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Yoga: Practicing it Safe During Pregnancy

A few weeks into my first pregnancy, I thought I had lost my mind. The influx of emotions, ranging from elation to anger to sadness and anxiousness was impossible to deal with. It also drove my husband crazy. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I went to see my obstetrician. He sat me down and imparted some of the wisest words of wisdom I had heard throughout my entire pregnancy: Just do yoga.

 

Yoga is one of the best types of exercise to do while you’re pregnant, but it’s important to practice safely to avoid injuries and complications. Taking a yoga class can be done with modifications while you’re pregnant, but the most beneficial way to practice during those nine months is by taking a prenatal class.

 

Prenatal yoga focuses on safe poses to help increase flexibility and to keep the blood flowing. It helps you maintain your muscle tone and strengthens your pelvic muscles, which will be necessary for a smooth labor. Yoga also decreases the unpleasant side effects of pregnancy, such as mood swings, muscle cramps and nausea.

 

Prenatal classes are taught by teachers who specialize in working with pregnant women, but if you take a regular yoga class, there are some poses you want to avoid. With each trimester, your body changes. You need to modify your poses, so always inform your teacher where you are in your pregnancy. In the first trimester, it’s okay to lie on your back, but that’s off limits in the second and third trimesters, since it can restrict the blood flow to the uterus. Deep abdominal twists and back bends are also a no no, as are inversions, such as headstands and handstands. Don’t even consider doing Hot Yoga.

 

Many yoga studios have prenatal classes. If yours doesn’t, ask for a recommendation. Prenatal yoga is more than an exercise class. It’s a community. It’s reassuring to be with a group of supportive women who know exactly what you’re going through. It’s also a beautiful way to bond with your unborn child.

 

Dating Advice For Men: Things You Should Never Do On A First Date

Although I haven't been on a first date in 15 years being that I'm not sure my husband would approve of it, I did my fair share of dating and remember feeling exasperated by certain things some of the men I dated dared to do on our first date. That is not to say, that women can't be equally as uncouth as men- it's just that I never dated a woman, but I digress. Let's face it-first dates can be stressful; they're akin to going on a job interview with so much more at stake-your future. That's right-every first date has the potential to be that singular watershed moment when the stars align and you meet the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with in co-habitation or matrimony. And while we would all love to believe that our soul mate would see us for who we are-under all the makeup, clothing and social masks we wear, the truth is, first impressions are EVERYTHING. But ultimately how you act and what you do is what will determine whether or not you get a second date with this person. For instance don't forget to bring your wallet! This one seems like a no-brainer but I've known some men who go on a date and when the check comes say they forgot their wallet at home. But women also need to bring their wallets as they should never assume if the date is mutually agreed upon that the man will pick up the tab. Plus-most guys appreciate a girl who at least OFFERS.

 

With that being said Hunt Ethridge, a dating and relationship coach and co-founder of International Dating Coach Association which accredits dating coaches, shares five things you should never do on a first date if you want to get a second one.

 

1/ Have -No plan-

Did you just show up and ask her what she wanted to do? Not a good start. Get a plan in order. If you showed up at your dentist and she asked you what you felt like doing, how would that strike you? It probably wouldn’t fill you with confidence. Be a man with a plan. Tell her, “We’re going...” My advice is a coffee shop or something simple, but for heaven’s sake, find a cool, funky one. Avoid chains like Starbucks or Panera. Even if it’s not her preferred place, you’ll get points for having a plan!

 

2/ -Not be a leader-

Genetics plays a big part in our interactions. Not your dad or grandfather’s genes; we’re talking 10,000 years ago genes. Back when we were hunters and the women were gatherers, our job was to protect and lead. It’s still the same way. Women want a bold man to lead them. “I want a MAN!” as you have probably heard women say. Not an overbearing man, but one who is confident. Open doors, ask leading questions and know where you’re going and what you’re doing.

 

3/ Have -A date that goes too long-

Sometimes a date can be going so well that you don’t want it to end. This can also be a pitfall. Imagine going to a party where you’re having a blast. The music is great, the wine is flowing like, well, wine and everyone is talking and is interesting. You think about going but decide to stay longer. Then the alcohol runs out, the person who owns the iPod disconnects it and goes home and all the interesting people leave. There you are, with a warm drink, no music and everyone is just milling around. Once you leave, you have a sour taste in your mouth when you think of the party. Same deal here. We usually recommend an hour for your first date. Get in, get out, and leave them wanting more.

 

4/ Plan -A too-complex date-

“Okay, first we’re going to grab a drink at McDrinker’s but we have to leave by 8:45 so we can make it in time for the 9 show at the Comedy Club. You wait in line while I go grab movie tickets for the midnight showing of The New Action Movie and I’ll meet you at the table. Try to get one near the back in case the show runs long and we need to duck out early.” While I applaud your leadership skills, over-scheduling and over-committing is never a good thing. It doesn’t give her time to settle in and enjoy herself without thinking of the next thing. Make it fun but relaxing and stress-free. She is there for you; in fact, the whole first date is to get to know each other. If you are doing all this activity, guess what…? By the end of the date you will know as little about her as at the start. Worse, dating is emotional and when our energy and attention are unfocused, you are less likely to connect and get to know your date. AKA, it will be your one and only date with her.

 

5 / -Try for a second date-

Everyone wants a second date. Even before she shows up she is hoping there will be a second date in her future. But if you are trying to set up a second date before the first one is even over, it’s not going to look good. First off, you’ll come off as desperate. Like you are trying to lock her in before she realizes you aren’t worth one. Also, on the other side, what if she agrees and later you find out she’s a closet psycho. Leave planning the next date for a phone call a few days later. It is not an interview, and if you treat it as such, you won’t meet anyone of quality. Dating should be and is supposed to be fun and not too serious an experience, especially on the first date. Show your lighter side, enjoy the company and only after the date decide if you will call her or not. Guess what, you just might have so much fun together that decision has already been made for you!

Pilates or Yoga?

Pilates or yoga? It is a difficult choice. Both can help you obtain a killer bikini body, but how do you choose which is right for you? Before you get overwhelmed with all the options that are out there, it’s good to have a basic knowledge of their differences.

 

Even though they are often compared with one another, Pilates and yoga have very different origins. Pilates was invented in the 1900’s by a man named Joseph Pilates. It originally became popular in the dance communities because it helped increase spine and core strength. Yoga was started over 5000 years ago in India and brought to the United States in the early 1900’s by monks. It has branched out to include many different disciplines, but they mostly remain true to the original emphasis.

 

With both Pilates and yoga, the mind/body connection is an important one. Both disciplines require focus and mental strength that will serve you even after you leave the studio. With yoga though, there is a spiritual connection added to the equation. Yoga is seeped with ancient tradition and many classes include meditation and chanting. Yoga also focuses on the breath.

 

Strength and flexibility are some of the greatest benefits of Pilates and yoga. A Pilates class can take place on a mat or on a machine called a reformer. For a more challenging workout, there are megaformers. This is considered to be a power Pilates class. There is a plethora of different yoga practices, all of which take place on a mat and may use props, such as blocks, blankets and straps.

 

With both Pilates and yoga, your own body resistance is a staple for gaining strength, even if you’re using a reformer. One of the most evident differences between Pilates and yoga involves the areas that are addressed. In a Pilates class, you will get a total body workout, but many of the exercises revolve around core strength. With yoga, it’s about balance. The muscles are worked equally and poses are complemented by counter poses.

 

Both Pilates and yoga offer many benefits, so ultimately the decision is a difficult one. The best thing to do is to try out a sampling of classes to see which is the best fit for you.

Fitness: Workouts Under 30 Minutes

I am too busy... We have all heard it and we have all said it, since it is the number one excuse people find to not exercise. Going to the gym for thirty minutes or less isn’t very motivating. I mean, what kind of a workout can you get in half an hour? It turns out, you can get an excellent one. I found several exercise programs, all of which I can do on those days “I’m too busy,” all of which give my body that much needed burn. The best part is, it’s like having a personal trainer in my very own home.

 

Power Yoga with Bryan Kest

Yogis travel from all over the world to train with Bryan Kest, and now, you can train with him in the comfort of your living room. His website offers an infinite library of classes as well as on demand and live streaming. Whether you want a restorative stretch or a power packed 30 minute session, there is an array of options offered on his website.

 

Blogilates

Do you want to sculpt your arms or tone your core? Blogilates offers a video for that. Casey Ho is the founder of this video blog, and Fitness Magazine named her the Best Healthy Living Blogger of 2012. Her website offers quick yet challenging ways to get into shape through her POP Pilates program. She’s fun and energetic and very motivating to work out with.

 

Burn SF

Pilates combined with light weights and bursts of cardio equals an extreme thirty minutes. Lisa Corsello, founder of Burn SF, packs her half hour video with a complete workout. This is high intensity, as are her popular classes in the Bay Area. A single class at her studio is $20, but you can experience her for free on YouTube.

 

Physique 57

Physique 57 offers great online mat and barre classes, many of which are 30 minutes or less, yet the benefits are those of an hour long class. They also offer a Get Fit Quick class that focuses on concentrated body sculpting moves that a lot of busy celebrities use to get Red Carpet ready.

Juicing After Spinning

After getting my sweat on in a spin class, I am dying for an ice cold juice. Juice has so many great health benefits, and helps restore important nutrients depleted during a class. Luckily, in LA, there seems to be a juice bar strategically placed within a few blocks of every spin studio. Below is a list of some of my favorites.

 

Pressed Juicery

With locations all throughout the city and continually growing, Pressed Juicery caters to any and all pressed juice addictions. This is one of the more reasonably priced juice bars, and they are all about convenience. They deliver right to your door, and if you’re in the Malibu area, there’s a juice truck parked on PCH. Come for their juicery “Happy Hour” and try samples of their seasonal favorites.

 

Juice Crafters

From Downtown to the beach, Juice Crafters offers the usual variety of pressed juices, and also healthy smoothies that make for a great meal replacement. Their Acai bowls are out of this world, and they just opened Acai Nation in the Palisades, which serves any type of Acai bowl you might fancy. Be sure to try their wellness shots, such as E3 Live and the Liquid Light.

 

Kreation

Kreation Café is known for their vast variety of juices, but they also have a fabulous array of post-workout snacks. The reason I love Kreations’s juices is because they aren’t as sweet as most others. They have real raw kombucha in a tonic jar and any type of wellness drink you can imagine. But it’s the zen garden ambiance that will keep you coming back.

 

Nekter

Nekter is one of the more reasonably priced juice bars in town, but that doesn’t mean they lack in quality or taste. Nekter is all about the juice. There’s no pomp or trendiness to this place, they’re just there to get you healthy. The Chocolate Dream is just that… a dream, and it will satisfy you even after the most extreme workout.

Healthy Meal Planning 101

For those with busy lifestyles, meal planning can be a chore. By the time six oclock comes around, if there is nothing prepared, the easiest option is to order takeout. But that can get expensive, and restaurant food isn’t always healthy. Planning your meals is the best way to know what goes into your body. With these tips, it no longer has to be a chore, but instead, a simple step on the path to good health.

 

Stock Up with Staples

Keeping the essential staples on hand is important, especially if you need a last minute substitution. Olive oil, soy sauce, eggs, beans, whole grains and lemons are always handy to have around, as is having extra meat stocked in the freezer. If you love to cook with herbs, dried ones are okay, just be sure to refresh them every so often so they don’t lose their flavoring.

 

There’s An App for That

Meal planning has just gotten easier, thanks to all the apps available. Real Simple: No Time to Cook and Su Chef: Healthy Recipes walk you through the planning process step by step, including setting up a recipe database based on your favorite ingredients, and even preparing a shopping list for you. You can plan out your meals a day, a week or even a month in advance.

 

Focus On the Whole Foods

The best foods to put into your body are those that don’t come with labels. Foods in their purest form are dense with nutrients and great for an overall sense of well being. Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and avocados, and plant based proteins, such as beans and legumes are a beneficial addition to eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

Keep the Ratio

If you’re at a loss as to what to serve and how to portion it, remember this ratio: 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% protein and 25% grains. Proteins, such as meat and fish, as well as grains, can be prepared in advance and used as leftovers. Roast or sauté an array of vegetables and you have a nutritious, delicious meal in minutes.

Healthy Snacks For On The Go Health Nuts

My lifestyle requires me to spend more time out and about than in my home, and many of my meals are consumed in my car. Since I'm continually on the go, I get hungry throughout the day. It’s tempting to munch on whatever is in front of me, but that typically isn’t healthy. Instead, I always carry around snacks that are not only satisfying, but good for me as well. And most of them I make at home, so I know exactly what goes into them.

 

Chia

Chia seeds were used by the ancient Aztecs for their energizing and healing powers. They are filled with omega 3 fatty acids and protein and filled with fiber. Add two tablespoons to a bottle of juice or water, or for a chia pudding, simply add the seeds to a cup of almond milk with a little vanilla, cinnamon and sweetener and let it sit until the mild is absorbed. This is a healthy snack even my kids love.

 

Roasted Pepitas

Pumpkin seeds are not just for Halloween. They are packed with zinc and vitamin C and have great antioxidant benefits. I buy raw pepitas and roast them for a few minutes at 400 degrees in a little oil and sea salt. Be sure to watch them carefully since they brown quickly. I always keep a baggie of these in my purse, but I must warn, they can be addicting.

 

Trail Mix

The number of calories in store bought trail mix can be astounding, so I always make my own. Mix raw almonds, shredded coconut, dried banana slices and cocoa nibs, or any of your favorite fruits and nuts. Add a little nutmeg or paprika to spice it up. Just be cautious when using dried fruits, since they can add to a high sugar content.

 

Protein Balls

Protein balls are my favorite snack when I know I’m going to need energy throughout the day. Just add ¾ cup of oats, ¾ cup of vanilla protein powder, ½ cup peanut butter and 2 Tbsp honey. Roll the mixture into little balls and refrigerate. Sometimes, on those especially exhausting days, I may add a few mini dark chocolate chips.

Clutter Free Lifestyle: How Can I Simplify My Life?

There is not a question that comes up more in my work as a Feng Shui consultant than How can I simplify my life? There aren't too many people unaffected by the state of the world these days. Life is busy, time is moving fast, we’re having trouble keeping up.

I hear people reminiscing about the slower pace of past times: Remember when we’d go to the park on Sundays? Remember when we’d ride our bikes every evening after work? How come we never see our college friends anymore? The response is always—we’re too busy.

For some of us, life is like a smorgasbord and we want to try a little bit of everything. Although it all sounds fun and engaging, it isn’t long before we’re overwhelmed. Sometimes we get saddled with stuff we really don’t want to do, but something called responsibility kicks in leaving us no choice. However it comes our way, we are seeing that we’ve got more commitments than we did in the past and we’re not always enjoying it.

If people are asking someone like me how to simplify, they are obviously expecting some kind of answer filtered through Feng Shui principles. Here are some suggestions that I’ve used to help me through a particularly un-simple phase and ones which I’ve shared with clients:

 

Keep only things that you love

If you’re not sure, get rid of it. Your sanctuary/home/office should only include items that support you.

 

Take nine minutes each day to de-clutter

Clutter is the biggest mirror to us about feeling overwhelmed. Start in one area and stay there until the area feels like it can breathe again-until it feels simple.

 

Simplify your emails

Get rid of those daily emails that some people send if they’re not serving you. Set your boundaries so you can feel in control.

 

Experiment with a Zen look in your bedroom

Simplicity will impact you in a very positive way. Keeping things simple in your bedroom can help you sleep and provide enlightening dreams.

 

Don’t get disconnected from nature

Consider a short walk-even if it means to the corner and back. Nature will teach us how to be simple if we can stay in touch with it.

 

Although the question about how to simplify your life could be a lot more involved and specific, I’ve intentionally kept the suggestions, well, simple. Although simple, they do take consideration and intention. Just because the universal world is speeding up, it doesn’t mean we can’t create our own personal world that is slower and more meaningful. Keep your space simple and your life will follow.

Valentine’s Day: Share The Love With Your Friends

Valentine's Day is more than just another Hallmark holiday. It is a day for showing our love and appreciation not only for our romantic partners, but all those we care about, including our friends. Reaching out to friends on this special day lets them know you’re thinking of them. It also expresses the gratitude you have for them being in your life.

Friendships can be detrimental, especially during times of need. They are the shoulder we rest our heads and cry on; they are the sages who impart us with astute advice. They help us stay on the straightened path and become our sounding boards during times of contemplation. There are also many health benefits of having close friends, so it’s true to say, that friendships are good for our overall well being.

Friendships actually heighten our moods. Studies have proven that when females bond, the hormone, oxytocin is released in the brain. This is known as the “feel good hormone.” It reduces stress, helps fight depression and creates an overall better disposition. During a study at UCLA, Dr. Laura Cousino Klein discovered that friendships also lower our blood pressure and cholesterol. “There’s no doubt that friends are helping us live longer,” Dr. Klein stated.

Friendships are good for our mental health as well. Our friends not only serve as therapists and confidants, they help boost our feelings of self worth and increase our sense of purpose. They can aid in coping with life changing traumas such as divorce, or the death of a loved one. Friendships can also decrease the risk of dementia since engaging with others helps to keep the brain fit.

As our busy lives progress and we get caught up in the day to day, sometimes we temporarily lose contact, even with those closest to us. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to reach out to our friends. Send a card or plan a phone call instead of typing out a text. Let all those who are good for your health, know you how much you love and appreciate them.

What To Eat After You Exercise

After I exercise intensely, the last thing I want to do is cook. I am typically hungry and drained, so I want to put minimal effort into preparing a meal. After a challenging workout, my body needs protein and carbs to recover, so I don’t want to skimp, and eating at the gym can get expensive. The following are my favorite post workout recipes. They are quick and healthy, and leave me satisfied every time.

 

Recovery Smoothie

In a high power blender, blend together on the highest setting:

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 medium sized banana

1 cored apple cut into small slices

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1oz (1 scoop) protein powder (optional)

1 cup pure coconut water

1 tsp chia seeds

5 mint leaves

1 cup of ice

Garnish with extra mint leaves and coconut flakes.

 

Lime and Sesame Stir Fry

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

8 oz chicken breast cut into cubes

1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms

1 clove crushed garlic

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup chopped red pepper

1tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon pure sesame seed oil

¼ cup basil leaves 

1. Heat half the oil in a wok or pan.  Stir fry garlic and chicken until browned.  Remove from wok.

2. Heat remaining oil and stir fry mushrooms, broccoli and red pepper until crisp.

3. Add in lime juice and sesame seed oil.

4. Add chicken back in to the wok and stir fry until vegetables are tender.

5. Sprinkle with basil leaves.

Serves 2

 

White Fish Bundles With Asian Vegetables

2- 6oz white fish filets

1 lb baby buk choy cut in halves

1 lb Chinese broccoli (If Chinese broccoli isn’t available, Italian broccoli is fine.)

1 cup snow peas

2 Tbs coconut oil

2 Tbs Tamari

1 crushed garlic clove

1/3 cup cilantro leaves

½ inch freshly grated ginger 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place 2- 14 inch pieces of baking paper on a tray.

3. Spread the vegetables across one of the pieces of baking paper, and place the fish on top.

4. Whisk together tamari, oil, garlic and ginger. Trickle it over the fish.

5. Place second sheet of baking paper over the fish mixture and gather the edges.

6. Bake on the tray for 15 minutes or until cooked as desired.

7. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serves 2