Pollinators: How You Can Help Save The Birds and The Bees

April Pollinators WilcoWellness

Pollinators, like bees and birds, help pollinate the very plants that feed our communities

According to National Geographic, “Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, butterflies, moths, or other animals, or by the wind.” When pollen is carried between flowers of and in the same species, it leads to fertilization. In terms of plants, this means it’s possible for seed and fruit products to occur. The pollination process ensures that full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds will happen.

 

Pollinators are in trouble

Scientist suggest evidence reveal there’s a world-wide disturbance amongst pollinators who have suffered from the following:

  • Loss of habitat
  • Chemical misuse
  • Introduced and invasive plant and animal species
  • Disease and parasites

Like bats and bees, many pollinators are now listed on the federally “listed species,” which shows a significant disappearance of that species in natural areas. In Fact, the US has lost well over 50% of its managed honeybee colonies over the past ten years. Unfortunately, due to a lack of research, we don’t know too much about our pollen-passing-friends. In contrast, European countries have set aside over $20 million investigating the status of pollinators in Europe.

It’s essential to do our research, understand, and share some of the key players in our neck of the woods. And fortunately for you, we’ve gathered up a few key-pollinator members to introduce to you:

 

Meet a few of them now and what puts them at risk:

Bees:

With more than 250 species, bumblebee bees like to fill the baskets on their legs with pollen and bring it back to their hives. Inadvertently, these busybodies carry pollen on their soft abdomens from one flower to another.

A sweet honey treat from the Farmer’s Market most likely began with the help of a honey bee. Did you know that commercial honey bees are transported thousands of miles to help create some of our favorite snacks? Some take the long journey to pollinate for Michigan’s cherry trees or California’s almond trees. Honey bees help grow kidney beans, coffee, strawberries, avocados, and walnuts.

In the past twenty years, managed-honey bee numbers have crashed, partly due to colony collapse disorder which occurs to the sudden loss of colony worker bees. These busybodies are necessary to keep the colony alive. Meanwhile, scientists claim bumble bees in Northern America and Europe are dwindling rapidly. While the reason for the loss of bees is complicated, climate change, insufficient nesting resources, food supply, pesticides, disease, and parasites are likely contributors.

Butterflies:

As ambassadors of nature, these fluttering favorites are tiny yet mighty! Making a significant migratory journey from Mexico to Candida, Monarchs are quite legendary, even here in Texas. Gulf fritillary butterflies use nectar from many native Texan flowers, such as the passionflower. This familiar flower is hung beautifully on display in Georgetown, TX. “Bee” sure to check it out while grabbing lunch at Monument Cafe.

Whether it’s promoting pollinators by taking Winged pictures in Leander or putting colorful plants in the backyard, these beauties need our help. Our butterfly’s pollinators’ survival stands threatened due to loss of habitat and plant diversity, climate change, agrochemical pollutants, and invasive species.

Birds:

From hummingbirds to honeycreepers, the United States relies on colorful crooners to help spread pollen in our wildflowers. Soaring from brightly colored flowers to the next, these “tweeters” help stabilize our ecosystem while enjoying red, yellow, and orange colors.

Climate change, pesticides, and glass window strikes from tall buildings are on the list because birds are not making it as they once would. Especially if outdoor house cats find entertainment in our pollinator bird friends, they tend to raise their mortality rate by ruffling more than a few feathers.

Bats:

Bats are often misunderstood and tend to get a bad rap for carrying disease, but they’re mostly harmless to humans. In fact, many people favor bat feces as fertilizer! They’re naturals at pest control, consuming large amounts of harmful agricultural insects and bugs each year. Not only do bats keep pests off plants, but they also help pollinate and spread seeds. Many Texan bats, like the Mexican Free-tail bat, love bright white or light-colored flowers.

Recently, millions of bats have died due to a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome in bats who live in caves during winter.

 

What can you do today to protect and promote pollinators?

Go native!

 

Pollinators are more attracted to and can “best” adapt to local, native plants, which often need less water anyways. When planting at home or in the community garden, look for Texas native plants that help produce nectar and larval food for pollinators. Not sure what to plant in Central Texas? Check here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Make a day of it and stroll through the beautiful gardens and discover which plants would best be suited for your little garden slice of pollinator heaven.

Here are a few other suggestions on where to buy flowering plants in Williamson County:

To “buzz” up a conversation, tell them about the article you’re reading and help spread the word!

 

Welcome bees home by making Bee Hotels: Bees don’t know where to live, can you help? Most of them are spending their time trying to make a home in ground nests, while others live in grass or tree limbs.

 

Here are some fun DIY videos to get you started:

 

If you want to start small and easy, include the kiddos on a weekend build for the bees, check out the video link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0re9o1ZqX8

 

Reduce your impact!

Purchase local, organic food and reduce your consumption by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Supply mineral licks for butterflies

Attract magic to the garden by providing a salt lick for butterflies and bees. You’ll want to mix a small amount of sea salt or wood ashes and place them in a shallow puddle in the garden (or sheltered area). This provides valuable minerals to our free-flying friends!

Splish, splash! Let’s make a bath

No matter what Pinterest says, don’t use glass in the garden to make a birdbath. We’ve all seen this, right? Place sea-salted sponges in birdbaths to provide additional food sources and freshwater to our pollinators—Brownie points for keeping the water clean by changing the water often.

Ditch the lawn, plant flowers

Make the most of the lawn by planting more flower beds and veggie gardens. If you want to keep it cool, maybe try it mullet style. Business in the front, party in the back if you don’t want the neighbors to see your wild side!

Whatever you do, do something!

Bees and other pollinators help define our entire ecosystem. Without them, the ecosystem would be substantially different or cease to exist altogether. Pollinators are vital to global economies and food supply.

Get to know people within our community who care

 

 It might be through local conservation groups, community gardens, or volunteering at the Farmer’s market. With the dramatic decline in insects and other pollinators, it’s essential we do our part as a community. Be sure to spread the word about pollinators and why they matter.

 

 

 

Melt Away Stress at Hotworx in Cedar Park, TX

Hot Worx Cedar Park

 

Spring has sprung and summer plans are beginning

Hiking and trekking, beach outings, and returning to family and friend’s events are all in the works.  Hibernating through last year has left some of us a little sluggish.

Luckily, Susan Sandoval at HOTWORX in Cedar Park, TX understands, and we’ve provided the 411 after interviewing her below. Please continue reading for the scoop on HOTWORX and how it offered lessons more valuable than any workout routine ever could!

 

What is Hotworx?

It’s a virtually instructed exercise program created for consumers to experience the many infrared heat absorption benefits. Goers choose between 30-minute Isometric workouts or 15-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions. Classes you can choose from are Hot Iso, Hot Yoga, Hot Pilates. Step it up just a bit and attend a Hot Warrior, Hot Core or Hot Bands session. The great thing is you can mix and match the classes that best suit your needs. Virtual instructors change up the flow of exercises and scheduling on your phone helps to slide in a workout session on the fly. No guilt and no excuses, freedom to set a schedule that works best for each individual.

 

According to HOTWORX, “As the infrared heat penetrates your body causing you to sweat, the isometric postures further accelerate detoxification by physically removing the toxins from your organs through muscle contraction.” Even after you leave the session, your body will continue to burn off calories and detox. Infrared heats you internally, so thirty minutes after your workout, you’re still burning calories. That’s the beauty of the heat!

 

Inside HOTWORX, you will find eight infrared saunas and four isometric stations

An isometric workout is one that involves little movement with high muscle engagement. You choose a position and hold it. For example, Susan’s favorite yoga pose is the Lord of the Dance. As a balancing pose dedicated to Shiva’s dance, you stretch muscles in your chest, abdomen, and thighs. This famous backbend yoga pose stimulates your heart chakra known as Anahata, associated with love and compassion.

 

More workout, less time!

High-intensity interval training, known as HITT, is a form of interval training and gets the heart going! This cardiovascular exercise strategy encourages short bursts of exercise with brief (30 to 45 second) intervals of breaks in between. You should be out of breath by the end of your workout. No fear! The sessions are much shorter due to the intensity level.

 

Go when you want, for as long as you please

Being open 24-hours, our members love that there is no set class schedule. They can come and go as they please. Whereas in other gyms, if you miss your scheduled class, you will most likely not get your work out on that day.

Susan says it’s popular for goers to do a quick 15-minute HIIT and then move to something else to keep up their momentum. Many love the belly burning benefits of core compressors. It creates instant slimming results, enhances calorie burning, and flushes out toxins.

 

Susan reminds us: “All things in moderation, as the saying goes” – including stress

With the bustling, busy times, we tend to rush to wake up, rush to work, rush to pick up kids, and rush to get our work out done so that we can run to make dinner and do it all over the next day.

Advised by her nutritionist, “it’s not good for you to be on the go, go, go!” At HOTWORX, her stress melts away. She says that it’s really hot in there, and she barely moves her feet while her heart rate elevates and lowers stress upon the body. She can pop on a good podcast, watch a show or meditate while getting in a good workout.

 

Thank you, Covid-19, for a new perspective

As silly as that may sound, Susan thanks the pandemic for her newly found awareness of things she didn’t correctly appreciate before the outbreak. She has started to learn new reverence for breathing easier since life was disrupted before opening her business in 2019.

She knows that health applies both physically and mentally. It tends to affect relationships and may even cause psychological issues and raise the risk of disease. Stress can also reduce our capacity to take care of one another. There are many benefits of reducing stress within your everyday life.

 

 It’s so important to take care of your mental health

With a heart full of a new perspective, she realized that she was spending money on things that were unimportant and spending time where it did not matter. She no longer values being caught up in worldly things and plans to go forward to make memories with her family. She plans to create less stress in her life, including during her workouts. And luckily, with HOTWORX, she’s able to do just that!

HOTWORX offers patrons a mental break when stress and anxiety come to be too overwhelming. However, Susan wants our readers to know, “There’s no right or wrong answer as to going to a gym during pandemic times. If you’re not comfortable going, just go for a walk, and everything else will fall into place.” She continues, “It’s so easy when you’re going through stressful times to watch Netflix, but getting out of the house – even for a walk – is so important. You need to get out of the house.”

 

Thank you, Susan, for taking the time out of your schedule to share with our Wilco Family.

We appreciate it very much and encourage our readers to check out HOTWORX when they can.

It might just change your life!

 

 

 

5 Must Have Essential Oils To Keep Around The Home

5 essential oils WilcoWellness

Essential oils can be used for a multitude of things

Think to yourself. When you hear the word “essential oil,” what comes to mind? For most, pictures of soap or perfume flood our minds. Essential oils (which may be referred to as EO) can be used in various products or services – aromatherapy, soap, perfume, and other personal care products.

 

However, the common question is: What else are they good for? As a very versatile product, essential oils can be used for a multitude of things. Some common uses are personal care, in-home cleaning, and all-over well-being. Keep reading for five must-have essential oils to keep around the home.

 

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Keep a bottle of tea tree oil in the medicine cabinet. This well-known med-aid helps treat various skin conditions such as athlete’s foot, fungus, eczema, and acne. Easily combine with lavender for a smell-good antiseptic to heal minor cuts, scrapes, bites, and burns. Tea Tree oil is incredible for kiddos because it saves the tears while cleaning and sanitizing while promoting faster healing.

 

Eucalyptus Essential oil

A few drops in the diffuser during cold and flu season may be just what the holistic practitioner ordered! Eucalyptus oil helps clear chest congestion and a stuffy nose. Combine with lemon oil for a fresher smelling homemade cleaner.

Shower your home with this tangy combo during your spring cleaning spree. 10 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil and 10 drops of Lemon essential oil combined with 4 ounces of distilled water and 2 teaspoons of witch hazel is the perfect DIY room spray!

 

Lemon Essential Oil

Are you doing a “clean sweep” around the house? Lemon oil can assist – almost anywhere! Add to the laundry for a fresh, clean scent, or add to an air freshener for a sweet summer breeze. Blend up home-cleaning remedies for tables, counters, toys, floors, and more around the home. It’s safe and easy to use!

 

Peppermint Essential Oil

Uneasy stomachs, for cramps and nausea, favor peppermint oils for their soothing scents. Mix with a carrier oil and run on your tum to reap the benefits. Additionally, peppermint is known for clearing the air by diffuser or by nasal passage (for when you feel sinus coming on!)

 

And when we mean “clear the air,” you’re going to have still to have that awkward conversation with your previous cleaning products company! Tell them, “SEE YA”! You’ve found a home remedy that works!

 

Lavender Essential Oil

Miss famous over here! People LOVE lavender essential oil (and with a good reason). It’s a standard blender because it goes well with so many other oils. It’s known for its sleepy or soothing properties and can be dropped into a diffuser to encourage a good night’s sleep. Additionally, it holds healing properties for various skin rashes. Use it to help heal minor abrasions while promoting calmness!

Be sure to speak with your practitioner

These are some of our favorite essential oils to keep around the house because of their versatility. Do not ingest oils, and be sure to speak with your practitioner to help guide you with the proper dosage of essential oils when welcoming them into your home. You can follow a fellow friend, Kelly Frick, for more information on essential oils. She’s a wonder on Youtube and Facebook. Thank you for stopping by our blog.

 

Where to buy essential oils locally?

  • Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen
  • Kelly Frick via DoTerra
  • WilcoWellness via Young Living  

Kelly Frick’s Blog:

https://kellyfrickconnect.com/

 

Some of our favorite videos from Kelly: 

YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCqMIrJjgnrSU8G3nFTq-mQ/videos

What to do with your extra bottles? Upcycled bottles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA6kZoxCumA

 

 

 

 

Parenting a Picky Eater: Dietary Considerations for Autism

ASD Picky Eaters WilcoWellness

Parenting children with ASD can be challenging on many levels, and healthy eating is no exception

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that usually appears before a child turns three years old. It affects the brain, particularly in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children with ASD often prefer to play, demonstrate very repetitive behaviors, and restricted (sometimes unusual) interests. These types of behaviors can affect eating habits and food choices. As a result, parents with children diagnosed with ASD face challenges at mealtime. Issues, such as picky eaters. Some might dislike a few foods, and some might hate all foods placed before them.

These types of behaviors can lead to the following health concerns:

 

  • Strongly Dislike Foods due to Sensitivities: Due to sensitivity with taste, smell, color, or texture, some children with autism may express a solid dislike for certain foods or limit their food selection. They may choose to avoid an entire food group, like fruits or veggies. It’s common for textures, such as soft or slippery foods, to become real crowd displeasures! Additionally, strong-flavored foods like onions or peppers may put a meal to a halt.
  • Doesn’t get enough to eat: Focusing, even sitting still for a few minutes, comes as a challenge for children with autism. Mealtime is no exception!
  • It’s hard to go #2: Whether it’s due to the child’s limited food choice, low physical activity level, or medication, children with ASD tend to express issues with constipation. Adding dietary fiber, such as veggies or bran cereals, may help remedy the situation. Additionally, regular activity and staying hydrated with plenty of liquids will help.
  • Medication interactions: Some stimulating drugs used with treating symptoms of autism can suppress appetite. Lowering the amount of food a child eats may affect growth. Other drugs may increase hunger and affect the absorption of specific vitamins and minerals. Ask your physician about the possible side effects of stimulant drugs.

 

Parenting children with ASD can be challenging on many levels, and healthy eating is no exception. By creating a nutritious, yet balanced autism diet meal plan can help create a routine while assisting emotional management and process information. Consider this! Children with ASD may not be receiving all the nutrients they need because they often avoid certain foods or limit what they’ll eat. If you know a child like this, give these nutrition strategies a-go:

Consider what foods are good for autism

Some of the best foods for children with autism are ones that help with inflammation, like omega 3 fatty acids. Studies suggest low consumption of this nutrient has been linked to autism, dyslexia, depression, ADHD, dyspraxia, and anxiety. Give foods like fatty fish a try.  Salmon and canned tuna in water can be mixed with crunchy veggies and turned into patties on the grill. At breakfast or lunch, give fortified eggs, soy milk, or yogurt a chance. Walnuts, Broccoli, and cauliflower are also a good source and can be eaten raw tossed up in a little walnut or flaxseed oil and their favorite special spice mix.

Consider sustainably raised animal proteins to enrich the child’s meal plan. Local Farm-raised beef or chicken are less likely to contain additives, like hormones and antibiotics. Behavior-wise, this can make a huge impact for children with food sensitivities and health conditions, like autism.

 

Farmer’s Market Prepares a Picky Eater

Food may taste, smell, look or feel undesirable to children with ASD, which poses a big problem for parents. A child’s sensitivity to foods limits their willingness to try new foods, especially if the texture is slippery or soft. Some children may even avoid entire food groups!

Speaking to the child outside the kitchen is one of the easiest ways to tackle these situations. Take a field trip to the Farmers Market and stop by the produce stand. Be sure to prepare the picky eater before heading out the door on your exploration. Once the food is selected, hop on the computer and do a bit of research together and prepare the meal as an activity. After preparing the meal or snack, ask the child to try it! If they don’t like it, don’t sweat it! By creating a low-pressure, positive atmosphere, will help familiarize new foods while creating flexibility in what they’ll eat.

Pro-tip: If you’re picking up food, say strawberries from the Farmer’s Market, consider striking up a conversation with your child and the vendor. The child may find interest in learning about the strawberry (or other food).

 

Mealtime Routines

Between timers beeping loudly and bright lights, the kitchen is a busy, sometimes overstimulating place to be for a child, especially those with sensory issues. All of these stimulates, even the way a dishtowel is hanging, are potential stressors making mealtime hard. Making mealtime predictable by sticking to a routine can help. One of the simplest ways to reduce stress while cooking up a meal is to do so at the same time each day. Also, consider making accommodations, like dimming the lights for bright sensitivity making mealtime more enjoyable for the entire family.

A creative way to involve the child is allowing freedom to choose a favorite seat, utensil, or food they enjoy each time they sit to eat. Make an effort to include a variety of colors on the plate and let the child choose their fruit or vegetable color. Remember to limit snacks before mealtimes. A child going to a table a little hungry will encourage a child to eat what is offered at dinner. Provide small bite-size portions and stick to a routine.

 

Seek Guidance for Special Diets

Change in diet can improve symptoms of autism. In fact, a quick google search of “what foods should be avoided with autism” brings up several recommendations for choosing a diet free of gluten and casein. Gluten is a type of protein, often in barley, rye, and wheat. Casein is a protein found in milk products, like low-fat or whole milk. Often known as GF/CF diet, eliminating these two items may help change the behaviors or symptoms of autism. Some reviews claim improvements in learning, social skills, and behavior.

Reminder! Restrictive diets require close attention and careful planning to ensure your child’s nutritional and health goals are achieved. To avoid any side effects and potential shortfalls, be sure to reach out to a reputable registered dietitian nutritionist before making changes to a child’s meal plan.

 

Working With a Specialist in Williamson County

Picky eaters? We know one; we love one. Many children, with or without autism, can be particular about the foods they eat. By working with a pediatric nutritionist in Williamson County, you’ll be able to identify nutritional risks based on how the child eats. He or she will answer questions about the effectiveness, safety of nutrition therapies and offer advice on supplementation. Call someone today! Get your picky eater back on track to living a healthy life.

 

Williamson County Resources for autism:

 

 

INSPIRATIONAL LINKS:

https://www.wrtsfranchise.com/autism-terms/

https://www.autismspeaks.org/expert-opinion/what-it-about-autism-and-food-0

https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/diet-and-autism

 

 

 

Organ Donation in Texas Saves Lives

Organ Donors in Texas Save Lives WilcoWellness

It’s overwhelming to think there are 100,000 people waiting on the transplant list in the United States

There are 107,938 people on the transplant waiting list in Texas and, thankfully, 12,960,232 registered donors.

Unfortunately, most of those waiting patients will never get a call saying that a suitable donor can help save their lives.

Nearly 20 people die each day without hearing that call. It might be challenging to think about what will happen to your body after you pass, but tissue and organ donation are generous and worthwhile! Your gift is life-saving.

If you’ve never considered or delayed becoming a donor, possibly because of inaccurate information, read on! This article will discuss the basics of organ donation and bust urban legends that might be holding you back.

 

What is organ donation and transplantation?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Organ donation is the process of surgically removing an organ or tissue from one person (the organ donor) and placing it into another person (the recipient). Transplantation is necessary because the recipient’s organ has failed or has been damaged by disease or injury.” It’s common for organ donation to occur after the organ donor passes away.

 The organs and tissues that can be transplanted as the following:

  • Intestine
  • Lung
  • Heart
  • Pancreas
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Cornea
  • Middle ear
  • Skin
  • Bone
  • Bone marrow
  • Heart valve
  • Connective tissue
  • Vascularized composite allografts

 

Who can be a donor?

There’s no age limit to being a donor. When an individual dies, their age and medical information are evaluated for suitability. The Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), like Donate Life Texas, determines medical suitability for donation.

 

How can I become an organ donor in Texas?

If you’re a Texan who wishes to become an organ donor, consider jumping over to DonateLifeTexas.org to complete the registry form to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

 

Donate Life Texas registry does not cover the following:
  • Living organ donation
  • Living bone marrow,
  • Blood
  • Whole-body donation

 

They suggest checking resources Donate Texas.org for more information about living donations in Texas.

 

Consenting is COOL.

Consenting to a donation registry is more than an expression of interest. It’s a legal document. When you’re registered, you legally give your consent for organ, eye, and tissue donation after death. As Donate Life Texas suggests, we feel it’s a compassionate step that you can take as an individual to relieve some of the pressure from your loved ones, should you pass.

 

Get online to register!

When you visit this site to become registered, you will be asked to complete a few simple questions like name, phone, and address.

When you enter your email address, it allows you to receive a registration confirmation and lets you log on anytime you’d like to their site to see updates or change your record.

 

Head to the DMV:

Another option is to go to a local Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), where you can choose to give an anatomical gift. Once you’ve signed up, your driver’s license will have a little heart in the corner, which makes it easy for emergency medical services to identify your decision right away. Due to organs’ vitality, there’s a small window of time when donation can occur after passing. By carrying your decision with you at all times, you could potentially save a life.

Who should I tell about my decision to become an organ donor?

Your decision to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor is very personal. But it could potentially affect the lives of those you love. It’s essential to share with family members and loved ones that you desire to be a donor. It lets them know your wishes before your passing. Additionally, you might want to share with other key players in your life, like a lawyer, healthcare provider, or religious leader.

Avoid Potential Confusion:

Whether your death comes as a shock or not to your family and loved ones, it’s a good idea to keep confusion out of an emotionally sensitive time as they deal with your lossSpeaking with them about your desire or decision will simplify their responsibilities and provide a bit of comfort in your decisions. Not only do you get your wishes carried out, but a conversation with loved ones allows for an opportunity to answer potential questions. Death and dying are not an easy conversation, making for an uneasy talk. However, an open discussion about how it works can correct inaccurate information about donation and possibly relieve any tension about the subject.

 

Urban Myths & Stubbornly Persistent Myths:

There are several urban legends and stubbornly persistent myths about organ donation in circulation.  Sharissa Stewart, the former Organ Donation Procurement Coordinator, touches on a few of these myths :

 

Sharissa: Has there been a time when someone granted permission, but the family did not want to? Maybe you could comment here?

“I have been a part of many conversations when a potential donor is registered, but their family objects. This could be caused by grief, thinking they registered a long time ago and changed their mind, religious concerns, or other reasons. Usually, after lengthy discussions with family and the funeral home, everyone is able to come to an agreement and honor the deceased wishes to be a donor.”

 Myth: I will receive inadequate health care because I am an organ donor.

Doctors and emergency personnel will do everything possible to save a life regardless of registration status. Many times staff doesn’t even look at donation status until they pass away or have no chance of survival of injuries. Even if the donation is moving forward, you will still receive the best care to ensure the best chance of organ transplant success.

Myth: It’s expensive to become an organ donor. My family will be charged if I donate my organs, eye, or tissues.

“If you choose to save lives and donate, your OPO will work with the funeral home to keep costs from going to the family. Any additional time costs associated in the hospital, transportation, etc. will not go to the family”.

 Myth: Organ donation will disfigure my body.

“Many people are concerned about donation affecting their funeral plans. What people should know is that funeral home staff is phenomenal at reconstruction. I have seen patients pass from severe injuries be able to donate every possible tissue and still have an open-casket viewing funeral. Prior to donation occurring, the chosen funeral home is contacted to coordinate a plan”.

 Myth: If I donate my organs, I will not contribute my body to research.

“Every research opportunity is different, and many changes over time. I have seen organ and tissue donors still are able to participate in research. Anatomical whole body donation may not allow certain tissue donations, but that will be discussed with the family, and they will have the decision on which route to take. Donation staff wants to honor your and your family’s wishes first and foremost”.

 Myth: An open-casket funeral isn’t an option for people who have donated organs.

“Upon donation, the OPO will also provide funeral home staff with supplies to aid in their reconstruction process. If certain tissues could impact the viewing (ex: short sleeve shirt viewing), then upper extremity donation will be avoided to allow funeral plans to proceed”.

 Myth: If I’m in an accident and the health care professional knows I’m a donor, they won’t try to save my life.

“When you are in an accident, emergency personnel don’t worry about donation. They are working to save your life. Only once you pass or you won’t have a good survival would the doctors notify donation experts to evaluate. Think of it this way, if a doctor wanted to proceed with a donation, they would want the healthiest organ to be able to transplant. In order to do this, they would need your body to be working as best it is able. If they do everything medically to save you and your body won’t fully recover, only then will donation potentially occurs”.

 Myth: Mental Illness on my medical record will prevent me from becoming an organ donor.

“Almost everyone is troubled by illness and disease, mental or otherwise. In no way does this prevent all donations from occurring. If your wish is to be a donor, the donation staff will work with your physicians to do what they can to make it happen. I have seen patients with cancer or types of dementia still be able to donate certain tissues”.

 Myth: I am too old to donate my organs, eyes, or tissue.

“Advances in medicine are constantly happening and changing what we thought was possible. Each tissue may have requirements in age or health, but this evolves. The important thing is to register and then trained staff with evaluation to maximize your ability to save lives. I personally have seen donors over 100 years of age be able to give certain tissues and leave an impact”.

 

 

Be an inspiration!

Become an organ, eye, and tissue donor and show how your selfless decision might change another’s perspective. Even if your loved ones do not initially agree, it might inspire them to do more research about the subject. Perhaps, over time they might consider registering themselves. If you’re already registered, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It’s a very selfless act that could potentially save someone’s life.

 

Again, we want to thank Sharissa for her input into this article. It’s inspiring to have a friend like you. Thank you for all that you do to save lives in this field of work.

 

Resources:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11750-organ-donation-and-transplantation

Myth: Autism is a “boy” thing!

The Myth behind Girls and Autism WilcoWellness

What do you think of when you think about Autism?

I give you permission to be a bit stereotypical. In fact, I want you to be a bit, well, judgy for a moment. When I previously thought about Autism, I would picture the stereotypical white male child.

Studies suggest that at least three males will receive an autistic diagnosis for every one female. It seems as though there are more autistic boys than there are girls. Here are three reasons why Autism might be misrepresented:

Misrepresentation may have to do with how well Autism is portrayed in the media. There is not a whole lot of representation for girls, especially in persons of color. Look up “autistic characters on tv” in Google: Dr. Shaun Murphy, Max Braverman, Sheldon Cooper, Jerry Espenson, and Spencer Reid can be found. I’d like to assume women and persons of color as underrepresented as they have been for centuries.

It is possible girls go undiagnosed for ASD due to the fact that the current diagnostic criteria do not meet the expression of Autism (or traits) in girls. The diagnostic criteria for Autism are fundamentally based on research performed in boys with Autism rather than girls. The criteria for the diagnosis of Autism are based on pre-existing concepts of what Autism may “look like,” which poses a huge problem for behavioral maskers. As a result, many gals are not diagnosed until later in life, typically in their teen years.

It’s difficult to diagnose girls

Diagnostic criteria call for individuals who lack the capacity to communicate and interact socially. As a result, many girls are being left undiagnosed with Autism and are diagnosed with other mental health disorders, like manic bipolar disorder or depression.

According to Autism in Girls, “The main issue with the current diagnostic criteria is that behavioral maskers that are used as criteria for diagnosing autism are based on pre-existing conceptions of what autism “looks like.” As suggested, the research took samples for their research based on predominantly male populations to diagnose Autism-It’s common for girls to be able to “mask” their autistic traits, and the behavior maskers used as diagnosis criteria are therefore not so transparent, but what can this mean for girls?

Many women find themselves questioning if they are Autistic (or on the spectrum) later in life. This especially happens in teenagers and in their twenties when the need for complex social interaction capacity has heightened. Girls are not being diagnosed properly and miss out on early intervention up into age three. When these girls do receive early intervention, the results show better health outcomes. However, no matter what the reason for the underrepresentation of girls with Autism, the facts are girls are being misdiagnosed and not taken as seriously as males.

 

Challenges for Autistic Girls

Keep in mind that Autism is a spectrum and presents differently from person to person. The spectrum includes different types of Autism, from severe or low functioning to high functioning. It’s easier to diagnose low-functioning because the signs and symptoms are more prevalent. However, this list can help offer some insight into some common difficulties girls with autism deal with:

Communication and social skills

A classic symptom of Autism is difficulty involving social interactions. This is much easier to spot in males because females tend to adapt to social situations more naturally than males.

 

When socially interacting, girls with Autism may find it difficult to maintain eye contact (to a point where it’s been described as “hurting” to attempt to do so). Some girls find it hard to concentrate on the interaction at hand and will escape difficult situations through mental processing or daydreaming.

Other social and communicable examples:

  • Take things literally; struggle to understand sarcasm.
  • Find it challenging to form an intimate bond or interact intimately.
  • May have lower levels of verbal cognitive ability.
  • Language and communication issues
  • It needs more time to process to engage and interact.
  • Conversations seem “scripted.”

Sensory:

Girls with Autism tend to have sensory processing issues, which include struggling to process intense sound, lighting, or touch.

For someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are sensory inputs that increase the desire or need for self-regulation. Some ways include having meltdowns, stimming, or in more extreme situations, self-harming behaviors. Some examples of stimming may include biting nails, waving hands, or tapping.

Headbanging is a common example for children to self-soothe themselves and helps communicate their needs as a result of severe anxiety. The desire to self-soothe can come from an individual being in physical pain, seeking attention, sensory issues, or attempting to communicate.

Behavior:

Sometimes, we find it hard to communicate. Sometimes described as: “When we know what we WANT to say in our head, but it doesn’t come out of our mouths properly, it becomes frustrating.” And sometimes, it creates aggressive feelings.

Girls with Autism can sometimes become aggressive or act out due to these feelings of difficulty communicating. Additionally, sometimes the aggression is put on due to an issue with trying to regulate over-stimulation.  For example, if there is a constant tick-tock of a clock that is over-stimulating occurring at the same time an intense conversation is happening, aggression may occur.

Physiological or health relative problems may be related to these behavior issues. It’s essential to remember everyone is different.

Thinking Visually:

Instead of thinking in language, people with ASD tend to think more in pictures. To process information, they see things in their mind or need to see them physically to better understand.

For some, it means having the ability to solve complex problems or conceptualize patterns in their mind. According to The Place for Children with Autism, “Additionally, once the images are associated with a specific train of thought, the words and images become associated and banked as memory.” Visual thinkers might have photographic or near photographic memories. In addition, linear thought processes do not come hand-in-hand with visual thinking.

 

It’s interesting enough! Neurotypicals can become quickly confused by visual thinkers, like people with ADS, because they might recall an image that’s tied to memory and associate it with something completely off-topic and unrelated but can make perfect sense in their mind! Add another struggle to the “communication and social skill” box – why don’t you?

Obsessions and special interests: A Classic Stereotype

Boy, will you see the light in their eyes when speaking about their special interests or obsessions! Girls on the spectrum tend to limit interests and often narrow down what they enjoy.

One of the reasons girls are misdiagnosed may be that their special interests are more socially acceptable than boys with ASD. For example, a female teen may obsess over celebrities or boys. These girls may do so because they have a strong desire to “fit in” with their friends by “masking” their autistic traits.

How do girls on the spectrum mask?

Girls with autism spectrum disorder are rock-star ninjas, basically. They know how to blend in and hide, known as camouflaging or masking – a real diagnostic issue!

Masking happens due to cultural pressure to act normal. However, it comes naturally for girls to mimic the behavior of others. They spend a great deal of energy to hide their autistic “quirks,” almost as if they’re in a play.

Some examples of mimicking include forcing eye contact (regardless of the internal discomfort or anxiety may induce) and mimicking facial expressions. Based on current studies and clinical experiences, other signs of Masking might include suppressing “quirks” or stimming behaviors such as “Flappy Happy Hands” or giving scripted responses.

They learn to adapt to their environment by utilizing these strategies to avoid standing out or to “fit in” with their given situation. Masking is learned through observing or mimicking. Girls with Autism might learn this ability by watching television or movies, from neurotypical peers, or from day-to-day observation.

Why Masking has Consequences?

Masking might seem like a super-power, but it has its consequences. It’s exhausting! One study suggests Masking can cause detrimental effects such as an emotional, physical, and mental drain. This occurs because Masking means constantly monitoring what is or what is not deemed as socially acceptable. Additionally, Masking is related to feeling like an outcast and a higher rate of depression.

What are the psychological impacts of being diagnosed late in girls?

Autistic girls don’t often “get it,” so they strive to do what other people are doing, and it wears them out. Oftentimes, girls with Autism start wondering what is “wrong” with them. In some social situations, they’ll start to obsess over every little detail of the past conversation.

Examples of obsessive thoughts that may occur are:

  • Why did I say something so stupid?
  • Did they think I was funny or inappropriate?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • How can I make this better?
  • How can I be better next time?

 

Constantly questioning yourself and monitoring your behavior is exhausting and can take a toll on mental illness

In fact, girls with less severe cases of Autism will often first be flagged because of depression or social issues. Girls come into the doctor’s office for something like anxiety, depression, or school performance. It’s not until later that physicians may discover social communication issues and restricted interests.

As mentioned previously, another impact of a diagnosis going overlooked is missing out on early intervention and support for skill-building. For example, It’s hard to focus on subjects that do not spark interest for individuals with ADHD, but especially with Autism. Academically, this can be detrimental when proper support is not available—resulting in poor performance and frustration (for the whole family).

 

Earlier diagnosis means getting the proper resources and access to therapies earlier in life. It means a girl and her family have more time to learn how to manage the diagnosis properly. Early intervention is crucial to development, but a later in life diagnosis is better than none at all.

Playing catch-up on learning proper social skills and coping mechanisms often happens in those who become diagnosed later in life. However, after a proper adjustment period, most females find comfort in their diagnosis. In fact, Netflix Comedian Hannah Gadsby explains her diagnosis as being handed the “key to her own city,” as while growing up, she always felt different.

After diagnosis, an individual with Autism can start to meet with autism experts, psychiatrists, or occupational therapists, or other trained professionals. They can help with answering questions and help give guidance or support in ways to build a better quality of life.

 

Whether the reasoning is difficult during diagnosing or not, ask for a second opinion by a practitioner. We highly recommend connecting with someone reputable within Williamson County for more questions. It’s time to open up a conversation about Autism in girls and women as early as possible.

 

Find Support in Williamson County, TX:

 

Revolutionary Wellness, PLLC (Georgetown, TX)

High School Social Skills Group (Austin, TX)

ABA Connect: Wise Owls Social Group (South Austin, TX)

 

 

Autism Society: Improving the Lives of All Affected by Autism

https://archive.austinisd.org/academics/docs/ASGA_Resource_Guide_Jan_2012.pdf

 Texas Autism Research & Resource Center:

https://tarrc.org/servicesandresources/servicesandresources.html

 

Support Groups Near Williamson County, TX:

https://www.texasautismsociety.org/support/

 

Autism Support Groups near Round Rock, TX:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/autism/tx/round-rock

 

 

Additional Resources:

Autism Parenting Magazine:

https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/signs-of-autism-in-girls/

 

Simple Tips to Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning Wilcowellness

Ultimate Spring Cleaning!

After a long, cold winter, it’s time to deep clean the home in preparation for the new beginnings that springtime brings. When you take the time to go beyond your regular cleaning schedule, you’ll begin to feel better about your tidy and welcoming home. To get started, we’ve crafted a list to help you clean your home by offering up a room-by-room checklist. All you need to do is schedule the time, grab cleaning supplies, and pick a room! Then, get ready to kick the dust-up in our in-depth cleaning tips and tricks.

How often should I deep clean?

When you’re asking yourself this question, think about your personal life. What time do you have available? Who can help? There are so many different ways to tackle spring cleaning, but it’s ultimately up to you to get the job done.

Keep in mind! Spring is a beautiful time to clean, organize, declutter, but the actual cleaning portion should happen more frequently than once a year. Consider cleaning seasonally or choosing a room or space to tackle every three months for the weekend. You might want to choose one room per month (suggest kitchen in July and Bedrooms in June) or chip away weekly with 1-2 tasks per week.

Be aware that the more people who share your home, the more time you’ll need to put into cleaning. If you live with other people, consider breaking up the tasks.

If your roommates happen to be your children, consider this an excellent opportunity to teach them something new! They will be moving out one day and will need to learn how to clean their own homes anyways.

What do I need to deep clean?

There’s no need to buy all the fancy products from Target – chemicals are not great anyways. Everyday products like dish soap, baking soda, white vinegar, microfiber cleaning cloths, and a scrub brush are easy to find and useful.

Stock your cleaning caddy or cabinet with these times:

  • Plastic bucket
  • Detail brush
  • Cleaning cloths (paper towels, dish towels, or rags)
  • Old toothbrush
  • Mop or steamer
  • Broom or vacuum (for hard floor setting)
  • Glass cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • An all-purpose cleaner (or homemade)
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Squeegee
  • Spray bottle

Bathroom

Scrubbing the bathroom should begin with the bathtub, fixtures, and grout.

We recommend using soap and water to clean most of these items, but it’s just not cutting the trick. You can make a paste with baking soda and water. Once you’ve made this mixture, scrub with a detailing brush around fixtures and other hard-to-reach areas. Finish up with a microfiber cloth to help it shine.

A trick to cleaning your shower head is to let it soak overnight in vinegar and water. You can do so by filling a bag with the cleaning solution and tightening it around the showerhead. You can use this same technique to get the grout clean.

Pay close attention to the shower tile. With a little elbow grease, it can look like new. 

Shower curtains

Most shower curtains can be washed in a delicate cycle in your washing machine, but make sure to check the packaging before doing so. We don’t want a bigger mess on our hands, do we? If your shower curtain is gross and not able to be washed, consider repurposing it as a painting cloth drop. You can easily tape it up with painter’s tape on your next project.

If you have a fabric curtain, wash and dry according to the instructions on the packaging. You might be able to Google the directions if you remember the name brand. If you’re feeling wild, go ahead and call the manufacturer for instructions.

Kitchen

Fridge, Cabinets, and furniture

Oh my! It would help if you started your cleaning adventure in the kitchen by cleaning out all food items and unplugging your fridge before tackling this massive task. Once all your food is out and the device is unplugged, go ahead and use dish soap and a rag to get the sticky-icky out! It isn’t odd to use dish soap because it’s a degreaser and helps break down the oils and residue left behind. If your fridge is easy to move, push it or pull it out from its spot and clean underneath it. When finished, toss expired food. Are there items that you can dispose of properly? Check the packaging to see if you can recycle via the Hefty Bag program or locally.

Use a microfiber rag to clean cabinet fronts. Consider grabbing the vacuum with a crevice attachment to go deep into your cabinets and drawers. Once all the junk is out, wipe it down with disinfectant.

Chairs, chair legs, and kitchen table legs can be whipped down with a rag and disinfectant spray. Keep in mind the material of your furniture and plan accordingly.

Wash trash bins and recycling cans with warm soapy water and a rag or sponge.

Oven and stove top

There are three convenient ways to clean the oven. The oven’s self-cleaning setting might be the easiest, but make sure your kitchen is well ventilated, remove anything inside the oven (or that fancy little drawer below it), and run the cycle. If your oven doesn’t have this option, you can clean it with a baking soda paste and a scrubber. If you have to, grab a specialty product from Target (but stay focused on your task at hand! It can get wild in there.)

If you have a gas stovetop, you can soak the metal grates in soapy water and clean them with a scrubby before returning them to the stovetop.

Clean the entire thing if your stove has a glass top or stovetop with electric coils.

Microwave and dishwasher

Grab your sponge and all-purpose cleaner to clean the microwave. Remove the tray and toss it in the dishwasher. Whip the exterior with the same sponge and finish it off with a microfiber cloth. So fresh, so clean!

Usually, the dishwasher is the one working overtime, but not this time, baby!

Empty it, whip the inside and out and clean the filter. A good tip is to splash 1 cup of vinegar in it and run the machine on the highest cycle. When finished, let the machine air out by cracking it a bit. If you’re worried about animals climbing in, consider giving them a break at the dog park or putting them in a room for a few hours. Finish off the dishwasher’s exterior with some glass cleaner and microfiber cloth. And honestly, folks: You should be cleaning your dishwasher monthly like this.

Kitchen Sink and Countertops

Pay special attention to areas around your kitchen faucet. It’s where goobers, like leftover Chinese food and chip crumbs, like to hide! When cleaning the countertops, toss everything on to the floor for my big sweep later or more responsibly into the trash, then scrub stuck-on-food spots with soapy water and a scrubber.

Once I’ve got all the stickies off the countertop, disinfect with an all-purpose cleaner. You can use this method for backsplash, faucets, and countertops. It’s essential to use a disinfectant and follow proper instructions for contact times and reasonable dilution practices.

Pro-tip: Consider dropping lemon juice down the garbage disposal and run it with hot water for a fresher smelling kitchen sink.

Bedroom

Tell Marvin Gaye not tonight! It’s time to throw all your linens into the washing machine according to their manufacturer’s instructions. The Sleeping Foundations recommends washing sheets once per week, and we’re cool with that. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a back-up pair of sheets if you don’t have time to wash (or you’re lazy like me and forget to switch the load for 23 years).

Every six months, you should rotate your mattress. If you need to freshen it up, sprinkle some baking soda on it and then let it sit for an hour before vacuuming it up.

Scoot your bed over and vacuum under it. The Lord only knows what dusty creatures have built up under there over time. You might even find a few socks that are missing their mates (and probably 34 cat or dog toys).

Use a polishing or furniture cleaner and a microfiber cloth to whip headboards, dressers, and side tables.

Pillows and comforters can be washed once a year if your washing machine can’t hang (or if it’s not large enough), considering going to a local laundromat.

Living room and common areas

It would help if you vacuumed the upholstery. Lift cushions, grab anything you might have lost, and vacuum underneath them—Spot clean as needed.

Pro-tip: There’s no need to Google what upholster is (like I did when writing this). It’s furniture with soft coverings made with fabric, padding, springs, and wedding. It’s your couch, chair, and loveseat.

Wipe down furniture with a microfiber cloth. Make sure it’s a bit damp to trap excess dust.

Closets

Take everything out and reorganize it. It’s really the only way. While everything is out and about, vacuum the floor and whip down any organizational units. When you put your items back in, don’t pack them tight. Hang them the correct way.

If you need to donate things, make sure you do it responsibly.

Laundry room

When was the last time you washed your washing machine? Wipe down the exteriors with an all-purpose spray and a microfiber cloth. Clean your washing machine interior according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Throughout the home

More often than not, people miss cleaning baseboards and walls. You can use a simple hack I found on YouTube to clean these.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EKypSreDbM
Don’t Forget the Baseboards

Light fixtures

Dust bunnies LOVE light fixtures. Turn off the light, then use a vacuum attachment to suck those buggers up. You can use a damp microfiber cloth as well.

For ceiling fans, consider the mess you may make when cleaning. Use newspaper sheets or a paint drop cloth (fibers can be washed) to catch any potential dust. Wipe down each blade with an all-purpose cleaner and a damp cloth.

Floors

You should be cleaning, mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming often.

For deep cleaning, focus on pesky hard-to-remove stains and addressing high traffic areas where dirt has built up. Grout tiles may need more time and attention.

However, start with the basics of how you would generally clean hardwood or laminate floors. You can sweep, mop, and let dry. Then, go back in for the tougher stains. It makes things easier.

Carpet set stains may be cleaned with a 1:1 mixture of water, white vinegar, and a few dish soap drops. Blot the spot with a cloth so that you lift it (rather than rubbing it back into the carpet). If you use a specialty cleaner, test it on the spot first because you don’t want it to damage your carpet potentially. We don’t want you to add a new carpet to your list of things to buy. If you’re feeling up for it, consider renting a steam cleaner or borrowing from a friend.

Windows

Let there be LIGHT! It’s a good idea to remove any dirt or dust with a vacuum before spraying a cleaning product. Once you’ve sucked up the dirt, you can roll a towel up and use soapy water and a sponge to clean away the first layer of dirt. Squeegee windows dry, and this towel will catch any excess dirty water. Then use a microfiber cloth and glass cleaner to make the window shine.

Keep in mind! If your windows are wood or metal, you’ll need to care for them a bit differently. Wooden window sills shouldn’t be saturated with cleaning products or aqua. To clean these, use a damp microfiber cloth and spray with a little bit of wood or all-purpose cleaner.

Snacking Sustainably : 11 Snack Hacks to be More Sustainable 

sustainable-snack-tips. WilcoWellness

 

Snacking Sustainably :

Chips, granola bars, and fruit snacks come

wrapped in plastic (which NEVER goes away).

In this blog, learn how to reduce waste while snacking.

Does supermarket waste drive you bonkers? Good. It should! Negative publicity and consumer demand for plastic-free veggie and fruit are creating a ripple across American grocery stores and supermarkets. Slowly but surely, change – big, I might add, is happening. It’s quite encouraging either way.

In this blog, we hope to raise awareness about a topic that doesn’t get too much direct attention. One that is worse for the environment, for animals, and for humans. It’s food waste.

Before diving deep into my hacks to reduce food waste at home, you’ll need to understand why consumer awareness in Western countries is vital.

 

Snacking Sustainably – Are you aware of the dangers of plastic? 

If we hope to prevent 80 billion lbs. of food from going to USA landfills each year, we need to discuss how grocery stores’ unethical practices are leading to vast quantities of edible food being wasted.

Nearly 40% of plastic created each year comes from the packaging of single-use products. These products are typically only used one time before they’re thrown away and forgotten. It’s easy not to think that it makes much of a difference.

If you have the privilege of not living so close to a landfill, it may be easier to pretend your garbage doesn’t have a global impact.

 

LANDFILLS ARE RUNNING OUT OF ROOM!

Landfills are running out of space, and trash companies want to expand the limit on how high they can stack garbage. Think the more garbage being processed, the more money in their pockets. Unfortunately, people that live near these landfills have to deal with the views, and it’s quite unsightly.

What’s the problem? People create garbage. It’s not only in the Wilco area; it’s all over the world. According to the EPA, the average American citizen produces around 5.91 lbs. of trash, with about 1.51 being recycled. As an average, that’s about 4.40 lbs. of daily waste per person. If you’re a family of 4, that is 17.7 lbs. of trash per household per day and over 123 lbs. bs per week!

If families could cut back on one pound per person per day, it means that a family of four’s waste would be nearly down to 96 lbs. in a week. That is huge! However, we need to think big picture. What if we could get our community to reduce waste?

 

Snacking Sustainably – What does it mean to be “sustainable?”

While “zero waste” is impossible, “low waste” is achievable. We don’t need a million people doing “zero waste” or even “low waste” perfectly. We need a million people trying to cut back their waste. Sustainability means avoiding the depletion of our natural resources in order to maintain a good ecological balance. There is no Planet B. We must take care of the one we have. It’s not that difficult to make a few conscientious decisions to help the bigger picture. Establishing a slightly-altered routine would be ideal for helping reduce our global garbage problem.

 

While there are many ways to reduce waste, this blog is about limiting waste with a focus on snacks!

Individually packaged snacks have got to go! Try limiting purchase.

Snacks! Yum, I love snacks. You love snacks. We all love snacks, but it’s unfortunate that they come all tangled up in plastic packaging, which is one of the worst waste generators around. Think about all the goldfish, granola bars, and fruit snacks – all wrapped in single-use plastic! While some packaging can be recycled at home, most of it can’t!

The following suggestions will help give you ideas for how to reduce the amount of food packaging you buy (and therefore throw away) and ideas for how to store snacks without wastefulness.

Note: We do understand that some food packaging is unavoidable, and sometimes lower bargain prices and availability in our area will dictate final choices. Remember, “zero waste” isn’t all or nothing. We encourage you to do the best you can with what you have! That’s all anyone can really do!

 

Invest in Containers!

Investing in alternative containers is a must, especially if you are serious about reducing single-use plastic. Think about where you typically bring snacks. Do you have children? Do you need to snack on the way home from work? There are so many options that can be custom-fit to your needs.

First off, saying that we love stasher bags is an understatement. What’s a word that means more than love? Silicone Stasher bags replace Ziplock bags, seal incredibly well, and can be put in the microwave, freezer, dishwasher, and oven. They’re absolutely incredible.

The price of stasher bags might lag your decision to purchase, but try grabbing one of the smaller versions, and you’ll be hooked soon enough. There are many “like stashers” on the market, but I promise they’re not worthy of your time.

Another alternative would be to grab beeswax wrap, which is an alternative to plastic cling wrap. You can make yourself or purchase from an eco-friendly store. The beeswax wrap is awesome because it’s natural and reusable while sealing containers of any shape.

Additionally, I want to recommend reusable produce bags. As obvious as it should sound, I want to recommend reusable produce bags. There’s no point in going to the grocery store with intentions of reducing your waste if taking home little plastic bags happens every time.

 

How to reduce individual packaging? 

While at the grocery store or farmers market, search for whole foods. Why? Many of these nutritious foods come low-waste and healthy to snack on.

Skip the little plastic bag that helps “keep them together” in your buggy, and consider bringing reusable produce bags.

When you get home from the market, consider prepping your veggies and fruits for meals right away. For example, chop up tomatoes and onions for an upcoming taco meal (and compost the rest). Storing prepared carrots and celery in water in the fridge can help keep them crispy, fresh, and ready to eat. These snack hacks save time, money and earn big “eco-points.”

You can totally use Stasher bags when grocery shopping. If you plan on freezing a product – like meat or veggies, consider filling your stashers with the product, purchasing and directly tossing it into the fridge. It really is more convenient! There’s a “tar weight” written on the side of the bags that the cashier can subtract for the total weight of your products.

 

Reduce waste in Dairy

Let’s be honest! Between all the cheese, milk, and yogurt, Dairy is a big part of a child’s life. Unfortunately, most dairy products come in single-use plastics.

  • DIY: If you’re feeling brave enough, consider making your own dairy products, like yogurt. Not only can you control what goes into the product, but it helps the environment.
  • Cheese: Cheese doesn’t have to be a big “no-no!” Some ways to reduce waste with cheese are to bring in your own stasher bag or beeswax wraps at the deli. Ask them to put your cheese in these helpful products to cut back waste. If this is not ideal, consider purchasing cheese in bulk and slicing off individual servings for snacks.

 

Make & Bake at Home

Snacks made in your cozy kitchen are typically healthier and tastier than store-bought! Not only can we avoid preservatives by using whole grains, but I’m also able to control how much sugar goes into our delicious snacks. In fact, whipping up homemade granola bars and crackers are a staple in our home. Get creative by freezing muffins or “power balls” when Snacking Sustainably.

 

Avoid Single-Use Plastic & Wrappers when possible

Remember those beeswax wraps! Those come in very handy when making homemade snacks.

Learn how to make a snack wrap here:

 

Shop in Bulk!

Not all bulk items are created equal. For instance, Costco offers great discounts for bulk items, but most of it comes in individually wrapped items, but in larger quantities.

However, there are some stores locally that will help you reach your zero waste goals.

Suppose you or your kids love a product, like Veggie Straws, and cannot live without them. It’s okay to go to Costco or Sam’s club and purchase these items. It is better to get the bigger bag and sort them out at home (in smaller, non-plastic containers) than it is to buy individual bags.

Outside of big bulk stores, shop around bulk bin stores for home staples. We’re talking flour, nuts, seeds, chocolates, candies, beans, and rice. It’s a good idea to bring your own jars and, and storage stasher bags. Know the tear weight before filing for easier checkout for Snacking Sustainably.

 

Where can I find these products?

Check out Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen in their new location for products you can pick up in Williamson County.

Screw Plastic makes and sells handmade items to help folks begin the journey towards moving a  little closer to Zero-waste Living. Linda is often found at the Wolf Ranch Farmers Market on Saturdays and she has a website you may order from. Follow her on Facebook for great tips.

 

Here is a list of a few of our favorite sustainable companies online where you can find great products, great ideas, and even great gifts:

 

Earth Hero – Not only products but a few books to provide ideas and more simple tips

Nature Bee Beeswax wrapsIt is all about the best beeswax wraps!

Yes Straws – Love a good smoothie or a frozen drink on the beach? Enjoy your favorite beverage with a Yes Straw.

Samba-Sol – Dress up your party to the picnic with a little Samba in your Sol. Beautiful footwear from beautiful people who know how to really be, well,  Snacking Sustainably!

Bambu – Finish up the Party with eco-friendly dishware from Bambu. Non-plastic and certified organic that you can use every day or just for a picnic.

 

If you’re really ready to snack more responsibly without the waste, there are definitely ways to make it happen. When you are stuck in a rut and finding it difficult, reach out to zero waste groups online. We promise that you are not alone in this journey to contribute to Earth’s better health. We believe any attempt at living ‘greener’ is a step in the right direction. Thank you for reading along!

Thank you for Snacking Sustainably!

Spring Forward: Mind, Body & Soul Cleanse for a Healthy Spring

Samantha Becomes a Wife Wilcowellness

People, places, and things. Why do we spend so much time forming attachments to things that do not necessarily matter? 

Like toxic relationships or unnecessary belongings, these trivial things overburden our lives. 

 

Holding onto items that no longer serve us stems from suffering – and in a strange way, it seems comforting to do. Humans tend not to let go of things because we fear they cannot be replaced, or they will completely vanish from our lives if we let go. 

 

When you decide to let go of these things, the space they use to take up can be utilized with something better to serve you. In this blog, we discuss how cleaning your mind and space can create infinite possibilities. 

 

Most people do not find “letting go” an easy task, but it’s as simple as dropping thoughts, emotions, or things that take up way too much space within your headspace. For example, when you were a child, you would play with toys, but as adults, they do not serve a purpose in your life as they did when you were a child. You learned to drop the attachment with these toys. You learned to let go. 

 

“When you are unattached, you have inner freedom. You have no investment in a particular outcome, and so you do what is necessary in the moment. You explore every option and are receptive to all new information. You do all that you know to do, and then trust, because you have no attachment to either the result or how the result is produced,” writes Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundstrom in The Power of Flow: Practical Ways to Transform Your Life with Meaningful Coincidence.

 

It’s funny how life works. It offers a line of help each day, which encourages you to let go of anything that might be taxing your spiritual, physical, emotional, or mental health. 

 

Stop what you’re doing right now. Can you take inventory of your current life? If something is making you unfulfilled or unhappy, it may be time to reconsider the space it’s taking up. 

 

Consider people in your life. Do you have a relationship with someone who is draining or toxic? Relationships that provide no personal growth for either party are involuntarily draining. Yet, we find time to spend on these individuals for many different reasons (and end up suffering within). 

 

Who? You? Yes, you! What are some reasons that you spend with toxic people? If you need a reminder, here are a few:
  • They have astounding “assets,” like a swimming pool in the summertime.
  • They make you feel “special” by delivering cheap comments (but may later talk trash on you.
  • They may be fun to hang out with but do not care about your well-being. Can you call them if you have a flat tire or broke up with your boyfriend?

Reflect on your relationships that may make you feel unhappy, empty, or uninspired. If you’re unsure which relationships these are, take a look at your physiology when you’re with “prospective” people. Do you feel frustrated, emotional, and drained after spending time with these people? Sometimes, you might feel physically exhausted after having dinner with a friend. THESE are the people that drain you.  

 

You might have a better picture in your head of who these people are, but we don’t recommend immediately severing your connections with them. You might want to slowly distance yourself from them by cutting communication back and not attending social gatherings that may include them. 

 

When you let go of people who no longer serve you, there’s a space left open for people that do. People who make you happy, inspired, and encouraged to align your path with come along with ease. Be it that, you need to become that you wish to attract. 

 

If you desire to have more love, trust, and loyal relationships, you must embody your qualities and values yourself. 

 

Individuals must be like-minded and vibrate on the same frequency to form strong friendships and connections; interests and personalities may differ. With the same outlook on life, you’re able to build a strong bond. 

 

You will align yourself with things that matter when you start to pursue fulfilling and sustainable relationships. You will slowly become aware of things that are important as you allow for space within your life. It’s a natural process that makes you inclined toward healthier decisions that provide you with a sense of peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

 

It’s similar to when you start a new health and fitness journey where you no longer want to eat rubbage foods, instead gravitating towards healthier food options. You might also begin exercising during this time and become aware of how your body feels while progressing along your fitness journey. In the beginning, you may not want to eat right and exercise, but along the way, you desire that time spent making yourself a better person. 

Decluttering the home to find things that no longer serve you can bring a similar sense of satisfaction. There’s an inner reward that comes when you do something that brings natural happiness, especially when you no longer have space for harmful or toxic situations. 

 

 “The idea is to not have to let go, later, of what has become a burden, but rather to not hold on in the first place. Not holding on doesn’t mean being at a forced distance from what’s happening, but being fully with it.” – John Frazier, The Freedom of Being: At Ease with What Is

 

When your mind and body no longer become attuned to higher states of wellness, they physically no longer need destructive or toxic habits to provide fulfillment as they once offered. 

 

It’s not always easy. We sometimes want to obsess over insignificant circumstances or events that don’t serve us. The best piece of advice I can offer to you is to gain control of your mind with small steps. Consider these simple phrases, mantras to get you started: 

  • I have processed this and no longer need to visit it. 
  • All is well; I am safe. 
  • I breathe out fear and breathe in love. 
  • I am releasing what no longer serves me & expanding into my highest potential. 
  • I will not hesitate; I will just do what I need to do. 
  • I will accept what I cannot control.
  • I accept myself as I am. 
  • I’ve done more than enough today. 
  • I am human. 
  • I will live in the present. 
  • I will be a magnet for ideas today. 
  • I will acknowledge my self-worth. 

 

Start in the Comfort Zone

Don’t feel ashamed of starting your journey within your comfort zone. I promise that you will watch things unfold, almost like magic. You will want evidence that you are making the right decisions, and that’s why we suggest starting here. Once you understand that life is coming to the rescue, you will begin to make bigger and better decisions that align with your deepest desires. 

 

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” – Mother Theresa

 

If you’re unsure where to start, consider starting within your home. Go room by room, collecting items that no longer serve you or your family, and give them to a place that will get better use.  

 

You may consider asking the universe and yourself for guidance on how and when these items should be released from your possession. Do you need these items out immediately? Can you afford to keep these items around until your next moving date? Only you can decide. 

 

Naturally, the creative universal intelligence will help you find the right people who need your things. Consider researching different organizations in the area, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself inclined to give something somewhere with intent. You’ll know it’s the right time or place, especially if your intentions align correctly with the gift of giving. 

 

Be open-minded. The universe operates in mysterious ways.

Humans naturally think in linear patterns. However, in doing so, we block a great deal of mystery and synchronicities to occur. And if you think about it, the universe is a professional at “thinking” in multidimensional levels. That’s how it operates, and events will occur accordingly. As selfish as we’d not like to admit, that’s how the universe works, and events happen accordingly (and not on your own time). 

 

You must be open to opportunities by creating space within your life.

Who wants a boring life, anyways? People who always talk about how boring and mundane their lives are rarely taking risks and are probably doing the same tasks repeatedly. They do not make space for new excitement. Many of these people do not believe in the great mysteries of the universe and miss out on infinite possibilities. Yet, opportunities and new experiences are waiting to be unfolded! 

 

When you live life from an open perspective, you begin to see each situation as a new opportunity or mystery and with synchronicity. Rather than being attached to the idealization of timing on how things should play out, you’ll open the door for infinite possibilities to occur. 

 

“Life does not know what it will become until it reveals itself.” – Unknown

 

Once you mentally and emotionally detach from a situation, there is an infinite number of events and circumstances that will unfold. Instead, surrender control by allowing yourself to feel blessed for whatever shows up. In that case, you will start to find joy, peace, and happiness in everything you do. It’s the universe providing fulfillment in your life that you co-created! 

 

“The less you hold, the more your hands are open to what’s here, unexpected, transformative. In every moment is the possibility for a discovery, a radical undoing,” explains Jan Frazier.

 

This spring, challenge yourself to learn from others and detach from the idealization that life must go a certain way. Let go of things, people, places, or things that no longer serve you in exchange for infinite space for opportunity. You might find it hard to let go but do it anyway. Don’t let your limited way of thinking prevent you from mastering the lessons that life has to offer you, especially one of which is detachment. 

 

Understand that detachment does not equal apathy. It’s quite the opposite as it implies that we are handing over the process of life into a greater force that knows what’s best. We challenge you to accept that everything you want and need can be delivered to you if you make space for it. 

 

10 Foods to Improve Your Sexual Health

Enhance Your Romance WilcoWellness

Having a healthy libido is linked to feeling emotionally and physically healthy. It comes as no surprise that the foods, like Truffle Mushrooms and Oysters we eat play a role in boosting our sex lives.

Sex! No need to feel ashamed or embarrassed for peeking into this article. We’re all sexual beings! In fact, just like physical and emotional health, sexual health is critical to overall health and well-being. Having a healthy libido or sex drive is linked to feeling emotionally and physically healthy. It comes as no surprise that the foods we eat play a role in boosting our sex lives.

This list of foods to improve your sexual health may help improve your life dramatically. What do you have to lose? Dive deeper into this blog to find out more about sexual health and foods that can help improve your overall sexual health: 

What is the importance of sexual health?

First and foremost, sex is not just about knockin’ boots not having intercourse. It’s about taking charge of your reproductive health and advocating for your emotional well-being surrounding intimate relationships.

According to the American Sexual Health Association, someone who is sexually healthy will process the following characteristics, behaviors, and belief systems in regards to sex and relationships:

  • Sexuality is a natural part of someone’s life
  • Sexuality involves more than sexual behavior
  • Everyone has sexual rights
  • Make safe, reliable efforts to prevent STIs and unintended pregnants (and seek care and treatment, if needed)
  • Experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when they desire those type of experiences
  • Openly communicate about their needs with an intimate partner and healthcare providers when needed

These are goals to strive for provided by the ASHA, but know you do not have to check off everything from this list to have good sexual health. As they continue, “Each person has different ideas and standards for sexual health, and it is an incredibly personal part of a person’s identity and behavior.” But as a rule of thumb, safety, both emotionally and physically, and happiness for everyone in an intimate, sexual relationship keeps living a sexually healthy, authentic life.

When people have healthy, fulfilling relationships, it can improve their overall quality of life, physically and mentally, and may even extend their life.

How can you improve sexual health?

There are many pathways to improving sexual health, like managing stress and eating a proper diet. In fact, a diet rich in nutritious foods can benefit your sexual life in various ways:

  • Improve libido
  • Boost blood flow and heart
  • Improve stamina

Vegetables, lean proteins, and low sugar and saturated fat help prevent disorders that affect sex drive, like hormonal conditions and metabolic syndrome.

What are the best top foods for improving sexual health?

#1: Flaxseeds

Flax seeds have notable sexual benefits in both men and women. Sometimes known as linseed, these little brown seeds increase libido by increasing testosterone, the male sex hormone, in the body. It’s primarily responsible for most sexual functions. The presence of fatty acids in flax seeds also serve as building blocks for sex hormones.

Flaxseeds also increase sperm count and promote fertility due to the presence of L-Arginine. The blood flow also increases to sexual organs by flaxseed oil, thus keeping an erection longer.

#2 Red wine

Pour a glass of red wine, perhaps merlot, to naturally boost testosterone levels, which promote sexual function and sexual desire. Red wine also contains polyphenols, which help reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction.

 Keep in mind; drinking shouldn’t be in excess as it may lower levels of this sex hormone.

#3 Oysters

Zinc is abundantly present in oysters. This chemical element promotes sperm health, testosterone production and boosts fertility in men. The amount of testosterone present in women is less than in men, but it still plays an essential role in female libido.

Interestingly enough, oysters contain dopamine, which helps influence sexual desire in men and women.

The presence of zinc in oysters promotes blood flow within male sex hormones, helping sexual health and behavior.

#4 Pumpkin seeds

Like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds have a great deal of zinc within them, and the above benefits are quite alike. For instance, the male prostate gland benefits greatly from pumpkin seeds due to rich zinc and magnesium.

Pumpkin sees it contain antioxidative, antihypertensive, and cardioprotective nutrients, all essential for optimal sexual health. 

Pumpkin seeds also reduce the chances of prostate cancer, increase sperm production, count, and motility.

#5 Beets

Lettuce, Turnip, the BEETS! These packed veggies have aphrodisiac properties and contain nitrates, which promote healthy blood circulation.

#6 Pomegranate seeds

Testosterone, the primary sex male hormone in men, is responsible for various things, such as regulating estrogen levels and playing an essential role in female sex drive.

Pomegranate seeds are chock-full of polyphenols, a compound associated with reducing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. They also help relax blood vessels and boost blood flow to the brain and heart. If polyphenols improve blood flow in these areas, why not to other areas below the belt?

Not only do polyphenols help with blood flow (below the belt), they are packed with flavones, which promote erectile health, and vitamin C, which helps decrease stress and builds stamina.

#7 Avocado

Did you know the word “avocado” is derived from the ancient Aztec word meaning “testicle?” Consequently enough, avocados are an excellent source for testicle health (or for what lies inside of them).

Avocados are packed with Vitamin C, a crucial ingredient to helping widen blood vessels and potentially lowering the risk of certain heart diseases.

Other perks of this south-of-the-border treat include boosting energy and providing an overall sense of well-being.

Related Read: Men’s Nutrition 101: What to Eat, Where to Get it

#8 Salmon

This fishy-dish helps increase dopamine levels in the brain because it contains omega-3s, making you more energetic and sexually active. We understand that omega-3s help benefit the circulatory system run smoothly, helping lower the risk of certain diseases that may affect sexual health. Eat this pink-fleshed fish, as well as halibut, sardines, and tuna may help you keep your body and sex life healthy!

#9 Apples

“An apple a day may keep the gynecologist away.” That’s the phrase, right? We all know apples have many health benefits, but did you know they may help you “in the sack?” Yes! A compound is known as Quercetin, a flavonoid that acts as an antioxidant and is found in many apples. Quercetin helps manage prostatitis symptoms, treatment of erectile dysfunction, and supports overall circulation within the body.

#10 Truffle Mushrooms

Get your old huntin’ dog out and search for truffle mushrooms if you’re looking to promote sexual feelings, including sexual desire.

During the love-making phase, few odorous substances secreted, which are similar to testosterone, are called alpha-androstenol to attract females.

These edible aphrodisiac mushrooms should be at the top of your list!

Conclusion

Like our physical and mental health, sexual health is equally vital for achieving a happy, healthy life. By reducing stress and eating a nutritious diet, it’s easy to promote the health of those organs below the belt.  Countless natural sources promote your sexual performance by treating erectile dysfunction, improving blood circulation, or boosting libido.  On top of these nutritious tips, we encourage you to speak to a health clinician about your sexual health.

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Inspirational Links:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-for-better-sex

https://www.healthline.com/health/7-foods-enhance-your-sex-life#bottom-line