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
amazing grass smoothie 3

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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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.

prana bluesign apparel 3

prana bluesign apparel 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

prana bluesign apparel 1

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)…

prana yoga pose 1

prana yoga pose 2

 

 

 

 

 

prana yoga pose 3

prana yoga pose 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…?

 

Back-to-Barre Basics, Anyone?

Throughout these past several months, I’ve become a Barre Believer. And why’s that? Well, because week after (grueling yet habit-forming) week, this fitness program works its transformative powers on my entire body.

Based on scientific findings that small, precise isometric motions exert more effort on those hard-to-reach muscle groups, the Barre workout effectively develops a lean physique without the high intensity impact of other resistance training regimens.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Barre combines various elements from ballet, yoga and Pilates. Classes generally take place inside a dance studio, but with some ingenuity, you can practice without even leaving the house.

The following Barre-approved exercises sculpt noticeable full-body results, regardless of skill or activity level. All you gotta do is just lift…tone…burn.

Aaaaaand, go!
barre moves you can do at home

Tone the Arms:

*You’ll need 3- or 5-pound dumbbells to perform these exercises.

  • Elevated Hammer Curls (targets Biceps)
barre bicep exercise

If you’re too cheap for actual weights (like me!), improvise with water bottles

  1. Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, core engaged and hips tucked inward.
  3. Raise your arms to shoulder-level and straighten your elbows, with both palms facing each other.
  4. Curl your right forearm back toward your shoulder, while keeping your upper arm stable at the elbow.
  5. Return your right forearm to its initial position, then repeat step 4 with your left forearm.
  6. Perform this move with  alternating arms for 20 repetitions, making sure they both remain steady and elevated.
  • Back Arm Lift (targets Triceps)

barre tricep exercise

  1. Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Hinge your upper body forward at the waist, so your back is inclined at a moderate angle.
  3. Keep your shoulders relaxed, core engaged and hips tucked inward.
  4. Extend your arms straight behind you and straighten your elbows, with both palms facing each other.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, while making sure both arms stay entirely stable.
  6. Keep your shoulders engaged and lift both forearms with controlled movements toward mid-level.
  7. Alternate repeating steps 5-6 for 20 repetitions, making sure your arms remain steady and elevated.

Trim the Thighs:

*You’ll need a chair or tall step-stool to perform this exercise.

  • Parallel Plié Pulse (targets Adductors & Quadriceps)

barre thigh exercise

  1. Stand elbow-distance behind the chair and position your legs parallel, touching at the knees and feet.
  2. Hold onto the chair back with a light grip and elevate to your highest tiptoe point.
  3. Bend your knees into a deep plié, keeping your hips tucked inward and inner thighs squeezed together.
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then raise up halfway before lowering back into a deep plié.
  5. Repeat step 4 for 20 repetitions, making sure your thigh muscles remain tightly engaged.

Tuck the Butt:

*You’ll need a chair or tall step-stool to perform this exercise.

  • Leg Bend Press (targets Gluteus)

barre glute exercise

  1. Cross your forearms, folded at the elbows, across the chair back, then rest your head on them.
  2. Tuck your hips inward until your back is flat and extend your right leg out behind you.
  3. Bend your right knee and flex the foot, squeezing your right glute to engage the lower muscle pocket.
  4. Lift your right leg with controlled movements, while making sure your back and hips remain stable.
  5. Return your right leg to its initial position and press it straight outward before bending your knee again.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5, alternating between lifting and straightening your right leg, for 15 repetitions.
  7. Switch to your left leg and perform this move on the other side for an additional 20 repetitions.

Tighten the Core:

*You’ll need a chair or tall step-stool to perform this exercise.

  • Elevated Plank (targets Obliques & Rectus Abdominus)
barre core exercise

a chair works better for this move than a stool

  1. Place your hands, palm-down, on the chair seat and lock your elbows to support the upper body weight.
  2. Flatten your back on a slight incline and engage your core to produce a standing plank position.
  3. Stretch your right leg straight out behind you along the same plane as your back, then point your toes.
  4. Raise your left foot onto its highest tiptoe point and tighten your thighs to keep the lower body stable.
  5. Bend your right knee into your chest, rounding your spine to scoop the abs deeply inward.
  6. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then extend your right leg straight out behind you again.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 for 20 repetitions, making sure the core and thigh muscles remain tightly engaged.
  8. Switch to your left leg and perform this move on the other side for an additional 20 repetitions.

Kushyfoot: a Sporty Girl’s Solution to Overworked Feet

“We’re always designing unique products to assure that Kushyfoot comfort is available for every shoe, leg wear and fashion need. We think our fans and new enthusiasts of the brand will agree we’ve come up with innovative styles that are very much on-trend. Smart leg wear options, with all the benefits of of Kushyfoot technology, are debuting and will be available along with our best-selling classics.”  — Mitch Brown, Kushyfoot President (on the company’s Fall-Winter 2014-2015 line)

Kushyfoot Socks

If you’ve been following this blog over the past several months, you’ve probably noticed that I’m in the process of integrating yoga into my regular exercise routine. In fact, this goal ranks Numero Uno on my New Year’s Resolution list. And, while becoming a dedicated yogi isn’t exactly an overnight transformation, looking suitably “sporty chic” on my yoga mat does ease the process along.

That’s why I swear by Kushyfoot brand. I first discovered this line of footwear about a month ago, and since then, no yoga session — or workout, in general, for that matter — has felt complete without these socks.  They’re functional, breathable, non-restrictive and — yes! — fashionable,  which are the primary selling-points I look for in active wear.  Plus, my 10 little toes appreciate all that cozy comfort!

Kushyfoot offers more than just socks, though. Fitness fanatics and fashionistas alike can confidently rock figure-friendly shaping tights, snuggle up in leopard-print velour slippers, and add pizzazz to any outfit with Flats-to-Go®.

Not only are these products essential additions to any trendy athlete’s wardrobe, they’re also uber affordable. You’ll never pay a cent over $30, and most items cash in at $9.99! Sold yet? Uh huh.

But, while I definitely encourage you to peruse the website’s wide selection of must-have “leg candy,” for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll just focus on Kushyfoot socks.

Because. I. Love. Them.

And, let’s be clear: these ain’t your grandma’s mismatched pair of old, smelly Haines.  

Kushyfoot sells several distinct sock styles, and my feet give them all “10 Toes-Up!” But don’t just take my word alone. Go on, click the following links and have a closer look…

  • Foot Covers: $11.97 — 3 pairs OR $23.97 — 6 pairs; Available in various stylish patterns (e.g. pinstripe, polka dot) and materials (e.g. cotton, lace)

Kushyfoot Foot Covers

  • Yoga Socks: $17.97 — 3 pairs; Features a snug fit, open-toe ventilation and no-slip sole grip, ideal for balance and stability exercises

  • Athletic Socks: $23.97 — 9 pairs; Designed with built-in padding for maximum cushion and support, during both workouts and daily life

Kushyfoot Athletic Socks

Soooo, thinking you should snag some for yourself right about now???

Hmm…I like the way you think!

*Special thanks to Lipton Publicity and, of course, Kushyfoot for sharing these products with me.*

New Year. New Moi.

2015

image courtesy of specialevents.com

On the off-chance that anyone will bother reading this (or, find it remotely interesting, for that matter)…behold, my Resolutions for 2015:

  1. I will integrate a 30-minute yoga practice into my regular routine, starting with once per week, then gradually increasing to every day.
  2. I will divorce my tendency to restrict calories and, instead, eat balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
  3. I will put a small sum of money aside each month in order to afford an adventure abroad by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.
  4. I will learn how to play a musical instrument or explore a potential new hobby that I’ve wanted to try but have never made time for.
  5. I will curb my sarcastic tongue, compulsive need for control, superiority complex and judgmental attitude in my dealings with others.
  6. I will root excessive anxiety, stress or fear of the future out of my life, and focus on counting my blessings instead of uncertainties.
  7. I will make a conscious effort to form new friendships in my area, as well as reconnect with old friends, with whom I’ve lost touch.
  8. I will pursue professional writing opportunities, learn how to become marketable in this industry and, of course, network my ass off.
  9. I will participate in the Whole-30 nutrition program at least once, which will be an extraordinary feat, considering my love for wine.
  10. I will get back into the habit of regularly posting on this [sniff…sniff…all-too-often neglected] blog, at a minimum of twice per week.
  11. I will become more sensitive and respectful toward my significant other’s needs, and flex my “romantic muscles” more frequently.
  12. I will practice open communication with loved ones, demonstrate vulnerability and accept help, instead of  relying solely on myself.
  13. I will read 5-10 classic novels from Time Magazine’s 100 All-Time Best Literary Works list, even if this makes me sound pretentious.
  14. I will continue my current exercise regimen of 5 days per week–1 hour per day, focusing on a balance of cardio and strength training.
  15. I will regularly attend a local Bible study and set aside between 10-15 minutes on a daily basis for spiritual “quiet time” and meditation.

Got any Resolutions of your own? Discuss…

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!):

yoga mat 1

yoga mat 2

yoga mat 3

yoga mat 4

yoga mat 5

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:

yoga for your butt and thighs 1

yoga for your butt and thighs 2

yoga for your butt and thighs 3

yoga for your butt and thighs 4

yoga for your butt and thighs 5

yoga for your butt and thighs 6

yoga for your butt and thighs 7

yoga for your butt and thighs 8

yoga for your butt and thighs 9

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