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Find Your Balance
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Find YOUR Summer Body
Mindful Cooking: Enjoy Your Time in the Kitchen
Taking Yoga off the Mat


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Find YOUR Summer Body

Summer is here and the swimsuits are out! Mixed feelings about it?  In a culture that is drilling "bikini body" images into our heads at every opportunity, moms often feel defeated when it comes to their physical self. We are constantly putting our children’s needs before our own.  How can we take care of the kids, clean the home, cook the dinner, maintain a job, AND stay healthy and fit? As a personal trainer, I encourage my mom clients to take a realistic approach. It's not about maintaining your 24-year-old-bikini-wearing body. It's about living in your healthiest, strongest, happiest body RIGHT NOW.

Here are a few realistic ways to find YOUR summer body. I promise it’s not too late!

Workout with Your Kids

No time to workout? Get your kids in on the action. You will be able to exercise more often, and it will help your children build positive associations with exercise early in life. Win/win!

Find ways to build exercises into your daily life. Invest in a jogging stroller (I am in love with my Bob!). Find a mommy/baby yoga or fitness class. Try circuit training on the playground. Don't be afraid to be the parent doing squats and pushups on the side lines! And my favorite... have a dance party in the living room with your kiddos. They love this, and you will be burning tons of calories if you really boogie.

Practice Mindful Eating

Do you catch yourself shoveling food into your face over the kitchen counter with the kids screaming in the background? Or do inhale your meal while binge watching your favorite show at the end of the day? Munching with distraction often causes us to overeat.  In these moments we do not allow our mind to process what the body is consuming.

Practice mindful eating. Put away electronic devices and wait for a quiet moment (without your kids around if possible). Savor each bite of your food. Notice the taste, the smell, and the texture. Remind yourself that each food is nourishing your body. By doing this we are better able to receive the message when we are satiated. We will also enjoy our eating experience on a deeper level.

Find an Exercise Buddy

Do you know a friend who may be ready to make some healthy changes with you? Finding a workout buddy can help you stay on track. Set a weekly workout date, share recipes, or sign up for new group classes together.  Not only will you be more likely to exercise, but you will have more fun doing it.

Another option is finding an experienced and knowledgeable health coach, nutritionist, or personal trainer (like myself) to guide you. It may not be as cost effective as using a friend, but it will ensure that you see results in a timely, safe, and effective way.

Good luck finding your summer body! My team does amazing work with moms throughout NYC and Westchester. We are here to help.  We also offer virtual skype sessions at a fraction of the cost. Visit www.mindbodyfitnessnyc.com for more info.

Want to chat with me in person? Come to the Hastings Flea next Sunday, July 12th for 10am to 4pm. I will be giving away free sessions, doing fitness consultations, and teaching kids yoga! www.hastingsflea.com

Mindful Cooking: Enjoy Your Time in the Kitchen

Sometimes it seems impossible to drum up the time and energy needed to cook a healthy meal. And what happens to dinner when mommy (or daddy) has had a long day?  In our house, we usually end up ordering a less than nourishing take-out dinner. What if there was a way to embrace cooking, even on the challenging days, and actually find contentment in it?  Recently someone at in my mom's group mentioned Mindful Cooking. My ears perked up! I am a big advocate of mindful eating, so why I had I not thought to bring mindfulness to the kitchen as I prepared the food? As I started to read up on it I realized I already was practicing mindful cooking in many ways.

Mindfulness in its self is the state of being aware and present in the given moment. It is in those moments, when we allow ourselves to let go of that constant babble in the mind, we can find true contentment. “Be here now.” I often repeat this mantra to yoga practitioners when I am teaching. It’s easier said than done, but those moments of mental stillness can help us slow down and appreciate what is right before us. 

The kitchen is the perfect place to practice mindfulness. There are so many opportunities to keep the mind actively engaged in the here and now. By tuning in to the smell of the food, the heat of the oven, the sounds of chopping, and the sight of our creations we can learn to enjoy the experience of cooking. Instead of feeling burdened by a meal, one can actually find it therapeutic and relaxing!

Try these simple exercises in the kitchen.
*Before you get started on any of the exercises below, put all screens and electronic devices out sight. ;)

Express Gratitude:
This one works well if you have a lot of prep involved in your meal. With each ingredient whether you are chopping, seasoning, mixing, try to visuals and acknowledge the origin of that food. Did it grow from the ground? Or in a tree? Did it walk or swim? Breathe? When we see our food as having an existence other than on our plate we can truly appreciate it. Take a moment to express gratitude for the nourishment that each food will provide.

Use Your Senses:
If you are cooking something on the stove or in the oven take a few minutes to sit quietly nearby. Experience the fragrances, sounds, and sights of your food as it cooks. Notice the subtle changes in the room. Notice how those changes affect your body.
If your mind starts to wander off, gently bring it back to your cooking meal without criticism or stress. Allow yourself to appreciate the sensations that the impending meal drums up in your body and mind.

Infuse With Love:
Have you ever noticed that a home cooked meal prepared by a loved one just tastes better? Your mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing?  Or your grandfather's apple pie? It’s almost as if you can taste the love. Many people believe that food can take on the energy of the person preparing it and then be passed along to those who consume it. Next time you are cooking for your family acknowledge how each food will nourish those you love the most in the world. If you want to take it further, create a mantra to go along with it… “I am cooking with love.”

If you are interested in learning more about Mindful Cooking, read "The Mindful Cook: Finding Awareness, Simplicity, and Freedom in the Kitchen"  by Isaac Cronin.

"Acting" like a Business Owner

Once upon a time I was an actor. I worked hard, networked, created, studied, and struggled along with all the other actors in the industry... But gradually, like the slow tearing off of a band aid, I gave up performing. I found that my work as a personal trainer and yoga instructor was not only paying my bills, but it was a more rewarding path for me personally. Part of me thought that I was about to let all those years of dedication to the performing arts go to waste. But as I built a business, I realized that the skills I used as an actor were helping me succeed. I attribute my business’ success on the principles I learned as an actor (and hiring others who share the same principles). What is it that translates from the performing arts to the fitness industry so well?

As an actor I was taught that if you are not 5 minutes early, then you are late. I had 50 other talented and qualified actors waiting in the wings to take my job, so I was sure to professionalism a priority. Performers are, in fact, running a small business. They carry marketing materials such as head shots and business cards everywhere they go. Their style, attitude, and commitment to the profession is key. They have to be on time, organized, and ready to execute on the task at hand. Either that or they are replaced.
This way of thinking has benefited me as I have grown Mind Body Fitness from the ground up, and this level of professionalism is what I look for in the people I hire. That's why I can proudly say that we have grown from a one woman show to a 11 person cast in a few years. We could not have done that without being hyper-professional.

Body Awareness
For any performer, the body is your instrument. It needs to be fine-tuned. Health, self-care, fitness, and nutrition are priorities to the intelligent performers. If the body is not functioning correctly, then the performer is out of work.  Not only do they know how to care for themselves, but they also know how to carry themselves, move through space, and use correct alignment. When I am teaching a yoga class I can always spot an actor or dancer before they even mention it to me. They have true body awareness. This is an essential trait for anyone working in the health and fitness industry. Our clients look to us for guidance and inspiration.  The ability to demonstrate and lead by example is a must. 

Ability to connect
The beautiful thing about actors, dancers, and singers is that they often have the ability to genuinely connect to those around them.  They make friends with others. They make people feel comfortable, and they create an atmosphere of acceptance, collaboration, and encouragement.  I truly believe that’s why a majority of our clients stick with their program. They enjoy the time spent with their trainer.  It is not a chore. It is not torture. Instead, it is an enjoyable part of their weekly routine.  They are working together with their trainer to create a work of art… Themselves!

I am so grateful for all my life experiences, and how they help me to grow. There are some things I miss about my previous career.  One day I may revisit the stage, but for now the work I am doing is fun, rewarding, and a continuous learning process, much like life as an actor.  

Be a Part-Time Vegetarian

I love me some steak (and chicken, turkey, ham, fish…and BACON!). I always have and always will, but over the last few years I have made a conscious effort to cut down on my meat consumption. I don’t eat meat for breakfast or lunch. I also plan for 1 dinner with meat and 1 dinner with fish each week. Red meat is reserved for a once a month indulgence. Why have I cut back? There are real benefits of eliminating meat from our diets (at least some of the time). For the meat lovers out there like myself it might seem like a daunting task, but being a part-time vegetarian is a good way to help your body, your bank account, and the planet.

Here is why I am a part-time vegetarian…

My Health
People who eat little to no meat have a decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, and certain cancers. Studies of more than 900,000 women done by the Archives of Internal Medicine have shown that women in their 20, 30s, and 40s who ate red meat or processes meat on a daily basis were more likely to develop breast cancer. And even more recently the World Health Organization announced a direct link between processed meats and colon cancer.Although the effects of meat consumption are not thought to be as harmful as say cigarette smoke, the findings are enough to make me cut down, especially with the processed meats! Bye bye bacon.:(

My Finances
Meat consumption can totally break the bank, especially if you are trying to eat organic, grass fed, free range products (the “healthy” meats). Compare a $14 organic chicken breast to a $5 package of tempeh or beans. Or a $29/lb cut of organic beef tenderloin?! If you opted for the plant based protein, you would be cutting out a major chunk of change from the grocery bill. I save a minimum of $50 per week eating the way I do. Sorry, Whole Foods, but you already take enough of my money. I am going to sauté some tempeh tonight!

Our planet
Word is spreading about how the livestock industry is one of the leading causes of global warming on the planet. There are a lot of percentages being thrown around by environmental experts. The facts seem to differ depending on who you talk to, but one thing they all agree on is that meat consumption is harming the planet and will continue to do so if we don’t change our eating habits. According to World Bank environmental advisor Robert Goochland, it has been estimated that up to 15% of the worlds greenhouse gases are produced by livestock and 61% of those gasses come from cows. With a growing population and demand for more food it is estimated that the world’s carbon budget will be exhausted by 2050. What?! That’s terrifying. According the US Department of Agriculture each American eats 125 lbs of meat per year, so I try do my part by making meat a once in a while indulgence. At the risk of sounding super corny and idealistic here… Just think of the difference it would make if we all cut back just a little bit?!

That being said… The part-time vegetarian life style has worked for me so far. Could it work for you?  I have some really great recipes for plant based protein meals if anyone is interested.  Contact me anytime! [email protected]

What Motivates You?

A key piece to the healthy living puzzle is motivation.  What keeps you motivated to stay fit?  What inspires you?  If you have not found something that truly motivates you, then you may not be reaching your goals. Finding positive ways to self-motivate will greatly increase your chances living your healthiest lifestyle. 

For me it’s a combination of things…I do it for my husband. I know he loves me even on days when I am disheveled, un-showered, and covered in baby spit up, but I feel an obligation to make him proud (and in full disclosure, I want him to think I’m hot). I also do it for my kids. I want them to know the importance of having strength inside and out.  I want them to live their lives to the fullest, and having a fit body and mind will help them do that.  Lastly, I it for my work.  Knowing that my clients are looking to me for guidance and inspiration keeps me going.  I want to set a good example for them.  So I guess you can say I do it all for love! The love of my husband, my girls, and my work. 

I started asking around to see what inspires my staff, clients, and friends. Here is what they said. Maybe you will find something that resonates with you?

Look good naked! – Matthew Tanner from Chicago, IL

To maintain a body that will have longevity. – Mary Griffith of Alexandria, VA

My kids. I want to set a good example and also be healthy for them.  – Liz Gould Zito from Brooklyn, NY

The way it makes me feel! I know that even a quick walk or stretch and good food today will make a world of difference tomorrow. And secondarily, knowing my clothes will still fit. I love my clothes. – Patricia Shepard from Hastings on Hudson, NY

Working out helps me clear my mind of all my daily worries and focus on feeling my muscles move, making sure I have good form, and sweating out all the negative energies of the day. – Nicole Smith from Ashland, OR

To have more energy and sleep better at night! - Torie Woods from Albany, NY

If I eat something naughty then it pushes me to try to undo the naughtiness. – Katia Billings from Brooklyn, NY

Fear of getting old. – Anonymous.

When I see other people getting in shape that inspires me to do the same. Then again, when I see chocolate cake, I'm inspired to eat it.  – Noel Heberling from Nutley, NJ

Having a better body than I did before kids! – Hillary Carter from Greenwich CT

Having the strength to throw a heavy weight over my head makes me feel sexier than any pair of heels in my closet can! – Melissa Tanner from Chicago IL

Not looking like a super model, but just being able to carry the groceries. – Anonymous

Being a faithful caretaker of the body God gave me in order to fulfill the responsibilities He has given me and to be thankful for it!– Carol Chao from Dobbs Ferry, NY

The feeling of accomplishment when I set a fitness goal and meet it and the increased energy after a workout motivate me to stay healthy/fit.  – Wendi Bean from Pleasantville, NY (and MBF trainer)

I feel I am the most committed to my own exercise when I have a vacation planned, an event to attend, or anything in particular that would necessitate me working out more.  – Devin Thomas from NYC (MBF trainer)

The way I motivate myself to workout used to be from an “avoidance” place and now it is coming more and more from an “approach” place. I.e. my old thinking was, I need to work out because I want to AVOID gaining weight. My new thinking is I want to work out because I want to APPROACH (reap) all the amazing benefits that working out has to offer my health (body, mind, and spirit). – Kati Cowardin from Brooklyn, NY (MBF trainer)

Take care of your body, it's the only place you have to live...:) –Angela Aiello from NYC (MBF trainer)

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