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
amazing grass smoothie 2

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.***

 

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Give the Gift of Yoga!

Yoga is not only fabulous for spiritual serenity and physical flexibility, it’s also a proven couples’ bonding activity. Practicing yoga regularly with your significant other offers tons of benefits: a shared hobby, an inexpensive and out-of-the-ordinary date, an exercise in syncing with one another’s mind and body.

My boyfriend, Brandon, and I have recently started discovering yoga, which has given us even more common ground to talk about and participate in together whenever he visits.

Last week, our yoga journey conveniently coincided with our 1 year anniversary, so I wanted to incorporate this newfound interest into my gift for him. After some extensive deliberation, I came up with the following DIY project: a personalized yoga workout that corresponds to standout moments from our past year of dating, decoratively written on a yoga mat.

Brandon loved the finished product (because…well, he’s easy to please…but seriously, this mat was adorable!), and he’s actually finding it functional too. Mission accomplished.

So, next time you and your S.O. celebrate a major relationship milestone, instead of the stereotypical roses or another been-done-before sentiment, give something totally unique and embark on a new pastime together.


  •  What You’ll Need:
  1. 1 standard size solid colored Yoga Mat (approx. 72″ x 24″)
  2. 1 package multi-colored Puffy Pain Pens*
  3. ready access to your Romantic Side!

*I used Scribbles brand neon Puffy Paint. Find it here or visit any art supply dealer, such as Michaels.

  • Time To Make It:
  1. Roll the yoga mat out on a flat and sturdy work surface.
  2. Using the puffy paint, write a personal message across the top of the yoga mat.
  3. Think of approximately 10 intimate aspects of your relationship (they can range anywhere from silly to sentimental – see my list of brainstorming suggestions below).
  4. Assign a yoga pose to each of these 10 relationship-isms (based on your partner’s yoga skill level, they can be either basic or challenging – I went with basic since my boy is still new to the practice).
  5. Using the puffy paint again, write the first 5 relationship-isms and corresponding poses on 1 side of the yoga mat (i.e. “For every time we _____, do a _____ pose for 30 seconds”).
  6. Allow the paint on this side of the yoga mat to dry completely for 2-4 hours.
  7. Flip the yoga mat over onto its other side and write the remaining 5 relationship-isms and corresponding poses, using the same format.
  8. Allow the paint on this side of the yoga mat to dry completely for 2-4 hours.
  9. Tightly roll the yoga mat back up, then secure it with a ribbon.
  • Ideas To Get the Creative Juices Flowing:
  1. Do you and your partner have a special song?
  2. Do you and your partner enjoy certain activities together?
  3. Do you and your partner have a favorite date spot?
  4. Do you and your partner watch any TV shows together?
  5. Do you and your partner share any inside jokes?
  6. Do you and your partner make fun of each other’s quirks?
  7. Do you and your partner show each other new things?
  8. Do you and your partner swap childhood stories?
  9. Do you and your partner have any “couple” traditions?
  10. Do you and your partner end up on misadventures together?

 And, for your viewing pleasure, here’s what my creation looked like upon its completion (plus, Brandon showing off his moves…eat those hearts out, ladies!):

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yoga mat 2

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Video

Yoga Week 4: a Balancing Act

Holy burning hamstrings, Batman!

And quads. And glutes. And need I say more?!

My second Yoga With Adriene session targeted the lower body through a 30-minute series of standing postures, designed to specifically sculpt the legs and butt. This yoga flow solidly delivered on its claim of strengthening lean muscle tone, and I found it effective for improving physical balance and mental concentration, as well.

Although the overall pace of this workout was slow, methodical and relaxed, there was no mistaking the acute demands placed on my body. It was deceptively challenging. The poses themselves were straightforward and simple enough to execute, but holding those poses for an extended period of time or pulsing through several repetitions, took commitment.

While actively engaged in this flow, I didn’t feel overtaxed because each fluid movement lulled me into a sense of ease and wellbeing. However, when the session ended, my entire bottom half was sufficiently achy. Turns out my body was exerting more effort than I thought! BAM.

So…wanna experience invigorating calm and focus, combined with those telltale “hurts so good” muscle tremors?

Great. Click to access Adriene’s Yoga for Your Butt and Thighs video, or watch it directly via YouTube below:

And – as per usual – here are some of my favorite highlights from the session:

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*Disclaimer: I DO NOT own the rights to these images or video*

Video

Yoga Week 3: a “Mindful Core”

…As described by Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene, a YouTube channel I recently discovered while combing through “yoga workout video” Google results.

I was initially looking for Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Level 2 since I’d completed Level 1 last week, but my search hit a snag – Level 2 is nowhere to be found on the world wide (waste of a) web. It’s available for purchase on Amazon, but – being the cheapo that I am – paying for the second installment when the first installment was free…yeah, not gonna happen!

So, that’s when I stumbled upon “Yoga With Adriene.” I tried her 40 Minute Fat Burn for starters, and – with over 90 other videos on this channel – I’ll be in for the long-haul.

Although this particular yoga session was more calming and free-flowing than the high-intensity workout you can expect from Jillian, my core “hurt so good” by the end of those 40 minutes.  Every posture was designed to subtly engage the abdominals in such a way that, at first, I didn’t even realize how much emphasis was being placed on those muscle groups.

Between the warm-up, actual flow and final cool-down, my body felt invigoratingly loose and my abs powerfully tight. It was a delicious combination! I wouldn’t call these poses difficult by any means (even for a beginner), but they put an unmistakable fire in my belly.

And in my book, that’s mission accomplished.

Below is a link to the video and – as with Yoga Meltdown – some screenshots for your perusal:

(I’d also highly recommend subscribing to Yoga With Adriene. I did!)

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*Disclaimer: I DO NOT own the rights to these images or video*

Video

Yoga Week 2: an Out-of-Breathalyzer

Yesterday, wanting to try a more individualized at-home practice, I powered through Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Level 1 video. 35 minutes later, I was one panting Downward Doggie!

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the workout and would highly recommend it to any beginner yogi, looking for a solid foundation in proper pose technique while still working up a serious sweat.

You can access the video here via YouTube:

Jillian combined sun salutation sequences (i.e. Mountain, Plank, Chaturanga, Upward-Facing Dog, and Downward-Facing Dog), low- to mid-impact balancing postures, and aerobic repetitions based on higher-impact variations of those postures. The result was an intense yet energizing yoga flow – ideal for improving flexibility, strengthening both upper and lower muscle groups, and sneaking in your daily dose of cardio, to boot!

Some of the poses covered during this practice were basics that I remembered from my previous (more committed) yoga days, – such as Warriors 1, 2, and 3 – but some were brand new to me – such as Camel, Locust, and Dolphin. Despite the subsequent soreness (a sure sign you’re doing something right!), my body loved discovering these movements and finding its rhythm within the flow.

I screen-shot some image stills from the video to give my fellow “yogi noobs” a visual idea of how each posture should be executed, as well as what you can generally expect from this workout:

jillian michaels yoga meltdown 13

camel pose

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aerobic variation of camel

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plank pose

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aerobic variation of plank

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warrior II pose

jillian michaels yoga meltdown 14

aerobic variation of warrior II

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locust pose

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dolphin pose

jillian michaels yoga meltdown 1

chaturanga pose

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upward-facing dog pose 

jillian michaels yoga meltdown 10

downward-facing dog pose 

And, in case you need any more incentive to give Jillian’s out-of-breathalyzing yoga practice a try, just look at THAT face

jillian michaels yoga meltdown 16

#BeastMode

Personally, I can’t wait dive in deeper. Stay tuned for my review of Level 2 next week!

*Disclaimer: I DO NOT own the rights to these images or video*

Yoga Chronicles Week 1: A Rediscovery

yoga arts

This weekend, I attended my first yoga class in about 2 years.

The studio I went to, a converted 1920’s bungalow adorably decorated in a tropical Old Key West style, is called Yoga Arts and primarily focuses on an alignment-based Hatha practice.

Specifically, the session centered around pranayama (a Sanskrit term, meaning “extension of the life force” and the basis of meditative breathing), as well as therapeutic movements to alleviate muscular or skeletal tension.

As someone, who possesses a general background in yoga but hasn’t practiced regularly – okay…okay…at all – in quite awhile, this Hatha flow (ideal for beginners, in case you’re reading this as a yogi novice yourself, wondering where to start) was the perfect way to get my feet wet again.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much muscle memory I’ve retained. Granted the poses covered in this class weren’t extremely challenging, but – after taking such a long hiatus – it had definitely crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to keep pace. Turns out, yoga is like “riding a bike,” as the old expression goes.

What I love most about starting a morning off with yoga – as I rediscovered today – is the combination of low-impact relaxation and high-energy performance. I’d forgotten how even the simplest postures can improve flexibility, tighten “problem areas,” and lubricate a body’s range-of-motion without the strain, associated with some other work-outs.

There’s something tranquilly tantric about yoga. Organic. Fluid. Visceral. It’s not just an exercise. It’s a nearly out-of-body experience. A unity between the physical, mental, and emotional states. By stabilizing one’s thoughts and actions, yoga brings balance to the entire being.

Almost like poetry, you know?

Until rolling out my mat this morning for the first time since college, I didn’t even realize how much I’ve missed yoga. How much I crave this (newly-reinstated) fixture in my life. And it sure feels good to get back into practice! I’m already looking forward to another session next weekend.

So, on that note…Namaste.