seated flexibility flow.

Work through the tight places with some of my favorite stretches. Breathe through each one for at least five breaths, and then try to work up to staying in each for 2 minutes. Calm, steady breath in through the nose (and diaphragm) and out through the nose will nourish the deep connective tissue in your body, gently improving your flexibility. 

This little video was made especially for my friend Kayela. :) Feel free to send me your requests, too! 

*Blog post photo is courtesy of Ralph Demilio of Demilio Photography

longer, stronger, healthier, shinier. (hair, that is.)

A clean lifestyle shows itself in subtle, but constant, ways. Clearer skin, more energy, healthier hair and sharper focus are just a few. Over the past couple of years, I've become more in-tune with my body (hello, yoga) and my mental health (hi there, journaling + mood swings + crazy hormones).

I've noticed how drastically different I feel when I eat good, clean foods compared to processed ones, and I've watched my hormones start to (finally) balance themselves out. But, I've only juuuust recently cut back on dyeing my hair. 

my hair history

My poor hair. It all started with Sun-In when I was a lifeguard in high school. Just imagine the tangled, yellow blonde-ish mess that my naturally brunette mane turned into. After that, I went from highlights in a box, to almost black, to brown and finally back to highlights until my hair just stopped growing. 

Obviously, that freaked me out—I'd always had long hair. So, I cut off the dead ends, stopped dyeing it, doused it in coconut oil and waited it out. Yes, it started growing again, but I felt like I'd wronged my hair. So, I decided I would have my hair professionally colored in an actual salon—because that's so much healthier (nope). But, I still had to keep switching from blonde to brown when the ends of my hair looked fried. 

I'm coming to terms with my brown hair. Because why not? That's my natural color, and no matter how boring I've always thought it looked, it's actually way prettier now that it's healthier. And diet, sleep, exercise and stress levels (and this shampoo) all affect your hair's health. Of course, your genes and hormones do, too, but a healthy lifestyle can heal your whole body, including your hair. 

hair, skin and nails supplements

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To kickstart your hair's growth, strength and shine, give some plant-based supplements a try. I recently connected with an It Works! representative, and I tried the Hair Skin Nails supplements.

After one month, I noticed more shine, individual strand strength, manageability and growth than normal. I also noticed my nails had strengthened and stopped peeling in layers. What's great about these supplements is that they're made with all-natural and plant-based ingredients. There's nothing questionable or strange in them. 

Due to the high-level biotin in these supplements (and most hair supplements), you should make sure you're drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day to filter out any excess biotin. The supplements' container states this, as well.

Keep in mind that it has been found that some people's bodies cannot process biotin as well as others can. A good way to introduce your body to the biotin is to cut the daily dose in half and just take one supplement each day for the first week or so. Then, start taking the normal dose from there. The key here is to pay attention to your body. 

Ready to try them out? Get them right here

Here's to mermaid hair. ;)

 

lean, mean and green.

That photo up there? Yep, that's me––a pizza-loving, occasional donut-inhaler––going healthy. I wake up for these smoothies. They're that good, and I'm not just referring to how they taste, though they're actually pretty delicious. I'm talking about how they make me feel. Energized, refreshed, not bloated (quite the rarity). And maybe better skin. I've received three genuine complements on my skin within the past month. That's more than I've had... ever? 

My point is that I've become a green smoothie junkie/addict/enthusiast/other-super-cliche-word. I'm not a foggy-brained, grumpy butt walking hypnotically toward my French press in the morning anymore. To be honest, that was the deciding factor. I'll never give up good coffee, but I really do appreciate the relief from an almost painful craving, and sometimes pounding headache, every morning before I get my dose of crack caffeine. 

It's all thanks to Ellen Fisher of Mango Island Mamma and my friend who wouldn't stop talking about Ellen and her perfect, healthy family. I remember asking my friend, "You're not gonna go vegan on me, are you?!" Well. Ellen is a raw vegan, and I've been following her on Instagram and YouTube. I bought her ebook, too, and I've read most of her blog. So, I really have no room to criticize anymore––not that I did in the first place. 

I'll come clean. Smoothies aren't all that I've become a huge fan of. I've made several of the recipes from Ellen's ebook, and they are so good. I've been eating like a casual raw vegan for the past three weeks, and I haven't felt this good in a long time. I think there's something there. It's crazy how my body has responded to quality, fresh fruits and veggies. In only a few weeks. 

I’m not going completely raw vegan. (You can push the judgmental thoughts and eye rolls aside.) ;) At least not yet. I still buy meat, and I don't think I'll ever be able to stop eating seafood. But overall, I've been buying fruits and veggies of all kinds and making new and different meals with them. What's cool is that Ellen really pushes the idea of abundance and eating the freshest and most delicious fruits and vegetables available. She makes the most gorgeous salads and never shies away from huge portions. Eating healthy produce until you're full and satisfied is one of the most freeing thoughts. 

(But don't worry, I'll still eat pizza and nachos occasionally. I'm definitely not about banning myself from certain types of food.)

This morning's smoothie (pictured above) is my own creation. It's really simple, and once you make a few of Ellen's, you'll get a general idea about ingredients and portions. I like to include some greens and ground flaxseed in each of my smoothies depending on what I have, of course. Big tip: If you're planning to use kale in a smoothie, be sure to add an apple or banana to cut down on the bitter aftertaste.


Green Energizer Smoothie
    2 cups chopped up or frozen mango
    1 apple
    1 banana
    2 handfuls kale
    lots of water (to desired consistency)
Add all ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth and enjoy! :)

 

 

legging love.

This new leggings and athleisure thing? I'm all about it. It can't get any better than this when it comes to fashion––the right leggings can take you from yoga to drinks with friends without an entire wardrobe change. Maybe just stash some heels in that gym bag. 

I'm super excited about the cutouts and boho hues coming to leggings this fall. Check these out from one of my favorite websites, Well + Good. Then, browse Beyond Yoga's collection of practically perfect leggings––that Crystal Mesh pair. Love. 

And have you seen the Sweaty Betty ones? I want them all. My new favorites, though, are from Alo Yoga. Let's be real: If a type of legging is called a 'goddess legging,' it must be good. And this one totally is. (So is this one.)

Any of you loving this as much as I am?! If your life involves the gym or working out in any way, you know what I'm talking about. After a lifting session or yoga class, it's not only nice to feel cute in what you're wearing, but it's also a relief to be ready to go anywhere else after and still look good––even ready for a night out. But I'd take some hydrating body spritz with you to spray on after a HIIT sesh. No stink please. 

It's more convenient, fun and comfortable to hit the gym, work or town in cute leggings. You know I'm right. Now all you need is a pair of sneakers or booties to match. 

get your zzz's. please.

This weekend, John and I were craving our bed like our hungry puppy Midas craves his dinner every night––it's like we don't feed him, even though we do twice a day. Last week was one of the busiest weeks we've had in a long time, at work and after work. Each day. 

By Friday, we felt that weekend sense of freedom, though we really shouldn't have. The weekend was about to be just as busy as our week had been. On top of that, we were so ready to hang with our friends and be in that weekend state of mind that we stayed out with them until 3am on Friday night. Most Fridays, this would be fine, but Saturday we had to start our packed day at 6am. Everything we had planned for Saturday was fun. We just didn't prepare, as usual. 

At the end of the day, I was done with my obligations and fell asleep at 9pm. John was out working on his brother's car until 1:30am––another late night for him. I had felt sick to my stomach and super parched all day Saturday from only three hours of sleep the night before, and John was practically running on a sleepless high that day, he said. 

I woke up knowing I'd had enough sleep Sunday morning but still wanted to sleep all day. John woke up groggy but only got more energetic as the day went on. He literally said he couldn't believe how energetic he was after two nights of less-than-needed sleep. He's no short sleeper by any means, but he definitely doesn't require the eight hours I do to function.

People, sleep is basically a requirement for life. One biologist and human genetics professor told Business Insider, "Other than water and air, nothing is more important [than sleep]."

Emotional stability is immediately affected by a lack of sleep, and the Wall Street Journal reported that sleep deprived people have difficulty discerning and reading other people's facial expressions. The sleep deprived are less emotionally expressive and tend to overreact to small things. One study also found that being sleep deprived increases stress, anger and anxiety levels. 

Besides that, there are so many effects of not getting enough sleep––from hypertension and weight gain to negative impacts on brain activity and memory. Though not everyone requires the same amount of sleep, we all need sleep. The CDC recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, though about 30 percent of us sleep less than 6 hours a night. 

I really try to get enough sleep, and, when I only got three hours on Friday night, I definitely felt it. Sure, John may not require as much sleep as I do, but he felt it, too. We all know that sleep is important. It's just making it a priority that matters. 

Sleep well, health nuts. ;)

yoga shmoga. (and why you should do it.)

Can we just talk about yoga for a minute (or for 375 words)?! If you’re not doing yoga now, you most likely will later in life. It’s just that good for you, and it’s also an ideal rest-day workout to help sore muscles recover.

I’ve learned not to assume (the hard way, of course) so whether you’re a yogi master, you consider yoga to be a sad excuse for a workout or you’re somewhere in between, I’m going to talk about some of the amazing health benefits yoga offers.

But first, I should tell you that I, too, considered yoga rather insignificant until the beginning of 2016. My friend got me into it, and we started going to a weekly class together. After the first session, I couldn’t believe how relaxed, stretched out and loosened up I felt. And it’s only gotten better since then.

So, here goes. Let’s see if you can wrap your mind around these benefits:

  1. improves cardiovascular health

  2. decreases chronic neck and lower back pain

  3. gives your brain a workout, too

  4. controls diabetes

  5. kicks stress and anxiety

  6. helps with depression

  7. aids fertility

  8. relieves hangovers

  9. eases asthma

  10. fights arthritis

  11. encourages a better night’s sleep

  12. increases flexibility, muscle strength and tone

  13. develops coping skills and a positive outlook

  14. improves athletic performance

  15. prevents injury

  16. boosts immunity

  17. helps you focus

  18. develops better balance

  19. aids digestion

  20. boosts self-esteem

I guess I’ll stop at 20, but there are many, many more. And you don’t need a gym or expensive class to get started. Try free yoga classes online first––here are four to choose from. Then, check local listings for yoga classes. I know there are free community ones here, and we list them every month in our magazine. But, there’s always Google if you get stuck.

Once you learn some of the moves and routines, you can practice on your own whenever you want. Since doing yoga, my ideal morning would involve sun salutations on the beach at sunrise to start the day. But we can’t all be that lucky.

Lastly, do yourself a favor and invest in a non-toxic yoga mat. Here’s all the deets on why regular yoga mats are bad for you, and here’s where you can purchase an all-natural one.

Namaste, health nuts.