Thursday, July 25, 2013

Enjoying the Sunshine

Lately, I've found it increasingly difficult to be indoors all day with the beautiful, rare, enticing sunshine blaring in through our second floor lab windows.  As soon as I get off work all I want to do is soak in those lovely rays!  However, in the mid-afternoon heat, my body feels limp and lethargic within minutes of stepping outside from our air conditioned halls.

In an attempt to combat these feelings of lethargy, I've been staying especially hydrated by drinking at least 4 Nalgenes worth of water a day, eating light, energy packed foods and doing outdoor activities that are not overly draining, but yet still fun! Most of the time, if possible, I am in the water or by the water whether poolside, lake-side, river-side, pond-side... etc. And, if I'm already in the water, why not get some exercise while I'm at it(since working out in the heat of the day is absolutely not going to happen)?! Most of the time I end up egg-beatering, but sometimes I like to mix it up with some fun water aerobics (This site has some great water workout ideas: Splash Yourself Slim!)  When it comes to foods that keep me feeling light and cool, I stick with lots of fresh fruits and veggies and avoid heavy meats and carbs. 

Exercising the puppy... Or maybe he's the one exercising me!

Now wearing clothes that are comfortable and cool are an absolute must in this summer heat.  I often stick with clothing that has a high percentage of cotton or linen (both breathe reasonably well), or just go for the bikini which can be substituted for hot, uncomfortable undergarments.     

Blouse (JCrew)
Denim Skirt (Nordys)
Bikini Top (JCrew)

My Favorite Part about this outfit is the versatility of this blouse; It can be worn to work with dress pants, casually with jeans, or with a bikini top (as seen above) for an outdoor bbq or as a beach coverup.  I added the bangles for fun and the scarf to keep my hair from making me overheat!

Tank top (Jcrew)
Skirt (Nordstrom Rack)
Necklace (Forever 21)
Bangles (From my Mom's closet!)
I wore this outfit all day today while studying downtown... not only was it super comfy, but it was reasonably cool on this scorcher of a day.  Like the blouse from the first outfit, this skirt is super versatile (not to mention flattering because of the stripes) and can be worn year round.  In the summer, fall and spring I wear it as seen above, but in the winter, I often wear tights, boots, a jacket and scarf to complete the ensemble.  The wrapped-necklace bangles and chunky necklace liven up the outfit and can be worn both day or night! 

"Forget the rules if you like to wear it"    


Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Inspiration

The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water.  Although humans can survive about a month or so without food, we can only last about a week without water

Discovery Park, Washington

For something so absolutely vital to life and beautiful, why is it that we take this commodity for granted?  Most of us are extremely blessed to have clean, drinkable running water at our beckoned call.  

So, for this week, I am going to take this blessing and incorporate it into my daily inspiration, and I challenge you to do the same!  There are many ways we can help to reduce water pollution and runoff in our own homes, work places, schools etc.  Even trying a few of these will make a difference! 

Take it one step further: Donate to the clean water project!   

"Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.  Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless-- like water.  Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.  Now water can flow or it can crash.  Be water, my friend."
- Bruce Lee

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to Basics

What better way to spend a sunday afternoon than by drinking a honey sweetened iced coffee at Sister's Cafe with a friend?  What made it even better was sitting outside in the sun for some fresh Oregon air and vitamin D (which we never seem to get enough of!).  

For a cool in the morning, hot in the afternoon kind of day, a blousy shirt (Banana Republic) and skirt (Gap) were a must.  Because the skirt is so unique on its own, it pairs well with basics (which made my morning especially easy!).    

When shopping for unique pieces I find the best ones are those that go with basics, are comfortable, and are on sale. I am very much the typical jeans, t-shirt and a zippie kind of girl during the school week, so I know that my more "unique" pieces are often only worn on the weekends or if by the grace of God I wake up on time for class, work, etc. So, why spend a fortune on something you're only going to end up wearing once or twice a month? Save the splurges for things that you need and will last... a good rain coat (a necessity in the pacific northwest), versatile purse, or a good pair of boots.

Trying to stay up on the latest fashion fads is exhausting and expensive, so rather than draining your bank account and energy, here are a few pieces of advice:

1.  Shop End of the Season sales.  The unique pieces are often the ones that end up on clearance racks... snag a fun piece then rather than for full price a few weeks earlier (you can wait!!!)

2.   Buy a unique piece that goes with and refreshes your wardrobe.  In any case, make sure the piece is not too unique that you will have to buy tops, sweaters, accessories, etc. to go with the piece.

3.  If the piece you are trying on is only comfortable on "skinny" days, it is going to get shoved to the back of the closet.  For skirts, I often end up with the high waisted A-lines because they are flattering, comfortable and timeless for any day of the week.  Mid-length skirts/dresses tend to be my go-tos due to their versatility in any occasion; Throw on a pair of tights for a work event or presentation and heels to go out for happy hour with the girls.

4.  If you already have a unique piece and can't figure out what to wear with it, go for the basics.  Let the piece stand on its own! If you reallyreallyreally feel the need to add a little umph to your outfit add a scarf around your neck or tied to your purse (great way to incorporate the season's IN colors!) or some fun jewelry.  Scarves and fashion jewelry do not need to be top brand pieces... most of my scarves and accessories were found draped over sale racks or at saturday markets!

Great sales of the moment (with lots of basics and refreshers):
Great A-lines and Basic knits! at JCrew
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale... lots and lots of great deals to be had here for fall, winter, you name it!
30% off at Gap and Banana Republic- again for lots of basics... I live in their knits year round!
Great deals on outdoorsy clothes- If you wait another month, they have an awesome back to school sale!

"Why must I have a reason to dress up?"- Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Short and Sweet

Today is the moment of truth.  In a few minutes I will begin my first GRE practice exam... timed and everything! I have been preparing for this exam for the past two months (not to mention the past 8 years of my education) and now it's time to see if all the hard work has paid off!!

To prepare myself for this 4 hour endeavor, I began my morning with a 4 miler with my running buddy Hailey after a good nights sleep, a long hot shower, a tasty breakfast consisting of a grapefruit, plain greek yogurt with honey and a nice big bottle of water.  The coffee was put on the wayside for the time being so that I don't get too antsy during the exam.

In order to get through the exam without falling asleep I plan on rewarding myself with small pieces of dark chocolate from Trader Joe's, something I have found to be very necessary when working through hours of homework or studying.  Dark chocolate is one of those sweets that, as long it's eaten in moderation, you do not have to feel guilty about consuming.

For more information on the benefits of dark chocolate visit:
This article provides some information of the preliminary research done to determine the specific health benefits of cocoa, although the information has not been peer reviewed and therefore cannot be considered completely accurate (although I'd like to believe it is :).

Now off to that practice test and then some time with friends floating the river! Dark chocolate can't be my only reward...

"Taking time to live life will only inspire your work" 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Living la vida loca

Welcome to Natural Inspiration!  My name is Megan and I am a college student attempting to live a practical, yet natural, lifestyle.  We have become so used to the immediacy of day to day life and expect results NOW. Whether trying to lose weight, train for a triathlon or just get through the day without passing out, we expect quick and easy fixes, myself included!  However, when I hit the wall after years of exhausting course work, ignoring my doctors advice to run less due to injuries, and replacing sleep with more coffee I decided to take a step back.  My daily anxiety has subsided (thanks to modern medicine, sleep and less coffee), I've learned that planning ahead and over-scheduling less makes life so much more enjoyable, and that saying no and taking time for ME is necessary and good.  

Rather than pushing myself to get into med school (an extremely unnecessary stressor) I've decided to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience instead.  Through my studies thus far in undergrad I have found that the key to a healthy brain, is a healthy lifestyle.  Reducing inflammation from past cross country injuries was a huge part of becoming healthier and happier. Thus, taking on the paleo lifestyle.  Not only do my hips feel better and I can run again, but I sleep better, remember more and have more energy during the day.  

Another part of my healthy lifestyle is making sure I still enjoy working out.  Dreading the mornings because I "have to" run was horrible for my mental health and ability to get a good nights sleep.  Instead of this awful and unhealthy "healthy" routine, I've taken on the theory that as long as I do something active during the day, it "counts" as a workout! This includes an evening walk with the man, a run through the forest with a friend, hiking, yoga, playing with my brothers in the pool or doing a Pinterest or Sworkit workout.  Putting less pressure on myself in the parts of my life that should be enjoyable has made all the difference.  I do not count calories, log my workouts, or hate myself for the occasional chips and salsa binge, but take each day as it comes.    

The one stressor that I maintain is money, as I love to shop.  As a college student looking towards graduate school, attempting to follow the Paleo lifestyle, and attempting to maintain an up-to-date wardrobe (with an ever fluctuating body shape), I've realized that budgeting can be tough on a part time minimum wage salary, but doable.  When bills, food, tuition and the occasional night out with friends or the man add up, there's not much left to hit the racks with.  So, rather than folding under the pressure of Vogue and In Style to refresh my wardrobe each season with designer fashions, I've learned to reinvent.  When I do shop I make sure to buy versatile, timeless pieces that will last.  

This blog will include healthy and easy recipes, seasonal fashion reinventions from my closet and sale expeditions and tried and true workouts!  Because this is my first blog, I would appreciate any suggestions to make it more user friendly!  

To begin, here are my go-to websites:   

Nom Nom Paleo (Lots of awesome recipes, weekly shopping lists and the theory behind the lifestyle)

Practical yet Beautiful Fashion ("Marionberry" is a true inspiration. She just had a baby and looks amazing!!! Not to mention her incredible fashion sense...)

"When you love what you have, you have everything you need"