9 Ways to Relieve Muscle Tension When You Can’t Afford a Massage All Posts / Mental Health / Wellness

Over the past couple of months, I’ve experienced frequent muscle tension in the back of my neck, shoulders, and upper back.  As much as I’d love to get a massage, I just can’t afford it right now.  Instead, I’ve tried numerous other (free!) techniques for muscle tension.  Here are the most effective strategies I’ve found for reducing chronic pain and muscle tension.


How to Eat Clean on a Tight Budget All Posts / Clean Eating / Wellness

Several months ago, I decided to lose 50 pounds (and I’ve lost 35 so far!).  I was sick and tired of gaining more and more weight.  I knew that if I didn’t make some major changes to my lifestyle, I would keep putting on the pounds.  I started exercising 5-7 times per week, and I drastically changed my diet – I now eat a vegan, whole-food diet.

There is a common misconception that eating clean is exorbitantly expensive, but this is simply not true.  A whole-food diet certainly can be expensive, but if you follow these tips, your healthy diet doesn’t have to break your budget.


My $1,000 Mistake – Why You Need Vision Insurance All Posts / Wellness

In November, we went through open enrollment at work.  I selected the health insurance plan with the highest premiums (because it also has the lowest deductible), decided to opt out of dental insurance because I feel dental insurance is basically a scam, and waived vision insurance.

I’ve never had vision insurance in the past (and never needed it), so it didn’t even occur to me to sign up for it.  About a month after open enrollment had ended, I started noticing that I was having a lot of trouble reading things that were far away.  The text on the Netflix menu on my TV was suddenly blurry and difficult to read.  When driving, I noticed that I had to get pretty close to street signs before I could read them.

I decided to make an appointment with an eye doctor.  According to my medical insurance plan documents, the plan covered one eye exam per year.  At my appointment, the doctor told me that I needed to start wearing glasses (no surprise there) and gave me a prescription.  I went to Target and browsed their small selection of glasses, but I didn’t like any of them.  I went to a couple of other stores and tried on about 100 pairs of glasses (not exaggerating) before I found a pair I actually liked.  The glasses cost $385, but I told myself that it would be worth it because I would wear them every day.

About a month later, I got a bill in the mail from the eye doctor’s office for $400.  My insurance company had not covered anything.  I called them and explained to them that I had thought that my plan covered one vision exam per year.  Their response?  The plan covers a basic vision screening with a general practitioner – it does not cover a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist or opthalmalogist.

My $385 “splurge” on glasses had suddenly become $785.  Luckily, I had the money in my emergency fund, but it was still incredibly frustrating to have something put me behind on making extra payments toward my student loans.

I realized that I also needed prescription sunglasses, and thankfully, those were the cheapest part of the whole deal.  I had a 50% off coupon for sunglasses at Target, so I bought the cheapest pair they had (which also happened to be super cute) for $140 with my coupon (they normally would’ve been $280).

With the $385 cost for the glasses, $400 for the eye exam, and $140 for the sunglasses, I ended up spending nearly $1,000 – simply because I made the mistake of not buying vision insurance.  My company offers vision insurance for about $6/month.  It doesn’t cover everything, but it certainly would’ve saved me a ton on the glasses and the eye exam (I’ve heard great things about the vision plan from coworkers who have it).

Whenever I experience a financial setback, I try to make the most of it and take it as a learning experience.  What did I learn from this?

  1. Vision insurance is a necessity and is worth $6/month in premiums.
  2. If you aren’t 100% sure that your medical insurance covers something, verify this with the insurance company before you make the appointment.
  3. I need to work on my patience. If I had been more patient, I could’ve shopped around more and found a cheaper pair of glasses.

Do you wish you had done anything differently with your insurance?

9 Ways to Get Free Yoga Classes All Posts / Fitness / Wellness

I love yoga.  It’s challenging and has numerous physical benefits – it makes you more flexible, it makes stretching easier, and it strengthens your muscles.  It has plenty of mental benefits as well.  I leave yoga feeling centered, calm, and refreshed.


How to be Happy in 4 Simple Steps All Posts / Mental Health / Wellness

Visits to therapists skyrocket during the cold winter months.  Research shows that most of us feel more sad, anxious, or irritable during the winter than we do in the summer.  Some develop a serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is defined as depression that occurs during the winter months.  SAD is believed to be caused primarily by a lack of sunlight, which can cause problems with serotonin – a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Here is how to be happy in 4 simple steps.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


#100FitDays All Posts / Fitness / Wellness

I recently shared a post called Goals Update – February 2016 on my progress toward improving my health – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

My goals included:

  • Exercise at least 5x per week (strength training at least 2x per week).
  • Do yoga for at least 10 minutes 2x per week.
  • Eat a truly whole food diet – cut back on processed “healthy” food like plantain chips and protein bars.
  • Attend weekly therapy appointment for anxiety.
  • Attend weekly church service.
  • Read the Bible for at least 5 minutes daily (on the She Reads Truth app)


Is a High-Deductible Health Plan Right for You? All Posts / Wellness

As an HR professional, I’ve heard the question “which health insurance plan should I choose?” more times than I can count.  The answer is a common one in all things HR: it depends.  The best plan for your particular situation is based on how often you go to the doctor, how many prescriptions you take (and the cost of each prescription), and how risk-averse you are.


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