If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that for the past month or so I’ve been trying to practice yoga. As a self-proclaimed balance-challenged individual, and as someone who has a really, really hard time “finding her inner calm,” yoga was never exactly my cup of tea. I looked at yogis the same way I looked (ok, still look) at runners: good for them, not for me. But as I started practicing at home (another shout-out to Yogi Adrienne) I was feeling more confident in my yoga abilities, my mind was calmer, and the thought of taking my skills into a public class seemed less scary. Enter Aerial Yoga.
It all started when a coworker (and friend) was in-town last week. She mentioned how stiff she was feeling after her long flight to NYC from LA, and threw out the idea of taking an aerial yoga class to stretch out a bit. My ears perked up. “Aerial yoga?” I said “that could be interesting…” Still off the booze and eager for a non-bar related activity, I quickly told her I’d join, and we invited another coworker/friend along for the ride (the same friend who got me into Yoga with Adrienne!) $25 and a walk across the street from our office to Om Factory, and we were ready for our Aerial Yoga class.
For those of you who have been wondering “WTF is she talking about, what is aerial yoga?” in short, aerial yoga is where a large, silk hammock hangs from the ceiling of a yoga studio (our class had about 15 hammocks), that are suspended so the bottoms are a few inches from the ground. A yoga mat rests underneath, and props such as a blanket and yoga blocks were nearby. The practice boasts increased flexibility and relaxation, and offers a fun twist on classic yoga. Depending on the class, various yoga poses are performed, including inversions, where part or all of your body may be suspended in the air. Talk about a head rush! Our particular class was a “restorative” 75 minute session, where no pose was too extreme, but was held for 3 to 5 minutes.
I really wish I had been able to take photos of myself and friends while we were suspended in positions that made me think I was at my gynecologist's office. We started off slow, but quickly switched to what seemed to be never-ending hip openers, where our thighs were spread-eagle in the air, while our hips were (somewhat uncomfortably) being held up by the silk hammock digging/resting on my skin while my head and shoulders plunged into the earth below me. As I deeply questioned whether or not my hammock could hold me, or if I’d be the first one ever to break through the silk (it’s weighted up to 2000 lbs–clearly we are all fine), it was a bit tricky to “find my focus.” There were stretches with the silk that allowed for further movement than normal, but I have a hard time relaxing with such slow movements (other aerial yoga classes offer a faster-paced yoga style). The last move involved “cocooning” ourselves; where our entire body is enveloped in the silk hammock, your body is outstretched, and you gently sway side to side. As my body gently rocked, I was slowly able to tune out the sounds of midtown, embrace the weird, and start to relax. And then the class was over.
Overall, I’d say aerial yoga was a positive experience, if for no other reason than I got to see my friends in ridiculous positions (did I mention I couldn’t stop laughing?). My inner thighs have NEVER felt so stretched out, and I did enjoy the vibe of it all (fancy yoga classes are niceeeee). I think I’d certainly try it again, but opt for a more classic-yoga style class, instead of something slower paced. Have any of you out there tried aerial yoga? What was your experience like?
Let me know what I should try next in the comments below!
I made it! As of yesterday, I’ve successfully completed my second Whole 30 and 31 Days of Yoga Revolution. Not to be all “wow, I’m so proud of myself, look at how great I am” blah blah crap, but honestly, it feels pretty good to know that I was able to successfully do both.
Despite my hesitations going into yoga (refer to this previous post), I think I’m sort of into it now. Not to say that I’ll be going on yoga retreats or constantly referring to my third eye, but I genuinely feel more relaxed and stress-free, and even in just 30 short days, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my flexibility and stability. But past the physical effects, I also gained something I hadn’t really thought about before–30-40 minutes of peaceful “me” time every. single. day. It’s so easy in life, at least for me, to get caught up in everything else going on in the day–projects at work, supporting friends, taking care of pets, entertaining dates–the list goes on. But it’s important to remember that you’ve got to be the number 1 in your life, and self-care is incredibly important. Maybe that means treating myself to a manicure, taking a fancy workout class, or finally getting a blow out, but for the past 31 days, it meant showing up for myself to do a little yoga. It was a time I set aside just for me everyday, and while some days had to get skipped (and made up for later!) I did my best to show up. I mean, I practiced in my bedroom, so really, no excuses.
It’s funny how much Whole 30s can vary from one to another. I remember during my first one trying all sorts of weird recipes (such as a cashew “alfredo” sauce-some things really need dairy), and constantly looking at what day it was in the 30. I always had a count-down to the end, even though I was feeling good. For this Whole 30, I stuck to recipes that felt a bit more comfortable and classic, such as Pizza Spaghetti Pie and Paleo Meatballs (I guess I was feeling Italian this month?) and relied more heavily on having easy to eat fruit and veggies around (and of course, prosciutto) to fill in the gaps when I didn’t have a full meal planned. For most of this Whole 30, I had no idea which day I was on. I had more energy and focus than last time (thanks yoga!), but my bits of insomnia that I battled last time crept back in, too (anyone else have this on W30?) But I had my hard moments–days 20-25 were filled with a massive sugar craving, and losing my desire to eat anymore meat. And I’m not going to lie, all I wanted the day of the inauguration was a large vat of wine and a rich chocolate cake. But as any Whole 30er will tell you, not having these things won’t kill you. I didn’t die because I couldn’t have a drink on an awkward date, and not being able to bake for a month didn’t cause me wild distress either. I think they call that discipline, kids.
So what’s the takeaway? Am I just going to go eat all the bagels I can find and drink until Trump isn’t president anymore? Duh, no. Physically and mentally I feel better than I have in a while. And I wasn’t going to say it, but screw it, it’s my blog–I lost 14 lbs since January 3rd, and DAMN does that feel good! W30 emphasizes the importance of not weighing yourself during the 30 days, and while I was feeling better, I didn’t really think I lost any weight. Not that a number should be the only factor in determining success, but it does put a very superficial reward on what you feel internally. So far I haven’t eaten anything non-Whole 30, but I am going out tonight, and brunching tomorrow. I don’t want to fall too far off the wagon, but I’m ok with occasional splurges with friends or for special occasions, and I’m going to stick with paleo-ish at home (paleo baking is happening in the near future). I’ve also started another 30 day yoga series (30 is apparently the ideal timeframe for me), and I’m looking forward to continuing my practice. We all know that change takes time, but I feel really good about the changes I’ve been able to make for myself since the start of the year, and I encourage you to reward yourself for the changes you make for yourself, too. In a time of a lot of uncertainty, remember you’ve only got yourself to owe up to, so do it for you! Tell me what you’ve done for yourself lately! Take a class? Learn something new? In the next blog I’ll tell you how my first aerial yoga class went...stay tuned!
In my recent post reviewing Glossier’s Generation G, I quickly mentioned my allergy to Propylene Glycol. I imagine most of you (like me 5 years ago) went, ‘what the heck is she talking about?’ So I’m here to offer a bit of an explanation. But first, remember, I am not a doctor. Or even slightly qualified to be a doctor! So a friendly reminder that these words are simply my own, and not those of a medical (or science) professional.
Propylene Glycol, in the simplest term, is a chemical. It’s fairly harmless (though yes, it is used in antifreeze), and has many applications as an ingredient in things like whipped topping, soda, e-cigarettes, hygiene products, makeup, nail polish...you get the picture. PG is in a lot of things.
So where does my story with PG begin?
About 5 years ago, I started noticing my hands were really, really dry. I started buying all sorts of fancy hand creams, moisturizing gloves, trying those paraffin dips, and nothing worked! I then started developing little red bumps on my hands (I know, gross) and knew it was time to turn to the professionals. So I booked an appointment with my trusty allergist; a couple weeks and an itchy chemical patch test later, the doc determined I was allergic to Propylene Glycol. Now let me tell you folks, even trusty doc looked a little forlorn over my diagnosis. But why? She had figured out what the cause was! I can now just avoid it.
And then I went home and realized it was in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY HYGIENE PRODUCTS. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, the fancy body scrub I treated myself to. I was making my problem worse. I was causing this. I slowly started throwing out every single product, watching my hard-earned money go into the trash-but this is what I had to do to start healing. After a long trip to Target, reading every label of every product I purchased, I restocked my bathroom cabinet, and waited eagerly for my hands to be fixed.
But 5 years later, and my hands still aren’t “fixed.” They are leaps and bounds better than they were-I no longer look like my hands were attacked by a wild animal, and they don’t constantly itch. But I will always have a little red patch, maybe a little red bump. Why? I’m not actively using products that are bad for me. But remember, PG is prevalent in so many things, and even has multiple names! It may be in that hand soap in the public restroom! Or in the cleaner just used at a table you sat down at at a restaurant! Or in a product that didn’t use to have PG, but now does! And in a fun, shocking twist, PG is also in many steroid and antibiotic creams meant to treat chemical allergies!
So how do I deal with this? How do I deal with something that makes me so self conscious, but seems unavoidable? Well, I do what I can, and leave it at that. Most people don’t really recognize it (when I’m not having a major flare-up), and my friends who know what I’m going through don’t even really see it anymore. It’s called being “self” conscious for a reason-as in, I’m really the only one who sees the tiny little bumps or red spots (most days), and who can allow it to bother them, or not. I do my absolute best in trying to avoid it-I read the labels of everything I purchase, and won’t try a new product unless it clearly lists the ingredients. This has luckily cut down on my impulse purchases of unnecessary hair and makeup purchases. Though it may have upped my spending on higher-quality items. Let’s just call that a moot point.
If any of you out there are dealing with a Propylene Glycol allergy, please know that your struggle is not alone. It can be wildly frustrating, but I know I’m fairly lucky if this is my main ailment. If you’re managing this allergy, or have tips or product recommendations, I’d love to hear from you!
I don’t always (read: almost never) find yoga relaxing. There, I said it. I know it’s about breathing, connecting to your inner self, finding your chakras, blah blah blah, but for me, it’s often more about trying to balance not falling on my face with overworking my mind to find “calm.” When a yoga instructor says to clear your mind, let all those thoughts drift away, are there people out there that can actually do that? If anything that suggestion refocuses me on my stressors of the day. And for all the marbles in the world, can someone tell me how you actually balance on your head? And then please tell me you find that relaxing.
Ok, so why am I talking about yoga? Because I signed up for a 31 day “REVOLUTION” of yoga, of course! Bet you didn’t see that coming (well, unless you read my post from the other day)! Adrienne is a highly-followed online yoga instructor based out of Austin, Texas, and offers FREE yoga class videos on YouTube. Say the word “free” and I’m already practically there. Adrienne’s YouTube page is filled with a variety of different yoga classes, from short videos for when you’re on the road, to a small series focused on weight loss. But a friend of mine mentioned the 31 day “Revolution” that was starting January 1st, and knowing that I could successfully commit to doing something for 30 days (and would align with my Whole 30), a 31 day “challenge” seemed doable. Even if I was still dubious of yoga.
So why’d I pick yoga if I keep complaining about it? The last round of Whole 30 I paired aggressively with the gym. I’d hit the treadmill and weights regularly each week, but found the repetition to be getting old. It’s also getting a bit chilly here in NYC, and the thought of not having to leave my house to get some exercise in really appealed to me. I’ve done various workout tapes in the past, and still go to those when I’m looking for something higher energy (this and this are my favs, while this one makes me strongly dislike all “dance” type workout videos, and really question Tracey Anderson). But I was craving something a little calmer, something that would make me feel really connected to my body, to the calmness I was bringing by cutting out processed foods from diet. I wanted...YOGA.
Now I’ve just completed Day 4, and minus a minor back injury (did I mention I’m clumsy?), I have to say, I don’t hate it. Adrienne minimizes the hippy-dippy language, and balances the breathing portions with moves that feel more pilates-ish than yoga. I’ve tried various yoga classes (in person-where I left after the instructor started balancing on her head, and online) before, but so far this seems to be the winner of them all. At least for now.
Has anyone out there recently picked up a new workout routine, or can suggest a new one for me to try? I want to hear from you!
Welcome back! Yesterday I mentioned that I was about to embark on my second round of Whole 30®, but you may be thinking, what is she talking about? If you want to read all the nuts and bolts about it, I’d suggest starting here, but in short, it’s a 30-day approach to changing the way you look at food. The program cuts out carbs, legumes, dairy and alcohol completely, and focuses on proteins, veggies, fruits, and lots of eggs. As someone who’s tried many diets in the past, Whole 30® appealed to me because it promised to cut out the measuring and calorie counting, and focused more on listening to what your body wanted. I can get on board with that! A good friend of mine has done a few Whole 30s before, and when she told me she was doing another this past September, I was eager to join her. I subscribed to the Whole 30 Instagram feeds, added recipes to Pinterest boards, prepped meals, and was ready to go. And let me tell you, the experience was not quite what I was expecting…
The mantra of Whole 30 founder Melissa Hartwig is “It is not hard. Don't you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” And you know what? It’s true! I was expecting meal prep to be daunting, for socializing with friends to be impossible, going to bars on first dates to be cringe-worthy, but you know what? It wasn’t. I’d spend my Sunday afternoons meal prepping for the week (always making sure breakfast and lunches and snacks were ready), and instead of getting dinner and drinks with friends, we’d go to concerts or shows or bookstores. I found ways to eat out (though I tried to cook 98% of my meals), and honestly, not drinking at bars felt totally ok (and can you say MONEY SAVING?!) Many Whole 30ers report feeling more energized and less stressed–personally, I wasn’t in that camp, but I did feel a sense of calm and empowerment, probably because I felt very in control of everything I was putting into my body. Super focused on one aspect of my life=less focus/less stress on the other aspects. Oh, and after 30 days of eating nourishing foods but also never feeling hungry, I lost weight.
So everything is sunshine and daisies then and I’m still eating Whole 30? Well not exactly…
The 30 days was over. And the holidays started. And all the wine. And the cookies! I managed to stick paleo-ish at home, but decided I wanted to start my 2017 off with another Whole 30. I’ve prepped my breakfast and lunch for the week, and just ordered some Thai as a “last meal” of sorts. But despite the extra work, I’m really looking forward to starting 2017 out strong, and focusing on myself. I’ll share my tips that worked best for me the first round, and recipes I’m excited to try in this round. Curious in learning more for yourself? The original Whole 30 book is a great place to start, and looks super purdy on the kitchen counter, but there’s also a whole host of resources online, too. Have any of you out there tried Whole 30? What were some of your toughest challenges?
And don’t worry, this blog will not just be about Whole 30, or other maybe-crazy sounding food plans. Next up this week: why I may not be patient enough for yoga, and a review of the amazing lip tints I picked up recently.