Maple Alps

Health

Easy & Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

During the school year, it’s surprisingly a little easier for me to be intentional about making sure I stay hydrated. My water bottle comes with me every day, and kiddos love to be selected to get me a refill - they get a break, and I get fresh water. It’s important that I make routines when it comes to staying hydrated.

Water is so important for our bodies! It makes up over half of our bodies and is necessary for them to function! It’s been told that one should drink 8-10 glasses of water a day - and more if you exercise or sweat a lot (read: HOT WEATHER). A good indicator of if you are drinking enough water is by looking in the toilet. Yup. It shouldn’t be crazy yellow. When you drink enough water, your body will thank you. You will feel less fatigued and stressed and your body systems, like digestion, will work the way they are supposed to.

I’ve had people tell me they don’t ever drink water and instead drink things like sports drinks and orange juice from the grocery store to stay hydrated. Yes, these things contain a percentage of water, however, they also contain ingredients that are not so good for our bodies such as sugars and dyes! There are much better ways to get your water - even if you don’t particularly like drinking it. Let’s look at some creative ways to get more water

This post contains affiliate links.

Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated | www.maplealps.com
 

Herbal Tea

Start your day out with some hot herbal tea to get your digestion going. Your body will thank you. Avoid sweetening tea with refined sugars - it’s always best to brew your own and avoid the bottled type that does include those as well as artificial preservatives. I like to brew herbal tea every morning to take to work and I’ll usually have some in the evening as I’m winding down for the night as well.

 

Infused Water

Liven up your water by adding fruits and vegetables to it! Infused water tastes great, looks great, and makes you feel fancy. Everyone could use a little more fancy in their lives. There are so many combinations and flavours you can have. I like a simple plain lemon infusion, but ginger peach is also a favourite!

 
Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated | www.maplealps.com

 

Smoothies

Switch out your nut or soy milk for water or coconut water to get that extra boost of water! If you miss the creamy smoothie feel, add avocado or frozen bananas to it! Nut butters are great to add as well to thicken it up. Think whole foods!

 

Water Tracker or Set a Timer

Keep motivated by tracking your water intake. You could do this in your planner or keep count of how many times you fill your water bottle. If you keep forgetting to drink, try setting a timer to remind yourself!

 

Carry a Water Bottle

Speaking of water bottles, keep one on you! If pretty water bottles motivate you, then by all means, get a pretty one (I like the glass ones best). But just keeping a refillable water bottle with you at all times will remind you to drink! Just try not to get into the trap of buying water bottles that you never use!

 

What are some ways you intentionally enjoy your water?


 

Some of my favourite hydration tools:

 

Going Plant-Based? Here are 15 Things to Think About

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

Different individuals want to go plant-based for different reasons. Some are told by a medical professional to do so, others just want to because they see the benefit (or saw too many documentaries). Whatever your decision, it’s important to note that going plant-based should not be seen as a diet. It is a lifestyle that will greatly improve your wellbeing and life!

Several times this past year I’ve been asked about how I went about going on a plant-based diet, and so I decided to share some tips on the blog. My plant based journey started for health reasons, and as I learned more and saw the benefits, I kept adding to the list. Ethical reasons, for example, were not something I originally thought of, but now is something I strongly advocate for. I feel satisfied with what I eat, because choosing a plant based diet has really forced me to be intentional about what I put in my body.

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Going Plant-Based? Here are 15 Things to Think About | www.maplealps.com

 

Motivation & Commitment

Remember your motivation for wanting to start a plant-based diet. Do you want to make healthier choices? Lose weight? Have more energy to accomplish your daily tasks? Live longer? Save animals? Remember your why!

 

Eat A Lot

Fresh plant-based food has a lot less caloric density than foods filled with empty and fatty [the bad kind] calories. Expect to want to eat a lot. I remember first transitioning and wondering why I was eating double the food, but losing weight.

 


Fill Your Fridge & Pantry with Healthy Food

It’s harder to eat unhealthy foods when your home is stocked with the good stuff! Purge your pantry and refrigerator and don’t feel guilty about tossing the food that is of little to no benefit for your body! If you’re thinking about money, think of it this way: a doctor bill in the USA will cost more than it costed for your junk food! A note: many products out there marketed for those on a plant-based diet are more or less “vegan junk food.” Be sure to read labels to ensure you’re getting nutritious foods - not just unhealthy alternatives to products that normally contain animal products. More on that later in this post.

 

Focus on Vegetables & Fruits - & Don’t Forget: Legumes Are Your friends.

Stock up on vegetables and fruits (bonus points if it’s all mostly in season!). Legumes are filling and so delicious! Best part? No nutrition labels to read! Try to avoid having to read them by getting foods that do not have a nutrition label (ideas: fresh produce, bulk beans and rices, etc.)

 

Make Food Swaps

Avocado on toast instead of butter or cream cheese, tofu instead of chicken, water instead of sugary drinks; there are plenty of easy food swaps to make your new plant-based diet doable

 

Take Food on the Go

We live in a time where we are always on the go. Eliminate the temptation to eat junk food or fast food by making sure to have wholesome snacks with you. Keep almonds in your bag and pack your own lunch - it’s not as hard as you might think! If you’re like me, using pretty, waste-free food storage containers might motivate you more!

 

Start One Meal at a Time

Eating plant-based is more than a diet. It is an entire lifestyle change. Ease into by starting with just one meal a day being completely plant-based. A good one to start with is breakfast. It’s so easy to make vegan pancakes, smoothies, granolas, muffins, and other great breakfast foods. Gradually add a plant-based afternoon meal, and you’ll soon find it is easy to have all of your meals completely free of animal products.

 

 

Get Educated and Get Resourceful

Watch documentaries, read books, talk with nutrition professionals. Just a few of my favorite resources: The Cheese Trap (book - get it here on Amazon), Forks Over Knives (documentary, cookbook, magazine, website), What the Health (documentary), How Not to Die (book - get on Amazon)

 

Get a Support Group/Friend

Everything is easier when you have someone supporting you or keeping you accountable. Enter the journey with a friend, or have your best cheerleader support you along the way. Have someone to report to if you need accountability. Maybe enlist someone to be your guinea pig for all the tasty recipes you’ll be whipping up.

 

But Start Your Change Quietly

Instead of telling everyone you know about your decision, you may want to start quietly. To be frank, you will avoid a lot of scrutiny and questioning as you answer these questions for yourself and figure out how to listen to your own body and deal with your own addictions (mine was cheese!). Focus on yourself and your mission. Remember your why and think about how much better you will feel.

 

Equip your Kitchen

Some plant-based foods require different kitchen tools. For example, you’ll likely scarcely use steak knives, but you’ll definitely need a high powered blender (definitely a kitchen essential)

 

Don’t Worry About the Protein

Those on a plant-based diet get plenty of protein. Unless you have an extreme medical condition, you do not need protein shakes to get it. Great sources of protein include beans, soy products like seitan and tofu, quinoa, hemp seeds and even nuts. Chances are, you’ll get more protein than those who are concerned about you getting that protein.

 

Keep Things Exciting

Try new foods and prepare ingredients in different ways. Blend flavors, experiment, and have fun! Start a dinner club. Buy a cookbook or two. Browse recipes on the web. Test out restaurants. There are also a ton of ethnic foods that are plant based and wholesome! Just have a blast trying out new things.

 

Be Mindful: Read Food Labels

This may shock you at first - especially if you were not in the habit of reading food labels. The first thing to look at is not the nutritional value, but the ingredient list. You may be surprised about what exactly is lurking in your favourite vegan snacks, but you will start feeling good about others! Remember: aim for have to read as few food labels as possible by buying whole foods that don’t require them!


 

Be Kind to Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. You’re human. Just get back up, dust yourself off and try again! And again(!) if need be.

 

 
Meal Planner | www.maplealps.com
 

Some Recipes to Get You Started:


 

6 Natural Ways to Make Your Common Cold More Bearable

Health, Natural LivingAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

It is definitely that time of year when colds start trying to invade our space. I personally dislike colds even more than the flu, simply because I usually feel mostly well, and just have an annoying sore throat and stuffy (or runny) nose. At least if I have something worse, I just feel completely awful. I guess I’m just strange. Of course, as a teacher (and most everyone will have this problem), I’m exposed to a lot of different germs in a day (and the kiddos have been coming in lately with sniffling noses), and as life will have it, sometimes because of teaching demands, I sometimes don’t get the nutrients, exercise, or sleep I need.

Of course, the best thing to do for a cold is to prevent it. You can do this by making sure you are eating the necessary nutrients your body needs, getting plenty of rest and water, and making sure you are exercising regularly! These simple things will help you keep your immune system up and colds away!

Whenever we do get a cold, we start pulling out our natural remedies. Now, our remedies don’t necessarily heal our colds (though some of them may help shorten a few of the symptoms), but they definitely make the colds more manageable and bearable. I have friends who eat whole onions and others who make the most intense sounding concoctions, but I'm not at that level yet. Then again, my colds don't get too terrible...

Do take note that none of these remedies replaces medical advice, so if you think your cold is worse than a cold, please go to a doctor!

*This post contains affiliate links

6 Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable

Ginger Lemon Tea

 

This is a simple mix I like to keep in our fridge during sickness. It’s pleasant to sip on, tastes great and is good for you too:

Ginger
Lemon
Raw Honey

Slice the ginger and lemon and layer it in a jar, making several layers.
Pour raw honey (make sure it really is raw honey - bonus points for local too!) over the layers until the jar is filled.

Spoon out the mixture into your mug and add hot water when ready! Keep it in the fridge when you aren’t using it. I drink a few mugs of this each day I’m sick!

Note: ginger keeps well in the freezer, so go ahead and freeze what you didn’t use!

Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable | www.maplealps.com

 

Ginger Tea

 

If you don’t like the ginger/lemon mix, just plain ginger tea will do as well!

Add ginger (thinly sliced or grated if it was frozen) to a pot of water and boil! Strain into your mug and you will have a nice strong ginger tea! You can add a bit of raw honey to offset the spice if you like.

 

Sinus Bath Salt Mix

 

This is another great recipe to keep in your cupboard! Enjoy this sinus-clearing bath mix!

1 Cup Epsom Salts (try this one from Amazon!)
3 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops of Lavender essential oil
3 drops of Peppermint essential oil

Put 2-3 TBSP in your bath water and enjoy your soak! Don’t forget to breathe in deeply!
 

Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable | www.maplealps.com

 

Stay Hydrated, Rested and Warm

 

Be sure to drink plenty (I’m serious!) of water and stay rested and warm. Sleep is not a bad thing at any time - especially when you’re sick. Use a hot water bottle (this one from Amazon is super cute) or heat pad (I have this adorable one) to keep you warm (and to help with those sinuses too)!

 

Eucalyptus Oil in Shower

 

Similar to a face steam (hot water + eucalyptus oil in a bowl and cover your head), put 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil in the bottom of your shower to help clear your sinuses. It smells and feels great!

 

Avoid Refined Sugars

 

Sugar affects your immune system and keeps you from getting better! Avoid sugary treats! Opt for healthy Whole Foods instead.

 

 

 

Of course, I hope you are all able to avoid the common cold this year! It’s definitely my goal to stay on top of my health so I can avoid the annoyance of this little bug!

How do you combat your colds? I have friends who eat whole onions and others who make the most intense sounding concoctions.

I’d love to know your remedies too!


 

Dealing With Stress

Ask Amanda, Blog, HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments
Ask Amanda: Dealing with Stress | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What are your best stress-coping methods?

 

This is a really great question! Sometimes I feel as if I have so much stress that I’m drowning. Other times, I feel like I can conquer the world. I find that dealing with stress is best done by preventing it as much as possible. Of course, this is not always possible - life likes to throw unsuspected curve balls every once in a while. I suppose the easiest way to answer this question is to share some of the things that I utilize to both prevent and manage stress.

 

 

Keep a planner

Writing down my tasks and goals and prioritizing them helps me keep on track. I am able to focus on things that keep me productive and I waste less time when I know what I need to be doing. When I find myself wasting time, I get discouraged and have a hard time picking myself up from it, so this is a nice preventative way of dealing with some stressful things.

 

 

Journal

Oh, the amount of filled journals I have is amazing. I write in them significantly less than I used to, but I do journal regularly. Sometimes I’ll just get my thoughts out till I can think straight again. Other times I’ll write prayers or letters to God. I do have one rule in my journals though: I never write anything bad about anyone. My journals will likely outlive me, and I don’t want a moment of agitation or anger on my part to ruin anyone’s reputation. Besides, I want to get over it, right? I don’t want to have to relive it every time I reread my journal - which I do on occasion.

 

 

Take time for Me

This may sound counter-productive, but when I take time to sit back and recharge, I am able to come back and face all of my tasks head-on, and with a better attitude than before. Taking a bath, or lighting some candles and chilling, taking time to read something for fun. Those are all great ways I can just remove myself temporarily from the situation. Sometimes, I just need a power nap to get my focus back on track as well.

 

 

Sing

This started from a very young age. I’ve sung to myself in so many stressful situations - from pumping myself up for interviews and other difficult situations to singing while driving on icy roads. It somehow calms me. Especially singing hymns and scripture songs that are filled with promises that remind me that God’s got me.

 

 

Give My Burdens to Jesus

How heavy a glass of water is just depends on how long you hold it. The longer you hold it, the heavier it seems. And if you’re carrying that thing for a year, we may have to call the ambulance for you. The same with our stress and burdens. Jesus tells us to come and give Him our burdens (see Matthew 28:11). His rest is a promise to us that I love to cling to.

 

 


How do YOU deal with stress?


 
 

Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps12 Comments

This year, I've made some changes to my diet in an attempt to better myself as well as an elimination experiment to confirm some things for me (I'm working on a whole, detailed post about what's been going on, so be sure to look out for it). I've always grown up hearing about healthy ways to do things as it was always very emphasized at home, at school and even at church and it never occurred to me that some people may not know about some of the basic things our bodies need for optimal health (I wrote about these things here). Today, I will just share some easy food switches you can make to help reach your health goals.

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com

 

Related: Spring into Health this Spring

 

Skip the sugary drinks and drink more water. Sugary drinks are delicious, don't get me wrong, but it's too easy to overlook the effects of sugar on your body. Skip the addictive substance, and drink water - our bodies need it anyway! I also really enjoy unsweetened herbal teas. The bottom line is that since our bodies are made up of over 70% water, it is absolutely necessary we drink it. It supports our systems and flushes it out. 

 

Add vegetables to your meals. Your mama was right - veggies help you grow strong! Eat your vegetables! Add a side of broccoli or opt for a side salad (or make it your main course!). You can start small, but add more vegetables to your diet. The best kind are the ones that are fresh and in season. Fresh, nourishing food is essential! I love meals that are full of vegetables!

 

Choose fruit over cookies. Again, the side effects that come with sugary treats will harm you more than do you good. Choosing fruit when you have a sweet craving is a better choice that fatty desserts. Again, with the summer close, in-season fruit is becoming more readily available!

 
It’s not hard to clean up your diet! Here are some easy tips you can start using today!
 

Pick steamed or raw over fried. I know, I know. Fried foods are so delicious - but they are really not good for you. Because of the added calories and health risks involved with commercially fried foods, it is best to avoid consuming them (or avoid when possible). If you must have fried, try oven frying or air frying at home for crispy food, but with less oil and the calories that come with it.

 

Make your own meals. I know it's fun to eat out, but save your wallet and your bodies by making your own food. When you cook or prepare your meals yourself, you have total control over what goes onto your plate. On top of that, it is also much cheaper to buy your own groceries

 

Related: Eating Cleaner on a Budget

 

Listen to your body. For me, when I eat dairy or other heavily processed foods, I'm noticeably more lethargic. Then again, I likely would not have even noticed had I not decided to cut it out. When I am intentional about drinking enough water and eating fresh foods and avoiding "empty calories" (calories that add no nutritional value), I feel my best - energetic and ready to go. Listen to your body - it speaks louder than you might imagine!

 

What are some ways you make healthy switches?


 
4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com