Cardiovascular exercise is important for everybody. It keeps the heart healthy and reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease associated with today’s sedentary lifestyle, yet with so many options available the rates of obesity are still growing. There are a lot of reasons for this ranging from demographics to cost, but I think a lot of the reason people don’t try a new program is because they are intimidated.

 

Exercise can be intimidating. No one wants to look bad doing it. No one wants to jiggle. The way we look in the mirror plays a huge role in how we feel, and exercise clothes are form-fitting (for safety reasons), further hindering those who feel uncomfortable in tight attire. Some people even find sweating a detracting factor.

 

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The biggest determent is time, which is why walking is such a fantastic option for those looking to increase their cardio output. There are so many ways to add walking into your routine, including:

 

  • Walk the dog
  • Park near the back of a parking lot
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Get up to stretch your legs once an hour by strolling through the office
  • Gardening
  • Hiking on the weekend at your favorite park
  • Marching in place
  • Visiting the neighbors
  • Strolling around the house while on a phone call

 

Unlike running, walking does not place a lot of impact on your joints and lower back, and the more you do it. Walking helps loosen up stiff joints while strengthening muscles and promoting weight loss. A.2015 study published in Circulation cited that physical activity was related to lower levels of cardiovascular disease, and that those who walked at faster paces and logged greater distances tended to have the lowest CVD risks. The best thing about walking is that the more you do it, the more you can do it and the easier it becomes.

 

What if you cannot start walking because of weight, joint pain, paralysis, or some other health-related issue? Try swimming instead! Pool time greatly reduces the stress put on the body while adding resistance to any movement you do. My own grandfather has used the pool for years to do exercises after his hips began bothering him, and swimming is well-known for alleviating the effects that gravity exerts on pregnant women.

 

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The typical obstacles that most people face when starting to walk or swim are proper attire and measuring their rate of exertion. It is important to wear proper footwear when you’re walking to support your joints and a clerk at an athletic shoe store can really help you determine a good shoe to wear that falls within your budget. As for swimming, you want to make sure you’re wearing a comfortable swim suit or close-fitting attire that won’t ride up while you’re in the water. Yes, these are upfront expenses but let’s face it: compared to a life full of medical bills, this is cheap!

 

As for the rate of exertion, if you can carry on a conversation but feel somewhat breathless, that’s a great thing to achieve. You don’t have to be struggling for air to get a great workout in but you also want to make sure you’re not making it too easy on yourself. Working out takes, well, work 😉 You ought to feel it without overdoing it.

 

The most important thing is to just get moving! Don’t worry too much about form or what you can do for how long you can do it. Moving breeds fitness and fitness brings weight loss.

The title might be a little misleading because it really points to my own struggles of finding something close to the location where I’m currently living right now that will fulfill the 10 contact hours required once every three years by Yoga Alliance to keep your certification. But then, of course, that’s got me thinking about how exactly you go about finding a workshop or even a certification program.

 

First and foremost, it requires a lot of thought, patience, and vigilance. You’ve got to wade through a lot of information and a lot of opportunities. You need to know what you’re looking for, which can be hard when a lot of things appear interesting. And you need to know your budget and how much time you can commit to it. Can you really afford to go to beautiful Thailand for a full month?

 

I, for one, chose to do the YogaFit program to earn my 200-RYT because I didn’t have to sign up for a whole certification program at one time. I could pay as I went and the certificates I received from them never expired. It took me about 2 years to do mainly because I had my eldest child and therefore it became harder for me to travel. It fit very well into my budget, and I was also very fortunate to have the help of a military spouse’s scholarship. (If you are a military spouse, check to see if you’re eligible for the MyCAA scholarship!) My favorite parts of the trainings, however, is that while they built upon tradition they did not promote any one world view and they came from a place of safety so that everyone learned how to bring yoga to everybody with every body.

 

Last of all, make sure you know what your commitments are. There’s a yoga program that I’m interested but it requires something like 3 hours of practice each day. With two very young children, that is not a realistic program for me because I could not dedicate the time required to study (and I’d feel bad if I didn’t do it). Read everything. Ask questions of the program or studio you’re interested in. Learn about your potential investment as much as possible, because it is an investment in yourself! And be excited when you find the right workshop or certification program. It’s an adventure to take one, a learning experience to embrace, and an excellent way to improve and take care of yourself.

It’s that time again. It’s the time when life carries you away with business. The holidays are upon us, and while that means good food and great times, it can also mean unnecessary stress and anxiety from to-do lists that are too long. And that means longer nights and shorter tempers, which is no fun during the holidays.

My biggest tip to get through the holidays in a more patient, relaxed manner is to say no. I find this incredibly difficult. I want to do everything, to help everyone, and so forth…but I simply can’t. There aren’t enough Me’s in this world. There is only one, and while I’d like a few extra arms and bodies now and again, I can only do so much. Since becoming a mom, I’ve learned the value of saying no to other commitments. The secret is to know what is more important to you and sticking to your priorities.

And if you have to say yes but find yourself overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help! You don’t have to do everything! Give some of the responsibility to others and–this is the hard part–don’t interfere with how they go about discharging it. Their way may be better, and it gives you that much needed break and reduces your stress load.

Which means that you might also need to simplify your plans. There’s nothing wrong with doing so. Try not to go to so many places for Christmas. Make a simpler menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Invite fewer people. Attend only one holiday party. Leave some space in your calendar to simply have an off day every week where you don’t have to do anything but recharge and rest and even read that book you’ve been meaning to read/finish!

My last suggestion is to simply take a few minutes for yourself every day. I think mornings are best, but some people aren’t morning people. Do it at the time you know will work best with your schedule…but DO IT. Go to the gym, do a workout at home, breathe deeply for five minutes, write down your thoughts from the day in a diary, turn off all electronics and go for a walk with your dog, watch the sun rise/set–do whatever makes you happiest and gives you that “me time.” You, and those you love, will thank you for it.

In the end, recognizing your limitations is healthy. It brings you closer to understanding yourself, and enables you to build relationships with others in a trusting and wholesome way. It keeps you from stretching yourself too thin. It makes the holidays pleasanter because you can focus on what really matters in this life. And life is too short for regrets that could have been simply avoided by saying no.

A Brief Update!

October 1, 2015

I owe you the articles and recipes I’ve collected this past month, but we’ve had some unexpected events happen in our lives that have made things a bit chaotic around this place. For one, we learned that my husband won’t be promoted and so we’re having to follow some other plans that we’ve had in place in case of this happening. And things are really falling into place for us! It’s exciting but at the same time nerve-wracking. The military has been our life for 11 years (13 for my husband) and now it’s all changing. There are so many things to be grateful for, to be sure, but I’d like to share that with you in more detail and tonight I don’t have the time. We leave for our whirlwind trip in 12 hours!

Wishing you all the best until I get back in 10 days’ time!

I cannot take credit for this idea. I heard about it when I attended Mommy Con last fall, but I think it’s a terrific idea. If you are looking to reduce the amount of sweets your children are eating during Halloween–which begins the holiday sweets-eating frenzy that happens from October through the new year–then try the Switch Witch.

Here’s how this idea works:

  • Go Trick or Treating!
  • Somehow pry the candy out of your children’s little hands.
  • Tell them about how the Switch Witch will be bringing them an extra special Halloween treat that they will receive the next morning.
  • Give them this gift wrapped up all pretty!
  • Take the hidden candy and donate it…but make sure it goes out of your house.

Some people might think that taking a child’s candy away is a bit extreme, but let’s be realistic. Our kids come into contact with far too much sugar on any given day. They don’t need the sugary drug that is handed out to them on Halloween any more than we do. Sugar is well-known for altering brain chemicals. It is more addicting than heroin. Therefore, why not start a healthier tradition that not only removes most or all of the over-abundance of candy from the premises, but also encourages your children to learn or read or do something amazing (whatever that gift you give might be)?

Do you have a favorite alternative to Halloween candy? I’d love to hear about it!

Yoga pants have recently come under fire, even so far as there being proposed laws against them, and not without reason. Sometimes, these pants aren’t flattering. And I don’t mean to your body shape. As a mind-body fitness instructor, one of the things we’re supposed to do is monitor clothing so that it doesn’t distract others from their workouts.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not apparel policemen. However, if we see that a certain item might not be comfortable or be too revealing, it’s up to us to say something. And that makes for very awkward conversations. People are already self-conscious enough these days. I hate to be the one to have to say, “Hey, hun, you need to wear different bottoms next time.”

Let me stop and say right now that I love yoga pants. I find them very comfortable. They’ve kept me clothed through two pregnancies. They are a staple of my fitness wardrobe.

So why do I bring it up? Because I don’t want to have to have this conversation EVER. I’ve been fortunate in my teaching career to only have run across one or two students who have pants that are see-through. One was fairly recently, and I didn’t get a chance to let her know about them either.

But what really prompted this post was a recent conversation with another student who went yoga pants shopping. She said that she couldn’t find anything because every time she pressed on the fabric with her hand, she could see it. It was frustrating. She was asking me for brand recommendations.

I recommended trying them on.

Let’s face it. Like anything else, there’s an industry that surrounds yoga and Pilates clothing. That means money. You don’t have to spend it though. The general recommendation is that you are comfortable and that your clothes be a little loose to provide room for movement but not too loose to get in the way. A lot of serious yoga practitioners wear tank tops and shorts rather than pants because skin tracts better on skin than on cloth, enabling you to more easily hold poses. A lot of serious Pilates practitioners do likewise because there’s less fabric to get in the way of the continuous fluid movements and therefore fewer distractions from your exercises.

I say wear what is most comfortable for you. Wear layers to class. You never know when you’ll get chilled, particularly as you wind down at the end of class. Go up a size in yoga pants if you aren’t sure the size you try on meets your criteria for a good fit. Try a different brand even. Go long or go short. There’s no one rule except, perhaps, this: next time you try on pants at a store, bend over in front of the mirror. See what the fabric does on your body. Go from there.

That way there are no more awkward conversations about your clothing.

Saying No Is Healthy

September 3, 2015

I hate saying No. I’m an overachiever. I want to do everything. But sometimes you’ve got to step back from an overly-packed schedule and tell someone you’re sorry but you can’t do it.

I mean, I say NO to my toddler all the time! HAHA! Why shouldn’t I say it to someone else?

Let’s face it, Our time is precious…and sometimes we need it for ourselves. To take a few minutes of peace and quiet. To indulge in our writing. To cook, clean, or do mundane tasks. To read. To do whatever it is on our lists.

I had to say no to something I really enjoy doing. I had to take a step back, reevaluate my priorities, find out where I could fit in more Me Time. I don’t like saying no. I like to keep to commitments when I make them. But this one wasn’t all-binding. I could change my mind at any given time, and since I’ve been slightly crazy with my schedule in August, I wanted to reduce my workload on one day a week. That, for me, is Fridays! I’ve got little to give by Friday. So that commitment had to go.

And I’m glad it’s gone.

In addition, saying no means you’ve stood up for yourself. You’ve taken note of your needs, you’ve been assertive, and that is healthy! Knowing where your boundaries lie is important to reducing anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness, eating disorders and overweight and obesity, and a whole slew of other diseases and illnesses! When you learn to say no, you’re taking care of you!

Don’t be afraid to say no! Do it whenever you need to, and don’t let anyone else make you feel back for doing so! If they try, they really don’t value you, or your time, and that really is a no-no!

I’m going to keep this post very short because the article to Using Essential Oils Safely’s all about hydrosols is extremely detailed…and therefore extremely long. In short, a hydrosol is the steam that collects while an essential oil is undergoing distillation. It is gentle and very safe for young children and even babies!

But enough from me. Here’s the article!

Looking for good, organic hydrosols? One place I know of currently that sells them for a decent price is Plant Therapy. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other companies out there who sell them. It’s just the one that I’ve seen most often discussed when referring to hydrosols. I believe Aromahead Institute also has recommendations. And there’s Mountain Rose Herbs. As usual, always do your research before investing!

This post stems from thoughts I’ve had while writing last week’s post. It’s a very simple idea that has a lasting impact. What is it? How does it change your perspective on lifestyle and behavioral habits? Maybe it doesn’t, but I bet there is something you’d like to change in your life to make it healthier, with more energy.

There are NO quick fixes.

That’s it. It’s that simple. You cannot start something today and expect to see long-term results tomorrow. It takes time. It takes planning and goal-setting. It takes dedication to the bigger picture–the lifelong picture.

I teach yoga and Pilates classes, and one of the most common questions I get from students is, “How do I get more flexible?” Or, they tell me that they’re there to increase their range of motion (ROM), the fitness term for flexibility. My response: it takes 8 years of continual practice and/or stretching (e.g. every day, or six days a week at minimum) to reach your maximum ROM. Everyone’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise, but should we really be surprised that it takes baby steps and constant practice to increase or change one habit into a better one?

Whether we’re discussing diet, exercise, or daily lifestyle, it’s best if things change slowly. It reduces a shock to the bodily system. It allows your brain to keep up with the chemical changes that are occurring within it. It reduces the likelihood of relapses into the bad habits we are seeking to change, and especially prevents us from playing that old record of negative thoughts that so often cycle through our minds when something goes “wrong.”

Sure, you are likely to see results on programs or when implementing a new regimen right away. That’s because your body has not experienced those things before, and must learn to adapt. But what happens when the adaptation causes a plateau?

You must not give up! Plateaus are good in the short term because they allow your body to grow accustomed to the new behavior you have implemented. Don’t fret if it takes a few weeks. You’ll start seeing progress again.

If you notice that you’ve plateaued for a long period of time, then it’s best to reevaluate your current lifestyle habits, see where you might have been derailed, and continue toward your health and wellness goals. I always advise not to beat yourself up if this happens. Life is full of bumps in the road, and some of those bumps are manholes that suddenly swallow us up without warning. Get back on the horse the moment you can, without excuses, a little wiser and a little more vigilant when it comes to knowing what sidetracked you in the first place.

How do you stay motivated when you get off course? I have recently discovered that Pinterest is a great help! You can make secret boards on it and use them as vision boards for what you want to achieve in your life. Recently, I learned that if you make goals, you should make them visual as well as writing them down, as it communicates with a different part of the brain–and when you do this, you are more likely to keep them in mind and achieve them! So give it a go, and create your own secret vision board for the lifestyle you want to lead today!

April Fools! No, not really. I meant to get this post up last week, but it didn’t quite happen. I ended up giving birth instead! We have a second beautiful little girl whose bringing much joy to her entire family.

I plan on taking the month of April off from blogging so I can get used to the changes two children under two bring to one’s life. (However, I do plan on putting up an April articles/recipes post at some point so I don’t have an overflowing email account, haha.) In the meantime, I hope you are doing well and enjoy what this blog has to offer. Until May, then: May Spring rains bring you beautiful flowers!

Articles

5 Compound Moves for Your Workout

8 Creative Ways to Use a Medicine Ball

No Equipment Needed Workout

Functional Strength Training Combos

TRX for Mobility and Flexibility

CrossFit Study

Maximize HIIT with Metabolic Strength Conditioning

7 Signs You May Be Overtraining

5 Tips for Weight Training for Weight Loss

Pre- and Post-workout Nutrition for HIIT

Food Labeling and Your Health

You May Live Longer Eating and Mediterranean Diet (Study)

Wake Up Your Glutes

Menopause and Mind-body Fitness

How Upward-facing Dog and Cobra Differ

Tennis Ball Techniques for Tight Muscles

Homemade Cheek Tint

Gelatin Hair Mask

Recipes

Maple Pumpkin Scones (gluten-free, vegan)

Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Pistachio Flat Bread

Curried Pumpkin Stew

Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Smashed Chickpea, Avocado, and Pesto Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Avocado, Goat Cheese, and Candied Pistachios

Roasted Mushroom, Kale, and Goat Cheese Tacos

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Passover Lemon Coconut Macaroons (gluten-free, vegan)

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I’ve also added April’s doTERRA specials! Please feel free to visit my website if you are interested in anything, and as always, feel free to ask questions. There are quite a number of new products that have been rolled out in the past few weeks. Check them out!

Extended through April 15!

Extended through April 15! Deep Blue is an excellent way to reduce aches and pains.

Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is fantastic for treating the skin; and DigestZen Blend is great for balancing gut health.

Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is fantastic for treating the skin; and DigestZen Blend is great for balancing gut health.