I chuckled when I wrote out the title of this post. “Reasons why you should pursue happiness.”  As if being happy isn’t reason enough!  For the sake of not being misunderstood, and all of you chuckling at the post before reading it, I thought I would take a moment to explain my intention. There are only a few things in life at the crux of a “successful” life in my mind, and happiness is definitely one of them. HOWEVER, this post is not about the obvious benefit of being happy (hello, happiness!). It’s actually about all the great things that come from being happy.

  1. Happiness helps you lose or maintain your weight: You might notice, or have noticed, that when you first start falling in love you lose weight. This is on account of all those “happy” thoughts floating around inside of you (aka endorphins). Of course, this isn’t only the case during love stories; it’s a real thing that happens with any “reason” for happiness. Similarly, when you are happy you aren’t inclined to fall back on food for comfort, entertainment, or out of anxious habit, so you end up losing weight for that reason as well.
  2. Your body moves “faster” when you are happy: When you are happy, your body actually functions and moves at a higher energy frequency.
  3. Your body heals faster when you are happy: A joyful disposition helps your body to take care of itself, improving the immune system and relieving stress on the body’s internal functions.  Not only are you mentally and emotionally going to be healthier as a result of happiness, but physically as well. Haven’t you ever heard, laughter is the best medicine?  I’ve never seen a grumpy person laughing!
  4. You are more productive when you are happy: Whether in the work place or in your personal endeavors, happiness is a driving force in one’s life.  Sluggishness vanishes, procrastination ceases and we are fueled by the natural, boundless energy of life force itself.  Happiness puts us back in touch with our own innate energy — all that joy and fervor you had as a child, before your moods took over!
  5. You are more likely to live longer when you are happy: Studies have been done that have actually shown a connection to happiness by way of answering questions positively and the person’s age. The more positive the person was in their answers (that were measuring their happiness) the more likely they were to live longer.
  6. You will have healthier relationships: Let’s just be honest, this is more of a no brainer in the sense that if you aren’t happy it’s really hard to have a relationship and keep it happy. However, if you are happy your relationship will more likely display signs of being a healthy positive relationship.

Now that we have a covered a few things that are a results of being happy, I would like to point out something that I like to call the “happiness is exponential” theory. The same thing is discussed on markdawes.com under “what we focus on we get more of.”  This theory is basically that when you are happy your life attracts and promotes positive things, thus making it easier to be even happier. You will attract people who like that you are happy; they will in term add positive things to your life. You will be more grateful when you think out of a place of happiness, which will in term make you happier. The examples can go on and on, but I imagine you get the point. If you pursue and healthy happy life, you will most like promote an exponential growth of that happiness.


Many of us have so many things that we like to do during the week to enjoy ourself and keep happy. However what many people don’t realize is that most of these things can be improved by listening to music before, after or during our activities. There isn’t a ton of information on the more “everyday” application of music to healthy living but we found and thought up enough to make a strong argument PRO MUSIC.

  1.      Music helps us to express ourselves:  Music is a great way to express those things that we aren’t able to otherwise. Sometimes we need an outlet and when there are no words, or we just can’t find them at the time, music can help to alleviate some tension caused by life circumstances.
  2.       Music helps to set the mood: Music is a way to the set the mood in any circumstance. Put it as the spotlight in a setting where people come for the music or use it as a background noise to subtly suggest or inspire a certain atmosphere. This is used in department stores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. For your next romantic date, make sure to have the right play light ready to really speak to your special person.
  3.      Music inspires: Music can insight feeling and thoughts that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Sometimes the beat and rhythm can make us feel something for a song before we hear the lyrics. Once this connection has been made and we take the time to listen to the lyrics our hearts and souls are more vulnerable and open to the words offered in the song.  We will be more willing to acknowledge something we otherwise might have been unaware of. An example of something like this would be if you were in the middle of break up, but you were “powering through”- just moving on like it never happened. Then you listen to a great song whose rhythm and sound move you. In listening to the song you open yourself up to the words because of the connection you already have and realize that it has opened your heart to the reality of what you are actually feeling in the midst of the break up. Music has a way of leading us places we don’t always acknowledge we need to go. It has a subtle truth to it that is a healthy way to be real.
  4.      Music makes you feel understood: Similar to making you able to express yourself music is usually a way that someone else has expressed themselves. Knowing this helps us to connect just on a human to human level of understanding we are not alone in what we are feeling. Someone else wrote it and therefore understands to some degree what you are going through, and that is always nice to know.
  5.     Music moves you: Music has a real way of helping us to experience human emotions. Theater is the best example of this. Watch any modern day movie and pay attention to the background music. During any moment that depicts emotions (sad, happy, funny, fear, etc) there will be background music. It helps you get in touch with those feeling in moments when you might not otherwise.
  6.        Music relaxes: Music is a great way to get into relax mode. Some like a nice glass of wine, some like a hot bath. Regardless of that, many of us all have our favorite “relax” tunes as our “secondary tactic” to a nice quiet evening. Music has a way of soothing and calming- and a general way of managing our state of mind.
  7.      Music is a universal language: Music is truly a universal language, like many arts. Music with or without words appeals to emotions that are human by nature and therefore experienced by all ages and all ethnicity. Regardless of your position in life you will most likely agree on the “feeling” of a song with any person sitting next to you. As discussed earlier this helps you to feel understood and it of course is just nice when “speaking” to a diverse crowd.
  8.       Music motivates you during exercise: With the right song music will get you lifting more, running fast, biking faster, and going longer in general for exercise. Make sure that when you work out you are focused on songs that inspire you to perspire.

 


There are so many things that people try to do in an effort to lose weight. We already wrote a two post series on the things you shouldn’t do with regard to dieting don’ts and exercise don’ts, but felt to cover  other no so easily labeled things we should do one more post. The following things are things you should not if you are trying to lose weight.

  1. Do not Compare Yourself to Others: In your journey to a better more fit and healthy body do not look around you for guidance on where you are at, or how successful you have been. Avoid fantasy about Hollywood stars, model and professional pictures on the magazines at the grocery store, and anything else that is very honestly not a true depiction of real life. Not only should you avoid comparing yourself to images and figures that are touched up, manipulated, and basically a lie but you should also not compare yourself to people around in everyday life. There is always that one girl at the gym that makes all the others girls feel like they aren’t “fit” enough. Don’t allow those thoughts to creep up on you. The reality is that you are a different person, built a different way. You have no idea about the circumstances which lead to that person being as fit as you are. You don’t know if they were born with a faster metabolism. You don’t know if they have been working out for 10 years, if they have 3 hours a day to devote to working out, if they do things behind closed doors that help the weight loss but aren’t healthy, etc etc. So track your progress and your progress only. Understand that you can only do what your body, time, resources allow and be grateful for the things you are able to accomplish.
  2. Don’t Chose Options that Only Promote Weight Loss with a  direct Disregard to Health:  I know that for most people the ultimate goal is to like the way you look, but lets just take a step back real quick. In order to truly like the way you look and be able to sustain that you need to be entertaining a healthy lifestyle, not just one that drops pounds. If you aren’t, then eventually your body will begin to show signs of the unhealthy ways in which you chose to lose weight. Now, you have a problem on your hands that is bigger than dropping a few pounds. Some effects of poor weight loss tactics are not reversible. Chose wisely what you ingest into your system and how you chose to care for your body. If you do this, you will still lose the weight but you won’t have the residual issues.
  3. Acknowledge Bigger Issues in Your Eating and Exercising Struggles: Many times the things we eat and the way we exercise (or don’t exercise) are not really because we have a lack of self control or just aren’t motivated enough to do “the right thing”. Sometimes there are deeper issues at work. These can be anything from psychological issues such as depression and anxiety to physical issues such as hormonal imbalances or digestive issues. If you feel you have lost hope in getting your eating or exercise where you want it to be you might think about seeking medical/psychological assessment. This is not to promote that weight loss is easy unless you are dealing with something- it isn’t easy and takes time and will power. However, if you know those two things aren’t typically something you struggle with and something just doesn’t seem right, you might be onto something. Once you have figured out what the problem is you can treat that, or recognize it when it is taking place. For example, if you realize you are suffering from stress or anxiety and you eat in those moments, you can start to treat the stress instead of just trying to control the eating.
  4. Don’t Do Anything Extreme: Do things that are sustainable and that help to promote moderation. As you start to feel comfortable with your current “weaknesses”  in moderation then you can cut back again. Taking the time to allow yourself to get used to each step at a time will allow you to never really feel like you’re are missing out.

 


It’s always tough to find great recipes to cook for holiday get together when the common menu is not filled with foods that you feel are healthy options. So, we put together a list of resources that give ideas about different healthy Thanksgiving Day recipes. We have chosen one “showcase” recipe for side dishes, and one for deserts. The rest are links to great resources with lists of recipes you can pull from.

Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

FEATURED RECIPE: Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup is sure to dazzle your guests.

This recipe has been adapted from Dr. Andrew Weil’s book “The Healthy Kitchen” (Knopf, 2005).

  • Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield Serves 4
  • 1 large winter squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), such as butternut or kabocha, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Chili powder, for seasoning (optional)
  • 4 cups Andy’s Vegetable Stock
  • Cilantro Walnut Pesto, for garnish (optional)
  • Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss squash, onions, garlic, and apples with oil to coat. Season well with salt and chile powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until vegetables are fork-tender and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  • Transfer half the vegetables and 2 cups stock to a food processor; puree until smooth. Repeat with remaining vegetables and broth. Return pureed mixture to pot, thinning soup with stock, if necessary. Season with salt and chile powder; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Serve immediately, garnished with Cilantro Walnut Pesto, if desired.

Ingredients

Other Recipe Ideas

  1. Maple Roasted Pumpkin Salad is a great side dish for your Thanksgiving meal.
  2. Indian Mango Lassi is a great fresh way to add some fruits to your menu.
  3. Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Sage are guaranteed to be a hit.
  4. Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes are a great way to server your Thanksgiving Day potatoes this year.
  5. This is a list of various Thanksgiving side dishes, check them out and chose ones that compliment your existing menu items.
  6. Green Beans with golden raisins is a great substitute for the traditional green bean casserole.

Healthy Thanksgiving Deserts

FEATURED RECIPE: Coconut Pumpkin PIe

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces gluten free graham crackers, finely crushed (recipe for gluten free graham crackers)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk, shaken before opening
  • ¼ cup minus 3 tablespoons maple syrup-
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground white pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine cracker crumbs and butter in a 9-inch pie dish, tossing to coat. Press crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Bake for seven to eight minutes to toast the crumbs. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack to cool while you make the pumpkin filling.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the paddle attachment, combine pumpkin, coconut milk, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and salt. Blend on medium-high speed until well-combined.
  4. Pour pumpkin filling into pie crust. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until filling is set. If graham cracker crust starts to brown, cover with a pie crust protector or strips of aluminum foil.
  5. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool for a few hours before slicing and serving.

Other Recipe Ideas

  1. Mixed Berry Salad is a fresh way to feed a healthy sweet desert.
  2. Gluten Free Bread Pudding with Apples and Bourbon Sauce: We recommend taking the sugar out completely or using a healthy sugar substitute.
  3. Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies are a rich healthy combo for your dessert choices.

 

  1. Volunteer for Thanksgiving: There are so many things that you can do to help others in need year round, but the holiday season is a time when those could use a little extra effort on our ends. Whether it’s taking time to help collect canned foods during a food drive or serving food during a thanksgiving feed at a mission you are certain to enjoy giving back where you are able to.
  2. Give a Family in Need a Thanksgiving Meal: It is easy during the holiday season to get caught up in all of the busy planning, family visiting, and general holiday festivities. However, it is important to keep in mind the things that you really should be focusing on when you are celebrating a holiday intended to promote being grateful. If you don’t know any families that aren’t able to buy their own meal you can find charities that support families in need during the holidays. There are organizations that feed people year around that usually do special events for the holidays and there are plenty that will have lists of families that are not able to buy their own Thanksgiving Day meal. You can pick a family and deliver the meal for them directly to their house or you can deliver it to the charity that runs the programs and let them deliver it. Either way it’s a win win for everyone. Can you think of a better way to remind yourself of what all you can be grateful for?
  3. Name a Few Things you are Grateful for: It doesn’t seem that uncommon when I think about doing this as my experience is that this is all part of Thanksgiving. However, it is really amazing how many people get together with their families and forget to ever acknowledge what it is that they are truly grateful for. Next Thanksgiving when you are sitting around eating your Thanksgiving meal with your family and you find there is an awkward lull of silence in the air, bring up this idea: What/who are you thankful this year? Go around the table and share at least one thing you are thankful for or blessed by.
  4. Read a Children’s Story about the Meaning and Origin of Thanksgiving: Many of us lose sight of what Thanksgiving is all about. In order to keep the focus on what really brought the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving around it is good to read stories or watch movies/documentaries on the holiday. Children’s books are nice because they offer a more fun playful approach to keeping focused.
  5. Participate in a Thanksgiving Day Run: What better way to start out your Thanksgiving Day (where we eat too much in the first place) than to run first thing in the morning with a bunch of other people who love to do the same thing. It will get your endorphins going, burn some calories, and give you extra energy to sustain the rest of the day.
  6. Use Thanksgiving as a Day to Start a New Tradition for the Year: Just like New Years any day can be the start of a new tradition. You don’t have to wait to until the start of a new year. Use Thanksgiving as an early New Year’s resolution and focus it around being thankful. What can you do year round that will focus your attention on what you are grateful for in life. Maybe you can make a goal to say something you are thankful for every night before you go to bed?
  7. Thanksgiving Box: This site recommends that you start a box and share what you are Thankful for once a week in the box. It talks about taking slips out before Thanksgiving and sharing them. I would like to propose that you take them all out at the same time on Thanksgiving day and read them throughout the day. This would be a really nice way to end the tradition, and of course start it again for the next year.