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!

 

 

 

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!

 

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”.

 

It’s Hot, Be Smart!

For those who prefer to walk, run or bicycle outside, January is brutal!  We find ourselves longing for the warm summer days when we don’t have to put on layers, hats and gloves before our morning workouts.  Not to mention it’s easier to get out of bed when you’re not going out into 27 degrees and trying to avoid icy patches on the roads and sidewalks- brrrrr!  January comes and goes, we have approximately 2 weeks of gorgeous, perfect weather and then BAM,  it’s June, and temperatures have been 95+ for more than a week!.

Since most of us can’t just pick up and move to San Diego to enjoy the perfect weather, let’s talk about the dangers of exercising in extreme heat and how to safely exercise outside.

Under normal circumstances our bodies are warmer than the environment, when this changes, we begin to sweat.  Sweating cools the body, but can also cause dehydration as we’re losing fluids.  As long as you stay hydrated, the body can cool itself, it’s when you become dehydrated that you become susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  When the body can no longer cool itself it begins holding the heat inside, causing the core temperature to rise, which can effect internal organs and the central nervous system.

Heat exhaustion can cause fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness and muscle cramps.  When a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees, they experience respiratory distress, the inability to sweat or loss of consciousness, they’re usually experiencing a heat stroke, which can lead to death.

While exercising in the heat can be dangerous, there are some steps you an take to exercise outside safely.

  • Stay hydrated – most doctors agree, this is the most important factor to exercising in warmer temperatures.  To maintain good hydration for a summer workout, doctors recommend drinking 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise, at least 8 ounces of water shortly before getting out in the heat, after you get started try to take a big drink every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.  If your urine is darker than normal or you don’t urinate for periods of 4-6 hours, you’re most likely dehydrated.
  • Dress appropriately – lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat are best when exercising in warmer temperatures. Clothes should also be light in color in order to reflect the sun.  Sunscreen should ALWAYS be worn, in addition to a breathable hat.  If you wear a helmet, try to remove it when taking breaks to let your head cool and breathe.
  • Time and place – try to exercise before 7am or after 6pm, preferably before sunrise or after sunset.  Chose a route that provides shade and has places to pull over and rest.  Avoid routes that are isolated and make sure you have cell service in case you need help.
  • Consult with your physician or pharmacist – there are medications and supplements that can cause dehydration, combining these with excessive sweating will cause an individual to dehydrate rapidly.  Examples include, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Listen to your body – your body will tell you when you’re putting it in danger.  If you notice signs of heat exhaustion, stop exercising immediately, hydrate in the shade and call for help if necessary.

Following these steps can help make outdoor exercise safer in the heat, but know when to say when.  When temperatures exceed 90 degrees, consider taking your workout inside.  We exercise to stay healthy, don’t negate it by risking heat related illness.

Brush-a, Brush-a

Dry brushing – you’ve probably heard or read about it, but do you know why we should do it?  Let’s talk about what it is, how to do it and why you should do it.

Dry brushing is done with a natural (non-synthetic) bristle brush, use one with a long handle so you can reach all areas of your body.  It’s best to stand in the shower or bathtub when you brush as dry skin will fall.   Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like, use long sweeping motions to brush your skin.

Dry skin brushing should be done daily for best results, or even twice a day if you like. Try incorporating it into your normal daily routine, avoid doing it too close to bedtime, as it may leave you feeling energized.

When brushing, always brush toward your heart, which is best for circulation and your lymphatic system. You can brush your entire body (including the soles of your feet). Start at your feet and work your way up your legs to your arms, chest, back, and stomach. Avoid brushing your face .

The pressure you apply while brushing your skin should be firm but not painful (avoid “scrubbing”). You can brush for as long (or as little) as you’d like.

Once you’ve brushed your entire body, rinse your body with hot or warm water then finish with the coldest water you can, it helps promote circulation.  When finished, pat skin dry and and apply a natural oil, like coconut oil for smooth, hydrated skin.

Why you should do it:

  1. To stimulate the lymphatic system.   Your lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating cellular waste products.   When this system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick. Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. When you stimulate your lymphatic system it helps release toxins.
  2. Exfoliation – Dry skin brushing removes dead dry skin, improving appearance, clearing clogged pores, and allowing your skin to “breathe.”
  3. Increases circulation – this helps release and eliminate metabolic waste.
  4. Reduces the appearance of cellulite – Dry skin brushing may help to soften hard fat deposits below the skin while distributing fat deposits more evenly. This may help to diminish the appearance of cellulite. 
  5. It’s invigorating!  Not only does it leave you with tighter, glowing skin, it can also leave you energized.

Cellulite, the not-so-cute dimples

Cellulite is a term for lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks and abdomen. Cellulite is most common in adolescent and adult women – so NOT fair!

Cellulite isn’t a serious medical condition, but might make you self-conscious about wearing shorts or a swimming suit.  Cellulite makes the skin appear bumpy or uneven.  Most of us know what it looks like, but many do not understand what causes it .

There is a layer of connective tissue between the skin and underlying muscle, fat lays in between.  The connective tissue is kind of like a window screen or web, when fat cells accumulate they push against the tissue causing a puckered or cottage cheese appearance on the skin.  Both men and women can have cellulite, however it is more prevalent in women as we carry more fat in the thighs, buttocks and abdominal areas.  It is also more common as we age, as skin loses elasticity.  Weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable, but some lean people have cellulite, as well. It tends to run in families, so genetics may play the biggest role in whether you develop cellulite.

Other factors that can contribute to the appearance of cellulite are:

  • Poor diet
  • Slow metabolism
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Hormonal changes
  • Dehydration
  • Total body fat
  • Thickness and color of your skin

There are ways to lessen the appearance of cellulite.

  1. Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Use a self tanner – darker skin tends to make skin look smoother
  4. Exfoliate – keep as smooth as possible
  5. Strength train – having strong muscles under lumpy areas can help skin appear smooth
  6. Quit smoking – lighting up affects the blood supply to your skin, making it thinner and more likely to sag.
  7. Massage problem areas – this helps promote circulation, which makes dimples less noticeable.
  8. Use retinol creams – this helps thicken your skin’s outer layer and helps cover lumpy areas.

There are other options that are very pricey and require ongoing treatment to keep the smooth appearance.  Skip liposuction as this procedure can actually make cellulite worse.

Cellulite is a common condition that affects roughly 90% of women.  Chances are, you notice it more than anyone else.  Control the things you can control and let the rest go,  In the end, it’s more important how we look on the inside.

Get back!

It is estimated that back pain affects an estimated 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. The degree of pain can range from mild to acute. It can come from the lower, middle or upper back. Common back pain causes include nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease and arthritis.

Depending on the source and degree of back pain, multiple studies have shown that a yoga practice that emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility, can help relieve back soreness. In fact, several studies have found that yoga can even trump usual care for back pain when it comes to improving back function.

While yoga isn’t a good idea if you have severe pain, those with occasional soreness or chronic aches may greatly benefit from certain postures that can help lengthen your spine, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and return your back to its proper alignment.  Individuals should always consult with their physician before beginning any exercise program.

Many of the postures in yoga strengthen the muscles in the back, as well as the abdominal muscles. Back and abdominal muscles are important for support of the spine, helping the body maintain proper upright posture and movement. When these muscles are strong, back pain can be greatly reduced or avoided.  Lengthening the hamstring muscles is also key in helping to avoid low back injury or strain.

Yoga incorporates stretching and relaxation, which reduces tension held on certain muscles muscles. Yoga requires that the individual hold poses anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. Within the pose, certain muscles flex, while others stretch, promoting relaxation and flexibility in muscles and joints.

Once approved by the attending physician, try some of the poses below to help relieve back pain or soreness.

Downward dog – targets the muscles in the low back that support the spine.  These muscles help you stand and lift objects.

Child’s pose – stretches and elongates the back muscles.

Pigeon pose – this pose is a hip opener.  Tight hips can contribute to low back, this pose helps loosen hip flexors and rotators.

 

Cat/Cow pose – these poses are a wonderful way to loosen the back muscles.

Forward Fold – this poses lengthens the hamstrings and stretches the low back.

A strong core helps protect the low back, exercises like plank and modified plank are great for strengthening the core as well as the back muscles.

It is best to work on strengthening and lengthening these muscles before you experience any pain.  If you do experience back pain consult you physician and discuss whether a yoga practice would be beneficial.