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The Ultimate Green Smoothie (paleo, dairy-free)

Like probably millions of other Americans, our schedule is pretty hectic. Between the business, two small children, and all of the day-to-day things that come up, I need quick and easy when it comes to cooking. That’s not to say I skimp on taste, quality, or health though. No matter how hectic things get, I will move everything aside if I’m working on perfecting a recipe or experimenting with new ways to introduce delicious foods into our diet! Thankfully this one didn’t take too long to perfect. Once I finally invested in a Vitamix (life changer, and every bit worth the price!), making smoothies became a piece of cake. In fact, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t hopped on the bandwagon before! Life before the Vitamix didn’t have a lot of greens in it. I mean, we’d eat greens on a regular basis, but the majority of our veggie intake came from root veggies, because they’re faster and easier to eat relative to leafy greens. One serving of a sweet potato equates about 4-6 cups of leafy greens, and when you’re always on the go there’s no time for eating that many greens for every meal, much less for eating mindfully! But then, smoothies came into my life, and I no longer lack leafy greens in my diet. We (kids included) drink a green smoothie each morning to start our day, and I usually have one or two throughout the day as well, along with the other veggies I eat.

Why Leafy Greens are Important

We probably all know by now that leafy greens are good for us. Everyone tells us to eat more leafy greens, the darker the better. But why? Here’s a refresher of some reasons that leafy greens aren’t just important, they are necessary. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, etc. contain vital nutrients that our bodies need to function and live optimally. They are a good source of:

  1. Magnesium
  2. Potassium
  3. Calcium
  4. Folate
  5. Betaine
  6. Manganese
  7. Carotenoids
  8. Vitamin C
  9. Phytochemicals such as beta-carotine
  10. Antioxidants

The Ultimate Green Smoothie

I call this The Ultimate Green Smoothie because not only does it contain a generous helping of dark leafy greens, but also other powerful foods such as nutrient-dense herbs, health-boosting gelatin, and digestion enhancing probiotics. And even with all of this healthy stuff it still tastes so good we all ask for more! **Make sure to use local organic ingredients as much as possible in order to access the nutrients fully, and to avoid ingesting chemicals.

Ingredients:

  • water or water kefir, enough to fill blender 1/3-1/2 full
  • 2 probiotic capsules
  • dark leafy greens, enough to fill blender about 2/3 full (about 1 bunch of kale or 6c spinach)
  • 1 generous handful fresh herbs (we use cilantro, basil, or parsley)
  • 1c pitted dates
  • 2c frozen fruit (we like mangoes and strawberries the best)
  • 2tsp grass-fed collagen hydrolysate

Directions:

Fill blender 1/3-1/2 full of water. If you like thick smoothies use 1/3 water; if you like runnier smoothies, use 1/2 pitcher of water. Open probiotic caps and pour powder into water. Wash greens and herbs thoroughly and pack them down into pitcher until it gets to about 3/4 full. Add dates. Next add fruit, and top with gelatin. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this Ultimate Green Smoothie as much as we do! How do you like to eat your leafy greens?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

Why Farm Animal Yoga?

 

When I first tell people about our Farm Animal Yoga classes, most either think it’s “interesting” or “hilarious”. And I agree, it is kind of both.  But yoga has gotten some backlash for all of its trendy new takes on the practice, from BeerYoga to Hot Yoga to yes, Goat Yoga. Yoga, like everything else, has its critics. But is combining yoga, steeped in thousands of years of tradition and methodology, with beer, heat, or animals, taking something away from the practice? In my opinion, it depends on what you consider to be a practice.

Let’s go back for a second to what yoga really is. Beyond the poses, the sweaty arm balances, the lotus on the beach, meditating at sunset awesomeness of what our images of yoga may be. The foundations of the practice; the reason the practice is so hard; the reason for that euphoric “ahhhhh” feeling after an hour of “paying attention” on your mat; the reason so many of us strive to be yogi, and are so eager to hop on any bandwagon that will get us there. Yoga enables us to be our best selves, and to let go of the negativity and toxicity that surrounds us and influences us. Yoga gives us the freedom to be who we are naturally, and to be okay with just being, with presence. Yoga quite simply means to unite mind, body and spirit, and according to the sutras, yoga is the “cessation of the fluctuation of the mindstuff”. In other words, yoga quiets the mind and the ego. Yoga’s yamas and niyamas teach kindness, compassion, truthfulness, nonjudgment, and self-discipline; to relinquish hostility and to live less materially and more cleanly. To honor not only yourself, but the living beings that surround us, and our environment.

Yoga is work, and through this work we help to create a more peaceful and sustaining space for ourselves and a more peaceful and sustaining universe.

Yoga is only in part what happens on the mat; but mostly it’s about what happens off the mat.

With this in mind, does it really matter if yoga is practiced on paddleboards or in a heated room or with animals? Isn’t it still the same practice? If you drink a glass of locally crafted beer before, after, or during your asana practice, does that make it less of a practice? If, while doing downward dog, a goat jumps on your back or you get distracted by a puppy nuzzling your arm, does that take away from living mindfully?  If you’re yoga is playing a round of golf, rock climbing, or ailing your boat, does that make you less of a yogi? I would argue not.

Farm Animal Yoga

Farm Animal Yoga is not only a way to make yoga accessible and fun, and to bring people to the mat that maybe needed a little extra incentive to begin a practice, but it’s also about connecting to animals and nature, a basic human need. I think Goat Yoga has been such a big trend in cities across the country because people are yearning for the excuse to spend time on a beautiful farm, with amazing little creatures, away from the stressors of everyday life. Through our Farm Animal Yoga classes, we hope that people will find a reconnection to – and maybe a newfound love for – outdoors and to animal life. And to find the space to explore the practice of yoga and what that may mean for them. Lastly, we want – and expect – students to leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, while also uplifted and happy because of their new animal friends!

I encourage you to make your yoga your practice, whatever that may be. If you love nature, and/or you love animals, or if you’re curious what a farm animal yoga class would be like, for if you’re just into trying new things, you are welcome to our Farm Animal Yoga classes, and we hope you’ll come. New to the practice or seasoned practitioner, all are welcome! We encourage students to stay after to snuggle with the animals and take pictures if they want!

Serving Dresher, Abington, Glenside, Jenkintown, Flourtown, Oreland, Maple Glen, Willow Grove, Mt Airy, Chestnut Hill, East Falls, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, Ambler, Philadelphia, Wyndmoor, Wyncote, Yardlsey, Springfield Township, Blue Bell, North Hills Ft. Washington, Bala Cynwood, Conshohocken, Springhouse, North Wales, Horsham, and all over PA and everywhere else!


Water and Rock Studio & Rose Bridge Farm Present: 

Farm Animal Yoga

Goat Yoga is a thing. And we’re doing it! Except we’re adding lambs, a bunny, and other friendly and ridiculously cute animals! Practice yoga while these cuties nuzzle you, sniff you, and even jump on you in their natural yogi element! Stay and play with animals after! No experience needed. All levels welcome.

Location: Rose Bridge Farm, 1314 N Limekiln Pike, Dresher, PA
When: 6 weeks, Sundays 9-10am, May 7-June 11
Cost: $25/drop-ins (advanced registration required) $120 for series (advanced registration required)

Register today as spots are filling quickly!

 

Collagen and Gelatin: How the Health Benefits Outweigh the “Ew” Factor

You may have heard about collagen by now, and how important it is for your health. But what about the “ew” factor? Collagen and gelatin have a stigma that seems to scare people off, and here were going to talk about how the benefits of collagen and gelatin far outweigh the “ew” factor.

What is Collagen and Gelatin?

Collagen is an important – and one of the most common – protein in the body’s connective tissues, skin, and bones. It holds the body together, so to speak, helping to provide structure. As we age, and due to toxic environmental factors, our collagen levels decrease. Additionally, our modern diets don’t typically contain collagen or the amino acids that it provides, as we have gotten out of the practice of eating animals parts like our ancestors did.

Collagen and gelatin are derived from animal parts such as skins, bones, and tissues (the “ew” factor), and contain important amino acids, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Gelatin is created when collagen is cooked. Hydrolyzed collagen has the same amino acids as gelatin, but is a more processed form of collagen, which breaks up proteins into smaller pieces. While the health benefits of hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin are thought to be roughly the same, some people find it a little easier to digest hydrolyzed collagen. I prefer hydrolyzed collagen in things like smoothies or yogurt because it doesn’t gel like gelatin does. On the other hand, gelatin is what’s used in making gummies or marshmallows, or in thickening soups, due to it’s gelatinous nature.

Health Benefits of Collagen and Gelatin

If you’re new to the idea of consuming animal parts that do not include meat only, eating collagen or gelatin may not sound so appealing to you. The good news is that if you can get past that initial “ew” you’ll find that there are numerous health benefits that you can get, simply by adding a little collagen or gelatin powder to your foods, or by including delicious bone broth into your diet. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of the tremendous health benefits of collagen and gelatin:

  • Promotes joint health and reduces joint pain
  • Improves health and digestion
  • Improves mood, reduces anxiety
  • Improves skin and hair health
  • Maintains strong bones, relieves osteoporosis
  • Can aid in weight loss (it’s a healthy protein)
  • May help balance hormones

What Kind of Collagen or Gelatin?

We use this kind because it’s grass-fed and from humanely-raised animals. The Beef Gelatin will gel, so I use that more for things like gummies and marshmallows, or thickening soups. The Collagen Peptides is water-soluble, so I use this one for my smoothies and shakes (instead of protein powders), or mixed in any other hot or cold liquid. We also like Great Lakes collagen hydrolysate and beef gelatin.

Hope fully this will convince you that the health benefits of collagen and gelatin far outweigh the “ew” factor, and that you’ll give it a try! What ways do you like to get collagen into your diet?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

 

2-Ingredient Maple-Chocolate Candy (Paleo, Refined Sugar-free)

Have you ever been to a sugarhouse in Vermont? If not, you should go. Why? Because first of all Vermont is beautiful. Peaceful, serene, unplugged. Everyone should spend at least a weekend in Vermont. Seriously. Maybe we’ll add that as part of our health and wellness plan for our clients. As soon as you enter the state you immediately feel your breaths become deeper, your shoulders relax back down to where they’re meant to be, your mood lightens. It’s the perfect place to de-stress, to enjoy nature, and

Maple sugar house between trees with fall foliage at the countryside at Reading, Vermont, USA

to just be. Second, sugarhouses are usually set in some beautiful majestic setting (it is Vermont afterall), often down a windy, hilly path surrounding by mountains, trees, and gorgeous clean air. Third, this is where the most delicious, pure, straight from the trees maple syrup is made. And if you’ve never tried Vermont’s maple syrup, well…you should. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and intense flavor, and you can almost taste the cool air and pure nature that only Vermont can produce.

Okay, okay, maple syrup is delicious. But it’s sugar, right? Actually, maple syrup is an unrefined natural sugar, and like honey it contains higher levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It’s a wonderful alternative to refined and processed sugars, which are linked to numerous health problems. In fact, here are some benefits of maple syrup, in case you’re on the fence (I suggest getting down from the fence and going to Vermont, but hey that’s just me):

5 Benefits of Maple Syrup:

  1. Contains nutrients: zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and calcium.
  2. Contains antioxidants
  3. Lower glycemic index than refined sugars
  4. Good for the skin: can lower inflammation and dryness
  5. Healthier alternative to artificial sweeteners and refined sugars, thus helping to prevent health problems that these cause
  • Even with these health benefits, maple syrup, just like any sugar, should be consumed in moderation.

In our house, maple syrup and raw honey are the sweeteners of choice when we need to satisfy a sweet tooth. This Easter I decided to think outside the box a little, and instead of more chocolate candies, I decided to make a maple candy. It turned out delicious, and just like the candy we tried in Vermont! It’s pretty easy to make, but make sure you follow the directions as accurately as possible. We no longer use chocolate chips because even the dark chips often contain soy and/or sugar, which we try to avoid. Instead we use our eating evolved chocolate bars and chop them up into chip-sized pieces! Also, you can choose to omit the chocolate chips and you’ll still have a delicious maple candy that can be spooned into candy molds for a cute presentation!

2-Ingredient Maple-Chocolate Candy

  1. In large saucepan, boil maple syrup over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Use candy thermometer and continue boiling until it reaches 235 degrees F.
  2. Remove saucepan fro heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, or 175 degrees F.
  3. Once cooled, whisk rapidly until lighter in color, thick and creamy. Quickly stir in chocolate pieces (it’s okay if the chocolate is a little melty; you want to add the chocolate once it’s smooth and somewhat cool, but if you wait too long the mixture will be too hard!)
  4. Pour into candy molds or into an 8X8 pan (or something similar). Cool in refrigerator for a few minutes. Can be stored in airtight container in fridge for up to 3-4 weeks (but I promise it won’t last that long!)

I hope you enjoy this Maple-Chocolate Candy as much as we do, and at some point get to experience Vermont too! What are you’re favorite uses for maple syrup?

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

7 Ways Functional Movements Are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines

As functional fitness has become more and more mainstream, the fitness world – and gyms – have had to evolve to keep up. Research has shown that whole-body, multi-joint movements and high intensity workouts are extremely effective, as we discussed in our previous post.  Still, the appeal of exercise machines such as the elliptical, the stairmaster, and a plethora of other resistance machines, remains for many. Machines are easy, and routine. You can set your pace on the elliptical or treadmill and read a book or zone out listening to music. Some gyms even have movie theatres where you can plop yourself on your elliptical for an hour or so while watching an old favorite on the big screen, and leave feeling like you did a great workout for yourself. Simply said, machines make working out easy.

But working out isn’t supposed to be easy.

If we’re looking for easy, aren’t we missing the point? It’s called “working out” because it’s work. It can be fun, and I’m all about making fitness fun, but it shouldn’t be easy. Working out should, if done effectively, be challenging and stimulating to mind and body. That’s how you reach your optimal health, and your health and fitness goals, not by doing what’s easy or monotonous. Here are 7 Ways Functional Movements are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines:

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  1. Mindfulness. Zoning out isn’t an option when you’re moving and working your body in the most effective ways. In fact, zoning out can lead to stress and injury. Functional fitness requires you to be mindful and to pay attention to your body, the mechanics of the movements, your form and your level of intensity. Being present leads to stress reduction and improved overall physically and mental health.
  2. You can do it anywhere. One of the reasons the functional fitness movement has caught on is because, let’s face it, Americans want convenience. Using free weights, or even better – body weight movements – is convenient. You don’t need to be tied to a gym or a bulky machine to get a great workout. You can literally do functional movements anytime, anywhere. That’s why they’re functional, duh.
  3. They are functional. It’s worth repeating. Functional movements are functional. Thats means they are exercises that translate to everyday activities and movements. With these movements, your body moves in three dimensions, which is how your body moves in daily life. Machines on the other hand, do not. Machines force us to move on the path of machines, rather than on the path of our bodies.
  4. Man making burpees during strength training in gym.More muscles are engaged. Through functional fitness exercises, the whole body is engaged, and more muscles are working to stabilize the weight. Machines on the other hand tend to focus more on larger muscle groups, ignoring some of the other muscles necessary for stabilizing, which can result in injury.
  5. More efficient. Functional fitness is more efficient than working out with machines. A 5-10 minute functional fitness workout can be more beneficial (and yes, burn more calories) even than an hour on an elliptical machine.
  6. They stimulate the mind. Just as functional movements work the whole body, they also work the mind. The mind and body work together to move through the exercises and various movements. Functional fitness workouts are constantly varied and high intensity, making them fun and intellectually stimulating too.
  7. It’s how our bodies were meant to move. We weren’t created to rely on machines to move our bodies. It’s really that simple. Functional fitness allows our bodies to move the way they are supposed to move, and to do movements that keep our bodies functioning optimally, despite our culture of sitting and minimizing movement. It’s a way of allowing our bodies to do what they naturally do best, and we are often surprised by what our bodies can do when given this freedom!

Curious and ready to try Functional Fitness for yourself? Contact us  to try our online functional fitness services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session!

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

8 Ways That We Reduce Waste and Save Money

 

I’ll admit it, my lifestyle now is not what it used to be. Reducing waste was not a priority for me, even ten years ago. It’s not that I didn’t care; it just wasn’t something that I thought much about or proactively worked to change. Once I began my yoga practice, I started becoming more conscious, more aware, of not just myself and my space, but of my surrounding and how everything interconnects and works together. Through yoga, fitness, and mindful eating with paleo, I feel that I have become more conscious and more educated with regard to our environment and how the changes we make can make a difference. That said, I still have a long way to go, and am always learning and evolving!

Being waste-conscious has made a difference for our family, financially and emotionally. It reduces the amount of clutter and trash in our household, and the amount of money that we spend annually. It’s a process, and takes time and commitment, by the whole family. But, as with most lifestyle changes, once you get the hang of it, it can actually add simplicity, efficiency, and dollars to your life! Not to mention the reduction in your carbon footprint.

8 Ways That We Reduce Waste and Save Money

As I said, reducing waste in our household has been a process, and one that is ongoing and ever-changing. We have a way to go, and with children we find that it can be challenging especially when our friends and family sometimes tend to give gifts that may not be so eco-friendly or aligned with our preferences. And that’s okay; we try to keep realistic expectations and can work around this. Which brings me to an important point: rigidity can work against you. As with any major changes, you want to have a little flexibility. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you find it hard to live without paper towels, start small. Maybe use less paper towels before you progress to eliminating them altogether! Another thing to note: while some of these replacements seem costly up front, in the long-term you’ll be saving money, especially if you’re a person who uses disposable items liberally. Our reusable items have lasted us years and are still going strong! In writing this post, I had a hard time keeping it to 8, as there are endless ways that we try to conserve on a daily basis, including with our food, cleaning products, and overall lifestyle of reusing and repurposing. For the purposes of getting your started – or maybe a little inspired – though, here are 8 ways that our family reduces waste, and actually saves money, in our house:

    1. Napkins. Napkins are a necessity for us. We are messy as a family, and it drives me nuts when my kids wipe their mouths on their sleeves! We use reusable napkins like these, and honestly have never looked back.
    2. Baggies. I can’t say that we have eliminated disposable baggies completely in our house, but we have reduced the amount we use significantly. These reusable sandwich bags have been a huge help, and our kids love the fun patterns!
    3. Rags. This is a big one. We use rags in leiu of papertowels and wipes, and we use them constantly. In a house with pets and small children, we have to. I can’t even imagine the amount of waste we would go through and full we would make that landfill if we did not use reusable cloths for this. We use a combination of old t-shirt scraps and reusable rags like these for our needs. As a bonus, using and  folding rags is an easy and calming chore for 3- and 5-year-olds!
    4. Reusable Sponges. Ok, there is a time for disposable sponges, like when cleaning grease, or poop (hypothetically of course), but most times reusable sponges work awesome. We use one for our dishes and another for the dirtier jobs, like cleaning of counters, ovens, and stoves.
    5. Tampons/Pads. There are numerous health and environmental reasons that you should consider replacing your pads and tampons with reusable products, or at the very least, good quality organic products. Not only do most tampons and pads contain plastic, which can cause health issues, and we know takes a looooong time to break down, but they also contain all sorts of chemicals that have not been studied completely for their effect on the environment. Additionally, this study found that 85% of tampons were contaminated with glyphosate (an herbicide linked to cancer). I recommend a menstrual cup such as this one, instead of tampons. There are cloth pads that you can try, disposable organic pads or panty liners as a healthier and more eco-friendly alternative.
    6. Diapers and Wipes. Yes, we are on the cloth diaper train! We used them for both kids, and while it required diligent washing, ultimately using cloth diapers minimized our environmental waste considerably. It also significantly reduced our financial costs of having little ones. Since our babies were little, there have been more wonderful brands on the market, but we definitely have to recommend Fuzzies Bunz, as they worked great for us, and were adorable too! We also used Fuzzies Bunz wipes for our babies, as they were super soft, and with a little water, worked just as well as disposable wipes, without all the chemicals!
    7. Reusable Water Bottles. We haven’t used plastic water bottles in years, for both health and environmental reasons, that I’ve mentioned above. And the transition was actually really easy! You get used to carrying your water bottle everywhere you go, which is a good habit anyway, given how important it is to drink enough water. We love Klean Kanteen and Life Factory bottles, although for kids, I’d recommend the former, as we learned the hard way that silicone sleeves do not protect from kids throwing water bottles like they’re balls! Here are some that we love:


8. Toys and Dress-up. I couldn’t complete my reducing waste post without addressing all of the waste that is involved in having kids! You parents know what I’m talking about. This will be on a later blog post in more detail, but I wanted to mention one of our favorite ways to conserve. Reusing old boxes and bags as toys, cars, trains, rocket ships, robot costumes, picture frames, sleds, doll house, astronaut gear, the list goes on. So much cheaper than buying new toys! Before you throw those boxes and bags out, consider repurposing – the kids will be thrilled and their imaginations will run wild (great for you, and developmentally stimulating for them)!

I hope these 8 Ways That We Reduce Waste and Save Money inspire you or help you start the process of being more conscious. We are still working on ways that our family can reduce waste, and as I said it is an ever-evolving process! In what ways does your family like to conserve?

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Self Defense: Getting Comfortable In Uncomfortable Situations

Have you ever taken a self defense class? I’m not talking about the fun girls’ night, gouge the eyeballs, kick ’em in the groin, and laugh at your friends one-time self defense class that often comes to mind. I mean a self defense class, with a well-trained instructor that teaches techniques and skills that can actually be useful in real-life situations? A self defense class that incorporates techniques from some of the most functional and effective martial arts in the world, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga. If you have then you know what I mean when I say these classes teach you to get comfortable with being in uncomfortable situations. And while some of these uncomfortable situations do incite giggles, it’s clear that being uncomfortable is not just for fun, but is a necessity for learning how to defend yourself effectively.

My First Class

I remember when I began learning self defense from Japheth, years ago, in a class with several other women who were also new to self defense. There was a lot of nervous giggling, and I’m not ashamed to say a lot of it came from me. While I enjoyed the kicking and striking parts of class (who doesn’t?) I was nervous and cautious when it came to kicking and striking pads that other women were holding. It felt weird putting all my strength into essentially fighting another person. I eventually overcame this of course, but it took some getting used to. And then came the takedowns and the ground work, and the introduction of a whole new level of discomfort. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a true art form. A powerful combination of cognitive skill, mental manipulation, and physical mastery that is unrivaled. It is a challenge like no other, not just because of the amount of mental and physical energy required, but also the level of discomfort involved. The ability to be okay with straddling a stranger or being straddled by a stranger, often bringing faces, crotches, and/or feet into close contact with various other body parts, does not come naturally for a lot of people. In fact, I’d venture to say that some women and men do not like BJJ – and often do not stick with self defense classes – for this reason. People are not innately comfortable with being put in uncomfortable situations. Psychologically and physically, we choose flight.

So Why Do It?

To answer this question, let’s come back to why you came to a self defense class in the first place. Chances are you want to learn to prevent and defend against an attack. Think of an attack that feels comfortable. Right…there isn’t one.

So when learning to defend yourself from an uncomfortable situation you must face the discomfort, acknowledge it, and overcome it.  It’s survival. 

BJJ gives students the skills necessary to defeat even bigger and stronger opponents, how to get out of inferior positions, and how to instead achieve advantageous positions. What would you do if attacked from behind? Or taken down to the ground with the attacker on top of you? Learning how to move and use your body on the ground, especially while in uncomfortable positions, is necessary in order to be successful in any type of ground encounter.

Submission choke hold

BJJ teaches real life techniques for real life situations. With a skilled and trusted instructor, in a safe environment, you can and will learn to become more comfortable with the thought and the reality of uncomfortable situations. Take it from me – and the other women in that first class that are still my friends years later, despite us sparring each other every Wednesday night – getting through that discomfort is worth it, for you and for your loved ones.

I encourage you to find an ongoing self defense class and learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn more about our self defense classes and contact us to try our online self defense services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.

 

10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House

Coconut oil in our house is one of those items that we would have a hard time living without. We try to be pretty minimal when it comes to shopping, and products that are both healthy and multi-purpose are wins. There are a million and one uses for coconut oil, ranging from using it as a cleaner, to using it in your favorite brownie recipe. It’s well-known and revered in both the primal/paleo and the non-paleo world, as one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and one of the most versatile products to own.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

The benefits of coconut oil have been proven in over a thousand research studies, and the list is endless. Here are a few commonly known benefits of this amazing fruit:

  • high in saturated fat, making it heart healthy
  • can heal urinary infections
  • high in antioxidants
  • can reduce inflammation
  • anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral
  • improves gut health
  • helps balance hormones
  • improves hair and skin conditions
  • prevents tooth decay and other dental problems
  • treats candida and yeast infections

10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House

In order to gain benefit from coconut oil, you can eat it as part of your regular diet. Grease your pans with it, cook your eggs in it, use it in baking recipes, melt it over your favorite veggies, etc. But don’t stop there! Coconut oil can be used in a myriad of ways that are non-food related! *Just as a note, I believe that anything that goes on your body should be safe enough to go in your body. After all, your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs anything that you put on it – if you wouldn’t eat certain chemicals and toxins, why would you put them on your skin? Here are 10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House:

  1. Skincare. We use coconut oil in our homemade body butters, lip balms, lotion bars, deodorants, and sunscreen. It has a natural SPF of 4, is an excellent moisturizer, and can heal skin conditions. Additionally, in a pinch we use plain coconut oil on our dry skin or lips – doesn’t get much easier than that!
  2. Haircare. We use coconut oil in our homemade hair pomades and conditioners. To condition hair, simple rub between your hands until soft, then rub on ends of hair and into scalp. Leave on for 1 hour or even overnight, then rinse. *Be careful not to use coconut oil in the shower or sink too frequently as we have found that it clogs the drain when used regularly!
  3. Detox Bath. We love detox baths, and while we don’t take them as often as we’d like, we definitely feel the benefits when we do. It’s great for kids too, and seems to instantly relax them. Here’s a simple recipe to try:
    – 1/2c Epsom salts or magnesium flakes,
    – 1/4c coconut oil
    – 2-3 drops of essential oils (such as lavender or eucalyptus)
    – Hot bath
  4. Dental Care. We oil pull. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique, used to draw out toxins from the mouth and body, and create a sort of anti-septic environment. It is said to prevent tooth decay, kill bad breath, and whiten teeth, among other oral hygiene benefits. How to do it: Swish about a tablespoon on coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Spit into trash can. Do this daily for noticeable benefit.
  5. Cleaning. We even use coconut oil for cleaning purposes! It cleans crayon and other marks off of walls, a trick that I was very grateful to learn. We also use it to clean marks off of furniture!
  6. Petfood/Health. Did you know that coconut oil is also beneficial for pets? Makes sense, since it’s
    so beneficial for us, right? We give our cats food that contains coconut oil daily, and have noticed a huge difference in their digestion and fur since starting it.
  7. Carrier Oil for Use with Essential Oils. Coconut oil is one of our favorite carrier oils when using essential oils. We mix it with peppermint eo to help with headaches, eucalyptus eo for a chest rub when sick, tea tree eo when needing a powerful antibacterial (think warts or fungus), wintergreen eo for sore muscles, and many more.
  8. Candles. I’ve started making my own homemade candles from beeswax and coconut oil. It’s so easy, and a greta way to avoid the chemicals and toxins that many candles consist of. I can add my favorite essential oils for an amazing scent too!
  9. Cough Suppressant. We make our own cough drops and cough medicine using combinations of coconut oil, ginger, cinnamon, and honey, all immune-boosting superpowers.
  10. Itches. We sometimes use coconut oil plain, or more often blended with essential oils, for relieving the sting or itches of bug bites or rashes.

As you can see, coconut oil really is a go-to for us; so much so that our kids even request it when they have a minor ailment! Hopefully this list will inspire you, if you’re not already a coconut-oil fanatic! What are your favorite uses for coconut oil?

 

 

 

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Developing a Positive Relationship with Food: Making a Positive Shift

What comes to mind when you hear the word “diet”? For many, it’s a sense of dread or even disgust. Just like with any diet or lifestyle choice, Paleo has its critics. I’ve found that the most critical opinions tend to come from those who don’t really understand what Paleo is, and what it really is about. For us, it’s not a diet (and I hate associating it with the word “diet” because of the negative connotations that go along with that), and it’s not meant to be a restrictive lifestyle either. Paleo, for us, is changing our way of thinking about food, and our perspective about what food is and what we use it for. Since beginning the Paleo lifestyle, I have gone through a myriad of emotions, many that I witness our clients going through as they transition to eating healthier. It’s looking at food in appreciation, and an understanding of how it was made, what is in it, and how those things effect our bodies. Paleo is a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s not a temporary way to lose weight, or a restriction of all things fun. In fact, since going Paleo, I have had more fun than I ever have in shopping for food, creating food, and enjoying food with my family, without that insatiable need to depend on food for all social activities and emotional ups and downs. It’s been freeing in that I can focus more of my energy on experiences and relationships with people, rather than food. All that said, like anyone, I struggle at times, especially as our society is still not conducive to clean eating. Going out to eat can be challenging, as can other social events. But I have learned to navigate most situations in a way that is comfortable to me and my family, and allows me to still enjoy most things that I did before – and then some new things too! For me, once I figured out how to look at food differently, more positively, I became content with my nutrition, my lifestyle, and myself.

Negative Relationship Patterns with Food

So let’s take the word “diet” out of the equation, and even the word “Paleo” for a minute and focus on how to start shifting perspective from a negative to a positive relationship with food. Because in order to be successful in reaching any health and fitness goals, a positive relationship with food is necessary, and imperative. Here are some of the most common negative patterns with food (do any of these relate to you?):

  • Emotional/Stress Eating: whether feeling positive or negative emotions, eating based solely on emotion can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.
  • Ignoring Hunger Cues: an inability to tell when you are hungry, and when you are satiated. Ignoring your body’s signals can lead to weight fluctuation and unhealthy weight gain or loss.
  • Food Guilt: beating yourself up about an unhealthy food choice so much that you’re unable to enjoy the food, or the experience.
  • Skipping Meals: skipping meals is just a bad idea. It can be detrimental for your mood, your sleep, your metabolic functioning and your overall health.
  • Negative Nelly: when describing your eating routine you list all the things you cannot eat. When thinking about your health/nutrition plan, the only things you can focus on are the foods that you miss and that you have eliminated, and how that impacts other aspects of your life in a negative way.
  • Restriction: you restrict yourself from food so much that you miss the point of healthy eating – to fill your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically – not to deprive yourself of all things happy!

Making a Positive Shift

If any of these things describe you, you may have some work to do before you can be successful with your health and nutrition journey. We’re striving for healthy body and healthy mind, and to do that we want to take some of the emotional stress out of your relationship with food. Here are some ways to make a positive shift in perspective when it comes to food, and how ultimately to develop a more positive relationship with food in order to be successful – and happy!

  1. Mindful Eating. This is listed first because I feel that it is the most important key to enjoying food, understanding food, and learning to eat and enjoy real, whole, organic foods. Eating mindfully can lead to better control over your weight by allowing you to tune into hunger cues. When eating mindfully, it also helps you to get more satisfaction from food, and enjoy the various flavors of real foods. Think about how you might eat a hamburger from a fast food restaurant or popcorn at a movie theatre – probably pretty fast and mindlessly, right? And you think it tastes so delicious because in those quick minutes of eating you are overwhelmed with the taste of salt and chemicals. Now imagine sitting down to eat a salad made with fresh, local organic vegetables and a bunless grassfed burger, eating slowly and tasting each subtle flavor, imagining the farm that these foods came from, healthy cows, and vegetables growing in the warm sun, and no added pesticides or chemicals. Try bringing more time and awareness to your next meal and notice the difference.
  2. Eat When You’re Hungry. It sound so simple, but we all struggle with this one. You come home from work and nosh on the first thing you see because you’re relieving stress. You have a fight with a friend or spouse and you down 6 brownies. You go to dinner with friends and you eat an inordinate amount of cheese dip, fries and maybe even some key lime pie. I’m not saying don’t eat when with friends. My point here is to bring more awareness to when you eat and why. And try to eat when you’re hungry, as much as possible. Emotional/stress eating leads to weight challenges, and negative emotional energy toward yourself and others.
  3. Imperfection. If you’re human, you will make mistakes, even when eating. And it’s ok! Just because you couldn’t resist that bread, or slice of cake, doesn’t mean your health plan is ruined, and it doesn’t make you a failure. Acknowledge your mistake, and how you want to do it differently next time, and let out go. Move forward. Be kind to yourself.
  4. Positive Penny. Let’s say goodbye to Negative Nelly – she drives me crazy. When someone asks you about your nutrition or lifestyle, start telling them about all of the amazing things you do and eat. For example, I had this amazing 6 layer paleo strawberry cake for my birthday this year! I discovered how to make the most delicious salad dressing I’ve ever eaten because of my paleo preferences, and I never feel bloated after a Thanksgiving meal! Also, I’m more active since going paleo, because all of my social engagements are no longer centered around food, but more around things like yoga classes, bowling, hiking and concerts!
  5. Enjoy the Experience. Whether cooking your own food or eating out with others, take time not just to eat mindfully, but to enjoy and be grateful for the experience of creating the food, sharing the food, and eating the food.
  6. Eat. Be okay with eating. Every meal, and multiple times a day. When you use the tools above you’ll soon realize that not only will you not gain weight or fat from eating multiple meals a day, you will actually feel better and your life and energy will improve.

Hopefully this will give you some food for thought. How have you found success and contentment when it comes to food and a healthy way of eating? What mistakes have you made, and how have you overcome your challenges?
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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence to Jumpstart Your Day!

I love starting my day with yoga, and can tell a big shift in my day, and my ability to handle the challenges of my day, when I do. For me, it doesn’t have to be an asana practice, on my mat, with peace and quiet. That’s not realistic in my life, and I’m okay with that! Sometimes my morning yoga practice is a 2-minute meditation during my shower, or a few deep breaths as I’m waking. And on those rare days that I wake before the kids do and have time to pull out my mat, it’s breathing, asana, and meditation. This 15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence is a favorite of mine to flow through when I need a little extra boost in the morning. If you don’t have 15 minutes you can shorten the number of sun salutations, and on the flip side if you have more time, add more! With each posture, take 5-10 deep breaths before moving on to the next.

By the way, here are some of my favorite yoga props and mats to help you explore the poses a little more, and with a little more ease and fun:


15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence to Jumpstart Your Day!

  1.  5 Sun Salutations A (Surya Namaskara A). When ready, begin gently flowing through your Sun Salutations. Remember to modify or take breaks as needed. Here is a video of Suzanne demonstrating a basic Sun Salute A:

 

2. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I).  From your last Downward Dog, bring the right foot forward and step it in between your hands. Spin the back heel down to the floor, toes pointing slightly forward. Bend the front knee and you reach the arms up toward the ceiling and lift your gaze. Move to Warrior 3, right side.

 

 

3. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III).  From Warrior 1, Firmly root front foot into the ground and begin shifting your balance onto the front foot, lifting the back leg so that it is parallel to the mat, while simultaneously tilting torso forward, until parallel with mat also (for modified version, only lift leg and lower torso partway). Activate back leg by lengthening leg and flexing the foot, toes pointing down. Try to even the hips so one is not higher than the other. Reach arms to the side for this flying version. Repeat Warrior 1 and Warrior 3 on the other side.

 

4. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II).  From Downward Dog, step right foot in between your hands, spin back heel down, and bend the front knee as you cartwheel the arms up, reaching hands to opposite sides of the room. Root down through both feet evenly, and breathe into the pose as you gently feel the hips and shoulders softening. Move into Half Moon, right side.

 

 

5. Half Moon (Ardha Candrasana). From Warrior 2 right side, plant right hand about 6 inches in front of right foot (use a block to place hand on if the floor seems too far). Begin shifting your weight onto the front hand and foot as you gently lift the back leg, raising it parallel to the floor, and stacking the hips. Activate back leg. Left arm reaches straight toward the ceiling, creating a strong line from the left hand all the way down through the right hand, grounded. Gaze toward the ground or up toward top hand. *Modification: Keep both hands down in front of front foot foot, until you feel stable enough to begin lifting one arm.

 

6. Boat (Navasana). From Downward Dog, step through to seated. Lift legs in front of you, keeping them together, so that you make a “V” with your body. Sit up tall on your sitz bones, lengthening through the spine as you breathe. Reach the arms forward, fingers extended. Legs can be straight, bent, or you can hold the backs of your legs if needed.

 

 

7. Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana). From seated, stretch your legs out onto the mat straight in front of you. Root down into the ground as you lengthen your spine, lifting crown of the head up toward the ceiling. Activate the legs by flexing the feet, toes pointed up and pulling back toward you. Inhale lengthen, exhale fold forward, reaching for the sides of the feet or the backs of the leg. (If hamstrings are tight here, you can use a strap around your feet to assist in the fold!). Continue extending through the spine with each inhale, and melting into the fold on each exhale.

 

8. Butterfly (Badhakonasana). From seated, bend knees and bring soles of the feet together, knees out to the sides. Draw the heels in close and open up the feet like opening a book. Inhale and lengthen the spine, lifting crown of the head toward the ceiling. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold over feet. With each in breath continue to elongate spine, folding a little deeper with each out breath.

 

 

9. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). From your back, bend knees and plant feet hip distance apart, bringing the heels in close (ideally brushing heels with your fingertips). Rooting down into your feet and big toes, lift hips toward ceiling, tucking shoulders under you slightly to open through the chest and collarbone. Keep knees parallel, activating inner thighs as if squeezing a block between them (use a block if you have one, and notice the difference!). Hold for several breaths and then repeat. When done, keep knees bent, step feet a little wider, and windshield-wiper knees from side to side.

 

10. Corpse (Savasana). Lie on your back and take a little rest! Let feet fall open, arms relax by your sides, palms up. Make any little adjustments you need to make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes, bring awareness to the breath and relax here for several breaths. Thank your body for all of the amazing things that it does!

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.