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Monthly Archives

June 2014

7 DIY Mosquito Bite Remedies

mosquito bite remedies

Ah, mosquito bites. How my disdain for you will never cease. The itching and swelling brought on by these lovely little monsters can easily turn a relaxing summer’s day into pure torture. Pure. Torture. Despite countless layers of bug spray, there is always one lucky son-of-gun that is just out to get us! Go pick on someone your own size, mosquitos! Since the mosquitos probably won’t be reading that last message, let me provide you lovely readers with 7 DIY mosquito bite remedies to cure that mosquito bite hangover.

mosquito bite remedies

DIY Mosquito Bite Remedies:

 1. Ice

AKA instant satisfaction. If you just can’t bare to look at that swollen, itchy bite 1 minute longer, walk run to your nearest freezer. Apply an ice cold cube to the bite. The ice reduces swelling and numbs the pain. Most importantly, the ice significantly reduces that itching sensation caused by the release of histamines from the bite.

2. Witch Hazel

This summer essential is perfect for all types of summer hazards! The amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-itch attributes of witch hazel make it the perfect astringent for mosquito bites. Plus, the cooling effect will feel AMAZING. Dampen a face cloth with the witch hazel and apply the cloth to the bite for 10-15 minutes. I prefer to use face cloths rather than cotton balls or toilet paper because it lasts longer and makes for much easier for application.

3. Honey

If you don’t mind getting a little sticky, try applying a dab or two of raw honey to the bite. This will reduce inflammation as well as provide antibacterial properties. If you REALLY want to curb the itching apply a fresh bandaid over the honey. This will prevent you from itching and keep the sticky honey away from your clothes.

mosquito bite remedies

4.Tea Tree Oil

This magnificent oil works wonders in preventing the spread of bacteria while keeping itching and inflammation at bay. Add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer or apply directly to the bite. If you have sensitive skin, I’d recommend diluting the Tea Tree Oil with a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. For extra protection, try mixing Tea Tree Oil with Peppermint Oil or Lemongrass Oil to effectively repel the mosquitos.

5. Aloe Vera

Applying soothing aloe vera gel is one of my all-time favorite remedies. The cool gel provides instant relief from those pesky mosquito bites. Keep a bottle handy in the fridge for immediate, cool relief!

mosquito bite remedies

6. Baking Soda

This unlikely remedy is the perfect cure for mosquito bites. The alkalinity of the baking soda decreases the size of the bump while reducing the itch. Simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water. Apply the mixture to the bump and reap the rewards!

7. Oatmeal 

When it comes to skincare, oatmeal is amazing! Treating mosquito bites with oatmeal is no different. By soaking in an oatmeal bath, you will soothe the itch and reduce redness and swelling. To make your own bath, simply grind a few cups of oats into a powder. Add the oatmeal powder to a warm bath and soak for as long as you’d like!

 

What are your favorite mosquito bites remedies? Comment below!

PEACE, LOVE & COCONUTS!

-Zeena

How Many Meals Should You Eat a Day?

How Many Meals Should You Eat

How many meals should you eat a day? This is a question that I’m sure many people have asked themselves at some point or another.

The quick answer is that it does NOT matter. Three, four, five, or six meals makes no difference to maintaining a healthy lifestyle or for weight loss.

Here’s what you should know:

– Eating more frequently doesn’t increase your metabolism – Eating 3 larger meals doesn’t make you gain weight or slow your metabolism An article published in the New York Times discusses this idea that there is no difference between 3 or 6 meals when it comes to our body’s metabolism. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/health/23really.html) With that in mind… The decision on how many meals to eat per day really comes down to lifestyle and personal preference. Regardless of the number of meals you eat, make sure you…

1)     Stay within YOUR calorie range, don’t over eat or under eat

2)     Don’t go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating

  • Don’t wait until you are on the brink of starvation bc then you may end up overeating
  •  Don’t skip meals

3)     Eat when you are hungry – stop when you are satisfied, not full or stuffed. 4) Slow down when you eat – your body takes time to register that it is satisfied so your stomach may be physically content (has enough food), but your brain hasn’t registered that yet, so if you slow down, take your time, chew and enjoy the food, it allows your brain to catch up. You may just stop eating mid-meal because you are satisfied. whereas if you wolf it down, 20 minutes later you may suddenly feel overstuffed. 5) Meals should have the right balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats)

What is boils down to is this…

Follow these guidelines and whatever number of meals that equals out to for you is fine:

  • If you hate the idea of not feeling full then more frequent, smaller meals will leave you unsatisfied, opt for larger, less frequent meals.
  • If you hate feeling full or hate any sort of bloating associated with eating somewhat larger meals, then maybe smaller meals, more frequently might be better for you
  • If your lifestyle isn’t well suited for getting several chances to eat throughout the day, then you should opt for fewer meals during the day.
  • If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, (always on the go), smaller more frequent meals may be the way to go.

Eating late at night doesn’t make a difference, as long as you don’t go over you total number of required calories. “Skipping” breakfast doesn’t matter either. What is important is that you do what works for you, I hear some people say that they hate eating early in the morning, I am one of them, it makes me sick to my stomach. So I will eat 2 -3 hours after I wake up. For others, breakfast to be the first thing they do after waking. Again whats important is that you don’t go over the total number of calories that you require per day. More likely than not, you’ve heard that people who skip breakfast end up becoming extremely hungry and they overeat at the next meal because of this. This isn’t always the case, take me for example, I’m fine not eating first thing in the morning, however,  If you are someone who may overeat if you don’t eat your first meal of the day immediately after waking, then it’s a good idea to eat something in the morning.

It may take some experimentation, but remember, you have to figure out what works best for you given your lifestyle and preferences. This is a journey!

How many meals do YOU eat a day? ~ Letisha

Men: 6 Things You’re Missing That Could Improve Your Overall Health

improve your overall health

Brown & Coconut would like to welcome fitness professional Matthew Ibrahim, who’s chock full of fitness knowledge that EVERYONE needs to know! Read on for his fabulous fitness tips & tricks. You’ll be glad you did…


Hi, my name is Matthew Ibrahim. My passion is helping you move better, and I specialize in bridging the gap between rehabilitation and performance.

Matthew Ibrahim

I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Currently, I work as a rehabilitation aide at the Bay State Physical Therapy clinic in Arlington, where I have spent the last three years gaining a deeper appreciation for the human body and how it was meant to move and function. In addition to my therapeutic background, I also have a passion for the field of performance, and I’ve been able to tie the two together by working as a strength and conditioning performance coach at the Vantedge Performance center in Woburn. During the upcoming fall I will be applying to Doctor of Physical Therapy programs in order to eventually become licensed to treat and heal patients, athletes and the average weekend warrior.

I’m a huge advocate of continued learning and helping others optimize their true level of performance by meeting and exceeding each of their goals. Please feel free to reach me by email at matthew.ibrahim001@gmail.com and check out my free Mobility 101 blog to learn more.

Today, I’d like to touch on some topics related to men and what they aren’t doing enough of, in terms of their overall health and wellness. Yes, you heard that right, fellas. There are things you’re missing that could improve your overall health.

Here’s your chance to step it up a notch!

Let’s go:

6 Things That Could Improve Your Overall Health

1) Push-Ups

I often see a ton of guys in the gym primarily focusing on benching their way to the ‘promised land’ of increased chest size and definition. Don’t get me wrong – bench pressing is a great tool to add into any workout program. However, by adding a variation of push-ups into your workout routine, in concert with your benching, you’ll have the ability to target all of the different muscle fibers and muscle groups in the chest and shoulder areas that benching alone can’t hit. For starters, try these three push-up variations:

  • Push-Up with One-Arm Raise

push-up in the down position yes

Down Position

push-up in down the position

Up Position

  • Yoga Pike Push-Up

push-up in the down position yes improve your overall health

Down Position

push-up with the yoga pike up

Up Position

  • Push-Up with Feet on Wall

push-up feet on wall in the down position yes

Down Position

 

push-up feet on wall in the up position

Up Position

2) Recovery

I could go on a long journey with this one, but suffice to say that I don’t see enough men devoting adequate time to the recovery aspect of training: mobility drills, movement preparation prior to lifting, static stretching post-lift, and soft tissue work in the form of foam rolling and lacrosse ball rolling.

These recovery drills and mobility fillers are a monumental ingredient to the overall recipe that is health and wellness. If you’re trying to increase the weight in any of your lifts and if you’re trying to increase range of motion in any of your joints, than you’ll undoubtedly need to start incorporating recovery drills, mobility fillers and stretching.

Recovery is one of the most important aspects of training that often goes overlooked. To put it in better terms, if you just purchased a brand new Ferrari, wouldn’t you constantly take care of it in order to keep it clean and also free from scratches and dents? Well, why don’t you treat your body the same way? You only get one body, so treat it right.

Here are a few recovery and mobility techniques that I use on a daily basis to ensure consistent quality movements for later on when I’m lifting weights and also during any function of my life:

  • Feet — At the beginning and end of every day, try rolling out the bottom of your feet and heel with either a tennis or lacrosse ball. The goal here is to roll out for 45 seconds per foot. You’ll notice a markedly improved awareness between your body and the ground, along with helping to loosen up some of the tissues of your feet that go through a pounding each day.
  • Hips — You can add the 1/2 Kneeling Quad/Hip Flexor Couch Stretch as a mobility filler during your workout in between strength movements, at the end of your workout as a form of recovery, and even at the end of a long day at work, especially if you sit in a chair for the majority of the day. This stretch does a wonderful job of increasing your range of motion and opening up the anterior aspect of your hips and lower abdominal region. If you’re in the crowd that sits at work all day, than this stretch is even more important for your long-term lower back health. Tight hips eventually lead to lower back problems. Address the problem early though, and your spine will thank you later. The goal here will be to perform the stretch for 2 rounds of 30 second holds per side. When the right leg is in front with the right foot down, you’re stretching the left hip. At this point, you’ll want to actively engage the left glute muscle in order to get deeper into the stretch for the anterior aspect of the left hip. You’ll want to repeat this for the right side as well.
  • Mid-Upper Back (Thoracic Spine) — Pick up a foam roller from Perform Better and start using it to roll out and extend your mid-upper back (thoracic spine) region, especially if you’re someone who sits in a poor “stooped-over” posture throughout the day. This will help to open up the tiny little segments in your spine, which will ultimately lead to a better posture and a better feeling back. You can also add this one in pre-workout, during your workout, and even after your workout. The goal here is to roll on the foam roller from your mid-back to your upper-back, and then back to your mid-back. This equals 1 repetition. You’ll want to perform 8 total repetitions. Once those are complete, find an area in between your mid- and upper-back that is especially tight. Pin it down and raise your elbows up in front of your face with your hands next to your ears, but do not grab your head or neck. The point here is to clear some space on your spine to give the foam roller more room to work with. Once everything is set in place, slowly extend back while keeping a gentle chin-tuck (neutral cervical spine), followed by slowly coming back to the starting position. Keep performing this extension pattern for 5 total repetitions. As a side note, a chin-tuck (neutral cervical spine) means that you’ll want to keep your neck straight in line with the rest of your spine, all the way to your hips. Imagine when you are nodding ‘yes’ to someone. Let’s take 10% of that range of motion that you used from top to bottom of the nod. Now, use that 10% to gently nod down and go into a nice neutral cervical spine (i.e., chin-tuck). This position should not be aggressive or strenuous. It should be very subtle.
  • Here is a video demonstrating all three recovery drills:

3) Vitamin D and Fish Oil Supplements

Unless you’re living in an area that provides a hefty amount of sun each day throughout the year, you’ll want to start adding some Vitamin D supplements into your diet. Research has proven that men in particular simply don’t get enough sunlight and that they are showing a large deficiency in Vitamin D. That’s pretty important, especially since low levels of Vitamin D are connected to heart disease and cancer. I recommend taking a look at brands such as Nature Made and Athletic Greens that carry this product.

If your diet includes fish and seafood with high contents of omega-3 fatty acids throughout the week on at least 3-4 days, then you’re in a good position. However, if that’s not the case, than I suggest you look into adding some fish oil supplements on a daily basis. Even if you’re someone who eats fish regularly, I still recommend adding in the fish oil supplements in order to ensure a proper amount in your diet. Not only is fish oil imperative to increasing overall brain functioning and efficiency, but it can also help in decreasing body fat, improving skin quality and also in increasing the rate of recovery after exercise. Take a look at brands such as Athletic Greens and Nordic Naturals for high quality fish oil supplements.

4) Reading

Are you ever in a group conversation and find yourself guessing at some of the words being used? Yup, I’ve been there too. Not only does reading help to facilitate a greater toolbox of verbiage, it also enhances your intellectuality, broadens your social awareness and improves your cognitive skills.

Reading can go a long way in increasing the health of your brain functioning by constantly providing the thought-provoking stimulus that nurtures learning. Select a topic that interests you most and start plugging away. Here are a few books that I recommend taking a look at:

5) Trying New Things

Most people, and men in particular, seem to ‘know it all’ and are set in their ways. I get it — you like the way you do things and are comfortable with your routine. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but it doesn’t hurt to extend your branches and to try new things. Who knows, you might even learn something along the way.

Here are a few new things I’ve started trying over the past couple years that have helped me become a better overall person:

  • Cooking — Every human should learn the basic skill of cooking and preparing food. Work with what you have. You don’t need to be a chef to cook. You just need to love food and to have the options available to you. Be creative and have fun with it. Here are some examples of the aftermath of when I storm into the kitchen:
spanish-rizzoto improve your overall health

Spanish Rizzoto

chicken-broccoli-asian

Asian Chicken & Broccoli

surf-and-turf

Surf and Turf

  • Yoga — I don’t need to win you over with this one. Yoga is one of the oldest forms of physical practice that has stood the test of time. Along with being restorative and soothing, yoga is also beneficial in the following areas: mobility, flexibility, balance, proprioception and awareness.
  • New Foods  Your palate changes over time, so the food you didn’t enjoy at a young age is probably much tastier now. I didn’t even know what broccoli was when I was 4 years old. Now, I try to eat broccoli every day. (As a side note, I refer to broccoli as ‘little green trees’. Yes, that’s how much I love broccoli).

6) Fun Cardio

When was the last time you heard someone brag about how intense their cardio session was yesterday at the gym? Crickets. Everyone I talk to always mentions a distance or volume of time in relation to what they performed for cardio. No one ever discusses at which intensity they trained at. I suggest looking into purchasing a Polar watch that displays and records your heart rate so that you can gauge it during your conditioning. Once you get used to it, you can start playing around with different intensities (i.e., heart rates) and create your own zones of training. Keep a record of your heart rates, so that the next time around you can crush your previous score on that same conditioning circuit.

No more boring treadmill running for hours on-end. You can now mix it up with a variety of other ‘cardio’ options. I prefer using the term ‘Energy Systems Development (ESD)’ over plain cardio. Why? In addition to improving our cardiovascular endurance and strength, ESD also taxes all areas of our energy tank when we’re pushing the limits and adding in different tempos, ratios and intensity level percentages. However, the term ‘cardio’ alone only stands for the former on most occasions, and not the latter. In essence, we are developing our energy systems on all levels when we perform our conditioning this way, which bodes well for our long-term aerobic and anaerobic capacities. I’m a huge fan of selecting 2-3 options and bulking them together for my ESD conditioning circuits. I tend to use a handful of options, such as the following: Concept 2 Erg Rower, Schwinn Airdyne, upright bike, agility and plyometric drills on the turf, sprinting drills on the track, Kettlebell exercises (i.e., swings), Battling Ropes, medicine-ball exercises (i.e., overhead slams), swimming, uphill sprints, and even bodyweight movements (i.e., push-ups and reverse lunges).

Here are a few routines you should try out:

Routine 1 —

  • A1: Erg Rower — Row for 100 meters.
  • A2: Airdyne — Work at 70-85% for 20 seconds, followed by 30-45% for 20 seconds, and immediately followed by 70-85% for another 20 seconds (total time = 1 minute).
  • Rotate between A1 and A2 for 5-6 total rounds (total time = roughly 8-12 minutes).
  • Try to limit rest periods as best as possible.

Routine 2 —

  • A1: Kettlebell Swings — Select a bell that you would consider to be a moderate weight and swing it for 20 seconds.
  • A2: Push-Ups — Perform for 20 seconds.
  • A3: Reverse Lunges — Perform by alternating sides for 20 seconds.
  • A4: Medicine-Ball Overhead Slams — Perform for 20 seconds.
  • Cycle through A1-A4 with very little to no rest periods. At the end of round 1, take a 30 second breather. Continue this sequence for a total of 3-4 rounds (total time = roughly 6-8 minutes).

Routine 3 —

  • Find a hill that you would consider to be pretty steep with a high incline. The goal is to work at a high intensity here for very short bouts.
  • Run up the hill 2-3 times in order to warm-up to the hill and to get used to the feel of the incline.
  • Once you’re ready to work, perform 8-10 uphill sprints working at 80-85%. After each sprint, walk down the hill slowly to recover and to catch your breath.
  • Spend no longer than 30 seconds of rest in between uphill sprints.

I hope you start incorporating some of these elements into your life moving forward. I suggest to try adding one new element each week rather than going full-speed with all at once. Best of luck!

Start Mobilizing

 

DIY Odor Eliminators

DIY Odor Eliminators

Removing odors from your home is serious business. Let’s be frank: who wants to come home to a funky house? Whether the funky stench is coming from the bathroom, bedroom or kitchen, there are plenty of simple DIY Odor Eliminators to rid your home of those funky scents.

Check out these simple DIY Odor Eliminators:

1. Tea Bags

Think of tea bags as a new age potpourri. By hanging a few of your favorite flavors around the house, you’ll take your home from stinky to wonderfully aromatic. I’d recommend Hibiscus tea bags. The scent is both fruity, yet floral: the perfect combination for any bathroom.

2. Lavender Spray

Instead of purchasing those expensive lavender air freshening sprays, just make your own! All you need are 3 simple items: water, lavender essential oil, and a spray bottle. Fill the spray bottle about 3/4 full. Add about 15 to 20 drops of essential oil. If you prefer a stronger scent, add more! Don’t have a spray bottle on hand? Clean and reuse one that’s lying around the house, or try your local pharmacy (they often sell empty spray bottles). Be sure to shake the mixture before spraying any linens or rooms.

3. Apples Lemons & Oranges

You know when you walk into a room and can instantly tell when someones been eating an orange? Well that powerful orange scent is a wonderful way to remove odors from your home! Surprise! Start by boiling a medium pot of water. Add about 2 cups of lemon and orange peels to the boiling water. The summery scent will carry throughout your home in no time!

4. Baking Soda

Using baking soda as a DIY odor eliminator is a wonderful trick that has been around for YEARS. Plagued with a stinky trash can? Pour a layer of baking soda in the bottom of the can and into the bag. The baking soda absorbs the nasty smells before they can reach our noses. The same trick can be used in your refrigerators, behind toilets, and in any room! Simply leave an open container in the stinky location and enjoy your odor free home!

5. Coffee Grounds

If you are looking for a way to give your home a fresh, invigorating scent, look no further than coffee grounds! Leave a few cups of grounds throughout your home for that unmistakeable coffee shop scent that will be hard to resist.

What are your favorite DIY odor eliminators?

Peace, Love & Coconuts!

-Zeena

These Foods Make Seasonal Allergies Worse

These Foods Make Seasonal Allergies Worse

Ah yes, allergy season is here, and if you happen to be someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, you know all too well how miserable they can be. I’m pretty sure we could do without the sneezing, runny nose, itchy & watery eyes, and scratchy throat. It seems as though the market for seasonal allergy related drugs is not going away anytime soon, as allergy symptom-relieving products can be quite effective. With that being said, they don’t always work.

But, did you know that there’s more you can do to fight your seasonal allergies? It’s more than just popping a pill, or squirting (ew) medication up that nose of yours. What you are eating is actually playing a role in how mild (or severe) your allergies actually are. That’s right, there are certain foods that worsen allergies. You see, our bodies are oh so complex, but can sometimes confuse the different proteins in food with pollen exacerbating our seasonal allergy symptoms.

There are three basic types of seasonal allergies.

Types of Allergies

Tree

(Typically pollinates from late winter through early spring). In some areas of the world, some weeds will also pollinate in the springtime.

  • Common sources: Alder, Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birch, Box elder, Cedar, Cottonwood, Cypress, Elm, Hickory, Juniper, Maple, Mountain Elder, Mulberry, Oak, Olive, Palm, Pecan, Pine, Poplar, Sycamore, Walnut, Willow
  • Food to avoid: Almonds, Apples, Apricot, Carrots, Celery, Cherries, Coriander, Fennel, Hazelnuts, Kiwi, Lychee, Nectarine, Orange, Parsley, Parsnip, Peaches, Pears, Pepper, Persimmon, Plums, Potato, Prune, Soy, and Wheat.

Grass

(Typically pollinates late spring through early summer). 

  • Common sources: Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky Blue Grass, Orchard, Redtop, Rye, Sweet Vernal, Timothy.
  • Food to avoid: Celery, Melons, Peaches, Oranges, and Tomatoes

Weed

(Typically pollinates from late summer through early fall)  ragweed, sagebrush, tumbleweed (Russian thistle),

  • Common sources: Burning Bush, Cocklebur, Lamb’s Quarter, Pigweed, Plantain, Ragweed, Red Sorrel, Russian Thistle, Sagebrush, Mugwort, Scales, and Tumbleweeds.
  • Food to avoid: Banana, Camomille, Cantaloupe, Carrot, Celery, Coriander, Cucumber, Fennel, Honeydew, Parsley, Pepper, Sunflower, Watermelon, and Zucchini

How to Determine You Type of Seasonal Allergies

An easy way to answer this question without any sort of formal test would be to take a look at when your symptoms are present. Do your symptoms seem to arrive early on in the spring? Well, you most likely suffer from Tree Allergies. Do you suffer at the end of spring and right at the beginning of summer? Well, you most likely have grass allergies. And if your allergies don’t kick in until the end of summer and into Fall, you probably have weed allergies. It’s also possible to suffer from more than one type of seasonal allergy.

What should you eat to help your allergy symptoms?

Just as there are foods that worsen allergies , there are certain foods that can help to alleviate symptoms. Eating foods that have anti-inflammatory properties are important to help ease allergies symptoms, as well as staying hydrated to flush your body of the histamine released as a result of your allergies. Try some of the foods below:

  • Fish
  • Water
  • Flaxseeds
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Miso
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Red Wine
  • Probiotics
  • Garlic
  • Honey
  • Broccoli
  • Nettle
  • Elderberry

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies?

Comment below! Oh and don’t forget to like & share the post!

~ Letisha