10 Apr

My Favorite Meditation Apps

meditation apps, jennifer merchant

Meditation is a powerful tool when it comes to de-stressing, connecting with ourselves, and finding focus. I try to meditate for at least 10 minutes every day as a part of my evening routine that consists of calming activities like meditating, writing in my journal, stretching, and reading. I also like to meditate occasionally throughout my day when I become stressed-out, unfocused, or overwhelmed.

If you practice meditation, you already know the amazing power that it has so today I want to share with you my favorite meditation apps to use while meditating. If you do not practice meditation but are interested, check out my article Meditation And How It Can Help You to see some of the ways you could benefit from adopting the practice into your daily routine.

The Calm App

My favorite meditation app to use is the Calm App. I’ve been using the Calm App for a little over 6 months now and I absolutely love it! The app has a large collection of guided meditations and includes both single sessions and themed series that spans over several days. I usually prefer the guided, themed meditations so I love the variety that is offered.

The Calm App, Meditation app, jennifer merchant

If you prefer unguided meditation, the app also offers a timed meditation option where it will just play nature sounds for you. I occasionally use this when I am trying to re-focus or de-stress during the day because I can choose a smaller amount of time like 5 minutes.This meditation app also includes sleep stories that typically last between 20-30 minutes and are designed to help you or your children fall asleep at night. This is a unique touch that I really enjoy and there are new stories released often so you do not have to listen to the same ones.

The Calm App, sleep stories, jennifer merchant

Like most meditations apps, the Calm App also tracks the days that you meditate for you as well as how many sessions and hours you have spent meditating which is fun to look at once in a while, especially if you want to see how well you have been sticking to your meditation habit. It also has the option to just play different nature sounds if you are looking for some background noise while you are working, writing, or reading.I have the premium version of the Calm App which comes with more series of meditations, single guided meditations, sleep stories, and relaxation techniques. However, there is a free version as well which still includes all of these different options, just not as many different meditations in each section. You can find more about the Calm App here.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is another great meditation app that is free. Insight Timer also includes many guided meditations, music, and tracks your progress as well. One cool thing about insight timer is that you connect with friends and see the progress in their meditation journeys as well.

Insight Timer, jennifer merchant

This meditation app goes a little more in-depth by offering different meditation variations from several origins such as Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and several more. If you are interested in the history and the different forms of meditation, Insight Timer is a really good app where you can learn these things. It gives you access to talks where you can learn more about meditation as well as teachers who are sharing the practice.

Insight Timer, jennifer merchant

Insight Timer also releases new meditations every day so there are many options for you. If you are looking for an interactive meditation app where you can connect with friends, this app is perfect for that! You can learn more about the Insight Timer app here.

What I Use

I personally use both the Calm App and the Insight Timer because I like the variety that I can get from both of them. I like to use the Calm App at night especially because it has the sleep stories and body scans designed to help you fall asleep. However, I also really like the aspect of being able to connect with friends in the Insight Timer app so that we can hold each other accountable in our meditation journeys.Both of these apps are great meditation apps and I would definitely encourage you to try meditation for yourself if you have not experimented with it yet. Meditation is all about continuing to practice and improve so the more you do it, the more results you will see when it comes to de-stressing, changing your mindset, and staying in touch with yourself.

-Jennifer
Mindset and Habit Coach

13 Mar

Need a New Podcast? Try the Cabral Concept!

daily podcast recommendation, The Cabral Concept, jennifer merchant

I love listening to podcasts on all occasions including getting ready in the morning, driving, working, cooking, and cleaning. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is called the Cabral Concept. The Cabral Concept is hosted by Stephen Cabral, ND who is a naturopathic doctor that has studied functional medicine all over the world and now combines the best of functional medicine with Ayurveda techniques in his online practice.

I love listening to the Cabral Concept because I learn so much about how to live healthier both physically and mentally. He releases a new podcast episode 7 days a week and each day has a specific theme. My favorite days are Motivation and Mindset Mondays and the Cabral House Calls on the weekends but I enjoy listening to all of his episodes and always learn something new. Here is a list of the rest of the themes:

  • Motivation & Mindset Mondays (MM)
  • Total Wellness Tuesdays (TWT)
  • Weight Loss Wednesdays (WW)
  • Training Thursdays (TT)
  • Friday Best of Review (FR)
  • Saturday – Cabral House Call (HouseCall)
  • Sunday – Cabral House Call (HouseCall)

One reason why I love this podcast so much is that it takes a stand against the conventional form of medicine that does not always serve us best. The western form of medicine is amazing for extending our lifespans and treating acute problems such as injuries, heart attacks, surgeries, and things of that nature but it does not serve us best when it comes to giving our bodies what they need and treating the underlying cause of illness rather than just covering up the symptoms.

The Cabral Concept focuses on how any disease can be treated by lab testing and re-balancing your body using natural vitamins and minerals. The host, Stephen, is proof of this because he had Rheumatoid Arthritis, Addison’s Disease, allergies, and a whole load of other things in his teenage and early 20 years and has been able to fix all of his issues by using lab tests to see where he is deficient and re-balancing his body along with other diet and lifestyle changes.

Even if you are not a huge believer in naturopathic medicine, there are still episodes that you might resonate with. He also shares tips on goal-setting, routines, the best workouts for your body type, book reviews and so much more! Below is a list of some of my favorite episodes that you could check out and see what you think!

MM: Discover the 3 Ds for Developing a New Habit

Cabral Concept 752

MM: Free Your Mind by Using These Rhythms & Routines

Cabral Concept 745

TWT: The Daily 5-Minute Method for Taking Care of Your Teeth & Gums

Cabral Concept 739

TT: The 2 Exercises to Include In Every Workout

Cabral Concept 727

 

13 Feb

The Must Read Book on Habits

habit book recommendation; the power of habit by charles duhigg; books to help you achieve your goals; jennifer merchant; mindset and habit coach

As we all know, I love habits and everything that goes with that. It is fitting then that my book recommendation for this month is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Reading is one habit that I recommend everyone implements into their lives. I like to read in the morning and in the evening every day so I can continuously expand my knowledge and stay motivated. I personally like to read business books, mindset books, and health and wellness books because that is what I am interested in the most. However, you can choose books on topics that interest you!

This week, I chose to recommend The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg because I really liked this book! The book is all about habits and how you can use them to your advantage both in your life and in business. The Power of Habit goes into a little bit of science behind how habits form, how to change an existing habit, and how large companies like Target and Starbucks use our habits to win our business!

Considering I am a Mindset and Habit Coach, I was of course fascinated by everything in this book. I already know how powerful habits can be through my own experience, but the science behind habits made them even more interesting. Your habits can be very controlling over your life, which is a good thing if the habit is productive but not so great if the habit does not support your goals.

If you want to use habits to support your goals or change a bad habit into something more productive, it is important to understand how habit formation actually works. The book talks about cues, habits, and rewards and how they are interconnected and dependent on each other. You can use the first section to learn more about your own habit patterns and how to change them if you would like.

The Power of Habit also talks about how habits can be used in companies as well. Two of the biggest companies mentioned in the book are Starbucks and Target. If you want to understand how Target knows you better than your friends and family or how Starbucks always delivers exceptional service, you should read this book, it’s fascinating!!

I would recommend this book to everyone who has a goal for themselves (so, basically everyone!) because I know from personal experience that anyone can implement habits into their daily routines to support any goal they set. I’ve used habits to set up morning and evening routines to increase my energy levels throughout the day, increase my mood, and sleep better at night. I’ve also used habits to raise my confidence levels, strengthen my relationships, build a business, and many other accomplishments I have made throughout my life.

The more you understand how habits work, the easier it is to use them to help you on the journey towards your own success! If you’re interested in setting up supportive habits towards your goals, I would definitely recommend reading The Power of Habit. Plus, you get to see all the crazy and slightly creepy ways that large companies can use our habits to manipulate us into buying from them (crazy stuff!!).

And of course, if you would like help implementing new habits to support your goals or changing existing ones, that’s what I do! You can sign up for a FREE Strategy Session here where we can find and implement habits that will help you accomplish your desired results!

-Jennifer
Mindset & Habit Coach

23 Jan

Air-Fried Potato Chip Recipe

Air fried potato chip recipe; crispy air fried potato chips; how to make potato chips; healthy potato chips; air fryer recipes

So, I just bought an air fryer a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it. One of the first things I made was potato chips and they turned out amazing! I loved this recipe because it turns a traditionally unhealthy snack into a healthy option and they are super easy to make.

What will you need?

* An air Fryer
* 2 potatoes
* Knife or a mandolin
* Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Optional)
* Sea salt (optional)

Instructions:

1. Wash the potatoes.
You can either peal the potatoes or just make sure you wash them really good. I chose to use the rough side of a sponge to wash the potatoes really good.

2. Cut the potatoes.
I have a food processor with a mandolin attachment where I just slid the potato back and force and it sliced it into the perfect sized pieces. However, if you do not have a mandolin, you could easily use a good knife and cut the potato into as thin of slices as you can.

3. Soak the potatoes.
Next, you will want to soak the potatoes in cold water for 30 minutes. You can change the water halfway through for the best results but that is not necessary. After the 30 minutes, drain the water from the potatoes.

4. Drizzle olive oil and sea salt over the potatoes.
Before you add the potatoes into the air fryer, you can drizzle a little olive oil and sea salt on top and mix them around to add some additional flavor. You could also add any other spices that you might like such as onion powder, garlic powder, or dill. Make sure you mix everything up good so it is spread out evenly.

5. Add to air fryer and start cooking
Now you can add your potatoes to your air fryer and cook them. You will want to follow the instructions on your fryer as they can be different, but I cooked mine on 392 degrees for 20 minutes. If you do not use a potato chip rack you will want to make sure you shake the potatoes often because otherwise they stick together and do not get crispy all the way.

My potato chips turned out super crispy and tasted amazing. If you don’t like your chips as crispy, you can also cut back the time you fry them and if you like them crispier, you can add more time! What I love about this recipe the most is that you have the freedom to make potato chips exactly how you like them.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think about it!

09 Jan

January Book of the Month: The Compound Effect

The Compound Effect; jennifer merchant; mindset and habit coach; goal setting

I want to start sharing my book of the month. One of my favorite habits is to read books, specifically from successful individuals who I look up to. The book that I chose for this month is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. This book is about how all of the small, seemingly insignificant decisions you make on an everyday basis can have a compound effect on your future. To use examples from the book, one person might decide to cut out 125 calories from their diet every day. While that seems small and insignificant, after 31 months, that person will have lost 33.5 pounds. This seems like quite an accomplishment considering they really did not change much in their life. On the other hand, a different person may decide to start cooking more delicious food such as cupcakes, muffins, or cheesy potatoes (my weakness). Even if they only add an additional 125 calories every day, which doesn’t seem like much, they will gain 33.5 pounds after 31 months.

This book explains why your small daily habits are crucial in the long run. The choices you make today can have a massive effect on your life in the future. The hard part is that because some of the habits and choices do not seem very important, sometimes it might not seem important if we do not do them. However, implementing smart daily habits into your life can have massive payoffs in the future.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a quick and easy read but packed with value. I would recommend this book to anybody. The tools and habits discussed can be applied to any area of your life including financial, relationships, health, and any other goal you have for yourself. It also comes with access to great resources that I absolutely love!

If you have read this book already, leave a comment below letting me know what you thought. And if you haven’t, but plan to, let me know that too!

26 Dec

How to Rock Your New Year’s Resolution!

new year's resolution; tips for accomplishing resolutions; tips for accomplishing goals; setting a new years resolution

This time of year, everyone is making big goals for themselves in 2018, whether it be fitness goals, health goals, finance, goals, relationship goals, or any other goal. However, we know that many times, we forget about these goals that we were so amped up for by the time the end of January arrives. For example, all the gyms are packed the first few weeks of the year and the fast food restaurants die down, but everything goes back to normal by the end of January. I want to give you five tips to help you stick to your new year’s resolution and accomplish it!

1. Chose your own goals, not somebody else’s

Many times, we chose goals that are not what we actually want for ourselves without even realizing it. We get caught up with everyone else’s resolutions and think we have to have similar goals for ourselves. This is not true! The point of creating goals and resolutions is to get yourself closer to your ideal life, not your friends ideal life, and not your family’s ideal life. This means that if you are going to create a new year’s resolution, you should sit by yourself and think about what you really want for yourself this year and not what everybody else wants for you.

2. Plan it out

Once you have a solid resolution for 2018, you need to start planning it out. It is much easier to accomplish a goal when you create specific actions steps that you need to take in order to get there. Along with your action steps, you should also break your resolution down to multiple milestones to complete. Milestone will not only make your goal seem possible, it will also give you small wins along the way that will encourage you to keep going. I like to write down a list of everything I need to do in order to accomplish my goal on a piece of paper or a marker board, add my milestone dates, and then put my paper or marker board somewhere where I will see it everyday.

3. Accountability

After you have distinguished your path and your milestones, you will need to find some accountability! We can’t always trust ourselves to hold us accountable, we need an outside party. You can do this by sharing your resolution with you friends or on social media so people know what you are going to accomplish. By sharing your goals, you can get the support and encouragement from others to keep going, and also change your mindset to not only do you not want to let yourself down, but you don’t want to let everyone else who is rooting for you down either. My favorite thing is to find a specific person who will hold you accountable and you can do the same for them. Accountability partners are great, especially if they make sure you stick to your goals!

4. Write a letter to yourself

Another great step to help you stick to you resolution is to write a letter for yourself. You can write multiple letters to yourself and date them for specific times. For example, one letter should be opened two weeks after you start, one after one month, one after 2 months, and so on. In these letter, you want to write why you want to accomplish this resolution and encouraging things to make yourself keep working. I find this really helpful because it is a reminder of why you made this goal in the first place and why you need to keep going! I like to write letters for specific time periods and then a couple of additional letter titled “when you need a pick me up”

5. Commit!

The most important part of a new years resolution is to fully commit to it! Don’t just let it be something that you hope happens, commit to accomplishing it. You can even write out on the same paper or marker board from before that you are 100% committed to seeing this through. This is a simple but crucial step because it lets yourself know that you won’t be backing down any time soon!

What is your new year’s resolution and how do you plan to use these tips to help you accomplish it?

05 Dec

4 Substitutes to Processed Grains

grain substitutes, processed grains substitutes, food to use instead of bread,

Processed grains such as bread, rice, and noodles are prevalent in many recipes so today I want to give you 4 substitutes that you can use in place of these processed grains.  I’ve experimented with all four of these substitutes and I love them!  They will not have exactly the same texture or taste as your bread or other grains but you may find that you actually prefer some of these substitutes instead! I personally prefer these substitutes over any gluten free bread or noodles out there.  The four main ingredients that I use are lettuce, zucchini, cauliflower, and avocado.

  1. Lettuce

One of my favorite foods is tacos! But if you are trying to stay away from processed grains, you can’t eat tortillas.  So instead of using tortillas, I started using lettuce.  I just buy a head of lettuce and then I take a whole layer off and use it as my tortilla.  I find that this does not change the taste of the taco much at all!  Plus, I normally put lettuce on my tacos anyways, now it’s just on the outside.  I also use lettuce to substitute for bread on sandwiches.  Whatever ingredients I would normally put on my sandwich, I just wrap in lettuce instead.  This is great with ham and cheese, turkey, and tuna!  I also find lettuce is one of the easiest things to use as a substitute because there is no additional preparation.

  1. Zucchini

Another one of my favorite substitutes is zucchini.  I love substituting my noodles for zucchini noodles.  In order to do this, it is best if you have a vegetable spiralizer, they are super cheap and easy to find at any grocery store! To use zucchini noodles, I spiralize my zucchini and then I heat it up on the stove for about 2-3 minutes, just enough to heat the zucchini up.  You do not have to actually cook the zucchini so this can actually save you time from having to boil regular noodles.  I find zucchini to be the closest substitutes in taste and texture to regular noodles but I don’t feel bloated after I eat them!  I’ve tried using spaghetti squash for noodles as well but I personally prefer the texture of zucchini because the spaghetti squash is typically more soft and soggy.

  1. Cauliflower

A third substitute is cauliflower.  Cauliflower is a very diverse ingredient and can be used in so many different ways.  My favorite is to make cauliflower rice!  It’s easiest to use a food processor and chop the cauliflower until it turns into small florets.  Once it is all chopped up, you can basically cook it the same way you would cook regular rice.  I love adding some veggies and chicken to make a cauliflower stir fry.  You can also further process the florets until it turns into mashed cauliflower which can act as a substitute for mashed potatoes if you are trying to stay away from those as well. You can also use cauliflower to make so many other things from casseroles to pizza crust!

  1. Avocado

My fourth substitute that I occasionally use is avocado.  I find avocado to be a little less versatile than the other three but great in certain dishes.  My favorite is tuna!  Rather than putting tuna on a sandwich or in lettuce as above, you can also slice an avocado in half and use that instead.  This is a really quick meal that tastes great and is super healthy!  You can also use avocado with chicken salad or to hold bacon and eggs.  I typically do not use avocado as much because there is a pretty short window of time that they stay good and I am not always great at planning ahead, but when I do I love it!
These are the four main substitutes that I use to help me stay away from processed grains.  It can be challenging to not eat bread and noodles because they are often the quickest and easiest things but if you make sure to keep some of these substitutes on hand, it will be much easier for you.  Try experimenting with different ways you can use these four ingredients among others to create healthy and tasty meals!

What are some substitutes that you use?

07 Nov

Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodles

Lemon garlic zucchini noodle recipe, keto zucchini noodles, paleo zucchini noodles

I want to share with you one of my favorite recipes that I cook often.  I love this zucchini recipe because it is the perfect meal for a quick dinner on a busy day and it only takes 10 minutes!  It’s also incredibly healthy and will leave you feeling amazing.  You will want to make sure you have a veggie spiralizer for this recipe to make things simple and easy.

Ingredients

  • 2 large spiralized zucchinis
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  • Make sure you spiralize your Zucchini and I suggest gathering and preparing the rest of your ingredients before you start cooking as it does not take very long.
  • Turn your stove on a middle setting and start heating up your pot.  You can add the olive oil, garlic, and a little sea salt into the pot and stir for about 30 seconds, until the garlic becomes fragrant and starts to turn brown.
  • Add you zucchini noodles and drizzle lemon juice on top.  Stir everything together for about about 1 minute.  You want to coat the noodles with the oil and heat them up, but you do not want to actually cook the noodles or they will turn soggy.
  • Once the noodles are warmed up, sprinkle your Parmesan on top and stir it throughout the dish.
  • Serve your meal!

You can put your own variations on this recipe depending on your time and preferences.  Some wonderful additions are shrimp, sliced ham, or turkey.  And for any vegetarians or vegans, you can add chickpeas or sliced avocado and omit the Parmesan if you would like.  You can also prepare this dish as a side for grilled chicken or sausage.  This lemon garlic zucchini dish is so versatile, you can put any spin you would like on it.

I encourage you to explore some variations of this dish and leave a comment letting me know what you think!  Have fun cooking!