What I Order: Chipotle

I’ve become a huge fan of Chipotle lately since there is a convenient location right around the corner from the Barre studio I teach at. But I try not to eat out that often because I enjoy cooking at home, saving money, and knowing exactly what I’m consuming for nutrients.

The guilt-free benefit of Chipotle is it’s a larger chain that provides nutrition options across the web so when I’m busier and don’t have time to stop at home to cook lunch or I’m getting home late, I know I have a healthy option in reach. Here are three of my personal favorite orders:

  • Lighter = Steak Salad:
    • Order a salad with steak, black beans, fajita veggies (I order a double order), and tomatillo-green chili salsa. If you’re looking for extra fat – add a small scoop of guac.
      • Calories: ~325
      • Protein: 31 g
      • Sodium: 955 mg
  • Protein Packed = Chicken Rice Bowl:
    • Order a bowl with chicken, brown rice, black beans, shredded cheese, fajita veggies, and tomatillo-red chili salsa.
      • Calories: ~685
      • Protein: 50 g
      • Sodium: 1,400 mg
  • Tacos:
    • Two crispy corn tacos with black beans, guacamole, fajita veggies, lettuce, and light queso.
      • Calories: 436
      • Protein: 10 g
      • Sodium: 497 mg

I rarely skip an order of chips and queso as well for some splurge. Enjoy & stayed tuned for future ‘What I Order’ posts at different locations (Have a suggestion – send it my way!)

How to Balance Food over the Holidays.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “don’t indulge” post because I am the queen of indulging over the holidays. But I’m also not a fan of the “working off”, “detoxing”, or “working-out for” the holiday food either. I think the key to not feeling like you completely let yourself go is in the mindset going into these next few days.

The holidays isn’t a time to completely forget about fueling your body but a time to feed it with what it needs and also what it wants. So I’ve rounded up a couple of my tired and true tips that I’ve incorporated in my holidays to feel fueled and happy.

  • Water, water, water: If you’ve been around here at all you know I love my wine. And during the holidays, I definitely enjoy letting my hair down a bit more. But with my increasing wine consumption, I drink that much more water. Yup, on top of the recommended water you should be drinking each day, increase that when having alcohol. I aim to drink a glass of agua between each glass of wine or stop drinking wine after 3 glasses and drink 3 glasses of water if its close to bedtime. I don’t enjoy waking up dehydrated and my skin dried out so this motivates me to get more water in (especially during the winter time). Drinking plenty of water throughout the holidays will also help you feel food and not overeat or “graze” the appetizer & treat table.
  • Pick Your Treats: Maybe this is where I’m not so fun since I’m not the biggest sweet fan but I determine which treats are worth my indulgence. I LOOOOOOVE caramel puffcorn and only allow myself a batch each Christmas because I would never stop with it so I know I’m going to be going a little crazy with that treat. I also allow myself a few of my favorite homemade cookies. I pick which treats I’m going to enjoy instead of eating everything, even treats I’m not a huge fan of. This helps me manage how many sugary items I’m consuming. I try to limit my sugar intake on any given day and the holidays are not days I take off because I know how sugar drains me and upsets my gut – but I don’t avoid them!
  • Greens: I probably love my greens just as much as I love caramel puffcorn because I know how consuming the recommended amount of vegetables each day can make your body feel. I aim to get in a helping each major meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) if possible. Think about adding spinach into the breakfast egg bake, having a side salad with lunch, and some green beans and brussel sprouts with dinner. If it’s in your normal routine, drink a green supplement smoothie/drink in the morning if you know you won’t have access to many vegetable options at your holiday events. (My favorite green drink)
  • Determine the Quantity: Make a game plan before going in. I’m super type-A so you know I make a plan for what and how much I’m going to eat. I like to limit myself to two plates at dinner – one trying little portions of each item that catches my eye and then a second with more potatoes and (potentially) a protein item or whatever else I really enjoyed. Then I switch to drinking some water, taking some time to see how full or hungry I am and then assess from there.
  • Enjoy Yourself! If you have a plan and roughly stick with it then you can feel confident indulging here and then – guilt free!

If your schedule allows it and it’s part of your normal routine, make sure to get in your vitamins and some movement if possible. Even if it’s just a walk, a virtual workout class, or dance party! This will be a huge part of helping with digesting all that yummy holiday food.

And biggest reminder is that it’s okay to get off your routine and take advantage of the next couple days. It’s not always the holiday season so you know you’re not eating like this every week. Enjoy that cookie, glass of wine, extra helping of potatoes… or three!

Favorite Restorative Yoga Poses.

Over the years of my practice, I have grown an intense love for restorative yoga. This type of flow has helped me in numerous situations to deeply relax my body, calm my busy mind, and help release muscular tension. Restorative yoga is a variation of yoga practice where certain poses that typically aren’t stressing the muscles are held for an extended period of time and has the power to help heal the body and mind. 

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite restorative poses that you can do on your own time. Find a quiet, comfortable space, and let’s dive in!

The first pose (above) is Seated Staff Pose or Dandasana (Sanskrit name). Sit up straight, cross your legs in front of you at the skins, and place hands gently on top of the thighs and rested together in your lap. 

The second pose is Extended Butterfly which provides a great stretch for the inner thighs and groin, relief from menstrual discomfort, and helps maintain healthy bowel movements. From our Seated Staff pose, bring the soles of your feet together, place hands to the outside of the ankles or feet, and with a long spine, fold over your legs. 

The third pose is Savasana or Corpse pose which helps relax the body, reduce headaches, fatigue, and insomnia as well as potentially help lower blood pressure. Lie down on your back and extend your legs long allowing your ankles to splay out to the side. Arms can rest alongside your body, extend onto the floor over your head, or rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. 

Child’s Pose is our fourth pose and probably my all-time favorite yoga pose. This one flexes the body’s internal organs while lengthening and stretching the spine. It relieves the neck and lower back and gently stretches out the hips, thighs, and ankles. Bring your big toes to touch, knees can be together or knocked out wide, extend your arms long, and lower your chest and forehead to the floor. 

The fifth pose is Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana) which is a relaxing backbend and heart melter that some like to refer to as a cross between downward dog and child’s pose. From your child’s pose, bring your knees in under your hips and extend your hips up to the sky. 

Our last pose is Bow Tie Pose which is a nice, gently release for the back of the shoulders and the neck. Extend out onto your stomach and begin by placing one forearm parallel on the group in front of the other. Then start to walk the hands away from each other, crisscrossing at the elbows. Once you begin to feel the stretch in the back, release your head to hang heavy towards the floor or your forehead resting on a block. 

All of these poses can be held with your eyes closed and between 1-10 minutes for time depending on your comfort level. I hope these poses bring your relaxation and stay tuned for more of my favorite yoga poses! 

August Running Goal.

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I’ve been pretty quiet around here for the last couple weeks since Summer tends to get crazy busy every year and the time just slips right away from me. I’ve been more focused on getting outside while I can and taking full advantage of my free time since I have been teaching multiple yoga classes a week, Barre Teacher Training, and working full time. Fortunately and intentionally my schedule is clearing up finally! My Enneagram type 7 personality is a bit worried to have a more open schedule so of course, I’m already starting to fill it with goals I want to tackle in the upcoming weeks (like organizing my closet and improve my hair care routine).

Which brings me to my post today and my goal for August. I’ve recently dove headfirst back into my passion for running and decided its overdue for me to train for another half marathon so this month’s focus will be about increasing my distance and ultimately covering 100 km (~62 miles). I’m including my rough schedule if anyone else would like to join in!

For the forecast, I’m mapping out a lot more than 100 km to give myself flexibility in case the days I schedule my longer runs I’m just not feeling it. As always, I’m open to any tips and tricks to help complete this monthly goal. Let’s go!

August Run Plan

Stress Bloat.

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You’ve probably experienced in the last few months. I know I have at least once or twice for an extended period of time. Between work changes, my classes being postponed, scheduled, and rescheduled, finances, car issues, travel plans, and the normal everyday woes, life has been pretty darn stressful lately!

Stress can put a lot of pressure on your stomach and abdomen, and also upset your hormone balance. This stress can also cause digestion issues for food your body normally does not have a problem digesting, leading to discomfort, pain, gas, and bloating. Which gives us that uncomfortably large belly section.

It is first important to determine if your bloating and discomfort is truly from stress or if it is possibly from your diet. If you are aware that your irritable digestive tract and bloating are caused by your diet, then it is important to familiarize yourself and pontentially avoid FODMAPs. If it is not food-related, then it is time to evaluate your daily stress level and what is causing it.

Stress bloating is not as widely discussed and therefore many people have never heard of it. It can be a surprise to some that stress can trigger a physiological reaction. But if you’re under chronic stress, cortisol hormones are constantly dominant and the result is bloating and gas and because the body is not seeing digestion as a priority, the sympathetic system redirects blood flow away from the intestine area and to other parts of the body that seem to “need it more”.

Okay, so now we get it that we’re bloated and gassy. How do we resolve this? Stress management and digestive support.

  1. Stress Analysis
    • First determine what is causing you to stress. Is it work-related, money issues, relationship problems, or is simply just watching the daily news. Once you’ve determined the source, assess if you can change anything to reduce your stress. (i.e. Maybe you’re taking on too much responsibility at work)
  2. Meditation
    • Check out my post on How To Start Meditating. Stress management definitely starts with our mind set and how we’re choosing to show up to each individual situation in our lives.
  3. Probiotic
    • When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, probiotics can help restore the balance. They’ve been shown to secrete protective substances, which may turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major disease.
  4. Water consumption
    • It might sound counterintuitive to drink more water when retaining water, but drinking water can actually help reduce bloat. Drinking plenty of water helps to naturally flush our systems of excess water and sodium that we might retain
  5. Diet
    • It is important that you are monitoring what you are eating and maintaining a healthy gut.
  6. Movement
    • Physical activity can get the bowels moving more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool. Getting the bowels to move is especially important if a person is feeling constipated. A walk around the block can provide fast relief from gas pressure.

Bloat is never fun, but if it is stress bloat start at the source of the stress to reduce the consequences and then add activities and habits into your daily routine to reduce bloating and gas.

Four Sigmatic Review + Sale!

I’ve talked about this brand a few times but I am a huge fan of Four Sigmatic! A company that started in Finland, which focuses on providing plants and mushrooms through drink form. So you don’t have to go to the forest to consume exotic mushrooms for the health benefits! 

I learned of this brand like I learn about many, through a referral from a friend which is why I wanted to share about them and my favorite items in a post. It’s also perfect timing because they are having one of their (very few) huge sales right now with up to 50% off on some items. 

Here is an explanation of Four Sigmatic in their words: 

“Four Sigmatic foods are the 100 most nutrient dense, most studied foods on the planet. And now they’re easy to add to your daily routines. We’re making these foods as easy as possible to eat and use and talk about. Because the world is asking more of you. Of everyone. We’d all feel a lot better doing that work if we got off the hamster wheel of coffee jitters and hangovers and sugar highs.”

My favorite items:

  • Cacao Mix with Reishi: By far my all-time fav four sig products. Reishi mushroom is meant to relax so it is a perfect before-bed sipper. 
  • Chai Latte Mix w/ Turkey Tail & Reishi: Another great drink for bedtime is the chai latte with reishi and turkey tail, which is a stress-reliever mushroom. If you’re a chai latte fan, it is definitely not as sweet as you’re used to. I like to mix this one with almond or coconut milk. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Lion’s Mane: Lion’s Mane mushroom will help with focus on the days where your brain just wants to be all over the place. I love this option for a mid-morning pick-me-up before lunchtime hits. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Chaga: Who doesn’t love a good extra defense for your immune system? The Chaga mushroom helps with overall wellness which makes it a great option for when those sneaky colds start to come up. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Cordyceps: This mushroom gives a nice little boost for performance without the jitter effects of coffee. Perfect for the afternoon slump at 3PM!

Others I’m ordering: 

If you haven’t tried Four Sigmatic before or are a passionate customer like myself, you definitely need to take advantage of the Summer Sale going on this week only!

P.S. You’ll also receive $15 off through my referral link 😉

Quarantine Pick-Me-Ups.

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As best as we’re trying, we might be feeling down quite often during this “stay-at-home” time. You might not be as productive as you would like or feel you’re getting as much accomplished as you wish. Maybe that workout routine has fallen to the waist side or there are a few too many snack times in the afternoon. And guess what, it might be hard to hear and accept, but it’s actually all alright!

We are going to feel down at points, that is how the body processes situations and emotions and we should learn to embrace them as they come and learn from them. But what’s not alright is wallowing in these down thoughts. They will happen, we’re not meant to be happy all the time and this is a very difficult situation that we’re going through (uncharted waters for literally all of us). It’s great to set goals while we have the free time but if we don’t meet these goals or feel we’ve done our best, life. will. go. on. 

So today I wanted to address some of my practices I embrace if I’m having a hard day or a really emotional week. Like I said before, we shouldn’t shy away from these emotions and attempt to avoid them because that has potential to cause more damage but there are certain healthy things we can do to process through these emotions.

  • Meditation: I recently shared a post for how to create your own meditation practice which is really helpful if you are new to it. This might be scary to attempt to sit with our feelings and emotions when it feels like the last thing we want to do. But addressing these feelings and approaching them with a positive attitude can completeing repaint the way we are handling them. [Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to work with mantras during meditation]
  • Journaling: Put those thoughts down on paper and let them all out. A journaling practice can feel odd and different if you’re new to it but once you find a stride with writing you can really notice the benefits it provides. Don’t place expectations with your writing either, like ‘you always need to write a full page’ or ‘you always need to write about once certain topic – like what you did that day’. Allow yourself the freedom to just write whatever thoughts are flowing through you at that moment.
  • Setting Routines: You don’t need to map out your enitre day but putting in place a simple daily routine provides your mental health structure – similar to what it is use to when “life is normal”. I just shared a morning routine for a healthy gut and this is a good example of simple daily tasks you can do to provide your life some structure. It can also be as simple as taking a walk outside each day at 3PM or maybe it’s not even daily but every other day you take a really nice bath with all the bells and whistles. Don’t only set a routine of mundane items you need to get done but also things you look forward to do and feel a bit like pampering.
  • Movement: I prefer yoga, barre, and running and I really rotate through these depending on my mood. Find a form of excercise that makes your body feel good that is accessible and you enjoy doing (for the most part because working out isn’t as enjoyable as other things – like eating brownies 😉 I shared my favorite at-home workouts last month so if you’re looking for ideas, check out that post! (Bonus: I also shared my favorite at-home workout equipment and all of it can be found on Amazon)
  • Get Outside: If you have the access and the weather is nice, try to get outside at least once a day. This provides you with a different scenery than inside your home or apartment and gets you body some Vitamin D. I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple weeks I’ve been feeling mentally heavy and how a simple short walk around the block with my dog can completely change my perspective.

If you are truly struggling during these times, no matter what mentally you are battling, I am also here to chat and listen. Feel free to always reach out to me at ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com. We will get through this together!

 

Setting a Morning Routine for a Happy Gut.

A happy gut equals a more enjoyable life & starting out your routine right away in the morning to make sure you have that happy gut sets everything in the right order. I recently shared all about what the gut is and why it’s important in a recent post so if you’re unfamiliar about it, check out that post now & then head back here for your morning routine.

For this post, we’re diving into more specifics of how you can give your gut biome a start on the right direct early on in your day. That being said, if you’ve had a few days of junk food or a few too many glasses of wine the night before (no judgement!) – this routine won’t completely reset your gut. We all know life is about blanace but making sure our body feel healthy is a continual process of flushing out toxins, feeding ourselves with healthy, nutrious foods and getting plenty of water to hydrate ourselves.

The morning is a perfect time to set up a consistent routine of steps you implement into your lifestyle. Keep noted, you’ll want to find what works for you and make you feel your best so take and leave any suggestion below.

  • Set a time to wake up consistently
    • Getting your body on a routine provides it an opportunity to fully rest when it needs to and be energized when it’s being ask to because it’s on a schedule. Set a timeframe that works throughout your week. For myself, I like setting an alarm for 6:30AM during the week and 7:30AM for weekends. I provide my body a little more rest time on the weekend but I’m not totally throwing off my routine by sleeping into noon. Even though that sounds really nice, my body is so use to this routine that it physically can’t do that.
  • Hydrate
    • We all know the importance of water and it highly needed to rehydrate your body after a night of deep sleep. Try getting in 8-10oz right after waking up.
  • Meditate
    • It doesn’t have to look like the picture-perfect meditation set up. You can simply just sit up on the edge of your bed and provide yourself with 3-5 minutes to simply focus on your breath. I wrote about starting a meditation practice in a recent post that can provide more tips.
  • Journal
    • I prefer to journal at night but a morning practice is also very popular for many people. Journaling allows an opportunity for you to expel your thoughts onto paper and express your emotions in a way you might not have an outlet for in your daily life. The gut has a connection to our brains – we may notice this connection when we are nervous or excited and our stomach begins to feel funny. This is how journaling can have an effect on our gut by providing that outlet. Stay tuned for posts on the Gut + Brain connection and the power of gratitude journaling coming soon. 
  • Move your Body
    • A little exercise in the morning can do wonders for our body by jump starting our digestive system and getting oxygen following to the blood and organs. Keep it simple with walking, yoga, or light strength training if you’re not use to morning exercise.
  • Shower or Clean Up
    • Freshen up and feel good! Cleaning yourself up by showering or simply washing off your face and then getting dress is a mode booster and provides positive vibrations.
  • Probiotic + Vitamin
    • Speak with your doctor and research your options for a good daily probiotic and vitamin.
  • Set a Meal Plan
    • Decide what works best for your body for when your first meal will be. I prefer to have something very light around 10AM, such as a piece of fruit or lara bar. If you are more active in the morning, your schedule might look more like a heavy full meal in the early hours. Experiment and explore the different options to find the right fit.

The most important part of this is finding your routine. When you’re not only being healthy but you also allow your body an opportunity to get into a flow state, that is when it really starts to feel good.

If you try out these tips or like to implement other helpful routine items, feel free to share!

Healthy Road Trip Guide.

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Oh, the open road.

It’s a great escape during this time but it can also be a daunting one if we’re trying to stick to our health goals. Gas stations and rest area vending machines aren’t necessarily the best options when it comes to fueling our body with nutrition-dense food. Top 40 and talk radio also might not be the best option to feed our brains for a long drive either. Which is why today I’m sharing my tips on how I prepare for a long drive, because we know I’m on the road plenty! (Stay tuned for a Healthy Flying Guide soon)

I’ve been on my fair share of long drives and to be honest I’m not always super excited about them. There has been many mornings before hitting the road that I dreamed of a time traveling machine that would just zap me right to my desired location. But on days that I plan ahead, I can actually be excited for the time in my car. 

Working a desk job for 40 hours a week and running a blog on the site, it can be a much needed change of pace to get away from screens. And I know I’m not the only one that needs this change every once in awhile. So might as well use the time I’m already spending in the car to focus on hobbies I wouldn’t necessarily have time to invest in. 

So what is my plan you ask? Here is how I prepare before my road trips to make the time more enjoyable: 

  • Clean my car, vacuum the floors, and insert a new Air Freshener (I use the car fragrances from Bath & Body Works)
    • It feels so good to spend time in a fresh space!
    • You’ll also need space for your suitcase and anything else you’ve packed so remove unnecessary items you’ve had store in your backseat and trunk.
  • Prep Podcasts and Music Playlists
    • I go back and forth between the two when I find my mind drifting off. Sometimes podcasts are nice to dive into for new inspiring information and at other times, you just need to have a little car karaoke session. 
    • Here is my current playlist I’ve been jamming out to in the car. 
    • Favorite recent Podcasts:
      • Den Talks Podcast
      • Teaching Yoga Podcast
      • Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher
      • Mile High Podcast
  • Pack snacks – this is a very important one!
    • Favorite road snacks:
      • Pretzel sticks
      • Apples
      • Bananas
      • Grapes
      • Lara Bars
      • Built Bars
    • I pretty much like anything that is light (in the sense I won’t feel heavy or tired after eating too much) and that won’t be distracting to eat. 
  • A good pair of Sunglasses 
    • Because it’s always more fun to be fashionable – but we also need to protect our eyes.
    • If you wear contacts, have your glasses ready incase your eyes get dry and you need to switch out. 
  • Sunscreen
    • You might be thinking, “we’re not outside”. But you are still being exposed to sun rays so not only should we look out for our eyes but our skin as well. 
  • Stop & enjoy the view when possible.
    • A really smart person once said “It’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey” (It was Ralph Waldo Emerson if you were wondering). Give your mind and eyes a break from staring at the road & take in some open air. 
  • Simply enjoy your time!

 

Gut Health: What is it & why it matters.

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The human gut microbiome is complex and powerful in impacting our overall health – in a good or bad way depending on how we treat it. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, as well as heart & brain health, boosted mood, healthy sleeping patterns, and an effective digestive tract.

The term gut microbiome refers specifically to the microorganisms living in your intestines. A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body.

Signs your gut might be out of whack:

  • Digestive Issues
    • Gas and/or bloating
    • Constipation
    • Irregular bowel movements
  • Mental Issues
    • Like depression, anxiety, and brain fog
  • Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
  • Unintential Weight Gains
    • Or struggles managing a healthy weight
  • Chronic Unmanaged Stress
  • Skin Problems
  • Trouble Falling into a Deep Sleep

Ways to improve your gut health: 

  • Improve Eating habits (see below section)
    • Monitor consumption of prebiotics and probiotics
      • If it is a struggle to get enough in your normal diet, consider taking a supplement (address this with your doctor to make sure it is a healthy option for you)
    • Consider food intolerances that upset your gut
  • Stay Hydrated
    • Attempt to get in a recommended amount of water for your body weight
  • Implement a Consistent Sleep Pattern
    • Going to bed and waking up at the same times will help your body & digestive system fall into a flow
  • Reduce Stress
    • This is easy said than done but consider areas of your life that are more stress inducing and consider how you can change this.

A happy gut means a healthy feeling body. A diet rich in immune-supporting probiotic & prebiotic foods will fuel your gut with what it needs for your microbiome to thrive. Probioctic foods contain “good” bacteria or live cultures that are found naturally in your gut. Prebiotic foods nourish the probiotic foods in your digestive tract.

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Probioctic Foods:

  • Greek Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Fermented Foods
    • Kimchi
    • Kombucha
    • Olives
    • Pickled Beets
    • Pickles
    • Sauerkraut
    • Soybeans
  • Grains
    • Sourdough Bread

Prebiotic Foods: 

  • Fruit
    • Berries
    • Bananas
    • Tomatoes
  • Veggies
  • Grains
    • Barley
    • Flaxseeds
    • Oatmeal
    • Wheat
  • Legumes
    • Beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Lentils

Beginning a journey to improve your gut might take a bit, so be patient. Implementing a healthy diet and reducing your stress won’t heal a gut in a day but will begin to detox the gut microbiome of toxins.

But please keep in mind this isn’t an overhaul either! Like I always like to say, life is a balance of healthy habits and periodic indulgences. We want to incorporate healthy habits in our lives so that WE. FEEL. GOOD. but what also feels good…. a fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream. So definitely implement new healthy habits into your life but don’t deprive yourself!

Stayed tuned for a Morning Routine for a Happy Gut later this week!