Healthy Chicks in the Community: An Almost Thirty, Quinoa-Loving New Mom

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Good evening ladies! Hope you all had a great day, and are now taking some time to shut down and relax. You deserve it, after all. Be sure to check out my post from earlier today recapping a fun sports bra fitting event I attended last night at New Balance. But tonight I’m here to bring you this week’s feature for Healthy Chicks in the Community, who’s actually a cousin of The Boy, and someone I admire greatly for her dedication to inner happiness and wellness. I’ll let Marybeth take it from here…

NAME/AGE: Marybeth Ferreira… Soon to be 30 🙂

CURRENT CITY: outside of Worcester

WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: Outpatient Mental Health Clinician, specializing in children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities

NUMBER ONE PASSION: Do I have to choose one? 🙂

I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: Active, eating well, GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP, and finding balance in all of my roles

BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES: I like to bake fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies and sample the batter!… and skip parts of workouts I don’t prefer… on occasion

TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES: olive oil, quinoa, and organic chicken broth

NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE: brain numbing reality tv… I’m ashamed…

EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE: yoga!

FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: ice cream

MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS: I believe that health is at it’s best when it’s approached holistically. That being said, start little by little, step by step. I used to be that girl that could live on take out, and I mean the unhealthiest of healthy, rarely exercise, and put other people’s emotional needs before my own. I’ve learned that holistic health is a process, and patience is the key. Each day just try, then some things become new habits, and those can be built upon. With all the changes that we swear to make regarding our bodies, I really want chicks to not forget that how you feel and think are HUGE factors, and you need to be nurtured and loved…by yourself 🙂…

Healthy Chicks in the Community Week 6: A Sweet Southern Spinach-Loving Gal

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Good afternoon ladies and Happy Valentine’s Day! You can check out my thoughts on Valentine’s Day & 40 Days of Gratitude Project here. But in the meantime, I’ve got this week’s spotlight for Healthy Chicks in the Community, a sweet Southern gal who hearts yoga and sweaty workouts. I’ll let Sara take it from here…

NAME/AGE: Sara, 26

BLOG/TWITTER (If Applicable): fitfunfemme.com / SaraWiles on twitter

CURRENT CITY: Atlanta, GA

PHOTO TAKEN: Maui, Hawaii

WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: Corporate Event Planning

NUMBER ONE PASSION: Spreading love and happiness

I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: Sweating lots and eating good, clean foods.

BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES: I eat copious amounts of cheese. I.LOVE.CHEESE.

TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES: Spinach (I throw it in everything…eggs, salads, sandwiches), Olive Oil, Dark Chocolate.

NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE: Macaroni and Cheese

EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE: Yoga

FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: My mom’s creamed spinach topped with Vermont sharp white cheddar.

MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS: Know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a happy, healthy lifestyle. Read wellness blogs, learn healthy recipes, and try new workouts. Slowly, you’ll find what clicks for you and when you do, it will become part of who you are.

If you’d like to be featured as one of my Healthy Chicks in the Community, or know someone who you want to make blush, email me for more deets. And remember, if you aren’t feeling your healthiest self or are struggling to make positive changes, shoot me an email anytime to schedule your FREE 15-minute info session / sign up for one of my health coaching programs.

10 Takeaways From My Day Trip to Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health

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On this past Wednesday morning, I woke up to my alarm at 5:45 a.m. as happy as a clam. That is, because I was headed off to the mountains to embark on a journey to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires.

If you haven’t heard of Kripalu, it’s quite difficult to put into words but I’ll try. It’s pretty much a hidden escape in the middle of the mountains filled with lots of yoga, meditation, wellness workshops/lectures, nutritious food, spa treatments, and R & R. Pretty much my Happy Place to a T.

My aunt had introduced me years ago, when we took a trip with my sister and mom after I graduated from college. But my aunt and I were back again for round two, this time being much different as I now have a greater appreciation for good food and wellness for the mind, body and soul, which are both important themes at Kripalu. As we drove up through the beautiful mountains, I was just itching to fuel my body with flavorsome meals, and soak up all the information I could in one day!

Upon checking in, the receptionist kindly reminded us that, due to there privacy policy, posting photos on social media is prohibited. While at first I was a little bummed I couldn’t take pics for the blog, within minutes I was ecstatic! This meant I could take an entire day just for myself to “unplug” and simply be. No responding to emails. No Twitter. No Facebook. No Instagramming. No typing. Just me, myself and my notebook (oh, and my aunt). Let me just tell you, those  kind of days don’t come around very often.

Once we checked in and received the day’s itinerary, it was off to breakfast! While I could type thousands and thousands of words about my experience, I’ve decided to wrap it all up with 10 juicy takeaways instead.

1. APPRECIATE THE BEUATY IN NATURE: Many times throughout the day, we were prompted to pause and simply appreciate the beauty around us. This wasn’t hard to do, considering we were in the middle of The Berkshires of Western MA. The sight of snowflakes dancing in the sky was the icing on the cake! Try to bring this into your own life by appreciating the beauty in nature every day, even when you have to look really, really hard to see it. In the midst of the chaotic, unpredictable world we live in, this can help bring you back to reality in a split second.

2. WHAT WORKS FOR ONE PERSON MAY NOT WORK FOR ANOTHER: I say this time and time and again on my blog: we are all created differently and one person’s medicine could be another’s poison. I so strongly believe in this concept, known as bio-individuality at IIN. During our first workshop, “Ayurveda: A Life in Balance,” Ayurveda Guru Hilary Garivaltis ellaborated on this belief. She noted that there are hundreds and hundreds of diets out there, and that many of us have tried a diet that our best friend SWEARS BY, only to have it not work for us (whether we gain weight, feel stressed, feel sick, etc).

This right here is PROOF that we need to be more in tune with our own bodies and what works best for ourselves as individuals. I, for one, have a Vata Body Type and don’t do well with a raw foods diet  especially during the winter months (I get spacy, anxious & hungry) and instead eat lots of  warm root vegetables, sauteed greens, healthy fats, gluten-free grains and some meat. However, I know others who thrive on vegan or raw foods diets. Neither is “right” or “wrong.” It’s what works for you. If your friend is vegan, you don’t have to be too! If your mom had success on a diet, you might not. That’s OK.

3. WHEN YOU ARE NOT FEELING YOURSELF, SOMETHING IS OFF: To add onto the Ayurveda info above, it’s important to know what it feels like when you are your best self. Hilary explained this well, starting with the line we hear so often, “I’m having an off day” or “I don’t feel like myself today.” Dissect this. Why are you having an off day? What does it feel like to feel “yourself”? What’s going on inside? What have you been eating lately? What outside life circumstances have come up? Explore this. Find out your Ayurvedic Body Type here or schedule a free 15-minute info session with me to learn more. This can help you dissect the information & understand more about the way your body and mind works.

4. GET INTO A ROUTINE: According to Ayurvedic medicine, it’s best to get into some sort of routine, which is especially true for someone like me (who HATES routine and is all over the place). They recommend going to bed and waking up (particularly at sunrise) around the same time, following the rhythms of nature (and eating according to season), taking time for silence and, what may be surprising to some, eating your biggest meal at lunch. In addition, they promote warm, cooked meals and hot water upon waking as cold or raw foods can be rough on the digestive track at this time.

Getting into a routine is something I’m going to really try and focus on, particularly getting into a regular sleep routine by going to bed earlier, and setting a time during the day that everything shuts down. Being the creative, worker bee I am, it’s important for people like me to have boundaries and create some sort of structure. Otherwise, this can lead to stress, anxiety and an overwhelming feeling.

Hilary suggested that I pick a time (around 8 p.m. or so) where I shut down my phone and computer, informing people that I won’t be available after this time. This way I can relax, unplug and enjoy the moment without worrying about who’s texting me or who needs a response from their email. Being a people-pleaser, I try to respond to everything and everyone RIGHT AWAY, but with an inbox flooding with new emails each day it’s important to set some limits here. I’m excited to start this routine on Monday!

5. BRING YOGA (OFF THE MAT) INTO YOUR EVERY DAY LIFE: Our late-morning workshop was entitled  “Yoga Off the Mat” with Life Coach Aruni Nan Futuronsky. I absolutely loved the intimate setting, Q & A and guided meditations throughout her talk. Not to mention her incredible energy; seriously I want to be best friends with this woman! Aruni said that by learning to take little pieces from your yoga practice (like breathing) into your every day life, you can begin to “struggle less and savor the moment.” Think about it for a second. When you’re in a yoga class and the teacher says to breathe into the pose, we adjust, think about breathing and release some tension. Why can’t we take this into our daily lives? Why must it be restricted to one hour on the mat?

Ask yourself, “What’s preventing me from fully living in the moment & appreciating the now?” Aruni shared simple techniques we can take into our everyday lives to shift our mindset and help us see the beauty in the present. We also talked about little ways to relax the body and the mind, through medication, journaling, unplugging, gardening, exercise and even just breathing.

6. SET LITTLE REMINDERS TO BREATHE THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Speaking of breathing, we sure did a lot of it during our day spent at Kripalu! We breathed in, we breathed out. We closed our eyes and focused on our breath during meditations, and were prompted to focus on breath-work during our Gentle Yoga class in the evening. I felt so balanced, “on” and at ease throughout the day, partially to thank for all this breathing. And I mean intentional, all-out breathing. We learned that these breathing techniques through meditation can actually help shift the chemistry of the brain! How cool is that?

Take this into your life in small ways or large; for instance you can choose to breathe every time you hit a red light or every time you open your laptop, or take it even further and explore meditation. For me, I’ve planned to set little reminders on my phone/Mac to remind me to get up, walk around and breathe. Being a freelance writer, blogger, and Health Coach, I am often plugged in throughout the day and time can quickly get away from me. These little reminders will help me be in the moment, relax, clear my mind and even prevent stress before it happens. Who wants to join me in this?

7. TAKE THE TIME TO SIT DOWN FOR YOUR MEAL

How many of you actually take the time to sit down for your meal, without distractions or “life” in the way? This is one of the most common things that comes up with my clients; that is putting everything else first instead of yourself. At Kripalu, we sat down for three, buffet-style healthy meals. In fact, because it was Meditation Week, all of the meals were silent. Yes, 100% silent.

While it was awkward at first, I feel blessed to have been able to eat three, delicious meals with some peace & quiet. Plus, it wasn’t hard to be quiet when the food was just that delicious. REFLECTION is so important, and we don’t do it enough. These meals were a great time for me to reflect on my life, write, and take in everything I was learning.

ON MY PLATE

Breakfast:

  • Few scoops of Warm Organic brown rice mixed with Quinoa / Amaranth
  • One piece Rudi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread topped with nut butter
  • Spicy tofu scramble topped with Cilantro Mint Chutney
  • Small piece of Curry Quiche (made with Cage-Free Omega 3 eggs)
  • A couple of almonds
  • Earl grey tea
  • Water with lemon

Lunch:

  • Warm Long Grain Brown Rice with Olive Oil, Sea Salt & Parsley (I topped it with their Charmala Sauce made with cilantro, olive oil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, and sea salt)
  • SautĂ©ed Kale with Carrots, Almonds, Olive Oil & Sea Salt topped with Gomasio & Dulse
  • Small Scoop of vegan tofu curry salad, pesto & tuna (I wanted to try a tiny bit of each!)
  • Shredded beets
  • Hummus
  • Cup of Spiced Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup
  • Small piece of Turkey Kibbe (Made with natural ground turkey, quinoa, onions, pinenuts, sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and olive oil)
  • Water

Post lunch: English Breakfast tea with a dash of organic soy, cinnamon and agave

Dinner:

  • Make-It-Yourself Tacos made with Organic Stone Ground Corn Tortillas (I stuffed mine with Tempeh, Tilapia, a little Baked Haddock, SautĂ©ed Peppers & Onions and Cilantro Rice)
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Black Bean Soup
  • One Gluten Free Brownie (AMAZING!)
  • Cup of ginger tea

8. DRINK YOUR WATER AT ROOM TEMP

We learned that drinking your water at cold or iced temps (especially during the morning) can be a shock to your body and difficult on your digestive system. Try drinking it warm or at room temp to aid digestion and give your body a bit of a break. I don’t like ice cold drinks anyway (since I’m always cold) but I’m definitely going to try drinking warm water throughout the day to clear out my body and support the lymphatic system. Feel free to try this if you can handle it…if you hate warm water, cold water is much better than no water since most of us are walking around dehydrated.

9. BE WARY OF SOY (AND OTHER INGREDIENTS): Like I said before, there aren’t “bad” foods or “good” foods, and therefore soy is not “bad” or “good.” That being said, soy crops in our country are chalk-full of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and one of the most contaminated & wide-spread crops grown (along with corn). If you’re going to consume soy, look for 100% organic varieties, meaning there are no GMO’s.

Also, be aware of the ingredients in your food! Soy in itself ins’t “bad.” In fact, edamame and fermented soy (like certain tempeh) are a wonderful source of high-quality proteins especially for vegans and vegetarians. However, potentially dangerous, processed by-products of soy like Soy Protein Isolate are sneaking their way into EVERYTHING these days in super high, unrealistic amounts. It’s found in protein powders, granola bars, cookies, fake meats, crackers and hundreds of packaged foods. Nutritionist Maryelaine “Mel” Sotos, MS, RD, LDN said that you should be especially careful with soy if you have any thyroid issues as it can disrupt normal thyroid function. Mel elaborated by saying that when a cereal claims “One cup has as much protein as an egg!”  just eat the egg. For me, I always question anything that’s not in it’s original form. Therefore, when shopping for groceries, ask yourself “Would I find this in nature?” Be a food detective and see just how altered the food is from its original source.

10. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: While I’m a huge advocate for listening to your body in terms of food, it’s also important to listen to your body in all aspects of life. This was touched upon in our evening Gentle Yoga & Meditation with the beautiful Vandita Kate Marchesiello, Director of Kripalu Professional Associations & Teaching for Diversity program.

Her yoga class was one of the most enlightening, beautiful classes I’ve ever experienced, as she urged her students to move in ways their bodies wanted to move. If you didn’t like doing a particular move, you didn’t have to. If your back needed a greater stretch, you were prompted to stretch it. Vandita encouraged movement according to our bodies wants & needs.

She explained that while sometimes life throws obstacles at us, we always have yoga and breath-work to bring us back. Be gentle and patient with your body. It’s the only one you’ve got, after all!

Have you ever been to or heard of Kripalu? What did you take away from this post? What do you agree with or disagree with? I’d like to open this up for an honest discussion!

Today’s Healthy ChickLit: On Self Care & My Spotify Relaxation Mix

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Are you taking care of yourself?

Have you checked in lately regarding how much time you set aside for self care? When I was studying to become a Holistic Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, self care was one of the first topics we discussed. Yes, even before we went into the nitty gritty details of nutrition, fitness and more.

What’s self care, you ask? To me, it means taking the time to do “me” things that are good for your body, mind and spirit. Because, as I’ve said over and over again if you’re not happy & healthy on the inside, you are definitely not going to be happy & healthy on the outside. It’s just how it works!

Lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been putting my self care somewhat on the back burner. Between the change in seasons, a new job, starting my own business, and meeting with clients life can get pretty hectic at times (which I know you can all relate). While it’s easy to put yourself last during these crazy phases, it’s actually during these times more that ever that you need to recognize what you are doing, and take care of yourself first.

Some of My Favorite Ways to Incorporate Self Care:

  • Extra-long hot showers
  • Self-massage with all-natural body oil (like jajoba mixed with an essential oil of your choice!)
  • Deep breathing & meditation (I have Gabby Bernstein to thank for this!)
  • Snuggling up with a good book before bed & lighting a candle
  • SLEEP, SLEEP and more SLEEP
  • Making a yummy, feel-good clean meal for yourself (get some great ideas from The Clean Plates Cookbook)
  • Taping a nap when you need one
  • Yoga
  • Skipping the gym when your body is telling you “no”
  • Going to the gym or a long run or ____ (insert exercise of choice) when your body is telling you “yes”
  • Making a hot pot of yogi tea
  • Listening to relaxing music & zoning out (see my Relaxation Mix below)

My Relaxation Mix on Spotify

I’ve recently discovered Spotify, and I’m already 100% hooked. I love that you can make different playlists for different occasions and feelings, or as they say “music for every moment.” Below is the mix I put on whenever I need to relax and give myself a little extra love & care. If you can’t tell, I’ve got a little girl crush on Regina Spektor lately.

You’d be surprised by how much self care impacts our overall health & wellness, and can prevent you from reaching your goals if it’s not in check! If you’re struggling with treating yourself and your body with love, I’d be happy to set up a FREE 15-minute healthy lifestyle info session or tell you more about my coaching programs. Email me with any questions or to schedule your session today. What do YOU do to incorporate self care?

Healthy Chicks in the Community Week 2: Bre the Yoga Queen

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I am super excited to announce this week’s star of Healthy Chicks in the Community. Bre is one of those all around cool gals, who I always enjoy catching up with (especially over gourmet coffee). I truly admire her positive attitude towards life, love and all those good things! I’ll let Bre take it away from here…

NAME/AGE: Bre, 26

TWITTER: @brenourse

FACEBOOK: Bre Nourse Yoga

CURRENT CITY: Boston (North End)

‬‪​WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK: I teach yoga, dip my toe in the design and photography pool and from time to time I sling $100 yoga pants at that big yoga clothing store we all know and love.

‬‪​NUMBER ONE PASSION: Teaching people to connect with their bodies through movement and meditation.

‬‪​I FEEL MY HEALTHIEST SELF WHEN I AM: Being kind to my body, fueling myself with foods that make me feel good and doing the work during my meditation. Its not just about the physical body, without a healthy mind we’d have nothing.

‬‪​BUT I AM ALSO A REAL GIRL & SOMETIMES:
I like to eat dessert for breakfast and watch all the shows in my dvr!

‬‪​TOP THREE KITCHEN STAPLES:
Olive Oil, Pepper and my potato ricer…it literally can turn anything into creamy deliciousness!
‬‪​
NUMBER ONE GUILTY PLEASURE:
Hazelnut Lattes from the Thinking Cup

‬‪​EXERCISE THAT MAKES YOU SHINE:
Yoga of course! Coming to my mat makes me feel healthy, happy, connected and strong.

‬‪​FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: A big bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

‬MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HEALTHY CHICKS:
Be unyielding in your pursuit of happiness; you will never regret working hard to do the things you love.

If you’d like to be featured as one of my Healthy Chicks in the Community, or know someone who you want to make blush, email me for more deets. Also the winner of my Sparkly Soul giveaway is #8 Sarah Kay, chosen by Random.org. Sarah, expect an email soon!


Athleta’s Fitness & Fashion Event on Newbury

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Last night, I was invited to attend “New Year, NEW YOU!” a fitness-inspired fashion event at Athleta on Newbury Street. Since I love fitness and fashion (well, when it comes to my workout gear) I was IN.

The event was hosted by Eventbrite and Athleta, two fabulous community-oriented companies in my book, so unsurprisingly was a huge hit. The evening entailed a sneak peek at Athleta’s new spring line, with local fitness teachers walking around to mingle and show off their beautiful clothes.

When I walked in there was a great crowd of ladies, all looking to have a good time and get their Fitness & Fashion on! After I signed in and chatted with some of the management team, I head over to the apps & drinks table to grab some quick, healthy bites. I filled my plate with a variety of cheese, some toasted pita, hummus and stuffed grape leaves and also snagged a Peach HINT Fizz for a light and tasty treat.

I was so excited to see Melina’s juice (from e.t.c Juicery) being served too! “How cool, I know her!” It’s safe to say her new juice is going to be a hit, as I went up for two cups myself while I was there.

Speaking of familiar names and faces, one of the first fitness models I saw was Kristy, someone I used to work with a while back at one of my first jobs in Boston, and who I ran into again at Ombe (where she now works) a few months ago.

[Kristy (left) posing with two other Athleta Fitness Fashionistas]

I also chatted with some other fabulous ladies along the way, all looking chic in their Athleta-wear.

[The whole group of stylish ladies smiling big!]

[Me & the ever-so-graceful Pilates teacher Swan Lyon]

It was so  nice seeing all of these strong, fit, happy ladies. They’re ALL Healthy Chicks in my book.

And one of my favorite part of the nights: I met President and Co-Founder of Prana Power Yoga Taylor Wells who was there for a book signing featuring her new book Create the Best Life Ever.

We had so much fun chatting about life, positive affirmations, fitness and nutrition. In fact, I was so touched by her words that I even bought her “Create the Best Life Ever” Positive Affirmation cards, which I think will be a wonderful addition for my own practice with yoga and meditation, and to use with my clients during health coaching.

I then went picture-crazy, trying to capture all of my favorite Athleta items & colors:

Overall, it was a wonderful evening filled with inspiring ladies, delicious food (and drinks), and incredible fashion. I also can’t get over how lovely Athleta’s store is, from the lighting to the impeccable layout. If you haven’t stopped in yet, you MUST. Just head on over to 92 Newbury Street, and I promise you’ll be in for a treat.

What’s your go-to fashion style during an exercise? Comfy & casual? Cute & fitted? Colorful or neutrals?Share below! P.S. If you haven’t already done so, please go check out my Healthy Chicks in the Community initiative. I’d love to get as many fabulous ladies involved as possible!

What FitFluential Means to Me: The Inside Scoop from a FitFluential Ambassador

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As I’ve mentioned before here on Healthy Chicks (and as I’m sure you can tell by the badge on the right), I am a proud FitFluential Ambassador. If you haven’t checked out the FitFluential community before, which was founded by Fitness Rockstar Kelly Olexa, I strongly suggest you do so over here.

While FitFluential is packed with an amazing group of like-minded enthusiasts sharing their passion for wellness every hour on the hour, today I wanted to share with you what “FitFluential” means to me. More specifically, my very own definition of living a “healthy lifestyle.”

Discovering an Exercise Routine that Makes you Shine

[Move100 Campaign; Photo Cred: Move100.org]

Just like there is no Perfect Man for every woman, there is no perfect exercise that works for everyone. In fact, I don’t believe in rules or perfection at all.

Some live for CrossFit and Pilates, while others feel their best by doing yoga and running. Some spin 6 days a week, while others enjoy being one with nature and going for long hikes with loved ones.

The point is, it’s not going to work for you unless you enjoy it. Find the exercises that make you shine, and run with it. What gives you a natural high? What makes you feel strong and confident about your body? What moves you?

Remember this can change, as we go through phases throughout our lives. Currently, I’m into yoga (for inner peace and serenity), running (for clarity & sweat) and circuit training (for strength). However, I wouldn’t reccomend this routine for everyone as THE. BEST. EVER. There is no best. Do you. This right here is one of the many reasons I love the FitFluential community so much: everyone brings something different to the table.

Also, be sure to take risks by trying new classes and different types of exercise, as you may surprise yourself. This morning I took a hot yoga class with a friend at Prana Power Yoga in Central Square and haven’t felt such a sense of bliss in a long time. In the past year, I’ve completed my THIRD half marathon (I can’t believe I’m saying that), PR’d my 5K by over a minute, and took part in the Move100 Initiative.

Setting intentions for yourself is really helpful in reaching your fitness goals as you are doing it for YOU and no one else. Attempt to let go of competition and comparison and challenge yourself. It’s much more fun that way!

Fueling Your Body With Food That Makes You Feel Your Best

Just like my viewpoint on exercise, I feel the same way about how we eat. One diet doesn’t work for everyone! Remember that. While your best friend may do well on a strictly vegan diet, you may thrive on good-quality, organic grass-fed meats. While some may be able to devour the bread bowl like it’s no tomorrow, others (like myself) may have difficulty digesting gluten in large amounts.

While we’re on this topic, I don’t even like the word diet in the first place. To me, healthy living is a lifestyle and something that’s a part of your life 365 days of the year. So you over-indulged in pizza last night or your weight went up two pounds on the scale. When you’re living a healthy lifestyle, those little “slips” start to not matter as much.

In fact, I am so passionate about helping other women overcome a diet-obsessed lifestyle, that I’ve created a unique wellness program for exactly that. I’ve been in there, that place where the scale rules your life, where you stay in from social outings with friends out of fear of the menu, where food is scary and overwhelming. And let me tell you, there is not fun.

In the past few years, I’ve never been in a happier place with myself and my body. And it all started when I stopped dieting and starting living, when I stopped buying fat-free, cardboard tasting, diet-everthing and started eating real food, when I stopped fearing food and began to fall in love with it.

For me, eating well means filling my plates with clean food, local and organic as much as possible but not ALL THE TIME. It means eating a plant-heavy diet (lotsa greens!) with loads of colorful fruits, good quality grains, fish and occasional organic chicken. It means having fun, and not being afraid to make mistakes, in the kitchen! It means recognizing the foods that make me feel crappy (too much gluten, fried food, etc) and loading up on the foods that make me feel fantastic (sauteed greens, quinoa bowls, green smoothies in the Vitamix, homemade soups, sushi + fish).

And of course, there are nights where I drink one too many glasses of red wine or indulge in a little too many cheese & crackers, but that’s OK. Be realistic about it and ask yourself “How Do I feel?”

Communicating + Collaborating

[random run-in with Cait at Daybreak; photo cred: Cait Plus Ate]

This one’s a biggie! I think making relationships with other people (both similar and different to you) is key. I love how everyone in the FitFluential community is so willing to share, connect and spread the love!

It’s so fun discovering different bloggers, attending unique events and taking part in incredible wellness initiatives.

I find such a joy in creating new friendships (both in person & virtually) with amazing women all over the web including some of my old-time Boston faves like Jess from Eat Drink Breathe Sweat (who actually introduced me to FitFluential) to some of my new faves like Heather from For the Love of Kale and Caitlin from Cait Plus Ate. Honestly, these women are amazing and ever-so-inspiring. This whole community is!

Oh, and communicating &  collaborating goes outside the “blogosphere” too. It’s about connecting and networking with people every day to  ignite that inner passion, and potentially create amazing relationships along the way.

Having a Positive Attitude (Most of the Time)

[enjoying some giggles & QT with the boy]

For me, above anything else, healthy living is about your attitude and mindset. Be confident in who you are, walk your talk, fill your life with positivity, take risks, embrace your body, lend a helping hand when you can, and SMILE. I think it’s important not to take life too seriously and to have a little fun with it.

Be sure to make time for the people you love and surround yourself with positive people who bring out the best in you. Drop the envy & jealousy and replace it with admiration & determination. Be the best you that you can possibly be!

SHARING TIME! What does FitFluential mean to you? For fellow FitFluential Ambassadors, share your thoughts here! For others, how is living a “healthy lifestyle” defined according to you? What do you agree or disagree with? Remember there is no right or wrong answer. That’s the beauty of it all.

Tuesday Talk: Now Stretch it Out

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I have a confession: I don’t stretch nearly as much as I need to. Scratch that. I barely stretch at all. Sometimes I’ll go for my long runs, and hit the shower before I even think to stretch out my hamstrings. Not good, not good at all. I know we hear this all of the time, but stretching is vital, especially for those who are physically active.

Not only does does stretching help prevent injuries, but if often improves our athletic performance along with many other benefits such as flexibility. Maybe that’s why I can barely touch my toes without bending my knees, and to think I used to be The Queen of sit-and-reach in gym class when I was younger. Hm, maybe it has a little something to do with the lack of stretching, don’t ya think?

The other day my hamstrings were so tight from running that I could barely lift my legs up during Core Fusion class, when the rest of the class made it seem like a piece of cake. I was ashamed, but tried not to get too down on myself. It’s simply a matter of fact: I need to stretch more. I need to make it part of my daily routine. If I have time to run & fuel my body with healthy eats, then I most definitely have time to stretch.

If you are a runner like myself, or exercise regularly, maybe you should rethink your stretching routine too. Here are some super stretches courtesy of Fitness Magazine, particularly for all of you runners out there. I also recommend getting more involved in classes such as yoga or core fusion, with naturally incorporate stretching in with the workout, thus increasing flexibility. Now stretch it out ladies!

Do you stretch enough? Do you do so before or after exercise? What are some of your top stretches?

XoXo,


Yoga and Your Health: Stress Reduction, Sexuality and Other Hidden Benefits

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The other day, I came across this article “77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga” on NursingDegree.net. The author split the benefits up into seven categories: health benefits within, health benefits without, emotional health benefits, body chemistry, exercise health benefits, disease prevention and symptom reduction or alleviation. I was shocked at how many different ways yoga could improve your health. Sure, I knew it was good for you, but seventy-seven health benefits? That’s pretty darn incredible.

Coincidentally, lately I’ve been working on adding yoga back into my life, my intentions being mostly for the emotional benefits. As listed in the article, these include mood improvement, calmness, mind-body connection, stress reduction, and even self-acceptance among others. And during last night’s Vinyassa yoga class, it did just that for me. I left the studio feeling at ease, happy with myself, and extremely carefree. It felt amazing.

While the emotional aspect has been the main goal to take out of my personal yoga practice, after reading this article, I’m excited to explore and learn from all of the other benefits. Did you know yoga can help improve your metabolism, improve your posture or even improve your sexuality? How about keeping your weight in check, reducing your chance of developing heart disease (due to stress reduction), and improving your breathing to help clear your sinuses?

Talk about an all-in-one vitamin. And all it takes is 45 to 75 minutes out of your day. I don’t know about you, but that’s worth it to me!

Read the rest of the article here to be dazzled by even more benefits yoga has to offer. I assure you you’ll be amazed, and will find yourself on the mat in downward dog in no time.

I also highly recommend you purchase your own yoga mat so you can practice at home, (and won’t have to deal with other people’s sweaty germs!) Check out this super cute flower mat with carry strap, perfect for summer, for only $14.77 on Amazon!

You likey?

Do you practice yoga? What are your intentions for each practice?

Weekly Faves: Road Trips, Turbo Shots, Yoga Lessons and More

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Hello ladies! I had SUCH a busy week – filled with starting a new job, attending several events, picnic-ing and going out with the girls last night – that I totally forgot to post my weekly Friday Faves post. But don’t you worry: it’s here (even if it is a day late).

Road trips: I’m going on a road trip with The Boy to drive his grandparents car from FL back to NY. Yes, we are flying down to Florida, staying a few days and then road-tripping all the way back up the East coast. Some people hate long, drawn-out car rides. But I personally love them. I love making mixed CDs. I love asking random questions, and playing silly car ride games. I love rolling the windows down and running my hands through the breeze. I love singing…even though I have no tone AT ALL. I love checking out the scenery and stopping a random restaurants and hotels along the way. Road trips are the absolute greatest…I’m getting like a giddy school girl already just thinking about it!

My Yoga Teacher: No, I don’t have a crush on my yoga teacher. But I do love some of the things he said in class today, particularly this: “Yoga is an exercise for the mind and living in the moment. Putting your leg behind your head and a getting a hot body for the beach is not the purpose. But great if those things happen too as an extra.” Seriously, I want this dude to be my mentor.

Turbo Shot: I got a turbo shot in my coffee today, and let’s just say I’m on fireeeeee (in a good way)! Good thing, because I’m working an event all afternoon and need to be on so hopefully this turbo shot will keep me there.

Light Weight: I was always a light weight, but lately I’m light weight times 1,000. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I run all the time, and rarely go out for drinks anymore. I drink the occasional glass of wine and cocktail with dinner, but going out balls to the walls? Not lately. Well last night I went out with the girls and Holy crap… I have become the definition of light weight. And no, I am not complaining in the least bit. I love the fact that I am a cheap date…and only had to spend $6.50 on myself last night. Score. My wallet loves it too.

Udi’s Gluten Free Bagels: Due to my sensitivity to gluten, I haven’t enjoyed a bagel in years. Well, the other day my boyfriend’s parents bought me a bag-full of gluten free goodies, including Udi’s Gluten Free bagels. I’ve had some of their other products before including their gluten free blueberry muffins, but I had yet to try their bagels. I can’t explain the joy I felt the other day when I bit into a pizza bagel for dinner. Oh, the glory.

What are you 100% in love with this week? I’d love to hear!

 
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