It’s what’s on the inside……..

Every one I know has heard it at some time, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”.  If you were like me, you rolled your eyes and swore no one understood you.  Most of us heard this in response to our self-criticism of physical attributes.  Our Mother, or some other well-intending individual would try to convince us that our appearance was not as important as being a good person.  While this is VERY true, I want to look at it from another perspective.

Society spends billions of dollars on skin cream, serums, age defying procedures, makeup, diet pills, spanx, lipo, lifts and tucks.  All of this in an effort to look good on the outside.  But what about the inside?

If we were to peel the skin back, how would they look on the inside?  Imagine if the money spent on the things mentioned above, was spent on healthy living instead.  You see, if we focus on making our insides look good, the outside follows.  When we feed our body healthy, nutritious food, it shows!  When we’re active, it shows!

In addition to the obsession with physical beauty, society is also obsessed with food.  Unfortunately, it’s not the nutritious food we crave.  In the age of instant gratification, we want food and we want it now!  Fast food restaurants and companies who crank out processed foods are happy to oblige.  The same person who smears $100/oz serum on their face before bed, will complain that a salad costs $4.00 and a burger only costs $1.00.  Not once considering, if they were to splurge on a $4.00 salad, rather than the greasy $1.00 burger, they probably wouldn’t need the expensive serum.

Currently, in the United States, more than 68% of the population is considered overweight or obese.  Many life-threatening conditions are linked to being over-weight and/or obese, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, gall bladder disease and stroke.  The number one factor in battling obesity is a healthy diet.

When we give our body what it needs to function optimally, it rewards us and shines through.  We’ve all seen that healthy man/woman who just seems to glow, hair seems thicker and shinier, the skin is clear and dewy and their body looks healthy and fit.  This is a side effect of a healthy diet.  While every disease and ailment cannot be cured or avoided by eating healthfully, many can.  In addition, when we eat for proper nutrition we have more energy to exercise, move and live an active lifestyle – which is the second component to looking and feeling good.

While it’s very cliche, it’s true – garbage in, garbage out.  If you’re feeding your body food with little or no nutritional value, it shows.  If you’re feeding your body a diet full of necessary vitamins and minerals, it shows.  So, rather than spending your hard-earned money on expensive products that may or may not give you the results you seek, invest that money in a sure-thing, yourself!  It’s a guaranteed return!

It’s true, “it’s what’s on the inside that matters”!  Focus on being healthy and looking good on the inside – you’ll be rewarded with feeling and looking good on the outside, win, win!

 

 

 

Resolutions – the good, the bad and the ugly

It’s that time of year!  Most of us have reflected on our lives and have come to the conclusion that we could do or be better.  For some, this is true, for others it is simply another way to beat ourselves up for not being “good enough”.

Let me start by saying, I think resolutions are good and we don’t have to wait until Jan 1st to make them.  I believe it’s important to strive to live a healthy, responsible, meaningful life.  And yes, quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising, saving more and spending less will all have a positive effect on our lives.  Resolutions give us something to work towards and serve as a positive example to children and others.  The tricky part can be keeping resolutions positive and not tying self-worth to your success or failure.

Many times, we get excited at the thought of being healthier, skinnier, having more money or being more successful.  Excitement is a good motivator, however it can backfire when we set unrealistic goals.  Instant gratification is the number one problem with an unrealistic resolution.  As a society, we tend to want, and expect, everything now!  A person who has spent their entire adult life eating poorly and is obese may want to lose weight – however, when they haven’t hit their unrealistic goal weight by Feb 10th they see themselves as a failure, push the entire resolution aside and go right back to the old habits that led to their obesity in the first place.   Resolutions do not have to be all or nothing, we all have setbacks, the real success comes when you push through and keep going.

There are several steps you can take to be successful in reaching your resolutions.

  1.  Set a reasonable and measurable goal.  Rather than saying “I want to lose weight”, say “I want to lose 1-2 lbs for 12 weeks”.
  2. Commit!  Writing down your goal makes it “real”.  It also helps to tell your spouse, close friends and/or family – ask them to help hold you accountable and support you.
  3. Make a plan.  How will you achieve your goal?  What steps will you take?
  4. Reward yourself – reward yourself in a healthy way.  If you’re trying to lose weight, make it something other than food.  If you’re trying to save money, avoid a monetary reward.
  5. Cut yourself some slack.  No one is perfect, if you fall off track or have a bad day, get over it and move on – keep moving forward, you’ll get there.
  6. Believe in yourself – you CAN do it!

You have the power to make positive changes every day!  Some days will be better than others, accept it, don’t beat yourself up, keep going!

 

 

It’s been a long time!

Yes, I know it’s been way too long since my last post – my apologies.  The good news is, I’m back on track and excited about it!  So, what have I been doing? Slacking?  Hardly, let me fill you in.

I started my Stay Balanced Yoga business in July 2014.  In addition to the yoga classes I began teaching and the birth of my lifestyle program, “Walk the Walk”, I continued to work my full-time job.  As my business grew, so did the length of my days – I was putting in up to sixteen hours on some days, as well as working on weekends.  While I was working a lot, and business was growing, I felt like I was spinning my wheels.  My passion for wellness, was beginning to cause stress, fatigue and burnout, ironic – I know.  After discussing it with my husband, I decided to leave my full-time job after twenty-two years to pursue my passion – YIKES!

This was an extremely difficult decision, I was leaving a job that afforded my family great health benefits and regular paychecks – stability, for something I love and have great passion for, but was very uncertain.  When I resigned, I cried.  I didn’t understand it at the time – but later likened it to a divorce.  I had spent more than half of my life with this company and these people. I had so many emotions, but I trusted my gut – this was my chance to make a living doing what I love, I could not pass it up.

Three months into my new chapter, I couldn’t be more confident in my choice.  Currently, I am pursing my Holistic Health Degree, broadening my Yoga education and writing an ebook – all while building my Yoga and Wellness business.  I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted, I feel lighter, happier and more fulfilled.  I am most grateful to my husband for affording me this opportunity, without his support I’m not sure I would have ever taken this leap.  I am also eternally grateful for my clients, friends and family, who continue to support and believe in me.

My passion is to help others live their healthiest lives.  I want to give back in a positive, meaningful way.  I feel like I’m on the path that’s right for me, the path that will take me where I’m meant to be.  Are you on the path that’s right for you?  Have you ever explored what it would take for you to get there?  I would love to hear your feedback!

 

Got Inflammation?

For years we’ve seen the “Got Milk?” ads.  The dairy industry has been leading us to believe it is the only way to build strong bones and avoid osteoporosis.  Unfortunately dairy can be one of the most inflammatory foods in our diet. Dairy can cause many gut issues, including gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.  What causes these issues?  Sugar and protein.

Lactose is the sugar found in dairy products.  People who don’t tolerate this well or who are “lactose intolerant” do not produce the lactase enzyme that is required to break down lactose.  Then there are those who do not tolerate the proteins found in dairy, casein and whey.  Casein protein is very similar to gluten, more than half of people who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to casein.

Antibiotics and hormones

Many dairy farmers give cows a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone called rBGH to increase milk production.  Many times this can lead to udder infections that have to be treated with antibiotics, that then, make their way into your dairy products.

Out of whack

Dairy can also throw our PH balance off.  Our bodies need a balance of acid and alkaline.  Most animal products, dairy included, are acid forming, this requires our body to compensate with alkaline reserves, which are found in stored calcium, magnesium and potassium – these are stored in your bones.  This can actually weaken the bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and osteoporosis.  Research shows that countries with the highest diary consumption also have the highest rate of osteoporosis.

The best way to tell if you are sensitive to diary products is to eliminate them from your diet for at least 30 days.  After eliminating these products, note how you feel, any changes?  If you think you want to try going back to diary products, add them in slowly and see how your body reacts.  In the end it’s a personal decision.  I can tell you from my experience that eliminating diary makes a significant difference in how my gut feels as well as how I feel overall.

Alternate sources of calcium include:

  1. Almonds
  2. Kale
  3. Oranges
  4. Collard Greens
  5. Broccoli
  6. Figs
  7. Spinach
  8. Enriched rice, almond, hemp and coconut milks
  9. Sesame seeds
  10. Tofu

If you decide to try eliminating dairy from your diet, I would love to hear your feedback!

 

 

 

 

Organic – what is it and is it worth it?

Gone are the days when we had to go to a fancy market or boutique grocery store to find organic foods.  Organic food can now be found in any mainstream grocery chain, it’s even popping up at Walmart.  But, do you even KNOW what organic means, what is makes it “organic” and is it worth the extra money?

Any food with a USDA organic seal is required to be grown, harvested, and processed according to national standards that include restrictions on amounts and residues of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.  In addition, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “organic” foods cannot be treated with any synthetic pesticides, sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. They may only use pesticides derived from a natural source.

Foods labeled as “free-range,” hormone free” or “natural” are not considered “organic and these terms are not regulated by law.

Organic labeling guidelines:

  • 100% organic – no synthetic ingredients and can be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Organic – 95% of ingredients are organic and can be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Made with organic ingredients – 70% of ingredients must be organic, cannot legally bear the USDA organic seal.
  • Any meat, eggs, poultry or dairy must come from animals who have never been treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.

Organic foods can be pricey, 50-100% more than non-organic foods.  The main reasons for the price difference is, organic foods are more labor-intensive and do not last as long as their non-organic counterparts.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., recommends going organic on the “dirty dozen” — types of produce that are most susceptible to pesticide residue:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

These items are listed as probably not worth the extra money.

  • Papayas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kiwifruit
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocadoes
  • Onions

Your choice – if it’s important to you and in your budget, buy organic.  If not, there are still some things you can do to reduce the pesticide residue on your foods.

  • Wash and scrub produce under running water to remove dirt, bacteria and surface pesticide residues, even produce with inedible skins such as cantaloupe. Do not use soap.
  • Remove the peel from fruits and vegetables.
  • Remove the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
  • Trim fat and skin from meat and poultry, pesticide residues can collect in fat.
  • Eat a variety of foods from different sources.

Organic or not, fruits and vegetables are probably the most important foods we consume,  do your best to rid them from residue and then chow down!

 

 

 

Does size matter?

NO!  The answer is no, a million times no – and here’s why.

Many people are obsessed with fitting into a particular size, whether it’s the size they wore in high school, the size Hollywood tells us we should be or the size the skinny girl in the office says SHE wears.  It becomes an unhealthy focus and can lead to serious self-esteem issues and/or eating disorders.

Let’s talk about the numbers on that tiny piece of material attached to your jeans and why they don’t matter.

  1. It’s a game!  Designers know that people, especially women, will buy a garment that has a size 4 label, over one that has a size 8 label, every time.  So while your TRUE size might be 8, you’re going to buy the brand that tells you that you’re a size 4.  In the end, the designer who tells you what you want to hear (read), wins.
  2. Individuals of the same height and weight can wear very different sizes.  You can have a “pear shaped” woman who weighs 150 lbs, she may wear a size 12 in jeans, while a 150 lb, top-heavy woman who is slimmer through the hips may wear a size 6.
  3. Brands and styles have very different cuts.  Have you ever noticed that a particular store who caters to a younger crowd, carries pants that are longer and slimmer?  These stores are targeting individuals who have a particular body shape.   Someone with a more “mature” body shape, who usually wears a size 4 will not be able to pull this store’s size 4 pants up over her thighs. The clothing in this store is not made with a her body shape in mind.
  4. Many of us are not one uniform size.  Some may have a small waist and carry weight through the hips and thighs, others may have a wide waist and very thin legs.  While there are some people who slide right into those pants, the rest of us need a good tailor.

In the end, who, besides you, really knows what that tag says – or cares for that matter?  I don’t think anyone really knows what a true size 0,2,4,6,8……is anymore.

Why do we let that number bother us so much?  Does it determine our value as a human being?  Does it make us a better person?

The best fashion advice I’ve ever received was, buy for the largest part of your body and have the rest tailored.  A nice, tailored, put together look beats squeezing yourself into something that makes you look and feel like a Vienna sausage, just because the tag, that no one can see says “4”.

 

Sahaswara, The Seventh Chakra

Sahaswara, also known as the “crown chakra” is the center for trust, devotion, inspiration, happiness, and positivity. It’s also the center for deeper connection with ourselves and deeper connection with a force of life that is greater than ourselves.

Sahaswara is referred to as the thousand-petal lotus chakra.  The lotus flower is a symbol in both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It is nurtured, grows, and emerges in muddy waters. It blooms where there is no clarity.

There are many ways to help open the “crown chakra”.

  1. Get inspired – find something that helps you feel inspired, uplifted, positive and open.  Anything that brings you inspiration will help open this chakra.  Find what inspires you an reflect on it daily.
  2. Practice affirmations – practice positive affirmations throughout the day to help keep this chakra open.  Ex. “I am open and expanded”.
  3. Visualize – imagine the top of the head being open and expanded, connected to a force greater than yourself.

Several asanas can also help open this chakra.

Half Lotus Pose

Image result for image for half lotus pose

Tree Pose

Corpse Pose

Supported headstand

Opening this chakra leads to a feeling of calm, positivity and well-being,  I believe most of us need to deliberately work on opening the crown chakra, it does not come easily in the beginning.