It seems that everything we see points to fit, toned, “perfect” bodies. Movies, MTV, magazines, your best friend who has the extra time in her schedule to work out 4 hours a day at the gym. It is little wonder, then, that eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (AN) or binge eating distorder (BED) run rampant through adolescent groups, although I think they are common in any age bracket; or a sense of helplessness, even willful refusal to aim for a healthier lifestyle.

Let’s face it. The choices are limitless. The overwhelmed feelings many people experience in the face of needing or wanting to improve their health and/or lifestyle adds to their frustration and may just push them back onto their sofas.

So here are some ways of sorting through the mess, the media, and the needs/wants without becoming overwhelmed.

  • Prioritize your needs, then your wants. Health issues ought to take precedence over perceived ideal body image.
  • Establish goals using the SMART principles.
  • Tackle one habit at a time.
  • Tackle the easiest habit to change first; over time, the ones that are hardest will become easier and more manageable. As you develop healthier habits in one area, others will follow.
  • Take a deep breath when you fall off the horse. Don’t worry. It won’t kick you. You’re the one who kicks yourself! Instead, get back up on your horse and resume your healthy habits the next day. There is no perfect/right time to start back up. Just do it!

Found on Tumblr. Linked to page.

Once you have chosen which goal to tackle first, decide how you want to go about accomplishing it. We all have limitations. I’m a part of a group mainly composed of women who hold jobs and/or are busy moms. They don’t have a whole lot of time to dedicate driving to a gym. So many of them grab up DVDs like TurboJam. On the other hand, some business people might find it easier to start/end their day with a visit to a gym on the way to/from work. Do what you really love most!

Also, keep in mind what sort of environment will help you meet your goals most successfully. Yes, we have limitations, but we also have drives. For me, being home means that I’m less likely to do a workout but more likely to cook a healthy meal. I have to hit the gym. For others, being at home might be the best, most comfortable way for them to get their workout in as they do not like others watching them, but they might compromise by eating out more frequently (and choosing healthier menu options).

Finally, if and when possible, consider asking for help from your other half/family/friends/community support group. These people are the backbone of our support groups, and those most willing to lend a hand to help you stay on track. Maybe a friend chooses to take up a weight loss goal with you, or will watch your child in exchange for some help shopping for healthier meal options. Maybe you get together with your mom to spend an afternoon or two canning those vegetables you planted. Perhaps you carpool to the local farmers’ market. Perhaps get the community to start a garden. Whatever it is, ask for help and be willing to assist someone else in return.

Most everyone wants to be healthier; many people just are not sure how to go about it. No matter what the TV commercials say, there is no one right way to go about changing poor habits into healthy ones. It is more important to focus on changing bad habits into good ones than adhere to the often strict requirements of famous diets and prearranged exercise regimens. Most often, we do not have the self-control to start out on a strict diet or exercise plan; but as we develop healthy habits, these become more feasible.

Listen to your body! You know it best! Remember that the ideal image advertised to the general public is not healthy; in fact, it is most often sick. Focus on how you can improve your overall health instead. If that means losing weight, great! But watching the numbers drop on the scale is not the only indicator of health and wellness. Next time you get down about how you look in the mirror, think of how much better you feel!

Here are some gymnastics inspired workouts from the American Council on Exercise.

Just to start, “burning share” is a term we used in the group when we had to say something we felt was important!


To get to the point, it rocked!


This is big. Huge. For me, anyways. See, I was very nervous, and somewhat dubious, about attending a YogaFit training. I have been researching yoga teacher trainings for quite a while and am drawn toward the more traditional, vigorous forms of yoga. While all forms lend themselves to developing and enhancing strength, endurance, and flexibility, I am most drawn toward ashtanga vinyasa, which to me looks most gymnastic and graceful in nature. The poses remind me of dance, the people in those poses of dancers. (My first sport love is gymnastics; my other first movement love is dance.)


When I first signed up for the YogaFit Palm Spring Mind-Body Fitness (MBF) Conference, I did so because it was affordable. But I was soon distracted by an opportunity to acquire a scholarship to study yoga by another company. (I may still take them up on this at some point in the future.) The lure of this was huge for a few reasons: they were offering a scholarship; one of the co-owners was a former military wife; they instructed in the exact style I wanted to first learn, plus explored other styles I enjoy; and I could get my 200 hours all at once.


By this time, however, I had talked a friend and co-worker into attending the conference with me, and felt terrible about backing out on her. She’s interested in yoga but newer to the idea of teaching it (though she rocks as a Zumba instructor). Plus, she worries about her English, as she is Japanese. I’m really glad I did not, and that attending the other yoga training was not feasible for me at this time.


YogaFit embodies the lessons a yoga lifestyle aims to achieve. It actively incorporates the yamas (5 “shall-not” practices incorporated into our dealings with external affairs: non-violence, truth in word and thought, non-stealing, abstinence/celibacy/faithfulness in marriage, and absence of avarice/greed) and niyamas (5 “shall-do” principles applied to our internal affairs: cleanliness of body and mind, satisfaction/contentment in one’s life, austerity, study of scripture, surrender to/worship of God) into the corporation, from the top on down to those in their trainings. (NOTE: although the yamas and niyamas are of Hindu/Buddhist origins, the ideas are found in any ideology/belief system where life is valued. More simply put: do unto others as you would want done unto you. Also note, the number of yamas and niyamas traditionally are 10.)


My instructor, Carol, was spectacular and sparky. She brought a sense of community–the same sense I got from other staff members present–to the training. This is huge for me. As I told her during our closing circle, I have had a long history with competitive yoga teachers (although not all; two very good teachers come to mind), who know they are teachers and you are students, and let you know it off, and on, the mat. Furthermore, the fitness industry is a highly competitive work place. People are cutthroat and oftentimes rude. There is a “me first” mentality. This was noticeably absent from the entire conference.


Also, I had an opportunity to meet (sit next to) Beth Shaw, the founder of YogaFit. This was rather intimidating, to be honest. She is a tall woman, one with a huge heart. When she said that the company was working on lifestyle certifications (i.e. organization certifications; classes to help instructors help their students declutter their lives, homes and minds; nutrition; etc.), as well as a better therapy pathway, I got excited. The staff had a passion for what they do, and I realized that this company was not just talking to sell their way of teaching. They meant what they said.


I have decided to stick with YogaFit through the 200 hours. I may continue on with them toward 500 hours when I am ready, but I may also experience other ways. As Carol, and other staff members said, there is no wrong way in the yoga lifestyle. The YogaFit aim is to produce “the safest way for the general population.” This, after all, was Beth’s original aim: to bring yoga safely to the masses.


I was really touched this weekend, not only by my instructor, but also the other students in the room. From a lady who just wanted to learn more about yoga; to another who had practiced for over 40 years and, after enduring brain surgery, thought it was time to start her teaching career; to another who had been teaching for 10 years and finally decided to finish her YogaFit certification; to my dear friend who joined me. If you are at all interested in teaching, or just learning more about yoga and finding what path is best for you, I highly recommend taking Level 1. I do not think you will regret it.


I did not.


For more information on YogaFit’s 200- and 500-hour programs, and the directions in which you can take them; their affiliations with Yoga Alliance and the American Council on Exercise; their goals and intentions for the business; their yoga shop for products; YogaFit’s venture into Canada; and so forth, see their website.

Yoga FAQs

July 12, 2012

In celebration of my going off for some yoga training today and tomorrow, I thought I would leave you with some articles on what yoga is, and how one can go about finding the right type of yoga for you! At the bottom, I will also leave links in case someone is interested in finding teacher training programs. Feel free to leave questions. I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.


What is Yoga?

Yoga for Stress Relief, by Ladies’ Home Journal

Five basic exercises, from the Mayo Clinic

Basic yoga poses(be very mindful and listen to your body; if you feel strain, too much pressure, or fragile in a certain posture, do not do it until you are ready)

From ABC of Yoga. All rights reserved to the artist. Please do not copy or steal.

Yoga Style Quiz, by Yoga Journal

Yoga styles

Yoga-finder (for classes, teacher trainings, etc., worldwide)

My Yoga Online (online resource for classes to do at home; I believe you have to pay to use it)

Mark Stephens yoga (teacher training, retreats, workshops, and resources)

Global Yoga Shala (teacher training and retreats)

Recipes July 2012

July 5, 2012

I haven’t posted recipes for a long time, and it seems to me that while there is a ton of information out there on how to live healthy, some people just need a guiding hand on healthier diets. So, I thought that I would post some of my favorite recipes, or unique ones that I find on other blogs, and share them with you once a month. (Please feel free to submit recipes for review!)

This month’s are inspired by a friend who is looking for quick, easy recipes she can do on the weekends to help her work week be healthier.


Gluten-free (GF) Granola with Nuts and Dried Fruit, from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster, p. 12.

2 c. rolled soy flakes or GF rolled oats

1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 c. sunflower seeds

1/4 c. almond slices

1/4 c. pumpkin seeds

1/4 c. walnuts or pecans

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. very hot water

1/4 c. canola oil (I prefer to use extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 c. whole almonds

1/4 c. dried bananas

1/4 c. dark raisins

1/4 c. finely chopped apricots

1. Place a rack in middle of the oven.  Preheat to 300 degrees F. Line a 15 x 10-inch baking sheet (not nonstick) with parchment paper or lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. In a very large bowl, place dry ingredients and toss thoroughly to combine.

3. In small bowl, combine liquid ingredients and stir until honey dissolves. Pour over dry ingredients and toss with spatula to thoroughly combine. The mixture will be fairly wet. Place the granola on the prepared sheet and spread to a thin layer.

4. Bake 15 minutes and then stir. Bake another 15 minutes; stir again. Continue baking in 10-minute increments until granola is browned to the desired degree. Cool on pan 20 minutes on a wire rack. Stir in dried fruits and nuts. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

*For alternate granolas, try different fruits and nuts!



Chicken Naan Pockets, from Best Ever Indian Cookbook, by Mridula Bjalekar, Rafi Fernandez, Shehzad Husain, & Manisha Kanani, p. 131.

4 small naan, about 90g/3.5oz each

45ml/2 Tbsp natural (plain) low fat yogurt

7.5ml/1/5 tsp. garam masala

5ml/1 tsp. chili poder

5ml/1 tsp. salt

45ml/3 Tbsp lemon juice

15ml/1 Tbsp chopped fresh (if possible; I often use dried) coriander (cilantro)

1 fresh green chili, chopped

450mg/1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cubed

8 onion rings

2 tomatoes, quartered

1/2 white cabbage, shredded

1. Cut into the middle of each naan to make a pocket, then set aside.

2. Mix together the yogurt, garam masala, chili powder, salt, lemon juice, coriander, and chopped green chili. Pour the marinade over the chicken and leave to marinate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat the grill (broiler) to very hot, then lower to medium. Put the chicken into a pan or flameproof dish lined with foil. Grill (broil) for 15-20 minutes until tender and fully cooked, turning chicken twice.

4. Remover from the heat and fill each naan with the chicken and then with the onion rings, tomatoes, and cabbage. Serve garnished with mixed salad leaves, tomato halves, lemon wedges and coriander [sprigs].

*Often, I don’t have naan around, so instead I make a salad, top it with brown rice, this chicken, and some yogurt. It’s delicious and a quick alternative!



Warm Cardamom Milk (Vata-doshic recipe), from Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living, by Thomas Yarema, M.D., Daniel Rhoda, D.A.S., Chef Johnny Brannigan, p. 306.

2 c. organic whole milk

2 tsp. ghee

2-3 tsp. raw organic sugar, Sucant or jaggery

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1 Tbsp. finely ground cashews

3-4 strands saffron (optional)

1. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, over medium heat.

2. Pour or ladle into mugs and serve immediately.

*This recipe contains dairy, but is gluten-free.

**Often, I substitute coconut oil in place of ghee; also, I often don’t use ground cashews.

***For those who are Pitta dosha, it is recommended that you omit the cashews. For those who are Kapha dosha, this recipe is not recommended due to the sweet, heavy qualities of the dairy and sugar.