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I Tried Meditating For 5 Days Straight And Here's What Happened

In an attempt to not allow this beautiful city we call NYC to create an anxious monster (that I may have already started to become), I decided to try something new: meditation.

Celebrities swear by it, health magazines never stop promoting it, but it sounded ridiculous for someone like me to try. My brain is in constant overdrive. Either I’m thinking about everything I need to do for the day, (or week, or next few weeks…), worrying about something insignificant that happened a full year ago, or creating stories in my head of things that could possibly happen (usually the worst case scenarios). Therefore, since my brain never seems to just shut the f*ck up, I was sure that meditation was not for me.

But, ultimately I decided to try to prove myself wrong. My first goal was to use meditation as a way to stop myself from immediately opening all forms of social media upon waking up (don’t judge, you know you do it, too). Because realistically, why should I, or any of us, be filling our brains with everyone else’s thoughts/feelings, drama, news about our country, etc. first thing in the morning?

Unsure of my ability to accomplish this task on my own, I downloaded an app that had been recommended to me called Simple Habit. The app has an abundance of guided meditations for everyday life, like waking up, stress, commuting, going to bed — you name it, they have it. I knew I would need a guided meditation option if I was going to try this, mainly because my brain wouldn’t shut off and also because I really had no idea how to meditate.

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I did this for five days straight, and here’s what went down.

Day One

I had to consciously remind myself not to open Instagram immediately when I woke up and before meditating. That struck a chord with me, like, I actually had to fight back hitting the app on my phone.

On my first day meditating, I had a tough day ahead of me as I was going to attend a funeral. I chose a 5-minute ‘waking up’ meditation, and it really helped calm my nerves about the day ahead, but also strangely made me feel much more awake. After meditating I didn’t really have the urge to scroll through social media, but rather got my day started right away (normally I would have laid in bed for 20 or more minutes just going through all my social media and emails).

Day Two

Again, I had to stop myself from going straight to opening those emails that came in while I was sleeping. I had more time on this Sunday morning, so I chose a 10-minute ‘waking up’ meditation. One thing I noticed after meditating was that I felt way less tired afterward. I anticipated the calmness of the woman’s voice during the meditation would make me fall back asleep, but it actually made me more awake, aware, and prepared for the day ahead.

I also set an intention for my day during my meditation (this was prompted by the guide, and was very helpful). It was an intention I reminded myself of throughout the day if I started getting caught up in any negative thoughts, which is easy to do on a Sunday right before a new week.

Day Three

Rather than doing a meditation right when I woke up, I saved it for later in the day (but actually didn’t even check social media/emails right when I got up, which was a new thing for me). Instead, I let myself just lay in bed and take in the day without checking anything. It was weird to just let myself have a moment with nothing to do but lay there.

Around noon, my landlord came to my apartment unannounced, got my dog all flustered and he started barking, all because he said my shower was leaking into the apartment below me. He has a way of pretending to ‘fix’ things, so this just annoyed the shit out of me because I was trying to get ready for work.

Once he left, I pulled out my yoga mat, plopped myself down, opened up Simple Habit and did a ‘stressed’ meditation for five minutes. Breathing out my frustration instead of carrying it with me for the rest of the day was extremely helpful, and it calmed my pup down — I mean, how can you be mad anymore when you open your eyes to this face?

Day Four

Admittedly, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Being in the fetal position dying of cramps can do that to you. I chose to do an ‘improve mood’ meditation for five minutes. In that moment I wanted to say “Forget this, nothing will help.” But I tried it anyway, and was surprised when it actually switched my thinking around. The act of taking a moment to allow myself to just feel shitty and accept that this is how I woke up, but also make a goal to move forward on a more positive note made a big difference in the rest of my day.

Day Five

I had a really busy Wednesday that started as soon as I rolled out of bed (without looking at Instagram, go me!). I was on the go and really had no time to just sit and think, so I decided to end my day with a ‘going to sleep’ meditation. My mind was still going a mile a minute, and normally I would scroll through and refresh social media to ‘relax’ my mind, which really isn’t now that I think about it. Doing a meditation before bed has become one of my favorite times to do it because it really detaches you from staying awake just to have your phone screen glaring back at you.

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So, the major things that I took away from this:

1. I feel so much better waking up and just focusing on me rather than my Insta feed.

2. When I’m feeling really stressed, it’s okay to recognize those feelings. But then be sure to set intentions (or a mantra) to move on from it.

3. It made me very aware of my body and breathing — how tense I was, how I rarely take time to just ‘be’, and how little I actually take those much needed deep breaths.

Since starting, I’ve been making an effort to use Simple Habit in my day to day. Especially when I’m feeling anxious, it’s the first thing that comes to mind to help me rather than letting my feelings fester all day.
NYC is a great city, but it can also be an extremely negative and energy depriving place if you don’t find a way to balance the hustle and your mental health. So, get your zen on and try meditating, because this sh*t actually works.

We Asked A Dietitian All The Questions We're Secretly Wondering

These days, nutrition advice is at the tip of our fingers; hundreds of “experts” claim their programs will slim you down in no time, promote “healthy” products Instagram posts, shove things like AdvoCare and juice cleanses down our throats and glorify a piece of pizza as a “cheat meal.”

YOU DO YOU, people, but after subjecting my body to many of these things, I decided to stop while I was ahead and consult my best friend who happens to be a dietitian and nutrition expert. She’s my go-to person for any diet questions, because she actually understands the science behind many of these “cleanses” and nutritional information as a whole.

With so many of us 20somethings becoming suckers for these “quick fix” diets, or just believing every health article we read, I wanted to get to the bottom of some of these health fads. So, who better to ask than my personal dietitian?

First, meet my girl Frankie:

20something: Tell us about yourself!

Frankie Maderia: I am a registered dietitian currently working as a clinical dietitian at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I provide nutrition coaching online (meal planning, macro counting, healthy eating, etc.). I also have a blog, along with every other millennial in the world right now. I went to the University of Connecticut (GO HUSKIES!) for five years, two of those years I was in the Coordinated Program for dietetics with 1200 hours of interning, basically free labor, along with full-time classes. At the end of all of this, I passed my certification exam to be qualified to be a nutrition expert. It was difficult to get to where I am today but I love being a dietitian!

What is your favorite part of being a dietitian?

FM: There are so many directions I can go in this field. Working in the clinical setting, most of my patients are really sick and I like that I can provide them with food that will help to heal them. Anyone who is a registered dietitian is a nutrition expert — there are so many other people out there who give out their nutrition advice and coach people on how to eat. Those people are not qualified to give out nutrition advice (as you can see, that is my pet peeve).

Naturally, one of my first questions involves alcohol: is red wine actually healthier for you?

FM: Ted wine contains phenolics and these phenolics help with your cholesterol by helping with oxidation of your bad cholesterol (aka helping to get rid of it). Red wine also contains resveratrol, which is an antioxidant that can protect your heart arteries against the saturated (bad) fat that you consume in your diet. This can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

There are still studies out there looking into the benefits of red wine and I never suggest anyone START drinking alcohol if they do not drink it already, but if you do already drink wine, continue on with that red (obviously in moderation). The health benefits come from red wine when one to two glasses per day are consumed.

As for you white wine lovers, you do get some antioxidants from white wine — tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. White wine tends to be slightly higher in sugar. Red wine is a tad better overall because it has more nutrients and less sugar than its sweeter, fruitier friend white wine.

Coconut oil is a big trend (beauty and food wise), is it really healthier than other cooking oils we typically use?

FM: I personally use coconut oil on certain things. The most current research shows that it is not the worst oil for you, even though it is mostly saturated fat. In most cases you want to limit saturated fat because it is not a heart healthy fat (too much can lead to cardiovascular disease).

Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (TG) while other fatty acids are long chain TG. What does that mean? Well, the medium chain TG are metabolized differently. They go to the liver quickly from the digestive tract to be used as energy or turned into ketones. The longer chain TG have a little bit of a longer process. Therefore, coconut oil is utilized by the body in a more effective manner.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing you want to look for when reading nutritional labels? What do you want to avoid?

FM: When I look at a food label, I like to look at the saturated fat, fiber, and sodium. Sometimes a nutrition label can be overwhelming — I GET THAT…I usually start by looking at the amount of servings per container. If you were to eat the whole bag or container, how many servings will you be eating?

I NEVER EVER look at the percentages of daily value. That is based on someone having a 2,000-calorie diet (which is not a lot of people) so just bypass those percentages and pretend they don’t exist! I usually glance at total fat but focus more on saturated fat (that bad fat, again). I suggest to limit your saturated fat intake to less than 10 grams per day.

I then like to peek at the sodium content. Everyone should be on a low sodium diet. There is literally salt in everything that is processed. If one serving has less than 140mg of sodium, go ahead and eat it! Your total sodium intake should be less than 2,000mg/day.

The last thing I tend to look at is fiber. I love fiber — it is fabulous. It helps with digestion, it makes you feel full, and it can decrease your risk for colon cancer. FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND. Just be cautious- make sure if you eat fiber rich foods, that you drink plenty of water. Fiber will just sit in your stomach and cause distress if it doesn’t have water there to help move it along.

 

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What are your go-to drinks at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts that may be a bit healthier than a caramel, frappe, whipped cream-filled unicorn drink?

FM: Obviously I had to try the unicorn drink when it came out. It was ok, I liked the sour parts of it. BUT I would definitely not recommend having that daily, or having a frappe every day. It is just milk and sugar. When I go to Starbucks I usually get just a black coffee (since I drink like 5 to 7 cups of coffee on the daily) or I get the Caffe Misto (coffee with steamed milk).

Lattes are good as well, but it depends on what milk you are getting or if you get flavor shots. Those calories can add up if you are having multiple coffee drinks per day. A latte with whole milk and flavor shots can be close to 200-250 calories. Don’t get me wrong, I love a latte but I usually get almond milk (cutting some of the fat and sugar and my belly doesn’t tolerate high amount of milk) and the sugar free shots.

At Dunkin’ I will get a coffee with caramel swirl flavoring, hot or iced with some almond milk. It has some added sugar but it’s a nice treat. Usually I will make my coffee at home and drink it black, but I have been hooked lately on the Silk Almond Milk Caramel Coffee Creamer. I add a shot of that to one of my cups of coffee and it is excellent. (Saves you some money, too.)

What ingredients are a big no-no for you when you’re finding a good protein powder or pre-workout?

FM: Pre-workouts and protein powders are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so they get away with putting ingredients in the formulas that aren’t so healthy. There are some products out there that do not even list all of their ingredients. They get away with calling them “Blends” or “Proprietary Blends” meaning they will list like caffeine, green tea, whey protein, blah blah blah, proprietary blend… and then not even say what that blend is. Why take something when you don’t even know what you are taking?

For protein powder I suggest just a 100 percent whey protein or pea protein. These contain all of the essential amino acids and are easily digested.

What you don’t want in your protein powder:

  1. Gluten: this can cause increase inflammation.
  2. Fillers: fillers include coconut flour, psyllium (fiber) and are just cheap ways to add unnecessary ingredients to ‘bulk’ up your powder.

For pre-workout I would look for these ingredients:

  1. Beta-Alanine: this is used in pre-workouts to help improve your endurance and reduce your muscle fatigue. The recommend amount to have per day can range from 2-6grams/day. When you take a supplement and you feel all tingly, that is from the beta-alanine.
  2. Caffeine: obviously caffeine is fine. It can increase energy, focus, and anaerobic capacity.
  3. Citrulline Malate: this is citrulline and malic acid bound together. Your body can safely tolerate 4-10g/day. It can help enhance your performance, help with muscle soreness, and promote energy production.

But avoid these:

  1. Synephedrine (bitter orange) close to the stimulate ephedrine which is banned. There is no evidence that says that bitter orange is any better than ephedrine and ephedrine can lead to severe cardiovascular side effects.
  2. Yohimbe: it dilates the blood vessels and can lower blood pressure to unsafe levels.

Do you agree that dark chocolate is healthier, or can a girl live a little and eat the whole bag of dove milk chocolate?

FM: Dark chocolate is the healthier choice, but it is healthier in moderation. Dark chocolate does have more health benefits; it contains some healthy antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. Consuming dark chocolate that is 70 to 85 percent dark contains fiber, iron, magnesium and copper — all good things.

But if you like milk chocolate, there is nothing wrong with choosing that. You should be able to enjoy the foods you like, just in the right amounts!

 What sports drinks do you stay away from, or are they actually good when you’re active?

FM: Sports drinks are basically just sugar water with some electrolytes. I never suggest people drink sports drinks unless they are exercising (cardiovascular activity) for longer than two hours and losing a significant amount of fluid via sweat. Sports drinks are meant to rehydrate people who may be dehydrated or at a negative fluid balance. People who go to the gym for 45 minutes to an hour should just drink water. No need to replace the calories you just burned with a sugary beverage.

I do recommend the sports drinks if you have been ill (vomiting or diarrhea) because they can help when you are dehydrated.

Let’s talk vitamins, what do you suggest that your average 20something woman should take every day (Please say ALL OF THE GUMMMMMIES)?

FM: I take a multivitamin. I usually tell people to consult with their doctor before starting any regiment because I don’t know what their lab values say. Your blood work can be very telling and will let you know if you are deficient in anything.

The reason I take a multivitamin is because even on my healthiest day, I am not consuming 100 percent of everything I need. A multivitamin should be taken with food to help optimize digestion of the vitamins. ONLY take the recommended serving size of the vitamins. I know the gummies taste delicious, but they are not snacks or candy and overdosing on vitamins and minerals can lead to very harmful side effects.

What are better alternatives when going to a bar and ordering a drink? 

FM: Haha! Great question…

Vodka is a lower calorie choice. Also, anything made with seltzer (no calories). So a vodka seltzer is good- add a lemon or lime for extra flavor, this is about 95-100 calories. Tonic water and seltzer are NOT the same. Tonic water contains sweetener, adding sugar and calories.

Champagne and red wine have lower calories — about 90-100 calories.

If you want a soda drink (I usually never recommend diet soda on the regular but its ok when mixing with alcohol) then I recommend a whisky and diet coke, again about 100 calories.

A Moscow mule with a twist is excellent if you skip the simple syrup and ask for lots of ice- 120 calories (180 with the simple syrup).

A glass of white wine or an ice cold beer both run you about 100 calories.

Also, taking shots can add up. Each shot can be about 70 to 110 calories just for the shot, depending on the alcohol. Vodka is a lower calorie shot to take.

What do you think about someone going gluten free (replacing their foods with gluten free foods) to get skinny/healthier?

FM: People should only follow a gluten free diet if they have gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease — BOTH diagnosed by a doctor. Celiac disease is a legitimate allergy to gluten and a strict gluten free diet needs to be followed. Many people out there (I won’t name names- let’s just say the people who “claim” be nutrition experts but are NOT registered dietitians) believe that cutting out gluten will help you lose weight. This is NOT true.

Consuming the correct amount of whole grains per day can help protect your body against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Wheat also promotes a healthy gut because it is an excellent source of fiber. An appropriate amount of whole wheat products can also decrease your risk of colon cancer. It is a myth that gluten free products are ‘better for you’ (unless you have an allergy to gluten, of course).

Gluten free products are the same as regular packaged products when it comes to additives- anything in a package that is shelf stable will be processed and will contain additives that you won’t find in fresh products. If you want to get healthy, eat FRESH, non-processed foods. Any diet that is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats is going to be better for you.

You used to be a pescatarian, and now since you’ve crossed over to the dark side with us meat eaters, what is your advice for someone who wants to become vegan (or pescatarian/vegetarian) to lose weight or to be healthier? 

FM: I was a pescatarian for about 10 years because I watched all of those videos on how the meat was made and how the animals were not treated well. I still think about that and I try my best to get humanly raised and organic animal products now that I am eating more meat.

First, what is the difference between a vegetarian, pescatarian, and vegan?

  • Vegetarian- avoids all poultry, fish, and meat. Eats dairy and eggs.
  • Pescatarian- avoids poultry and meat. Eats fish, dairy, eggs. (This was me)
  • Vegan- doesn’t eat anything. Just kidding…avoids poultry, meat, fish, eggs, and all dairy. Avoids anything from an animal basically.

Becoming a vegan can be dangerous, because many people do it to get “skinny” and end up becoming protein deficient and are unhealthy. There is a right way and wrong way to do it.

Many people who become vegetarian to be “skinny” end up accidentally changing their diet from a decent and adequate diet to a high carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates are amazing, I love ALL THE CARBS, but if you don’t find sources of plant-based proteins the carbohydrates can lead to extra inflammation and bloating- masking any weight loss that you might be looking for. Many people lean on processed and packaged foods out of convenience and all of these foods have unhealthy additives that are not good for you. I always preach that fresh is best! If you can eat healthy by eating fresh, go for it!

I don’t suggest you stop eating meat just to lose weight. You can alter your diet in other ways to achieve HEALTHY weight loss. You need a healthy balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You can eat healthy meats — lean meats are best.

If you really do want to become a vegetarian or a vegan, DO YOUR RESEARCH! You need to do a little more meal planning and prepping because you need to make sure there are options for you to eat everywhere you go. Coming from my experience, if there wasn’t a good fish option on the menu for protein, I would end up getting pasta and eating bread and just being overloaded on carbs without any good protein. Also, you need to like beans to be a vegetarian because most of your protein will come from beans and eggs.

Shout out to all my vegetarians/vegans out there killing it!

Juice cleanse, is it worth spending $150+ on a juice cleanse from a nutritional stand point?

FM: ABSOLUTELY NOT. Often times juice cleanses are for ‘detox’ or getting ‘healthy’ and you drink these special and expensive juices for 2-10 days. I am ALL ABOUT a good juicer drink, don’t get me wrong, but I introduce that into my healthy diet. I will have a juice after breakfast for example, not as my breakfast.

Here is how a juice cleanse works: all you do is drink juice for an extended amount of time to help you “burn fat” and “debloat” and “lose weight.” Here is what actually happens: you deplete your body of all vital nutrition.

During a juice cleanse you are not detoxing your liver or shedding extra fat, but actually starving yourself and it appears that you are losing weight because you have no water on board. All the weight is just water weight. If you do the cleanse for too long, you are losing your muscle. Your body is in shock from the low caloric and low protein intake that it HOLDS ONTO the fat in your body. Your body freaks out because you did not eat real food for however long and your metabolism has slowed down too.

You will gain the weight back because if you just go back to eating normally and now with your newly found SLOW METABOLISM your body will cling onto everything. You may even gain some extra fat. YES just what you wanted right?

Try cutting out overly processed foods and eating healthy. Don’t look for the easy way out. It looks easy but it is horrendous for your body- and doesn’t even work. Also you basically are just throwing away your money.

 

As seen on 20Some.com

5 Steps To Remaining Positive In A Negative Work Environment

Whether you’ve just started a new job, or are in the thick of a stressful one, finding and holding on to the positives is key. However, I’ve learned that it can be difficult AF to hold on to any sort of positivity when the work environment and people that surround you are constantly negative.

Dealing with high stress jobs or situations at work is always something I’ve been able to handle. Especially if I was experiencing them with people who were truly supportive and just fun to work with. On the other hand, I’ve also had to deal with intense jobs with negative people left and right. You know those people who at every corner you turn are shit talking on one another, non-stop venting about a hundred different issues (don’t get me wrong I love a good vent sesh, but sometimes enough is enough), and are just too wrapped up in their bad attitude to even throw you a simple smile?

I’ve come to realize in the last year (because 2016 was all about ‘realizing stuff’ according to Kylie Jenner) that you can’t maintain a healthy work-life balance if you are willing to go down the rabbit hole with the rest of your negative coworkers. Simply put, it will eventually catch up with you and hold you back from moving forward in your career and life in general.

So, I started thinking of ways that I and everyone for that matter could avoid that negative bubble that’s waiting to trap us all from the second we walk in the door. The key is to actually doing these things, you can ‘know you should’ all you want, but it won’t work unless you put those words into action.

1. No matter what, kill them with kindness.

Your coworkers may walk past you with no smile, no ‘hey how are you’, no nothing- but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do the same. Say good morning, smile as you walk past each person, ask how their weekend was. Spread your kindness, and it will only become infectious.

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2. Remove yourself from any negative conversations.

Venting about the never ending issues, drama, etc. can seem like it helps. Sometimes it does. But if that’s all you’re doing with your coworkers, it’s really only setting you back (you know that saying, ‘misery loves company’?). Switch up the conversation from, “I don’t want to be here.” on Monday morning to, “How was your weekend?”. However, if the venting is going on and on despite your best efforts, remove yourself from the room. In the long run, it’s not doing you any good to be around it.

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3. Leave work at work.

Wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy all of the time? This is the hardest step for me. But realistically, you’ll only become just as bad as your negative coworkers if you can’t go home and leave work in that building. Of course you need time to vent, so let yourself get it out for a few minutes to your person who will listen (aka my mom on my walk home from work, and my boyfriend when I get home…okay so maybe you need two people to vent to). But then, you need to leave well enough alone, and use what time you do have out of work to really enjoy all of your favorite things (like me taking the time to finally write this).

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4. It’s okay to not make friends with your coworkers outside of work.

Obviously it’s great to have friends at work. People who understand what you do on a daily basis, who you can trust, and who you can count on to run to the bar for happy hour after work. But if you end up hanging out with your coworkers outside of office hours and the only conversation you’re having is about work and how horrible it is (as if you didn’t already do this while you were there), then what kind of friendship is that? It’s okay to be friendly with people at work, but you don’t need to be best friends with everyone.

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5. Make your favorite activities/people/hobbies your center focus.

As much as work can take over our days, weeks and months, we have to put ourselves first (especially when that depresssing environment at work is waiting to take hold). If you have a favorite workout class, cocktails with you friends, date night, plan it all out for your week and stick to it. It’s important not to let these things that bring you so much joy slip for a place and people that tend to drag you down.

 

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Hello, Fitspo: 5 Fitness Instagram Accounts That Will Get You Moving IRL

Originally Published On 20Some.com

Jumping into a new year is typically centered around dieting, getting back into a fitness routine, and obsessing over the “fitspo” filling our social media feeds on a daily basis. We set unrealistic goals for ourselves, end up falling back into that pizza box face first, and start the cycle all over again.

But what if we could take one positive step this new year toward our fitness goals? What if that one step was as easy as unfollowing and following people on your Instagram? Although it won’t help you lose 10 pounds in a week (because who wants to do that anyways?), it may help bring a more positive and healthier outlook to your fitness and nutrition journey.

I used to follow a million different random accounts on my Instagram that posted pictures idolizing girls half naked with shredded abs, a thigh gap, and whatever else was ‘fit goals’ at the time. However, I slowly realized that I was never going to look like those girls, and that was okay. I purged my account of all ‘fitspo’ accounts and decided to follow real people with real stories, real struggles, realistic fitness goals that can actually inspire me to hit the gym and be a better person.

I’ve put together a list (in no specific order) of my favorite fitness Instagram accounts. These are real women, with amazing stories that they are willing to share, and that don’t promote unrealistic fitness goals.

1. @getfitbrooklyn aka Chinae

Chinae is someone that was always tagged in a lot of posts by people I had already followed. When I finally checked out her page, I was immediately drawn to her. She is a Brooklyn-based event planner, Adidas ambassador, and shares nothing but authentic posts on her social media (along with the fact that her makeup is on point). She posts her transformation pictures with advice that let’s you know there is no quick fix to losing weight, but only your determination to do so. Chinae helps others find their “inner badass” through her social media, real life advice and fitness. Follow her and add some fit-spiration (as well as lifestyle inspo) to your daily Instagram feed.

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2. @lauren_bongiorno aka Lauren

Lauren is a 20something health coach and yoga instructor who shares her insights on the mind and body that really get you thinking. Lauren is someone that I have been lucky enough to meet, so I can tell you first hand that the person you see on social media is the same person you see in real life. Her positivity is contagious, and her yoga moves will make you want to get on that mat and keep practicing. As a type1 diabetic herself, Lauren has learned to take her knowledge of this, and help others dealing with diabetes maintain a healthy lifestyle. But most importantly, what she posts will not only give you the inspiration you need for your fitness life, but also give you motivation to work out your mind as well.

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3. @nicolewinhoffer aka Nicole

Nicole is the girl behind NW Method which “blends art, science, music, and sports to calm the mind, transform the body, and free the soul” (and incorporates dope beats and dance moves). You’ll notice how free and confident of a person Nicole is while scrolling through her Instagram. She has photos of her in a leotard posing with an amazing dance pose, to videos of her classes (which look like they would kick my ass) that all include never ending inspirational captions. She emanates confidence with a splash of sexy, and makes me feel like with curves, or no curves, abs or no abs, I’m beautiful. If you’re in the NYC area, she offers classes at The Standard, so go get moving!

4. @reviejane aka Revie Schulz

As a crossfit lover, I’ve followed Revie Schulz for quite some time. She is an Australian-based Crossfit gym owner (Crossfit Babes Miami an all women’s crossfit gym in Australia). She is a 20something business owner, fitness enthusiast and new mom. Although you may think she’s not relatable because you’re not a new parent, think again. The authenticity that Revie shows on her Instagram about going from being able to lift a lot of weight and feeling great about her body, to feeling completely unsure after her pregnancy is so refreshing. She makes you realize that whether you just had a child or not, you can always bounce back with hard work and dedication, and a really positive mindset.

Okay, so, MASSIVE rant/ chat to my snapchat fam today (reviejane) on positive body image and how to embrace our bodies. Im sorry if that went for ages but in conclusion, here is my message. ? It’s okay to be in shock, that is normal. 90% of the time on social media, we don't see the shit part after you’ve had a baby where you still look around 7 months pregnant and your belly replicates the same texture of a whoppee cushion. ? Be proactive with your physical and mental health. It’s a huge challenge, trying to be the best mum possible and learn the ropes of motherhood WHILE also honoring your body. Its one huge juggling act and if you feel totally inadequate at it, don’t stress, most of us do! Start small, e.g. 3-4 walks per week, meal prep your dinners every weekend. Be gentle with yourself and implement fun, active activities that will get your body moving and endorphins pumping! ? Postive affirmations. You know what you don't hear often? A woman saying “I LOVE my body, it's amazing!” which is silly- we should be saying that every damn day, because we are all effing amazing! For atleast a month, look in the mirror and say something you LIKE about your body instead of picking on that pimple or that you hate your nose or that you wish you had smaller hips. It may just change your perspective and therefore your life. ? Lastly, hold that baby of yours. Look at the perfection that YOU created in that very body of yours. You. Created. Life. You are magnificent. And you should love yourself for that, let alone everything else that makes you beautiful. #BodyLove #Postpartum

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5. @mynameisjessamyn aka Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn is a body positive, yogi, f-bomb dropper, real AF girl who teaches yoga with Cody App and is someone you need to follow right now. I started following Jessamyn after I saw her feature with Refinery29 this past summer, and was immediately inspired by her attitude about her body, fitness, and life in general. She describes her body as powerful.

“It has overcome so many odds that I never thought it could, physical and emotional,” Jessamyn said.

If you’re looking for that body positivity you’ve been lacking in 2016, it’s time to follow Jessamyn’s Instagram.

I didn't come to yoga with a lot of natural flexibility or strength. I've always been curvy, and I've been sensitive about my body size since childhood. When I started practicing yoga, I would intimidate myself into thinking certain asana would always be completely out of my reach. I assumed that fat people have limits. I didn't understand the power of progress. I didn't understand that progress takes time. Our society thrives on impatience, and it's easy to convince ourselves of inadequacy when we don't see immediate results. I think my Instagram presence can make that internal battle seem like it's in my rearview window, but that's completely off base. Self-hate and self loathing are addictions like anything else, and stepping away from those vices means entering a permanent state of recovery. I am a self-hate addict- it didn't magically go away when I started practicing advanced asana. But those struggles shouldn't be covered up or swept under the rug. At the end of the day, those struggles are really what make us made for yoga. The practice doesn't exist to inflate egos. Legit, my ego has NEVER served me- if anything, it's consistently inhibited my capacity for happiness. I don't want to live under the shadow of my childish ego forever. That's why I keep showing up on my mat-because unpacking all this bullshit is the only work that actually matters. I love working with my #partner @mandukayoga- in fact, the ballet style leggings I wore in @glamourmag are by Manduka. In a universe where plenty of yoga brands couldn't care less about showcasing a diverse yoga community, Manduka is actually out here trying to make progress. I chatted with the design team this past winter, and I expressed my concern about their limited sizing options. Some of us can't even wink at a size Large, ya dig? The team was very receptive, and I'm looking forward to a size expansion soon. I'm just glad they give a fuck, honestly- and it's time for everyone else to wake up, too.

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Embrace The New: Dealing With Life's Never Ending Changes

 

Change, big or small, has always been difficult for me. Whether it was my parents buying a new couch, or moving to a new town, I probably cried over it (and demanded things stay the same). But, that’s not how life works apparently. I’ve only (in the last year) recently realized how much new changes in my life affected me on an emotional level.

This past year, I moved to NYC with admittedly no real set life plan. It was the most challenging thing I’ve done to date. But, when I set my mind to something, I find a way to make it happen. Between a new apartment, moving in with my boyfriend, getting used to NYC in general, and finding my place, it has been a whirlwind of changes for the last year and a half.

That being said, seeing as I don’t take to change very easily, there has also been an intense flow of emotions happening during this time. Happy, angry, a little depressed, confused, excited-I’ve felt it all. However, what I’ve realized through every season, every emotion, and every new thing that’s happened (good or bad), is that it’s all about how to deal with whatever change is brought your way.

Sure, initially you may feel extremely nervous, scared, angry, or excited. You may shed a few tears (or a lot in my case), but it’s what comes after those initial feelings that matters.

How do you handle the new cards you’ve been dealt?

If you shut down and choose not to accept this new phase in your life as your reality, then you’re asking for more negative shit to pile on. However, if you take it and run with it (no matter how good or bad it is), then you’re only asking for positive solutions to open up or even better opportunities to come your way. Because let’s be real, not all change is bad change.

This past summer I decided to sell my car. It was sitting in my parent’s garage, not being used at all, and having the money from it in my pocket was definitely not going to hurt. That being said, when the day finally came that a sweet college student from my town bought it on the spot, I cried like a baby. That car was more than just a white Ford Focus Wagon. It was the car that put me through the end of high school, stuck with me all through college, drove me to my new apartment and job in Boston, carted my friends to a bunch of fun trips, it was a place where I could be alone to think, where I could let my dog Buddy hop in the front seat for a quick car ride. It was a box with four wheels that held an infinite amount of memories.

So I cried, and had a ping of regret, and maybe wished that girl wouldn’t actually buy it. But then I realized that she was going to make those same memories driving to and from school every day, taking the burden off of her parents, and that I honestly did not need it (and okay so the money definitely did not hurt either).

My point is, these extreme changes are going to occur. Day after day, month after month, year after year. But it’s all about what we learn from them, the things we can take away, and the choice we make to get up every day and make our lives better.

Of course I still think about my car, or that time I felt like a failure, or the money I wished I had saved instead of spent, or how scared I felt driving with our U-Haul into the city. But, I also think about and really focus on all of the growing up I’ve done because of all of the changes that have occurred in my short 24 years. Bad or good, I’ve taken SOMETHING away from it. And as fall turns into winter, I know there will be even more life changes to come. No matter how exciting or how terrifying, everything will be okay. Remember that the next time you’re faced with a ‘holy shit I don’t know if I can handle this life altering situation’ or a ‘I’m really nervous about this amazing thing that just happened’. Because no matter who you are, you’re strong enough to handle whatever life throws at you.

30 Day Self-Love Challenge: Week One Updates

This past week I took on my own made up version of a self-love challenge. First off I would like to pat myself on the back for making some baby steps that I will get into later, but I would be lying if I said that after one week I was cured of all of my negative emotions and had an enormous amount of energy.

Before writing this out, I read an article on The EveryGirl where the writer interviewed one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert (if you haven’t read her book Big Magic it’s a must). During the interview, Gilbert was asked,

How do you strike a balance between staying authentic to your followers but also maintaining privacy and keeping some things close?”

To this, Gilbert replied:

“I rally against the word balance. You can’t open a women’s magazine without balance this or balance that, and I’m like, I don’t know anyone who has found balance. All of us are wobbly as fuck. But that’s the interesting part. It would be terribly boring to find balance all the time; you would have to be so heavily drugged. I don’t even know what that would look like. I’ve given up on finding that. Instead, I think, OK, what brings joy and the least amount of suffering? What would be the most interesting path for me to take here? Let’s go.”

After reading this simple yet profound answer, I realized that I was missing the point of taking on this challenge for myself. Will I ever really find ‘balance’? And if I did, do I even know what that is supposed to look like? All I know is that I want to feel happy, I want to stop drowning in the negativity that my job is putting me in, I want to achieve my goals with a feeling of confidence that I can get it done and be successful.

So, maybe like Gilbert says, I need to stay ‘wobbly as fuck’ and achieve everything that way.

Because honestly in the last week, I still felt stressed out. I still had moments of doubt. I still had days where I felt like sleeping and not conquering a single thing. And I think I’ve realized (maybe even just today) that I’ll probably have those days here and there. But, the goal is to have a lot less of them.

So, some positive steps I was able to take this week to get my self-love on.

  • I left work on time. This was a big one, and one that I did two out of the five days. It felt great to say I‘ve done what I need to do, and now it’s my time.
  • I gave myself an hour to just lounge and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy before bed. Something I previously felt kind of guilty about doing on weekdays.
  • I met one of my writers (in person finally) who was here from Barcelona, and it was so fun getting to talk with her (shout out to you Bianca for being amazing!)
  • I went home for the weekend and spent time with my family and dog (which was so relaxing).
  • I went for a run yesterday morning, something I enjoy but feel I never have energy for anymore.

See? Baby steps.

My goals as I jump into this week is to incorporate way more writing into my week. It’s hard, and I feel like some inspiration has been lost these last few months. But, even taking this weekend to rejuvenate, I feel it coming back.

Letting go of the idea that I need to have this perfect balance in my everyday life is also something that I want to work on. Admittedly I can be a bit of a perfectionist, but I’m learning that sometimes life is the most beautiful when it’s just a bit messy.

I hope this gives YOU some inspiration and insight as you take on this new week!

 

30 Day Self-Love Challenge Towards A Balanced Life

Recently, I’ve taken on a job where the concept of a ‘work-life balance’ is essentially non-existent. I feel like I wake  up, go to work, am lucky if I get to eat a full meal, and go to bed (only to repeat the cycle for the rest of the week).

All of the stress and anxiety I thought I had rid my body of is flooding back, and I admittedly feel at a loss with how to cope. My eating habits are off, the gym doesn’t happen, my mind never shuts off, I feel like a mess. However, I realize that there are so many more of us out there that are dealing with this exact same thing. We unintentionally let ourselves go (mentally and physically) when we have little to no work-life balance.

So, as I sit here on this beautiful Sunday morning in Brooklyn (where I’m still stressing about work tomorrow), I know that I need to make a change. My job is going to stay the same, and will take me down with it if I let it. Instead, I’m deciding to make a conscious decision to not let my work drag me along any more.

Will I still have hard days? Probably. Will I still end with a 60 hour work week? Definitely. But what will hopefully change is my attitude towards it all.

With that being said, I encourage you to join me as I jump into my own 30 day self-love challenge, which I believe will in turn create a better work-life balance for myself.

What will this challenge include? Well, it may look way different for you, but here’s what I want mine to include:

  • First, just putting it out there into the universe that I need a change (but doing the work necessary on my end to get me there).
  • Eliminating the amount of negative self-talk that I’m currently allowing myself to do.
  • Taking 1 hour (or more if I have it) to do one thing that I love each day (this could be just laying in bed watching a show, reading a book, going to a certain place, etc.)
  • Meeting up with friends more often.
  • Making time for exercise (my current goal is three times a week for now, and hopefully I can up it from there!).
  • Getting my favorite coffee or tea before work to set myself up for a good morning.
  • Preparing meals and snacks ahead of time so that I’ll have unlimited healthy snacks to grab from throughout my work day.
  • Sneaking ten minutes in the work day to just sit and breathe.
  • Standing up for myself when I need to leave work on time.
  • Going home to visit my family because I always feel better when I get there.

This list is what I am going to read through every day to make sure that I’ve accomplished at least one thing. I’m sure there are more that I can do that I’m not thinking of, but for now I have my outline. This is what I want to push all of you out there to do, make an outline of things that you can do to promote more self-love in your life.

It’s unfortunate that we have to think about making time for ourselves, but as I’m learning, it is so essential. Primarily for leading a more balanced life (especially when work is taking over).

My goal is to implement this challenge into my routine for the next thirty days, and if all goes well this will be something that comes more naturally. You will see weekly updates on my blog about how I am doing in this challenge (mostly to hold myself accountable).

If you are experiencing a similar imbalance in your life, do this with me. Thirty days is nothing when you are creating a better version of yourself, and allowing yourself to lead a life where you are more in-sync with everything.

So here’s to the next 30 days of manifesting so much self-love!

Follow along on my Instagram where I’ll be posting all about this throughout the challenge!

Girl Boss 101: Beauty & Lifestyle Expert Nitika Chopra Talks Career And Self-Love

As a follower of Nitika Chopra, beauty & lifestyle expert and inspiring talk show host, it was an easy decision to choose her to interview for my next installation of ‘Girl Boss 101’. However, what I didn’t know was the series of take-aways that I myself would walk away with from not only this interview with but her ‘Deep Dive Into Self-Love’ event.

Since I have started speaking with women for Girl Boss, I have realized that in one way or another they help me, open my eyes, or say something I really needed to hear in that moment. Self-love is something that I have personally struggled with in my own life, as I’m sure  many of you have as well. So, when talking to Nitika both through our interview and being in the atmosphere of her event, I knew that I had come to the right person.

It is actually difficult for me to form the words needed to describe the sense of ‘Finally hundreds of other women out there GET ME’ after leaving her event. It’s  even more difficult to describe how inspired I felt when I heard Nitika speak about what self-love means to her during our interview. Whether you feel lost with your business, career in general, or self (mind, body, and soul) I sincerely recommend reading what Nitika has to say.

Through this series of questions you will get a sense of how Nikita started her career as an entrepreneur, what excites her most about her career, and much much more. It’s my hope that through this interview you will feel just as inspired as I do to not only take control of your career, but maintain a balance of self-love and care throughout it all.

 


CW: What was your original plan growing up for your career (if you had one), and has your passion for self-care and self-love coaching always been there?

NC: I was in real estate, and was working that for five years before I started trying to launch my own career. Even in the first business I had as an entrepreneur (Bella Life), it’s been a constant evolution to shave off the things that I don’t need, and practice the things that I love. It [self-care and self-love] was kind of always there for me. I wanted to know the deeper meaning to things, and the deeper answer to things. I wouldn’t say I was ‘into’ self-care and self-love, I didn’t categorize it, it was just a part of me.

CW: How did your TV hosting and coaching all start?

NC: I was trained to be a life coach 12 years ago, so I’ve had that training for a long time. And then I had always loved performance, singing and acting and other performance based things. But I didn’t like the emptiness of the entertainment business, so when I started Bella Life [now Nikita Chopra] it was with the goal of becoming a talk show host that would allow me to merge the performance and coaching.

CW: Have you always had the support of friends and family when you decided to launch your career as an entrepreneur?

NC: My family has always been supportive in terms of wanting the best for me and loving me, but when I started to be an entrepreneur I definitely scared them. My parents are immigrants, they took a big risk, and being an entrepreneur is a big risk. We had a lot of conversations of ‘what am I doing?’, and it wasn’t until I got my talk show, and they saw ‘oh she can get hired for this!’ that I felt like they could get on board. When starting my business, my friend group totally changed. I distanced myself from a lot of people who couldn’t get behind the idea and support me.

CW: What do you think gave you the courage to become an entrepreneur?

NC: I think for me I had always felt like I had a greater purpose in my life. And I just didn’t know what the hell that was. It didn’t really fit the bill that I had seen with other people or anything like that. It was really up to me to create the following of the purpose and my dreams. I didn’t come from a family that was going to give me a connection or fund my dreams. I was the only one who was going to make it happen. I didn’t know anybody who was able to help me with that.

I have a lot of strength in me, I’ve dealt with a lot of challenges in my life. I choose to be more committed to my happiness. Even when things seem tough or uncomfortable, I choose happiness. Whatever that looks like. It’s definitely a roller coaster, but it’s a choice. Following my dreams, is not easy all the time. But it’s a choice I make every day. So to me courage didn’t come to mind, it was really a choice.

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CW: What has been the most exciting and thrilling part about coaching women on self-love?

NC: I love the women in my love-entourage, that’s who I coach the most. I would say those moments where they realize they’ve been doing something one way for so long but that they could be doing it a different way. Their in my home in NYC, and you can see it on their faces having these ‘aha’ moments, and I’m watching them sitting in my living room like oh my god this is so incredible.

I feel like it’s the easiest program I’ve ever lead, because I’m supporting and loving them. It’s really a safe space to uncover and discover, and I’m just so honored to be on this journey with them. It’s such a privilege. 

CW: Why do you think so many women lack self-love, positivity, etc. and do you have a recipe for obtaining it no matter what your circumstances are?

NC: I think so many women lack self-love because a lot of times when you’re growing up we’re told a lot of messages that are against the truth of our soul.

Our soul is unbelievably breathtakingly beautiful, but in the world we are often told the opposite. So there is a lot of inner conflict. That is definitely what happens to me, for sure. That inner conflict is like plaque on your teeth, and if you don’t clean it, it builds up. That’s just the nature of those thoughts and conversations.

I think the biggest thing people get tripped up about when thinking about self-love is that they need to go from pain (negative thoughts) to loving ourselves immensely. I think people are forgetting a very important step in the middle, compassion. I think that is key to moving away from the negativity in your life and mind. Allowing yourself to say, I’m in pain right now, I don’t love these parts of myself, I’m embarrassed, etc. You hear people talk about inner child work, thinking of the young version of yourself that first got hurt by something, for me it’s the 10 year old girl who is hurt that I think about. It’s important to have a practice where you love her, and you love that part of yourself, that’s what I’m most interested in helping people with.

It’s not about “I’m happy all the time, and I’m never upset” that’s bullshit actually. It’s about having compassion about where you’re at. Nothing happens to you if you feel it (you’re not going to die because you’re sad), but if we keep shoving it down and bypassing it, it’s just going to keep being there waiting for us.

CW: In your mind, how does self-love/self-care translate into other areas of our lives?

NC: It translates into every single thing that you do. For one, we can’t expect others to take care of us. There are times that people will take care of us if we’re lucky, but we can’t expect it. Self-love and self-care, if you’re anchored in it and have a practice, then you end up needing less from others, and don’t expect them to owe you something. And you’re more able to be present and be of service. That’s why I think self-love and self-care are the foundations of everything.

CW: What is the most challenging part of coaching women on self-love and self-care?

NC: The thing I have the hardest time with is when people are not coachable. Because I want so much for everyone (and for myself) that if I meet you, I can literally see the possibilities within you, the possibilities of what you’re capable of, and how bright your inner light is. If I am with someone who is so dead set in not seeing that in themselves, not willing to be open to the fact that what I am saying might be true, I have compassion for those people, but I usually just have to let that go, that’s challenging. There are some people who are more committed to their suffering than their happiness.

CW: Where do you think that your positivity comes from, and how do you maintain it during tough days, weeks, months?

NC: My positivity was honestly just cultivated. I wasn’t a positive person until I was about 20 years old. For the first 20 years of my life, I wasn’t happy.

Then I realized there was a choice, and that I could choose happiness, not that it was easy, but that I could choose it. Now when I’m in a really shitty place, sometimes I let myself be upset for a little while (going back to the inner child, take care of her) other times I’m gonna call that friend that makes me laugh, so let’s just call her and have a good mid day chat cause I’m not feeling it in life. The other thing I do is listen to a lot of Abraham Hicks (law of manifestation ) and allow myself be in that and listen to it over and over again.

CW: What is the most exciting part of your career for you?

NC: I think there is so many things. Because each part that I get to explore, is exciting to me for different reasons. Part of it is the love entourage, because that’s deeper than anything I’ve done. I also really love putting on live events, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to put on a live event (7 years), and every time I finish an event I’m so proud and honored by what I was able to create and seeing how people felt when they left. Even my social media, it has it’s own rhythm and flavor. Anything that has to do with my work, I feel so privileged and honored to do it. I feel super pumped whenever I get to do any of these things. I never do anything that isn’t 100% aligned with me.

CW: Do you ever feel hesitant to put it all out there on social media?

NC: I do feel hesitant, I do have those questions. I think it’s smart to have those questions. If you always have no filter then you’re not being of service to the people you’re trying to reach. I am always thoughtful about the things I put out there. I try to pause every time I post something and think: Is this me, or is this going to move things forward? Is it something that I can actually post and have it make a difference?

CW: Do you have a certain mantra or quote that is your go to for representing how you live your life?

NC: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I think about that a lot, whenever I post or write something. Is this the love I want to have in the world?


 

Taking a risk can be scary, especially when it comes to our careers. But then you see thriving women like Nitika who are inspiring others (like myself) because she took that risk.

I highly recommend attending the next event Nitika hosts if you’re in NYC, or signing up for her coaching program. It was an eye-opening and exciting experience that I think all women can benefit from!

To learn more about Nitika Chopra, attend one of her events, or simply get MORE inspired check out her website here: Nitikachopra.com and her Instagram here: @nitikachopra