Life: A Balancing Act?

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Balance is something that I struggle with EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I feel as if it is more of a trade off than a balancing act.  There are times I realize that I have been placing too much attention on my career and my marriage suffers.  Then, there are times that I am focused too much on myself, and my sons suffer.  I have come to the realization that Life is NOT a balancing act, but more of a give and take- even feeling like a tug-o-war sometimes.

I do have it all.

I have a wonderful marriage (a true partnership).
In my eyes, a successful career- one that keeps moving in the right direction.
Two great sons that remind me of what fun and true love really is every day.
Friends that celebrate, cheer and comfort me.

“Women can have it all- a successful career, happy marriage, and motherhood. It’sIMG_0024 not one or another. It’s about being able to fit it all in with stride. A strong woman can have all this because we were built for it.” – Strong by Kailin Gow

Being in the moment, present enough to celebrate the highlights is what I struggle with. I focus a lot of my attention on the future, my failures, and my NOW what- always have.

I have become a ‘To do List’ master.  My accomplishments come down to crossing off the task on the post-it note or scrap of paper.  Too many vision boards, too many bucket lists, too many things I would like to accomplish.

“To a chronic multitasker, everything is a task. Soon, the things in life that are really important to them are in the same list as everything else.” – Stephen R. Covey

This month my intention is on my yoga practice.  I have successfully taken time every single day this month (so far) to roll out my mat, taken time for me to be present and mindful in the moment.  At first, it was an item on my list- it has successfully become apart of my day, a routine, a habit.  I have realized my time on the mat is my practice of mindfulness, a time to slow down and appreciate ALL of the Moments of the day.

IMG_0020“We don’t need to strive towards balance, we rather need to work on the obstacles that are preventing the natural flow of balance.”- A.A. Alebraheem, When Life Makes Sense

I want to be a loving mother that prepares my sons for their lives.
I want to be a supportive, caring wife that is forgiving, understanding, and giving. 
I want to be a friend that motivates you, celebrates you, and cheers for you.
I want to be successful in my career; someone who is known for the impact that I am leaving. 

All of the obstacles that prevent me from believing that I am not any of those things messes with my equilibrium.  But, it is the time that I spend in reflection, the time I spend on the mat that helps me analyze all of my failures and successes equally.  I am given just enough time to realize what is important at the moment, push aside everything else that doesn’t matter and focus in on my priorities. Yoga gives me a peace of mind.

“We cannot find balance because it’s a continual action with ongoing adjustments, just like the tightrope walker who constantly moves.” – Tina Hallis, Sharpen Your Positive Edge

Life is not a balancing act.  Life is about being in the moment.

I am grateful that yoga has given me the willpower and fortitude to prioritize my values.  I am a work in progress and yoga is very forgiving.

Just like life, if you fall out of a pose, get right back in it. 

It is a practice based on self-awareness, self-love, and mindfulness.

 

 


Yoga for Better Sleep

A daily mindful yoga practice has many benefits. Some of these include improved flexibility, stress levels, strength, weight loss, and boost your immune system. One of the benefits I have already noticed in just 12 days of my daily yoga practice is better sleep.

I am sleeping harder,

I am falling asleep quicker,

and staying in Deep REM (at least according to my Fitbit).

I know I shouldn’t brag because I live with an insomniac, (here is a link for 10 more habits that can help with your insomnia) and when I talk about my sleep quality he just gets angry.  I don’t blame him because sleep is crucial, and it can, seriously, make or break your world.

Side Note: Deep REM (also known as NREM) heals wounds, aids in the creation of white blood cells, restores muscles, and releases growth hormones.  Most importantly, it reduces your blood pressure, decreases stress levels, helps maintain good weight and helps with your immune system.  Needless to say, sleeping, falling asleep and quality sleep is vital for a quality life.

If you are someone who struggles with winding down or distressing after a difficult day… Yoga is the answer. Not any kind of yoga, Mindful yoga that focuses on the breath with long holds in each pose- Yin Yoga, Restorative and Nidra Yoga (more of a meditative practice) is best for sleep. Here are 7 Bedtime Yoga Routines to view if you are interested in more verbal ques.

 

CaptureBefore I go to bed, I roll out my mat, light up my incense, lower the lights and turn on soft music or my aaptive app.  Each pose is held about 20 seconds or 3 breaths (inhale to the count of six, exhale to the count of six) focusing on my stomach lifting and lowering. The practice is relies on the mindfulness of the breath and being in the moment.

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Complete the Sun Salutation Flow from last weeks post

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After a warm cup of herbal tea, I have no problems falling asleep.

I hope that this is helping you on your journey of a more quality life- #intentions. If you are on Instgram, post your yoga pose or practice with the  #intentions and @omnivore2herbivore. I would love to see you.

Namaste

 


Sun Salutation – The Secret Weapon of Yoga

Rolling out the yoga mat has been a weekly goal for me, but in just four days I have managed to change it from a goal to a daily desire. I already look forward to my time on the mat because of its ability to increase serotonin levels, its ability to relax, slow my breath and focus my attention on the present. All, of which, help with both anxiety and depression – two things I have been struggling with this year.

There are over 38 benefits of a daily yoga practice (and depending on the resource, there could be up to 50).  My go to flow has been Sun Salutation A- and if you ever enter a yoga studio, this is the one that you should go in being a little familiar with.

5543394F-969F-4599-8B9F-47DBDE90F4DFAs you can see, I am not a perfect Yogini. I have a lot of work to do in the flexibility department- my legs are NOT straight in forward fold, my heels don’t even come close to the mat on the downward facing dog, and my knees never get straight on the halfway lift. This doesn’t stop me from practicing.  I enjoy the control, the focus and the breath during the practice, and I look forward to how this flow makes everything feel after just 25 minutes.

A yoga practice has so many health benefits.

yoga-benefits This Sun Salutation A is most beneficial for…

Weight Loss– specifically for the core– as the yogi moves through the plank pose, the core is activated.

Improved Digestion– The flow allows for a deep massage through the digestive system to stimulate and remove waste from the body.

Good for the heart- This practice increases the heart beat and the circulatory system. The body receives fresh oxygen and encourages the lymphatic system to work more efficiently to combat germs, bacteria and illness. Any yoga practice also lowers blood pressure and blood sugar.

Improves Lung function– By focusing on the breath and movement together it allows the body to optimize the function of the lungs. By completely empting the lungs, the brain gets fresh oxygen which provides more energy.

Smooth kidney function-Moving from one position to the next massages the kidneys in a way that increases their supply of blood.

loosens muscles– Humans are notorious for lower back problems. By moving from a forward fold to a core strengthening pose (plank) allows the hamstrings to not only become more flexible but the core to strengthen, which is our #1 reason for back problems.

enhances skin and hair health– The forward fold allows blood to the brain and circulates to the scalp.

Good for your joints- all that circulation lubricates those joints, plus yoga doesn’t pound the pavement like a run does.  This is an exercise that can be done forever.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety- The focus on the breath-movement connection allows for the yogi to be present and mindful during the practice.  The deep, shallow breaths slow the heart rate and stressors.  

If this flow is done quickly, it can provide a good cardiovascular workout.

If completed slowly, the postures can tone and relax the system. 

Regular practice can provide the above benefits. 

Sun Salutation can be done as a warm-up to the main postures of your practice. 

This flow of ‘asanas’ or postures is very portable and can be completed anywhere you have space.

The week, I challenge you to roll out your mat (anywhere) and try to experiment with Sun Salutation A. 

Take a few flows slowlyuntitled

Take a few flows quickly

Breathe

Focus and pay attention to how you feel.

 


Lean in- Yoga Intention

With March’s intention beginning tomorrow, I wanted to send out some resources and tips before our journey begins.

Yoga is the connection of breathing and movement and the mindful, inward attention.  I challenge you to begin your practice with 1 hour a week.  You will see the benefits of your practice within that first week, and you will start to naturally add on to your practice looking forward to your time on the mat.  You do not need to be an expert or have had the experience of yoga classes prior to beginning this intention. You just need to have an open mind to practice every single day for the next 31 days.

Throughout this month I will refer to a few essential items that will be getting me through my intention.

  1. Wanderlust by Jeff Krasno- This book provides the yogi/yogini with a unique way of understanding the practice of yoga.  With instructional ideas, music playlists, recipes, healthy food options, beautiful art/photos, and thought provoking ideas I can’t wait to dive in.IMG_2893

2. My mat, laptop, phone– I plan on my practice being done at home, for the most part. I thmay venture out and take a summits yoga class every now and then. But my phone- My Aaptive app will be guiding a lot of my practices. (Cost/month is 9.99 or a year for 59.99) Worth the cost, if you are looking for a year of coaching workouts, meditations, and guidance. along with youtube videos

 

3. YouTube videos– As I am practicing at home, I plan on using some yoga videos that have great reviews, a  lot of followers, and some ‘down to earth’ blog posts.

yogabycandance  – her website will give you options for your 30 day challenge, healthy recipes, a great blog, and a modern way of looking at yoga.

Yogawithadrienne- this is very similar to the previous link, but she also has an app that can be downloaded (recommended by a friend)- the reviews show that this may be best for beginner yogis.

Both of these yoginis have great YouTube videos. 

4. Yoga Dice411ycCyyIkL._AC_UL436_I purchased these on a whim, but I am so glad I did. Each block focuses on a different chakra, and as you shake and dump the wooden cubes out they generate a variety of yoga practices for practitioners of all levels.  ($15.00 on amazon)

86843aa6e07276d30d74c767603b38c5This month, my intention is not on how YOGA makes me look but, rather,  how YOGA makes me feel. Rachel Scott has a great blog about what yoga can do for you internally, and I recommend this become your mindset for the practice this month.

I also encourage you to dedicate 10 minutes a day for the first week and then start adding on time as you start becoming more comfortable. I have also been to a lot of classes where the music can make or break a class. If you don’t need to ‘hear’ the yoga cues, go ahead and blast your own music.

The most important part of our practice is consistency, BREATHING into the movements, and being nonjudgmental for 31 days. Progress, NOT perfection.

Lean in to the practice. It may be boring, it may even be difficult, BUT lean in to that discomfort because it is all about mental self-care. There are so many benefits to a consistent yoga practice. Go ahead and lean in.

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Vulnerability: Weakness or Strength

This month, my intention was set toward sobriety.  I was able to reset, gain awareness and accomplish a sense of empowerment that I never could have imagined. I do feel amazing, but I want to continue the year with the intention of moderate, mindful drinking.  This experiment allowed me to dabble in a place of vulnerability that Had always scared me. Being that open has always been a sign of weakness, risk, or uncertainty for me. Allowing others to see what I consider my short-comings is scary and it makes me feel powerless. This month I realized by allowing myself to be vulnerable- I am also allowing myself to be courageous, empowered and STRONG.

I invite you to show a little vulnerability in these last few days in February. I challenge you to take a risk and show others how strong you are.

Start by Asking yourself this question “Vulnerability is _______”.

When I ask myself this question, I answer it many different ways…

  • singing karaoke
  • dancing
  • running a half
  • saying goodbye to loved ones
  • racing in a triathlon
  • crying
  •  parenting
  • standing in front of a faculty of 60 teachers and presenting professional development
  • apologizing for making a mistake
  • admitting I was wrong
  • confessing that I have an anxiety disorder
  • becoming a vegan
  • admitting that food was the enemy
  • asking for forgiveness
  • teaching
  • coaching
  • talking to a stranger
  • letting someone get to know you
  • falling in love
  • Adulting
  • blogging

When I look at my list of ‘vulnerability’, I don’t see weakness. I see courage,

I see a risk taker

and I see strength .  

I see a list of accomplishments.  

If this weren’t my list, I would admire this person for their bravery.

Now, ask yourself “How does vulnerability make you feel?”

  • like butterflies
  • like a rollercoaster
  • I can’t breathe
  • sweaty palms, shaking cheeks, jaw clenched
  • jumping off the high dive
  • all in
  • fear
  • encouragement
  • where fear and courage meet
  • ah-ha

Every one of these emotions is what truly makes me run and hide from vulnerability.     and brings all the emotions of anxiety OUT in the open.  But when I am witnessing true vulnerability from someone else, I am in awe.  When I watch students perform, present information, or overcome obstacles I am brought to tears because it is in their bravery that they were able to accomplish something so awesome.  When I watch my 2 boys jump into the pool, run on the soccer field or go in for a touch down, I am overcome with emotions.  Their courage allowed themselves to achieve greatness.

Finally, ask yourself “What is worth doing even if you FAIL?”

  • alcohol experiment
    • I wasn’t completely successful, but the coping skills I have learned have been completely worth it
  • running and training for a half marathon
    • My hips hurt, my knees hurt, my arches hurt, BUT crossing that finish line was so worth it
  • My job
    • Every single day I am vulnerable, but every single day I know what I am doing is important
  • Being a mom
    • My two boys don’t have a perfect mom, but my world is so amazing because of them
  • Being a wife/partner
    • We don’t always get it right, but I get to do life with my best friend.

I don’t completely look forward to my vulnerabilities that are in my future, but I will embrace them as a sign of my strength and not my weakness.  I look forward to the challenges, the risks and the uncertainties that they will bring. I am grateful for the tools I have learned already this year.

Embrace your vulnerabilities, see them as your strength.

(This reflection was sparked from Rene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly)img_2716


The last six months I have been struggling with a debilitating anxiety disorder.  The kind of anxiety that suffocates like a tight corset or makes me want to jump out of my crawling skin.

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At first, my coping mechanism was denial, avoidance, lots and lots of Netflix, and drinking.  I have always been the type of person that was able to harness my anxiety as my productivity and drive.  But this past year, it took my breath away.  With 2 panic attacks that floored me- literally, I was laying on the floor in tears, trying to breathe, “Thinking I was having a heart attack” wondering what I had done wrong. At first I was very embarrassed and ashamed- all I could think was “what if people find out?”  I was in denial, there was no way I was going to let my boys, my friends and my family know that I had this “weakness” So, I avoided the symptoms, I denied what was even going on, and I drank to cope.  It became one of my only coping tools. Which, got me very worried. (Hence the sobriety intention for the month of February) I needed to find help. After talking with a professional,  I developed my very own Coping Toolkit and tricks that have helped me manage (and not hide) the anxiety.

If you are dealing with anxiety- I first recommend talking with a professional, don’t let it carry you away – like it did me. (The following tools are those that have worked for me, they may not work for everyone.)

What is in my Coping Toolkit?

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  • teamy tea satchel is in my purse at all times. It contains lemon tea, de-stress, lavender and chamomile and peppermint and my essential oils.
  • lavender and de-stress essential oilin that same satchel, I carry around my lavender essential oils that allow me to drop a small amount onto my lava rock bracelet ($8 at Amazon) that has kept a permanent spot on my wrist for the year.
  • Journal While my mother was on her LOOONNGG trip through Alaska, she picked up a leather journal that I keep near my bedside table.  Knowing that the things I write down are for my eyes only, allows me to put down thoughts that give me anxiety just thinking others would hear. I am able to divulge my insecurities, my anxieties, and even my dreams without backlash from judgement.
  • self-help booksIMG_2871This is one I never thought would be in my repertoire, but there are some really great, talk-to-you straight,  Self-help books out there. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis have both been great reads and very motivating.
  • candlesThank goodness for Joanna Gaines and her candle collection at Target. My favorite right now is the Black pepper and the Tobacco.  Just having the candle lit in dim lighting calms me down.  I also burn my soy wax candle called ‘Restore’ every single night.
  • motivational calendarYou are a Badass, has this great day to day calendar with some perfectly written motivational nuggets of wisdom that I look forward to reading every single day.  I keep it at work, so my co-worker and I can set our daily intention. It is nice to have something to look forward to.
  • bath salts, bubbles and oil Bath time has become an essential part of my life. My mother’s ‘go to’ home remedy for pretty much anything was ‘take a bath’. And I, obviously, have taken that to heart. This is ‘mom’ time. I like to sit and read, listen to music or get lost in Netflix- this is my way of shutting down the day’s stress.
  • water This was not a coping tool until my hydration intention last month.  I am so grateful for the Quench book and all that I learned about the importance of smart hydration.  (link to hydration habits from last month that have helped me cope this month) Downing a glass of water, not only hydrates me but it also gives me a second to breath.  Knowing that I am doing this 1 very simple thing that does so many wonderful things for my body and health- puts my mindset at ease.
  • meditation, Breathing and yogaAaptiv- the iTunes app- really helped me understand guided meditation and its benefits.  Journey Junkie is someone I like to follow (for free) – she sends some great weekly yoga videos as long as you subscribe.  She also sends some great blog posts that are worth the read. Also, everyone’s FitBits have this ‘Relax’ button that assists you with a 2 minute breathing treatment. I started using these 2 minutes while sitting in traffic, sitting in a doctor lobby.  I has even helped my own 2 boys learn to ‘breathe’.
    • Nostril Breathing- When my husband and I were in Costa Rica at a yoga retreat, our yoga instructor walked us through this breathing exercise- It is mean to calm your nervous system, relieve tension and anxiety.  it feels silly, but it DOES work like a charm.
  • cardio and weightsThis has always been a tool in my toolbox, but I had no idea how much I needed a long run or a heavy weight session until my anxiety got away with me. Running, swimming, biking are great ways to either be intentional about your thoughts or just ‘get away’ with you and your music.  This ‘me’ time is very important to every single member of my family. – if you know what I mean.  Plus, when I feel strong, and when I sweat – I feel like I can chase the world and attack just about anything that comes at me.
  • great friends and supportive husband and family that completely gets itThis year, I have truly tested my husband and he has won time and time again! He has been so understanding and so supportive through this very confusing time for me. I have fell in love all over again.  My friends have always been there for me when I needed them.  As I opened up to them I discovered I was not alone, and that some of them have experienced what I am going through.

These are the things I like to keep near me every day as I tackle this uncharted territory.

These coping tools help me …

slow down.

be in the moment

focus my intention on the present

take a breath

think through it

and sometimes, even, STOP thinking so much.

This month, I wanted to prove to myself that there were other ways for me to handle my anxiety other than opening a glass of wine.  This February, I have not only cleared my body of alcohol, I have discovered better ways to cope- more productive ways to cope.

To admit this to anyone near me was and has been very difficult, but to then write this down publicly is something that makes me very nervous. I know I am not alone, I am still working through my embarrassment and shame with this, but the tools that I have discovered have helped me a lot.  Knowing that anxiety affects over 40% of women my age, I thought my story and toolkit could help.

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A Better Coping Toolkit: The Truth About my Anxiety


In the Pursuit of Health: Alcohol Experiment

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Pomegranate Juice and Coconut Water

At the beginning of this year, I dedicated each month to an intention, an intention that would lead me towards a healthier lifestyle.  This month I am participating in The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace. I’m not a heavy drinker, but I do enjoy the nice glass of Malbec or Pinot Noir in the evenings. 19 months ago I decided to make my health a priority in my life, and I adopted a whole food plant based diet.  Most of the decisions that I make are in line with being healthy.  I desire a Quality life when I am older, and I believe it is how we treat our bodies now that will determine that.

Before I explain what sobriety can do for your body, I must make a confession: I gave in on Friday night.  I had a drink while watching a movie with my family.  I had missed that rush when the alcohol first enters my system. But, I will also confess: the moment my blood alcohol normalized again, I felt guilty and mad at myself.  IT WAS NOT WORTH IT!!! Since the rush didn’t last as long as I was hoping for, I felt way worse than I did before the drink.

During this month, I have been trying to guide my intention with actual science-based research and studies. I have not only discovered a lot, but I have also experienced many of sobrieties benefits.

It is not what we are giving up, but it is what we can gain.

better sleep quality

once you stop relying on alcohol to help you fall asleep, your body will begin to do this naturally.  Once you’ve allowed this to happen (probably will take a week or so – once all the alcohol is out of your system) you will also fall in an out of Deep and REM sleep naturally.

eating less-

Alcohol depletes your blood of sugar.  Low blood sugar makes you reach for breads, chips, popcorn or pretzels.  When you consume less alcohol or stop drinking all together, you are able to normalize your blood sugar and control that careless snacking.

dropping pounds

alcohol is more quickly stored as fat in your body than excess sugar, carbs, and protein. Alcohol has 7 calories/gram and it is quickly absorbed and because of its density the liver prioritizes the alcohol over any other food you are consuming with the alcohol – which in turn becomes fat.

better hydration-

(and if you were following me last month, you already know the benefits of hydration.)

your risk of cancer falls-

Alcohol – also known as ethanol- is a known carcinogen. “According to the National Cancer Institute, the risk of breast cancer was higher across all levels of alcohol consumption.” (pg. 183)

blood sugar and pressure normalizes

Without the alcohol toxin running through your body, your heart and organs don’t have to work so dang hard.

stronger immune system

When you consume alcohol, your immune system is weaker because your body is working so hard to break down those sugars, ethanol, and detoxify.

So, if you can gain all of these from giving up or consuming less alcohol- guess WHAT?  You lose all of these when you consume heavy amounts of alcohol.

In my own pursuit towards a healthy lifestyle, I have discovered a trick that has helped me out these last few weeks. (minus my 1 set back)

experiment with your hydration 

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1c Pomegranate juice – a great antioxidant and 1/2c coconut water – great hydrator

24 oz citrus water with 2 tsp of chia seeds – great hydrator and fat killer

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Waterloo brand waters – the sparkly adds a little something extra

Kombucha- the fermentation adds a little bit of alcohol, but nothing worth talking about.- great natural probiotic

  • Trick yourself

 

By giving you knowledge, I hope I have given you the tools to make the right decision for yourself.