Your Weekly Wellness Vol. #8

WEEKLY WELLNESS
Volume #8

CAPTAIN PLANET
Taking pollution down to zero
If you are a 90s kid like us, you might remember not paying enough attention to a cartoon about five pollution-fighting kids with magical rings whose mission was to help save the environment. While admittedly too engrossed in that week's Power Rangers' drama, we clearly didn't grasp the significance of the cartoon’s messaging about environmental and sustainability concerns. How could we have known that when the Captain Planet gang was battling pollution, habitat destruction, and the melting polar ice caps it was just a portent of the world to come? Nearly 30 years later, the idea of protecting the earth and acting more sustainably is now everywhere (if only we had magical rings to do it). So much so that sustainability is now a catch-all term that appears across a wide range of topics, from fashion to food practices to pretty much everything in between. So what does being “sustainable” actually mean in 2020? 

People, planet, and profits
There’s a wide range of definitions for the term, but in short, sustainability is about preserving the resources we have and using them at appropriate levels (more on that, here) so that there are enough for us and future generations. Sustainability has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet, and profits. A simple way of picturing sustainable development is to imagine a stool with three legs, representing the environment, economy, and society. All three pillars must always remain balanced for a healthy society to sit comfortably. If one is unstable or weak, we all fall down. Eek.

That’s not sitting right
However, not everyone is down with the three-legged stool analogy. Some critics argue that humanity cannot have either an economy or social well-being without the environment being considered as different and at a more significant level than either the economy or social well-being. They note that the environment should be thought of as the floor upon which the stool sits. After all, what good is our economy or social status if we don't have a planet anymore?! TBH, that's fair. While it's a lot of analogies...

Reduce, reuse, recycle
So what should we make of all this? On an individual level, sometimes it can be difficult to know how to make a change and what to do to contribute to a better world. Some important sustainable choices are obvious and easy, like how hard is it to flip a switch off before leaving a room to conserve energy (which if you didn't know, is good for the planet, not just your ConEd bill)? Or bring a tote bag to the grocery store to cut back on the use of plastic bags? In fact, New York is implementing a $0.05 tax on plastic bags starting March 1. Others are less obvious, and that's why we're here to help! Here is a comprehensive list of ideas to help you live more sustainably today. Just remember that each individual has their own unique sustainability journey—and there are tons of ways to go about taking action in a way that feels right for you. All we ask is that you read this, absorb the info, and go out there and make Captain Planet proud. 

 

HEALING ROCKS!
Mysticism goes mainstream
Adele says crystals have helped with crippling stage fright. Victoria Beckham is so into crystals she designed a hidden pants pockets to conceal her woo-woo weapons. Katy Perry believes rose quartz helps her to attract men. Despite being used since ancient times, it's only recently that crystals have gone from a niche oddity to a booming wellness craze. If crystals are as So what's the deal with #healingcrystals? A hashtag that's now amassed up to tens of millions on the gram. Crystals, similar to the practices of astrology, gong baths, and reiki, fall under the larger mysticism trend, which has increasingly infiltrated the wellness world thanks to its promise to make our lives better, calmer, more purposeful, and a whole lot less stressful, among other benefits.

High vibrational living
Taken directly from the earth, these sparkling rock formations are said to have the ability to help us tune into our deepest energies, resolve blockages, and balance the energy centers of our bodies (known as chakras) courtesy of their energetic healing properties. Believers advocate that crystals act like miniature phone towers, picking up signals and channeling them on to the user. How can this impact our wellness practices? There are thousands of crystals out there, and therefore endless ways to use crystals to feel better. Examples include everything from filling up your bedside table with amethysts for better sleep to using Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics beauty products, which incorporate water that has been filtered through rose quartz “to give the vibration of self-love.”

Not so crystal clear
Critics argue that crystals’ healing powers are unproven by the medical community, with many doctors referring to the practice as a "pretty" pseudoscience. Scientifically speaking, there is currently no evidence that crystal healing can be used to cure diseases because diseases have never been found to be the result of energy flow in the body. Oh, and also important to note? Crystal critics are worried about the impact this recent craze is having on the environment. Especially considering that much like diamonds, there are issues around the regulation of crystal mining practices, from fears about sustainability practices to the exploitation of cheap labor.

A *precious* decision
And yet, for many, crystals can act as sparkling sages that help them tune into themselves and the world around them. Considering jumping on the crystal bandwagon but don’t know where to begin? For starters, begin by considering the question: What would you like to harness? Are you feeling tired? Anxious? In need of better sleep? Then, you can begin to learn more about each type of crystal and their unique healing properties. Here’s a helpful guide to some of the most beloved varieties to get you started. 

 

 

BIG MACRO ENERGY

Did somebody say Big Mac?
Not quite. Macros or macronutrients are the three categories of nutrients that make up the foods we eat and provide your body with most of your energy, including: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. These are different than micronutrients, which are the vitamins and minerals your body needs in smaller amounts.

If it fits your macros
Tracking macros is an increasingly popular trend in the fitness community and consists of measuring the ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats you consume. The idea behind the diet is to feed your body "ideal nutrition" based on your fitness and diet goals. This can be done in a variety of ways, but dieters usually start with target macros, typically 50% carbohydrates and 25% each of protein and fat, and then adjust ratios based on body type, goals, and activity level. Fans of counting macros say it allows them to have more freedom to choose the foods they consume knowing that they just need to maintain the proper ratios to meet their goals. Despite having "nutrient" built into the name, this method of dieting places more of an emphasis on the category from which the calories are coming from and not the quality of calories. There’s even become a popular Instagram trend where many fitness influencers post pictures of their perfectly ripped abs after pigging out on junk food with the hashtag #IIFYM. #IIFYM = If it fits your macros.

So I eat three doughnuts a day? #IIFYM right?
The beauty of this diet might be that it does not restrict what you eat; however, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a healthy way of living. It brings up the age-old question: Are all calories really created equal? Counting macros doesn’t take into account food quality, including important nutrients like vitamins and minerals. For example, a Pop Tart might fit into your macronutrient requirements for the day, but that doesn’t mean that all of the crap inside of it (including the 20+ unpronounceable ingredients listed on the back of the box) is good for you. Critics say by focusing on hitting your macro numbers, you could be ignoring how your food impacts things like blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and your overall health and well-being.

Count me in
If you decide to try counting macros, the first place to start, like any diet, is asking yourself, "Why am I doing this"? IE. is it for weight loss, muscle building, etc.? In other words, self-awareness is key. Although we can't help you on the self-awareness part (that’s all you, boo!), there are several guides to help you get started on your macro journey and the associated meal prep. 

INFLAMMATION NATION

Putting the flame in inflamed
According to this recent article in The Cut, Google searches for inflammation are up 300 percent over the past 15 years. So what exactly is inflammation and why is it as hot of a Google search as: “Will there be a season 2 of Cheer?” Will it though?! Very generally speaking, inflammation is the body’s immune system’s response to something that is irritating it. Think, a splinter in your finger. As a process, inflammation exists to fight off the invasion from the foreign body with symptoms such as redness, swelling, heat, pain, and sensitivity all popping up around the scene of the crime as a way to heal and protect the affected area.

Is inflammation a good or a bad thing?
According to functional medical practitioner Dr. Will Cole, it can be both. “Inflammation is actually a normal, healthy process in your body. It is your body's defense mechanism to help you heal from invading bacteria and viruses. Inflammation can therefore be sorted into two categories, acute and chronic. In the splinter example, scabbing, redness, and swelling are all examples of acute inflammation. In other words, the inflammation comes, does its job, and then things in the body return to normal after the wound is healed. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a condition where your body gets super hyped up and basically stays on code red all of the time even after the threat is gone, which causes immune responses to start popping off in places they aren’t needed. The result? Chronic inflammation has been linked with conditions such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and even depression.

I’m triggered
Did we mention many of these findings are relatively new? Hence the uptick in Google searches and general awareness around inflammation over the last decade-ish. So what have we learned? And more specifically, what causes inflammation to run amok? According to Cole, “Chronic inflammation can be triggered by a poor diet, ongoing stress, and exposure to toxins that continue to build up over time.” As a result, anti-inflammatory diets have been getting thrown around nutrition conversations more and more these days, with the underpinning theory being that diet can have a huge impact on your body’s inflammation processes. Typically, anti-inflammatory diets, which typically recommend fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats, also come recommended alongside lifestyle suggestions, such as lowering stress levels, exercising, and getting a good night's sleep. Cole also recommends considering an “elimination diet,” which can help you uncover your individual food sensitivities in order to create an eating regimen that works for your personal biochemistry and reduces your unique inflammatory triggers. 

 

 


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