Good morning ladies! And ’tis a goooood morning indeed. The sun is shining bright in Boston right now, and The Boy & I just got back from a quickie, sweaty run together to take advantage. I even whipped out the shorts for the first time this year! Oh yes, it’s simply THAT nice out.
I’m super excited because I leave for my NYC trip this afternoon! I’m going to be attending Holistic MBA Live, a rockin’ business conference for wellness professionals put on by the lovely Stacey and Carey of Holistic MBA. As I’ve been striving to grow & spice up my business lately, this conference could not have come at a better time. I have so many exciting things in the works!
Even better, while in NYC, I get to spend four whole days (well, nights) with my best friends from college. As you can tell, I’m high on life right now! Best friends + networking + business coaching = my cup of tea.
Anyway, today’s Thursday so let’s get to this week’s feature for Healthy Chicks in the Community. I am happy to introduce you to a lovely lady who I had the pleasure of meeting for one of her spin classes followed by some vino. Let’s just say, she’s full of energy, love & a zest for life so we naturally had a lot to talk about. I’ll let Ali take it from here!
[photo provided by Ali courtesy of lululemon]
NAME/AGE: Ali Baldassare, 28
CURRENT CITY: Boston, MA
PHOTO TAKEN: This is my Lululemon Ambassador photo taken at the end of last year. It is currently hanging up on the wall in the Lululemon store on Newbury St. so next time you’re out shopping, check it out! Speaking of photos, stay tuned because I’m currently planning a fitness photo shoot over the next 2-3 months and it’s going to be epic!
WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: Most people would never know it, but fitness is NOT my full time job. It is my full time passion though Right now, I do have a 9-5 job working for a pharmaceutical company, although with the amount of classes that I teach and clients that I train, I could easily argue that I pretty much have two full time jobs. One day, I’ll be able to answer this question by just saying “full time pilates and fitness instructor” and maybe that day will be soon! No one said making your dreams come true was easy, right??
NUMBER ONE PASSION: Teaching, inspiring and motivating people to live a life they love in a body they love!
I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: 1) When I eat well. Eating a good clean diet makes me feel energized, awake and ready for anything! 2) Remembering to make time for me. Things can get super hectic, but taking time for me can really help me not feel overwhelmed and run down. It can be anything from going for a run, taking a yoga class, getting a massage or a manicure/pedicure, etc. 3) When I surround myself with other really inspiring and motivating people.
BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES: I have bad days when I feel unmotivated, discouraged and just want to throw in the towel and give up, but deep down I know things will always turn around. Those bad days are what makes my good days that much better!
TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES: 1) Bars (Lara bars, KIND bars, or Luna bars are some of my favorites) 2) bananas, apples, spinach, almond butter, raw almonds 3) my blender. I am always on the go and rarely home for any significant length of time so anything healthy that I can throw in my bag or anything that I can mix up in a blender is perfect. I’ve been really into making all kinds of smoothies lately and they actually keep me full….says the girl who is ALWAYS hungry!
NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE: CHOCOLATE. Anything chocolate. I have a really big sweet tooth!
EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE: Dance. I grew up dancing and love everything about it. Dancing has a way of allowing me to escape the world and just let go. It makes me feel free, alive, and happy. It also has so many great benefits like keeping your body limber and enhancing your agility, flexibility and balance. Even when I’m completely exhausted, I always look forward to teaching my weekly Zumba classes!
FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: Every now and then I like to enjoy a cheeseburger
MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS: You are capable, powerful, and in control of your life! Living a healthy life doesn’t have to be complex or hard. Everything is based on your perception, your goals, and your choices. There are endless ways to exercise; there are so many different ways to incorporate healthy eating into even your busiest of days. All you have to do is find the right balance of the two that works for you. Healthy living really can teach you so much about yourself and it’s not a one size fits all concept. What works for you may not work for me, but that’s the beauty of it all. We are all unique. Remember, you are the only one who can live your life, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Keep things simple. Have fun! Be you! Strive for growth, balance and opportunity, not perfection. You are all amazing. Believe it and own it!
Good afternoon, ladies! Today I wanted to touch base on a topic that’s often not discussed in the health & wellness community: mindfulness. For those of you who are participating in my 7-Day “Get Happy & Healthy” Wellness Challenge, you should have already seen in your inbox that today’s challenge has to do with eating mindfully.
What the heck does mindfulness have to do with healthy living, you ask? Well it’s a whole lot more than one may think! It’s also a topic that I hold very close to my heart, as it’s one of the major steps that helped me get over diet-obsessed living once and for all.
You see, in college I ate (and lived, for that matter) completely mindlessly. I scarfed down food as quickly as I could so I wouldn’t have to deal with the guilt, and I rushed through all my meals like it was one big race. I was an emotional eater and an impulse eater at that, eating what would make me “feel better” (or so I thought) and then dealing with the guilt of the aftermath.
This then lead to extreme restriction, dieting and poor body image which, if you ever saw someone on a diet eating lunch, you know is far from a mindful experience. It was complete hell, and I was stuck in a mindless mess.
While I am still a work in progress when it comes to eating mindfully (without distractions from technology, people or thoughts) I am proud to say I have come a long way. Eating this way has taught me to savor my food, to enjoy each meal and to appreciate myself and my body.
How can you practice eating more mindfully? For those of you participating in the challenge, remember to share your experience. The hashtag on social media is #HappyHealthyWC
[May '09 - counting calories & deprivation] [Summer '12 - living my life - happy & carefree!]
note: I was not my heaviest here but still unhappy
One of the reasons I decided to pursue a career in holistic health counseling is because I’ve been there.
There as in a place where I tried everything (I mean everything!) to make my body change when it wouldn’t budge. There as in frantically adding up my calories for the day during Psychology class, while pretending to take notes. There as in canceling Mexican night with my girlfriends because I feared a margarita and quesadilla would make me fatter. There as in feeling like a little kid on Christmas every time the scale went down a pound, while feeling like I wanted to crawl in a hole and die every time it went up .2 pounds.
There as in hooking up with boys to make me feel better about myself and my body, and feeling I wasn’t skinny enough, pretty enough or good enough. There as in calling a pile of rice cakes with fat-free peanut butter “dinner.” There as in having a mental breakdown every time I ate something “bad” and then rushing to the gym to “burn it off.” There as in looking in the mirror and hating what I saw.
Throughout my teenage years and part of my early-twenties, I tried hundreds of diets, shed countless tears, consumed pounds of “diet” food (I call it fake food now) and yo-yoed up and down in weight. Every day, I felt frustrated, tired and guilty. I wanted answers and I wanted them now but I was looking in all the wrong places: diets, restriction, outside approval.
I remember when I became fed up for the 1,000th time, I finally scheduled an appointment with a local nutritionist the summer after graduating from college. She had me bring in a list of everything I was eating, and so I did. It looked pretty much like this: egg beaters with veggies for breakfast, salads with fat-free dressing for lunch and diet meals or grilled chicken strips and microwavable veggies for dinner. I also consumed fruit, rice cakes, fat-free cheeses, sugar-free jello, Crystal Light, and anything labeled “Low Calorie!” or “Low fat!”
The nutritionist weighed me, told me that I was overweight for my weight range, looked at my food journal, and then I’ll never forget what she said to me next: “Nothing here stands out to me. It all comes down to one thing. You must be eating too many calories. Calories in, calories out.” Mind you, at the time I was exercising nearly every day!
I left there feeling completely shocked. Less calories, is she kidding me? I, even during my most distorted views on food, knew that couldn’t be right. I already knew I was restricting myself and that restricting myself even further wasn’t the answer. Looking back, I now can clearly see I was forcing my body in a state of starvation mode, wasn’t eating enough and most importantly wasn’t eating REAL FOOD. I was nutritionally deficient! No wonder I wasn’t happy with my body, nor losing weight.
But what that nutritionist said really stuck with me. The next day, I woke up and realized I had two choices. I could (a) continue the way I was eating and spend a lifetime depriving myself & cut my calories further as the nutritionist recommended or (b) Forget everything I ever told myself about eating and just live.
The thought of the first option made me sick to my stomach. If all of my friends can go out for pizza without having a panic attack and eat whatever the heck they wanted, then why should I need to cut back further? It simply didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t right, and I knew it. So I went with the latter, and decided that if I’m not losing weight by restricting myself to the limits, why not enjoy life instead even if that means gaining a couple of pounds?
I have to be honest: it was scary at first. Eating whatever I wanted, listening to my body (something I’ve never done) and trying to eat “normal” was so outside my comfort zone. But I did it. And every day it became easier. The best part? Once I started fueling my body with REAL food, loving myself for who I am, and experimenting with exercises that made me feel good inside, to my surprise the weight fell off.
I proved that nutritionist wrong.
A calorie is not a calorie if you’re nutritionally deficient and putting chemicals into your body. Cutting back on calories isn’t going to make you lose weight if you are not happy on the inside. Living at the gym is not going to make frat boys want you more if you are not in love with yourself first. What you eat isn’t nearly as important as HOW YOU FEEL. Your relationship with yourself & your body is the most intimate and precious relationships of all. Women don’t need to spend their lives feeling guilty, alone and deprived. Life is meant to me enjoyed to the fullest!
This does not have to be you! If you see yourself in my story, please don’t hesitate to email me. I am here for you because I would have died to have someone hold my hand, listen to me and tell me it was all going to be OK, to ask me “How do you feel?” So yes, I’ve been there…I’ve been SO there. And now I’m here to be there for YOU. Check out my health coaching programs for opportunities to work with me one-on-one. In the meantime, you can check out these 10 positive mantras I told myself to break free of diet-obsessed living.
Good afternoon ladies, and Happy New Year’s Eve! I hope you all have a magical evening celebrating life, and everything positive that happened for you this past year, while also celebrating the year to come. If you haven’t already done so, you can read my newsletter on setting intentions for yourself in 2013 over here.
Clean Plates Cookbook: Background
I was particularly excited to read this book, as Jared Koch is not only a fellow graduate of IIN but he’s also someone whom I admire greatly for his success as an entrepreneur in the wellness field.
One of the main concepts that shines throughout the book is something we learned at Institute for Integrative Nutrition: bio-individuality, or that one way of eating doesn’t work for everyone. While vegan dining may suit your best friend, you may thrive on high-quality, organic meats. Simply put, we choose what to put inside our bodies to make us feel our ultimate best. Jared explains this process further in Chapter 2.
Clean Plates Cookbook offers meals for literally anyone (no matter what their food preference), but there’s one catch: they are all clean, meaning they’re made using high quality, wholesome, natural ingredients. And I mean, who doesn’t want that?
Real, Quality Food
I adore that all the recipes utilize REAL, quality food. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how I’m a real-food fanatic. What does real food mean? It means your great-grandmother would recognize it at the grocery store. It means you know where it came from. It means it wasn’t artificially or chemically “enhanced” in a factory. Real food is pure. Then comes quality, meaning choosing fresh, organic and local food when you can for optimal nourishment.
In the first half of the book, the authors cover a number of healthy eating principles, including following a plant-based diet, everything you need to know about grains, nuts and seeds, and the basics of eating meat in moderation. However, even with all the wonderful nutritional information throughout the book, they still get that we can’t be perfect all the time. That’s where the 80/20 rule comes in. Make healthy, good-for-your-body choices 80% of the time, and leave 20% for those gotta-have-it “splurges.” If you can train your body to crave healthy foods that you know are going to make you feel incredible, the 80/20 rule is easy to pick up on.
Variety of Scrumptious Recipes
Now comes the good part, the part you’ve all been waiting for: the recipes! The book is laid out into easy-to-follow sections, with recipes for Beverages, Eggs, Breakfasts & Breads, Snacks & Apps, Soups, Salads & Sides, Entrees, Desserts and Basics.
I for one have my eye on a number of the recipes, and can’t wait to get my hands on the Potato, Leek & Spinach Frittata, Garlic Mashed Butternut Squash, Gluten-Free Chicken Meatballs and Cacao Cherry Brownies to name a few.
I love how all the recipes are clearly labeled as Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Naturally Sweetened, Raw, and Omnivore Friendly, making it easy to choose recipes that are right for your diet.
I would definitely recommend Clean Plates Cookbook to anyone looking to healthy-up their diet, or those who would like to break out of their comfort level in the kitchen and expand their recipe palates. Purchase your copy here, or learn more about Jared Koch’s Clean Plates initiative here.
Good morning Healthy Chickies, and Happy Day-Before-New-Year’s-Eve. Since I’m still getting over some sniffles from the holidays, I’ve been trying to eat (and drink) with my health in mind, paying extra attention to the foods that are going to fill me up and make me feel strong & healthy.
This morning, I whipped up a health-boosting green smoothie in the Vitamix, carefully choosing ingredients that’d work on my side as I knock this cold to the ground.
Hope you enjoy!
Health Boosting, Anti-Inflammatory Green Smoothie
- About 1 c. unsweetened coconut or almond milk
- 3 large handfulls baby spinach (fill to about 3/4 of the blender): high in vitamin K and A & rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants
- 3 carrots – rich in antioxidants like Beta Carotene
- 3 celery stalks - high in vitamin A & C, boost immune system and have been used to help lower blood pressure
- 2 cloves garlic – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-infection…need i go on?
- juice of 1 small lemon – strengthen immunity, cleanse the stomach & liver, fabulous detox to name a few
- 1 large apple - good amount of soluble fiber and have also been known to reduce LDL (“bad cholesterol”)
- 1 banana - potassium and bone health
- 1 TB ground flax seed – rich in Omega 3s for healthy skin, hair & nails and also improves digestive health
- few pinches ground ginger - natural treatment for colds; reduces pain & inflammation
- 4 ice cubes
Blend in a high-speed blender like the Vitamix for about 30 seconds, and enjoy right away!
Note: If you are interested in investing in a Vitamix yourself, contact me with any questions about the machine. I can also give you a code to get FREE shipping (normally $25). Email me for more deets.
Today’s Lit: Remember that every day is a new day. So, you ate one too many brownies or “cheated” on your diet. You didn’t ruin anything. Instead of beating yourself up with guilt, start again tomorrow!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a woman say, “Well, I ate crap today, so I might as well forget it!” or “Guess I’ll wait ’til next week to start that ‘going to the gym’ plan since I didn’t work out today anyway,” or even “I ate pizza last night and now am on a major guilt trip.”
I’m here to tell you it’s NOT TOO LATE. Remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. As a matter of fact, you can choose to start your day over any time you like!
So, you ate one too many brownies, overdid it with the Peppermint Martinis, or “cheated” on your diet. NEWSFLASH: You didn’t ruin anything!
Instead of beating yourself up with guilt, start again tomorrow…
If you’re looking to let go of that guilt and make 2013 about you, check out my “From Oy Vey to OK in 30 Days“ premiere Health Coaching Program. I’ll teach you how to look and feel healthy, get this, WITHOUT dieting.
The weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful, but for some reason your holiday season is turning out to be complete chaos. From running around like a chicken with your head cut off to find the perfect gifts for your kids to the temptation and guilt that comes from work cocktail parties, you’re likely feeling completely out of control, and you’re not alone.
Survive the holiday season without gaining a muffin top (and completely losing your mind) with Zesty Living’s Healthy Holiday Crash Course.The course begins the first week of December, as I hold your hand and coach you throughout the holiday season.
Your December Holiday Crash Course includes:
- One initial 30-minute power session to discuss your goals, dietary restrictions, and health concerns with simple tips to get you started right away (Over the phone)
- Weekly emails every Monday (4 total) with recipes, tips, handouts and articles to keep you on track
- A healthy holiday shopping list to jumpstart your success!
- Unlimited email support to guide you along the way
- One 60-minute phone session upon completion of course to discuss improvements, Q & A, and anything on your mind!
- BONUS: FREE one-hour healthy shopping tour (limited to Boston area) OR workout DVD
Topics covered in this course include: Healthy Holiday Shopping, Easy & Delicious Party Recipes, Taming Your Sweet Tooth & Craving Control, Self Care & Stress Reduction, and Staying Motivated & Setting Your Intentions for the New Year.
Sign up for your Holiday Crash Course today for a special price of only $89. Consider it my holiday gift to you. Email me at email@example.com or visit my website Zesty Living to learn more.
P.S. Stumped on what to get that special someone this holiday season? Consider purchasing a high-speed Vitamix blender to make energizing green smoothies, heart-warming soups, and more all season long! Followthis link or enter code 06-00 7907 at checkout to recieve FREE shipping (a $25 value). I’m in LOVE with mine, and know it’d make the perfect gift for someone you love…
Good morning ladies! I hope you are all safe and dry from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Fortunately, the worst of it for me is losing power for a few days so I can’t really complain, but I’m praying for those whose homes have been flooded or destroyed.
I’m running out of power on my laptop, currently writing at Daybreak Coffee House (where I was pleased to run into the lovely Cait from Cait Plus Ate who is just the most bubbly, friendly girl!) This will have to do as my “office” for now, which I don’t mind AT ALL because this Pecan Roast & Vegetarian Egg Sandwich on sourdough is totally hitting the spot.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about a rather popular topic today on Healthy Chicks: motivation. That is, how to stay motivated even during those realllllllyyyy tough times.
Here are some tips to get you inspired, whether you need motivation to run that race or simply get out of bed an hour earlier!
1. First and foremost, you need to have a purpose. If you’re struggling to stay on a healthy diet and exercise regimen, ask yourself “Why do I want to eat well and exercise?” Is it to lower your cholesterol? Is it so you can stay healthy for your kids? Is it so you can get in shape to run that first half marathon? Are you doing it to squeeze into those skinny jeans you’ve been keeping in the back of your closet for years? What is your “Why?” Make it specific. Instead of “So I can lose 10 pounds,” make it “So I can lose 10 pounds in order to reach my pre-baby weight and feel good about shopping for clothes again. ” You see? Find your purpose.
2. Don’t Let Slip-Ups Bring You Down. OK, so you had a brownie even though you “gave up” desserts. Woop-dee-doo. Instead of eating five more brownies, a piece of pizza and your weight in guilt, take control of your slip-up and move on. Because in reality, it’s just one tiny mistake which you can totally work your way out of damage-free. Chug some water, go for a walk and move on with it. We’re only human after all, so don’t try to be perfect. Instead, try to do the best you can do. Remember that if you’re living a healthy lifestyle most of the time, a treat here and there isn’t going to destroy your progress. Rather, guilt and pity parties is what destroys your success. Don’t let this get the best of you!
3. On that note, Don’t Diet! That’s right, I said it: You do not need to diet to lose weight. In fact, I am 100% against dieting because most diets call for some sort of restriction which makes you miserable which then makes you want to eat everything in your cabinet which then makes you guilty. And as you know, guilt is the worst feeling of all. Rather than going on the Cabbage Soup Diet or the South Beach Diet or the Flat-Abs diet, just make a promise to yourself that you’re going to eat well. What does eating well mean? To me, that means whole, clean, REAL foods. Lots of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats, local food, and things that don’t come from packages. Also, replace one can of soda a day with a large glass of water. Next week, try two. You get the picture.
4. While this may sound counterintuitive, try to focus on the Little Picture. Instead of trying to be the BEST, run the farthest and eat PERFECTLY, shoot for little goals. Remember, Small changes = Big results.
5. Remember to Have Fun: No matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, if you aren’t having fun with it, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Make it enjoyable! Start a walking group with your girlfriends, take turns making healthy meals with your roommate, get your husband on board, experiment with new recipes, or buy a really bright-colored workout outfit that you feel amazing in. Do whatever it takes to keep things fun and new!
What do you do to stay motivated? Share your tips in the comment section!
Since moving in with The Boy two weeks ago, we’ve quickly become much more…domestic (well, at least in the kitchen). While I do enjoy cooking homemade meals, when I lived with my sister I frequently settled for salads, signature pasta dishes or breakfast for dinner. Since our schedules were so different, I would often cook for myself and therefore resorted to something easy.
However, living with a man is a completely different beast. Soups, salad, and what I consider “leftovers” simply don’t suffice for a Real Meal. Men need hearty, wholesome, grandiose dishes and thus we’ve become quite familiar with our teeny tiny Cambridge kitchen.
Thankfully, we both like to cook and we both enjoy eating well. I lucked out that my guy doesn’t eat processed food, soda, take-out pizza or boxed meals, but rather enjoys organic meats, high-quality cooking oils and most importantly: real food.
Here’s what’s been on our dinner menu lately:
-Homemade Gluten Free pizza with spinach, broccoli, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, mushroom, onion, garlic and Italian seasoning (crust mix from Bob’s Red Mill)
-Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers (inspired by Simply Life blog)
*Note: We added shiitake mushrooms and sweet peas, used brown rice pasta, and doubled the garlic
What are your favorite healthy meals to make with your roommate/family/significant other? Share your comments below.