Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow at home. You can grow many different varieties too. They do well if you plant them in the spring or early summer. Be sure to give them plenty of water and sunshine, and a trellis or dowel for support once they grow large enough. They can bear fruit for 4-6 months. Tomatoes go great with pretty much everything. You can eat them raw on a sandwich, you can chop them up in a salad, or you can use them to make your own sauces! They are an excellent source of nutrients like vitamins A and C, and also lycopene, which is a phytonutrient thought to be very beneficial because of its antioxidant activity.
Green beans need warmth to grow properly, this makes them a great vegetable to grow in Texas! They need a little room in a planter to spread out once leaves have started to form, but they don’t require a lot of heavy maintenance other than routine watering. Green beans are best planted in minimal soil depth, with about eight inches between each seed. This gives the plants room to spread out and grow. Green beans are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. These are delicious steamed, on salads, or even just raw.
Bell peppers are extremely versatile and are a great go-to healthy snack option. Peppers can easily grow in a shallow bed or pot, but need a support it can latch onto once it has matured (we use a quarter inch dowel anchored in the soil at my house). Peppers enjoy sunlight, but also require the soil to be moist until the first seedling pops up from the ground. One plant will provide many peppers, and can even give you a variety of colors. Peppers are a great source of vitamin C and fiber. They add flavor to every dish you use them in and are especially great in sauces.
Herbs are a great way to begin practicing your gardening skills. They grow quickly and don’t require a lot of care. They also can transform the flavor of a dish without adding additional salt, sugar or fat. Having fresh herbs around is wonderful! They can also be harvested and hung to dry. This is a great way to save money by making your own dried ground herbs for cooking. Another great thing about gardening your own herbs is that you can plant many in one box because they don’t require a lot of space. Ones that grow well here include dill, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, and sage, oregano, parsley, mint, and chives.
If you aren’t interested in cultivating your own garden, there are many cities that have community gardens. San Marcos itself has a garden that allows members to use plots in exchange for a small fee and for volunteer hours spent tending to the garden. In return, members have access to the produce they cultivate in that garden. There exist similar programs in San Antonio and Austin too! Follow the link for more information about community gardening in San Marcos
The Tough Mudder Central Texas is almost here!
The Tough Mudder Half, May 14th
The Tough Mudder, May 21st
The acute stress response, also referred to as the "fight or flight" response, is a physiological reaction that occurs when we perceive some type of threat. Most people in our society do not face immediate threats to their safety or survival in their daily lives, but this stress response is so hardwired into us that it can be triggered by even the most mundane occurrences. Running late for an important meeting? Feeling nervous before a big presentation? Experience a conflict with a co-worker, friend or family member? Another driver cut you off in traffic? These are just a few examples of acute stress triggers. The response originates primarily in our sympathetic nervous system, resulting in increased respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, increased blood flow to muscles, and suppressed immune response and digestion, among other things. Have you ever felt anxious or angry and noticed your heart pounding, feeling flushed or pale, or even shaking hands? These are symptoms of acute stress response. Our bodies are reacting in a way that is intended to fuel the physical challenges of escape or defense, but what happens when our circumstances require us to do neither?
When our stress response goes unresolved, so to speak, our bodies remain on high alert. Stress hormones, namely adrenaline and cortisol, remain high and many of the physiological changes listed above, which would have normalized quickly, instead linger sometimes up to hours later. Consider this heightened state, day in and day out. Increased heart rate and blood pressure can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Chronic high cortisol levels can interfere with glucose regulation, leading to in increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and make it harder for us to metabolize fat. Suppressed digestion can lead to gastrointestinal troubles. Neurochemical imbalances can lead to anxiety and depression, and suppressed immunity just makes us, well....sicker. You could easily argue that stress is one of the biggest threats to our overall health. But how can eliminate stress? Sometimes, we can't....not entirely. But there are a number of things that we can do to fight it! Many are clinically proven to be effective at reducing the negative effects of chronic stress.
1- We can exercise. This may sound counter-intuitive, since the physical demands of exercise temporarily increase adrenaline and cortisol levels. But the key word is "temporarily". Afterward, levels tend to return to normal, which is probably part of why many people report feeling "less stressed" after working out. Think of it this way: your body was primed for a physical challenge, give it one! You're likely to feel more relaxed when you're done. (Not to mention, exercise releases endorphins, the "happy hormones" that boost our mood. Take that, stress!)
2- Practice yoga/meditation. This one sounds too obvious, doesn't it? But studies indicate that it really works! And it doesn't have to be the deeply spiritual variety either. Emphasizing breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can begin reversing the actions of the stress response, reducing heart rate and blood pressure and helping return the body to homeostasis.
3- We can LAUGH! Laughter is good medicine. A good laugh also releases endorphins, improving our mood and aiding in muscle relaxation. The positive thoughts associated with laughter actively reduce the stress response, on a psychological and chemical level. So keep a backstock of good jokes on hand for those especially stressful days.
4- Get enough sleep. Six or fewer hours of sleep a night can contribute to high levels of stress hormones, so be sure to make time for those zzz's. A good night's rest is the body's reset button!
5- Connect with others. Feeling connected with others in a meaningful way is another one of those endorphin triggers, and physical touch releases oxytocin, which kicks a lot of stress symptoms to the curb by promoting feelings of calm, contentment, and security.
6- Treat yourself to a massage*. This one is right up there with yoga and meditation. Too simple? Several studies have shown that massage therapy effectively reduces cortisol, and increases seratonin and dopamine production.
*New to massage therapy, or don't have a local practitioner? Total Wellness members may receive a new client discount of $20 off their first massage with Alisha Berber, LMT at Lucky Leaf Massage!
As always, consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine. Connect with our friendly, supportive staff if you have any questions about the services we offer. Keep calm and Total Wellness on!