Why Chemical Safety Matters

I am just sick today about the number of cancer diagnosis just within my small group of friends and family lately. I am sick of having to police everything that comes into our house for carcinogens. You know that there is absolutely no requirement for chemical safety testing of what goes into personal care products or cleaning products in the US, right? None. Truly, any chemical can be included for you to rub on your skin or inhale via cleaning. Companies test only enough to make sure that most people don’t see an immediate reaction. They are not required to prove the safety. No long term chemical safety testing. No testing of the cumulative effects over the long term (when small dosages “seem fine”).

I am not dumb enough to believe that legislation will happen to fix this. TCSA reform has been diluted to the point that it will be nearly useless in it’s final form. The chemical companies’ lobby groups have boundless financial resources because they are making so much profit by selling cheap products with dangerous ingredients to all of us. We and our children are the ones who will suffer the effects. I am done with it.

"The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars, as we have done with food."

 

The only way to address the chemical safety issue is to vote with our dollars like we have done with food. We are seeing huge shifts as Kraft, General Mills, Subway, and even McDonalds start to move toward removing artificial ingredients because the consumers starting buying differently, NOT because of legislation.

Guys, we have to start doing this with our personal care products and our cleaning products. Is it fair that we have to monitor the things we buy on our own? No, it isn’t. We deserve for personal care and cleaning product companies to make ALL products from safer ingredients, not cheaper ingredients. We *should* be able to go to Target and buy whatever is on the shelf and not worry. But the only way we can get the companies to change is to change our buying behavior, just like food. It is a long road, but every purchase counts!

It’s not about privilege, it’s about being responsible with the privilege we have, at whatever level we have it. Those of us who can afford to make purchasing changes need to do it on behalf of those who cannot afford it yet, because we want the trickle down effect to be that the inexpensive products eventually become safer too, so that EVERYONE is safer. Think big picture. Think long term. Because the corporations and legislators are not. (and btw, as far as cleaning products, white vinegar and Bon Ami are about the cheapest cleaners there are and also the safest, so those changes can be made very cheaply)

And again, it’s not about being sanctimonious. I hope you all know me well enough to know that I don’t judge what anyone else buys or the different levels of “crunchiness”. Some days I make good choices, myself, and other days I make not-so-great ones. But it’s a journey. It’s about slowly shifting the paradigm. Again, big picture. Not giving up. Keep trying to find replacements that support the change.

Join me?

More info on chemical safety

Sustainable, responsible & functional yoga clothing

NOTE: I worked with Fit Approach on their #pranaSpringStyle campaign on Instagram and received a free prAna top (as shown below) in compensation. I received the top after the challenge was over, and I wrote my original post about the prAna mat more than a year before this. All opinions regarding prAna are my own. Jump directly to my discount code.

As you begin to expand your yoga journey outside the physical poses (asana) of yoga and start to take your mindfulness off of the mat and into your daily life, you might find yourself more aware of what kinds of companies and business practices you are supporting with your purchases. I know that has been a part of my own journey. Not only do I try to invest my clothing dollars in products that are made sustainably, are toxin-free, and whose companies practice environmental responsibility, but the bonus has been that the quality is often higher than cheaper pieces.

I’m currently teaching four yoga classes per week, one Lagree fitness class, and I try to take at least one class from another instructor, so I spend a lot of time in my yoga clothing. I not only practice in it, but I often end up transitioning directly from a class to preschool or elementary school pickup, or to the grocery store. (If you do this a lot too, I do have a DIY tutorial for a coverup skirt you might check out!) But the point is: I am now choosing quality over quantity. I can save up longer and slowly replace my cheaper pieces with longer lasting versions.

One company that has never let me down is prAna. Not only do I recommend their non-toxic rubber yoga mat, but I have loved every single piece of clothing of theirs that I have owned. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a daily yoga challenge celebrating their Spring Style line of clothing and loved the sense of community it built. You can look back on the posts by searching Instagram for the #prAnaSpringStyle hashtag. Here are some of my favorite shots from the challenge:

Well, that final picture was actually taken after the challenge, when I had received my new grey Quinn Jacquard Top from prAna. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it from the picture on the site but it fits wonderfully. It moves with me, doesn’t rub in irritating places, and has full frontal coverage without having to add a sports bra. LOVE. And, it is certified bluesign®, which indicates the highest standard in the textile industry for environmental health and safety and chemical management – it’s a third party certification that prAna pays for, to ensure it’s not just greenwashing.

If you happen to be looking for some high quality, high performance, sustainably & ethically produced activewear you can get 15% off any prAna purchase right now using my code: PSSS16LC

And be sure to keep following myself and prAna on Instagram for challenges, inspiration, and the day-to-day active journey!

Recent thoughts on blogging

BeachWalkingBlogging

Perhaps you have noticed that the spaces between my posts get larger and larger? I’ve enjoyed sharing my tricks, tips, and even my life over the years with my blogging readers. I’ve spoken at Blogger 2013 and this past month at ShiftCon 2015. I have blogging friends, Twitter friends, and most recently, Instagram friends. People that I’ve never met in real life but I have shared important times with, and who encourage and inspire me every day.

Sometimes, truthfully, I hang onto the space just so that I won’t lose those friends. I want to say that I’m a blogger because I want to be with them.

But, truthfully.

As you probably know, I recently completed my yoga teacher training. I am in the midst of a study right now about making space in our lives for the divine, for the holy. In order to properly lead meditation, one must meditate.

With three new yoga classes per week and existing 1-2 Lagree classes to teach, where will this space to meditate and dwell come from?

It will not come from more activity. It will not come when the feeling of “I must do this next…” follows me every time I sit down for a moment.

My kids are growing up so fast. Little Sir just entered kindergarten, and Little Lady just cannot wait to join him. This is my last year at home with her. I cannot believe that he is not with us during the day anymore, and he never will be again. As much as I waited for the day when they would both be in school all day, I am already grieving for the time that is ending.

How will I spend this last year? Will I spend it dashing upstairs to get a blog post finished as they finish dinner? Will I spend it trying to drum up business for sponsored posts? Will I attend Twitter parties instead of putting them to bed at night?

No, my friends, I will not. Not because any of those things are wrong – many women with children enjoy them. I don’t. At least, not anymore.

And while the blogging conferences provided plenty of swag at Christmas time, the money for the travel could just as well have gone toward a family weekend.  And if I don’t spend the money at all, I don’t have to earn it through blogging, either.

I read the piece that Dooce published recently about stepping back from her own blogging. It felt a little bit like the end of an era. So many of the bloggers from those early years are stepping back. Gina of The Feminist Breeder, for example. Others have stepped back for a while and returned full force with new passion, like my friend Charmed Valerie.

Maybe I will be one of those who comes back in a few years with renewed vigor, who knows.

In yoga, we use the term “holding the space “. That phrase has been following me around for a few weeks. It describes the idea of sitting in silence (or even within activity around you) and waiting while something grows or becomes clear. It’s a nonjudgmental place, where there is no right or wrong answer. Just waiting to see what will happen, to understand what should happen.

Readers and friends, will you hold the space for me? I may visit now and then with some thoughts. But I am no longer going to promise to blog regularly.

For now, I am still loving Instagram, where you can find me @consciouslyjenny, and my new love is Periscope, where I am, incongruously, still @_conscientious. Please visit me there!
Love & hugs,

 

Jenny

Where Did My Essential Oil Blog Posts Go? i.e. How I Lost 67% Of My Blog Traffic

Where Are My Essential Oil Blog Posts and Pins? | Living Consciously Blog

So hey, apparently upwards of 20,000 of you used to visit my blog every month from Pinterest for my essential oil recipes. Recipes that I still use literally every single day, multiple times a day. Where did my essential oil blog posts go? Well, I was forced to remove them all from my blog. Not only my own blog posts, but my entire Pinterest board of other peoples’ blog posts, as well any Twitter or personal Facebook posts where I mentioned how I used essential oils or how they work.

For the record, I’ve never really made discernible income from selling essential oils. I published the recipes for literally thousands of visitors to use and fewer than 20 people ever actually bought oils from links on this blog over 3 years. Even when those people bought oils from my site, I only got gift certificates for the purchase of more oils, at a ridiculous percentage like 5% or 10% of their purchase (I don’t even know because it was insignificant. I think the most I ever got was $10. Which required me to buy product to utilize.). When someone “signed up” under me, I got a one-time payment, but only if I had spent enough on product in the last few months, myself. I have had less than 40 people sign up “under” me in 3 years because I have never pushed oils on anyone. I never contacted anyone who signed up “under” me in order to pressure them to buy or sell oils. I also made sure to always post recipes that could be used with any brand of oil, not just the one that I sold.

I offer all these qualifications, not because I owe them to anyone, but because I want you to understand that I was not making money hand-over-fist from this endeavor. The only entity making money from the posts on this blog were the companies who sold the oils. The same company that came to me and told me that they would disconnect my account if I did not remove all these posts.

Not only was I asked to remove the posts on this blog, but also all the Pins of recipes I had pinned on Pinterest from other people’s blogs. You might say, “hey, no one can tell me what to Pin!”. That’s what I thought too, but apparently I was wrong. Because I tried to preserve some of the recipes on the Pinterest board and the company DID disconnect my essential oils account until I had deleted the entire board. All of the saved recipes, gone. So if you followed that board on Pinterest, that’s why you can’t find them anymore.

Why? Because of the FDA. In January 2015, the FDA sent warning letters to the two primary essential oil companies, who are both network marketing organizations {definition}, to alert them that their company representatives were making health claims about oils that are restricted only to drugs in the U.S. You can read the letters here. If you don’t live in the U.S. or aren’t familiar with the way the FDA works, it is an governmental organization that takes craptons of money from large corporations to put it’s stamp of approval on their products saying those products are safe. This organization is responsible for approving such chemicals as trans fats, in which evidence of serious harm built up for nearly 20 years before the organization finally admitted that the substance was clearly toxic. It had to wait that long to say something because it’s primary source of income is from drug companies, most of which sell drugs that combat the effects of trans fats.

Was it ridiculous that some people selling oils were claiming they could cure cancer and ebola? Probably so. There are also plenty of uninformed people out there advocating the misuse of oils without proper dilution, even now. And yes, that kind of abuse should be regulated by someone. But how far is it ok to take this? For example, a “headache” is a symptom of a number of diseases including glaucoma, brain cancers, and migraines. In the U.S., diseases are only allowed to be treated by FDA approved drugs. Only companies that have paid the FDA for review and approval can claim to cure disease. Therefore, according to the FDA, I cannot tell you that essential oils can help your headache, because that is the same as claiming the oils cure cancer or glaucoma (even though that’s not what I said). Because the essential oil companies didn’t pay the FDA for the right to say that.

As a Pinterest user, you’ll find that Pins about essential oils are being deleted from your boards or that the Pins now link to pages that no longer exist. All the recipes are gone, slowly being removed by the bloggers if they want to keep their personal access to the source of the oil.

For now, if you want to use essential oils daily for wellness as I do, my recommendation is to buy an essential oils pocket desk reference (affiliate link), which contains an extensive index of health issues and the appropriate oils and safe usage to treat them, as well as scientific research to back it all up.

I have deleted all references to the brand I use on this blog and also deleted the personal web site portal that I paid the company to allow me to offer the oils for sale directly online. Honestly, I have considered ending my relationship with the company. Right now, that’s still not off the table completely. But as I mentioned, I do use oils literally every day and believe in their effectiveness. I just can’t tell you about that anymore.

Fortunately, I’ve never been an essential oils blogger. This blog is a chronicle of my ongoing journey for health and wellness. It is indeed unfortunate that I am not longer allowed to share this facet of my journey with you. I hope to be following this blog post with another post about what direction I’d like to take with the blog in the future, as the drastic decrease in traffic leaves me with a bit of a challenge. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Green For The Mainstream: I’m speaking at ShiftCon 2015!

Remember ShiftCon social media conference last year?! It was like a huge party of all the people who feel the same way I do about health, wellness, food purity, and low-toxin living. And I have mentioned before that I’ll be going again this year. In fact, I still have ticket discount codes, so if you are considering going, please contact me.

Another reason to attend: I’ll be speaking this year!

I am so excited to be co-hosting a panel with my friend Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama and #CleanCouponing and Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis and Good Morning Google+ fame! Our panel is called Green For The Mainstream and is based on our collective experience working with everyday people who are just starting out on this journey toward cleaner living — in food, beauty products, health, wellness, or cleaning products.

Below is the official summary from the ShiftCon web site, but first I have a question for you: what would YOU, as a consumer, want sustainable brands and companies to know about your journey? How could they help you and what do they do to alienate you that should be changed? Please feel free to tweet me your answer, leave a comment below, or message me on my Facebook page!

~~~

Green For The Mainstream ShiftCon 2015 - I'm Speaking! | Living Consciously Blog

Mainstream America is at a crossroads, with chronic disease on the rise and an urgency to protect the planet like never before. Yet, the mainstream consumer is not necessarily ready to change old habits, even if health and home depend on it.

How do we make green truly work for the mainstream and get beyond trendy ideas to what works in the typical American household?

  • Where could you start on your own journey to live a greener lifestyle?
  • How do you, as a thought leader, respond when your audience is intimidated by change?
  • What resources could help you share?
  • How do you talk to your friends and neighbors about this sometimes touchy topic?
  • How could you bring the conversation to your social media spaces?

The Green for the Mainstream workshop will explore how social media outreach can gently transform old habits into new ones while respecting cultural traditions and limited household budgets. We will speak to the influential role of food in our everyday lives. This session will also cover strategies for reaching local communities with relevant messaging about better products and healthier lifestyles while avoiding elitism.

We will tackle the sometimes controversial topic of big brands entering the green/sustainable/organic market space and how that affects the mainstream consumer. Since many organic brands have been consumed by multinational brands, should you be concerned? We’ll cover some key details to look for when discerning quality products.

Whether you consider yourself light green and want to learn more about the ShiftCon movement without feeling overwhelmed, or whether you consider yourself a strong influencer who is looking for creative ways to reach the mainstream, this workshop is for you.

{excerpt from the ShiftCon web site, read entire description here}

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

NOTE: I was not paid for endorsing the superfood powders mentioned, neither company has any idea who I am. I have just used this type of product for years and find it invaluable. However, the links I include below to purchase the powders are affiliate links, so I get a portion of the sales if you do buy from those links. Thank you!

As I was rushing out the door to my yoga teacher training retreat for 5 days, I wanted to share this recipe with you all and with my husband, who needs the recipe somewhere safe to use for the kids when I’m away! I have been making this smoothie for the past month or so as a sneaky way to get my kids to start the day with superfoods like kale, spinach, spirulina, chia, and wheatgrass. Let’s face it, they would reject a green smoothie first thing in the morning. So this is a sneaky superfood chocolate smoothie. You can add nut butter as indicated below to make it a peanut butter chocolate flavor, or leave it out and have more pure chocolate.

My secret ingredient is a chocolate superfood powder. You have to get one that does not taste terrible. And you would think that would be easy, but it’s not. I have tried dozens of kinds and my favorites are Amazing Grass and Garden of Life Raw chocolate superfood powders. Both have a protein shake version, but that’s not what I am using here. Neither superfood powder has any sugar in them and both can be found locally at your Sprouts or Whole Foods or Natural Grocer or online at Thrive Market (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life), Vitacost (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life), or Amazon (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life). If you need discount codes for Thrive or Vitacost, please contact me via my Facebook Page and I can send them to you!

The most unusual thing that I do with this smoothie is add oatmeal. I started doing this when my daughter began refusing pretty much anything I offered for breakfast. If you are grain-free or doing this in addition to other things eaten at breakfast and it is too filling, you can leave out the oatmeal. But it is very important that you blend the oatmeal and chia seeds into a fine powder in the blender first, before adding other ingredients. If you blend everything together, the smoothie with be thick and lumpy. I’ve forgotten that step before and my kids wouldn’t eat it. See photos below.

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie (kid approved) | Living Consciously Blog

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

Step 1

1/2 cup oats (buy gluten-free oats here)

1 tsp. chia seeds (buy here)

STOP HERE AND BLEND INTO A POWDER.
It will look something like this:

Superfood Smoothie Oatmeal Chia Seeds | Living Consciously Blog

Step 2

1 cup frozen bananas (if using room temperature bananas, definitely add the optional ice, below)

2 scoops chocolate superfood powder (see above paragraph for where to buy)

3/4 cup chocolate hazelnut milk (buy here or at Whole Foods)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbsp peanut butter, nut butter, or PB2 – optional (buy PB2 here)

1/2 cup ice – optional, will make your smoothie thicker

 

Put the rest of the ingredients from Step 2 into your blender and blend everything on high until smooth and thinned out enough to pour and drink easily. In my Vitamix this takes almost a minute on high.

If you let it sit too long, the chia seeds will absorb the moisture and the smoothie will become a “thickie”! Serve to your children or yourself immediately!

 

You might also like:

How to Juice with a Vitamix
My Green Smoothie Guidelines
Saving Money on Organic & GMO-Free Groceries

Taking small bites: Ask Quaker to stop funding GMO Labeling opposition

What to elephants and GMO labeling efforts have in common? | Living Consciously Blog

Have you ever heard the old proverb about how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

OK, so elephants are majestic and in some religions, even sacred, so we wouldn’t really eat an elephant. But you know what most of us probably do eat regularly? Oats. If you are someone who consumes grains, this is a major one. Quaker is a company that made it’s name known by selling oatmeal, something most Americans ate nearly every day a generation ago. Now that they are owned by Pepsico, they are one of the largest corporate influencers in politics. Many of us have actually moved away from their oats since they do not currently have a gluten-free version. As a company, Quaker has also moved on to many other products like cereal bars, sugary snacks, and processed foods with little to no nutritional value. Away from where most of us reading this blog are probably headed.

The fact is, Quaker/Pepsico has significant political and monetary influence in the U.S. And right now, they are using that influence to fund anti-labeling effort for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organizations like Just Label It are working to convince our lawmakers to give every American the right to know what is in their food, while companies like Quaker/Pepsico are throwing a huge amount of resources toward keeping us in the DARK — read more about the DARK Act currently being debated by our legislators here. It’s intimidating how much more funding is on the anti-labeling side of this fight. It’s such a large disparity that it’s easy to get discouraged. What can we do as individuals? We don’t have millions of dollars to make our voices heard!

Back to the elephant. What we can do is work hard to convince corporations to stop funding the anti-labeling legislation. Maybe we can’t convince every corporate entity. But we can approach one corporation at a time with an ask, and we can keep asking until they respond.

The facts: The vast majority of Americans (92 percent) support mandatory GMO labeling and want to know what’s in their food according to a recent Consumer Reports national survey.

We want large food companies to stop blocking our right to know through the DARK Act or other anti-mandatory labeling initiatives. We also want to call upon Congress and the FDA to institute mandatory GMO labeling.

How: Go to www.JustLabelIt.org to ask Quaker to:

1) Publicly support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs

2) Stop funding anti-mandatory labeling efforts

3) Stand up against the DARK Act

The Vision: Working together, we will hold food companies accountable for refusing to support mandatory FDA labeling of GMOs, expose their contributions to anti-mandatory labeling efforts, and show overwhelming support for mandatory labeling. Consumers will know that GMOs have dramatically increased the use of probably carcinogenic herbicides and will be able to choose foods with all the information they deserve.

On the positive side: to support companies that are actively contributing money from their bottom line to promote GMO labeling, buy from this list.

Will you join us?

 

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic - deciphering marketing speak to find a safe yoga mat | Living Consciously Blog

Over the past month, I have been on the search for a new yoga mat to take with me on retreat to complete my 225 yoga teacher training. For the past year, I’ve been using the prAna Indigena natural rubber mat (affiliate link), which I love! Barely any slipping. But, because it is all rubber, it is 7 lbs. Not ideal for squeezing into a carryon in a plane. And we’ll be sitting on the mat during our classroom times, instead of a chair. The prAna is 3-4mm thick, which is fine for my regular practice (I don’t need cushioning), but I wanted to move up to a 5mm thickness for the retreat.

Unfortunately, I’ve found the process of buying a toxin-free yoga mat fraught with difficulties, primarily in the form of deceptive marketing language. Sure, if you search Amazon or Google for “eco-friendly yoga mat”, you’ll come up with plenty of options. Or what companies present as viable options. But how do you really know if your yoga mat is toxic or not?

The phrase “eco-friendly” in the description of a yoga mat does NOT mean it is free of toxins

Here is a list of things that I have found companies to claim as eco-friendly in yoga mats:

  • uses PVC, but was manufactured within EPA standards for emissions at the plant
  • part or all of the mat will biodegrade (eventually)
  • eco-friendly manufacturing processes
  • doesn’t use 6 of the highest-toxin phthalates banned by the EU (which are NOT banned in the US)
  • marketing copy attaches the word “natural” to materials such as “polyurethane”
  • uses the phrase “eco-friendly” but does not disclose the materials of which the mat is composed AT ALL

Can you see what is wrong with each of these?? It’s possible that none of these mats are actually toxin-free!  It’s all marketing speak that means nothing. I will outline the problems with each of these bullet points.

Eco-friendly manufacturing processes. A phrase that could mean anything. It could mean that they recycle the trash in their break room. It could mean that they use low-flow toilets at the manufacturing plant. Or that they have an LEED-certified building. It could ideally mean that the plant producing the mats disposes of waste properly. That would be nice. However, “proper” disposal of chemicals does not equal ethical or environmentally friendly — remember that it is often perfectly legal to dump your toxic sludge into ponds and lakes as long as you have the proper permits. There is a huge amount of leeway in the claim of eco-friendly manufacturing, so much that it literally means nothing to me when making the decision to purchase the mat or not.

Biodegradable mat. There’s also a lot of wiggle room here because the most common phrase is “biodegradable components”. Meaning that only a percentage of the components used in the mat might be biodegradable. It might be 10%, 20% or even 50%. And perhaps it’s 100% — great! But I still want to know what chemicals the surface contains, regardless of whether they biodegrade.

Of course I want to buy a mat that is environmentally responsible in both manufacturing process and when it comes to the end-of-life of the mat (i.e., I want it to be fully biodegradable without leeching toxins in the breakdown process). But equally or more important is avoiding toxic chemicals coming off the mat when I’m using it.

PVC free. Definitely something I look for, but unless the company discloses what the mat IS made of, it’s not enough. The most common alternatives to PVC in a yoga mat are polyurethane (a highly off-gassing plastic, see the paragraph about phthalates, below), or Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs). TPE is a blanket term for any number of materials.  Here is a breakdown of all the materials that fall under the name TPE, including some forms of PVC! So just because the mat claims to be PVC-free doesn’t actually mean that it is. Even if the TPE’s used are PVC-free, they are wide open to contain plastics with phthalates.

Free of the Big 6 phthalates. Phthalates are a big deal to me because they are hormone disrupting chemicals. They are most often inhaled through the off-gassing of plastics, because most plastic contains chemical phthalates for softness and flexibility. Throughout the lifetime of a plastic, the surface constantly releases these chemicals as the material slowly breaks down. Plastics are not stable chemical products — you may have noticed that plastic becomes more brittle as it ages, due to the phthalates leaching out as the chemicals return to their original states. The phthalates released from plastics are not only inhaled, but also absorbed by the skin. The feet have the most pores in the body, and our feet are in constant contact with a yoga mat. So avoiding phthalates in your yoga mat is VERY IMPORTANT!

There are hundreds of chemicals in the phthalate family. The EU has identified 6 phthalates that pose such a severe risk that they have been banned in EU countries. They have not been banned in the US. While it’s definitely a positive step for a company to make a mat without the top 6 most toxic phthalates, it doesn’t mean they didn’t use the hundreds of other phthalates available. So the marketing tactic of avoiding the Big 6 is really not enough to protect our health on the mat.

In the end, I have come back to the conclusion that I came to when I bought my current mat several years ago: the only truly non-toxic mat is one that is made of pure natural rubber. The prAna Indigena mat is one option, but the other mats prAna makes, including the E.C.O. mat, are not rubber. The not-so-E.C.O. is made of TPE’s and the prAna site contains no information regarding what components the company chose to use, whether PVC or phthalates or synthetic rubber.

I have finally settled on a Manduka eKo Lite mat, which I have experienced at the studio where I practice. It is all rubber but a tad lighter (~ 1-2 lbs lighter) than my current mat. It is, unfortunately, about the same thickness. I will definitely be bringing my grippy yoga towel (affiliate link) to sit on, and looking for another one at local stores.

What yoga mat to do you use and why? Do you know what your mat is made of?
 

DIY Sports Skirt & Leggings coverup from an old t-shirt

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings Coverup, #reuse an old t-shirt | Living Consciously Blog

Let’s get straight to the point here: I teach or take fitness classes almost all week long. I usually pack my classes in while my kids are in preschool or at home with my husband, and since those are the only kid-free time periods that I have, I often run quick errands either right before or right after class. While I agree that leggings are not pants from a style perspective, I do happen to still be dressed for Lagree fitness or yoga at those times. As an instructor, I have strong opinions about the type of workout pants that I chose, but that is a subject for another post. Suffice to say, baggy pants are not a good idea, either from a participant or an instructor’s standpoint. I wear workout leggings that provide compression, support, moisture wicking, and do not get in the way of twisting, flexing, and moving. So leggings as pants it is, at least when I go grocery shopping at Whole Foods after class on my way home.

During the winter months, I am more than happy to slip some warmup pants over my leggings for extra warmth, but when I have tried that in the Texas summers (110 degrees most of the time), I felt like I was suffocating within the first few minutes, and that was in the air conditioning! Attempting to be in a car that had been sitting in the sun for 2 hours was just right out of the question wearing 2 pairs of pants. I’m already carrying snacks, water bottle, yoga mat, grocery bags, even a cooler on some days. So carrying a whole extra change of clothes is equally out of the question. And why would I put on clean clothes when I’m all sweaty from class or when I’ll just have to change when I get to the studio? For the past several years there has just been no solution to the leggings-as-pants dilemma for me.

As I was cleaning out some old workout clothes last week, I came across several old fitted t-shirts. They were in good shape and fairly neutral colors. I had been drooling over this yoga skirt on Etsy but hadn’t pulled the trigger yet because I wasn’t sure of the logistics. The skirt doesn’t have a waistband and relies on tucking the top of it into your leggings or yoga pants. How would that even work?

I was willing to try cutting up the old t-shirts to try and make a DIY sports skirt and leggings coverup. Here is what I did.

Supplies:

Old t-shirt (see optional step below if it is wider than your hips)

Sewing machine, thread

Scissors

Something to use for a drawstring

 

Step 1: Cut right below the armpits to make a tube with the bottom already hemmed.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 1, cutting | Living Consciously Blog

Note: I chose a shirt with very little design. If your shirt does have a design and you don’t want it, you might try turning the shirt inside-out and re-hemming the sides from the other direction. That could be handy anyway if your skirt needs to be narrowed to fit your hips.

Optional next step: The ideal width for this t-shirt tube is the width of the widest part of your hips. So again, you might want to re-hem to make it more narrow. I didn’t have to do it with this t-shirt because it was so narrow already.

Step 2: Turn the waistband under. Try it on at this point and look in a mirror, holding it up with your hands. You want the bottom of the skirt to hit just below your rear end. If you go to far down the upper leg, it just looks weird. You might have to cut more off the top to make it the right length. If you are a fancy sewing person, you can use pins to pin stuff here. But t-shirts are very good at holding shape and you probably don’t even need pins!

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 2, folding waist for hemming | Living Consciously Blog

I turned mine under a little asymmetrically to allow for my rear end. If you have a rear end, you might want to do this too. My angle is not as severe as this picture looks, though, because I am actually just a terrible fashion and sewing photographer.

Step 3: Hem the waistband, leaving a gap for the drawstring. I took several pictures of this because again, not a sewing photographer.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, waistband and drawstring | Living Consciously Blog

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, closer shot of waistband and drawstring opening | Living Consciously BlogStep 4: String the drawstring through the tube you made, using the gap you left.

DONE!

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings CoverUp Final product | Living Consciously Blog
Completed sports skirt leggings coverup. I am staring off into the distance not only because I am so impressed by the skirt but also because when I smiled for this picture it looked really weird and creepy.

Super easy and fast! It definitely took me longer to try to take pictures of this process and the finished product than it took for me to make the skirt.

Other optional steps might include tapering the waist (this would be done before Step 3. I didn’t do it in my first skirt, but I’ll do it on subsequent skirts).

I’ll try to update this post with pictures of future skirts, if you make one from this tutorial, I’d love to see it – post it on Instagram and tag me!

Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in a Bread Machine

We’ve had great success reducing my son’s food intolerances through naturopathy, but he is still a little sensitive to both wheat and dairy. For some reason, his body CAN process white flour much more easily than whole wheat, although I’ll always go with the gluten-free version of things, if I can. Recently, I read this article about why non-organic flour might cause more inflammation than conventionally produced wheat flour. I am not sure if those two are linked in his case, but they could be.

I make all our own bread, for the most part. I rarely buy bread. For my husband and I and my daughter, I typically make a variation of my fluffy wheat bread. But for my son, I alter the recipe a little and make low gluten bread in my bread machine to address his gluten intolerance, which is different than an allergy. At first, I was frustrated by how flat and dense the bread typically came out. Then, after a conversation with my mom about the chemistry of gluten free cooking, I revised it a little to include vanilla extract. Perfect! Now I get fluffy bread nearly every time!

The trick with this bread is actually allowing the yeast to grow a little in the machine before baking. This is a big “no-no” with bread machines, typically, but in this recipe it works! I promise!

Important for cooler temperatures/climates: I made this recipe for the first time since it got cooler here in Texas (in the 60’s, woo hoo!) and the yeast did not work as it did during the summer. I ruined an entire loaf. The yeast should be frothy and bubbly after 10 minutes.
TIP: Warming the bread machine’s inner container in the oven for a few minutes before putting the warm water and yeast inside has helped a lot in the cooler months (or when the temperature inside the house is below 72 degrees).

Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in a bread machine | Living Consciously Blog

Low Gluten Bread

First:

1 cup of water, warmed (not hot)
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. yeast (regular, not fast-rising)

Second:

1 tsp. gluten free vanilla extract (affiliate link)
1/4 cup oil (safflower, non-GMO canola – affiliate links)
1 cup pre-mixed gluten free flour (affiliate link)
2 cups organic white flour
1/2 tbsp. salt

1. Add all items listed in the “First” list to the bread machine canister. Let sit for 10 minutes or longer. Yeast should bubble up like this:

Low Gluten Bread Yeast

2. Add vanilla and then oil (shown in picture, above).

3. Add the flours and then the salt.

4. I set my machine for the White Bread setting. It should come out nice and fluffy, like this!

Fresh Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in the Machine

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I get a portion of the sales if you buy using the links to Vitacost. I always label my affiliate links and relationships. I appreciate your support of my blog – thank you!