Tag Archives: health lifehack

Lifehack for Weight Loss: Imaginary Food

The easiest life hack for weight loss ever! Imaginary food. Image: Plate, Saucer, And Bowl © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The easiest life hack for weight loss ever! Imaginary food. Image: Plate, Saucer, And Bowl
© Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This study is truly a case for mind over matter. The study shows that if you’re having a food craving, imagining yourself eating that food gives you the same level of satisfaction as does actually eating that food.  So if you’re at a party staring down a chocolate cake, and you imagine yourself eating and enjoying it, you are less likely to actually eat it.  Also if you do have a piece, you will be more satisfied by a smaller piece than you would be if you hadn’t imagined eating it. Talk about a life hack for weight loss!

Basically this means that imagining eating something is almost as satisfying to your body as actually eating something and the more you imagine eating it the less of it you are likely to eat.  Imagining eating something else doesn’t help.  So if you go to a party and have the choice of chocolate cake and chips, imagining eating the chocolate cake will give you some protection from the temptation of eating chocolate cake, but won’t protect you from eating the chips. Also the more you imagine eating it the less likely you are to actually eat it, so involving yourself in a nice long fudge fantasy can be your anti-fudge vaccine.

Please enjoy this food fantasy and lose weight.

Please enjoy this food fantasy and lose weight.

I think for a long time dieters have tried to never think of the foods they crave for fear that the cravings will get worse, but this study actually shows us that the opposite is true.  Daydreaming about the food you crave actually gives you some satisfaction, brings you some joy and makes that craving less. For once this is great news for weight loss!

For every dieter who is dreading this holiday season, just imagine those yummy Christmas cookies. Have a Christmas cookie fantasy date.   Go ahead and roll around in the cheese dip at the office party (um… in your imagination only.  In real life it doesn’t look good on your resume).  Imagine eating and loving whatever is in front of you right now and then either have a small piece, or move on to the next food daydream because hey – your imagination is your best life hack for weight loss and you’re helping yourself to weight loss success. Because science says so.

Lifehack for beauty – Lemons for skin health

Lemons are kind of awesome. Zesty and fresh and yummy in everything, they also happen to be an awesome lifehack for beauty because lemons for skin are like a miracle. They are rich in antioxidants, highly acidic (which means anti-microbial), and lightening/brightening for your skin.

Lemons for skin - and some other things too. Beauty lifehack! Image By Franz Eugen Köhler,

Lemons for skin – and some other things too. Beauty lifehack! Image By Franz Eugen Köhler

Lemons For Skin – So Many Benefits!

It’s a little staggering to list the benefits of this simple fruit, but we’ll try:

  • Acne – lemons highly acidic juice helps to kill bacteria and fungus, making it an ideal aid for acne and rashes
  • Anti-itch – lemon juice has a long history of use topically for the measles and chicken pox rashes to soothe the itch and help to calm the skin. Use caution if you’ve scratched the rash so much the skin is raw because the acidity of lemon juice will burn, but it is reputed to reduce the itch long-term.
  • Brightening and Refreshing Skin – Leaving lemon juice on your skin for 10 minutes or more allows the acidic juice and enzymes to soften and loosen the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and reveal the healthy glowing skin below. Your own mini, delicious-smelling mini skin peel. Check out some recipe ideas below.
  • Lightening Sun Spots – Lemon juice also helps to lighten and brighten areas that have become pigmented after sun exposure.
  • Reduce the Appearance of Wrinkles – again the magical acidity, combined with the brightening effect of lemons helps your skin to look tighter and more toned and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Just don’t get the juice too near your eyes – ouch!
  • The Smell Lightens your Mood – no joke! Lemon and other citrus essential oils, which is what you’re smelling when you slice open that fresh lemon, has been shown to elevate mood and boost productivity as well as reduce anxiety. Lemon specifically boosts cognitive performance and mood.

Lemons for Skin: The Recipes

Before you try these, be sure to try a test patch of lemon juice on the skin inside your arm to see if you have any kind of negative reaction. There are people who have citrus allergies, and the acidity can be too much for some sensitive skin (but usually diluting with water will fix this problem). Also avoid sun exposure while the lemon juice is on your skin as it can make your skin more photosensitive and increase your likelihood of sun burn. After you try these yummy recipes, leave a comment and let me know how it goes for you! I’m a huge fan, but I’d love to know what you think.

Brightening Lemon Exfoliation

Sprinkle raw sugar crystals over a thick lemon slice and use that in the shower to scrub your skin. The gritty sugar and acidic lemon juice combine to form a totally delicious skin brightener. *LOVE*

Nourishing Skin Lightener

10 drops lemon juice
5 drops sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil  – organic if possible
1 teaspoon raw honey
Combine these and massage into facial skin in upward strokes.  Lie back and let it do it’s magic for 20 minutes then rinse and go about your day feeling fabulous darling.

Lemon Lightener for Sun Damage and Liver Spots

10 drops lemon juice
3 drops sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil
Using a cotton swab or clean fingertip dab this mixture onto the spots before bed and allow it to penetrate overnight.  In your morning shower use the Brightening Lemon Exfoliation.

Lemon Mask for Dry Skin

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
Mix the ingredients and apply to face, lips, elbows, knees, hands or feet – any area that needs softening and deep moisturizing.  Leave for 15-30 minutes then rinse with warm water.

Lemon Lift For Mood and Attitude

If you need to nail an interview, calm your nerves or need a major boost then put 2 drops of lemon essential oil on a freshly cut slice of lemon and rub over your wrists, behind your ear or the back of your neck. The subtle scent will lift your mood and even make your interviewer (or date) more happy if they get a whiff. Just make sure it isn’t going to be exposed to sun because this will make you more sensitive to UV rays. Also make sure this doesn’t get on your brightly colored clothes because it will lighten and bleach them. If your skin is too sensitive for direct application you can put it on a white handkerchief and discreetly sniff when you need a lift.

Here’s my favorite source for good quality organic oils and other fun ingredients if you happen to be into this stuff.  Apricot oil and sweet almond oil are pretty easy to find in the health food store too.

A passion for organics

The humble lemon, aside from being one of my favorite fruit flavors has myriad benefits for skin health and beauty. In fact lemons for skin are just as useful as they are internally – but more on that next week. In terms of beauty lifehacks, lemons for skin is a simple one.  Lemons are generally inexpensive, readily available, and many of you probably have one sitting around right now that you can slice up – one slice for the cocktail and one for your face. That’s my kind of versatile!

Lifehack for Anxiety: Invite Brad Pitt to Dinner

Some anxiety – I like to call it catastrophizing, is basically like entering into a very vivid daydream about every worst-case scenario possible and it’s nice to have a worst-case-scenario lifehack.  What if my partner dies in a car crash?  What if they’re disabled?  What if my daughter isn’t careful and someone abuses her?  What if we go bankrupt and end up homeless? Not realistic fears, not things that are likely to happen – typically it’s the worst possible things that could happen. Happily, there is a great way to fix it.

This isn’t daydreaming about things that are likely to happen, it’s really the worst that could possibly happen, ever, to anyone.  The absolute worst. By worrying about these what-if questions your life becomes similar to navigating a mine-field of potential disasters.  It starts to seem like doom is lurking around every corner and like you’re struggling just to stay alive, and who doesn’t need a lifehack for doom?

Here is a great anti-catastrophizing lifehack from DIY Health: For Women. It’s simple, portable, free and gives you a great reason to have fun for 30 seconds.

Pay attention to your mind – every time you catch yourself thinking what-if-a-piano-falls-out-of-the-sky thoughts – activate your lifehack.  Instead of a negative fantasy, switch to a positive one. Start thinking about the best case scenarios – the ones where Brad Pitt shows up on your doorstep with flowers and offers to cook dinner and vacuum the rug. Or Angelina Jolie really wants to come over to get to know you better.  How about the one where James Bond shows up to tell you that this suitcase full of cash actually belongs to you? Or your spouse shows up at your office with two tickets to the Bahamas and you don’t have to worry about packing because you can just buy all new things when you get there.  Make it over-the-top good and don’t hold anything back.

Really picture that scenario happening – see every detail, if you’re going to dinner in your fantasy pick out what you would order.  Really get into it and enjoy it. All of this only takes 30 seconds out of your day – it’s not like you’re spending hours in this positive fantasy (like you might do with the negative one).  It’s basically a break that allows your brain to jump track, to get distracted from the usual pattern of bad thoughts and to get a little less used to catastrophizing. This allows you to break the cycle of absurd fear and worry thoughts. After all, anxiety has a brain chemistry component but it also has a habit component.

The hardest part, just like with meditation, is actually noticing what your mind is doing. For many of us this form of worry is second nature and we don’t even really notice when it’s happening. It just becomes the background chatter in your brain.  In order to stop the background chatter you have to notice it.  If the noticing is the hard part, you may benefit from some mindfulness meditation to start to be aware of the merry chase your brain is leading you on.

In your anxiety lifehack unicorns really can fart rainbows. Really.  Awesome image from puppylover4002.wordpress.com

In your anxiety lifehack unicorns really can fart rainbows. Really. Awesome image from puppylover4002.wordpress.com

This exercise isn’t necessarily about the good fantasy, it is simply to point out how completely ridiculous it is to get caught up in the ‘what-if’ place.  The smiles you get from the good fantasy are really just the cherry on top. Ironically, it’s easier for your pessimistic human mind to recognize it as ridiculous more easily when you fantasize about good things than when you fantasize about bad things.  It seems that we all know Brad Pitt isn’t showing up for dinner, but we’re not totally sure the roof isn’t going to collapse or a loved one isn’t going to get into a car wreck. Huh.

There are really enough difficult things in life without creating new ones for yourself, so if you catch yourself getting into a big mental story about the worst case scenario, then take a minute to create a mental story about the best case scenario. Now what if suddenly your boss tells you that you don’t actually have to come to work anymore, but they appreciate you so much they’re keeping you on the payroll.

By doing this over and over again the catastrophe thoughts seem to vanish.  They go away on their own because you’re not feeding them any more and you’re not exercising those mental pathways.  Just let them go and if they come back, well, it’s a great opportunity to revisit that great fantasy where you’re horseback riding down the beach with the Old Spice® guy.

Lifehack – The Bad Habit Reset Button – Fasting.

Don’t you wish you could just hit the button for a bad habit reset?  I do.  Especially right after the holiday season when I feel like I’ve eaten my weight in butter and “treats” (which are clearly not “treats” when you eat them constantly).  Sometimes it’s other habits or life areas that are struggling.  It could be that work hasn’t been going well, it could be that a relationship is rocky, it could be that I’m cultivating all kinds of bad habits I don’t need.  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to know that there is a reset button out there.  You heard me right, there is a way to hit the reset button – thank God for small miracles.

Fasting is the fastest bad habit reset button out there. Picture by © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Fasting is the fastest bad habit reset button out there. Picture by © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Hitting the reset button means taking a break from normal, but unfortunately life is full of obligations, so we can’t always up and fly to Tahiti, no matter how much we might need it.  What this means, is that we need a way to do it ourselves, at home, using things we have on hand and it needs to actually help us to break cycles.

The best reset I’ve ever found is a fast.  I know that’s not what anyone wanted to hear because “fasting” is right up there with “Chinese water torture” for lots of people, but those people probably haven’t tried it.  I’ll talk more about quick fasts in another upcoming post, because they are also one of my favorite life hacks, but in this case we’re looking at something different.  This is a little bit longer.  I’m not talking about Messiah-style 40 days, I’m talking about 3-5 days that are all about you.

Here’s how you do a fast for a bad habit reset:

  1. Choose the right time. Just a hint, if there is a massive deadline in the middle of it, it’s probably not the right time.  Pick a time where you can actually focus on getting in touch with you, getting to know your body, and taking out the trash in every sense of the words.
  2. Make a little space in your life. There isn’t any problem working during a fast, but if you can it’s nice to reduce your schedule to half days or to take a day or two off during your fast to give you a little bit of time for extra sleep, self care and cleaning house (which I always want to do when I’m fasting – I think it’s an external mirror for what is going on internally).
  3. Choose Your Type of Fast. During the fast you can either do all water plus the miracle drink (if you haven’t heard me talk about it before I’ll go over that in the next step), or you can mix freshly juiced veggies and fruits in.  I find that the all water and miracle drink is actually a little easier for me because the veggie juice pushes my body to detoxify too quickly.  Typically if this is the first fast you’re trying, then stick to 3 days and keep it simple. If you’ve fasted before and know your body can handle being really pushed to detox then maybe add in the veggie juices. If you choose to use veggie juices make sure they are actually juiced by you or right in front of you (not bought pre-packaged) and that you get 3-4 cups of the veggie juice throughout the day.  Also make sure they’re mostly veggie with just a touch of fruit or carrot for taste, but that the bulk is good green veggie.
  4. Make Sure You Get Enough Water! This is probably the most important thing, because without the water it’s hard for your body to clean house internally!  8-10 glasses per day is a minimum. When I’m fasting I set a timer every hour and alternate between the miracle drink one hour and water the next.
  5. Drink the Miracle Drink. People laugh when I call it the miracle drink, but it’s because they haven’t tried it.  This is such a great detoxifier and energy boost.
    1. 1 tbsp raw organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my favorite),
    2. honey to taste (no more than 1 tbsp please)
    3. 8-16 oz hot or cold water depending on how strong a flavor you like.  During a fast have this 3-4 times during the day to help your liver keep moving.

  6. Support Your System. If you have any icky feelings while you’re detoxing – this could be headache, grouchiness, mild sick feeling, bad breath, brain fog or a slightly hungover feeling – the do a little extra detox.  Anything that makes you sweat will help, so saunas, steam rooms, hot yoga, or hot baths are great.  Naps work well too.  In general make sure you’re giving yourself extra time for sleep
  7. Be Ready for Emotional Detox Too. Your body isn’t just taking this chance to get rid of the physical junk and bad habits.  There is emotional junk in there that needs to come out, and better out than in.  I love to journal so I use that as a tool to help process whatever comes up, but use whatever tools you like.
  8. Restart Your Life With Consciousness and Intention. This means that you should take some of this time to think about what you actually want in your life.  You’re resetting for a reason here. What do you want emotionally?  What do you want professionally?  How do you want to take care of your body?  What sort of food plan would you like? This is a great time to break bad health habits and restart with a clean slate.
  9. Simple Foods For Your Reentry Meal. The first meal you eat to break your fast should be simple and clean foods – preferably heavy on fruits and veggies, light on lean meats and even lighter (or not at all) on grains.  If you need a grain, choose something that is a cleaner grain like rice or quinoa.  You can eat as much of this fruit and veggie meal as you want, but make sure you’re not just jumping out of a fast into a large pizza because that’s not exactly the reset we’re looking for.

    Fasting is so much easier when you drink enough water. Adding lemon to your water is great to help support your liver through a fast. © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

    Fasting is so much easier when you drink enough water. Adding lemon to your water is great to help support your liver through a fast. © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Is It Really Hard to Fast?

Surprisingly, no.  It’s almost shockingly not-hard. Almost everyone I’ve done this with is hungry the first day, and then pretty fine for the rest of it.  Occasionally I’ll have someone who is a really fast detoxifier and by day three they feel kind of icky, but most people are just fine. There’s a lot of nostalgia about food because let’s face it – part of eating is the joy of eating that has nothing to do with physically needing food.  But seriously, if you can get through day 1 with it’s hunger then you’re good to go.

Is Fasting Safe for Anybody?

If you have insulin dependent diabetes or severe hypoglycemia then it is necessary that you talk to your doctor and possibly even have in-home supervision while you fast because it can be dangerous if your blood sugars fall too low. Also it’s not a good idea for pregnant or nursing mothers because the demands on your body are already considerable – we don’t need to ask it to do more right now. Also if you have a chronic condition then it’s best policy to talk with your doctor about it.

What Results Will You See?

Fasting is tremendous for your body – it’s essentially a break from the hard work of metabolism. You can expect:

  • Weight loss – 5 to 10 pounds is normal in 3 days.
  • Energy – nobody believes me, but usually your energy is awesome during a fast. Better than normal.
  • Good sleep – everyone thinks the hunger will keep them up. Never seems to happen.
  • Mental perspective – it’s a lot easier to see the bad habits you’ve gotten yourself into when you’ve got a little distance from them. Even if that distance is just a couple of days that are different.
  • Losing Those Food Cravings – 3 days is plenty of time for the food cravings to just fall off.  Your body doesn’t actually want to live on sugar, but if you’ve been living on sugar then you don’t know that.
  • Spiritual benefits – fasting has been used by most faiths in most cultures globally to bring spiritual clarity and discipline.  I’m not an expert on this by any means, but I’m guessing all of those people aren’t wrong.
  • Anti-aging – you may not be able to tell in the moment, but by fasting you’re actually slowing down your aging process. Awesome.

Short fasts of 3-5 days are a great way to clean house, lose weight, and one of the easiest bad habit resets in the book.  After a fast – especially if you can make it through 3 days – most people have lost their sugar and starch cravings and loosened up their bad habits. I suggest doing 2-4 per year  to help keep you healthy, happy and vital.  And did I mention that it’s strongly anti-aging and actually slows the aging process?  The research is entirely clear on this point.  Regular fasting both extends life and slows aging.  Yet another great reason to hit the bad habit reset button!