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What do you turn to when you need to be motivated? What inspires you, what drives you forward? What makes you want to improve professionally, reach a fitness milestone, lose ten pounds, or improve your foreign language skills? Each of us is motivated by different incentives and we are all driven by different forces. My goals will be different from yours, but even if we share a common goal, we will both live with different circumstances and conditions, different challenges and obstacles, different ways of looking at things, and probably also differences in the speed at which we will decide to go forward. Some of us like to wade into things slowly, while others like to approach things by diving into them head-first. When I quit smoking, I did it cold turkey, but for my father, this didn’t work when he wanted to ditch nicotine; he had to slowly cut back on the number of cigarettes until he finally reached zero. Our reasons were different too. He quit when I was 12 years old, because I asked him to (and then I started three years later, duh) and I quit when I was 25 because I wanted to be healthy. The source of motivation was different for both of us.

TYPES OF MOTIVATION

There are generally two types of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic. How they work is pretty self-explanatory: my dad was driven by an extrinsic motivation (somebody else made/encouraged him to quit, he did it mostly because of an external stimuli), while my decision was based on an internal drive, I did it for myself, to get healthier, to live longer and with a higher quality of life, the idea came from my own mind. Neither of these types of motivation is wrong per se, even though being motivated intrinsically is ultimately the better option, and I will explain why in a second. What matters the most with external motivation is the source and the reasoning behind it. Sometimes extrinsic motivation can literally save us. For example, when our lifestyle related behavior is damaging our health and well being, we very often take it very lightly, until a doctor shocks us with some bad news. Unfortunately, very often this type of warning from the outside comes when it already is too late. We feel unstoppable when we are young, not giving a thought to how our actions today will impact our life tomorrow (or some ten or twenty years later). Read the rest of this post

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We often talk about how society and mass media distort the image of health and give us false information in order to fill their pockets with our money. We are also told that we need to look a certain way, wear a specific size of jeans, and use all kinds of luxury products to feel better, happier, and more fulfilled. At the same time we are flooded with images of unrealistically perfect looking, artificially happy people that we compare ourselves with, labeled as inspirational photos, while all they do is make us feel not good enough for today’s beauty standards. We are pressured to try our best to meet the expectations of other people, and in the process of reaching this impossible goal, we damage our health for the sake of a lower number on the scale. Read the rest of this post

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Nov
22

FOOD FREEDOM FOREVER

by Nina Vachkova

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Food Freedom. For some, these are just empty words, for others, this might be an over-exaggeration of a non-existent problem, but for many, this is a life goal with a rocky path leading towards it. People tend to come up with their own version of what food freedom means. Some people might think: “We only live once, I am not going to deprive myself of desserts,” or “I am an adult and nobody is going to tell me what I should or should not eat.” But just like a cigarette smoker usually thinks he can quit any time he wants, people who are very protective of their favorite foods are exactly those who need some real food freedom in their lives. Strong emotional connection between us and our food is not very far from any other addiction, including smoking. As a former smoker and a sugarholic in remission, I know what I am talking about.

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Nov
15

HOW TO BE THANKFUL

by Nina Vachkova

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We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Europe, and I have never joined my North American friends for this festive dinner party, but in my mind, this holiday was all about the abundance of delicious food and family reunions, similar to Christmas (as it is celebrated in my family). But later in my life I learned more about why thanksgiving was originally celebrated, and that part of why people in the US and Canada still keep this tradition alive is, as the name Thanksgiving suggests, showing gratitude and being thankful. Although this holiday has its roots in religious traditions, being grateful and appreciating things in life has nothing to do with religion and from time to time, we all should pause for a moment, look around at everyday things, and realize how many of them we take for granted. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Thanksgiving for us to try looking at things with a different perspective and greater respect, but let’s take this opportunity to pause and reflect.

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Nov
08

THE BIG THREE

by Nina Vachkova

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The other day my boyfriend asked me why more people don’t use the natural approach to skin care and home care products we have adopted. These things work very well, they are gentle on the environment and our health, and they are also very budget friendly; so what makes people keep putting chemical ingredients on their skin, hurting their bodies, and even paying to make themselves sick? Those products are designed not to work, actually, but their manufacturers have convinced us that it is not their fault. You need a cleanser that will strip your face from natural moisture, then you need a harsh toner to balance your skin pH, and then you have to buy a moisturizer that will add the moisture back into your skin. You also need primer before you put on your foundation, concealer to hide your imperfections, and a powder to set your liquid foundation and have a shine-free mask sitting on your poor, suffocating skin for at least 8 hours (or more, we want these products to be long-lasting, water and sweat proof, and looking fresh all day long!). Treating our skin like this backfires on us with acne, dry patches, discolorations, and more health concerns that are actually not visible on the outside, as we learned previously.

A healthy body is covered with healthy skin, and healthy skin doesn’t need an arsenal of expensive products. But makeup and skincare companies need us to buy their products, just like pharmaceutical companies need us to buy their pills and capsules. Nobody makes money on healthy people, inside or out. If people are healthy and happy with the way they look and feel, they don’t need to buy wrinkle creams, fake eyelashes, or skin color correcting lotions. If people start embracing their individuality, stop seeing their originality as flaws or imperfections, and love themselves the way they are, they will stop using makeup, hair dyes, eyebrow pencils, and artificial nails. And they will be healthier because of it!

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