May 2016 Bring You Joy!

January 6, 2016

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First off, Happy New Year! I hope that you find much joy in it. When things get hard, think about how far you’ve come instead of focusing on where things went wrong!

 

Second, I know I promised a third part to my major articles and links series in December, but life ate me. Seriously. It ate me. It swooped in like a huge pterodactyl and swallowed me whole. So that third post didn’t get done. Instead, I’m going to spice things up again and change up my posting this year, focusing on shorter but info-packed posts in order to accommodate my busy schedule.

 

Last, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you’d like to see from me this year. It can be anything from diet to exercise to mindfulness moments. I’m all ears!

Holy smokes! This month totally got away from me! Here’s to getting back into a routine come July! Until then, enjoy these fantastic articles and recipes (yes, there are more than two this time LOL)!

Articles

Mental Toughness Techniques for Peak Performance

Reciprocal Superset Training Burns More Calories (Study)

The Secrets to Behavioral Change: Principles & Practice

Pregnant Instructor FAQs

Tips for Group Fit Instructors

5 Exercises Every Runner Should Do

6 Exercises for a Stronger Core

5 x 5 Workout to Improve Strength

15-minute Drill to Rev Up Cardio

Strengthening Techniques to Alleviate Muscle/Joint Pain

Which Physical Activities = Better Sleep?

How to Tell if You’ve Reached a Plateau

5 Exercise Mistakes that Could Get You Hurt

Become a Healthy Road Warrior

Best Approach to Recovery: Passive vs. Active

Stretching for Men

Plank Pose

The Art of Falling on Your Face

Pilates Practice and Cholesterol Levels

Help for Pregnant Women with Depression

Meditation and Healthy Aging

Mindful Tips to Avoid Technology Addiction

America’s Top 5 Diets

Navigating the Summer BBQ (Podcast)

What You Need to Know about Coconut Water

Sugar Shock: Why It’s Time to Get Serious about Taming the Sweet Tooth

Mindfulness is the Best Sweetener

Make Natural Bug Repellent

About Beautycounter Products

Recipes

Berry Quinoa Salad

Lamb Tacos

Honey Sesame Chicken (Paleo)

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Raw Fudge Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Matcha Chip Ice Cream

Best Iced Coffee You’ve Ever Had

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. It’s slow and sometimes I’m not going to get to blogging, but I’m trying to get back to this as often as I possibly can! I really love writing and sharing all the wonderful information I learn each month along the way!

A few small tips to take your fitness routines to the next level:

  • If you’ve not checked out Yoga International’s website, you should. They do free week-long mini-immersions that might pique your interest.
  • Recent studies state that cross-training is vital to overall health and the prevention of muscular imbalances in the body. Whether you’re a mind-body enthusiast or CrossFit pro, consider doing something completely different from your norm.
  • I’m a huge proponent for barefoot running (I love my Vibrams!) but I also know that barefoot shoes are not for everyone. Consider researching forward- and mid-foot strikes to minimize the extreme forces placed upon your joints and lower back from heel-strike running patterns.

I’m chuckling to myself because apparently I forgot to keep recipes this month! There are two tasty breakfasts for you to try, but most of this edition of articles and recipes is dedicated to strength training!

Articles

8 Ways Strength Training Creates Change

Train This, Not That: Legs

Complex Training: Strength and Conditioning

Strength Training for a Cardio Fan

9 Exercises You Didn’t Know You Could Do with a Barbell

Plank Variations for Core Strength

Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes

Outdoor Functional Training Exercises

Total Body Battle Ropes Workout

Which Comes First: Strength or Cardio?

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Self-myofascial Release (Part 1)

Alleviate Muscle and Joint Pain with Stretching Techniques (Part 2)

Uniform Movement is Injurious, Cross-training is Essential

The Easiest Mistake to Make in Backbends

Releasing Tension in the Psoas

Yoga for School Teachers (video)

Yoga for Strengthening Your Back (video)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Pregnant Women

Mindfulness Meditation Restructures Brain’s Gray Matter

New Findings On Alzheimer’s Risk

5 Tips to Detox Your Body and Get Back on Track

Eating More Whole Grains/Bran Tied to Lower Mortality

How to Get to Sleep When You Have a Cold (EO’s)

Heliochrysum and Lavender EO’s for Bruises

Essential Oils for Teething?

All About Hydrosols

How to Melt Shea Butter/Natural Oils for Body Care

Recipes

Raspberry Coconut Creme Brulee Oatmeal

Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Pancakes (gluten-free)

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. Over the years, I’ve discussed the New Year’s resolution and how the vast majority of those made fail within a few months’ time of their inception. Mostly, this happens because people are 1) not truly ready to make a change but feel obligated to do so because “it’s what everyone does at the new year”, 2) set too big of a task in too short of a time (in other words, they don’t use the S.M.A.R.T. principles), and/or 3) get derailed the moment they face a setback (often minor).

 

Today, I’d just like to remind us all that healthy habits start now, at the moment when you may very well feel inclined to do something to better your health. Don’t wait till New Year’s Day! Start today. Every day lost is a day you cannot get back.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays. There are ways of maintaining your health and still getting to indulge a little extra in the Christmas pudding (or whatever your favorite dish is). Haven’t got an idea of where to start during this busy time of year? Here are a few suggestions. Think more and less.

 

  • Move a little more: take the stairs instead of the escalator in the mall; walk the dog a little further than just around the back yard; do some extra house work to make every surface shine; take a five minute break each hour you’re sitting at the computer to walk around the house, do a chore, etc. Movement doesn’t have to be structured exercise. You just need to increase the time you move.
  • Eat a little less: when everyone else is loading up the biggest plates they can, choose  a small salad plate. Fill it with a salad and other greens first. Then go back for the good stuff. If you really want to watch it this year, try drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before mealtime to offset that growling stomach. Eat some breakfast or a snack before you go to the party’s house. And don’t forget that smaller portions reduce overall caloric consumption!
  • Sleep more: the average adult is sleep deprived, and that packs on the pounds via a lot of chemical reactions in the brain and a lack of will power when sleepy and faced with a tempting food/drink item. We need at least 7-8 hours a night, and during stressful times of the year, we ought to consider sleeping a little bit more. Can’t do eight? Try taking an afternoon cat nap (15-45 minutes) during your lunch hour, before you eat.
  • Do less: learn to say “no” to the activities that just don’t fit into your schedule or wear you out too much. You shouldn’t run yourself ragged. That leaves nothing in your reserve tanks for when life strikes–and it inevitably does–you below the belt line. Choose the things that matter most to you and let others take your place in those things you just cannot do this year.

 

I hope that these simple tips help you to formulate some healthy lifestyle habits now, as the holidays get into full swing. You’ll not only be ahead of the game, you’ll feel good about the things you are doing to improve yourself, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Your body is an incredible instrument that is capable of amazing things, and when you begin taking care of it, you begin taking care of your brain, your heart, yourself, and, through yourself, others.

Last week, I wrote about finding a yoga class that fits your needs. This week, I thought I’d dig a little deeper, starting with five things to bring to class and ending with how to incorporate it more into your daily life. It’s important to remember that yoga as exercise sells at gyms because it promises flexibility, lean muscles, toned bodies, and so forth; but in reality, yoga embodies more than a fit, beautiful body. It’s embracing love, kindness, and respect toward yourself and others too.

 

Five Things to Bring to Class

Linked to source

Linked to source

1. A mat. Not only is often a requirement to come to class, but it’s more sanitary. It also allows you to create your own space in order to reconnect with yourself.

2.  A block and strap. Although not often required, blocks and straps (and props in general) are excellent tools to help you move into poses more gently, avoiding injury.

3. Plenty of water. Whether or not you drink it while practicing, water is important to rehydrate and cleanse the body of toxins.

4. A towel. When you start yoga, you’ll start sweating, particularly if you are new or unused to this kind of movement. Having a towel not only keeps your eyes from stinging but can reduce slipperiness on  your mat.

5. Open communication. Safety is key. Instructors need to learn about any medical conditions you may have, in order that they can modify or eliminate certain postures from the practice to keep you from injury. Additionally, it’s nice to hear constructive feedback on class so that we can improve it for you.

 

Five Things to Remember While Practicing

1.  It’s not only about the body. Sure, the benefits are innumerable, from losing weight to clear skin to a lean figure. But yoga does not stop there. It digs deeper. It peels away the layers. It’s you greeting yourself, or meeting yourself for the first time in a long time.

2. It’s saying, “Yes I can.” Sadly, I mainly see two kinds of people who come to class: those who wind up staying and those who don’t. Coming with a defeatist mindset (“I cannot do this!”) sets you up for failure before you start. Remembering that achieving the correct posture takes time–even years–and that your body is unique, with results in physicality varying from day to day, sets you up for a great practice regardless of whether or not you achieve the poses.

3. Patience is a virtue. As stated above, learning and moving into postures, developing correct alignment, achieving maximum range of motion (flexibility), utilizing the deep belly muscles (bandhas), flowing easily and comfortably, maintaining focus (drishti), and breathing (pranayama) can take years to master, if not a lifetime. Even then, there will be days when practice just doesn’t go according to the way you’d envisioned it. That’s okay! Have patience. You’ll get there someday.

4. Smiling helps. I often tell this to my students when they’re looking particularly grim or strained. Not only does a smile utilize fewer muscles in the face, it also brings with it a sense of levity and even an laugh. And, let’s face it, laughter is the best medicine!

5. Yoga is what you make it. One of my instructors said that her husband’s yoga was golf. That was very profound for me because I realized that there really are an infinite number of ways to practice yoga. It’s not just a set of poses, or breathing, or reaching out to a stranger in love, meditating, reading scripture, or praying to God. It’s all of the above, and how you choose to do these is entirely up to you.

 

The Yamas and Niyamas

The yamas and niyamas are lesser-known, less talked about limbs of yoga, often because there’s a fear of being perceived as telling others what to do. I like to think of them as guidelines on self-care and communal response (and responsibility). Broken into two groups of five, the yamas, or restraints, and niyamas, or observances, discuss how to treat yourself and others while cutting out excess and excessiveness. (For a more detailed look, read The Yamas and Niyamas, by Deborah Adele.)

 

Linked to source

Linked to source

The Yamas

1. Ahimsa, “non-violence.” We’ve all heard the saying, “Do unto others as you would want done to you.” This core principle of yoga says that we should never act or react in a harmful manner, no matter what someone does to us. However, this doesn’t mean that we should become carpets to be walked upon. We have a right to stand up for ourselves but we should do so without inflicting harm.

2. Satya, “truthfulness.” This is perhaps the hardest yama to keep. We all want to be accepted but what happens when being accepted means lying? Satya says that we should choose to be real with compassion (as it’s closely linked with ahimsa) rather than being merely nice or self-indulgent. It’s about using discretion when we speak, choosing our words carefully, and yet maintaining our honesty and, therefore, integrity.

3. Asteya, “non-stealing.” Just as satya asks us to speak with integrity, asteya asks us to live with it. Not only should we not steal from others, but also ourselves, our posterity, and the world we inhabit.

4. Brahmacharya, “non-excess.” Many times translated as “celibacy” or “abstinence”, this principle goes further than mere sex. It’s about taming our urges to overindulge in all aspects of life, about discerning our needs versus wants. Along with this is an invitation to live with God rather than excess, thereby turning our attention away from ourselves toward something better, holier.

5. Aparigraha, “non-possessiveness.” More simply stated as “let go”, this yama encourages us to live life to the fullest, with joy yet with the ability to drop everything for God. It’s a reminder that so often, possessions actually possess us, and that we really cannot take anything with us when we depart from this life. Not to be confused with apathy or not caring, aparigraha allows us to enjoy life without clinging to things.

 

The Niyamas

1. Saucha, “purity.” This has a two-fold application. The first is that self-purification, or cleansing, is important for the body, mind, and our mouth. The second can be applied to relationships. In other words, saucha is not about trying to make something or someone else pure but rather being with the moment as it transpires in the best way we can: without ideals, illusions, expectations, judgements, fear, and so on. It’s learning to become “in-touch” with ourselves–our emotions and thoughts–and when we do this, we can start losing the heaviness we carry within our bodies.

2. Santosha, “contentment.” Being truly content means not seeking for something or someone to make us happy, but rather to find joy in what life has brought us thus far. This isn’t just about material possessions or relationships, it’s about plain old gratitude for ourselves exactly as we are right now.

3. Tapas, “self-discipline.” Literally translated as “heat”, the root of this principle is change. It’s asking ourselves the hard questions, why are we doing what we’re doing. It’s developing a daily practice, not only physically, but also mentally. It’s about choosing the better thing, the better way of living.

4. Svadhyaya, “self-study.” It can be very difficult to pull back the layers we so carefully have constructed in order to meet the person we know as us, or the person we think we know. Self-study asks us to look past the ego, to find the roots of our beliefs, and to learn how to witness ourselves as we go through life.

5. Ishvara pranidhana, “surrender.” Perhaps the touchiest of the niyamas as it presupposes Divinity, it invites us to let go of the ego and enjoy the life we are given. It asks us to look for our higher calling. When the ego surrenders, the heart expands.

 

Five Ways to Take Yoga Off the Mat

Linked to source

Linked to source

1. Go for a gratitude walk. Wherever you are, take a (timed) walk and say–and feel–thanks for everything you encounter, be it in the city or in nature.

2. Practice single-pointed mindfulness with a specific task. Don’t let the mind run away with you. Stay focused on one thing. It may be folding laundry or washing dishes. It may be reading. The choice is yours. Just stay focused on it and it alone, regardless of the distractions that arise (and they will).

3. Give back. One of the best ways to get past ourselves is to volunteer. Choose an group that stimulates your interest or works in something you are passionate about, and dedicate a certain number of hours a week/month to giving back.

4. Grow a garden. Part of yoga is taking care of yourself. Statistically, Americans eat fewer servings of fruits and (especially) vegetables than any other food group. Growing a garden not only gets you in touch with nature and the seasons, it teaches self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Bonus perks include better nutrition, potential weight loss, and quiet time to meditate or reconnect with ourselves.

5. Keep and journal or write letters to yourself. This is a simple way of getting things off your chest, gossiping, and reconnecting with your thoughts and emotions with little to no risk of anyone else ever reading it. You can even burn the letters once they’ve been written. The most important aspect of this exercise is to explore why you think, believe or feel this way, and find the root beliefs underlining them. From there, you can decide whether or not they are good to keep.

Christmas is coming,

The goose is getting fat!

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,

And if you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!

–“Christmas is Coming” (a carol)

Above is one of my all-time favorite traditional Christmas carols. I’m not sure which group first sung it the first time I heard it but I loved the rendition so well, I’ve remembered it. And while I don’t have any recipes for a goose at present, I did want to leave you with the articles and recipes that have been collecting in my inbox since I last worked on my blog, pre-vacation. I hope you find them as informative and useful as I do. Happy Christmas to everyone around the world! I hope you enjoy it with family and friends, and find it filled with love and good memories.

Articles

Daily Bites’ Holiday Favorites

10 Minute Medicine Ball Workout

20 Minute Tabata Inspired Workout

Quickie Bodyweight Workout for the Busiest Time of Year

The Right Way to Train for a Marathon

Age is Just a Number

Innovative Chair Exercises for Seniors

MBSR Program, Especially Yoga, Helps Older Adults

Mind-Body Therapies and Sleep for Women in Midlife

Progressive Core Exercises for Beginners and Beyond

Too Much Protein?

Thrive in 5 This Holiday Season

Overwork/Long Hours May Contribute to Depression

Mind-Body Bridging

Yoga, an Athlete’s Fountain of Youth?

Aloe: “Save it for Sunburns”

Low Gut Bacteria Linked to Obesity, Inflammation

What is Candida and How Do I Know If I Have It? (opinion piece)

Kimchi

6 Anti-Anxiety Foods to Calm Your Mind

Broccoli’s Benefits

The Golden-Orange Goodness of Turmeric (former post on it here)

Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

Cracking the Code on Food and Nutrition Labels

Food Journals: A Dieter’s Best Friend

Planning Makes Perfect

Recipes

Gourmet Cranberry Buckwheat Granola (gluten-free)

Apple Museli Balls

Martha Stewart’s Nearly Zero Prep-Time Dinners

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Apples and Kale

Roasted Delicata Squash Biscuits

Healthy Holiday Recipes Featuring Butternut Squash

How to Make Homemade Coconut Cream

Apricot Almond Loaf

Lemon Chickpea Muffins

Pumpkin Coconut Tart

Pumpkin Custard Bars (grain- and dairy-free)

How to Create Healthy Holiday Cookies

How to Make Candied Citron (found this in preparation for making a very old fruitcake recipe…the only one I’ve ever liked!)

Chocolate Peppermint Protein Smoothie

October 2013 Articles

October 3, 2013

I expect that by the time this publishes, the Bump will have arrived 🙂 Here are some great fitness/health-related articles I’ve gathered over the month, as well as a few links some might find interest in browsing (store-related websites I happened to find and/or hear about from others). I hope your October begins with fresh, crisp autumn air, delicious apples, the thrill of the pumpkin harvest, and yummy foods to be found at the farmer’s market.

 

Thinner Winner Contest (a stupendous idea for gyms, studios, and communities!)

Which is Stronger, Habit or Willpower?

Compassion and Kindness Can Increase with Meditation Training

Transcendental Meditation Is Effective for Hypertension

“Ocean Breathing” Heals Emotional Pain

The 8-Minute Healthy Eating Plan

Overeating, Indulgence Tied to Positive Emotion

Super-short Exercise Bouts Offer Big Weight-loss Benefits

Skinny Jeans Workout (video)

Supercharged Plank Moves

Is Tabata All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Medicine Ball Moves for the Core

4 Full-body Medicine Ball Exercises

Yoga Straps for Scapular Strength

Muscle Force Generation Q&A (anatomy discussion article)

Younger than 55? Curb Coffee Intake

Skip the Juice, Eat Whole Fruits to Avoid Type II Diabetes

Juiced: Should Your Clients Be Drinking More of Their Nutrients?

5 Reasons to Love Carrot Juice

Mindful Eating for Physical Activity and Athletes

Pre- and Post-workout Snacks for Different Workout Durations

Reusable Sandwich Bags (blog review)

Bamboobies (a nursing pad company seeking to make products that are sustainable, reusable, and user-friendly; often have great giveaways for breastfeeding mothers)

Motherlove (a highly-recommended brand for parents seeking organic, safe and sustainable methods for encouraging breastfeeding and tackling the ails of infancy; an herbal company–as always, check with a physician before use)

Mountain Rose Herbs (a website I recently re-stumbled upon through a blog post which carries an assortment of things, from natural herbs and spices to essential oils and carrier oils, from clays to glass jars; which strives to maintain fair-trade, organic quality products)

NaturOli (Soap nuts are a new concept to me, one I’m hoping to learn more about and blog about in the future; a good place to start researching for those interested in an alternative, environmentally-friendly way to wash clothes…and many other things besides; here is the home site)

 

PLEASE NOTE: I do not advertise for any specific company. I merely point out ones that have caught my interest. Please always do your own research before purchasing products, and consult family practitioners whenever possible before starting any alternative health regimen.

September 2013 Articles

September 5, 2013

September has finally arrived, and with it approaches my due date! I couldn’t be happier about this. Both the husband and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Bump (and, frankly, I’m ready to not have my belly be in the way every time I want to do something). Please don’t be alarmed if posts become sporadic and infrequent for a time. I DO plan on keeping up with my blogs as much as possible but newborns, being newborns, require a great amount of time, so they might be short 🙂

 

Below are some great articles that I’ve collected over the past month. There’s a ton of great research here. ACE and IDEA really hit it out of the park this past month or so. I hope they come in handy for you.

 

Also, is anyone else looking forward to Fall food (and weather)? I know this lady is!

 

Vegan Bodybuilders Take Over the World

Optimal Recovery after Exercise: Nutrient Timing

Diastasis Recti

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More than Just Bad Posture

Detox: Myths vs Reality

The Stimulating Truth about Energy Drinks

Meditation: Push-ups for the Brain

The Art and Science of Manifesting

Weight Loss Myths

Weight Loss Benefits of Proper Meal Timing (study)

Navigating Nut Butters

Postpartum Yoga Poses

Women, Hormones, Metabolism, and Energy Expenditure

Community Gardens: Producing More Vegetables, Lowering BMI’s

Apple Cider Vinegar

Is Getting Enough Sleep More Important than Exercise?

ACE to Help Veterans

Awakening Yoga Flow Experience (40 minutes)

Articles June 2013

June 6, 2013

It’s time for this month’s dose of new research, health foods, and exercise tips. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do! The summer is very close to being here. My top summer tip: stay hydrated.

 

Top 5 Fat-burning Yoga Poses

Slimming Summer Recipes (plus fruit guide)

Sunscreen/Sunblock Essentials

Diastasis Recti

Nurturing a Whole Food Habit

Mindfulness Meditation May Help Chronic Inflammation

Tai Chi/Yoga Benefit Women with Prenatal Depression

Acupuncture for Athletic Performance?

Surprising Vegan Finds at Mainstream Grocery Stores

The #1 Way to Make Sure You Eat Your Greens First

How to Stay Injury-Free During CrossFit-style Workouts

With spring right around the corner (or at least the Easter bunny, it seems, judging by the chocolate lining store shelves), many are thinking about “getting healthier” now that it’s becoming nice outside. Here are some great articles to help guide your way as you prepare to clean up your diet, change your exercise regimen, or just plain boost your confidence in continuing on in what you’re doing. Keep up the great work! Only you can make the difference you want to see in your life!

 

Detox Diets: Myths vs. Reality

Can Your Vegan Athletes Match Their Meat-eating Competitors?

Study: A Calorie is Just a Calorie, but When You Eat it is Important Too

5 More Fitness Myths that Won’t Go Away

Kettlebell Research: What Science Says

Yoga and Posture

Health Benefits of Meditation

9 Inspirational Quotes for Loving Your Body