Delicious Smoothie Bowl in Less than 5 Minutes

It may be winter, but there’s just something about fresh fruity goodness first thing in the morning that makes it enjoyable all year round. I was craving it today, so I looked through my freezer and happily found everything I needed to whip up a quick and easy smoothie bowl in less than five minutes. I also added in a couple scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to give some extra love to my skin, nails, hair, and bones.

Recipe:

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

2 scoops of Vital Protein Collagen Peptides powder

Splash of almond milk

Ancient Grains granola sprinkled on top

1/2 cup Greek yogurt swirled in

Blend fruit, chia seeds, and Vital Proteins powder for 2-3 minutes then mix in yogurt with a spoon.

Sprinkle on granola on top for added crunch.

Enjoy!

This bowl is bursting with immune boosting vitamins and minerals, and beautifying protein. It’s the perfect way to start the day, you’ll feel energized, not bloated, and have energy well into the afternoon.

Trending: Dry Brushing and Why It’s Actually Amazing for You

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard about the importance of exfoliating your skin in the shower. After all, the loofah has become ubiquitous with every college dorm survival kit– it’s just that important! Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, boosts circulation, and just feels good. Recently though, more attention has been placed on the practice of dry brushing, and its’ benefits have been proven to greatly outweigh typical shower exfoliation.

First, what is dry brushing? Dry brushing is the practice of brushing the skin once or twice a day with a firm but soft brush in an upward motion. It’s best done first thing in the morning and before you get in the shower. Unlike regular exfoliation, dry brushing is said to be a powerful way to detox the entire body by stimulating the lymphatic system. It boosts circulation, sweeps away dead skin cells, stimulates the lymph nodes, improves digestion, improves the appearance of cellulite, and helps the cells and body in general remove waste.

Stimulating the lymphatic system is at the core of all its benefits. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting, transporting, and eliminating cell waste. If the lymphatic system is congested, it can lead to a build-up of toxins, causing inflammation and illness. Dry brushing stimulates and strengthens the lymphatic system and therefore provides a quick and easy way to help detox the body in a powerful way everyday. As with any health regime, results are best experienced when it’s practiced consistently.

Now that you know what dry brushing is and why it’s so beneficial for your health, what’s the best way to do it?

  1. Make sure your brush is made with soft, natural bristles. A longer handle will help you reach more area, and make the process easier.
  2. Start at your feet and move the brush in quick, sharp upward movements.
  3. For your hands and arms, brush in the same way towards the heart.
  4. For your stomach move in a counter-clockwise circular motion.
  5. For your back, work from your neck down towards your feet.
  6. Brush for approximately 3-5 minutes.
  7. Remember to be gentle–it should feel pleasurable, not punishing.

Practice dry brushing everyday, and you’ll not only feel better physically, but you’ll be surprised how much this simple act of self-care has on your attitude towards yourself and others. Once you start engaging in small actions that show you care for yourself, you’ll find that you’re more optimistic about life and more loving towards others. So fill your cup first thing in the morning, and then go out and tackle the day.

Moms, Let’s Help Ourselves

We often forget that moms are individuals with a past and identity before having children. That moment when she finds out she’s pregnant, the focus immediately shifts from “me” to “we”, and that feeling only intensifies the older the child becomes. Therefore, in order to truly give something back to the moms in our lives, one must simply let her figure out how best she can renew herself. Everyone is different, the needs of one mom vary from one to another. One mom might need a night out with girlfriends, another a long hot bath and a good novel. The cure for what ails is bio-individual, but the need is undeniably there.

When I first became a mother, I was overwhelmed by the realization of that responsibility. Breastfeeding, tummy time, around the clock feedings and diaper changes all contributed to a culture shock I had mentally prepared for but not emotionally connected to yet. I felt extremely tired and the weight of responsibility was leveling. I had always been strong, but this new life as a mom required a higher, more intense level of resiliency I hadn’t acquired yet. I had to adapt, and I wasn’t sure how to do it. I was a fighting a losing battle against the tide, and I felt myself being pulled under.

It wasn’t until I had healed enough from giving birth and could workout, that I saw my first respite from the pull of the metaphorical undertow. The road became a lifeline to my former self to pull out of the constant drudgery of mundane daily tasks that motherhood requires. In the 30-60 minutes I was out on the pavement I felt lighter and lighter. Each step was a reclamation of my former self, and I breathed in the freedom I felt had escaped me. When I returned home, tired and exhilarated at the same time, I was at peace with my life again, and happy to dive into diaper changes, cuddling and even teething meltdowns.

Running and eventually yoga, weight lifting, and meditation, were the outlets I needed to be whole again–another mother may have a completely different set of requirements. I use myself as an example because it’s what I know for sure. What I also know without doubt is that as women, we are intrinsically selfless creatures. Sometimes we give so much of ourselves that the cup becomes empty, and that is where it becomes a matter of health.

Health is more than what is on our plates. It’s found in our relationships, our career, our connection with a higher power, and of course nutrition and exercise. It takes going inward to find out how we as mothers are doing in each of these categories, and then making the appropriate changes to make ourselves healthy and happy.

It may sound extreme at first for her to take 30-60 minutes for herself every single day, but if you think of the mother as the center of the home, it makes perfect sense to nurture her. The health and happiness of a home is almost always directly related to the sense of wellbeing of the mother. But no one can help a mother, she has to do the work and find what she needs to help herself. So mothers, do the internal work, and families support her. The result is a scenario where everyone wins, and the potential of every family member can be fully realized

A Month of Total Body Workouts

As part of my passion for holistic health and living a balanced life, I have unintentionally over the years, developed a sustainable workout routine that safely challenges and trains the entire body. My routine incorporates elements of weight-lifting, running, yoga, swimming, and HIIT (high intensity interval training) and the result is a strong and capable body that will serve you well into old age.

Below is my recipe for success for those of you who need some extra guidance and support, or others who are simply bored with their current routine and looking to add some fun dimension.

Please Note:

  • If you have health concerns, do not start this program before consulting a doctor.
  • Push through discomfort, but listen to your body to avoid injury.
  • 5×5 translates to 5 repetitions of 5.
  • Donkey Kicks and Fire Hydrants should be performed with a dumbbell tucked behind the knee.

The Breakdown

Every morning I wake before everyone else in my house, quietly sneak downstairs and complete 15-30 minutes of yoga and 5-10 minutes of meditation. I finish my practice with a few minutes of intention setting– focusing on how I want the day to flow, what I am grateful for, and what I’d like to manifest. This simple morning routine has drastically improved every aspect of my life.

Week 1:

Monday:  Run or Swim; Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs (100 Mountain Climbers, 60 Russian Twists, 100 Crunches, Plank); Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Tuesday: Weighted Squats (5×5); Leg Extensions (5×5); Hamstring Curls (5×5); Weight Press (5×5); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Wednesday: Spin Class or Run; Abs (100 Crunches, 30 Bicycles, 30 Elbow to Knee Crunches, Plank); Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Thursday: Bench Press (5×5); Overhead Press (5×5); Dumbbell Curls (5×5); Tricep Dips (5×5); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Kettlebell workout (30-60 mins–YouTube) or Run; Abs (30 V-Ups, 30 Bicycles, 30 Russian Twists, Plank); Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Sunday: Restorative Yoga (1 Hour), Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Week 2:

Monday:  Run or Lap Swim; Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs (30 High Crunches, 30 Reverse Crunches, 30 Flutter Kicks, Planks), Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Tuesday: Weighted Squats (5×5); Leg Extensions (5×5); Hamstring Curls (5×5); Weight Press (5×5); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Wednesday: Spin Class or Run, Weighted Squats (5×5), 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pull-Ups (3 sets), Abs (5 min Plank–broken up)

Thursday: Weighted squats (5×5); Bench Press (5×5); Overhead Press (5×5); Landmine Press (5×5); Bent-over Row (5×5); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: HIIT Class or Run; Pull-Ups (3 sets); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Abs (100 crunches, 30 Russian Twists, 30 V-Ups)

Sunday: Restorative Yoga (1 Hour); Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Week 3:

Monday:  Run or Lap Swim; Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs (30 High Crunches, 30 Reverse Crunches, 50 Flutter Kicks, Plank), Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Tuesday: Weighted Squats (5×5); Leg Extensions (5×5); Hamstring Curls (5×5); Weight Press (5×5); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Wednesday: Spin Class or Run, Abs (30 Plank dips, 100 Mountain Climbers, 30 Bicycles), Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Thursday: Bench Press (5×5); Overhead Press; Landmine Press (5×5); Bent-over Row (5×5); Pull-Ups (3 sets); Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs: (100 crunches, V-Up w/ Rotation, 30 Russian Twists, Plank)

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Circuit Training Class or Run, Pull-Ups (3 sets), Abs (5 min Plank–broken up)

Sunday: Restorative Yoga (1 Hour)

Week 4:

Monday:  Run or Lap Swim; Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs (100 Crunches, 30 Russian Twists, 30 Flutter Kicks, Plank); Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Tuesday: Weighted Squats (5×5); Leg Extensions (5×5); Hamstring Curls (5×5); Weight Press (5×5); 30 Fire Hydrants; 30 Donkey Kicks; Pistol Squats (5×5); Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Wednesday: Spin Class or Run, Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs (100 Crunches, 30 Bicycles, 30 Elbow to Knee Crunches, Plank), Pull-Ups (3 sets)

Thursday: Bench Press (5×5); Overhead Press (5×5); Landmine Press (5×5); Bent-over Row (5×5); Pull-Ups (3 sets); Weighted Squats (5×5); Abs: (100 Mountain Climbers, 30 Side Plank Dips, 30 Russian Twists, Plank)

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Kickboxing Class or Run, Pull-Ups (3 sets), Abs (100 Crunches, 30 Russian Twists, 30 V-Ups, Plank)

Sunday: Restorative Yoga (1 Hour)
Lastly, remember to have fun with your workouts–don’t view it as a punishment for what you ate the night before, rather as a celebration of what your body can do!

 

 

How to Transition Away from Processed Foods and Regain Alignment with a Weekend Juice Cleanse

It’s no secret that addiction to processed foods is a reality in this country. Unfortunately, that means skyrocketing rates of obesity and inflammation in children and adults, and all the heath problems that accompany those maladies. No one wants to feel sick and out of control, but so many simply don’t know how to combat it. It’s a systemic problem, but happily, it is also one that can be remedied with intentional action.

Though I don’t suffer from any health problems, I am acutely aware when my poor food choices negatively affect the way my body and mind feel. When I start feeling lethargic and unmotivated, and I know that my diet of processed foods is to blame. I follow a vegan diet, but even with that, there are still plenty of opportunities to eat poorly and feel unwell. Faced with this realization, I know the best way to regain mental, physical, and spiritual alignment is to eliminate food altogether and engage in the age-old process of a fast. Fasts are great for jump starting weight loss, healing the liver and gut, skyrocketing energy levels, and focusing the mind.

Rather than engage in a super strict water-only regime, I typically choose to do a simple weekend juice cleanse–sticking to mainly raw organic fruits and veggies. It’s incredibly important to drink copious amounts of water while fasting. I start each morning with a liter of filtered water, and this practice is especially important during a fast when you are cleansing out your system. It also helps subdue hunger pangs. I also don’t abstain from drinking black organic coffee. Fasting purists would say that one must forego all caffeine during a cleanse, but there is so much evidence showing the benefits of coffee on the liver and gut, so I choose to consume in moderation. Lastly, exercise and meditation are two crucial components of a fast. Without them, the effects are not as formative, and the results don’t last as long. Fasting, gentle exercise, and meditation is the trifecta of actions that create a substative shift and bring one back into alignment and true health.

Before I begin a fast, I make sure to stock my fridge with plenty of organic fruit and veggies. If you’re going to be consuming only liquid nutrients, you don’t want them to be sprayed with pesticides. Also, you are more likely to stick with the cleanse if you have everything you need, and don’t have to run to the store. Each day will consist of three to six 8oz juices, depending on how much you need and want, so stocking up beforehand is paramount. Lastly, I ensure that my family is aware I intend to fast so that everyone knows to be supportive.

I have found that as early as the first day with the first juice I feel a surge of energy, my mind is sharp and my mood is euphoric. I typically make extra so that I have the next batch ready and I limit the amount of times I have to clean the juicer. In addition to nutrition, gentle exercise is highly recommended to aid in the cleansing process. A 15 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout and some gentle yoga is a great way to eliminate toxins and purge the digestive system. I typically don’t feel any different during the HIIT portion than I normally would while not fasting, and my yoga practice always feels great and restorative. I concentrate on moves that focus on my back and abdomen (spinal twists, bridge pose, cat/cow, etc.) to encourage the cleansing process along even more.

It’s after working out, that I’m usually greeted by my first real hunger pangs. I reconcile this discomfort with remembering why I chose to cleanse in the first place and taking some deep meditative breathes. Studies show that cravings tend to last around 30 seconds, so if I make it past that point, I know I will survive–resolve intact. A meditation practice that focuses on cleansing, refocusing, and realignment is the perfect accompaniment to a fast, and makes a longer lasting impact after completion.

As the hours pass I notice how sharp I feel–sounds and smells are heightened and yet my mind is relaxed. I can see why so many people from around the world use fasts as religious and spiritual aides: it doesn’t just clarify the body, but the mind as well.

The second day of the fast is usually harder than the first. The excitement has diminished slightly, hunger is ever-present, but you will wake feeling lighter, more rested, and assuredly alive. Typically by day two there is a weight loss of 1-4 pounds. Seeing this quantifiable change is often the motivation I need to reach the finish line.

Day two’s workout should consist of some gentle walking and/or yoga and meditation. These types of activities will help curb hunger tremendously, create a sense of well-being, and restore focus for the week ahead.

By the end of the fast, ( I usually eat a light dinner Sunday night) I have increased my energy levels, gained a stronger sense of self-control and focus, crushed prior addictions to processed foods (i.e. sugar and salt), and feel completely at peace. Fasting is truly an amazing tool for encouraging self-discipline and eliminating spiritual, mental, and physical misalignment.

 

A Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

Dear Husband,

We met eight years ago in the most unlikely of places–Las Vegas. I observed this tall, dark, and handsome man talking to my friend, and something happened internally to me. Your face seemed familiar, your Southern accent drew me in, and the way you looked at me slowed down the constant chatter in my mind. You shook my soul in mere minutes, and I hadn’t even spoken a word to you yet. After I found the courage to approach you, we talked and didn’t stop talking until…

Read the rest where it’s been published on Red Tricycle.

 

Red Tricycle Articles

Guys I am so excited to share that Red Tricycle (basically my bible for all things motherhood), has published TWO of my articles on the realities of momlife. You can check them out here:

The Mommy Wars

Want to Try for a Water Birth? Here’s My Story and How I Did It.

Thanks for reading, and please share if they speak to you!

Love in Marriage When You Have Littles

 


When my husband, Sam, and I first got together our love was easy. We’d go to dinner, get drinks, or jump in the car on a whim and go camping for the weekend. We knew that when we had kids, things would change, but didn’t really dwell on it. I had co-workers tell me to wait at least five years after we married before having kids, so that we’d have our own time to enjoy each other and our freedom. Of course, me being me, I did the exact opposite and…

Read the rest of the article and more awesome mom-life related content where it’s been published on Red Tricycle.

 

How I Reset My Brain by Floating

The rapid pace of life we live today is not normal. My latest piece, published by mindfulness magazine elephant journal, describes a way to rest the brain and start anew from a place of clarity and calm. Find it here.

 

DC’s Water Birth Story

When I was a child, my mother would tell me the story of my birth on my birthday. Even though by the time I was six, I knew it by heart, she always indulged me because she knew it made me feel special. As one of four kids, we constantly fought for attention (and the best cereal), and so she knew by telling me the details of that day, I was made to feel important on my birthday. I wanted to carry on the tradition while the memories are still relatively fresh, and detail my experience of bringing DC into the world so that he will always have it, and feel special too.

My youngest son, DC, (i.e. Douglas Clifford after his grandfathers) turns two years old on Sunday. If you’ve ever met DC you know that he is someone that plays by his own rules, and no manner of chiding, begging, or bribing will make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. There is a great deal of academic debate on the topic of nature vs nurture in determining the character and personality of an individual, but I have the opinion that most of who we are, and how we behave is derivative of nature. DC is so diametrically different in demeanor from his more timid and acquiescent brother, that sometimes I wonder how they can be related. Personalities aside, his birth, as is often the case, was indicative of his determined and independent personality.

Days before my due date (January 30th), my parents drove from Florida to help with soon-to-be older brother Nash for when the time came for me to leave for the hospital. Life was fairly unchanged, my pregnancy had been easy, and I was able to run, work, and sleep normally. On January 28th, my husband, Sam, left for an overnight work conference. Thankfully it was in Atlanta where we live. I spent the evening with my parents re-watching old episodes of Game of Thrones as they caught up on Jon Snow’s influence over the Wildlings, and then went to bed. I remember feeling extremely alert and having trouble falling asleep, but around 11 pm, I finally did. Around 1 am, I woke up with strong cramps, and I knew DC had decided to make his appearance while his father was away for the night at a conference. I was beginning to know DC.

Nash’s birth had taken exactly eight hours, so I knew I had time. I called Sam and he, in his quintessential, easy-going manner, said “Ok, tell me when your water breaks and I’ll leave.” (We naively thought this birth would go exactly as Nash’s had, where the water breaking with him had signaled us to leave.) I went downstairs and turned on the t.v. which woke up my concerned parents. I told them to go back to bed and rest because labor had just started and we wouldn’t need to leave the house for a few more hours. Adorably, both of them got out of bed and stayed with me, and so we decided the best course of action was to finish the Game of Thrones marathon. Finally, the contractions had become powerful enough to warrant a drive to the hospital, even though my water still hadn’t broken like it had with Nash. Since Sam was staying overnight at the conference hotel, my dad took me, and luckily we had just skirted the infamous Atlanta morning traffic.

There were a lot of vehicles on the road despite the early hour, and the winter sky was still dark. When we arrived at the hospital, my dad ran towards the Labor and Delivery entrance to see if we could enter there, or be forced to go through the main ER entrance because it was so early. While I waited for him, I texted my sisters, who both immediately texted me back with words of encouragement, solidarity, and love. I felt as if they were in the car with me, comforting and guiding me along. Soon my dad was running back to the car and leading me out of the cold and into Labor and Delivery.

At 6:30 am we checked-in at the hospital, and I was given a comfortable room, fitted with a large birthing pool. The midwife asked if I wanted to wait to fill the pool, warning that warm water will sometimes delay the progress of the labor. I smiled, and politely asked her to fill it up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad more miserable, and even though I wasn’t making any noise, he told me that just knowing I was in pain was torture for him as a parent. I told him to go to get some coffee, and I labored alone for a few more hours as women have done since the beginning of time.

My reliance on meditation carried me through the continuous waves of pain. I focused only on my breath, and imagined the safe delivery of my baby. I trusted in my body and the process, and knew that I would be fine. I never allowed fearful thoughts to take over, even when it was hard for me to catch my breath. I treated the pain like riding a wave, trusting that I wouldn’t drown. I let go completely and let my body guide me. The warm birthing pool was essential for keeping me comfortable and allowed me to easily change positions  as needed. The hours flew by and soon the sun was shining through the cracks of the closed blinds.

The midwife and nurses came in periodically to check the unborn baby’s vitals, acknowledging that all was well. Sam arrived at the hospital around 9:30 am, after not escaping the aforementioned traffic. DC was born an hour later in the birthing pool, and as soon as the cold air touched him, he cried out loud and strong. I know that I was waiting for Sam to arrive in order to give birth, and I still jokingly rebuke him for extending what would have been a perfectly fast and easy labor because he had work obligations.

DC came into the world happy and healthy, and we knew that our family was complete. Later in the day, my parents brought Nash in to visit us, and upon seeing them, I burst into tears. I broke down, not from exhaustion or the hormonal crash (which is very real) but because some of the most important people in my life, individuals whom I love the most, were all in the same room–every one of them feeling this intense, palpable love for this newest member of the family. It was a perfect moment that I will never forget.

We left the hospital the next day, and life ever since has been one chaotic but beautiful wild ride, thanks in great part, to the unbelievably cute and indefatigably rebellious DC.