For Boston: The Strength of the Human Spirit

September 11th 2001

9-11

I was sitting in my 9th grade English class, tuning out my teacher as usual, when suddenly a student running late to class entered, chest heaving, and anxiously spoke, “Something happened in New York, there was some kind of crash at the Trade Center.”

The teacher quietly looked across the room at the student, telling the classroom that they are not sure what had happened yet, that all of the details had not been released, and for everyone to calm down. Looking back at it, I think it was her way of trying to protect any shred of innocence and naivety we may have had left.

I remember the bell ringing, signaling that the class was finally over. As I walked into the hallway, I felt my stomach muscles tighten in that way when you know something terrible has happened. Suddenly, a stern yet worried voice boomed over the loud speaker, letting students know that yes indeed, something had happened, something terrible. Students flooded the halls, with pained expressions on their faces, some crying, some confused, and others rushing to the main office to try and contact their parents.

I remember entering the cafeteria, and walking over to my friends, not realizing I had tears stained to my flushed cheeks.

My father was working in New York that day, and I had no idea if he was safe.

My mother had picked me up from school shortly after. My father was okay. I still did not fully understand; fully grasp the severity of what had happened. Sure, there were many devastating events I read about in history books, but never, not once in my young life did I think I would be part of a historical tragedy. The kind of tragedy that you think, “My kids will be reading about this some day.”  The kind of tragedy that changes you, forces you to shred the last bit of childhood wonderment from your soul. That was the moment I realized that there was, in fact, a kind of evil in the world that I will never understand.

Here we are, 12 years later, and that feeling in my stomach has returned as my heart breaks for Boston.

This isn’t about comparing the tragic events. This isn’t even about pointing out the number of people who were hurt, killed, changed forever.

This is about recognizing that when terrible events like this happen, we must turn to the people we love, reach out to the people in need, and let all hatred melt away from our minds.

mr. rogers

I needed time to process what had happened. In the past year, we have been bombarded with so many horrific events that my mind and my heart felt completely overloaded.

After scrolling the numerous messages on social media websites, I noticed that some people ached just as I did, others chose to respond with apathetic discourse, and some even chose to make this about gun control (like seriously? stop it. just stop). I found myself angry, sad, and frustrated.

No matter how people chose to deal with their feelings in this terrible tragedy; all of these responses echoed the same underlying emotion…fear.

We are scared, all of us. It is easy to say, “I am not surprised about what happened in Boston,” considering all of the terrible violent stories in the news. It is easy to focus on gun control to “protect” oneself when a criminal is on the loose. Sure, it is easy to cover up this fear by emotionally disconnecting or projecting your feelings on to another issue like gun laws.

But this is not a time for easy. This is not a time to disconnect. This is not a time to talk about gun control.

This is a time to come together, soak it in, step away from your computer, get out of your damn seat and hug someone.

quote-non-violence-is-the-greatest-force-at-the-disposal-of-mankind-it-is-mightier-than-the-mightiest-mahatma-gandhi-68088

Start small. Smile at your coworker who looks like they are having a bad day. Stand up to the bully harassing the kid in your school.  Advocate for the underdog. Pick up your phone and call a friend that you haven’t spoken to in months. Disregard the jealous, the mean, and the selfish.

We may not be able to control what every person in the world does, we may never be able to stop the terrible tragedies that happen every single day, and we may never ever be able to understand why and how things like this happen, but we can always come together, support each other, and fight every evil act with the kindness, love, and the strength of our human spirit.

 istock_000014186302xsmall

We Love You Boston.

Namaste.

Too Legit to Quit: Fit and Friendly Alcohol Choices

I wanted to take a break from discussing my 30 Day Yoga Challenge (which is going fantastic) and focus on something very important to me, something I hold extremely dear and near to my heart, the apple of my eye, the cherry on my sundae (insert drumroll here)…my very good friend named alcohol.

applause

If you have ever tried to lose weight, I am sure you have been confused by all of the articles out there that state either: alcohol is terrible for weight loss or alcohol may help weight loss (umm yeah, I am perplexed).

 how-alcohol-travels-through-the-body_50ca3deb65aab_w1038

Either way, I don’t care. These days, I detest dieting, loath calorie restriction, and I refuse to label foods as “good” or “bad.” As long as you consume alcoholic beverages in moderation (and responsibly), I see no reason to eliminate something you enjoy from your lifestyle. If you are feeling scholarly this morning, click on that picture above to learn a little bit more about how alcohol travels through your body.

That being said, I also believe in trying to find smarter choices. Why work hard all week exercising and eating healthy, just to blow it all by taking in extra calories at the bar?

Top 3 Fit-Friendly Alcohol Choices

  • Vodka/Rum/Tequila: I put these champions together because they hold the same caloric value. Per 1.5 ounces (which is about one shot for my lushes out there), these delicious choices total about 100 calories! Try choosing low calorie mixers to pair these with. For my vodka lovers (here’s to you Belvedere), crystal light is your best friend. It will add practically zero calories to your beverage and it tastes AMAZING. For my rum friends, a rum and coke is the way to go. Although I am not a huge believer in soda and I try to avoid it, a diet coke may be useful in moderation. Tequila? Well good news here, you don’t need a mixer. Grab a lime, some salt, a few friends, and I guarantee you will have a good time while keeping your waistline in check.
  • Wine: Sometimes we all want to pretend we are being classy while poisoning our bodies. This is where wine comes in. Red and white wines carry a measly 20 calories per ounce. So, for my mathematicians, a 5-ounce glass would be only 100 calories (Look at that math skill, I am so smart). Sweeter blush wines may run a bit higher, around 32 calories per ounce. There has also been research indicating red wine may benefit heart health and even help keep extra pounds from piling on.
  • Light Beer: It’s summer time, you’re on the beach, and nothing tastes better than popping open a delicious Corona Light. I don’t care how badly you want to lose weight, would you seriously deny yourself of this pleasure? Per 12 ounces, a light beer carries approximately 100 calories, where a regular beer can run anywhere between 150-200 calories.

just_drinks_for_web

Although I do not believe in any type of food restriction, you may want to use caution when choosing a fancy cocktail from a restaurant. In comparison to my fit-friendly choices mentioned above, these drinks can run up to 500 calories each. Keep in mind these calorie totals are estimates, as many restaurants use extra sugar and high calorie mixers.

Pina Colada     500
Chocolate martini       450
Coffee liqueur      350
Long Island Iced Tea  300
Margarita      280
Mojito      215
Cosmopolitan       215

If you remember anything from what you just read, remember that alcohol still provides zero, zilch, nada, nutrition. I will say it one more time, slowly, M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. Meaning, if you plan on continuing a healthy lifestyle, binge drinking is something you should probably try to avoid. Personally, I follow the 80% rule. As long as I am eating healthy and exercising 80% of the time, I will allow myself to indulge (I truly cannot resist those little golden balls of heaven… Ferrero Rocher, in fact, I eat chocolate daily). Remember, living a healthy lifestyle does not mean eliminating a few guilty pleasures. If you are planning on always being perfect with your nutrition, I recommend never returning to this blog again (actually, please do return, I enjoy a challenge).

For those of you following the yoga challenge, keep pushing because we are halfway through it! If you skipped a day (or a week), it is okay. Roll out that yoga mat right now and get to it.

Namaste.

Credits:
NIAAA
totaldui
sparkpeople
livestrong

8 Yoga Tips For Beginners

It has been one week since I started the 30 Day Yoga Challenge.

For those of you who are joining me in this challenge, congrats! I have to say I was pretty surprised when friends, family, and acquaintances showed interest in doing this with me, committing to an entire month of yoga practice, but it has been a pleasant surprise, filled with positivity, inspiration, and motivation.

Highlight of the week: Having a 30 minute tree pose staring contest with my boyfriend, Rand, following a few glasses of wine. Yeah, that happened. 

yoga cat tree pose

That being said, I learned a thing or two during this first week. Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am very beginner when it comes to yoga. I can’t stand on my head or bend like a pretzel yet, but I am truly committed to learning and working from the ground up.

Here are my top 8 yoga tips for beginners.

Yoga Mat: I have no idea at this point how many yoga mats I have purchased in the past four years. Some people enjoy mats with a little more cushion (got to keep that tushy cushy), while others enjoy mats that feel practically like a hardwood floor (just thinking about those types of mats sincerely hurts my tailbone). Either way, purchase a really good mat that works for you. You can find yoga mats at most stores, usually for an affordable price (anywhere between $15-50). For my eco-friendly friends, they even sell environmental friendly mats, but those tend to be a tad bit more expensive. Remember, this is the mat your body will be utilizing every day during your yoga practice, so make sure you purchase what works for you.

Yoga Block: My sister purchased me a yoga block about 4 years ago for Christmas, and I just used it for the first time this week. Despite the fact that the yoga block could have been extremely useful the past four years, something blocked my prefrontal cortex from making rational decisions (I blame graduate school). Not only does it help provide stability for difficult postures, but it also prevents you from over-stretching, helping to avoid unnecessary injuries. Again, yoga blocks are pretty cheap ($10-20) and can be found at most stores.

Trial and Error: Finding the right yoga class or yoga video is like finding the right gynecologist/proctologist (oh yeah, I went there). Some instructors can be ostentatious and downright creepy. Try out a few different classes to see what it is you like/dislike. The yoga instructor is the one guiding you through each posture, so you want to make sure you feel both comfortable and connected to the practice.

Clothing: My favorite topic. Whatever you choose to wear during yoga, make sure it is practical. Baggy pants and tops usually get in the way when you are trying to transition from one posture to the next (Seriously, try doing yoga in sweatpants and let me know how quickly they slide off your booty). I am obsessed with yoga pants. Whether or not you actually practice yoga, I am pretty confident almost all females are equally obsessed with this fashion trend. Not only are they extremely comfortable, but they are super cute and sexy. Check out Victoria’s Secret yoga line. It is a little pricey, but totally worth it. Take away message: I am giving you an excuse to go shopping.

Learn the Language: To prevent sounding pedantic, hear me out for a moment. I previously did not believe it was important to learn the language. I’m not a yoga instructor and I do not want to sound like a pretentious hippie (Quite the oxymoron and yes, I am a bit judgy this morning). Learning the language will help you deepen your practice and make it a hell of a lot easier to follow each sequence. When learning the postures, we have to watch the instructor closely, but once learned, it is much easier to just listen and focus on the movement. For those who want to learn more, check out your bookstore and read a little. I just purchased The Complete Yoga Book, by James Hewitt. Unfortunately, Yoga for Dummies was not in-stock.

Invite your friends: As Chalene Johnson once said, “If your friends don’t like to workout, get new friends!” Okay, so that is a bit dramatic, but if your friends exercise with you, it makes hitting that yoga mat after a long day much easier. Rand, who would rather lift heavy weights than even look at a yoga mat, decided to join me a few times this week, supporting me in this challenge. If you haven’t tried yoga with your partner, do it. Not only can they help correct your form, but you will have a guaranteed laugh when you land on your ass. Half moon pose anyone?

half moon pose

Be Mindful: Previously when I practiced yoga, I had this neurotic urge to always be perfect with each posture. Well, if I were “perfect,” I would most likely be an instructor, so I needed a little reality check. Yoga is not about perfection, nor is it about pushing your body past your limit. If you are constantly comparing your posture to others in a judgmental way, then you are not being fully present with your mind and body. Focus less on being advanced, and focus more on your journey of getting there. I am fully aware I sound like a walking cliché right now, but it is true. I realized that by focusing on my breath and the movement, my postures improved and the more relaxed I felt following the sequence.

Laugh a little: Every person will fall, stumble, and roll off of their mat at some point. Yoga is hard. It requires concentration, balance, and flexibility. I know some yoga classes require silence, and you certainly don’t want to be a distraction in class, but every once and awhile, just laugh at yourself. Yoga does not need to be so serious all of the time. Remember, you won’t be perfect, you will fall, and mistakes happen. Get over it.

If you have any advice for yoga beginners that I did not include, please feel free to share.

Only 22 more days to go! Keep pushing. Remember: If you skip a day, try not to beat yourself up about it! Life Happens.

Namaste.