When I Get__________, then I am Happy…

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What do you need to be happy? When will you be happy?

These are two questions we were asked during the Art of Living Happiness Program, a 5-day meditation course that I’m participating in. There were an array of answers from the group, everything from finding a soulmate to career success to financial stability.

I often ask these sorts of questions to my clients during my coaching programs.  Their answers usually look something like this:

“Once I lose 5 pounds, then I am happy…”

“Once I tone my arms, then I am happy…”

“Once I get skinny, then I am happy…”

“Once I get a hot bod, I will find my dream man and then I am happy…”

“Once I stop eating ‘bad’ food, then I will lose the weight and alas finally I am happy…”

Sound familiar? So often in life we prevent ourselves from moving forward and experiencing happiness in the now because we are waiting on something outside of ourselves — be it the dream bod or the high-paying job.

During our “Happiness Program” course, one of our instructors had us do something so simple, yet so profound. Once we completed our list of “When I get_____, I am happy” he had us cross off everything on the left side. All that was left was “I am Happy.”

I. Am. Happy.

You see, here’s the thing — there’s always going to be something else we desire, another thing we are chasing.

Once we get the degree, then we want the dream job. Once we get our dream job, then we want the dream man. Once we get the dream man, then we want the perfect house. Once we get the perfect house, then we want kids. Once we have kids then we want a new job/thinner arms/a vacation/fill in the blank. It’s endless, you see?

Why can’t we just be happy now?

Let go of the 5 pounds, the sculpted arms, and being skinny. Press pause on the hot bod, the dream man, and dissecting your “bad” eating habits. Forgive yourself for not having the perfect salary, big house or everything all figured out just yet.

Ironically, all this time wishing and hoping for something else is preventing us from simply being happy with who we are, as we are, in this moment.

Instead, just be happy and stop worrying so darn much. Seriously, it’s as simple as that.

What does your happiness list look like? What sorts of things are preventing you from experiencing true happiness? How can you be happy right now?

                 

Healthy Chicks in the Community: A Captivating, Creative, Photographing Dancing Babe

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Good morning, Healthy Chicks and TGIF! If you haven’t caught my post on our August Soul Sisters Retreat (on Castle Island!) be sure to check it out here – we’ll be announcing full details and opening up registration later today.

Moving on to this week’s Healthy Chicks in the Community column, a weekly series that celebrates fabulous women in the community. This week, I’m super giddy to introduce you to Kayte (yes, she’s super cool and spells her name with a ‘y.’) When I first met Kayte at a farm-to-table supper last fall, I was in awe by her utter beauty. She totally had this “look” going on: the best haircut, a super trendy outfit, and bright red lipstick. And then when I actually introduced myself to her, I was hooked! As beautiful as she is, she is also genuine, playful, creative and unique. Girl crush, anyone? I’ll let Kayte take it away from here!

NAME/AGE: Kayte Demont / 25

BLOG/TWITTER: Mass Musings (massmusings.com) @massmusings (IG) @mass_musings (twitter)

CURRENT CITY: Boston

PHOTO TAKEN (WHERE/WHEN): In Back Bay last week haha

WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: I’m the Community Engagement Lead for Zomato in Boston and the Founder/Editor of lifestyle and music blog Mass Musings

NUMBER ONE PASSION: Dancing :)

I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: exercising daily and eating well. I love to walk places instead of taking transportation whenever I can.

BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES: Indulge in what I like to call “fat kid sundays” in which I literally stuff my face with everything in sight — this is typically after a night of drinking wine with friends.

TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES: A frying pan (I love to sauté veggies and make eggs), a blender (for smoothies!) and a microwave (I’m not a very advanced cook…hahaha I try though!)

NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE: Not wearing pants in my house. I hate pants.

THREE FAB THINGS ABOUT YOU: I’m creative, compassionate, and driven. I also try my hardest to be a good friend.

EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE: I love swimming. I swam all throughout high school and college which makes it hard for me to stay motivated without a coach or team. However, now I use swimming as not only a form of exercise but as meditation too. I also love to dance :)

FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: French fries – Anything french fry related is great for me! I also love eggs rolls. I could probably eat them every day.

MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS: No one is perfect! Do whatever you can to make yourself happy and try your hardest not to compare yourself to others. Life is too short to stress over stuff that doesn’t really matter.

Big thanks to Kayte for taking part in this week’s Healthy Chicks in the Community. Miss last week’s? Catch it here! And if you’d like to nominate yourself or a friend in the future, just email me at rachelAThealthy-chicksDOTcom.

                 

Soul Sisters Island Getaway {Day Retreat}

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Are you feeling exhausted? disconnected? bogged down? stressed? stuck? passion-less? like something is missing?

Are you looking to connect with other women in a deep + meaningful way? re-ignite your inner spark? get your glow back? make time for PLAY?

We’ve got you covered!

Join the Soul Sisters for a blissful Day Retreat to Spectacle Island on August 15th, to escape the city and re-connect with yourself (and other fabulous women!)

Myself & fellow Soul Sister Kelley will take you on a soulful, mind-body journey, where you’ll leave with a new found sense of self + awareness. There will be yoga, journaling, crafting, deep chats, meditating & oh so much more!

What’s included:

  • round-trip transportation to & from Spectacle Island (meet Long Wharf North at 11:00am)
  • a late-morning snack of Organic Living Superfoods + fresh, organic juice from Cocobeet
  • a 60-minute summer core flow
  • home-made seasonal vegeterian lunch made with local + organic ingredients (specially crafted by our in-house Healthy Cooking Specialist Kelley)
  • Mindfulness Meditation + journaling exercise to help you dig deeper + gain clarity
  • Signature Women’s Circle where Rachel + Kelley will help you unlock anything that may be holding you back + indentify your deepest desires
  • Surprise craft to unleash your playful side + inner Goddess!
  • a journal, pen, worksheets, recipes + other goodies to take home with you

What to bring:
comfy clothes, a yoga mat or towel, sunscreen + water bottle!

Get the deets + sign up now!

Soul Sisters is a monthly retreat for women looking to re-ignite their passion and re-connect with their soul’s truth. We’ll come together to connect with other women, celebrate one another + get back to our roots.

                 

15 Ways to Harness Your Inner Creativity {Even When You Don’t Think You’re a Creative Person}

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Are you a creative person? How do you create and harness your inner creativity?

Here’s the thing: we’re all creative souls; it just takes some internal work to express what it is you want to put out in the world.

Creativity is one of my favorite qualities that us women possess. The best part about it? It’s unique to each and every one of us, and no one can replicate that. You see, if you put you & I into a room and said “Go ahead, create,” the masterpiece would be completely different.  That right there is the beauty of creating, of harnessing your inner creativity.

Taking time to create is also a huge confidence booster! It helps us connect to ourselves & others in a deep yet playful way. It gives us a chance to be FREE, express ourselves, and escape our ego for a bit. Rather, we can get lost in our own creative world. It’s limitless! How juicy does that sound?

Here are 15 ways to add more creativity to your life right now — whether you fancy yourself a creative or not!

1. Cook a Scratch-made Meal: Hit the farmer’s markets, and buy whatever’s in season that tantalizes your tastebuds. Then made a homemade meal for yourself! Don’t over-complicate or over-strategize by trying to follow that 20-ingredient recipe you saw on The Cooking Channel. Just go with it, and let your culinary imagination run free!

2. Be at One with Nature: Get outside & explore the world! Sit under a tree on a blanket, gaze at the stars, go for a mind-clearing hike. When you are enjoying unplugged quiet time alone with nature, your creative juices flow!

3. Unleash Your Inner Kid: Remember as kids how open our minds were? Anything & everything was possible! Bring some of that youthful soul back by adding more playtime into your life. Play outside, build a fort, go all out with the sidewalk chalk, or make breakfast for dinner! When we allow ourselves the freedom to play, we remember to not take life so seriously all the time.

4. Re-Decorate Your Home: How can we expect our creativity to flow if our home is saying otherwise? Take the time to make your home a place that feels clean, open and playful to you. This could mean buying new colorful curtains to brighten up the room, painting your bedroom a different color, organizing your desk space, or dedicating a lil space in your home just for you to create. After all, they say our external environment can directly impact what’s going on inside. So make it count!

5. Get Crafty: Nothing screams creative quite like a DIY summer craft! I absolutely love these fun summer projects from CountryLiving and these 2 beautiful, easy crafts from Sarah JenksThe Dabblist (I think I need the glittery feather wall hanging in my home ASAP). If you want to keep it simple, just purchase some art materials from your local craft store, and see what happens!

6. Journal It Out: Even if you just write for 10 or 20 minutes a day, journaling is a powerful way to unlock your deepest desires, whilst unleashing your creative juices. When you spend time alone with paper and a pen, it’s incredible what your mind can come up with. And no, you don’t need to be a “good writer.”

7. Plan a Surprise Date for Your Sweetie or Your Gals: Take planning into your own hands, and craft a surprise getaway for your sweetie or your girls! It can be as simple as a summer supper in the park or, if the time allots, a serene weekend retreat. Just keep it a surprise! ;)

8. Shake It Out: Lately, I’ve been in the mood for shakin’ my booty and dancing…yes even in the living room while home alone! Aside from being a surefire mood-booster, who knew dancing can also kick your creative powers up a notch? Move your body! Go ahead…do it.

9. Finish What You Started: Is there a creative project of yours that you continuously keep putting on the back burner? Take it out, dust it off, and get working on it. Even if you spend just 5 minutes a day on it, that alone will help you feel more creative in more ways than you can count.

10. Sign up for a Workshop: Enroll in a local workshop you’ve had your eye in, like photography, pottery or writing. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend this 5-day meditation course “The Happiness Program” which starts this week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to attend. Ask yourself what lights up your soul, and do more of that.

11. Spend Time Alone: As much as surrounding ourselves with other fabulous women works wonders on our creative energy, it’s also important to reserve some of that for ourselves. Spend time alone with your thoughts to focus, re-energize and get clear.

12. Sing: Sing…out loud, in the shower, in the car! Who cares if you can’t keep a tune or your voice squeaks on high notes? Just sing.

13. Change Up Your Look: Do you need a mini makeover? If you always straighten your hair, try letting it run wild and curly! Add a pop of color to your normal look with a fuchsia lipstick. Buy yourself some new clothes that make you feel absolutely fabulous. How we feel about ourselves goes a long way in our confidence, and yup, our creative mindset!

14. Get Behind the Lens: You don’t need to be an expert to be a photographer. Get behind the lens, and capture the beautiful moments in your life — laughter, love, joy, peace. Cherish the simple things.

15. Play with Color: Colors can be extremely therapeutic and freeing for our mind! Test your hand at painting either by yourself or with a social community like Paint Nite, or buy yourself a Mandala coloring book, and color away.

What are your favorite ways to be creative? How do you express yourself creatively?

                 

Healthy Chicks in the Community: A Passionate, Curly Haired, Kick-It Goddess

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Happy Friday, ladies! This week has been a whirlwind for me, as lots of positive things begin to flow into my life. For one, myself and my friend Kelley launched Soul Sisters last night, with a fabulous kickoff party at Athleta Newbury St.! More to come soon, but we’re going to be hosting outdoor monthly retreats to escape the city, connect with other women, and re-ignite your inner passion & soul’s truth! I’m thinking this New Moon came at a good time for me, and can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Anyway, onto this week’s spotlight on Healthy Chicks in the Community (a weekly series that celebrates fabulous women in the community)! This Friday, I am extremely honored and excited to feature the lovely Eliza a.k.a. Kick It By Eliza. This woman truly embodies beauty on the inside & out, and I’ve always admired the way she carries herself with such confidence & grace. She may be small, but she’s fierce, passionate and knows how to get after it! I’m positive this lil curly-haired ball of energy will go far in life with her entrepreneurial ways. Ok…I’ll let Eliza take it, er Kick It, from here!

NAME/AGE: Eliza Shirazi/ 24 yrs old

BLOG/TWITTER: KickItByEliza.com / @KickItByEliza

CURRENT CITY: Boston

PHOTO TAKEN: Lucie Wicker’s photo studio!

WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: I’m Eliza from Kick It By Eliza, so there’s that :)

NUMBER ONE PASSION: Empowering other people — no seriously, this isn’t a cliche. Kick It has created an absolute fempire, which pushes females (and males) to use the power they’ve found in the studio and apply it to pursuing their dreams. It’s my passion, my lifestyle, and my dream to do this everyday. When you give love, you get love, and that fuels me.

I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: When I am surrounded by people who love and support me. Whether that’s teaching and being surrounded by my Kick It Crew or even in simple moments when I am hanging out with my family. I think that going through unhealthy experiences, such as poor eating habits, bad relationships, unhappy working environment, pushes people to realize what is important and healthy for them. You got to go through a taste of the bad to understand the good, and that will be a different experience for everyone!

BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES: I’ve never felt more feminine than I do while sharpening my boxing skills at The Club by George Foreman III with none other than GF3 himself. Hair’s whippin, sweat’s drippin, and I am proud to say I ‘hit like a girl’. That shit’s powerful.

TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES:

  1. First and foremost, my roommate Niki because she makes the best spin off of KIND Bars, called Kind-Of Bars.
  2. A phone to ask my mom how to cook something if I’m trying to make something other than eggs, quinoa, or fish… but I do make a mean sunny side up egg. Just sayin.
  3. My computer to replicate the super yummy recipes on Stay Healthy Stay Happy!!

NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE: Chocolate chip cookie from Crema Cafe!! THE BEST. I want one right now.

THREE FAB THINGS ABOUT YOU: I am Iranian!I am the only blonde in my family (thanks mom)! I am obsessed with my nephews Kamron and Caleb!

EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE: Kick It, yoga, meditation, shakin’ my butt.

FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: Comfort food has to be the Persian food that my dad makes: kabobs, basmati rice, tadik, shirazi salad (not named after us, but should be), lamb, lamb, and more lamb, with a side of Syrian bread (preferably grilled).

MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS: To my fellow healthy chicks, what an awesome community you are a part of! If there is one thing I have learned, it is that there is nothing healthier than a community of females that lift each other higher. Maybe a healthy choice is having a salad, or maybe a healthy choice is going out with your friends for a wild night.That mixture of work and play is so important and being surrounded by a community that encourages the balance of both is the healthiest! As I venture into starting my own start-up, I have had unhealthy moments, but it is really the community and network of people I surround myself with that gets me back on track every time. Applaud each other, respect each other, and just freakin’ love each other. All for now…time to Kick It!

Big THANK YOU to Eliza for taking part in this week’s Healthy Chicks in the Community. Be sure to follow along & Kick It with her if you live in the Boston area! Miss last week’s? Catch it here! And if you’d like to nominate yourself or a friend in the future, just email me at rachelAThealthy-chicksDOTcom.

                 

We Dare You to Share {Summer Skin Health}

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Good afternoon, Healthy Chicks! Hope you’re all off to a great week. Today, I’m discussing something rather important on the blog, that is summer skin health.

You may not know this about me, but last year right around my wedding I had to get 3 suspicious moles removed (all around my legs — upper thigh, calf, and ankle.) Fortunately, they came back A-OK, although one of them had a few abnormal cells and needs to be monitored.

Now, I’ve always been one to wear sunscreen (at the beach at least!) but this scare has definitely made me hyper-aware of taking care of my skin. Skin cancer is serious stuff, and not something I personally want to mess with.

That’s why I’m thrilled to partner with UnitedHealthcare for their July We Dare You to Share campaign. Each month, they post 3 new dares on their website, encouraging folks to take simple, small steps to living a healthier lifestyle. After all, wellness is not a marathon and it’s the baby steps that truly count in the long run!

This month’s theme is all about SKIN HEALTH, which I couldn’t be more thrilled about! The 3 dares include posting a photo of you or your family using sun protection, testing your knowledge by taking a super-quick skin health quiz, and watching a brief “Skin Cancer” video to get in-the-know on a very important topic. And no worries, each one takes just about a minute to complete!

While the dares are reason to participate enough, did I mention there’s prizes involved? For every dare you complete, you’ll be entered for a chance to win fab prizes including $25 visa gift cards, a $400 massage gift card, a $400 visa gift card, and a Fastraxx 2-Awning 10′ x 18′ Canopy! Plus if you get your quiz answer correct (like I did ;) ) you’re given additional entries. Sweet deal, huh?

Join me in completing your dares now for a chance to win!

To get you started, here’s my photo of how I protect myself from summer-sun!

My fedora hat (which I also take to the beach with me sometimes) and all-natural sunscreen. Right now, I’ve been using SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen from Block Island Organics. After all, how you’re keeping your skin healthy is just as important as what you’re doing and I’m all about keepin’ it natural.

Other ways I keep myself protected include wearing beach cover-ups, sitting in the shade when I can, using makeup that has SPF in it, and re-applying sunscreen as much as possible. It’s certainly not something worth messing with just for a tan!

Alright ladies, I’ll let you get to it…I dare you to share!

XoXo,

Rachel

This post is sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, but as always, all opinions are my own.

                 

I’m a work in progress + It’s OK (Scenes Behind My Instagram Account)

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I think there’s a major misconception that the things in which we read/see/experience online are a clear & accurate depiction of real life.

Sometimes we get into the mindset that all the fabulous foodies, fit friends, cool creatives, and gorgeous gurus are living the dream and we’re left “behind” in a little hole. Stuck. Alone. #Failure

Have you ever felt that way?

Oh boy can I ever relate! One of my #1 intentions for “28″ is to let go of the comparisons to other women, recognizing that their successes and strengths in no way makes me weaker. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress.

And just as I compare myself to others sometimes, I recognize that as a blogger and social media addict I too can come across as having that “perfect” life when in reality it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I am not perfect. In fact, I am far from perfect and have absolutely no desire in being perfect.

I get you. I feel you. I am a lot like you, and I am also so very different from you. (And that’s what makes it beautiful.)

In the spirit of keeping it real, today I wanted to let you in on what my life looks like behind the scenes — the every day stuff, the good, the bad, the ugly and the straight up weird.

The raw stuff. The core of who I am. Because after all, I am not my Instagram account.

I am not my number of followers, number of workouts completed, or number of gourmet meals I cooked in a single day. I am not always that smiley, filtered selfie, the perfectly happy wife, “the lucky one.”

I am a real girl with strengths and struggles, and I am OK with being vulnerable and letting you in.

In all honesty, I am pretty confident in my body and have come along way, but I still struggle every now and then thinking my thighs are too big or my boobs are too small. In fact, my energy healer recently told me that my 2nd “Sacral” Chakra (the one that governs confidence, creativity, and sexuality) is one that I’ll be working on quite a bit this year. I can be insecure and I am learning to be OK with that.

I cry… a lot. Maybe I don’t instagram my tears, but I am an incredibly sensitive, compassionate woman who is driven to tears by the little things and the big things. When I feel anxious, lost or fear, I let it out with tears and talking — I’ve never been one to hold back. I am learning to accept that I am an emotional soul and that there is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes I go a week without working out. Other times, I move my body every day. I listen to what my body tells me it’s craving, and I do that. Some days movement may include stand-up paddle-boarding, a long walk or hiking. Lately I’ve been enjoying rejuvenating yoga classes and light, mind-clearing runs. I’ve also been feeling a strong urge to dance & move my body in new ways of late. In a few months from now, that may change. But I am listening. I am learning.

When I tell people I am a Certified Health and Wellness Coach,” I often hear things like, “Oh gosh, don’t judge me!” or “I’m cheating today…don’t look at what I’m eating.” I’m not judging you, darling. I would never do that. As a health coach, I relate to you more than anything. We are all on our own journeys and I truly don’t believe in “perfection” or telling someone else what to do / what to eat/ how to live. That is so not how I roll. I respect who you are and where you’re at. ‘Cause guess what? We’re all on our own path. And I’ve totally been there. Those people who make you feel like they’re better than you, or that they can fix you? They’ve been there too! (And you are just as good as them!)

I like cooking, but I’m not in love with it like my grandmother or my mom. Often times, my husband cooks really delicious, homemade meals for me. I like to keep it simple and I’m totally a cook-whatever’s-in-the-fridge kind o’ gal. I don’t really like recipes or measuring things out, and I’ve never been a baker. I eat what my body wants to eat, and cook whatever the heck I feel like. Sometimes I order take-out pad thai. Sometimes I want a kale caesar salad. Sometimes I put on an apron, pour myself a glass of cab and make a fancy “gourmet meal.” Sometimes I am not really even that hungry until 9:30 p.m. Sometimes I go all out on the cheese & cracker platter! While sometimes we wine & dine, most nights are spent eating in our little cozy kitchen or living room with our PJs on & the AC cranked up. I love it all. I love food.

Speaking of, I used to hate food. Or I loved it so much that in turn I hated it. I was afraid of food, weighed myself 5 times a day, and counted every damn calorie I put in my mouth. I lived in a world of restriction, and it completely consumed my life. Maybe it seems like I have it all together now, but my life used to look a lot different. And it breaks my heart to know other girls go through this every day, and that’s what drives me to share my story… every day. I do it for me, and I do it for you.

I got married this past October, and am completely in love with my husband. But we still fight sometimes. And guess what? We live in a small-ish apartment in Brookline and (gasp!) have yet to buy a house or have any plans to do so in the immediate future. Sometimes this makes me insecure and I’ll compare myself to my other home-owner friends. But then I remind myself that we have enough and that life is pretty darn swell. Married life isn’t “perfect” but it is an amazing, beautiful thing.

When you get to know me in real life, you’ll know that I can be a super weirdo. Speaking in public scares the crap out of me, but I forge through to embrace my fears. I’m color blind, and once colored a tree trunk green and the leaves brown in art class…oops! Oh, and I can be super awkward, like the time I accidentally walked around Boston for a solid 45-minutes with no idea that my pencil dress was slit wide open up to my back. Yes, I gave the entire city including the D line a little “show.” I also HATE doing the dishes, so my wonderful husband does them for me because he says he’ll do them better anyway.

I may practice yoga often (and post photos of me with my cute yoga leggings!), but I am far from a “perfect yogi.” I can’t do crow pose, and I still often have my downward dogs adjusted. My favorite pose is goddess, and I absolutely love breath of joy, especially when Cara Gilman incorporates it into her classes just for me ;) I don’t do yoga for the poses or the “look.” I do yoga for my mind; it calms my anxiety and makes me feel more connected to myself.

Maybe I don’t instagram it, but I often worry about money and can be an extremely anxious person. Will I have enough? What does my future hold? jhdhjdslhfdksdhd!!! I am slowly learning to embrace the here and now, and trust in the universe. Thank goodness for essential oils and good ol’ self care!

I posted about how I quit my job a couple months ago to go back working for myself. But what you may not know is that it was one of the hardest decisions of my life. That many nights were full of tears, anxiety, doubt and anger. Leaving security behind was not easy, nor was explaining it to those around me who just didn’t get it. But I trust in my self that I made the best decision for me. And that’s what truly matters.

I have bad days & I have fat days. I have romantic moments & experiences where I can’t believe this is really my life. I don’t post or instagram all of this, as I honor those personal, sacred moments for myself. But know that like everyone, we all go through ups & downs, ebbs & flows and that is all part of the glorious journey of life.

Life is not perfect, nor am I anywhere close to perfect. I am a work in progress. We all are. Remember that Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/blog posts only depict a snapshot of real life (from the yogis to the cool fashion blogger chick with 100k followers).

Someone else’s “glamorous” feed doesn’t make your everyday stuff any less fabulous. Because guess what? You’re pretty darn fabulous!

                 

Healthy Chicks in the Community: A Volunteering, Strawberry Cream Cheese-Loving, Soul Seeker

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Good afternoon friends, and happy Friday! I am so thrilled to bring back one of my favorite Healthy Chicks traditions: Healthy Chicks in the Community. If you’re new over here, each and every week I would spotlight a fabulous gal via a mini interview here on the blog.

To bring it back with a bang, I can’t think of a more perfect woman to feature. When I first met Kelsey, I was immediately drawn to her infectious, glowing personality and genuine care for other people’s wellbeing. She’s one of those selfless souls that has the biggest heart, and you can feel that energy just by being around her. (The girl literally radiates positive energy!) Go ahead, see for yourself…

NAME/AGE: Kelsey Margaret O’Neil, 22

BLOG/TWITTER Website: kelseyoneil.com Twitter/Instagram: @Kekeoneil

CURRENT CITY: Boston, MA

PHOTO TAKEN: In Jaipur India, by Helena Monterio

WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: I recently graduated from Boston University, and am looking to move to Southeast Asia (hopefully Kathmandu, Nepal) to work in humanitarian aid/disaster relief in September!

NUMBER ONE PASSION: This may sound cliché, but I love volunteering and helping those in need in developing countries, whether it be at orphanages in India or Leprosy Hospitals in Nepal. My heart and body literally radiates. I am now trying to make a career out of it.

I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: Taking time out of my schedule to do things for me and my body. It could be a bike ride, a hike, a 2-mile walk around Boston or attending a group fitness class- yoga, flybarre or spin class, (loving Flywheel and BSpoke!) It doesn’t matter what the actual activity is, it matters more that I took the time for my mind to clear and reset, rather than the exercise itself. It also reminds me that at times I need to make myself a priority, if my mental and physical health is not up to par, then it affects other aspects of my life, such as my mood, my happiness and my productivity. I am also a huge believer in the saying, “you are what you eat!” I feel the most energetic and healthy when I am fueling my body with organic, non-gmo and raw foods.

BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES: I sometimes forget to work out or even worse, I will make excuses to not! I also sleep in until 11 or 12 on the weekends, but tell myself “It’s my body telling me it needs the rest!” Which in reality it is probably saying, “You lazy bum, turn off the Netflix and go to sleep 2 hours earlier.”

TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES: 1. Fage Strawberry Greek Yogurt. I eat this with granola and cinnamon almost every morning. Greek yogurt is a great source of high protein and cinnamon secretly has a lot of fiber.

2. Trader Joe’s Pineapple Salsa. I dip black quinoa chips in for a snack, or whole wheat quesadillas.

3. Coconut Oil. I use this for everything. From cooking chicken and sautéing spinach in, to taking off my make up at night with. (Sounds weird but it is SO good for your skin- nourishes and moisturizes almost better than most cosmetic products.)

NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE: Strawberry Cream cheese. I have been obsessed with smothering it all over my bagels since I was 5-years-old. It tends to be a great Saturday/Sunday morning remedy if you know what I mean ;)

THREE FAB THINGS ABOUT YOU: 1. In my 10-year goal plan in life, I hope to open up an orphanage/shelter for girls who are being sex-trafficked in Nepal. It is a cause I am extremely passionate about, and probably will be for the rest of my life.

2. I am a HUGE news junkie. I love to know what protests are occurring in Jakarta, to Cholera outbreaks in Haiti, to everything in between. I also am discovering that I am only attracted to men who share this similar passion and thirst for learning and debating about current events around the world. #nerdalert

3. I have been through a lot of adversity to get to where I am, and I wouldn’t change any part of my past. I am now proud of the person I am today, because of it.

EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE: Reaching the top of a mountain, or peak on a difficult hike. It’s an amazing experience to see how far or how high you can push yourself. Hiking creates a physical exhaustion that I cannot feel in any other workout- it is so pure and intimate, between your mind, your body, and nature. I am grateful for a healthy and functional body, especially after working with leprosy patients who lost their limbs and severe nerve sensation in multiple parts of their bodies. My healthy body is something that I definitely took for granted in the past.

FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: Ice Cream. Usually vanilla, Oreo or Chocolate chip. I grew up in a household where there is always at least 2-3 different flavors to choose from, that is if my dad didn’t get to them first.

MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS: How can we all be the best versions of ourselves? Is it the people we surround ourselves with? Our careers? Our values? Our health? Whatever it is, find what fuels YOUR soul, and chase after it, NOW.

Sending a big heartfelt thank you + giant air hug to Kelsey for taking part in this week’s Healthy Chicks in the Community! If you’d like to nominate yourself or a friend, just email me at rachelAThealthy-chicksDOTcom.

                 

Birthday Intentions for 28

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This past Sunday, I turned 28 years old. I enjoyed my day to the fullest, complete with some window shopping in Saratoga Springs, purchasing two new crystals, and spending the evening relaxing at a charming, utterly relaxing B & B (topped off with a lakeside Italian dinner with the hubby). All in all, I’d say it was a pretty darn fabulous birthday.

Each and every year, certain feelings come up for me around my big day: a mix of anxiety, wonder and inspiration. I find that birthdays are the perfect time to celebrate what’s going really well in your life, and re-evaluate the things that aren’t really working anymore. You know, the “stuff” that no longer serves you, that you’d prefer to leave behind in your past.

It’s funny how much changes over the years; our outlook on life shifts and our wants & needs evolve. When I turned 5, all I wanted was the best Barbie doll — the one with the prettiest hair and accessories. At my 11th birthday party, I desired to be popular and invite all the “cool kids” in class, gossiping with my girlfriends all afternoon long. Life was carefree.

At 16, I remember being concerned with how I looked, mortified that my crush was at my surprise party and I had a big pimple on my cheek. 21 came around the corner, and it was all about the boys, the booze and the never-ending college nights. All I wanted more than anything was a boyfriend (and to shed 10 or so pounds!)

At 25, things started to fall into place with me; my relationship, job and friendships were pretty rock solid. I dreamed of new trendy clothes, new stuff for my apartment, new things to support my “more mature” lifestyle.

Now at 28, I feel a whole different level of new-ness. At a time in my life with so much transition and so much up in the air, on my birthday this year I was naturally forced to look inward and appreciate the here & now.

I no longer want the Barbie, the boy or the booze. The hotsy totsy clothes, the “dream job” and the longing to fit in are no longer desirable to me. This year, more than anything, I want to focus on me and how I want to feel. (Danielle Laporte’s really been getting to me lately on this whole feeling stuff!)

Instead of writing a wish list, I decided to write out some intentions & positive mantras to carry with me through the next twelve months of my life. Here goes:

I will focus on myself, and trust that the universe has my back.

Another woman’s success does not make me weaker. Stop comparing. Now.

I will continue to say no to the things that no longer light me up.

I welcome abundance into my life, and open up my willingness to receive.

Give love, and spread positive vibes daily.

Do what lights up my soul. The money will come if you continue to do what you love, with love.

There will be good days and bad days; cherish the good days and learn from the bad days. Sometimes all it takes it a simple shift in perspective.

I live a delicious life full of bliss.

As I enter the first week of my upper twenties, I am optimistic about what lies ahead for me this year — the year of me, the year of magical surprises!

How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you set intentions, make wishes, have certain rituals?

xoxo,

Rachel


                 

How to say no with Grace + Confidence

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No.

It’s such a simple word, yet many of us have such a hard time actually saying it.

For years, I struggled with being able to say no to other people. As an ambitious, people pleaser, I thought yes was what they wanted to hear, and I pretty much banned the word “no” from my vocabulary.

Why?

I wanted people to like me. I was scared what would happen if I actually turned somebody down. I didn’t want to come across as rude. So I forged on with years of saying yes to everything that came my way.

Yes, I can make that deadline.

Yes, I’ll be there.

Yes, I can absolutely do that for you.

Yes, I have time. Of course I have time for you!

Yes, I would love to.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I said yes to just about everyone and everything that came my way…expect for one important person, the most important person: myself. After years and years of not truly valuing myself, I mustered up enough courage to finally start practicing this whole “no” thing. Heck, I’ve seen others do it before…it’s time I may as well try myself!

I didn’t just say “no” to anything & everything, but with each and every proposition, I began to ask myself, “Is this really something I want to do?” “Is this in line with who I am and how I want to feel?”

With that, it became easier and easier with every phrase.

No, I can not meet you for dinner tonight.

No, unfortunately that deadline is not going to work for me.

No, I’m actually going to be on vacation.

No, I simply don’t have time this week. Can we try again next?

No, right now I do not currently have any interest. Keep me in mind for the future.

No, I’m not interested.

No, thank you.

And the minute I gave myself the OK to say no, endless opportunities began to open up for me, and I began to feel…more free, more me. You see, when you say no to other obligations in which you simply do not want to do, you are actually saying “yes” to yourself. And that right there is where I got the courage to say that little two-letter word loud and proud (with no excuses)!

With every no, I started doing more of the things that light up my soul. I suddenly had more time on my hands to dedicate to my own self-care, and life seemed much less cluttered, much less overwhelming. I started to stay in if I wanted to stay in, I’d spend time with the people I wanted to spend time with, and I started letting go of things that simply didn’t feel right. It felt amazing.

Each and every no helped me build up strength to live my soul’s truth, and to never apologize for who I am.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert, as it’s definitely a work in progress, but I’ve come along way and for that I am proud. You see, saying no doesn’t make you a bad person at all. It’s actually one of the most respectable (and self-respectable) things you can do.

As we close out the week, I encourage you to think about the things you would have more time to do if you simply said “no.” What things/people/clutter are you holding onto that no longer serves your best interest?

                 

 
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