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Minimalist Monday: Make it a Habit — Download Lift

Does the below list of virtuous activities inspire you? Intimidate you? Make you wish you did some (or all) of them more? 

Hi, welcome to Monday. Today, we’re talking habits — good ones, that is — and how to form a lasting relationship with them. 

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There’s a pervading theory that it takes just 21 days to create a habit, which sounds manageable enough. Yet if you’ve ever really gotten into a long-lasting routine, you’ll know it takes more than several weeks of activity to make it ritual. Heck, it’s taken us years to adjust to a pre-9 AM wake up (and it’s still hard).

Yeah, habits take time. In fact, this 2009 study summarized by the Huffington Post proved that forming meaningful habits takes around 3 months.

HuffPo contributor James Clear writes: 

"On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances … In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days." 

Ugh. Sound hard? Well, despair not, future carb-shunners and triathletes. Lift is here, and it’s kinda genius.

Lift is an app designed to help facilitate and encourage positive habits on a longterm basis. Download it — it’s free — and you’re prompted not only to invite / “find” friends (to help support you, although we prefer to find our best self without our Facebook comrades cheering us on) but search a wide array of common habits, sorted by category. From diet to fitness, we’re pretty sure you can find almost any upstanding thing to do. 

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(ED NOTE: BRUSH TEETH IN THE MORNING?? COME ON.)

Upon selecting the habit(s) of your choice — we’re ticking off “Read” and “No screens after 10 PM” — you can start tracking your progress immediately. It’s easy: Every time you partake in the habit, you “check in,” a rewarding ritual that’s a strangely gratifying way to track progress. If you’re not the self-starter type, you can set reminders (ie guilt triggers), down to the day and time. So at 10 PM, Monday-Friday we’ll be reminded: No screens! 

So, this Monday, give yourself some help in the habit-forming game and download Lift. What habits will you form before the holidays?

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Weekend Recipe 9/26/14: Almond Joy

So… We’re nuts about almonds over here (shhhh). And it’s not simply because they’re tasty, or we can create bad puns about them. They’re the wunderkind of foods — and here’s three reasons why: 

VERSATILITY: From milk to butter, is there any incarnation of almond that’s not successful? Almonds also seem to take things to the next level of heartiness and soul-satisfying deliciousness. For example, swap in almond butter for your next PB&J and we promise you’ll feel just a bit more fortified. 

HEALTH STUFF:  You know this, but they’re great for you. Almonds are loaded with Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They’re a killer source of protein and are naturally low in sugar. Plus they’re potentially life-saving?! This study by New England Journal of Medicine found that participants who ate a handful (a one-ounce serving) of nuts daily were associated with a 20% lower risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and other major causes of death compared to those who did not eat nuts. 

SKIN STUFF: This can kind of go under “health stuff,” but we needed three reasons (and not sure if you know, but we make skincare). The mineral-rich almond is a boon for the skin — we prefer it in the form of almond flour. It’s nourishing while also serving as a gentle exfoliant. Plus it makes a nice DIY pairing with honey, so isn’t that sweet?

(PUNS ARE OVER - we promise). 

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Below, we have some almond-centric recipes for you to enjoy this weekend. Let us know how they go! 

Homemade Almond Milk

1/2 cup raw organic almonds 

2 cups water

1/2 tablespoon honey or maple syrup

Sea salt to taste

Cinnamon, cardamom, or turmeric (optional)

Soak the raw almonds overnight.    

Drain and rinse the almonds and add to blender with the water and blend until smooth.

Pour it through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to separate out all the solids (use this pulp for your mask, and freeze the excess to use for chocolate chip cookies later obvs).

Now, add the honey or maple syrup, a small pinch of sea salt, and a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom and turmeric (both optional) and either stir really well or pour back into the blender for another round.

Use it wherever you would use milk or soy milk! It will store in the fridge for about a week, but it’s most fresh and delicious during the first few days.  

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Almond Honey Face Scrub

Use this face scrub to exfoliate and moisturize, it will remove dead skin cells, kill bacteria, and fight break outs. You can also use it on your body (make up to 1/2 cup for one bath time use), and yes it’s okay if you eat some. 

1 tablespoon almond flour or leftover pulp from almond milk

1 tablespoon honey

1-2 teaspoons fresh almond milk you just made or from the fridge (you can also use rice milk, coconut oil, aloe, or just some tap water)

Mix all three ingredients in a small bowl to make a soft paste. For the milk, add as much as you need to make the recipe wet and paste-like (it will depend on the texture of the almond flour or pulp.) Use as you would a scrubby face wash, and rinse with warm water. You can store this recipe in the fridge for a couple of days, and it will make two to three uses. 

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Minimalist Monday: Get Moving

It’s Monday!? 

Fear not, S. Dubbers, we’re rescuing you again with distraction and motivation in the form of our Minimalist Monday series.

While last week's MM asked you to sleep extra 5 minutes each morning — how'd that go, BTW? — this week's is asking you to get up. And moving. Try out a new workout, THIS WEEK.

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If you’ve been eyeing a workout class or activity for months but haven’t taken the plunge, do it. Now’s the time. If you need some motivation, here are three options that our team loves:

The Monster Cycle: If you love high-intensity workouts set to killer, almost deafening music (Julia does), then this is your ticket. It’s a spinning class set in an almost lair-like setting replete with two massive TVs that showcase racy music videos while you spin. Gonna shoot straight, here: There’s a distinctly, ahem, bondage vibe going on in this spot. If it sounds weird, it kind of is, which is why it’s great. The studio is located in New York’s SoHo (sorry non-New Yorkers, but we have something for you, too!). 

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Fitness Blender: This is Adina and Adam’s new jam, accessible to anyone, anywhere. Fitness Blender creates short — yet really effective — workout videos led by a husband and wife team. These videos are an incredible resource for when you can’t necessarily make it to the gym, plus allow you to be super-targeted about what type of workout you want. From stretching to high intensity intervals to kickboxing, Fitness Blender has it all. Plus, sometimes their dog makes a cameo in the videos… so there’s that.

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Prana Power Yoga: Elana is a big fan of this studio, which makes sense since she is kind of serene and zen-like. Classes here will have you sweating — it’s hot yoga, with in-studio temperatures over 90 degrees. While it sounds uncomfortable, it makes for really warm and loose muscles (a great thing when you’re twisting and turning like a pretzel). And although this studio is only in New York and Massachusetts  there are plenty of hot yoga joints across our fine country…

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…Which begs the question: What classes are you loving? Let us know! 

Images: The Monster Cycle Instagram, Fitness Blender Instagram, Gilt.com

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Weekend Recipe 9/14/14: Apple Cider Vinegar

Happy weekend!
First on your weekend to-do list: Pick up some apple cider vinegar (both Bragg and Dynamic Health are two organic brands we’d recommend). Although we advise using with discretion — a full cup of it will not go down well — apple cider vinegar has a myriad of health benefits that make it a fantastic pantry staple. These recipes (our apple cider vinegar health shot and gentle vinegar hair rinse) take advantage of all the good properties of apple cider vinegar, helping facilitate the healthiest, shiniest version of your weekend self. Recipes, below — let us know how you like them!
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Apple Cider Vinegar Health Shot
Doesn’t it seem like everyone gets sick when the seasons change? And doesn’t it suck? Well, this may prevent that from happening to you. It’s extremely detoxifying and balancing for your body, kills bad bacteria, supports good bacteria (that makes your immune system stronger), and will even ease symptoms if you’re already sick, including a sore throat and cough. 
1 tsp raw honey (preferably local to you)
1T apple cider vinegar
2T room temperature or warm water
super small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
small pinch turmeric (optional)
Other optional additions for superpower points:
1 clove mashed garlic
1 tsp coconut oil
the juice of half a grapefruit
Mix honey into warm-ish water first so it melts completely. Then add vinegar and cayenne pepper or any other optional ingredients. Stir well and throw back, cause it ain’t gonna taste pretty. Chase with water or tea. 
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Gentle Vinegar Hair Rinse
Vinegar hair rinses can actually be incredibly harsh on your tresses. While apple cider vinegar does clean up gunk and rebalance your scalp, it can leave you dry and sometimes itchy. Here’s a rinse that’s much more gentle, but still incorporates the powerful benefits of apple cider vinegar. Aloe is a super plant, and will make your hair strong, shiny, and luscious. 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup aloe juice or the inside of a leaf
1 cup warm water
Combine the aloe juice and vinegar in a cup before getting in the shower, and wait to add the water until you’re under the warm water, so you don’t freeze yourself. Don’t worry about getting exactly one cup in there, just fill the rest of your cup with water. Tilt your head back and pour straight onto your scalp, carefully avoiding your eyes. Rinse and shampoo after. 
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Hey, Adina!: On 30

Another day, another new S.W. series. We have a feeling you’ll love this one, too, because ultimately you get to decide what it looks like.

Hey, Adina! is our ongoing Q+A session with our lovable and ever-wise founder Adina Grigore. Consider this your invitation to ask Adina (mostly) anything you want, i.e.: How are diet and skin related? How the heck did you start your business? What’s it like working with your husband? What ingredients should I be wary of in my personal care items? 

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The new Jay-Z and Beyonce? Adina and Adam!

Each month, we’ll select several questions for Adina to answer and be featured on the blog. You can submit your questions by emailing hello@swbasicsofbk.com, or commenting on a Hey, Adina! social media or blog post.
Selfishly, we’re starting with our own question: Hey, Adina! You just turned 30. How do you feel about it? 

Her response, below.

How do I feel about turning 30? I’m going to tell you. But I’m not just going to tell you one way I feel about it. I’m going to tell you 30 ways I feel about it. Most clever, original idea anyone has ever had? Duh, I know that.

1. This feels a lot more neutral than everyone says it should. 
2. Wait, why does everyone say it’s a big deal? 
3. If they say it’s a big deal, it’s probably a big deal. 
4. Shit, now I’m freaking out. I’M SO OLD.
5. My best friend texted me that 90% of my eggs are now gone. I’M SO OLD. 
6. Does that mean I waited too long to have kids, or need to have them like,tomorrow? Because oops I’m not pregnant yet and I’M SO OLD.
7. Wait a second. Life is really long, and some women have babies when they’re way older than me. How come they can do that?
8. How come so many women older than me actually seem just fine about the whole thing?
9. Maybe it’s all fine and I should calm the fuck down. 
10. ALL I wanted in my whole life was to make a 30 under 30 list. I didn’t. 
11. Let me reiterate, it was really ALL I wanted in my whole life. For years. Okay maybe for like a few months. But once I decided I wanted it, I reaaalllllyyyyyy wanted it. I didn’t get it and now it’s over.
12. That sounds so bratty. It’s so magical that I own my own business. And it’s kind of killing it, a little bit. And in that sense, I’m so young!
13. But, I really wanted 30 under 30. 
14. Should I want 40 under 40 now? I guess I’ll decide when I’m… 39.
15. I’d better be so much more kickass by the time I’m 40.
16. By then will all of my eggs be gone?
17. At what age do people get their lives together?
18. I have a business but I don’t have my life together. I don’t even know how to dress.
19. I need to start dressing like a 30-year-old. 
20. How the hell does a 30-year-old dress? I never figured out how to dress as any other age, let alone a real life adult one. Do I need to start reading blogs and shit?
21. I’ll just ask my [younger] sister. She got all the life memos that I didn’t. 
22. Do I qualify as a cougar yet? I really, really want to. 
23. I also want Adam to start calling me his “old lady.” Too soon?
24. I care less each year what people think of me. (Except I want them to go, “man she really dresses like a 30-year-old.”)
25. Being 30 makes me feel like I can suddenly say every single joke I feel like saying to people. And then laugh at it myself. 
26. Being 30 makes me want to hear way more about other people’s lives and experiences. I have a whole new respect for people over the age of 50. Life is so long!
27. Being 30 makes me want to start doing more of what I feel like doing. Like sleeping. And watching Tyler Perry movies. And like, really enjoying sleeping and watching Tyler Perry movies. 
28. Being 30 makes me really appreciate my relationships to other people, especially the people who have been here a long time. And the people who work with me on my crazy business. Cause woah.
29. Being 30 makes me realize that each year gets better, each month gets better, and even each day gets better!
30. Wait, being 30 is kind of badass.