Why Tapas Is Better Than A Resolution

It happens every January 1st. I wake to a brand new year, exhausted from the holidays, but also grateful for a fresh start. I’m anxious to make a plan to do more, to be more, and to feel my best in the year ahead. As the morning unfolds, I remember that I indulged more than normal lately, and I think, “I need to make a resolution!”

And then I remember that, in over two decades of striving to lose weight and get in shape, resolutions have not helped me achieve my goals. They feel like a quick fix at the time, but I eventually find myself back where I started–struggling with my weight, not sleeping well, feeling fatigued all the time, and battling the headaches that have plagued me for decades.

I wrestled with resolutions and chronic health problems for years, and always wound up feeling ashamed by my inability to get it right. I kept making the same mistakes over and over again, and gained and lost a lot of weight, until I discovered the value of tapas. Not the small plates you find in Spanish restaurants, but tapas, the yogic observance that teaches us to get healthy by enduring resistance on a daily basis.

For yogis, tapas means discipline, and refers to seeking and overcoming that which is difficult. By observing tapas, we cultivate better health and happiness. It usually implies asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathwork), but it can refer to anything which challenges us. When we continuously lean into that which we resist, and allow it to refine us, we grow stronger and happier, every single day. Tapas helps us become all that we can be.

There is power in the overcoming. For example, when we push past our barriers to challenge our muscles, they tear before they grow back stronger. When we increase nutritious foods in our diet, we lose our taste for sweets, and crave more fruits and veggies. These are just a few ways that the practice of tapas leads us to build a healthy life, one hard choice at a time.

Choosing tapas (the path of resistance) might sound incredibly uncomfortable, but I promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds. We can do so much more than we imagine! And what happens on the other side–empowerment, contentment, and joy–is absolutely priceless.

Like everything in yoga, the meaning of tapas is open to interpretation. For me, embracing tapas means I meet my yoga mat daily without fail, eat mostly from the earth, and strive to live in the moment.

Observing tapas inspires me to practice yoga for at least 20 minutes every day, even when I don’t want to. That way I can go to bed each night knowing that I at least did something to honor my body.

Tapas helps me choose a salad, when I would rather order pizza. It stings a little when the food arrives–that’s the resistance–but I quickly forget the pizza craving as I relish the energy I feel in the hours that follow the meal.

Valuing tapas is also helpful in my family life–it reminds me to stop and play games or read books with my daughters, even though my to-do list is a mile long.

My favorite thing about tapas, though, is that it gives me something to be proud of, as I look back on the year that just passed. No one is perfect (I certainly am not) but I did try overcome resistance every day last year. Not to lose weight, or look a certain way, but because I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be. Thanks to tapas, I can look back on 2014, knowing that I did my best to be healthy and happy.

I’m not saying that new year’s resolutions are bad, just that they never worked for me, and I have found something I value much more. Tapas has taught me to make small, daily investments in my health and happiness, trusting that they will all pay off somewhere down the road. It’s a faith walk for sure, but it brings peace and continuity to my life.

As we begin another year, consider tapas as a path to a healthier life. Be disciplined, and do the things that you resist the most, every single day. Trust the struggles, and remember that getting healthy is hard on purpose…that’s what makes it worthwhile.

Happy new year, friends, and thank you for joining me in this journey!

Namaste~

Amber

 

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 9

Congratulations on completing Week 8 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! How are you feeling? Take a moment to let me know in the comments below.

If you are new to 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, look back through my prior posts for explanations of the the weekly habits listed below.

For those who are well into the challenge, Week 9 will be a piece of cake! I’d like you to get in the the twisting habit (habit #11), so set a timer and twist for 30 seconds (or 10 full, deep breaths) in both directions, at some point during the day (preferably after your sun salutations, but any time is fine). You can choose between a seated twist, or one of the supine twists, pictured below. Also, when you find yourself waiting, or sitting for long periods of time, twist in your chair, also pictured below.

Twists are a powerful practice for restoring balance and increasing energy. As you grow more comfortable with this habit, you will find yourself twisting often throughout the day, like hitting a reset button on the mind, body and spirit.

Namaste~

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 9

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Enjoy quinoa with fruit and nuts, or a crazy healthy smoothie, for breakfast every morning.

4. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

5. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises, as described in Week 3. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

6. After practicing your core work, roll over to your stomach, and practice poses to strengthen your back, as described in Week 8. Stretch your arms forward, and legs straight back. Lift your right arm and left leg, lengthening forward and back, and hold for 20 breaths. You may break this into 2 sets of 10 breaths if you wish. If you feel pain in your lower back, lower your arm and leg until you feel balanced. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the pose looks like, as long as you are meeting resistance and breathing into it. Lower limbs to the ground, and repeat on the other side, also holding for 20 breaths. Next, lift both arms and both legs at the same time. Try to relax the lower back, and let the hands and feet lift as they reach. Note: the photo above shows the pose performed with palms facing the earth, but I prefer to practice these poses with palms facing each other. Both are correct, so you may decide which is most effective for your purposes.

7. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack, as described in Week 3. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

8. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side, as described in Week 5. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

9. After practicing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

10. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake, as described in Week 4.

11. Pick one of the twists pictured below, and practice for 30 seconds on each side (about 10 full inhales and exhales). As you twist, keep your mouth closed, inhale through your nose, and allow your inhales to fill the belly. As you exhale through your nose, draw the belly back toward the spine. Think about what is happening internally as you twist: the movement in the spine is creating more space in the body, and your breathing is applying gentle pressure to your internal organs, to improve how they detoxify your body.

12. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. And remember, you can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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photo: http://www.yoganonymous.com

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photo: http://www.chrisdorchak.com

SpinalTwist

photo: http://www.acefitness.org

 

100 Days Of Crazy Healthy Week 6

photo copy 23Congratulations on your efforts in the first five weeks of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! What changes have you noticed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

For the sixth week of our health challenge, we will continue with our commitments, and add quinoa for breakfast, to increase our intake of nutritious foods from the earth.

Quinoa is an energizing, filling alternative to cereals and processed foods. It can be made in advance, and stores well in the freezer, so don’t be afraid to double your recipes! It has a slightly pungent nutty taste, which works well with sweet and salty tastes.

Always rinse quinoa before cooking (even if the package says pre-rinsed) for the purest, cleanest results. Prepare according to package directions, and add fruits, nuts, seeds, sweeteners, salt and spice to your recipes as desired. Add a small amount of grape seed oil to quinoa after cooking, to minimize the dry taste (about 1/2 t. oil to 1 cup quinoa). My favorite quinoa concoctions are as follows:

  • Apples, raisins, walnuts, cardamom, and cinnamon
  • Bananas, blueberries, and pecans with sea salt
  • Pears, apples, cinnamon, honey, and sunflower seeds
  • Cherries (dried or fresh) with pecans, maple syrup and sea salt
  • Golden raisins, walnuts, and Garam Masala (indian spice)
  • Strawberry and fresh mint with a hint of lemon juice

I’ve not provided recipes on purpose–I don’t think you need them. This health challenge is all about learning to trust our intuition, and customize our health habits to our personal needs and goals. Play around with different flavors, and trust yourself! Less is always more in the beginning, especially when working with spices. Also, aim to use about 1 c. fruit and nuts to 1 c. quinoa, and use spices the way you use salt and pepper–a little at first, and then add more if it isn’t enough.

If you get tired of eating quinoa every day, it’s ok to substitute a Crazy Healthy Smoothie* sometimes, or even alternate every other day. The point is to explore new possibilities, so just keep experimenting, and enjoy of the journey of learning new ways to boost your energy with nutritious foods from the earth.

Daily Habits For Week 6

1. Prepare a double batch of quinoa, twice each week, according to the instructions above. Decide which days you will make your preparation, and refridgherate or freeze what you do not use the first day, in a airtight container.

2. Spend 3 minutes each morning creating new, delicious tastes for your crazy healthy breakfast, as described above, or invent your own!

3. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

4. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

5. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

6. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

7. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

8. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake.

9. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

10. After practiing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

11. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

*Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

 

 

Salute The Sun For Better Health

When I was in 2nd grade, I lived in Nashville, TN. I had a friend named Katie, who was from England, and her father was a songwriter. It was the mid-1970s, and one of Katie’s father’s songs had just been picked up for a Coca-Cola ad. The song was an overnight sensation that has stood the test of time:

I’d like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony.
A song of peace that echoes on
and never goes away.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, isn’t it? I lost track of Katie when we moved to Washington, DC in 1979, but I’ve never forgotten her, or that song. It still gets stuck in my head, and makes me want to teach the world to practice yoga and eat real food. I’ve made it my mission this summer, to do exactly that!

If you’re tired of dieting, trendy workouts, and scheduling your days around exercise classes, join me for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy. It’s a free health challenge that will simplify your life, and empower you to get healthy for good. We will take 14 weeks to develop daily yoga and real food habits that are sustainable.

Sun Salutation B, as pictured in this video, is where crazy healthy begins. Practicing this sequence daily, memorizing it, and owning it, is essential for creating a personal yoga practice. It’s so simple, you might not think it will be effective, but knowing this sequence by heart will empower you to practice yoga anywhere and everywhere you go!

We will add additional poses to this foundational sequence throughout the summer, to create a full 30 minute practice, but only after you are really familiar and comfortable with Sun Salutation B.

Join me and my family on 5/26 as we begin the challenge. And don’t forget to post photos of your journey on my Facebook page. We are all leaders in this crazy healthy life, and our commitment to the challenge will help others be successful, too!

Namaste,

Amber

 

3 Things To Stop Doing Now, To Feel Better Next Week

Feeling off balance? Run down? Depressed? When it feels like there is nothing we can do to feel better, we can find hope in discontinuing habits that inhibit our health and happiness. Here’s three things that you can stop doing now, to feel better in a week or less:

1. Stop scheduling your workouts. Those people who never seem to worry about their weight, and always look strong and healthy? They have a secret. They don’t schedule their workouts…they just exercise whenever they can, sometimes 2-3 times a day, in 10-30 minute increments. They know that working out is hard by design, but have embraced the benefit it provides. The fabulously fit do not think of exercise as something they do…it’s just who they are! So, if you want to feel healthier next week, skip the Groupon for 20 classes at the yoga studio you can’t seem to get to, and learn how to practice yoga at home. Or keep a workout bag with you at all times, and go for 10 minute runs 2-3 times a day. And practice yoga poses during your lunch hour, in your work clothes (no mat necessary–think chair pose, forward fold, side stretches). It’s so much easier to squeeze in 10 minutes of yoga poses three times a day, than a 75 minute class 3 times a week. It’s also harder to reconcile skipping it, when it’s not taking a huge chunk of time out of our days.

2. Stop eating out. The inconvenient truth is that most restaurants are not in the business of helping people get healthy. They are in the business of selling food. To do this successfully, they must cut costs wherever possible. This often means serving food that has been preserved, genetically modified, artificially colored, and artificially flavored. Because restaurants are not legally required to share what is in their food, you can never be 100% sure that what you eat in restaurants aligns with the standards you keep at home. That doesn’t mean you should never eat out, just do so with awareness, think of it as a treat, and avoid it during the times when you are not feeling your best. Nutrient-dense, chemical-free foods prepared at home will serve you better (and save you money!).

3. Stop eating foods with added sugars. Sugar is a highly addictive substance–as addictive as heroin! The more we consume, the more we crave, and the harder it becomes to detoxify our bodies. Our bodies are designed to get the sugar they need from real foods (not the fake, processed stuff), so added sugars are unnecessary, and can be highly toxic, even in small amounts. Excess sugar in our diet causes depression and mood swings, affects our ability to make decisions, lowers immunity, and puts excess strain on our hearts. Trust me–you will feel much better if you get the processed sugary foods out of the house, and address your sugar cravings with foods from the earth. Ayurveda teachers that bitter and sour fruits, such as grapefruit and pomegranate, can stop a sugar craving in its tracks (it works for me every time!). If you’re not into the bitter/sour thing, though, strawberries, cherries and mango are great options when we just have to have something sweet…just enjoy with awareness, and in moderation.

For more tips and inspiration to get healthy and stay healthy this summer, join My Crazy Healthy Life  on Facebook and  join our 100 Days of Crazy Healthy Challenge! It’s FREE until Labor Day!

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photo: pouted.com

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 4

How did you do with the first three weeks of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy?

For the fourth week of our health challenge, we will continue with tongue scraping, warm water in the mornings, 5 sun salutations, core work, and a smoothie for breakfast. We will add a vegetable soup or vegetarian salad for lunch.

It’s always healthier to make your own soups, with fresh veggies and fruits, but canned or box soups are ok, if you need them to save time. When buying packaged soups, try to find brands with BPA-free liners (Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup, Black Bean Soup, or Chili are good choices), and add fresh veggies to boost nutrient content. When you have time to create your own, some easy homemade soups are gazpacho, cucumber soups, thai coconut soups, and spring veggie soups. Avoid meat and dairy, as they contain fewer nutrients than vegetarian soups. Look for recipes at Epicurious and on the The Whole Foods website. 

You may be tempted to eat the same soup or salad every day–try to avoid this, so you get a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (and also so you don’t get bored!) It’s much better, and healthier, to pick 5-10 vegetarian lunches to rotate through the rest of our challenge.

When having salad for lunch, it’s important to make your own dressings with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and a vinegar of your choice. This is not as difficult as it may seem! Dressings are generally 2 parts acid (vinegar) to one part oil, plus spices and sweeteners. If you eat at a restaurant, ask the waiter for balsamic and olive oil, so you can make your dressing yourself–so much healthier! Mix it all up on your side plate, and add a pinch of each of the following: salt, pepper, sugar or stevia.

When preparing your own salads, try these quick and easy salad ideas:

Spring mix with strawberries, cucumbers, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic

Kale with avocado, red bell pepper, red onion, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon

Arugula with blueberries, walnuts, carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper and Trader Joe’s Orange Champagne Muscat Vinegar

Kale with sweet potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, grape seed oil, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar

Spring mix with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, jicama, sunflower oil, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar

Arugula with apples, grated parsnips, and candied pecans (make these in a skillet with maple syrup, sea salt, and a splash of oil)

Arugula with grated beets, walnuts, and jicama, grape seed oil and balsamic vinegar

Daily Habits For Week 4

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

5. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

6. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake. Consider Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Food Pyramid (below) when making your choices.

7. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

pyramid_final-usa

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 3

Image

By Week 3 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and it might seem that the very little has changed so far. This is on purpose! Small, intentional shifts are more sustainable than massive transformations all at once. Keep trusting the struggle, believe that you are making progress, and practice all of the crazy healthy habits every day, no matter what. Talk with your friends about your commitment, and remind yourself that every choice matters.

For Week 3 we will stick with the morning detoxification routine, 5 daily Sun Salutations, and a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast. If you are traveling and can’t make a smoothie, substitute whole fruit and nuts (raw is best) for breakfast. The fat from the nuts helps you feel full, and the nutrients from the smoothie will give you sustainable energy throughout the day.

This week, we will add a vegetable snack and core work to our daily routine.

Daily Habits For Week 3

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Practice 5 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

5. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

7. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 2

How did you do with Week 1 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy? By now, you should be a little more comfortable with your morning routine and the Sun Salutations.  Week 2 will be exactly like the first, with the addition of a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast every morning. If you are not in the habit of making smoothies, this may take a few extra minutes, about 2-4 to gather ingredients, blend, and wash the blender afterward.

Daily Habits For Week 2

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world.  Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here. 

5. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions.

 

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 1

100 Days of Crazy Healthy is a FREE health challenge that will transform your life!

This program is based on the daily habits that helped me reclaim power over my health, and how I teach my clients to get healthy without spending money unnecessarily, feeling deprived, or risking injury.

Good health is cumulative–a result of wise choices, made over time. I learned this through personal experience, and created 100 Days of Crazy Healthy as the perfect program to transform your mind, body and spirit, if you trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete your weekly habits.

The work itself is simple. We will move, breathe, stretch, and nourish ourselves naturally, every single day. It’s the every single day part that is essential, and makes it feel less stressful. Small changes add up over time, and help us reveal our best selves! Our attachments to what we have always done might make it feel difficult at first. Don’t let your brain stop your body from getting healthy. Remember that the secret to success is to trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete the work.

We will add a few new healthy habits each week, for the next 14 weeks. They are not meant to replace what you are already doing–this in in addition to other workouts. Over time, you may feel that you have to make some trade offs in your workouts, but you will do so with the information you need to make wise decisions. Don’t worry about it now, though.

You may start the challenge any time you like. Those who start today, will complete the challenge by mid-August, and you will feel fabulous by Labor Day. The goals are realistic, and founded in concepts that have kept people healthy for thousands of years. This week, we are focusing on movement and self care. We will get to food later, once you are in the yoga habit.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone…I am here to help! Reach out any time. I also highly recommend inviting a friend or family member (s) to join you. It will deepen your relationships, and leave you all feeling empowered to control your weight, moods, and habits. Just share the link to  100 Days of Crazy Healthy on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.

Daily Habits For Week 1

Practice these three habits, every day for 7 days. These habits are foundational, and will be built upon in the weeks to come. Do not stop doing your other workouts or other healthy habits, just add these three habits to your routine.

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing!  It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but just believe. These daily habits are the beginning of becoming the crazy healthy person you always hoped to be. So, grab a friend or family member, and get to work. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, if you need encouragement, and would love to know how it goes. Send me photos or notes about your 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and I will share them!

Good luck and namaste’!

Amber

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*To prevent injury, follow these guidelines: 1) Keep your tailbone tucked in standing poses, to prevent compression in the lower back. 2) Roll thighs inward and back in half lift and forward fold. 3)  Press into finger pads and lift the center of the palms in Down Dog.

3 Simple Ways to Practice Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a big word that simply means “life science”. It is also the world’s oldest system of medicine, with many practical applications in our busy, modern lives. Here’s three simple daily practices that will help you begin to explore the benefits of an ayurvedic lifestyle:

1. Balance the skin. Toss commercial cleansers and lotions that interfere with your body’s natural oil production, and replace them with less expensive, holistic alternatives. Coconut oil, massaged into the skin (even the face!) and rinsed with warm water, clears toxins and leaves a healthy glow.

2. Balance the gut. Drink a large glass of warm lemon water first thing every morning, before eating. This practice stimulates elimination, essential for total body health.

3. Balance the mind. Close the door, set a timer, and sit in silence for five minutes each day. Listen to your breath. Notice what is happening. Are your inhales longer than your exhales? Are you breathing into your chest, or all the way into the belly? Let the breath get deeper, and allow the mind to quiet. It will seem like nothing is happening at first, but you will, over time, learn how to use this practice to heal your mind, body and spirit naturally.

Little by little, these practices will shift the way you think about food and self care, and open doors to the may other practical applications of this time-proven science.

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photo: kimberlysnyder.net

100 Days of Crazy Healthy, Week By Week

Are you ready to get crazy healthy with me this summer? If so, here’s what you should expect:

We will start out slow, adding 7 minutes of exercise and self-care in the first week (congrats who have already started–how did it go?). Each week, we will add a new focus that requires a few extra minutes out of your day. It will force you to make different decisions about how you use your time. Some of the distractions that you are used to, will have to fall away, such as TV, and social media. Remember, we are only doing this for 100 days. You can decide afterward if you want to go back to your old habits. For now, just stick with the program, and let go of that which is not essential, to make time for getting healthy.

The idea is to create new habits every week, and keep repeating them all summer long, until they become a part of who you are. Some of the habits will feel boring, such as repeating the same sun salutations every day. This is on purpose. Others will feel difficult. This is also on purpose. Your mind will try to dismiss them as unnecessary. Stories will show up for you about what is possible, who you are, who I am, and they will all create resistance to the journey. Pay attention to these stories, and ask yourself if they are founded in truth. If they are not serving your desire to get healthy for good, reject them, and get on with the work you need to do, to feel better by Labor Day.

By the end of summer, you will be spending about an hour each day on healthy habits, but it won’t feel like an hour, because it will be broken up into small increments, all day long. You may choose to do your yoga all at once, for approximately 30 minutes, or you may break it up. An example would be to practice sun salutations and core work in the morning, and twists, hips, back strengtheners, and balance at night.

Below is the the framework we will follow, to get crazy healthy before summer’s end. It may change slightly, based on feedback from participants, so check back here every week for specific instructions.

Also, feel free to leave your questions below, or contact me through my Facebook page. I’m here to help–don’t hesitate to reach out! And send me photos of your journey. Bust a pose in public whenever you can and invite strangers. They might hesitate at first, but eventually they will smile, when you tell them about your commitment to getting healthy, and you will leave them with a reminder to take care of themselves. And that’s what this is all about…being the change we hope to see in the world.

Namaste~

Amber

100 Days of Crazy Healthy

Week 1: tongue scraping, warm water first thing, 5 sun salutes (7 min)
Week 2: 2 extra minutes smoothie for breakfast (9 min)
Week 3: 2 extra minutes veggie snacks and 5 minutes core work (16 min)
Week 4: 3 extra minutes soup/salad for lunch or dinner (19 min)
Week 5: 3 extra minutes hips (22 min)
Week 6: 3 extra minutes quinoa for breakfast (25 min)
Week 7: 3 extra minutes stretch in public (28 min)
Week 8: 2 extra minutes back strengtheners (30 min)
Week 9: 1 extra minutes twists (31 min)
Week 10: 4 extra minutes green juice for snack (35 min)
Week 11: 1 extra minutes backbends (36 min)
Week 12: 5 extra minutes balance for core strength (41 min)
Week 13: 5 extra minutes meditation (46 min)
Week 14: 15 extra minutes preparing foods from earth (61 min)
last two days: 1 extra minutes of reflection and reconciliation, twice daily (63 min)

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy

This summer, my family and I will take the 100 Days of Crazy Healthy Challenge! Are you in? We will take 14 weeks and 2 days to get our crazy healthy on, adding a few new habits to our lives each week. If you join us before the middle of June, by the end of the summer, you will have created your own personal daily yoga practice, and learned how to incorporate a nutrient-dense, 90/10 diet into your busy schedule.

Here’s how it will work:

Use the search tool or category cloud on my blog to find the posts for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy. I’ve posted the first four weeks’ assignments early, so you can get an idea of how it will work. I will post the rest of the assignments once a week, beginning June 9th.

The work will not seem like much for the first month, and that is on purpose. Some of it may seem too simple to make a difference, and some of it will feel boring. You will feel resistance, and that is normal. Your brain will say,

I don’t have time.

I don’t like this!

This is hard!

It’s not that important.

This isn’t going to work.

Reject those voices and do it anyway. I promise, 100 Days of Crazy Healthy will change your life, if you just do it.

Who should participate:

Everyone! It doesn’t matter if you are really out of shape, or if you have practiced yoga for 20 years, you will benefit from this challenge. It will force you out of your comfort zone, and breed curiosity about what is possible. I am going to do it with you, and I already know it will make me uncomfortable. The way I will teach you to exercise and eat is derived from my experiences getting healthy, but it’s not how I live today. It’s more basic and more repetitive. This will be hard for me, because my yoga practice and eating habits are more intuitive, than structured, these days. But I will do it, every day, because I know that getting back to basics will raise my awareness, and reveal new opportunities to be healthier.

How much time will it take?

Not much. The self-care and nutrition habits are incremental, taking only 1-5 minutes per day. The yoga practice will start out at 5 minutes, and build to 30-45 minutes (it will be up to you to decide how long you stay on your mat). Preparing meals may take a little longer at first, but you will learn to create efficiencies over time.

What do I need to participate?

All you need is a yoga mat, a music player (speaker, etc.), a blender, some coconut oil, an open mind, and faith that this challenge will change your life.

What are the rules?

1. Do whatever it takes.You must complete your weekly homework assignment every day, before you go to bed. It’s best to do your yoga first thing each day, but it’s ok to do it at night as well. Even if you forget, and only remember after you’ve turned off the light at bedtime, get back up and do your practice. If you miss a day, double up the next day. If you miss three days, triple up when you remember.

2. Trust the struggle. Listen to the stories in your head, and reject the ones that prevent you from completing the challenge. There is no legitimate reason you can not complete the homework (unless you are seriously ill or injured), don’t let your mind make you think that there is.

3. Believe that this is what your body is supposed to do. To get healthy and stay healthy, we must move, breath, stretch, resist, nourish and reconcile–every single day.

4. Stop thinking, worrying and analyzing. Just do it. You have nothing to lose!

5. Be a leader. Tell your friends and family what you are doing, and let them see your efforts whenever possible. Don’t hide your crazy healthy!

How will it work?

Here’s the schedule for adding new habits each week.

As always, feel free to email with your questions, or if you just need encouragement. Nothing makes me happier than sharing this crazy healthy life with you! And feel free to post your photos on my Facebook page.

You may start any time you like, but it’s best to start in May, if you hope to finish by Labor Day. The first week’s habits are offered here.