Get Fit for (practically) Free!

My dad and I this past September after we completed our second half-marathon together. 

The most common excuses people use to avoid working out and getting fit are generally: a lack of time and/or money, or not knowing where to start or what to do. While I cannot solve your time issue (although, Tim Ferris can!),  I am able to point you in the direction of free, or almost free, resources for working out sans the gym.

I have personally used, or currently use, the following resources with great success. And I, like many of you, get bored easily using the same workout plan or movements. After about ten years of trial or error, I’ve finally found a routine that works for me and has got me feeling and looking great!

The below is my typical weekly workout plan, and I’ve provided links to all of the apps and websites so that you can try them out too!

(Disclaimer: You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs).

Monday: Bikini Body Guide Workout by Kayla Itsines

There’s an initial cost to purchasing the 12 week guide, but I highly recommend it and it is 100% worth the price. I got in the best shape of my life using this three month program, and continually go back to it year after year. My 65-year old father has even had incredible results by doing it three times a week. Kayla’s Instagram account is also very inspiring and she has created a body-positive, health-minded community of people all over the world.

Tuesday: Run

I’ve started to run home from work once a week, and I love it because it is free, I get to explore my city, and I feel like I’m being super productive by exercising, commuting, and listening to an audiobook all at once!

My favorite app for running is MapMyRun because it’s fun to not only track my mileage and pace, but I also get to compete against my boyfriend, dad, and other friends in various challenges. (I’m currently kicking everyone’s butt in the two week step challenge!)

Again, there’s an initial cost associated with running; namely shoes and workout clothes, but once you’ve bought them, the cost per run is minimal. I always run with a lightweight athletic hat and fanny pack too, so I can protect my face and eyes from the sun, and carry my keys, cards/id (just in case), cell phone, chapstick, bandaids, and pepper spray (yep, I’m a woman). I tend to be overly prepared wherever I go, but you never know when it will come in handy.

I also love running around D.C. because I get to explore places I would normally not go, and I enjoy the interactions I have with people on the road. I always make a point to smile and at least say “hi” to the people I pass. While “community building” is not something that one would normally associate with outdoor exercise, it’s amazing how much more comfortable and connected I feel to my community by engaging in meaningful, albeit brief, greetings with random strangers.

Wednesday: Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines

Thursday: Run

Friday: Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines

Saturday and Sunday: Depending on how I’m feeling and what I have going on during the day, I will either choose to go running, do some yoga, enjoy a rest day, or do a shorter strength building workout using the 30 day workout phone apps.

Yoga with Adriene: is my all-time favorite yoga teacher and YouTube channel, and best of all, it’s completely free! She has amazing 30 day programs, and searchable videos of all different lengths when you want to work on a specific pose or part of the body. It’s perfect for everyone, from beginners to advanced. She’s really sweet and quirky, and I always feel wonderful after doing her videos.

The 30 day workout apps are fun because they target specific parts of the body, and are a perfect way of easing back into working out if you’ve been away from it for a while. During my summer of travel, these apps were my primary method for staying in shape, and I was really impressed with my level of fitness post-trip. It definitely helped me maintain my strength and I didn’t have to start from square one after returning to the U.S. All of the apps are free and you can do them anywhere; no equipment necessary. I didn’t even use a mat when I was abroad, just a towel sometimes when doing certain floor exercises.

Other great YouTube channels for easing you back into exercising, or for targeting specific muscle groups are:

Blogilates

POPSUGAR Fitness

Last word: getting fit is hands down one of the best ways to stay healthy, improve your confidence, happiness, sleep habits, sex drive, and avoid the doctor and high medical bills! Even if you start by doing it ten minutes a day, you will see results and a positive impact on many facets of your life.

 

Fake News, the MSM, and Independent Journalism

 

Preface: While I 100% support the investigative journalists and writers/authors/vloggers/bloggers etc., who dig up and reveal noteworthy events and behind-the-scenes information essential to an informed public, I’ll explain below why I do not wholeheartedly support main stream media (MSM) sources (in this case, MSM refers to such mega-conglomerates such a ABC News, Fox News, NBC News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times).

An interesting and unexpected side effect of Donald Trump’s “fake news” craze is the fact that more people are doubting the integrity and truthfulness of MSM, and the motives behind government officials, like never before.  At face value this may seem like a catastrophe of epic proportions, but, I beg to disagree.  It is, of course, dangerous when the first amendment rights protecting free speech and journalists come under fire; and, unfortunately, it seems that under Trump’s America, this is is becoming more normalized; however, I believe it is both positive and productive when citizens question the information that the corporate media produces and widely disseminates. I make this assertion because MSM is, at its core biased, although, not in the way that Donald Trump asserts. The bias, and accompanying hazard to society, lies, rather, in the nature  of its ownership and size of the companies. As the below graphic highlights, a majority of the local and smaller print and television companies have been acquired through mergers and buy-outs by larger mega-corporations such as Disney and Fox, as well as the Rockefeller and Rothschild families (for more on these oil tycoons, see these two posts).

media

*A similar infographic regarding the CEOs/owners and their subsidiaries can be found here.*

As a result, the U.S. has lost a great deal of independent news organizations that have gotten swallowed up, and pushed out of the industry due to the prohibitively high costs involved with competing against these media giants and staying afloat in the digital era. As this occurs, the messages become more watered down, more homogeneous, and more  controlled by an ever-shrinking number of individuals. This trend,  not necessarily the accusations of”fake news” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest threats to a free society. Let us not be naive in thinking that the CNN and Fox News executives only started to flex their power in the past few years, this, unfortunately, been a trend that has been occurring for many decades as seen in the below infographic:

infographic

If this doesn’t give you shivers, it should. The pivotal role that the independent media in holding the government, elected officials, and companies accountable to the public and our health and safety cannot be overstated. Without them, it becomes nearly impossible to uncover the truth and be informed about the inner workings, and behind-the-scenes actions that affect our community, family, jobs, environment, and health. Sadly enough, we cannot trust the government or companies to keep us healthy and safe anymore, so we have to take it into our own hands, and independent journalists are a major part of helping us do this.

Actions you can take today:

  1. Can’t believe I would hear myself saying this, but do like DT says and avoid MSM.
  2. In its place, support your local newspaper. Yes, it’s going to cost you, but the few dollars each week that you’ll pay is tiny compared to the price of entirely losing independent and investigative journalism. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to learn about local issues happening in your community, and find ways to get more connected and involved.
  3. Research the owners of news sources that you consume. Be a responsible consumer of news just as much as you are a responsible consumer of other goods and services. These two websites will save you time and energy since they’ve already done the research for you.
  4. Be an active consumer of news. Don’t just let information passively flow in without thinking critically about it and discussing what you hear/read/watch with others.
  5. Write letters to the editor. Don’t be tricked into thinking that your thoughts and opinion don’t matter or don’t deserve to be heard. They do. And I guarantee that if you’re thinking it, then others are too. Who knows, may you’ll start a movement too. Here’s a useful guide to get you started.

I’ve provided some news sources that I find to be (relatively) more independent than MSM sources below.  But PLEASE remember that just like people, no news sources is going to be completely unbiased. With that being said, a quick and dirty way to determine the level of influence that is being flexed over their journalistic integrity is to a) look them up on one or both of the websites above in #3; and b) take note of whether they’re asking for donations and state that they’re reader/audience-supported. If they are, then you can feel relatively safe in knowing that they lean towards being more independent and outside the realm (and control) of the MSM.

If you have any sources that you find to me informative and (less) biased than MSM, PLEASE share them here and help your fellow Counter Corporation-ists!

Follow me on Instagram!

I recently created a special account for Counter Corporations where I’ll be featuring local, independent businesses and companies that I love and support, as well as a variety of products, news, books, and things to inspire us in our anti-corporate journey. Following me on IG will also mean that you’ll never miss another post!

So, follow me @countercorporations right now, and let’s do this thing!

Disclaimer: I know it sounds hypocritical to use a Facebook product (I.e. large and fairly evil corporation), but I plan on using it for “good” and awareness-building about the issues I care about, so I hope to be forgiven this time.

A Guide to Buying Books the Anti-Corporate Way

Here’s where NOT to buy books: Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or other mega, chain retailer. You know what I’m talking about. They not only have a gigantic eco-foot print, but they also exclude certain types of books and authors, and are often more pricey than many of the other options highlighted below.

Here’s where TO buy books:

  1. Start with your local library! Not only will you be supporting your community, but you’ll also refrain from spending a dime or bringing clutter into your house. Other added benefits: You may also meet some new friends, stumble upon a book club or discover some great local events that you would have otherwise never heard about.
  2. Next: check out your local bookstore. Since I live in Washington, D.C., I have the fortune of being close to some fabulous local spots. My favorite so far being Kramerbooks & Afterwords — helps that they have a cozy bar and an amazing gluten-free chocolate torte! Local book stores also frequently host book signings and author talks, so check them out!
  3. Trade your books on PaperBackSwap.com. Here’s how it works: after you create an account, pull out the gently used books that you want to trade, and list them by their ISBN number. After someone requests one of your books, you ship it to them (and pay for postage; books are sent by media mail, so it’s usually less than $4 a book). After they receive it, you receive one credit in return (books on tape are worth two credits), that you can use to request a book from another user on the site (plus a trading fee of $.50), who then pays to ship the book that you requested to you. I’ve had resounding success on this website, and have sent/received over 140 books.
  4. If you’d like to go the used (and more affordable/green) route, thrift stores are generally chock full of paperbacks and kids books. My sister has found some incredible texts at her go-to store in Portland, Maine, and if you’re on the look out for James Patterson or Sue Grafton novels, thrift stores will feel like winning the jackpot. A word of advice: make sure that your expectations aren’t too high, and definitely go in with an open mind, because there is very little guarantee that you’ll find the exact title you’re looking for. So, be ready to be surprised and to take a chance on a novel that has seen better days.
  5. And then there’s this: Little Free Library! (photo above) Not sure how I got so lucky as to have one of these a block from my house in D.C., but it is just about the cutest, coolest thing ever (nerd alert)! The concept is simple: a Steward (anyone!) picks a legal and high-traffic location for the library, gathers starter books, and then registers it with the website. That’s it! So far, there are over  60,000 of these little guys all over the world! I really love the concept of making books accessible in neighborhoods where they may be far away from a library, or lack the resources to purchase books of their own.

If you don’t have any good, local options near you; or you are looking for a specific book, check out these online options for buying used and new books:

Powell’s Books Independent bookstore based in Portland, Oregon

YourOnlineBookstore.com  Free domestic ground shipping on all books

Thrift Books Free shipping over $10

Discover Books Free shipping in the U.S.

Llewellyn The world’s oldest and largest independent publisher of books for body, mind, and spirit

Did I miss anything? Let me know! What’s been your best thrift store book find?

4 Rules for Anti-Corporate Living

1) Whenever possible, buy local and buy small.
2) If you see the product everywhere (e.g. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Exxon), you can make a safe bet that it’s a mega corporation, and should avoid it.
3) Download the Buycott and/or Better World Shopper applications. These will make your life significantly easier because they’ve already done the research on the companies for you!
4) Research! Take time to learn about the products and companies from where you buy your products and services. Find out if the company is reputable, treats its workers well, practices environmental stewardship, and is not a cog in the mega-corporate machine.  Yes, it will take more time than clicking a few buttons on your Amazon app, and yes, you’ll go down some rabbit holes, and most likely get frustrated. But, I promise you, it is WORTH it. You’ll feel better knowing that your morals and values align with your spending and you’ll buy fewer, more high quality, not to mention unique, things (it’s about quality, not quantity, people!).
And, of course, check out this page for an ever expanding list of acceptable/unacceptable companies to buy from. I hope that you will contribute to the list as well!

Must Watch!

If you have some extra hours of free time during this in-between holiday week, be sure to check out my earlier post about “How Big Oil Conquered the World”.

Then, once you’re fired up about it and eager to learn more, watch part two: “Why Big Oil Conquered the World”.

In my opinion, these two videos sum up many of the reasons that I’m choosing to live an anti-corporate lifestyle; that is, I do not want to support or condone their (you’ll find out of whom I speak in the videos) quest for absolute power and control over the world’s natural resources or my personal choices, privacy, or income level. We, as the consumers have the sheer numbers and dollars that can either prop them up even further or bring them crashing down.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

A Counter-Corporate Christmas

If you’re like me, you haven’t quite finished your Christmas shopping yet, even though it’s only ten days away! As I’ve started to put more mental energy towards this initiative, I speculated that others might just be in the same predicament, and could use a cheat sheet, so here it is! And what could be a better opportunity to challenge yourself to buy (or make) everything from a counter-culture establishment. As an added bonus, your gifts will surely be more creative, thoughtful, and rewarding.

As you’ll notice in the list below, the gift ideas that I’ve generated will tend to be more special, and budget and eco-friendly than the normal gift-cards and standard, mass-produced items, and I guarantee you will have a more fun gift-buying experience as a result. Instead of seeing shopping as a chore, take some time to reflect on what you value, as well as what the recipient values, and start from there. Open up your mind and start brainstorming, and I know you’ll think of the perfect thing! Furthermore, shift your perspective on this time of the year from annoyance and stress to one of  mindful treasure-hunting! You’ll not only save time by avoiding big-box stores with long lines, but you’ll be able to save money, contribute to local, small businesses, and strengthen your community all at once. Convinced yet?

Let me know how it goes and if you have any other counter-corporate gift ideas to add!

  1. Adopt a baby elephant in the recipient’s name for only $50/year. They’ll receive monthly updates and photos of their orphan straight to their e-mail, and will feel good knowing that they’re helping elephants in Kenya survive without their mothers (most of whom have been killed by poachers)! Link here.
  2. Visit a locally owned coffee roaster, tea house, micro-brew or winery and pick out some small-batch items for the coffee/tea/beer/wine lover on your list. A quick duckduckgo search (an alternative to Google) will yield plenty of results.
  3. Whatever you can think of, there’s someone on Etsy who can make it! From custom-made everything to vintage items, handmade jewelry, clothes, home decor; the possibilities are truly endless. (For example, my friend loves sloths, and I was able to purchase some of the cutest sloth earrings and bookmark at an affordable price).
  4. Get creative and make your own:
    1. Jewelry– go to your local bead store to pick up some supplies, or do what I love to do and take apart broken or mismatched pieces that I already own and then put them back together in interesting ways, to create a brand new piece.
    2. Candles– buy wax, coloring, and flavored scents, then look up directions online and fill your house with delicious odors.
    3. Lotion –I use a base of shea butter and add either marula or vitamin e oil, as well as essential oils like Tea Tree or Lavendar for scent. Again, the possibilities are endless and you can customize it based on the recipient’s preferences. (There are lots of recipes online that can be found by searching DIY lotion).
  5. Potted plants are always a hit! I recommend the eco-friendly option of decorating empty jars or containers you have lying around the house, or stop buy your local thrift store (avoid Goodwill), and pick up some cool pots. Then, fill with potting soil and an easy-to-care-for plant like succulents or Aloe Vera.
  6. If you want to buy clothes or cosmetics, check out Poshmark  and buy from an individual rather than a corporation. (I recently purchased a brand new pair of Toms from Poshmark for my boyfriend for Christmas).
  7. Visit a local Christmas/community/holiday/church fair to purchase a locally-made items.
  8. Bake! Everyone loves homemade fudge, cookies, candy, etc. If you don’t own a cookbook, the internet has myriad recipes available, most of them being quite easy to follow.
  9. Get artsy! I personally love making collages using old magazines. I find that you can make a really unique piece of art for someone using something as simple as scissors, glue, magazines and/or photos, and a canvas or piece of cardboard. I’ll be making one for my Mom this year using a line from her favorite poet as inspiration.

Last, but not least, wrap those presents in newspapers or other paper or cloth you might have lying around! (I also compulsively save old ribbons for this very purpose).

Good luck and happy gifting!

**The image is a photo of the Swedish Tomte Christmas gnomes that my cousin and I made last week! Here’s the link if you’d like to give it a shot 🙂

Super Oils & Honey

Over the past few months I’ve slowly transitioned to using more pure and natural beauty cosmetic as alternatives to mass-produced creams filled with chemicals and preservatives, and my body couldn’t be happier! Below, I’ll share some of my favorite DIY beauty tricks that are both good for your skin and good for your wallet.

For the below anti-corporate products, make sure you buy products that do not have any additives or additional chemicals, and buy from local and small producers! Your community health food store or direct from a producer online (as opposed to Amazon) is a good place to start.

  1. Vitamin E Oil: this amazing multi-purpose oil can be used:
    • To heal scars anywhere on your body
    • As a moisturizer on your face (it absorbs remarkably fast and is incredibly nourishing; I use it just about every day)
    • As body lotion
    • As a personal lubricant
  2. Marula Oil: this oil can be used:
    • In your hair to make it stronger and shiny (similar to Argan oil)
    • On your face as a moisturizer and body
    • To clear up psoriasis (my sister swears by it
  3. Honey (buy raw and local): can be used:
    • As a face mask– cover face in a layer and leave on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing. Will leave face feeling luxurious and glowing. Can be repeated daily or minimum once a week.
    • As a face wash: mix equal parts honey, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and olive oil in a bottle (I re-used the one from my old face wash); shake before use, and apply to damp/wet face. Close those eyes, as the vinegar can sting.
    • As an antiseptic on cuts and burns
    • As a sleep-aid
    • For weight management
    • For sore throats and coughs

Have you used any of these products? What are your favorite brands?

Deleting your [corporate] social media accounts

This podcast explores the feasibility and methods for deleting your social media accounts and information off the internet, and discusses related privacy and consumer protection issues.

Oh, the irony of us willingly (and dare I say enthusiastically?) providing these companies with the very information and tools they need to make a profit from us.

I’ve personally already deleted my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, but it makes me wonder if I should also delete my Instagram, WhatsApp (both of which are owned by Facebook, by the way) and Twitter account due to privacy concerns and the fact that they indiscriminately sell our personal information to third parties for a profit.

After listening to this podcast I’m also really glad that I have chosen not to shop via Amazon and other big name stores since they are able to track your shopping history and behavior patterns via customer loyalty programs/cards and purchase history.

While this should be a given, I know that I also need to be reminded to always think before posting (and purchasing).

2 Books That Will Change Your Life

Through my journey on becoming less materialistic and a more mindful consumer, I’ve found two books to be especially powerful, enlightening, and inspiring. I have notice marked improvements in my overall level of happiness, contentment, and stress levels, as a result of putting the lessons of these teachers into practice. I know I’m probably sounding hippie-dippy right now and perhaps you’re even rolling your eyes at this point, but every word of this I have found, in my own experience, to be the truth, and I encourage you to give both books a try and see what happens.

If you’ve already read them, I’d love to hear what you thought, and if you have seen similar results?

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson