Spice Up Your Life #bebetter52

Copy of Copy of Copy of Unproductive #bebetter52-2.jpg

Looking for ways to spice up your life? Well, look no further! This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to creatively use a variety of spices! Spices can be effortlessly added to enhance flavors, from your water to your food.

Every spice has its own unique potential to help better your health. For example, cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and has a powerful anti-diabetic effect. Sage can improve brain function and memory while tumeric has remarkable anti-inflammatory powers. Although spices are great independently, they can also be combined together to increase the positive effects.

Try Spice Water

  • 3 orange slices

  • ½ teaspoon of grated fresh ginger

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

  • a few twists of finely ground black pepper

  • 1 liter of water

  • Refrigerate overnight, and drink chilled or at room temperature.

  • Remember to stir before sipping!

Ginger and turmeric, both from the same family, are well known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Try Golden Milk

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut Milk

  • 2 teaspoons honey plus additional to taste (to make vegan, swap maple syrup)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon plus additional for serving

  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Ground Turmeric

  • 1/8 teaspoon McCormick Ground Ginger

  • Optional additions: tiny pinch ground black pepper ground cardamom, or ground cloves

Combine the milk, honey, almond butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and any optional spices in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until warmed through, whisking briskly so that the almond butter does not stick to the bottom and the spices incorporate. Do not let boil. Pour into a mug and sip deeply.

Check out all the positive effects of Golden Milk highlighted in the recipe from Well Plated.

This creamy, comforting drink is made of ingredients that have been shown to promote a good night’s sleep.

  • Almonds: Rich in magnesium, which promotes both sleeping and muscle relaxation. This golden milk recipes uses them in the form of almond butter and almond milk.

  • Honey: Allows tryptophan (of Thanksgiving turkey fame) to enter the brain more easily.

  • Ginger: Calms the stomach and promotes relaxation. Some studies suggest ginger can help reduce anxiety.

  • Turmeric: Aids digestion and has calming properties, which lead to sounder sleep. If you have aches and pains, golden milk for joints is a popular remedy, as it is anti-inflammatory too.

  • Cinnamon: Similar to turmeric and ginger, cinnamon also helps with digestion (and it’s a delicious pairing with the other ingredients).

There are countless ways to incorporate spices into your daily food or drinks. Now it’s time to creatively complete this challenge and add new spice to your life!

Positive Attributes #bebetter52

Copy of Copy of Copy of Unproductive #bebetter52-2.jpg

Sometimes those around us can help us see what we sometimes forget: our own positive characteristics. Often we get muddled in comparisons and focus on what we lack, so much so, that we forget about all of the incredible attributes we have! (And all of us have many!)  Each of us is unique, capable, and strong.  Our individual personal strengths make us who we are. Sometimes we need a little boost, a gentle reminder that yes, I do have that special quality. I am a dedicated individual, I am artistic and creative, I am a caring, thoughtful human being. We need to affirm the many components that make each of us great. On those days when we may be down on ourselves or feeling discouraged, we need our loved ones to pull us out of the mire and remind us of the wonderful things they see in us. That’s why this week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to focus on rejuvenating our sense of self-appreciation and self-worth by hearing or reading what our family members and/or close friends tell us are our top three personal strengths. Before we go into the exact way to complete this challenge this week, it is vital we discuss the importance of accepting and recognizing our positive characteristics.

Not only are positive words important so we feel good inside, but also Psychology Today states there is evidence that “what we believe about ourselves at a subconscious level... can have a significant impact on the outcome of events.” Positive affirmations can ultimately impact your mental state and how you act and react in the real world. Proof also exists that hearing positive words about yourself can “improve problem-solving performance” and can “buffer stress” (Psychology Today). When you fill your head with good thoughts, good actions result, ultimately leading to positive events in your life and the lives of those around you. Thankfully, this information gives us a way to feel better on those down-in-the-dump days!

Positive words are vital for our mental health, and our mental state plays a large role in how we conduct ourselves in the world. By hearing what our trusted friends and loved ones think of us, we may come to know ourselves better, recognize new traits we hadn’t acknowledged before, or dust off ones we’d forgotten about or buried. Affirmations build us up. Accept compliments and kind words from others.  Focus on all the good in life, and dwell not on the negative or on circumstances you cannot change. By listening with an open mind and owning the positive reinforcements from loved ones, you are able to hear those words and say, “Yes. That is me, and I am more than enough.”

The Exact Challenge:

This week we want you to send out a text message to 3--5 of your most trusted loved ones and ask them what top three positive characteristics/ strengths/ attributes they think of when they think of you. We want to make this as simple as possible, so we’ve actually made a message to send if you aren’t exactly sure how to draft one! Write down their responses and keep it somewhere you can see it daily as a reminder of how wonderful you are.

A practice draft: “Hey! I’m participating in the Be Better Movement, an organization that inspires people to be their best selves by offering its members a different challenge to complete each week. This week my #bebetter52 challenge is to focus on my positive attributes with the help of family members and/or close friends. I am supposed to ask someone I love and respect--that’s YOU-- to let me know 3 positive attributes that come to mind when you think of me. Please respond by text, email, phone, or in person. Thanks.  

Additional resources:

Affirmations: The Why, What, How, and What If?

Power of Smell #bebetter52


Whether it’s the delicious bakery aroma as we walk around town or the smell of pine trees after a rainy day, scent is a constant in our lives. Smells can be wonderful--or not so wonderful--but whatever the scent, we often experience an emotional reaction to what meets our noses. The beauty of scent is often overlooked yet holds more power than we may realize. Have you ever caught a whiff of a certain perfume that transports you back to that springtime when you were 16? Or felt an overwhelming sense of relaxation when you smelled a lavender bush in bloom? That’s because scent actually has a profound effect on the way we feel. Scents can trigger moods because of associative learning (the perfume example) or through aromatherapy from the natural properties of certain plants.This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to harness the power of smell to our advantage.

Before we delve into the benefits of inhaling good smells from healthy sources, we should note that not all scents are created equal. In fact, many studies have shown artificial scents from candles, room sprays, or even perfumes can be harmful to our health. The truth behind our stack of fall-themed candles is most likely they are not as pretty as the packaging. That’s because “about 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil)”(Dr Axe). This means that the chemicals found in myriad common household cleaning products, toiletries, or other artificially scented products have the potential to be carcinogenic by simply breathing them through the air. Further, many of those compounds also act as endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormone imbalance, weight gain, as well as many diseases (Dr. Axe). These harmful smells often come with the label “fragrance,” a term that traditionally carries a positive connotation. It appears your nose is not the only part of you being deceived.

For some of us, this may be sad news to hear, but the good news is countless natural alternatives are available and offer an even better sensory experience! First, consider investing in some high-quality therapeutic-grade essential oils. These can be diffused for aromatherapy purposes or even digested to treat a variety of health concerns. If you are looking to fill your home with some awesome aromas on a budget however, all it takes is a journey through the produce section or the spice aisle and a few minutes over the stove. You can practice aromatherapy right in your kitchen by adding favorite herbs and spices to a boiling pot of water and letting it simmer to your heart’s content. Some suggestions include allspice, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, lavender, citrus fruit, mint leaves, and nutmeg. The opportunities are endless. You can tailor your herbal selection based on the season, your desired mood, or the benefits you are looking to gain. For example, rosemary is known for enhancing memory and relieving congestion.

We hate to stir the pot (pun intended), but we want our 52ers to have the knowledge to make the best decisions for their health. And we think this fun kitchen activity is the perfect way to enjoy all that nature has to offer our bodies, minds, and, of course, our noses.

How to do it?

In a small pot fill with water, then heat till boiling. Add ingredients, then turn down to simmer. Add water as needed, every 30 minutes. Don’t forget to turn down the stove when you leave the house.

Check out these 5 simmer pot recipes to make your home smell like Fall. Our favorites:

Recipe #1
Cinnamon sticks
Apple peels
Orange rinds
Whole cloves

Recipe #2
A few drops vanilla
Orange peels

Additional resources:

Do Scents affect Mood

Dangers Synthetic Scents

Aromatherapy on the Stove for Autumn Cheaper and Healthier

Leafy Greens #bebetter52


Kale. You either love it or hate it. (I guess a third possibility is you’ve never tried it!) Anyway, for some people kale elicits a negative response while for others it is the number one cure-all, the healthiest food one can have in the fridge. This week’s challenge is to eat leafy greens, one of the most concentrated sources of nutrients on the planet. Kale tops the list, but you may be surprised by the variety of healthy greens available. Try a green that is new or one you don’t eat often. Eating a diet full of rich leafy greens offers numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and mental decline.

The top 14 healthiest leafy green vegetables and their benefits have been outlined by healthline.com

Kale: considered one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet

Microgreens: immature greens produced from the seeds of vegetables and herbs

Broccoli: part of the cabbage family; a single cup has 135 mgs of vitamin C

Collard Greens: loose leaf greens, related to kale.

Spinach: one of the most popular leafy greens with 181% of your daily vitamin K

Cabbage: cluster of thick leaves that come in green, white and purple

Beet Greens: the leafy tops of beets

Romaine Lettuce: common leafy vegetable good, source of vitamin A and K.

Watercress: an aquatic plant used in medicine for centuries

Swiss Chard: dark-green leaves with a thick stalk that is red, white, yellow or green; often used in Mediterranean cooking and belongs to the same family as beets and spinach

Arugula: slight peppery taste packed with vitamin A, B9 and K

Endive: less known because it is difficult to grow; crisp texture, sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness

Bok Choy: thick, dark green leaves, mostly used in soups and stir-fries

Turnip Greens: the greens of a turnip plant which have a strong and spicy flavor

A few questions answered:

Raw or cooked? It’s a heated debate out there in the health world—should veggies be eaten raw or cooked? The answer is both, depending on which veggie you’re eating and what nutrients you’re trying to get out of them. Vitamin C, for instance, oxidizes almost immediately in cooked foods, but other nutrients can become more bioavailable when lightly steamed. Kale’s health-promoting properties are enhanced when lightly steamed for five minutes, especially its ability to lower cholesterol. The fiber-related components in steamed kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in the digestive tract, making it easier for bile acids to be excreted, thereby reducing cholesterol levels.

Be Unproductive #bebetter52


The title of this challenge may have some of you perplexed. What could we possibly mean be “unproductive”? After all, our challenges are all about taking action to improve our lives and the lives of others. Why would we encourage the opposite? And for those of you who immediately had such thoughts, this challenge is for you more than anyone. The culture we are a part of has a tendency to be very focused on acheivement. This enables us to be very ambitious and innovative, but simultaneously far more stressed out than many other countries in the developed world. There is something to be said about forgetting your to-do list for a day.

So yes, this week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to allow yourself a break from your bustling life and be unproductive. We encourage you to give yourselves permission to do the things that you may have previously deemed as a “waste of time.” Whether that be sitting down to do a puzzle, starting a craft, or even trying a new recipe, this is your opportunity to do that thing you haven’t made time for. After all, allowing ourselves this freedom to truly get distracted by something that brings us joy is not a waste of time at all, and might even be something we adopt into our routines going forward.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle is a strong proponent of this concept. One of the core principles to his teachings is the idea that we should not define our self-worth based upon our accomplishments, but rather by who we truly are. Let this be a week of reflection and appreciating yourself for all that you have accomplished. Rather than forging ahead, take in the moment by doing whatever your heart desires.

Shifting your attention to the present and allowing yourself a guilt-free break from your plans and objectives is incredibly restorative. It can lead to mental clarity, so that you may become aware of your priorities, your purpose, and the next steps to reaching your goals. Not to mention, it can greatly reduce stress and anxiety. We hope that you incorporate this idea into your life going forward and realize it is just as much about the journey as it is the destination. This is the challenge we think many of our 52ers do not realize they need, but by the end of this week it will be clear that it was the most needed of them all. Have a lovely, unproductive week!