How To Use Coconut Oil For Healthy, Glowing Skin

It’s been really cold and dry in Atlanta this week, and my skin has paid the price! Chapped lips and dry hands are no fun, so I’ve kept a bowl of coconut oil on the bathroom and kitchen counters, as a reminder to moisturize throughout the day. I also wash my face with coconut oil every night and morning, using only warm water to rinse. A little oil remains on the skin, along with a lovely glow.

I first tried coconut oil as a replacement for soap and lotion two years ago, when my friend Lisa (AKA The Charmed Yogi) told me that it’s a great practice for removing dirt, moisturizing, and leaving the skin refreshed. It seemed too good to be true, so I asked her to write about it for this blog. I was so inspired by the simplicity and wholesomeness of the practice, that I played around with it in the months that followed.

At the time, I was also experimenting with Retin-A, and a few other products that my dermatologist had suggested. Although the synthetic products did seem to brighten my skin, I didn’t like the idea of using all those chemicals.

When I first started cleansing my face (and eventually my entire body) with coconut oil, it felt strange, rinsing with water, instead of washing the oil off with soap. I was afraid my skin would break out, and I would feel dirty afterward. But, after a few weeks, I got used to the changes, and learned to love the light layer of oil that is left on my skin for protection.

I also love that my coconut oil regimen is simpler than washing with soap, and toning and moisturizing afterwards. It removes waterproof eye makeup in a snap, which is much easier and cheaper than using an eye makeup remover.

When I travel, coconut oil saves space in my suitcase. I used to pack a cleanser, toner, and mosturizer, but all I need now is a little block of coconut oil in a small container, to get me through a few days away from home (I freeze it before I travel and double bag the container to prevent leaks).

I know cleansing with oil might sound strange, but it not only works, it works better than anything else I have ever tried, and feels so much easier than my old routine. It has taught me that we don’t need all of those chemicals to stay clean, and it saves me hundreds of dollars each year.

Could you toss your commercial cleansers and switch to coconut oil skin care? You never know until you try, so give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!

coconut_oilphoto:thechalkboardmag.com

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 11

Welcome to Week 11 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! By now, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, bored, or discouraged with this process–and that is totally normal! It’s not easy to transform our lives! Practicing yoga every day, and changing our diets brings up our stuff–the emotional barriers that get in our way. To overcome these feelings, remember to stay in the present moment, and make one choice at a time. It all adds up, so even if you slip a little, remember that you can get back on track quickly, by recommitting to the program and believing that everything is possible.

For Week 11, we will add backbends to our daily yoga practice. This habit should take you approximately one minute each day. Choose one of the three poses below, and practice each for 10 full breaths, three times in a row. Full backbends are best practiced after sun salutations, standing poses, and twists, but remember that you can always use less intense backbends as stretches throughout the day. An example would be standing tall, stretching arms up with palms facing each other, and bending back slightly to stretch upper back only.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Namaste~

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 11

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, or substitute a green juice, as described above.

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. Practice twists 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. Practice backbends for 10 breaths, three times in a row. Choose one of the poses below. Remember that back bending compresses the vertebrae, so it is essential to move slowly and with intention, keeping length in the spine as much as possible. Length is created by grounding through the foundation of the pose, and creating lightness and extension in the upper half of the pose. Also,   take care to keep the lower spine and butt relaxed at all times.

13. 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.

We can do hard things, so trust the struggle. I’m always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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10 Tips for a Healthier Lunchbox

 Healthy groceries

Research shows that children think more clearly, and perform better in school, when fed a steady diet of nutritious foods. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, “The foods children consume early in life…ultimately supply their brain power. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts and seeds is the only way to ensure children get an array of phytochemicals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other micronutrients to adequately supply their growing brains.” This means that moms like me can greatly influence our kids’ potential for success in school, by making healthy choices for their lunch boxes.

Packing snacks and lunches is also a huge opportunity to teach strategies for long-term, sustainable health. If children are at school for more than half their waking hours, then at least 50% of their dietary habits and preferences are being formed during this time. Every food you pack sends a message about what they should or shouldn’t choose to eat.

So, as you think about what you will send for lunch this year, remember that you are not just feeding your kids–you are also shaping their approach to lifelong wellness. Do your best to teach them how to create sustainable energy, and long-term health, with nutrient-dense foods. You, and your child, will be glad you did!

Here are a few strategies that work for our family:

1. Pack fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds first. Figure out what your kids like, and pack those healthy foods before anything else. Raw fruits and veggies have more nutrients than most other foods. Apples, bananas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and pitted olives are some of my kids’ favorites. Let meats, dairy, chips, and sweets take up the smallest fraction of the lunch box, so that the majority of their foods are nutrient-dense.

2. Make it fun. My kids love to play what we call “The Rainbow Game”: pack fruits and veggies of every color of the rainbow except one, and tell your kids they need to report which one was missing when they get home. Use cookie cutters to create different shapes for fruits and sandwiches. Or create your own unique games to make them smile at lunch and snack time, when you can’t be there to do it in person.

3. Take your kids shopping! Empower kids with nutrition information, and encourage them to choose healthy foods at the store. Teach them how to read food labels, and let them decide what’s best (make sure to veto unhealthy choices with love). Keep a positive attitude, and let it be their idea whenever possible.

4. Start an ongoing dialogue about nutrition. Talk about the power of nutrient-dense foods, and why you make the choices you make for their meals. Ask your kids about the foods they ate at school. What vitamins and minerals were in your apple? Why were strawberries a healthy choice? If they don’t know, help them look it up. The more they understand the reasons behind your decisions, the more likely they are to accept them.

5. Save time with leftovers and prepared soups! Make sure you have a lunch-box sized thermos on hand, so reheated leftovers and soups stay warm until lunchtime. Get in the habit of doubling dinner recipes, so you have enough to send for lunch the next day. Boxed and canned organic soups can also be lifesavers, on days that you are short on time, or low on groceries.

6. Empower kids make their own trail mixes. Kids love to be creative! Make it easy for them to design their own trail mixes. Keep a variety of nuts, dried fruits, and gluten-free cereals on hand. A small handful of mini dark chocolate chips can make trail mix more palatable to picky eaters; it also adds antioxidants, and the sugar content is negligible.

7. Teach kids to choose water over sugary drinks. Milk and juice are high in sugar, and are therefore not good choices for kids that are trying to learn. And, of course, sodas and sports drinks are a big no-no. Kids that have too much sugar from these kinds of beverages at lunch, are bound to crash in the afternoon. Sugar also decreases their immunity, creates inflammation, and adds empty calories to their diet. Water is always best in the lunch box.

8. Don’t forget about healthy dips and stuffings. Kids love to dip and stuff foods. The trick is to give them nutritious options. Try to avoid ketchup and ranch dressing. Fresh salsas and bean dips, however, are great choices! Hummus is widely available, and comes in a variety of flavors. Nut butters are also a healthy option–try cashew, sunflower seed, or almond. Stuff baby bell peppers with hummus, and teach kids to dip and fill fruits with nut butters. You might be surprised how much they like it.

9. Forget the bread. Even if you are not allergic to gluten, bread is just not good for you. It is lower in nutrients than whole foods, and hard for the body to process. Why? Because wheat has been genetically modified so much over the years, that our bodies no longer recognize flour as food. It can create inflammation, sinus problems, insomnia, and stomach issues. If your kids insist on bread, try to limit how much you serve (maybe send half a sandwich instead of a whole, and double up on the fruits and veggies), and ask for gluten-free breads at your local store.

10. Put dessert in its place. It’s okay to send dessert to school, just not every day. Teach kids that dessert is a treat, to be enjoyed on special occasions, or sometimes just because! And remember, not all desserts are created equal. A piece of organic dark chocolate with cherries and almonds is always a better choice than a gummy bear with high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring.

Most of all, try to be grateful for the chance to influence your kids’ eating habits. It might feel like a chore, but trust me on this: teaching our children about nutrition is one of the most powerful ways we have to show them how much we care.

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.

 

 

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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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 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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