Chances are you’ve navigated freeways, airports and a lot of idle waiting by the time you finally sit down for Thanksgiving dinner each year. It’s all for a great cause (the expression of gratitude, togetherness, and mmm… turkey) but for many of us, traveling means you’ve been cooped up and are feeling a little less energetic than you’d like (thanks, tryptophan). Luckily, this time of year there are tons of fun and active things you and your family can do together so you can get your heart rate up with those you love the most.

thanksgiving workout : walk

1. Take a Stroll

Make a point to take a walk before or after dinner. If you’re traveling, you can use this time to explore somewhere new. Whether it’s a small town or a big city, there are plenty of new adventures waiting. If you’re staying local, why not let another family member decide where you go? Perhaps you’ll see something new!

 

thanksgiving workout : turkey trot

2. Turkey Trot

Turkey trots are one of our all-time favorite family traditions. My husband and I have done them almost every year since we got together. It’s always so much fun, plus it has the added bonus of making you extra hungry (hello, leftovers). No matter if you’re a first-timer or a veteran, it’s a great experience for all.

 

thanksgiving workout : competition

3. A Competitive Tradition

Whether it’s tossing the ol’ pigskin around or trying a new activity, get a group together for something competitive. My husband and father-in-law have this tradition of playing tennis together every year after dinner. As a novice, I joined them one year and my obliques hurt for days! Not a tennis fan? That’s fine, you can play whatever works for your crew!

 

thanksgiving workout : ice skate

4. Embrace the Chill

Practically every town and city has a frozen lake or man-made rink for ice skating. Our rink is definitely fake here in LA, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. Trust me, the smiles on all of our faces are practically glued on. I secretly love that skating gives me an excuse to hold hands with my kids because, like me, they’re still figuring this slippery ice stuff out.

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mindfulness for beginners

Having access to a super-computer at all time means we’re multi-tasking 24/7. While this is super convenient, it also means staying present is more difficult than ever. Many of us wear our multi-tasking stress like a badge of honor in an ‘I’m-busy-therefore-I-am-important’ sort of way.  The pace of our society really leaves us no choice, but juggling all of the things all of the time can leave you feeling depleted and stressed, which takes away from what’s most important; spending time with those you love. So how do we go about practicing mindfulness when it seems the world we live in isn’t made for that? I set out to find ways to stay present (at least most of the time) and here’s what worked!

 

mindfulness-for-beginners

1. Put down your phone!

Now that we can see our phone usage on iPhones (eeek! anyone else finding that slightly terrifying?) it’s time to do something about it. Luckily, there are a few ways to set screen time limits on your iPhone or iPad. I’ve tried subscribing to putting my phone down at 7 or 8pm and putting it in another room. On nights when I can make that happen, I’ve realized I am unquestionably less anxious and can fall asleep faster.

 

2. Designate a specific time to just be.

Unless you are the Dalai Lama, chances are it’s unreasonable to be present all the time, so pick a time (bonus points if you can pick a few times) of the day that you can be totally present. Maybe you use this time to meditate or maybe it’s as simple as having an uninterrupted tech-free meal with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be unplugged and as distraction-free as possible.

 

mindfulness for beginners

3. Get outside!

Being outdoors is great for the mind and body for numerous reasons like getting more vitamin D and improving blood pressure. Try to get into a natural environment at least once a day even if it’s just for a few minutes. If it’s too cold out, consider snowboarding, skiing, sledding, or even making a snowman with your loved ones this winter.

 

4. Make some moves.

It’s no secret that exercise increases endorphins – our brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters – so make a point to move your body every day. Even 10-minutes of brisk walking can be enough to give you that ‘runner’s high’ and a few minutes of yoga can be just enough time to reconnect with yourself if you’re fully present on your mat.

 

mindfulness for beginners

5. Think happy thoughts.

An article in Psychology Today states that one way to produce serotonin levels is just to remember happy times! That’s right, all you need to do is remember positive events that have happened in your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a region that controls attention. So next time you are feeling distracted just think about something that brought you joy!

 

The reality is that the world most of us live in doesn’t allow for mindfulnesses all the time. Anytime you feel disconnected from yourself and/or your family, try to do one (or a few!) of these five things and you’ll notice a huge difference, and so will the people around you!

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benefits of yoga

Yoga is one of the most holistic exercises around. So much so that many consider the exercise part of it to be a supplemental benefit rather than the main event. For me, that’s been completely true. I began my yoga practice in college after attending a liberal, hippie-dippy university in Northern Arizona. I’m dating myself here, but yoga wasn’t yet widely practiced in western culture and didn’t quite have the cult status it does today. That being said, practicing was unavoidable there especially for anyone who, like me, was involved in the fitness community. I’d finish teaching kickboxing and in would come a peaceful yogi to teach the next class and you couldn’t help but stay and see what made him or her so zen and so perfectly toned.

What I quickly found out is that it strengthens, tones, and heals. Working out my mind, body, and soul, I got leaner, saw improvements in my complexion (hey, dewy skin!) and it even helped me find myself again after bad breakups and the loss of my parents. Summing up how yoga has impacted my life, body, and mind is nearly impossible, but here are the 15 ways I feel it the most:

 

 benefits of yoga

1. Relationships

Of course yoga has helped me build a relationship with myself, but it has also given me so many wonderful friends and teachers that have touched my life in many ways. My husband and I went to yoga on our second date and it’s actually kind of an ingenious test on a potential partner to see how they handle being uncomfortable and challenged which I didn’t consider when I invited him, but he passed!

 

2. Confidence

Speaking of overcoming challenges, you totally build confidence when you finally nail a difficult pose.

 

3. Core strength

Want a 6-pack, but hate doing crunches? Me too. Enter Paripurna Navasana or ‘boat pose.’ Hello, abs!

 

4. Mediation in movement

Before all of these meditation apps, there was meditation on your mat. It’s nearly impossible to ruminate on your bosses last-minute request or [insert arduous problem du jour] when you’re in triangle pose, focused on reaching your arm to the sky.

 

5. Ability to find your calm

Once you have that zen-like feeling on the mat, you learn to revisit it when you’re off the mat too—and that’s where it really counts!

 

6. Skill doesn’t matter

You know how we all have that friend who is basically an Instagram yoga model, so we don’t want to go to class with her? Just go. I was once in a class in San Francisco feeling really confident about my flow that day, then the teacher said, “don’t worry about how good the person next to you might be, they may be suffering inside.” Wow, that hit me so hard. I was working at a start-up and was miserable at my job. It was probably my inflated ego, but I knew he was talking about me, so I never let my futile over-confidence interrupt my time for growth again. Lesson learned: you reap the benefits of yoga no matter where your physical practice is.

 

7. Age doesn’t matter

Yoga is one of the few things you can do just as well at 60 as you could at 18.

 

8. Health

Have you heard the saying “a sweat a day keeps the doctor away?” It’s not just for shopping totes—yoga flushes out toxins, helping you stay healthy.

 

benefits of yoga

9. Improved energy

Yoga gives you more vitality and energy, especially poses like ‘bridge pose’ or ‘full-wheel’ that are known to help reduce anxiety and fatigue.

 

10. Community building

In-studio yoga is a totally effortless way to meet new friends, strengthen existing bonds (see #1) and inspire impromptu post-practice wine gatherings.

 

11. Do it anywhere

Sure you can practice at your favorite studio, but work trips and long days don’t have to stop you from getting in some mat time. Use a towel at a hotel, a mat at home, or just go outside to get in some practice wherever life may take you.

 

12. Protection from injury

I’m a huge fan of mixing yoga into my running program when I’m prepping for half-marathons because the added flexibility and strength training totally helps prevent running injuries and increases agility.

 

13. Increased balance

You’ll find balance in your strength (because you work every muscle) but also get crazy good at balancing poses, aka the covetable “Instagram-worthy” poses like ‘scorpion’—and then handstand scorpion. (I’m still working on that one.)

 

14. Glowing skin

Yoga encourages proper blood circulation,—which means more oxygen and fewer free radicals—so you have a post-yoga glow that I’ve found lasts longer and longer the more you practice.

 

15. Faster running time

If you’re like me and have tightness in your hips from sitting most of the day then running long distances, do some yoga to open them up. Opening your hips can help with lower back pain and other mild pains/injuries. It can even help you lengthen your strides, so if you’re a runner, hip openers are a must!

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Keeping your health goals on track is no easy feat – especially when the holidays are upon us. Shorter days make it more difficult to get moving and colder temps have us dreading to bundle up just to get to the gym. Luckily, there are some fail-proof approaches and simple wellness tips to help you crush your goals no matter what season it is.

1. Keep Up With Your Progress.

This one might seem obvious, but it’s usually sort of a ‘back-burner’ thing for me: check in with your goals. Whether you make new health goals weekly, monthly, or yearly, assess them often and give yourself an honest report. It’s 100% okay if you did not reach all (or any!) of your goals, just being aware of that will help you stay on track or get back on track if needed.

 

Heath Goals: Eat a Healthy Breakfast

2. Eat a Healthy Breakfast.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It kick-starts your metabolism and helps give you the energy you need to have a healthy and productive day. If you’re like me and you don’t have a lot of time in the mornings, opt for a protein-filled breakfast smoothie. I like this Rise + Shine smoothie from Barre3, but I made one adjustment because I am not a fan of bananas. I supplemented bananas with avocado for extra-delicious creaminess and no banana taste (sorry, banana lovers). Here’s my recipe:

1 cup frozen blueberries
½ avocado
1 cup spinach/kale
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp maple syrup (pure)
1 tbsp flax seed
½  tsp cinnamon
1 cup water

 

Health Goals: Put Your Phone Down

3. Don’t Skip Sleep.

There are a number of reasons we want to skip sleep. It’s busy season at work, the newest season of Stranger Things was just released (just one more episode, I swear), home life is hectic, etc. As tempting as it may be to stay up late into the night,  try your hardest to get 7-8 hours of sleep so that you have the energy you need and your body has ample time to repair itself from any workouts.

4. Put Your Phone Down.

Set some time each day or night where you can comfortably forget about your cell phone. I like to make sure I am not tethered to my phone at night and have a ‘No Cell Phones’ in the bedroom rule.  Forgoing the endless scrolling means you are allowing your brain to tell you when it’s time to hit the hay versus powering through to send one…more…email…

 

Health Goals: Add Supplements

5. Add Supplements.

Anything from probiotics for your gut health to a gummy vitamin for a glowy complexion can have a big impact keeping your health in check. A good supplement can help ensure you are not deficient in any one area especially during times when social activities and festivities might make healthy eating a bit more difficult. I really like HUM nutrition for their expansive line of easy-to-swallow supplements. This double pack is my current go-to.

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smart fitness goals

Social media is a beautiful thing. We can keep in touch with childhood friends and share snaps of us finishing half-marathons or deadlifting a friend, but like all things, it has it’s drawbacks too. One that’s gotten a lot of press lately is its negative effect on body image, particularly for women. Every time you scroll through your phone you open yourself up to the possibility that aspirational pictures of ‘perfect’ women might affect how you feel about or see yourself. Cultural pressures can push even the most body-positive of us to feel like we need to be thinner, tighter, or lose the baby weight faster. Of course, any amount of screen time filled with well-curated photos of aspirational women can be #fitspiration, but don’t we all deserve to feel great about ourselves throughout every part of our fitness journeys?

So how do you go about motivating yourself to work out if you typically find it to be a bit of a chore? Just shift your perspective. Seriously! If you’re working out because you feel you ‘have to lose those last 5 lbs’ or ‘have to fit into that LBD’ you’ll probably dread going to the gym. Nobody enjoys trying to lose weight, right? Instead, let’s exclude weight loss from our goals altogether and consider it a potential added benefit to working out. Any mission to get fit should add to your peace of mind, not stress you out more! Here to motivate you are five smart fitness goals for women completely unrelated to weight loss.

 

smart fitness goals

 

1. Boost your energy

In an increasingly distracting, multitasking world there’s no shortage of things that can drain our energy. Working out increases blood circulation, which transports oxygen to your brain and other organs (hello, healthy glowy skin!), building a healthy body and putting some pep in your step all day long.

 

2. Become a social butterfly.

You probably don’t think of chillin’ with friends when you think of your fitness routine, but recruiting a bestie for barre class or training for a half-marathon with your crew has #squadgoals written all over it. Plus, you’ll be less likely to skip that 8 a.m. class Saturday morning if you’ve planned to meet someone there.

 

smart fitness goals

 

3. Nail a new pose.

If you’re like me and tend to hang out in child’s pose when it’s time for handstands, make it your goal to nail handstands (or any other covetable pose) this year. Not only will you need lots of practice (i.e. active time), but you’ll feel so good about yourself and your body when you accomplish it. The determination needed to overcome whatever’s holding you back (Self-doubt? The fear of feeling ridiculous?) will benefit every other area of your life as well.

 

4. Take fewer sick days.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but this concept didn’t register for me until I became a mom of 2 kids who seem to carry cold-inducing germs at times. Logging some active time each day contributes to a more resilient immune system so you can tackle all that life throws at you and leave the Kleenex at home.

 

smart fitness goals

 

5. Clear your mind.

We know by now that working out releases endorphins that get the good vibes flowing. It’s worth pointing out that workouts can be meditative and restorative even if you’re not into yoga. (I’m looking at you, distance running.) Setting an intention before each workout can help you think more clearly, banish bad moods, and give you the time and mental space to problem solve… I’m feeling less stressed already!

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