Administrative, Writing Services

Announcing ArkanSavvy.com!

Hi guys! Long time, no blog. Oops! I’ve been super swamped with client work, which is… a wonderful problem to have in these topsy-turvy days. 🙂

I’ve also decided to create more of a separation between my health blog and my freelance writing website, so I’ve started a new blog: ArkanSavvy.com! I’ve already exported most of the posts from here to the new site, so please go check it out. And if you’re following this blog, I’d love for you to give my new one a follow as well.

At ArkanSavvy, I’ll be sharing low-carb recipes (just forgive my terrible food photography – still learning!), nutrition info, my favorite products, and some general lifestyle/travel/home/personal finance stuff. Although the travel stuff may be pretty limited this year, for obvious reasons. Honestly, the new blog will have a little bit of everything that I love and that I’m kinda obsessing over. (And if you can’t tell from the name, I live in Arkansas and I’m very proud of my state… it’s Colorado Lite, and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise.)

BUT, this blog is not going anywhere! I’ll be posting here regularly with content that’s geared towards freelance writers and online nutrition entrepreneurs.

Just wanted to let y’all know the exciting news. 🙂 I hope you’ll stick around here, and join me at ArkanSavvy!

Beverages, Export3, nutrition

6 Healthy Drinks (Other Than Water)

What you drink can have a HUGE impact on your health. I mean, think about it: how much fluid do you drink per day? It adds up pretty quickly, so if you’re drink choices are less than ideal… well, that can add up quickly too!

Luckily, there are plenty of healthy options other than plain ol’ water (although I think you should get your body used to the taste of plain ol’ water, also)!

What makes a drink healthy?

Before we start our list of healthy drinks, we first have to figure out what exactly makes a drink “healthy.” If you’ve read my nutrition philosophy, you know that I follow a low-carb lifestyle (most of the time, haha), and so my definition of healthy may be different from some other folks’ definitions, although I think there are some universal things we can all agree on.

Here are my criteria for a healthy beverage:

  • Contains no artificial sweeteners or added sugars
  • Is not a less nutrient dense form of another food (bye-bye, fruit juice!)
  • Does not contain food dyes, additives, or artificial flavors
  • Is not a reduced-fat version (reduced fat = more sugar)
  • Conditional: low in calories (ex, I’m trying to lose some weight so I’m leaning towards low- or no-calorie beverages; however, my hyperactive 4-year-old has more wiggle room)

So, let’s get into our list!

1. Coffee

Coffee is magic, and we all know it. Something about that first sip in the morning is just… perfection.

Luckily, coffee is actually pretty great for you too, as long as you’re not mainlining it or adding tons of sugar or coffee creamer.

Along with the caffeine – which can actually have some beneficial effects in small doses, like perking you up and slightly boosting your metabolism – coffee contains polyphenols (plant antioxidants), which can help neutralize unstable compounds in your body and decrease your risk of certain chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The sweet spot seems to be about 3-4 cups per day, as one large study found that those who drank 3-4 cups of coffee per day had the largest reduction in risk of heart attack, heart-related death, and death from any cause. However, this research was mostly based on observational data, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

I typically drink two (admittedly large) cups a day and start to feel gross if I have any more than that, but the takeaway here is that your morning brew is good for you!

2. Tea

Tea is another super-healthy drink. There are three main types here in the States, but the varieties are literally endless. Here are the 3 types:

  • Green: Green tea is made from fresh tea leaves (no further processing beyond drying) and has a light, floral flavor
  • Black: Black tea is made from tea leaves that have been oxidized, resulting in a darker color and stronger flavor
  • Herbal: Herbal teas are made from things other than tea leaves, such as herbs, spices, and fruits

Like coffee, all of these teas are generally great for you if you’re not adding a bunch of extras. Bubble tea and chai lattes and matcha frappes are great and all, but they are LOADED with sugar. There’s no pretending they’re healthy.

Tea, green tea in particular, contains compounds called catechins which are highly anti-inflammatory. A quick PubMed search shows me that they’re being studied for cancer prevention, infectious diseases, infertility, and anti-aging.

In addition, black tea (like my favorite hot teas, Constant Comment and Earl Grey, as well as the quintessential iced tea here in the South) contains antioxidants called theaflavins and thearubigins and has exhibited strong anti-cancer effects in non-human trials.

Herbal teas can also have a variety of health benefits, depending on the ingredients they’re made with. I recently wrote an article for Healthline Nutrition about the benefits of sage tea.

My recommendation for a dreary day: a homemade London Fog, which is a strong-brewed cup of Earl Grey with milk or cream, along with a little bit of sweetener (I recommend stevia or monk fruit) and vanilla.

3. Kombucha

Kombucha has gotten really popular over the past several years. It is made from green or black tea, but I felt that it deserved its own category because it is fermented.

Fermented foods and drinks really don’t get enough love, but they are so great for you. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t incorporate enough fermented foods into my diet.

Kombucha is a great way to get them in though! Kombucha contains a very small amount of alcohol (a result of the fermentation) and sugar, which serves as the food source for the bacteria and mold that ferment the tea. This bacteria is known as a SCOBY: symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Sounds appetizing, huh?

Luckily, the fermentation process also provides some natural carbonation. And many people actually really enjoy the taste of kombucha. There are PLENTY of options on the market in a million different flavors too, so you’re sure to find one that you like.

Kombucha is rich in probiotics, or healthy bacteria that can colonize in your gut. Little research has been done on the effects of kombucha in humans, but animal trials have found numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

4. Full-fat and fermented dairy

Yes, unless you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, FULL-FAT dairy is good for you.

An observational study in over 9,000 people found that full-fat dairy intake was associated with a 12% lower risk of metabolic syndrome (a precursor to type 2 diabetes and heart disease), while low-fat dairy intake didn’t decrease a person’s risk of developing metabolic syndrome at all.

Now we’ve discussed the drawbacks of observational studies before, so we have to approach these findings with some healthy skepticism. However, other studies have found similar results. Full-fat dairy appears to be healthier than low-fat dairy.

But let’s be real, we don’t need studies to confirm common sense: milk is naturally high in fat, and removing the fat (along with a good chunk of the nutrients) does not improve its health profile. In fact, low-fat milks are higher in sugar, which can cause an larger insulin response – potentially leading to weight gain!

Fermented dairy products like kefir (which is a drink you can now buy at most grocery stores) and Greek yogurt can also help improve your gut health because – like kombucha – they contain healthy bacteria. Be careful here: choose the full-fat version and avoid the sugary ones! Shockingly, most of the yogurt you can get at the grocery store is an absolute sugar-bomb (and better suited for the ice cream case than the yogurt section)!

If you’re trying to lose weight you may want to take it easy on the dairy, as it is very calorie-dense. Additionally, research points to a link between dairy intake and acne, so you may want to limit it if you’re trying to clear up your skin.

5. Plant milks

Soy, coconut, almond, macadamia, flax, oat… the plant milk options are becoming endless.

I personally like plant milks, except a lot of them are – again – loaded with sugar and less-than-ideal ingredients. I would also recommend everyone – low-carb, vegan, normal (;D), or none of the above – avoid soy milk because it is full of hormone-disrupting phytoestrogens.

My favorite is unsweetened almond milk. Macadamia nut milk is fantastic, but also really expensive! Luckily, these nut milks are also low in carbs and calories – making them the perfect substitute to a glass of milk for those of us who are trying to lose some weight.

Caveat: You may have recently read that almond milk production is killing bees. This is making me rethink my love affair with almond milk, because bees are awesome and important. I am still mulling this over and will definitely keep you updated. Luckily there are several “bee-friendly” brands on the rise!

6. Sparkling water

My last recommendation for a healthy drink other than water is, technically, still water. But it’s got BUBBLES! There are SO many sparkling waters on the market today, it’s really easy to find one that is either completely unsweetened or one that is sweetened with natural sweeteners rather than the artificial stuff.

I definitely recommend sparkling water if you’re trying to kick a soda habit too. Gotta get those bubbles somehow!

Key message

Plain water is great, and by far the healthiest drink you can choose. BUT there are plenty of other healthy drink options too!

Be sure to avoid added sugars and artificial sweeteners, as they can do more harm than good. In the case of dairy, you don’t have to fear the full-fat versions either.

What’s your favorite healthy drink? (Mine’s coffee… no question.) Do you have any other suggestions for healthy drinks besides water?

Administrative

SaVannaShoemaker.com’s End-of-Year Wrap-up and New Year Goals

Look at the Stars iPhone Blog Graphic

I’m a sucker for new year’s resolutions. I love everything about the new year: the hopefulness, the optimism, the excitement, the chance to turn over a new leaf, and the excuse to pour yourself fully into your goals without seeming like a bizarrely enthusiastic weirdo. Because it’s a brand new year!

The bad thing is, I think I can count on one hand the number of new year’s resolutions I’ve actually kept.

All that hopefulness and optimism fades away so quickly… normally around mid-January, when the kid is sick and we drop a bunch of cash on doctor’s appointments, and then I get a flat tire or a check engine light on the way home from the pharmacy. Clearly, the circumstances of my life never quite get the memo that it’s a “new year, new me” and a sick kid and a flat tire are not part of the plan.

But, let me be cliche for a moment here… 2020 is going to be different. I feel like I’ve been living a life in transition for the past several years, never able to fully focus my goals and my personal growth because there’s always something else that takes priority: graduating from school, being a newlywed, working at a stressful job, a miscarriage, a pregnancy, a baby, a move, job changes, and on and on… but that is NOT going to be the case in the coming year!

I’m settled. I have a great full-time job, a growing writing business, a home we’re not planning to leave any time soon, a husband who supports my dreams, and a preschooler who (thankfully) thrives on routine. The time is now.

AND I’m turning 30 in 2020. The time is definitely now. Gulp.

So without further ado… my 2019 wrap-up and 2020 goals!

2019 Year in Review

2019 was an exciting year for me. In March I received the offer to start writing for Healthline Nutrition, and I jumped in headfirst. I’ve been writing at least one article a week (sometimes two) for NINE months now, and my writing skills have improved so much.

Fast forward to November and I was struck with the sudden inspiration to start my writing business. I’ve been obsessively listening to podcasts, researching, poring through Facebook groups, and building my website for the past 2 months, and I think it’s paying off. I’ve got big plans for my business in 2020!

I also got to go off-roading in Las Vegas with my husband and whitewater rafting in Denver with my best friend, and those were some adventures that I will never forget!

2020 Goals

So in 2020 I have 4 BIG goals that I really want to achieve (and some tinier goals, and sub-goals within my big goals, etc, etc… I started working on my new year’s resolutions at the beginning of Q4 2019 so I’ve been thinking about these for a while.)

1. Improve my health

I’ve always been, um… hefty, but I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant with my son and I haven’t lost a bit of it yet except for the same 10 pounds I keep losing and regaining over and over again. And that really hurts for me to say, because I’m a registered dietitian and “I should know better” (and yes, I have been told this by one of my own clients before).

Moment of vulnerability here: I hate being a fat dietitian. I know it deeply damages my credibility, and it even makes me nervous to put myself out there as a writer. In my mind I know my weight has absolutely nothing to do with my writing skills or my knowledge, but I still have a ton of shame around it. I do want to lose weight for health purposes as well. And to look better, obviously.

However, I’m going to try not to focus on my weight so much in the coming year because it makes me a neurotic mess (see above paragraph). Instead, I’m gonna focus on my behaviors and trust that my weight will follow. I want to eat better, even on the weekends or when I’ve had a really bad day or when I’m on my period and all I want is a solitude and a 5-lb Hershey bar. I want to stick to a workout routine, kick my diet soda habit/addiction for good, and focus on improving my health versus getting skinnier.

On that note, I’ll be using my Instagram to document my “health gain” journey, so feel free to follow me if you’d like to stay up-to-date or help me stay accountable. My handle is @savannashoemaker_rdn.

2. Grow my writing business

I also want to keep growing my business! I feel like it’s already grown so much in two months, and I’m so excited to see where I’ll be in December 2020. I’m hoping to land a few more regular writing clients and grow my blog into a trusted source for nutrition info.

I also have a personal goal to write every. single. day. in 2020. I love to write and I want to keep getting better at it, and writing for 366 days (leap year!) in a row sounds like a really good way to do that.

And although it probably won’t be in 2020… I want to write a book. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a weird middle schooler. Bucket list, baby!

3. Have a baby

It is PAST time for my 4-year-old to get a little sibling. He’s a little tyrant in the making, the golden boy of the family and the center of attention for his approximately 30 grandparents (he’s very loved). He NEEDS a little sibling to bring him down a few pegs. And I’m only mostly kidding about this.

But, we do want to grow our family in 2020. I know that’s not exactly something we can control, but it is something that we are hoping, planning, and preparing for!

4. Save and make more money

I made a pretty decent income from writing as a side hustle this year, and my goal for 2020 is to at least double it. I also want to make that extra money work for us by paying off my car, building up our emergency buffer, and replacing the carpets in our house with hardwood. In what world is white carpet a good idea??

I’m obsessed with optimizing our family finances and I have been since I got my first job at age 16 and started keeping a record of every single thing I spent money on in a little notebook in my purse (still do, tbh). Maybe I’ll even pursue some personal finance writing gigs… we’ll see.

So, those are my 2020 goals. 2019 was an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the coming year. I want to ROCK this new decade and ring in my 30’s as a healthier wife and mom, a better businesswoman, a more confident dietitian, and a stronger writer!

What are your new year’s resolutions??

Fitness, Uncategorized

5 Ways Sedentary Freelancers Can Be More Active

White Brown BBQ _ Grill Party Pinterest Graphic

The holidays tend to be a real struggle for me with over-indulging and putting on a few pounds, with the promise to myself that I will work it off in the new year… but it never quite works out that way.

So, I’ve decided to stick to my low-carb eating through the holidays because I know that by eating this way I can at least maintain my weight. Although it can be momentarily hard to turn down more than just a bite of all my holiday favorites, I love experimenting with low-carb recipes and making healthier versions of all my favorites. In fact, as I’m writing this I just pulled some low-carb hoagie rolls out of the oven for French dip sandwiches and they are MONDO tasty. Also, over Thanksgiving I had a low-carb s’more that was incredible, and my dad made some amazing monkfruit-sweetened hot cocoa  that was even better than the sugary stuff!

Along with eating the way that makes me feel best, I’m trying to get back into an exercise routine as well. Let me be honest here: until this month, I had not exercised since May. I despise it. The thing is, I know I need it, and I always feel great once I start and especially once I’m finished.

My goal for December is to build some exercise habits that will hopefully carry over into 2020. I have committed to a 10-minute yoga session (my favorite is @SarahBethYoga) and 100 weighted squats daily, and 10,000 steps on my off days.

But after a few days I’ve realized just how sedentary I am. Wearing my step counter for the first time in months shows me I’m barely breaking 2,500 steps per day, so to hit my step goal I’ve been spending 1+ hours on the treadmill every night.

I honestly didn’t realize quite how sedentary I was. So I decided to brainstorm some ways that I, a writer who spends most of my spare time curled up on the couch with my laptop, could be more physically active throughout the day. It’s SO important.

Even one exercise session can boost your energy and mood, slightly improve your focus and memory, and ramp up your calorie burn. However, the compounded benefits of exercising regularly are pretty amazing: increased insulin sensitivity (this is a GREAT thing), a higher resting metabolic rate (which means you get to eat more… sign me up!), increased muscle mass, stronger bones, better mood, decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, I could go on and on.

So, let’s get to it: here are 5 ways that us sedentary freelancers (or anyone really, but this article is geared towards people who work from home) can be more physically active throughout the day!

1. Start your day with some physical activity

One way to give your step count a boost is to start your day with some physical activity, like the 10-minute yoga I mentioned above, or even walking in circles around your kitchen while the coffee kicks in (totally have done this before). It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous, complicated, or time-consuming.

In fact, the thing I love about yoga AND walking aimlessly around my house is that I don’t have to put on shoes. Sometimes putting on shoes is just too much to ask.

If you have time to do a full-on workout, more power to you! My 4-year-old has a very accurate “mom’s awake” radar that keeps me from being able to do that right now, but I am looking forward to working out in the morning one day again.

Regardless, at least do a little bit each morning to set the tone for an active day. I’m committing to waking up 10 minutes earlier every day to do a short yoga session.

2. Use the Pomodoro technique to your advantage

The Pomodoro technique is a way to increase your productivity by forcing yourself to focus on one single task for a set amount of time (typically 25 minutes). During this time, you are not allowed any distractions: no phone, no Facebook, no TV, and hopefully no uncooperative children.

After the time is up, you take a 5-minute break where you physically remove yourself from the workspace and do something mindless, like watering plants, unloading the dishwasher (I’d rather pull my own teeth), or looking at memes. Basically, you want to give your brain a break.

Lots of writers use Pomodoros as a way to power through writer’s block, distractions, and procrastination to just get some words on the page. However, you can also use the break period as a way to boost your step count and get in some very purposeful physical activity. Here are some of my suggestions for using this little break to your advantage:

  • Take a brisk walk around the house, or – even better – outside
  • Do weighted squats with a dumbbell or kettlebell
  • Do a 1-minute plank or wall-sit, and if you’re anything like me, spend the other 4 minutes recovering from doing a 1-minute plank or wall-sit
  • If you’ve got a kid to keep entertained, have some cheap hula hoops or jump ropes handy, and that 5-minute break can be something fun and physically active for y’all to do together
  • If you’re really struggling with whatever project you’re working on, sob deeply – it really engages the core

3. Make your workspace more movement-friendly

I have NO personal experience with this one. I’m still a part-time writer with no home office, so I write at the dining table, on the couch, or in my bed. But one of my biggest priorities in the coming year for my writing business is going to be getting a dedicated workspace set up that is conducive to both productivity and physical activity.

That workspace is going to include a standing desk, because prolonged sitting is so very extremely terrible for you.

Luckily, standing desks or standing desk attachments are pretty accessible now. It looks like you can get one with decent reviews for about $80 on Amazon, and that will probably be my starting point.

Additionally, you can get a balance ball chair, which is a better alternative to an office chair. Balance ball chairs promote better posture and can help decrease lower back pain from sitting too long. In addition, they encourage “active sitting” – or moving while you sit. Which brings me to my next point…

4. Be fidgety

My husband’s nickname for me is “RLS” (restless leg syndrome) because I’m a chronic fidgeter. I can’t keep still. Typically it’s tapping my foot, but I’m also a relentless pen-clicker. If there’s a clicky pen in my hand… it’s getting clicked. And if it has a clip, I’m gonna fiddle with it until the clip pops off and flies across the room, usually during church, or in a meeting at work. Happened a lot in school, too. All my pens look like this:

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Luckily, there are no downsides to fidgeting unless you’re married to someone who is constantly driven crazy by it! While fidgeting is far from exercise, these tiny micro-movements throughout the day can give you a very slight advantage over being completely still at your computer desk.

In fact, some research shows that fidgeting can help offset some of the negative effects of prolonged sitting and increase your daily calorie burn!

So… drum on the desk. Tap your feet. Dance at the computer. Click the pen… especially if there’s no one listening. You click that pen to your heart’s content.

5. The obvious one: workout regularly

Yes, it’s obvious but also so so so difficult for me, and I’m sure plenty of other people too. Between my full-time job and commute, my freelancing career, my 4-year-old, cooking supper every night, cleaning the house, staying on top of laundry, and getting the minimum amount of sleep I require to function… I have let working out fall by the wayside for far too long.

But this is one that I’m just gonna have to buckle down and do, and I recommend the same to you. Unfortunately, most of us (especially if you do any kind of home-based freelance work) aren’t getting the physical activity that our great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents were able to get just from living their lives.

Life in 2019 requires so much less physical effort than in generations past, which is why we need to make ourselves be physically active.

So while “power through it and get it done,” may seem trite, that’s just what we gotta do.

Thankfully, once I get started I enjoy my workout and find the motivation to finish it. It’s getting started that is the hard part.

Just remember, your exercise does not have to be extreme, or even daily. Start small and work your way up. 30 minutes, 3 days a week is a great starting point.

I hope these 5 tips have been helpful for you, especially during this time of year when it’s so easy to say “Oh, I’ll get started next year.”

If you are living a sedentary life (talking to myself here also), it’s too important to put off any longer. Get moving!

 

Administrative

Welcome to SaVannaShoemaker.com!

Well, it’s official! SaVannaShoemaker.com is live! HUGE thanks to WordPress for their Black Friday sale that convinced me to pull the trigger NOW instead of waiting until the new year, because I’m physically incapable of passing up a good deal!

FYI, the sale is live through the end of today, if you’re reading this on December 2, 2019. Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY for 20% off all paid hosting packages!

I’d also like to thank Erin Mize Designs for my beautiful logo. She took an idea that was trapped in my head and brought it to life wonderfully.

SaVanna-Carrot resized

I can’t recommend her enough for anything artistic!

Please feel free to browse and let me know if it’s looking crazy on your desktop/laptop/phone/tablet/Xbox One/whatever. I’ve got it looking quite nice on my laptop, but I want to be sure that it’s got a consistently sharp and clean look on all devices.

My goal is to release new content on my blog every Monday, and the other pages of my website will be updated as needed. Hopefully I will have some exciting news later this week!

Best,

SaVanna (savanna@savannashoemaker.com – gotta share my new URL and email address one more time in this post!)

Writing Services

Why I Decided to Start This Business

I have always loved to write.

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Granted, in my younger years it was Harry Potter fanfiction (excuse me while I die of embarrassment), and then eventually writing my own stories during NaNoWriMo and MayNoWriMo. Never was able to finish one though.

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Just FYI: there are gonna be a lot of screenshots of my old Facebook posts in this post, and none of them use capitalization because I thought it was ~cool~. I was also an emoji-abuser. Old me makes me cringe so hard. My deepest apologies for what you just saw and what you’re about to see.

Eventually I moved past fiction and decided to embrace writing non-fiction. I was always a really strong writer in school, and when I found out that you could actually make money to write stuff on the internet, I was totally sold.

I wrote a few pieces for the now-defunct Yahoo! Contributor Network, but eventually moved on to TextBroker, where I made my way up to a 4-star rating (holla) and wrote several pieces over the years. Usually when I was broke and I really needed to come up with some quick cash.

text broker

From 2014-2017, as a newlywed, freshly-graduated dietitian, and first-time mom, I didn’t do a lot of writing honestly (and I had just written a 150-page Master’s thesis, so I was pretty tapped out). I did some free stuff and volunteered for the nutrition newsletter at my job, but that was about it.

I also started and abandoned dozens of blogs. I’m sure you can still find some of them floating around the internet, with only a post or two before I gave up.

However, earlier this year I got a great opportunity to be a contributor for Healthline Nutrition, which I consider my “big break.”

Since I joined their freelance team in March, I have produced at least one article per week. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different editors, to seriously beef up my writing skills, to learn more about the “behind the scenes” work that goes into these websites, and to learn to gracefully accept and appreciate feedback and constructive criticism. My skills have seriously improved.

Now that I’ve been a regular contributor for a while, I’ve seen more and more doors open up to write elsewhere. I’ve remembered just how much I love to write, and I realize now that I have something valuable to offer. And that I absolutely can succeed.

So… I started a business. I’ve got this amazing chance to build my dream job from the ground up, combining writing and nutrition… and I’m going for it!

I think young SaVanna (even though she was really embarrassing) would be proud.

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