A Recap of 2016

Wow… is it really almost 2017!?!  As I look forward to the huge life change that 2017 will bring, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on 2016.  If you’ve missed any of my blogs this year, this will be the perfect opportunity to catch up!

2016 was certainly a roller-coaster for my health.  The year started off with me still trying to figure out what was causing my random high cortisol responses and unexplained weight gain.  Then, in May, we found out we were expecting, even though doctors had told me I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. Pregnancy brought on constant nausea and exhaustion that kept me down and out for a few months, and then a gestational diabetes diagnosis rocked my world.

Here’s a recap of the blogs I wrote in 2016:

Travel

VeniceI’m a huge believer that vacations are super important for your overall health and well-being.  We all need to take a break and relax, and traveling to experience different foods and cultures is great way to relieve stress. The past couple of years, we have taken two trips to Europe that were incredible.  I got so many requests for advice, I just decided to write all about our itineraries and recommendations right here:

My Favorite Natural Products & Organic Grocery Deals

BruschettaHealthy Recipes

Pregnancy:

Essential Oils

Thieves Essential OilHighlighting the benefits of some of my favorite essential oils to both your overall wellness and to creating and keeping a natural home.

Happy New Year!!

2016-recap

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Best of 2015

I can’t believe 2016 is upon us!  Reflecting over this past year, I feel so very thankful. While I had lots of new health issues come to the surface, I also experienced a lot of healing (praise God!). Leaving my job at the beginning of the year was a huge blessing as the burden of years of overwhelming stress was finally lifted. It’s allowed me to spend more time, energy and focus on my health and on making memories with friends, family, and my husband.

I want to thank you all for visiting this blog… I have loved being able to write more this year, to connect with all of you and to share my passion for health. I’m super excited for what is to come in 2016 – if you don’t want to miss any upcoming posts (which you WILL if you only follow me on Facebook), enter your email address over to the right and Follow Healthy & Hopefulhit this button to get an email whenever I publish a new post (1-4 per month).  You can also follow me on Instagram @chrissysu

I thought I would recap 2015 with a list of my most viewed blog posts from this past year, in case you missed any.

Seasonal Essential Oil Blends to Diffuse
Seasonal Essential Oil Blends to Diffuse
Antibiotics: A Second Thought
Antibiotics: A Second Thought
8 "Health Foods" You Should Stop Eating
8 “Health Foods” You Should Stop Eating

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Does "Organic" Matter?
Does “Organic” Matter?
7 Ways to Control Your Allergies Naturally
7 Ways to Control Your Allergies Naturally

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Natural Health and Hygiene Products
My Favorite Natural Health and Hygiene Products
Why You Need Magnesium Now
Why You Need Magnesium Now
A Review of Primal Pit Paste
A Review of Primal Pit Paste Deodorant

 

 

 

 

 

And the favorite recipes were:

Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Game Day Fried Chicken
Game Day Fried Chicken
Summer Salads
Summer Salads

 

 

 

 

 

Simple & Delicious Chili
Simple & Delicious Chili
Lemon Cream Pasta
Lemon Cream Pasta
Easy Egg Drop Soup
Easy Egg Drop Soup

 

 

 

 

 

What was your favorite post this year? And what topics would you like to see covered in 2016?

Happy New Year!

Product Review: Jawbone UP24

Remember that New Year’s resolution you made a couple months ago?  How’s that going?  If you are looking for some motivation to get back on track, I would highly recommend a fitness tracker.  With so many options on the market, there really is something for everyone.  But, with the abundance of choices, it can be totally overwhelming to decide which one to get.  You could spend hours researching the articles online that provide comparisons on every single feature; ultimately, it comes down to what is most important to you.  After a lot of research, I decided on the Jawbone UP24 and I have loved it!  Here’s what I was looking for in a fitness tracker and how this band matches up…

jawbone-up24

Looks Good – If I was going to wear something 24/7, it had to be something I would want to wear.  I chose the Jawbone UP24 because it was one of the sleekest options, with a thin band and simple design.  There are plenty of options that are a bit more fashionable, but I wasn’t really looking for something that would stand out.  I wanted neutral and understated, so I chose the black (Onyx) color. I only wish they would offer an even more neutral light gray option.

Feels Good – In terms of comfort, the band fits perfectly and I barely notice it anymore. I used the measurement chart on their website and got a medium (my husband’s large fits him well) – it does stretch slightly over time, so keep that in mind.  It’s easy to take on and off when you need to, which I really only do when I shower (it is splash resistant, but I’d rather not risk it).  Wearing it at night while I sleep hasn’t bothered me a bit.  My only two annoyances are: it can be irritating to type on a laptop -my husband actually takes his off at his desk- and it can get caught up in sweaters or jackets as I’m putting them on.  This tracker does not monitor heart rate – while that does improve accuracy, I was never going to wear a band around my chest every day.

Easy to Use – From the time I opened the package to get this set up, this tracker has been effortless.  I simply downloaded the free app, my band synced via Bluetooth and it was ready to go.  The app is easy to navigate and intuitive.  All of the information I want to know is in one place and the goals & reminders are easy to set up.  Plus, the homepage acts kind of like a newsfeed, showing you what your friends are up to and how you & they are meeting set goals. The band itself has a button on it that you press to go into sleep mode or to turn off the alarm – it’s super simple and you don’t need to open the app to perform those commands.

Today Goal Summary

Syncs Automatically – This tracker connects via Bluetooth to the app on your phone.  No need to remember to plug it in at the end of each day or connect to your computer.  I know where I am at throughout the day just by opening the app on my phone or through the notifications I’ve chosen for it to send.  The app also ties in with MyFitnessPal to track your calories and MapMyFitness to track your exercise.  I’m not really a calorie-counter (read why here), but I do like to keep a food diary for personal accountability, so it’s been helpful to see how I am balancing food intake & movement.

Battery Life – One of the reasons I chose the Jawbone UP24 is its battery life.  It lasts a solid 7 days and notifies you when you have a day left to charge.  Plus, it only takes about 30 minutes to fully charge again.  It comes with a connector that I plug in directly to my iPhone USB charger adaptor, so I didn’t have to purchase anything additional.  One TV-show or morning commute worth of charging and you’re good to go for the week – I love it!

Sleep Monitor/Alarm – Does anyone else hate their alarm clock?  Okay, I knew I wasn’t the only one. This tracks your sleep and will wake you up at the most ideal time in the morning.  I simply set the alarm for the time I must wake up by and within 30 minutes of that time, if I transition into light sleep, it will begin vibrating to wake me up gently.  This has been magical for me as I no longer have that panicked alarm wake up anymore.  It feels natural to wake up.  I was also curious to see how many hours and the quality of sleep I was really getting each night.  This tracker has been great for keeping me on a consistent bedtime schedule and making sure I meet my 8 hours per night goal – it reminds you when you should get ready for bed each night. Then, each morning, I can see how long it took me to fall asleep, how much deep sleep I got, how many times I woke up, etc. – it’s been enlightening.

Sleep Tracking

Cost – There can be quite a range of price for fitness trackers.  Honestly, I really wasn’t looking to spend over $100 on one of these. On Amazon, this one cost $99 and if you find it on sale at Best Buy, you can get it even cheaper.  I think it’s been a great value and have no regrets.

Motivating – Ultimately, the whole reason I wanted one of these was to keep myself motivated and accountable to move more, sleep consistently and eat healthier.  And, honestly, it really has helped with each of those.  The buzz every 30 minutes of non-movement reminds me to get up from my desk and keep moving throughout the day.  My competitive nature makes me want to take the stairs, park further away, and go on more walks to get more steps in.  Not only can I see how I compare with the friends I am connected to, but I can see how I am meeting my goals each day – that keeps me far more accountable than some overarching resolution.  Whether or not the step count is exactly right, I really am moving more each day and that’s a win for improving my health.

Daily Steps

Have you been considering a fitness tracker?  What features are most important to you?

A Year in Review & Looking Forward

New Years Eve2015 is upon us… does anyone else find that as insane as I do?  I really feel like 2014 just flew by.  It was a a pretty crazy year for me, with an amazing  trip to Europe and fun moments with friends & family, but also lots of work (aka stress) the rest of the year that took over my life and effected my health. As I look back, I am so thankful for all that I’ve learned and I’m ready to tackle 2015 with some big resolutions.  They aren’t much different than what I was inspired by in Europe, I am only more determined by not accomplishing them in 2014:

  • Nourish my body – I’ve really taken a step back in what I eat due to convenience and it’s certainly not making me feel great.  My goals for this year are to meal-plan weekly to ensure I am getting adequate protein and veggies, to shop local & organic at the Farmer’s Market at least twice per month, and to cook from scratch at a minimum of 5 times per week. This used to be routine for me, so I know it’s realistic to achieve. I am not really a calorie counter or weight watcher, but I am committed to consistently tracking what I eat on an app and making goals to lose weight & inches where needed in order to keep myself accountable.
  • Get moving – I need to exercise more, plain and simple.  I got a Jawbone UP 24 for Christmas (loving it so far, by the way!) and it is astounding how little I move throughout the day.  I’ll never reach my step goal if I don’t do some intentional fitness daily.  I want to explore more resistance training to build muscle and get back on my spin bike that’s just sitting upstairs.  And, again, I want to take more walks with my sweet puppy who so loves them. Belle Walk
  • Learn to relax – I am still trying to figure out what this means and how to accomplish it.  I am hoping the two above goals aid in reducing stress, but I truly want to learn how to leave work at the office.  I want to come home and be able to focus on my family and my health. Reading & writing are both so relaxing for me, and I want to read more health books, do a bit more research and share about it here on this blog.  One main area I want to explore more this year is essential oils.  I have been using them for a couple of years now and seeing great results, so I recently became a distributor with Young Living in hopes to share my experience with more people.  There is so much to learn about these natural oils from plants that God provided to heal us.  Plus, I have recently discovered how effective they are at helping me relax – I have the “Joy” and “Stress Away” blends in my diffuser right now bringing loveliness to my home.

I’ve said it before, but I am always astounded by how many people this blog has reached.  I started it on New Year’s Day only 2 years ago thinking it would just be a way to keep myself accountable and share with friends and family.  This year, I reached over 10,000 views!  To close out 2014, I wanted to do a recap of the most popular posts of this year:

2nd Year Running Most Read Overall – Kombucha Home-Brew

Most Pinned on Pinterest – Health Foodie Series

Most Reader-Shared – Healthy Hygiene Routine & Part 2: Deodorant

Most Read Book Review – Coconut Oil

Most Read Post in 2014 – Emphasis on Hopeful

If you want to make sure you don’t miss any future posts, be sure to hit the “Follow” button at the top right corner of my site to get an email whenever I publish a new blog.  If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see more of, please leave a comment and let me know.  It’s certainly motivating if I know it’s something people want to hear about; most often it’s just a surprise after I write it!

Wishing you a healthy & hopeful 2015!

One Year Down!

New Years 2014At the beginning of 2013 I made two resolutions: to become healthy and to write this blog as a way to keep myself motivated & educated.  As I have been reflecting on this past year the last two days, I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to meet and exceed my goals.

A year ago, I was starting to learn more about nutrition and natural healing and seeing some results, but I wanted more.  I wanted freedom from my chronic pain and illness.  I knew that it would take a lot of work… sorting through all the confusing, contradictory and controversial information on health out there to decide what I should follow and what would work for me, as well as consistently following the new diets and routines that I needed to integrate into my life.  I have plenty of room to improve on my health habits this year, but I certainly did better than ever in 2013.  While it’s easy to let vanity take over and feel bummed about the weight I never lost, I must focus on the true healing I’ve experienced.  I can’t remember a time where I got sick as little as I did this past year. And I went from being in near constant back pain to only every once in awhile now… y’all, it is life changing.  I enjoy life so much more now that I don’t have the cloud of pain hanging over me. I am so thankful to feel great almost every day when I wake up.  I pray that you’ve experienced healing too, this year.  If you have, I’d love to hear about it, and even share it here!

As for this blog, I could have never imagined all the success it’s had this year (even with my lack of consistency!).  I felt compelled to start it because of all that I was learning… I wanted my friends and family to be able to share in the healing that I was experiencing.  Honestly, I never imagined that this blog would reach as many people as it has.  I simply wanted an avenue to share with people I knew, and if only 20 people ever read it, I would have been thrilled.  But I’ve gotten visitors from all over the world!  In 2013, I had nearly 6,000 unique visitors to this site and I simply cannot believe it!  I’ve received great feedback from readers that my blog has helped them find reliable sources for health recommendations, that it’s opened their eyes to information they hadn’t heard before, or that it’s been nice to have a summary of topics that they wouldn’t have the time or energy to research otherwise.  I love this stuff, so I am happy to help 🙂 To close out the year, I thought I would share my most popular posts of 2013 in case you missed anything!

Most Read Post – Kombucha Home-Brew during Fabulous Fermentation Week

Most Pinned Pinterest Image – Whipped Coconut Milk

Most Popular Recipe – Parmesan Pesto Chicken & Herb Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

Most Controversial – Why I’m Not a Vegan

Most Reader-Shared – Soy it Ain’t So and Why We Get Fat

I have been reading lots of interesting books lately and I’m excited to share lots more in 2014, so stay tuned for more posts soon.  Be sure to hit the “Follow” button at the top right corner of my site to get an email whenever I publish a new blog if you don’t want to miss anything!  And leave a comment to let me know what you would like to see more of on this blog… documentary reviews? book summaries? health controversies? recipes?  I’d love your feedback!

Wishing you a healthy & hopeful 2014!