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 8

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy is not your typical health challenge! It is based on my personal experiences with getting healthy–a cumulative process that changes our daily habits incrementally.

However, because these changes are small and incremental, it can be easier to discount their importance, than it would be to make significant changes all at once. Don’t let your mind fool you! Keep moving forward with these small changes, trust the struggle, and believe that these crazy healthy habits will change your life, one week at a time.

For Week 8, we add back strengtheners, as counterposes for our core work. Practiced daily, these poses will improve your posture and balance, as well as boot your immunity.

I’ve included the full list of daily habits here, but you can page down to item #6 to learn more about our back work. These exercises should take less than 2 minutes to perform.

Do you have questions about 100 Days of Crazy Healthy? Feel free to email any time, or leave your comments below.

Good luck with Week 8! Let me know how it goes!

Namaste~

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 8

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. 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.

6. After practicing your core work, roll over to your stomach, and practice poses to strengthen your back. 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. 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. 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.

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.

 Photo: http://www.jillianhessel.com

 

100 Days Of Crazy Healthy Week 7

jeremypiven-yogaThe weeks are flying by! How did you do with quinoa last week? Did it simplify your morning routine? What were your favorite combinations of quinoa, fruits and nuts? Please share in the comments!

For the seventh week of our health challenge, we will continue with our commitments, and get in the habit of practicing yoga in public.

As an introvert, I found it difficult to stretch and exercise in public at first. I didn’t want to make a scene, or embarrass myself. It was only when I realized that stretching in public was an opportunity to inspire others to get healthy, that I was able to overcome my fear.

Once I stopped worrying about what everyone else was thinking, and trusted the struggle, I realized that the fear was not founded in reality. That it wasn’t crazy to stretch in public–it was smart! That is the word that is used over, and over again, when I practice yoga in public. Strangers walk up to me and say, “That is so SMART!” I should be doing that, too.

So, with this in mind, your challenge this week is to get creative with how you use your time. When you find yourself waiting around, don’t just stand there…bust a pose! It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something! If you need a little inspiration, look through the “Yoga Everywhere” and “Power Poses” photo albums on the Facebook page for My Crazy Healthy Life. And, by all means, share your #yogaeverywhere photos on our page, so you can inspire others to get a little crazy in the name of better health.

Daily Habits For Week 7

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. 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.

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

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

What Would You Do, If You Were Not Afraid?

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Two years ago, my friend Jennifer asked me to teach a lunchtime yoga class at her small business, Eclipse Post, Inc. It’s a small video post-production house, that does work for many of the major national networks.

Jennifer originally told everyone that lunchtime yoga was a perk for her clients, but now tells me that she secretly wanted it for herself as well. As a wife, mother of two, and small business owner, she was finding it hard to get to yoga classes after work…even though she knew she really needed it!

I jumped at the opportunity, and have been teaching at Eclipse Post, Inc. ever since. I seriously love these yogis–practicing with them is a gift for all of us! They are an inspiring group of people, always willing to try new things. I tell them every week that they are capable of more than they know, and that the secret to happiness is learning to let go of our plans, so we can have the life that is waiting for us.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if they actually believe me. Do they see themselves, the way I see them? Do they know that everything they hope for is possible, when they trust the struggle?

I got a message on Wednesday night that provided a resounding YES! They get it. Without any formal training, one of my Eclipse Post students, Nicole, made herself into a teacher. When her plans to be a student fell through, Nicole trusted herself to lead a yoga class, in the middle of Central Park at Atlantic Station, in front of a bunch of strangers.

She believed she could, and so she did! I know it was not easy–teaching yoga for the first time is terrifying for everyone–but they tell me she owned it, and empowered a lot of other people in the process.

This is what this crazy healthy life is all about! Leaning into our fears, claiming our roles as leaders, trusting our struggles, and believing that everything is possible.

So the question is, what would you do, if you weren’t afraid? Check out Nicole’s story, and let it inspire you to overcome your fears, so you might claim the bigger, brighter life that is waiting for you!

Namaste~

Amber

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Let’s Talk About Raising Healthy Kids

When I was a little girl, I believed in fairy tales. That no matter what kind of trouble might find me, there would always be a hero rushing to my rescue.

As I got older, I realized that this is not how life works–no one comes to save us, we have to save ourselves…

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way.

I started having headaches when I was in kindergarten, and no one could figure out why. I visited doctors, changed my diet, and tried to get more sleep, but nothing seemed to help. I suffered a lot…loudly at first, and then silently, when people got tired of my complaints.

The headaches were relentless throughout elementary school, but I learned to hide my pain. I actually got quite good at it. As I got older, the headaches became more frequent, and new health challenges presented themselves–food addiction, depression, insomnia, and recurring sinus infections. I hid those as well. No one knew how much I suffered.

Until one day, I couldn’t hide my health problems any more. When I was 26, a near-fatal car crash left me with a dozen broken bones, and a long road to recovery. It was then, at rock bottom, that I finally realized that life is not a fairy tale, and the only way I would ever find happiness, was to rescue myself.

I spent most of my twenties recovering, and all of my thirties fighting my way to good health. My body healed from the crash, but a new challenge presented itself–autoimmune thyroid disease. I had to fight even harder, to get back on stable ground.

It took time, and a lot of hard work, but saving myself from a lifetime of ailments and injuries was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. I learned how to control my energy, pain, strength, moods, weight, and illness with food and exercise. In the process, I traded my victim mentality for the commitment of a warrior, trusting the struggle, and seeking whatever it takes, to live life in balance.

I’m 43 now, and these lessons feel like some of the greatest blessings in my life! I am grateful for all that this crazy healthy life has revealed, and I feel called to share what really works with others, in every way that I can.

As a wellness coach, one of my favorite things to do is teach parents how to empower their children with the awareness, beliefs, and consistency that are essential for a healthy life. I call this approach “The ABC’s of Raising Healthy Kids”, and I will discuss how and why it works at Whole Foods in Atlanta (West Paces Ferry location) next Tuesday night, June 17th. Everyone is invited, there will be food, and it’s FREE!

Please plan to join me at 7 PM in The Cafe. Reserve your spot by emailing stephanie.watson@wholefoods.com, and let me know if you have any specific questions you would like me to address. As always, I am here to help, and appreciate your comments and feedback.

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Life’s Short, Learn Capoeira

photo copy 63Yesterday was a Walking Dead kind of day. I felt like a zombie, after 48 hours of non-stop action.

The craziness started on Saturday, with a surprise road trip to Athens, GA for my friend Melissa’s 40th birthday party. And then there was the 550 mile drive to Vero Beach on Sunday, that took longer than it should have, and kept us all up until 2 AM. Which would have been no big deal, if I had been able to sleep it off. But no…there was an early morning wake up call from landscapers, trimming palm trees with chain saws, outside my bedroom window yesterday morning at 7 AM.

Of course, the girlies never heard the chain saws, and slept until 9 AM. They recovered well from our late night, but I was definitely not myself. Instead of our normal play on the beach/swim at the pool/play at the park vacation routine, we parked ourselves at the pool for the entire day. It was all I could handle, or so I thought…

As late afternoon rolled around, I remembered that it was Monday. And the Capoeira (pronounced cup-where-uh) class I had been planning to take with my family, would take place tonight. I knew we should go, even though I was really, really tired, and didn’t feel like dancing.

This crazy healthy life has taught me that good things happen when I show up, even when I don’t feel like it. And learning how to dance like this must certainly be worthwhile, right?

Isn’t that amazing?

It was 6 PM when remembered my intention to get the girls to Capoeira, and the class started at 8 PM. I texted hubby (who had been working at his Vero office all day), packed up the pool bag, rushed home for a quick dinner, and got our messy selves to the Capoeira class, just in time to shake it like the Brazilians.

And thank God we did, because it was AWESOME. Seriously, the most fun I have ever had with my family. Here’s what it looked like:

 

The dancers were welcoming, and I fell madly in love with the teacher, a wonderful, 60 year old African-Brazilian man with dreadlocks, named Xodo (pronounced show-doe). I want to adopt him and take him back to Atlanta. The dancers were awesome, too. So encouraging, and ready for anything.

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The history behind this art is rich: Capoeira was created in the 1800s by slaves in Brazil, as a form of martial arts. The goal was to teach self-protection, but they had to make it took like a game, so that they slave owners would not prohibit it’s practice. The result is a beautiful, empowering art, that has lived on for centuries. It might look difficult, but it’s actually very simple in practice.

When we dance Capoeira, we keep hands in front of our faces, and our eyes on our opponents, asserting ourselves with awareness, staying low and tight, and constantly react to every move. It’s all about awareness and movement. Kinda like partner yoga, but much faster and louder! There are also times that we chant, clap and show off our craziest dance moves.

The class was fantastic. We laughed, and danced, and banged sticks on the floor, and lived in our bodies for 90 minutes. With strangers. But it didn’t matter that we were strangers–we connected on the love of movement. It was primal, and so incredibly joyful! I really can’t wait to try it again.

If you get to Vero Beach, find Abada Capoeira and dance with them. If you can’t get to Vero, find a Capoeira troupe near you and run, don’t walk, to the next class. You will be glad you did–the best kind of crazy healthy fun. 
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Yoga & Real Food With The Fam

 

ImageHappy summer! Did you start 100 Days of Crazy Healthy yesterday? It was a challenge for us to get started, because we were on vacation at the lake with some other families, but we did it! I was surprised that the girls really liked the tongue scraping and the lemon water. They have done sun salutations before, but it was really fun to practice them together with a family goal. I am also happy to report that I got up early to practice sun salutations with Hubby and the girls today, so we’re already done with Day 2. Yay!

No worries if you didn’t get to start the challenge with us yesterday. You can still start today, and make it 99 Days of Crazy Healthy! Start here. The point is to create new health habits, one day at a time, all summer long, so you will still benefit A LOT, even if you start one day late. To find the posts, type “100 Days” in the search box on my home page, or use the category cloud. I’ve posted the first 4 weeks so far, and will continue to post additional weeks as I get them written.

As you begin the journey, remember:

1) We already have everything we need to be healthy. No diets or trendy workouts needed, if we eat real food and practice resistance-based yoga every day.

2) Getting healthy is hard on purpose. Trust the struggle.

3) We are all leaders. Every choice we make informs the choices of the people around us. When we choose healthy habits, we inspire others to do the same.

4) Good health is the foundation for all of the other things we want in life, so we must make it a priority every day. Do whatever it takes to complete your mission.

5) You don’t have to do this alone. Invite a friend or family member to join you, and remember that I am here to help! Email any time with your questions.

Namaste,

Amber
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Seek The Truth Relentlessly

Happy Friday! Your mission this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to practice satya.

The word satya means truthfulness, but it’s meaning is further reaching than it seems. Truthfulness in word, thought, and deed requires resiliency and faith. By practicing satya, we learn to surrender our plans, so that we may have what we really want the most.

Make satya your mantra this weekend. When you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or sad, ask yourself what is really going on. Is the reaction founded in truth?

We all have stories about who we are, and what we can or can’t do. We cling to them, because we believe they keep us afloat. More often than not, however, they drag us down.

Don’t let the story stand between you and what you might become. Seek the truth relentlessly, and do what must be done. You can do really hard things! Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and know that what you want most is waiting for you, on the other side of satya. ॐImage

photo: suepatterson.wordpresss.com

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 5

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

For the fifth week of our health challenge, we will continue with our commitments, and add hip openers to our yoga routine.

Hip openers are essential for creating balance in the body. Our hips carry a lot of emotion and stress that can become toxic, if not released. Daily hip openers help us stay grounded during difficult times, and can prevent injuries and falls that can become problematic as we age.

These poses can feel more painful than other stretches, because they endure a lot of impact every day. Remember to breathe deeply, and quiet the mind, to get the most out of your hip openers. The more the mind and body resist, the harder it becomes to open the hips.

Daily Habits For Week 5

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. 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.

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8. 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.

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9. 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.

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.

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