same idea we did. We spent a total of 30 hours on the road there and back to see the total solar eclipse (for reference, Asheville, North Carolina is only an 8-hour drive from my place).

It was absolutely and completely worth it to be present for this spellbinding moment.

Nantahala National Forest

We planned on going to Lake Santeelah, North Carolina, but due to traffic and the beauty of the Nantahala National Forest in Topton, North Carolina, we didn’t make it there. We found this beautiful picnic area by a river—the perfect place to watch the eclipse!

The river was private beneath a bridge right along a road. I have no idea where we were since the GPS didn’t work. It was amazing!

We were so excited to find this perfect, private spot.

In order to ensure no one else would try to watch the eclipse with us, we went topless. We figured it was the best way to create awkwardness and prevent anyone from invading our privacy.

Plus, it’s not illegal to be topless in North Carolina, which is pretty cool.

 

While we waited for the total eclipse (the partial eclipse had already started while we set up our picnic), we took pictures, played with Lisbeth, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, occasionally glancing up at the sun with our glasses.

Gosh, we look like dorks. Fortunately, our glasses weren’t too expensive. $15 with shipping.

Here are some of the pictures we took while we waited for totality.

Loving the fresh buzz on me! It’s really interesting how the light changed as the moon passed over the sun. It was an incredible experience.

The Kimchi

If you don’t know what kimchi is, don’t let the following photo throw you off. It’s fermented vegetables and really good for you. It contains probiotics and is extremely tasty; Ian and I eat it all the time.

So we had some during our picnic before the total eclipse and got some really funny—and weird—photos, including this one here.

Ian said I looked like a zombie either throwing up or consuming some type of bloodied meat. This is actually a piece of fermented napa cabbage. This particular type of kimchi is spicy!

In case anyone is wondering what exactly I’m eating, it’s this delicious stuff here.

 

Ian and I buy this all the time; it’s extremely spicy and I would absolutely not recommend eating it by itself, but there you go.

 

It’s best when it’s eaten with other foods. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a dish to eat it in and I forgot to bring forks, so here we are in the national forest eating it like zombies with bloodied fingers and a huge appetite.

 

 

Totality

We meditated for a few minutes before totality happened. The darkness happened really fast and then all the sudden it was there. The sky seemed to be shimmering while we stared up at the moon blocking the sun’s light. It was dazzling. I have no other way of describing it.

I did start crying a little because it’s a weird feeling when you do something and you know that you’re never going to do it again. I know that I probably won’t travel to see another eclipse, so seeing this gorgeous, amazing total solar eclipse in my life was the epitome of beauty and sacredness.

Ian and I stood there together in what felt like a dream for the two minutes and thirty seconds of totality, then we watched the sun emerge again together by the river.

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This is the best photo I have of totality. It does not capture it at all.

And some photos after the sun joined us again.

jenn ryan

jenn ryan

We waited for the eclipse to almost totally end before leaving. It was an experience that I was so grateful to have. A huge thank you to my fiance Ian for taking these photos.

Shirt: Butterfly Cropped Shirt by Gaia Conceptions

Necklace: Handmade vintage piece by local jewelry vendor Minxes Trinkets

Then, of course, we got a bunch of Rosetta’s on the way home. So although we were on the road for 12 hours for what should have been an 8-hour drive, we had vegan chili cheese fries, a buddha bowl, and some kick-ass pad thai to make it through.

I love you, North Carolina!

10 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea (And What Finally Worked for Me)

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Ok seriously, how many of you suffer from dysmenorrhea?

I’m going to warn you that before you read further, things are gonna get a little personal in this post. So if you don’t like reading about periods or women’s bodies make you uncomfortable, you can leave.

All good? Good.

Dysmenorrhea is the condition of experiencing insanely painful menstrual cramps. My periods have always been relatively bad, but lately, they’ve been really awful. Two periods ago I had the worst period of my life and honestly would have rather died than dealt with that. It was that bad.

Here’s a list of ridiculous things that have happened during my dysmenorrhea-infused periods:

  1. Age 13: Walking down the hall in middle school to the nurse’s office, nearly passing out from the pain.
  2. Age 15: Got picked up from high school by one of my aunts. Walked inside and made four parallel cuts on my left arm with a knife. It didn’t hurt as bad as the cramps.
  3. Age 21: In the bathtub throwing up oatmeal. My brother had to come over to give me some medication. I couldn’t move.
  4. Age 22: On the floor of the women’s bathroom at Penn State with my face pressed into that small space behind the toilet, moaning. Girl asks, “Are you ok?”
  5.  Age 25: In the bathroom throwing up chili, ended up in the bathtub with a knife.
  6. Age 26: Throwing up in the car while my fiance drives us home, scratching myself with a big knife, almost passing out from the pain. Screaming.

These are just the bad ones I remember. There have been countless other times over the last 14 years since I’ve had my period. My dysmenorrhea usually involves a bathtub, a knife, and vomit.

Sounds fun, right? God, I love being a woman. I really do.

With that in mind, I was inspired to create this list of things I’ve tried when it comes to cures for dysmenorrhea. So here’s what works and here’s what doesn’t.

A side note: I am not an herbalist or a nutritionist. The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. 

 

10 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea

 

1. Cramp Bark

You can find cramp bark in capsules or just buy a big bag of it from Mountain Rose Herbs. It tastes disgusting, but you drink it as a tea (or can take the capsules or use a tincture) to help with painful cramping.

Cramp bark can be taken in the days leading up to your period and can be taken the day of. I have also taken the capsules but have not tried the tincture.

The tea is extremely bitter. Whatever you do, don’t make it too strong!

2. White Willow Bark and Boswellia

This combination actually works pretty well. These are two herbs that are taken together to produce a “Motrin-like effect” on the body. The problem is, you need to take them the morning you get your period. By the time your period starts, it’s too late. At least this has been my experience.

I drink white willow bark tea and take boswellia capsules. I used to take white willow capsules, but then I couldn’t find any that didn’t contain gelatin. So I switched to the tea. Just like cramp bark, this tea is bitter, but it’s not as bad as cramp bark in my opinion.

Get the capsules or the tea and take a few hours before you get your period. This combination can work for other forms of pain as well—I’ve used for headaches and migraines with excellent results!

3. Hot Things: Bath and Heating Pad

In order to stimulate circulation, some people suggest applying a hot compress and then a cold one to your stomach area during your period. I have had mixed results with this method.

What I have had success with is taking a hot bath and then crawling into bed with a heating pad. The heat seems to help the cramps and just helps me to feel better.

Problem is, I don’t always have direct access to a bathtub. Which is why I now work from home and can take as many bloody baths as I want (pun intended). Told you this was going to get graphic. Or wait, I said personal. Same difference.

4. Coconut Oil and Lavender Massage

This one is interesting: research shows that this actually can help and is one of the best cures for dysmenorrhea!

Just get some lavender essential oil and coconut oil (or your carrier oil of choice) and massage your lower stomach. After 20 minutes, it’s supposed to help you feel better.

You can also just straight up huff lavender essential oil while experiencing painful cramping and it’ll help you feel better! Smelling lavender seems to help me more than the massage, actually.

5. Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)

My doc suggested I take this stuff throughout the month to lessen the severity of my periods. I don’t feel that it has helped all that much and I eventually stopped taking it. You should take it pretty regularly to experience results.

The dose is between 500-1,500 milligrams a daily. I take 1,000 milligrams. Easy with capsules. They provide essential fatty acids that are also great for skin and hormone regulation. Find some organic vegan ones like Deva Vegan Evening Primrose Oil.

6. Magnesium and Calcium

You’re probably deficient in magnesium and calcium.

Taking these supplements a few days before your period (some people may need to take them throughout the month to see results) and the day of your period can help reduce cramping greatly.

Everyone is different and everyone’s body will tolerate these supplements differently. Talk to your doc!

(Below: see an update to this post because the right dose and form of magnesium has really helped me out!)

7. Masturbation and Sex

Oh dear, this is the part where I said it would get personal, right?

Masturbation works, but I’ve had short-term results with this method. Not enough to actually stop the cramping for good. Sex can work.  The problem with this method is that you don’t really feel that turned on when you’re in extreme pain. But if you’re desperate…

It works!

8. Deep Breathing

Tried this during my last one too with positive results. I’ve been really into Eckhart Tolle and presence lately. Staying present has helped my dysmenorrhea greatly. Practice deep breathing, stay present in the moment, and understand that you are not your mind or body. It helps!

9. Exercising

This is a big one and regular exercise is definitely one of the best cures for dysmenorrhea. I promise. Get out there and do some cardio: this is what has worked the best for me, specifically running. You don’t need to overdo it, just go for a run a couple times a week.

10. The Menstrual Cup

If you’re still using tampons, you need to stop now. Those death sticks contain a known carcinogen called dioxin. And you’re sticking it up your vag! Seriously???

I used tampons for years (it still makes me cringe to think about that) before finally switching to the menstrual cup and cloth cotton reusable pads. I will never go back.

The menstrual cup can help alleviate your period cramps and relax your vagina a little. Don’t believe me? Give it a try, punk.

On the other hand, some herbalists think that blocking the flow of the blood with a tampon or menstrual cup can actually cause severe cramping. I’ve found that this is not the case with me, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with to see if this makes a difference for you.

If you’re already using the menstrual cup and it leaks, check out my guide to stop that thing from leaking!

 

5 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea I Have Tried Without Success

 

1. Licorice Root

Licorice is supposedly great for many things, especially helping to regulate hormones and helping during your period. I did not have success with this herb (I love licorice root tea though!)

2. White Peony Root

Tried white peony root (which is anti-spasmodic) without success. I have heard that using licorice root in combination with white peony root can help greatly with painful uterine spasms that sufferers of dysmenorrhea commonly experience. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I’ll likely give it another try though.

3. Cayenne Pepper Tea

Straight up. Didn’t work. I’ve heard hot peppers are great for pain. Didn’t work for me. Plus it was disgusting!

4. Yoga

I love yoga, but unfortunately, it hasn’t so far helped me when it comes to cures for dysmenorrhea.

5. Eating Warm Foods and Spices

I had an herbalist suggest to me that I stop eating raw foods and drinking raw smoothies to help with my dysmenorrhea. She suggested eating cooked foods the majority of the time with an emphasis on warming spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon, especially on the days leading up to your period. I’ve tried this without success, unfortunately.

 

4 Natural Cures for Dysmenorrhea I Have Not Yet Tried

 

These are things I haven’t tried, some of them I don’t plan on trying but others I do!

1. Birth Control

I have never been on birth control or tried birth control. Nor do I want to be. That stuff is unnatural and messes your body up. I’d rather suffer from painful cramping than use this shit when it comes to cures for dysmenorrhea.

2. Calendula Flowers

These are anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory. I use calendula flowers regularly but have not yet applied them to cures for dysmenorrhea. Have you tried them? I should try them next time to see if they work. The tea is much milder than cramp bark or white willow bark!

3. Valerian

I haven’t tried valerian, but I’ve heard it works. Unfortunately, valerian is also known for making you very sleepy. It’s an excellent anti-anxiety remedy as well as excellent for insomnia. Problem is, some people (ahem, me) get super sleepy on this herb and can’t really function during the day. Not that I can function on the day I get my period anyway.

Valerian tea also smells like stinky feet. It’s rather awful. But it could work as a cure for your dysmenorrhea!

4. Healthy Diet

My diet is already healthy, thank you very much. Before I get my period I love potato chips and sugar. Really hard to not indulge. Maybe one of these days I’ll make veggie smoothies for a week before I get my period and see if that helps as a natural cure for dysmenorrhea.

 

Update: What Finally Worked for Me

 

After years of suffering from dysmenorrhea, I finally began working with an herbalist who really helped me out.

Together, we discovered a pattern: on the first day of menstruation for a few hours, I would be getting these insane cramps, but not bleeding. She suggested perhaps my pelvic circulation was poor and my body was trying really hard to expel the uterine blood and tissue, but couldn’t.

So this is what helped:

  • Ginger. Boil 1 tbsp. of dried organic ginger root in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger out and drink the tea throughout the day. This really helps pelvic circulation! If you get tired of the ginger tea (I got really tired of it after a while), you can take Gaia Herbs Ginger Supreme 2 capsules a day.
  • Magnesium. Turns out, your body can’t really absorb magnesium citrate, which is why many people experience diarrhea at high levels of magnesium citrate. My herbalist suggested I take magnesium glycinate, 400mg in the morning and 400mg in the evening for a total of 800mg every day. I do this throughout the month and it really seems to have helped.
  • Breathing. The right kind of breathing actually saved me from one intense episode of menstrual cramps. Breathe in through your nose, then out through your mouth. Remember to keep doing it. I was amazed at how much it helped!

These are the things I have tried for months with success so I’m convinced they work! Of course, I’m probably jinxing myself by updating this post.

 

A Note on Omega-3s

 

I have also been taking lots more omega-3s (EPA and DHA from fish) in the form of fermented cod liver oil and omega-3 supplements.

I did a lot of research and discovered that these types of essential fatty acids are different from the kind you get from vegan sources such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, etc. Your body can convert these vegan sources into EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate has been shown to be poor. Your best bet is to get them from fish if you’re not vegan.

Also, omega-3 supplements have been shown to be as effective as Ibuprofen in research about painful menstrual cramps.

 

I really hope this post helps some of you looking for cures for dysmenorrhea. It’s an awful condition that makes life particularly difficult. Getting your period is bad enough as it is, suffering from dysmenorrhea certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

I would also really recommend working with a natural health professional, such as an herbalist who specializes in women’s health. I’ve found out all the above tips from 14 years of getting my period, but you could save yourself a lot of pain and trouble simply by working with someone who can help you discover what’s causing your pain and how to make it stop.

What do you think of these natural cures for dysmenorrhea? Have you tried any? Are there some I didn’t list that work for you? I wanna know!

 

Harnessing Nature’s Power to Heal

This is a guest post by Martyn Williams, who is a record-holding extreme explorer, author, and successful entrepreneur. He is a yoga teacher and practices natural and Ayurveda healing. To learn more, check out his site here.

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The natural world has an incredible ability to help us heal. Letting yourself open up to the beauty, wonder, and life of nature is a way to encourage your own healing processes and to experience something profound.

The ancient Indian healing tradition known as Ayurveda is deeply appreciative of the value of time spent in nature. Getting out into the natural world and letting yourself become a part of it, even momentarily, will do wonders for you. When we make it a habit to get in touch with nature, we make it easier to find our own proper place in the world.

Ayurvedic Healing Through Nature

In order to get the full benefit of the bountiful healing energies that flow through the natural world, we need to engage all of the Ayurvedic elements (fire, water, air, earth, and space) with all five of our classic senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. The Ayurvedic elements are called mahabhutas in Sanskrit, and we need to set aside some portion of every day to appreciate them.

In many ways, the most potent form of healing we can do when we are in the presence of the natural world is simply to open up our senses and pay attention. Simply striving to become more aware of the world around us and the vibrant play between the different mahabhuta elements going on, encourages both our bodies and our spirits to seek balance and peace.

Meditation and Nature

Meditation is a vital part of the attention that the natural world requires. When you meditate, you turn your gaze inward, paying attention not to the active, rational mind but to the spiritual soul. This, too, is a potent part of the healing process.

Make use of this healing exercise that you can practice almost anywhere. Step outside into a natural environment. Make yourself comfortable and still and then concentrate exclusively on the sensations that you’re experiencing. Reach out with all five senses and do your best to grasp every aspect of the living environment.

Using Nature to Protect and Heal

Once you become accustomed to taking advantage of nature’s restorative effects, it can serve as a powerful shield against undue stress or disruptive life events. Taking the time to return to nature—either literally or by reviewing your favorite memories—can give you a much-needed shelter against the most challenging parts of life.

Retreating to nature temporarily is an excellent way to adjust your perspective on your problems and to cultivate new insights which might lead you to solutions.

Three Bodies, One Healing

Healing in the Ayurvedic tradition is about more than simply purging a body of illness.

According to Ayurvedic beliefs, each of us is blessed with three bodies. The first is the physical body, the crude shell of matter that occupies physical space in the world. The second is the subtle body, made up of your thoughts and ego. The third is the causal or spiritual body, that distinct essence which is inextricably linked to the rest of the world.

Connection is important to all three of these forms, and our bodies both influence and are influenced by their surroundings. This means that personal healing is also a step towards making the world a better place. Improving your physical and mental health will send positive ripples out into your environment.

Life Always Finds a Way

Take the indomitable spirit of the natural world to heart as a useful object lesson when you are feeling most overwhelmed. Life is a nearly unstoppable force that pushes through every obstacle, recovers from every setback, and heals every type of damage. The next time you see news of a natural disaster, pay attention to how quickly new signs of natural growth appear in the aftermath. Life always finds a way and by doing so it teaches us to do the same.

Generally speaking, approaching the natural world as an instructive teacher is a useful attitude. Our world is so rich that it would be virtually impossible to absorb all of the potential lessons that happen around us every day. Pay a little more attention to what the natural world is trying to teach you. What you learn won’t disappoint you!

5 Reasons I Love Eckhart Tolle

The one thing that has changed my life when it comes to how to be present minded is the simple—and yet, life-altering—fact that I am not my mind.

I am not Jenn.

I’m not a health blogger.

I’m not even a bunny loving, tea-drinking, glitter girl.

I am something infinitely more than my mind, my thoughts, or emotions. I am a Being.

I just am.

I recently read Eckhart Tolle’s Book A New Earth after going through a rough patch in an area of my life. It was so amazing, and it helped me heal more in two weeks than all these years without my illness.

Here are five reasons I’m really loving Eckhart Tolle and how his musings have transformed my life.

1. Tolle Advocates for Not Identifying with Your Mind

Tolle acknowledges the power of being present and not identifying with our pasts, our minds, or our emotions.

Doing so only gives strength to the ego in us, which creates a multitude of problems and suffering. When you identify with something, you must defend it, nurture it, become victim to it.

The bridge in the picture represents the pathway between you and your mind.

Bridge

While many people are unable to separate themselves from their mind and feel that they have no choice but to identify with their emotions, their struggles, that fabulous baby pink shade of nail polish, or a career, they don’t see a bridge.

They see only one thing without a way out, which is their mind. People tend to think a lot and totally identify with their thoughts.

The bridge is between you and your mind.

You can be on one side and travel to the other side occasionally, that is to think or be creative or whatever you choose.

But we don’t need to be thinking all the time. In fact, it’s pretty hurtful to us and prevents you from realizing how to be present minded. When you’re here, right now, in this moment, you realize nothing truly matters and just enjoy being.

2. He Cultivates Presence

When considering how to be present minded, we can cultivate presence to experience more joy, less sorrow, and be more effective at what we do.

Cultivating presence is the act of just being in the moment. Cultivate awareness of your body, your environment, your emotions. Allow things to come and go, but do not judge them or label them.

Just be right here where you are.

When you can feel your own presence without the constant chattering of the mind, you become more whole in this moment and less immersed in all your perceived mind problems.

3. He Establishes a Way out of PAin

It’s not easy to let go of all the things you feel establish you and help you to be grounded.

But when you’re thinking how to be present minded, consider that what grounds you is not what actually grounds you, rather just something that makes you feel more secure in your ego.

The way out of pain and suffering is to stop identifying with your mind. Yes, your mind is there, but do not let it consume you. Do not let your emotions be who you are. Nothing can define what you are. You are right here.

4. Tolle Points out the Power of No Resistance

Many of our feelings are responses from the ego.

The ego is always seeking, always wanting, always trying to be superior. Nothing is ever good enough for the ego, not even yourself.

The ego thrives on reaction. It wants you to react and defend your position, which in effect strengthens it. What the ego cannot and will not realize is that there is great power in no resistance.

It’s a challenge to realize that you have a choice and not react. Try it. Next time someone gets upset with you, do not react. Remain present.

How to be present minded begins here.

5. He Acknowledges that Being Is the Ultimate Experience

Just be.

Don’t try to find yourself, seek happiness, or ground yourself in things. It’s amazingly liberating to realize that your past does not define you, that your life situation does not define you, that your objects do not define you.

We’re people who have the ability to stay present, not take criticism personally, and are always looking to learn and grow.

How could you ever be defined?

4 Reasons Why I No Longer Own a Smartphone (Yes, I’m Serious)

Yes, I’ve gotten rid of my smartphone. For good.

Yeah, I got the iPhone. And yeah, I got rid of it. Why?

1. I Didn’t Want to Be Accessible

The iPhone made me accessible.

I was no longer a lone ranger, as it were. I couldn’t get lost. I was suddenly, with this device, always found and always in touch.

If you called me during dinner, there I was. If you called me during school, there I was. If you called me while I was walking down the street, there I was. Not that I actually answered the phone at any of these times, but you get the point.

It was suddenly there with me everywhere and as I got older, when someone needed something, I was just a phone call away. No guessing. No frustration. No appreciation. I was there.

I decided I wanted to stop being there and start being here.

2. I Wanted To Stop Being Rude

The iPhone made being rude very easy.

I was able to check my e-mail from my phone, and suddenly every e-mail became so important that I had to check it right then. I noticed that I’d be texting a client when I was hanging out with my boyfriend.

I was getting calls and texts from exes who wanted to see me. I was receiving calls from my boss asking me to come in early. And yes, as horrific as it is, I’ve been that person who didn’t see the red light because they were looking down at their phone.

I was able to Google directions instead of being lost. I was able to look up an item or a restaurant or a question on the Internet right there, wherever I was.

It was so easy. It was so convenient. It took the wonder out of life. It took my attention away from the people I was actually with. I wanted to stop being rude and start being attentive.

3. I Wanted To Be Healthier

What really pushed me to get rid of my phone—besides the midnight text messages and Victoria’s Secret e-mails and mouthing to my boyfriend while we’re cooking dinner “I have to take this” when a call comes in—was the fact that the cell phone was likely affecting my health.

Preliminary studies show that cell phone radiation affects the brain. Although we’re not exactly sure how yet, some research points to tumors. Basically, the longer you use your phone and the closer it is to your head, the more you’re exposed to changes in brain cell DNA.

That made me feel like having a phone in this way, this overly-accessible, convenient, brain-damaging way, wasn’t right.

It was hindering my natural life experiences. I no longer actually learned how to get out of the city, I had Google Maps to show me. Then I forgot the way as soon as I was on the right road home.

I didn’t need to try and find a phone to call my boyfriend on; actually, I didn’t need to have an actual conversation with him at all, because I could merely text him. I didn’t need to talk to my clients or friends or parents. They were all a text message away. We’re so technologically advanced that we took the voices out of a conversation.

How is that possible?

So I got rid of it. Had my service shut off and “wiped” the phone clean, and sold it.

4. I Desired a Simpler Life

I wanted to be free of my phone and all the attachments and distractions it brought with its pretty, bright screen and Wi-Fi capabilities.

I now have a flip phone for emergencies that I keep in my car with the battery out so that signal isn’t constantly coming within several feet of me.

I talk on a landline, which is apparently the only safe way to talk on a phone (sorry, wireless phones are a no. They need to actually be plugged into the wall), and I email. But who knows what that constant Wi-Fi signal is doing to my brain?

Technology has been taken too far to the point that we’re all obsessed with it. Technology in the form of a  smartphone was taking away from me being present for my life. I was always, more or less, focused on the phone.

Shouldn’t I be focused on life?

Something just isn’t right about our smartphone culture. You should be paying attention to the world around you, embracing nature and learning how to talk to people and have manners without some device that only makes the checking line slightly less awkward. Forgive me for sounding like a hippie, but seriously. We are missing out on being human.

10 Reasons to Exercise (Or, Why I Got an $80 Ticket for Canoeing)

Like you needed more reasons to exercise.

But no really, you do. How many of you exercise on the reg? I can’t even raise my hand for that one! Exercise is so important to our health but so few of us do it.

Get your motivation on! Here are ten reasons to exercise.

1. It Makes You Feel Great

Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Go out there and burn off some steam! Long distance running is my passion because I can go as fast or as slow as I like, any time of year, and can meditate or listen to music while I do it. Enjoying some great scenery can be another of the great reasons to exercise.

2. It Makes You Look Great

It tones so many parts of your body, and I love waking up to sore calves from a five-mile run or sore arms from a weight workout. It reminds me that I am alive, healthy, and strong.

3. It Can Boost Reproductive and Sexual Health

Regular exercise can do wonders for your monthly cramps in addition to your libido. Check your diet and vitamin intake to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients that your body needs also. If you need any more reasons for exercising—men, it keeps things exciting down there!

4. It Keeps You Healthy

Regular exercise can add years on to your life, keep your blood pressure normal, your metabolism up, and keep your joints and bones healthy. Also, sweating out those toxins is great for your skin. It keeps your heart strong (because your heart is a muscle, but you smart cookies already knew that).

5. It Helps You De-Stress

No doubt about it—one of the best reasons to exercise can be the ultimate stress reliever. Whatever I’m worried about before the run fades after the first mile and is definitely gone by the fourth. I feel so much better afterward.

6. It Gives You Time to Connect With Yourself

Being in the moment and experiencing your body, the way it moves, the way you breathe, the sensations you feel like the wind on your face or the crispness of the air, all of these things ground you: one of the best reasons to exercise. You’re here. You’re a person. Be here.

7. It Gives You An Opportunity To Connect With Other People

So, if you’d prefer to be a recluse, that’s cool. But I will say, after living in a cabin in the woods for two years, that you need people interaction.

No matter how much you dislike people, being stuck on an island like Cast Away is just not appealing after a certain amount of time. And as we’ve all seen, Wilson will float away.

So get out there and wave to people and say hello. These simple interactions mean a lot. For you and them.

8. It Makes You Want to Eat Better

You go for a run, and then, to Arby’s. Wait, WHAT? No no no no no no NO! I had an ex who did this. He claimed that it didn’t matter what calories you ate, you just needed calories. This is a huge lie!

One of the great reasons for exercising is that it motivates and inspires me to feel even better by eating great food. Quinoa, local eggs, organic blueberries and almonds, organic spinach, these are all great foods for runners.

Pamper your body; it’s doing so much for you!

9. It Helps Relationships

You can get that time to yourself if you need it, or, go with your significant other if you guys need more time together.

It also helps with relationship conflicts. It helps to clear your mind and soul, and when you can clearly see, you can clearly make decisions. Keeps you stress-free and feeling great, so less time and energy for fighting!

10. It Sets Great Future Habits

 Hey, I could very well be dead tomorrow. Which would be fine, but, in the event that I live to be like 80 or something, it’s nice to know and be reassured that I am doing good things for my body now, therefore good things will come later.

Also, my schedule allows time for exercising now. It may not at certain points in the future. It’s good to have the exercising habit already established so that you don’t have to “start” again. You merely have to continue.

Cautions About Exercising

Exercising is not without its risks!

Beware of What’s Going on Around You

It’s fine if you want to listen to music, headbang, daydream, punch the air, or whatever else you want to do while you are exercising, but please be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t let a tree branch take you out during kayaking. Don’t let a creepy perv come up on you in a white van and pick you up while you are running (it HAPPENS, people!). Don’t let some old woman accidentally slip a fart out with her butt in your face during yoga.

Pay attention to what is going on.

Be Safe

This is a big one to incorporate when you’re considering reasons to exercise.

I personally never leave the house unarmed when I go running, no matter what time it is. I always have a knife or a taser on me. (Sometimes I take pepper spray, it depends on how I’m feeling that day. Usually I feel like cutting some bitches.)

But it’s not always about being armed, it’s about paying attention to things and being prepared for the worst.

Adhere to Regulations

Ok, so I know very well that I can swim in four feet of water.

I also know very well that I can stand in four feet of water.

But this did not stop me from getting an $80 ticket from a river cop for canoeing without a life vest in a four-foot section of a river in Pennsylvania (those PA cops, man. They do their job).

Make sure that whatever you’re doing, it’s cool with the local authorities when considering reasons to exercise.

This is me in that same canoe on that same river on a different day hoping I don’t get pulled over again, ha. Does that orange thing count as a life vest?

Minimize Exercising on Busy Roads

This isn’t just a safety thing, it’s a lung health thing too.

Think about it—you’re running or biking, you’re breathing hard, and you’re passing hundreds of vehicles that are pumping out free radicals in your face.

You do not want to be breathing the exhaust of all those cars.

It’s basically chemicals going into your lungs. Diesel exhaust is carcinogenic, people. Don’t demean the good thing you are trying to do for your body with a bad thing like breathing free radicals.

Minimize or eliminate this practice.

Try Not to Go In the Dark

Exercising in the dark is dangerous. There is more of a chance that cars will hit you, deer will hit you (happened to a friend of mine), and huge bugs will fly into your eyes (this happened to me on a run at the end of summer; my eye was jacked up for the next two days).

I’m sure you amazing people already have really healthy exercising habits, right? Not to mention tons of reasons to exercise. Remember not to push yourself too hard. Be gentle with yourself and your body. Know yourself and your limits. But get outside and do something fun (and safe)!

4 Legitimate Reasons to Stop Being Speciesist Right Now

The word speciesist comes from speciesism, which is the assumption that you as a human are superior to animals.

This assumption has led people to do awful things, including animal testing, factory farming, and keeping wild animals in captivity.

Being speciesist separates you from the innate connection you share with the world. You and every animal, plant, and other life forms have something in common—you share life together on this planet.

Here are four legitimate reasons to stop being speciesist.

1. Animals Have Feelings

If you’ve ever had a pet, you know that animals have feelings.

They feel pain and sorrow. They feel excitement and joy. Many thrive with companions, others love to be solitary. You don’t need to be a scientist to recognize and understand that these majestic creatures feel.

Animals feel scared. They feel threatened. They feel happy and loved. Although you can’t always communicate to an animal how you’re feeling with words, you can by your actions.

2. We Are Not Superior

Ok seriously, how are you superior to some of the most beautiful and intelligent creatures on this planet? This turtle has been around for 150 million years and can hold its breath for five hours.

Your ancestors existed for what, 6 million years and you can eat a Big Mac? Big woop.

How can we be superior to other life forms when we all share the same life and planet? When you become conscious of the life that you are, you realize that you are superior to nothing and to no one. You are one with all life. We are not superior.

3. Become Conscious of Your Impact

When you stop being speciesist, you begin to understand more about your impact on the world.

If you are not superior, you must be the same. If you are the same, then how can you show such disregard for a life that you share with other species?

Recognize that others are impacted by your presence. The planet is impacted by your presence. Forget about being better or more or superior, be one. Realize how huge your impact is and what a difference you can make simply by shifting your worldview and making a conscious choice not to support animal torture.

4. Create a Better World

You don’t need to be in a position of power to make an impact.

For example, the food you buy. Where is it coming from? Is it from places that treated their animals with love and care? Is it from a place that began dismembering the animal before it was even dead?

The purchases you make have a huge impact on the planet. The realization that you are no better than other life forms changes the way you perceive and interact with the world. We can make a better world when we stop being speciesist.

Are You Speciesist?

Since we have a right to be humans, animals have a right to be animals too. Even bugs. Are you speciesist? Let’s find out:

  • Do you discriminate against other life forms that you perceive to be lower than you?
  • Do you smash beetles or spiders when you see them for no reason?
  • Do you never stop to pick up worms when they absently crawl onto pavement and sidewalks after a healthy rain?
  • Do you buy products that were tested on animals?
  • Do you think it’s totally fine to torture and kill animals for the sake of pharmaceutical products?
  • Do you believe that animals were made for people?
  • Do you believe it’s ok for animals to be used for entertainment purposes?

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are probably speciesist. Being speciesist is being prejudiced against other life forms.

Why should we treat animals differently? Why should we discriminate against different kinds of animals?  People also have a right to their opinions, but consider how you impact others and the planet.

Give animals a little leniency. Be aware of your behavior as well as the animal’s behavior. I get that some people have had bad experiences with animals that they testify to. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge and we should love and accept all animals and creatures without smashing them upon first sight or assuming they’re aggressive without giving them a chance.

Wouldn’t you do the same with people?