DANCE CHALLENGE | CHECK IN NO. 12

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There’s a million reasons not to dance, but wow it feels good when we do. We’ve been on quite the journey with each other since we started the 2013 Dance Challenge in January. This is the last Dance Check-In post of the year. Remember the very first post about starting this challenge here?  Over 2013 I checked in with you  12 times (read them all here) to see if you were still committed to dancing, shaking out pent up energy, physically moving through things, and having fun. What were some of your favorite songs to jam to over the year? Should we do this challenge again in 2014?

My vote is yes & I say let’s yet again amp it up a notch. At the end of 2013 something absolutely amazing came into my life. A person and her message moved me a deeply. Erin Stutland and Shrink Session changed my relationship with exercise and movement in general. I watched this video from previous WWRadio guest Bex and was intrigued, the concept of saying affirmations while you move, sweat, dance, and breath is interesting at the very least.

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Then I tried it. I downloaded her free 20 minute workout download and was instantly hooked. Her personality, message, and vibrance shine through and I’m so in love with this program all I want to do is share it. You can try it too! If you’re in NYC, take live classes with my guru girl herself, or if you’re not in NYC like me, simply grab her workouts and you can do them in your living room while you’re dancing. Or, my personal favorite, pop it on your headphones while you’re out on a walk, cleaning the kitchen, or on the treadmill. It is so motivating listening to the music with her voice. It is truly a moving meditation that will open you up to receive more than ever before.

I never run. I look funny when I run and associated running with punishment from middle school gym class and having to run laps. That changed for me with Erin’s soul stroll Shrink Session audio. All of a sudden, boom there I was running like I was Roger Bannister. This month Erin did a 7 day challenge where she gave out a new free 5 minute workout every day and challenged us to share our experience on social media. I literally jumped at the idea and blasted my experience with her all over Instagram. So enjoy the goofy selfies below and try out Shrink Session for yourself here.

PS. Expect to see a full interview with Erin’s story on #WWRadio in early 2014 as well as many more collaborations for Shrink Session and Wellness Wonderland.

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The importance of Morning Routines | 11 ways to start your day right

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I’ve spoken many times around WWonderland about the importance of morning routines. Like here, and remember all the crazy things I do in the mornings like Oil Pull & water with lemon? Well those are all well and good, but recently I needed more. I wanted to fall in love with my morning routine much like my mentor Gabrielle Bernstein did when she prayed to the Universe to fall in love with her spiritual practice – and was guided to Kundalini yoga when she previously hated yoga.

& that’s how it happens when you surrender (like I spoke about here) – the Universe will guide you in ways you never could’ve imagined to exactly what you are after. And that is what happened when I surrendered my morning routine by saying, “Look, I want to be so in love with my mornings I can’t wait to go to sleep at night like a child on Christmas Eve so I can wake up for morning.”

I was trying to do so many “shoulds” in the morning that I was overwhelming myself to the point of not even wanting to get out of bed, and a morning routine should do the opposite. It should catapult you out of bed each day. I realized for any ritual to become habitual it has to be something you look forward to in it’s entirety. Be patient, try things, and allow your morning routine to find you like I did.

I had to experiment to find mine & it is still constantly changing with the season, weather, and most importantly how I feel that day.

I used to get real wrapped up in doing the exact same thing everyday to call it a routine but then I realized this:

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“THE ONLY THING THAT MUST BE 100% CONSISTENT ABOUT YOUR MORNING ROUTINE IS THAT YOU 100% ADORE IT.” {TWEET IT}

Being okay with the fact that my routine varies a bit depending on how I feel was difficult for me to accept. I thought it made me a fraud if I didn’t do it with perfect repetition daily, so I would force myself into these molds of routines of others until it felt like such hard work I dreaded having to do it when I woke up.

It was a sigh of relief realizing that tailoring my routine was best for me. Now I don’t sweat it if I meditate before yoga one day and after yoga another or if I have my lemon water *gasp* after breakfast instead of before or if I power walk Monday but Wednesday I stay in and dance it out. I just simply follow my bliss and stop being so dogmatic about any of it.

*So the key here is you most absolutely do what you love or you risk not getting out of bed at all.

Here are some things I love adding in morning routine lately, but use this list as a buffet, taking as much or as little of what I offer and leaving the rest. Maybe test out one thing a day and see what you like and what you don’t.

1) Oiling Pulling-Sometimes I oil pull, sometimes I don’t. Like I said I used to be real dogmatic about this, beating myself up if I didn’t do it for one day. Now I’m chill about it, I try to make sure I do it at least a few times a week, but I just do it as needed and don’t stress if I’m traveling or have to be up super early. Learn how to oil pull here.

2) Breakfast: Make breakfast a mindful practice whether it’s enjoying some fresh figs with cinnamon or a green juice or a grapefruit or some warming buckwheat or a green smoothie or pancakes – the possibilities are infinite. Eat whatever you feel like, but take the time to sit and enjoy it , because nourishing yourself for a successful day is key. I used to push off breakfast until everything else I ‘needed‘ to do was done (& at the rate I was going with all my “shoulds” that could be as late as 2:00) & I’d rush through it just grabbing something as I ran out.

3) Movement: I love to get the body moving in some way first thing in the morning. It signals to the body that it is time to be awake and gets the blood flowing. I usually stretch and do yoga, though sometimes I go on a power walk while I listen to a Podcast or make it to an early morning Ashtanga yoga class or Barre class. Getting a workout of some sort in first thing is the ideal and sets the day off right. Sometimes I simply don’t have time and sometimes I simply don’t want too and that’s okay too. And sometimes I just DANCE!

4) Meditation: Clearing my mind before the day starts has drastically changed my life and it will change yours too, I literally guarantee it. Spending just a few minutes in stillness each morning, whether you do a Kundalini meditation, listen to a guided meditation, or just sit and listen to your favorite song and breathe. Tuning in with yourself in the morning before news, email and responsibilities is powerful beyond belief.

5) Music: Listening to music in the morning makes my entire day more smooth. I turn on a record first thing when I wake up and walk (somedays skip) around my apartment and light candles immediately. Really sets the stage for a good morning.

6) Getting Dressed: Sounds simple but for me putting on real clothes (not just yoga clothes or sweats) drastically changes how I feel. Even if I’m staying home all day. This simple action will automatically make me feel more put together and motivated to get things done and even venture out for errands later that I made have put off since I would’ve had to go get dressed.

7) Journaling/Morning Pages: Starting the day with a little journaling also drastically changes my day. Getting the thoughts I woke up with out of my mind really clears space so those same thoughts don’t play on repeat all day, and I have room for new creative ones to come in. Whether it’s fears I woke up with, an abundance of ideas, or a funky dream, writing about it is simple yet revolutionary. I love beginning with a lil gratitude list and asking myself how I want to feel during the day & listing out some action items on what I’m going to do to feel that way. Grab your journal & write out your #MorningMantra each day.

8) Drink Warm Lemon Water– hydration first thing in the morning will drastically change your day. When you first wake up immediately drink water and even better if it is warm with some lemon. It will instantly alkalize your body and it is super detoxifying. What a wonderful way to start the day! read more about this here!

9) Make your Bed Like you’re Martha Stewart: Oprah said this in this episode of Super Soul Sunday. She explained she only makes her bed on the weekends, but when she does she pretends she’s Martha Stewart, really getting into it with the throw-pillows and enjoying every little part of it like it is the first time she’s ever made a bed. I do this every morning and I remember to approach this simple act with a “beginner’s mind” making it a game-like fun activity in the morning. This sets the tone for the rest of my day and I try to infuse that same intention into every act for the rest of the day from mindless tasks to cooking.

10) Lighting Candles: I adore candles and the simple act of walking to the record player, turning on a record, and then meandering around the apartment lighting all the candles before I meditate is such a beautiful practice. There is something really soothing & relaxing about candles that can really calm me down.

11) Make the First Task a Creative One: Finally, once all the morning routines are completed and it’s time to drive into work, I’ve found one last way to sneak some serene positivity right into the beginning of the work day. This final step is simple, make your first task of the work day something enjoyable and preferably creative. Perhaps, sending an email to someone you’re mentoring or answering comments on your blog or creating a new post…apply this principle to your line of work whatever that might be and rather than starting your day by completing something mindless dive into the good stuff right away, it will make the entire day more rich.

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Hope you enjoyed this buffet of morning ideas and you were able to find at least something you can apply and use. Let me know which number was your favorite!

Introducing the WWDIET | eat anything & stay mindful

Eat anything I could ever want? A whole smoothie full of sweet fruit even though I’ve ‘been told’ it’s too sugary? A whole bowl of quinoa even though I’ve read all the ‘Paleo’ articles saying to stay away?

Maybe…just maybe.

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I’m going on a diet. The Wellness Wonderland Diet. Want to join?

This diet is radical; I can eat absolutely anything, nothing is “cut-out”, nothing is off limits, but rather any food I want in any quantity can be eaten at any hour of the day.

The only stipulation is that there’s absolutely no eating unless I’m in a calm, relaxed state. That seems simple enough, but to be honest 95 percent of my “meals” (if you can call them that) are eaten in quite the opposite way, shoving an apple in my mouth as I sprint out the door, frantically downing a smoothie simultaneously cleaning the vitamix, or furiously eating salad from the bag as I chop up my veggies for my salad then not being hungry by the time I sit down to eat.

The list goes on, almost every time I ate felt rushed and frantic, like ‘now or never.’  While every time I had great intentions for health (for gosh sakes 95 percent of the stuff I was eating was highly green and likely had kale involved) but something was off…I was eating great stuff and doing everything “right” but there was something my body wasn’t loving.

And that’s when I decided I needed a diet/plan. Even though I was trying to be less strict and eat intuitively, I work well with goals and plans so I might as well use that to my advantage. I have the personality type (typical Vata) that loves routine and I really take advice and stick to it 100 percent.

Since I’m so passionate about wellness, read a ton, and constantly get advice, I have a tendency to get really structured and dogmatic. Sometimes good and I realize now sometimes not so good.

I was grasping onto some health advice for dear life even though it wasn’t serving me.

For example, ‘give your body breaks… eat only every 3-4 hours’. Yes, great advice, however I took this to an extreme, literally setting timers of when I “could” eat again.

When I finally chilled out, thinking about how it will look in food journal after my last meal, and just listened to my body and ate whenever I wanted to, I could finally feel satisfied. Usually it did take a few hours to get hungry again depending on the size of my meal, but sometimes it was sooner and that was okay.

Here’s the thing: anything that stresses you out is bad for you period. End of story, no matter who says it’s healthy.

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So clearly through this example you can see how determined I can get when I latch onto a concept. In many ways it can be helpful, but at the same time it’s a double-edged sword really keeping me stuck. But with this new “diet” I’ve decided to take that same determination and perseverance and translate it to this new goal.

The goal: only eating when I’m fully calm, present, and aware. In our busy lives full blown mindful eating may not be feasible 100% of the time with travel, work, etc. But just infusing each meal with a touch of awareness and making a conscious effort to not eat when you’re stressed is life-changing.

Not eating when I’m stressed is something I’m working hard on everyday. Here’s the thing, sometimes when I’m stressed I’m truly hungry too, not with emotional hunger, but legit physical growling hunger.

When that happens there are two things my body’s asking for at once: one is food nourishment and the other is emotional nourishment. While both are equally important to overall health in that moment, the emotional hunger usually goes out the window and we often turn to the physical food to fill up both needs. That’s a surefire way to never ever feel full. Because the physical food will never fill that emotional need.

That’s why eating when you’re stressed is torture. It’s like you’re filling a car that runs on premium gas, unleaded gas…it will never work properly no matter how much you keep overfilling it because you’re not giving it what it needs.

This situation of simultaneous hunger and stress happens to most of us daily, whether we realize it or not, but let’s call a spade a spade coming home for dinner after a long day of work….yes you’re probably hungry but emotionally you’re drained as well and the food won’t address both needs.

So here’s the plan (oh how I love plans) if physical hunger comes up while you’re in a stressful state, address the stress first. ie. call a friend, go on a walk, read, watch a quick video, do something, ANYTHING, that can quickly get you out of that stressful state. Then, and only then can you eat. It’s not restrictive, it’s loving. When you eat while you’re stressed you’re swallowing all that negative emotion and it’s staying stuck deep inside your body. Wait…heal the emotional sensation first and then the physical.

I used to think “no i need to eat immediately, even though I’m stressed because then it will be too late and it will throw off my day blah blah blah”… Listen, it’s better to put off a meal a bit, throw off the “all holy” meal times and wait until you are calm than to rush eat when you’re stressed just to stick to a rigid meal schedule.

So with this new diet I’m using what I’ve got, by taking my rigid nature and applying it to something more fluid.

Let’s see how it goes together.

This was a guest post I did for my best friend Culinary Karma.

Will you join the both of us with this diet?

Let us know in the comments below!

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YOUR FOCUS

We are what we eat, but we are also how we eat it.

I’m Mindful not obsessed, but labels are for containers not humans

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I’m not a big fan of labels, (expect for organizing things, I love me a good adhesive label maker) not on people at least.  So I’m just a person, not a vegetarian, gluten-free-ist, vegan, yogi, raw foodie, health freak, spiritualist, etc, even though it might appear that way…see below…

My package of raw vegan goodies from One Lucky Duck….

…chugging Kombucha…

…taking wheatgrass shots at my favorite raw food cafe…

…homemade fresh guacamole….

…a vegan veggie sandwich bigger than my mouth….

…starting my day with a tall glass of green juice going straight into my blood…

Evidently yes I do like to be well, eat well, drink well, think well, sleep well…the whole 9 yards!

But being healthy doesn’t have to be your life, it doesn’t even have to be a full time job (although mine happens to be for a healthy snack company). Being healthy is just a moment-to-moment decision we make. It’s not just the decision to eat a salad rather than chili cheese fries (unless they’re these chili fries). It is also the decision to not go to yoga class when you’re dead tired, and choosing to take a relaxing bath & meditate instead. It is the decision to walk to the store instead of drive, the decision to read instead of watch TV, and so on.

So yes, being healthy can be a way of life because health doesn’t just mean food, it is a lifestyle. However, this lifestyle doesn’t have to be all of you, in fact it shouldn’t be. Yes I love healthy food, smoothies, meditating & yoga as much as the next healthy guy, but when it comes down to it, when I’m not doing healthy things… I’m just a girl who likes being outside.

Anyways, I thought this post on being mindful, but not obsessed, was beautifully written and really hit the nail on the head. Or in our case, put the superfood in the smoothie.

Check out Your Zen Life, it’s one of my favorite blogs.

What does ‘healthy’ mean to you? Let me know in the comments below.

Superstar yogi Tara Stiles’ will go first: Here’s her answer to that very question.

My turn, if I had one word I’d say, mindfulness….or intuitive, can I have two words?