Everyday Advice for the Working Millennial {Guest Post}

The professional lifestyles of today are more different and unconventional than ever before. Especially among millennials, career paths often involve non-traditional working environments and responsibilities, compared to the older, more established generations.

But while most millennials understand the importance of a work-life balance, that temptation to become consumed with our careers often takes priority over well-being. We tend to stick our own health on the backburner—not realizing the immense value of staying both physically and mentally fit in the long-term.

If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are numerous strategies for balancing work and wellness, so here are some easy-to-implement solutions to keep that mind and body going strong!

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Exercise Your Way to Happiness.

After a tiring workday, the first instinct is often to turn on Netflix rather than hitting the gym, but making time for exercise is a habit anyone can develop with conscious effort and persistence—even with a hectic schedule. If you’re not sure how to begin a workout regimen, just aim for completing 10,000 steps on a daily basis which promotes cardio strength and stamina. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise releases endorphins that alleviate stress or burnout too.

Meditate for Inner Peace.

Engaging in a mindfulness practice is among the most effective tools for stabilizing your emotions. Ancient forms of meditation, like pranayama or SuperBrain yoga (Thoppukaranam), keep the mind both alert and active. Not to mention, this deep conscious breathing ritual promotes balanced hormone levels and gives you an outlet for much-needed “me time.”

Eat Well and Eat Often.

Long work hours often lead to grabbing a quick bite at random intervals, choosing the convenient “fast food” option or skipping meals altogether. While a nutritious lunch might require more time and effort, consuming small portions of healthy foods on a frequent basis keeps the body satiated and the mind focused—without hunger pangs distracting you or processed ingredients draining your energy.

Don’t Be Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish.

Poor money management is a leading cause of stress, so it’s vital to maintain “financial health.” Spend at least 5 minutes each day tracking your expenses to make sure the bills are paid on time, the savings account is secure, the budget is still intact, and there’s enough cashflow remaining for an emergency fund too. When you aren’t worried about living paycheck to paycheck, that sense of freedom translates into a less anxious, more productive mind.

Do What Your Love.

Ultimately, it’s important to evaluate if your chosen career path brings happiness. You’ll spend about three-fourths of each day working, so you might as well pursue a job that gives you satisfaction. While it’s unrealistic to assume that professional success can guarantee 100% contentment, make sure you’re self-aware enough to recognize when a job starts compromising your quality of life. Offset this “occupational hazard” by dedicating time each week to non-work related passions and hobbies that create a sense of purpose you just won’t find in punching a clock.

Implementing these habits into your routine can dramatically enhance that work-life balance we should all be striving for. It’s a common pitfall to focus just on career ambitions—especially if you’re new to the workforce—but don’t allow this to become a long-term trend. Give yourself the time, space and permission to manage other aspects of life too. Your physical, mental and emotional wellness depends on it, after all.


Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write, and is especially interested in sustainability for everyday life. Being a foodie, she also enjoys cooking up healthy concoctions in her kitchen, recording these recipes and more on her blog With Love From Akshata.

 

 

Thirty Things to Do Before I Turn Thirty (Well…Here’s Hoping, Anyway!)

Two weeks ago, I turned 25. Cue the quarter life crisis. I’m supposed to be adulting now, but instead I’m just over here binging Netflix.

Turns out, “halfway to 30” doesn’t mean “existential questions answered.” Shocker. Guess I’m still the clueless human I was at 24.

Alright…so, my twenty-something years are numbered. So, I’m nowhere close to nailing down my purpose—outside of moscato and HIMYM. So, life hasn’t taken the course I once assumed it would. So what?

Age doesn’t have an expiration date, and 30 isn’t even that old. Besides, five whole years stand between me and the Big Three-0. Five years of adventures, opportunities, aspirations and undertakings. Five years to define (and re-define) my goals. Five years to make. it. happen. 

On that note, you obviously know what’s coming:

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Drumroll, please…

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Phew…that was one monster post. If you stuck it out, thanks for being a trooper! Now, what’s on your “30 Before 30” bucket list? Promise I won’t steal your brilliant ideas—unless I need more inspiration when I turn 40!

Simple Steps to Feel Amazing Every Day this Summer

Summertime is the official spokes-season (see what I did there?) of relaxation, vitality and pure amazingness. In fact, my personal mantra during these gloriously sun-drenched months is to Feel Amazing Every Day through self-care rituals, alfresco explorations, fitness commitments and superfood sustenance.

 And in that spirit of epic expectations, lemme divulge my Top 4 no-fail wellness pointers, along with statistical snapshots on why you should care. Then, we can ALL proceed to make this summer one for the history books!

feel amazing every day

1.  Start Each Day with a Yoga Flow.

  • Stimulates physical energy
  • Alleviates emotional stress
  • Cultivates breath awareness
  • Forges a mind–body connection
  • Promotes full-body movement
upward dog

upward dog, anyone? ignore the…err…unflattering angle!

2.  Say “Hell Yeah” to Whole Foods.

  • Gives the body nutrient–dense fuel
  • Satiates hunger for extended periods
  • Curbs refined sugar cravings over time
  • Encourages a mindful eating practice
  • Replaces “artificial” with all–natural
amazing grass pancakes

protein pancakes topped with almond butter drizzle

3.  Spend Quality Time Outdoors.

  • Improves respiration & circulation
  • Reduces stress for mental clarity
  • Offers the benefits of Vitamin D
  • Motivates cardiovascular activity
  • Fosters appreciation for nature
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RayBan shades and 95–degree Florida humidity…optional

4.  Slurp on Amazing Grass Smoothies.

  • Contains 20g of plant-based protein
  • Yields 2 servings of fruit & veggies
  • Includes 7 alkalizing leafy greens
  • Supports lean muscle development
  • Regulates optimal digestive health
  • Provides these wellness benefits:
    • USDA-certified organic ingredients
    • non-GMO & gluten-free verified
    • no added sugars or preservatives
    • vegan, kosher & pareve compliant
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organic pea, hemp, chia and quinoa…OH MY!

Psssst…wanna experience all that AMAZINGNESS for yourself this summer? Then, don’t forget to enter my Amazing Grass Protein Superfood Giveaway! Check out the details below and indicate which flavor you’d prefer: Original, Vanilla or Chocolate–Peanut Butter.

instagram giveaway

***Open U.S.–based entries only.  Winner selected at midnight July 9.***

 

Sweat It Out With a Protein-Packed Snack Attack

There’s a 50/50 chance I might’ve *casually* mentioned once—maaaaybe twice—that I’m getting married in the near future. 160 days if you wanna get technical, but who’s counting?

Although I don’t buy into that stereotypical “wedding workout” mentality (fitness is a lifestyle, not some Must. Drop. Two. Dress. Sizes. For. The. Big. Day. thing), exercise does have a prominent place in my routine. That would still be true regardless of this whole bride-to-be caveat…but extra motivation a la Alfred Angelo never hurts either!

post pure barre

That time I dragged the (almost) hubs to Pure Barre…Couples who sweat together stay together, dontcha know!

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not just about turning heads on your walk down the aisle or rocking that honeymoon bikini you’ve ogled for months. Exercise relieves stress (pre-wedding jitters, anyone?), boosts productivity (those guest lists aren’t gonna write themselves!), and influences even more healthy habits too.

Like eating. A.K.A. the other part of this wellness equation. In order to sustain physical activity, our bodies need fuel. Mainly protein-dense fuel which promotes muscular development, strength and endurance, so we can keep moving for longer periods of time. Fact: no snacking repertoire—for pre-workout energy or post-workout recovery—is complete without this nutritional powerhouse.

Think raw almonds, steamed edamame, roasted chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, plain Greek yogurt and nut butters, for example. Or, need some further “nom”spiration? (Just invented a new word. No biggie.) Check out my Sweat Sesh Snack Attack go-tos for your protein loading pleasure!

protein post-workout snacks

Whether you’re #SweatingForTheWedding or craving a healthier alternative to Cool Ranch Doritos, these mindful munchies just reinvented snacktime. Yup…don’t underestimate the power of protein. This bride-to-be has spoken.


*For even more ideas, recipes and tidbits to pack your diet with protein,  Nuts.com  has you covered!

Sporty, Stylish & Sustainable: The PrAna Trifecta

Lately, I’ve been inspired to start dabbling in yoga after a 5-year hiatus. During college, I considered myself an avid yogi. Not a particularly skilled yogi…but consistent and dedicated nonetheless.

But once I graduated and began “adulting”—to quote my people, the oh-so-illustrious Millennials—yoga’s restorative influence was replaced by financial stressors, professional demands and household responsibilities. Sure, I still exercised like a mad woman, but gone was that calming mind-body connection I’d once achieved from yoga.   

So, here’s the goal for this spring: make yoga an integral part of my fitness regimen. Which means going back to basics. Embracing “newbie” status, relearning foundational postures, and accepting that my form is…ahem…a work-in-progress.

Despite being a clueless noob on the actual mat though, at least I can look the “rockstar yogi” part in everyday life. Thanks to PrAna anyway!

prana logo

image courtesy of prana.com

Named after a Sanskrit phrase, meaning energy force, this active lifestyle brand combines fashion and functionality to move unrestricted through various yoga sequences—while snagging a Best Dressed award in the process! Well, maybe not. But point taken, right?

PrAna recently launched its Spring 2016 collection, and not gonna lie, I’m obsessed. From figure flattering tanks to vividly patterned capris, this athleisure line is studio-to-street chic.

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Each garment features stretch compression for maximum flexibility, moisture wicking for decreased perspiration, and bluesign verified textiles for eco-friendly design. PrAna takes environmental consciousness super seriously—in fact, all products are made with these sustainable materials:

Plus, even if yoga isn’t exactly your forte, you’ll look legit regardless! Proof’s in the pictures (I guess that’s debatable, but let’s just go with my not-so-humble opinion)…

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Since I’m a PrAna fan—and clearly think you should be too—enjoy this discount code for 15% off your next order: PSS16HBAH.

So, happy yoga-ing (or whatever the correct Sanskrit expression is). Namaste maybe…?

 

Netflix and…Don’t Chill!

On average, Netflix subscribers spend about 1 1/2 hours per day binge-watching their favorite shows. Which is 1 1/2 hours that could be devoted to exercise instead. But since the Netflix trend is here to stay—hey, fine by me!—why not put those multi-tasking skills to work rather than…you know…just sitting there?

If a show typically runs between 30 minutes and 1 hour, maximize this time by combining your daily Netflix binge with those easy-to-overlook-but-doesn’t-mean-you-should fitness commitments.

So, all you streamer extraordinaires, take a look at these suggestions for some no chill motivation…

stay active while watching netflix

 

1.  Sneak in Cardio Intervals:

  • 5 minutes of jogging in place
  • 3 minutes of skipping rope
  • 100 jumping jacks
  • 50 high-knee climbers
  • between 30-50 burpees

2.  Do Bodyweight Exercises: 

  • 3 minutes of planks
  • 1 minute of wall sits
  • between 50-100 pushups
  • between 50-70 squats
  • 50 lunges on each side
  • 50 lower abdominal curls
  • 50 bicycle crunches
  • between 20-30 leg lifts

3.  Keep Dumbbells On-Hand:

  • 30 arm circles in each direction
  • 30 overhead tricep extensions
  • between 20-30 overhead presses
  • between 20-30 bicep curls
  • between 20-30 lateral arm raises

4.  Practice a Yoga Sequence: 

  • 1 minute of modified bridge pose
  • 1 minute of seated twist pose on each side
  • 30 seconds of warrior 1 pose on each side
  • 30 seconds of tree pose on each side
  • between 20-30 seconds of chair pose
  • 10 seconds of triangle pose on each side
  • 10 seconds of downward dog pose
  • 10 seconds of upward dog pose

5.  Give Circuit Training a Try:

  • during scene 1, do a cardio exercise
  • during scene 2, do an upper body exercise
  • during scene 3, do a core exercise
  • during scene 4, do a lower body exercise
  • repeat during the remaining scenes

 

image courtesy of Pinterest

Alrighty. So, that’s how I tune into workout/streaming success. How do you fuel a Netflix addiction without skimping on physical activity? Lemme hear your fitness tips for a zero chill Netflix binge. And…go!

Healthy Habits to Keep the Odds (of Cancer) Ever in Your Favor

February is National Cancer Prevention Month—a cause which has deeply resonated with me over these last 10 years. And that’s due to one remarkable girl who, during the short time I knew her, impacted my life more than some people twice her age ever could.

February 25, 2006  will forever be etched into my memory. On this date, heaven gained an angel in the form of my childhood friend and role model, Kalyn Elizabeth High. I avoid using the expression “lost her battle” to describe Kalyn’s final moments here on earth—because that girl was the toughest fighter I have ever met, and osteosarcoma couldn’t crush her spirit or shake her faith.

But this disease did take an incredibly gifted 16-year-old away from a world who just didn’t want to say goodbye. So, throughout the past decade, I’ve become passionate about cancer awareness, research and prevention. Kalyn is the inspiration for this post, but anyone can benefit from the information.

After all…cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity or background. Cancer is ruthless. But we can stack the odds of survival—and even avoidance—in our favor. Check out these statistics from the American Center for Cancer Research:

Approximately 1/3 cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by eating healthy, being active and staying lean. That’s an estimated 374,000 cases of cancer in the United States that would never happen.

For practical and effective pointers on limiting your exposure to physical, chemical and environmental stressors that could put you at risk, I’ve teamed up with the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center, an online resource that warns against asbestos usage. This substance  is a leading cause of the rare but aggressive Mesothelioma and other lung cancers. 

As illustrated by the following infographics, cultivating simple habits throughout everyday life can make a positive, long-term impact on your overall wellness…

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Finally, remember—February might be Cancer Prevention Month, but these tips should be utilized year-round.

Kalyn…this one’s for you!

4 Minimalist Moves for Do Anywhere Workouts

Did you know that 3 in 4 Americans claim their schedules are too packed for exercise? Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation though, since most of us have used that fallback when unavoidable time commitments—or urgent Netflix binges—happen.

But, among the self-described “Super Busy,” about 60% indicated they’d exercise more often if they could do so at home. Well, sure….makes sense. I mean, half the battle is finding motivation to (a) invest in a gym membership then (b) get your money’s worth from said membership.

I’m no stranger to the price tag of staying in shape. Lemme tell you—Pure Barre classes cost a pretty penny! Fitness is an expense I’ll willingly take on…but just once a week, thanks. My twenty-something budget can’t handle much more! So, what’s a girl to do those other 6 days?

Enter: the TKO Ab Stretch 4-Way Resistance Band. This affordable—we’re talking $12.99—twist on gym-quality equipment makes strength training accessible for anyone who can’t spare gym-quality payments.

4 way resistance bands

With adjustable tension to customize your resistance level and a portable design for on-the-go convenience, low maintenance finally meets effective. TKO Ab Stretch targets the core, arm and back for a full-body circuit that develops muscle tone, promotes strength and increases flexibility.

Courtesy of this gotta-have gadget, your home—or anywhere, for that matter—workout regimen can be as simple and straightforward as the examples below (thanks to my sister Victoria for being a topnotch fitness model)!

Deltoid Raises

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  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Lower your arms to each side then, with a slow and controlled motion, raise them outstretched into a T-position.
  5. Hold this stance for 5 seconds, while keeping your shoulders relaxed, then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

Bicep Curls

reistance band arm exercise 2

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Stretch your arms into a low V-position, with your elbows facing down, then curl them upward toward your shoulders.
  5. Hold this stance for about 5 seconds, keeping your shoulders relaxed, then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

Forearm Extensions

resistance band arm exercise 3

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Lower your arms to each side then, with a slow and controlled motion, extend them parallel in front of your body.
  5. Hold this stance for about 5 seconds, keeping your shoulders relaxed, then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

Deltoid Pulses

resistance band arm exercise 4

  1. Place 2 of the resistance band loops around your feet, and grip the other 2 loops with your hands.
  2. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart, or wide enough to create tension on the cord.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and keep them taut throughout the remaining steps.
  4. Lower your arms in front of your body then, with a sweeping motion, raise them outstretched into an inverted V-position.
  5. Move your upper arms in small pulses, while keeping your shoulders relaxed, for about 5 seconds then lower your arms back down.
  6. Complete 20 more repetitions of steps 1-5.

So, now I wanna hear from YOU. Ever tried a resistance band circuit? Know any more “minimalist moves,” involving this equipment? Comment with your favorite strength training tips!


Special thanks to TKO for letting me test out this awesome product. Follow this dynamic fitness gear brand on Instagram @TKO_WhateverItTakes and use the hashtag #WhatEverItTakes.

 

A Groom’s Take on “Sweating for the Wedding”

If you follow me on social media, you might’ve noticed my not-so-subtle references to recently getting engaged. BUT, if you follow almost any engaged woman on social media, you’ll be hard pressed to escape #SweatingForTheWedding posts.

In fact, this Instagram search yields 171,277 results—talk about a staggering number of body conscious brides-to-be! Yet, with all the emphasis placed on that “feminine ideal,” who could blame them?!

Since I’ve been tempted to dabble in said fitness fad (hellllooooo…this girl’s gotta fit into an Alfred Angelo dress 8 months from now!), I enlisted my future hubby for his stance on the subject. Thus, our discussion became a blog post.

Check it out, bridal beauties, straight from a guy’s POV:

Sweating for the Wedding

image courtesy of CNDY via Flickr Creative Commons  (changes have been made)

I’m fairly new to this whole “Sweating for the Wedding” thing. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed until my fiancé brought me up to speed once I put a ring on her finger.

Now, after Googling the phrase, I can attest that “Sweating for the Wedding” has indeed gone viral. Brides can get dri-fit shirts with this hashtag printed across the front. There are even water bottles, car decals, sweat bands and more, urging women to jump on the bandwagon.

Listen, I’m all about exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I also feel this trend could send a harmful message to some women—especially those who struggle with insecurities surrounding weight or body image.

Not to mention, if these insecurities are triggered by stress, they’ll escalate into overdrive once those wedding plans get underway. I’ve only been engaged for about a month, yet I can already vouch for all the time, energy and craziness that goes into this process. So, with the added pressure of sculpting that “perfect bod”…well, you’re eventually gonna crack.

While there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing fitness, “Sweating for the Wedding” is not a prerequisite for marriage. Your future husband already finds you sexy. He wouldn’t have pursued you in the first place if he wasn’t sexually attracted, right? Exactly. You’ve got nothing to prove.

Men are visual creatures. I am a man, so I’ll freely admit this. But I can also assure you that any guy, who kneels down and proposes, thinks the girl standing in front of him is drop-dead gorgeous. She’s the only woman he sees—guaranteed.

Anyone, who’s anxiously anticipating their wedding day, wants to turn their spouse’s head. However, when this goal manifests itself through extreme workout regimens, it could result in serious physical damage.

I hope my fiancé knows that her appearance and physique will never disappoint me. From my—okay, biased—viewpoint, she’s the most beautiful woman alive, and my jaw will drop when I see her walk down the aisle. She doesn’t need to impress me…or anyone else, for that matter.  

Same goes for you other brides out there. Imagine how your husband will perceive you that day. After all, his devotion isn’t only surface-deep.

And, if you opt to workout beforehand, make it a bonding activity for both of you. Be each other’s accountability partner, so—rather than just “Sweating for the Wedding”—you’ll discover positive motivation for long-term health.  No hashtag needed.

******

Can you see why I’m marrying him, ladies? The dude’s a keeper (and my self-esteem levels concur)!

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I’m painfully awkward sometimes.

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But at least we clean up good.

 

Crunching the Numbers for Your Healthiest 2016

We’re 3 weeks into the New Year, people. How are those resolutions going?

Is your will-power a force to be reckoned with, or does your lack of motivation beg the question, “why even keep up this charade?”

Or, maybe you’re like me and would rather take a neutral stance on this whole “resolution” business. I believe in setting (and achieving!) positive intentions for self-improvement…but those stereotypical “must-fit-into-skinny-jeans-by-such-and-such-arbitrary-date” goals? Hard pass.

In order for any lifestyle change to have staying power, it’s gotta be 3 things—realistic,  fulfilling and sustainable. 

Exhibit A: “I will lose 15 pounds before bikini season.” Slim chance for long-term success. No action plan whatsoever…just wishful thinking, fueled by body shame. And, ultimately doomed to fail.

Exhibit B: “I will engage in regular physical exertion and choose whole foods over processed ingredients because my health takes priority.” Now, this meets all the requirements for success. A clearly stated initiative with tangible benefits and definitive follow-through potential. Ding…ding…ding. We have a winner!

So, in the interest of tackling realistic, fulfilling and sustainable (yep, those magic words are back!) wellness goals throughout 2016, I’ve teamed up with Chobani Simply 100® Crunch and their “crunch the numbers” fitness campaign.

You don’t need an expensive gym membership or unlimited free time to add more movement into your daily grind. If you’ve got a body and about 30 spare minutes, these 100 calorie-burning activities will be right up your alley. Take that, New Year’s resolutions! (mic drop—optional.)

12 fun ways to burn 100 calories

Special thanks to Chobani for providing the infographic featured in this post. I’m proud to support their Crunch the Numbers campaign to “live life lighter” throughout 2016.