breathe

The Year of Tidying

I recently finished Marie Kondo’s book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it did in-fact, change my perspective on my life (whether or not it will change my life is TBD… too soon to tell!).

There have been numerous blog posts on people who have completed her (now) world-renowned tidying method, and if you want to give it a try yourself I highly recommend purchasing the book. In a nutshell, Marie’s method (The Konmari Method) helps you declutter and tidy once and for all (supposedly without “rebounding”). Having always dreamed of being a neat and tidy person, I was eager to give this a try.

I’m not going to lie, about halfway through I wanted to give up. I wanted to actually move apartments so I could just start over and not have to finish this project. Over the course of three days (and even still now), I discarded almost 10 bags of garbage/recycling, and almost 10 bags of clothes, shoes, handbags, and books (I donated those). After going through every. single. possession, this cathartic process, and this book taught me three things that will serve as my 2016 (and beyond) resolutions.

Before....

Before....

Before....

Before....

1. Attract Things (and Experiences) that Spark Joy

The Konmari method challenges you to ask yourself of each item you own: “Does this spark joy?” At first I thought this was insane. This toothbrush does not spark joy, but I need this! I then text my friend Colleen (another tidying graduate) to say “none of my underwear spark joy, but I kinda need those!” She responded: “maybe you just need some new underwear!” She was right. Once I came across the things that truly sparked joy, it made it much easier for me to discard the things that didn’t, including almost all of my bras and underwear. Now if you see me, you’ll know that I’m completely commando. Now when I think about wearing something, purchasing something, or doing something I ask: “Will this spark joy?”

2. A Place For Everything

Marie recommends (or demands) that you have a specific place for everything you own. Every. Single. Thing. You might think you do, but you don’t. As I began giving all of my things a dedicated space (electronics, craft supplies, cleaning items, bags, kitchenware etc), I realized how having a place for everything not only keeps everything neat and organized, but it also makes it easy to take stock in what you have, and what’s missing. I realized this idea, a place for everything, is essential to all parts of your life. It means you have to create space for the important things, people, and projects. For me, this means setting more clear boundaries between work time, alone time, and time with friends and family.

3. Take Care of All Things.

When I was going through the depths of my closet and storage area, I came across so many bags, shoes, and other items that once sparked so much joy. But now, they were dusty, faded, wrinkled, and scuffed. I couldn’t believe I just left them to rot like that. I’ve made a vow this year to take the things I kept like bags, boots, and jewelry in for a spa day to get them cleaned, repaired, and polished. This idea is also helping me STAY tidy as I don’t want my things to end up in that sad condition again.

4. Give… give. give.

When I was clearing out my clothes, I created two discard piles. One pile I was going to attempt to sell to the local Buffalo Exchange and the other I was going to donate to Goodwill. Anything leftover would also go to Goodwill. I walked into BE with about 6 bags of clothing and they decided to only buy 2 items. 2! I made $6. When I walked outside I felt so silly for not just donating it all in the first place. At that point a woman came up to me and asked me if I had any spare change, and I decided to give her my $6 commission before donating the rest of my clothing to Goodwill.

After

After

After

After

Now since I’ve only been home a few days since I’ve completed the tidying process, I can’t say for sure that it will have long term results, but I am sure going to try! I’ll follow-up in a month and let you know how it’s going.

What about you? What’s one area of your life that you could tidy up? It might be clothes or kitchen, or it might be relationships with your close girlfriends. Let me know in the comments below!

 
 






3 Things I Learned While in Italy

As some of you may have seen on my Instagram, I recently took a (very quick) trip to Italy. A BIG Thank You to my parents who allowed my sister and I hijack their vacation for a few days.

I always find when I go on vacations, especially to places that are culturally very different from where I'm from, I try to take note of how I can incorporate some of that culture into my life when I return. These are the 3 things I learned (or was reminded of) in Italy, that might help you too. 

The view of Positano, coming down 1,400 steps from the Walk of the Gods.

#1 YOLO. 

I am very grateful my mother took it upon herself to learn Italian about 5 years ago. This one simple goal opened up a whole new world to her. Literally. She has made friends all over Italy, and New York. So, during our time in Positano, most of our dinners were pre-ordered by our Italian friends who knew just the right combination of meats, cheeses, and pastas (and wine).

I made sure to try everything, and our friend Franco commented “oh you must be hungry.” He then turned to my mother and said, “I love your daughters because most American women are vegan or vegetarian, they spend more money on clothes than they do on food” (not me).

I started pouring him another glass of wine and his eyes widened and then he said, "OK life is only one." I told him in the US we say YOLO, (You Only Live Once).

But here's the problem with "YOLO," especially when it comes to food. YOLO is a slippery slope. Pizza in Positano? YOLO. Stale cupcakes at an office party? NOT a YOLO moment. Save your YOLO moments for the moments you are actually living. You know that saying… You actually live every moment, you only die once. Don't YOLO your way into killing yourself. Choose life. Choose experiences. Don’t eat and drink yourself into coma everyday. That’s not living. 

Pizza in Positano

#2. GIVE. 

Our friends were so generous. With their time, their energy, their love, their food. I mean everything. And just a side note, we were there during the work-week, not a relaxing weekend. I realize how much we, myself included, live in this scarcity mentality. There is never enough time, money, energy, food, nourishment to satisfy us. We end up looking for sustenance in all the wrong places (see stale office cupcakes mentioned above). That might be because we are always looking for what we can get versus spending our time giving. 

I asked our friend Reno where we could get the best cannoli in town. He said “I’ll bring it to you.” with the english translation I figured he meant he would bring us there. But, he showed up at our door the next day WITH THE CANNOLI. On HIS WAY TO WORK. When was the last time you did that for someone? Let's try it, I bet it feels really good.

Appetizers @ Nello's

#3. READ.

This was not something that Italy taught me. This was something that very-poor-internet-connection taught me. I ate (I mean, read) two books while I was away for those three short days (Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David and Yes Please by Amy Poehler). Usually before bed I soak up some white-light by watching re-runs on my fave shows (Friends, and How I Met Your Mother) on Netflix. I make it through one, maybe two episodes and then pass out. But, I also have a stack of books next to my bead that are thus far unread. I'm going to invest in a night lamp so I can start reading before bed, even if just for 10 minutes. 

Dream Kitchen

I had this whole plan to do a “Healthy Through the Holidays” Challenge, and now coming back from this trip. My head and heart are not in it. I have some other projects that I'd rather invest my time and energy in, so instead, I’m listing some challenges here to help you close out 2015. 

1. Be present with your meal. Engage with your company. Even if your company is just you. Living alone, I eat a lot of mymeals alone. It’s easy to flip on a TV show, or have my phone on while I’m eating. But I’m pretty damn good company all on my own. So my goal is to do that more. 

2. Bring someone a cannoli. You know what a mean, a metaphorical cannoli. Give someone something as wonderful and decadent as a cannoli when they least expect it. I swear it will feed you for like a month. 

3. Read before bed. Or write. Or see if there is something you might do with your moments of spare time besides flip through the internet or watch TV. 

Let me know in the comments below which one of these challenges you're going to try - and then let me know how it works out for you!

 
 

Finding Balance, an Interview with Julie Starr

Like two [nutritionist] ships passing in the night, Julie and I have probably found ourselves in the same Yoga and Barre classes, and have even held the same nutrition coaching position, but at different times. We FINALLY had the chance to sit down together and I had to capture the moment, as Julie talks about finding balance in her life as a business owner (x2) and mom. 

Her tips are so REAL and easy to implement - it's a must watch for anybody looking for simple ways to implement healthier habits for themselves and their children. Make sure you watch the end of the video - where Julie reveals her "They're Just Like Us" moment - an indulgent moment that proves, nutritionists are people too :).

Let's get the conversation started in the comments below - let us know what your favorite way to teach your kids about healthy eating and nutrition!

 
 

You can find Julie at Starr Nutrition or Starr Yoga, or on Instagram (@starrnutrition + @starryogabos).

 
 

Frozen Honey Lavender Lemon Bars

With this crazy heat wave we are experiencing here in Boston (I am NOT complaining), I've been craving frozen treats every minute of everyday. With a plethora of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils at my finger tips, I decided to get creative and try something a little out of my comfort zone (read: something other than ice cream).

A few weeks ago I went to the SoWa market here in South Boston. All the rage if you're looking to wait in line for 2 hours for food truck cuisine. My friend Kara and I grabbed some Scoop Sights vegan ice cream bars to hold us over. I had sea salt caramel and Kara had lemon lavender. Ding ding ding... immediate inspiration.

These bars are SO easy to make, and best of all, you don't even need your oven.  

honey-lavender-lemon-bars-doterra

Frozen Honey Lavender Lemon Bars

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup oats (if you're 'paleo' you can just substitute your favorite nut)
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup cashews (or any other kind of nut)
  • 5-8 drops DoTerra Lemon Essential Oil (if you don't have the oil on hand you can use a few tablespoons of lemon juice)

For the Custard:

*I used Whole Foods Market 365 brand Organic Coconut Milk (found in the international isle). To separate just the cream, place the cans in the refrigerator overnight. When you open the can, separate out the water (it's a clear liquid) and use just the cream. This will ensure less crystallization after you freeze the bars. 

In a food processor, pulse together the ingredients for the crust until the crumbs are small enough to stick together. Press the ingredients into the bottom of a 9x9 pan.  

Whip together the coconut cream, honey, lavender oil, and vanilla with an electric mixer or blender. You can also do this by hand, but it's not as easy!

Pour this mixture over the crust. Set in the freezer for 8 hours. Cut into 9 squares and enjoy! 

Want more recipes like this? Make sure to sign up for e-mail updates!

 

For more information on essential oils, be sure to drop me a line!

 

Why Walking is Better with a Dog

Over the last couple of years my fabulous mother has lost over 50 lbs by simply eating healthier and walking. No other fancy workout routines, just by adding more steps to her daily life. This is something I'm always trying to convince people of trying, but have always found hard to do myself. See, I like walking, but I always think it would be way more fun if I had a dog to make the walk more purposeful.  Unfortunately, my living situation (a tiny 350 sq/ft apt and long hours outside of the house) wouldn't serve a pup very well. But after losing our sweet, beloved family dog, Sammi this year - I've been exploring any way to make city living with a dog a reality. So when my friends Crissy and Charlie Saunders announced they were creating walkzee, an online platform connect people to shelter dogs - for walks - I knew I had to do whatever I could to make the vision a reality. More people walking, more dogs get fresh air, and more dogs being adopted! It's truly a win-win-win.

Watch my interview with Crissy and Charlie to see how they came up with the idea, and scroll down to see how you can make walkzee a reality.   

 There's about 2 weeks left of their Kickstarter Campaign, and they have about $8,000 to go - If they reach their goal, walkzee will be a reality by this summer (ahhh, summer)! Now if I had $8,000 I'd pledge it myself, but I don't. So here's how I'm going to sweeten the deal: aside from all of the attention and swag you'll get, I'm going to offer a free Your Health 101 session to anybody who pledges over $100 after watching this video. Just e-mail me at Jessi@JessiHaggerty.com after you donate to schedule your appointment.  

Pledge: bit.ly/walkzee

If you want to donate, but aren't able to - please share this message with your friends. Help us make Walkzee a reality!

Tweet: Pledge $100 to @Walkzee and get a #free Nutrition Consult with @JessiHaggertyRD bit.ly/walkzee. E-mail Jessi to schedule!

Finding Balance in Extreme Weather

Another Meet-Up Monday, although today doesn't include a video! This weekend I very serendipitously met with Ayurvedic Specialist, Jill Talve. For those of you who are not familiar, Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system of natural healing that originated in the Vedic culture of India. I've had an interest in the tradition for a long time (for myself and my practice), and while I was home in New York over the weekend, my sister's Urban Outfitters order was accidentally delivered to Jill's doorstep. When we went to pick it up, I was so excited to learn more that I booked a session with Jill immediately. I'll keep you posted on some of the lifestyle recommendations she provides me with, but for now she has graciously provided us with a guide to finding balance in extreme weather - yes. please.

Finding Balance in Extreme Weather By Jill Talve C.A.S.

UGH.

I hate winter. (I'm with you, Jill).

On the other hand, the snow is beautiful, and I am cozy. Kitcheree on the stove….

As we get ourselves closer to the rhythms of nature, wherever we are, how does one maintain balance during extreme weather? How do we stop the bouncing back and forth of moods, thoughts and actions if nature herself seems over the top?

Not easy. But there are few lessons we can learn from Nature , that may help us stay centered during these times.

1. Dig Deep. When the ground and everything above it seems frozen, do what the plants do and dig deep. Root systems are often two thirds of the entire plant (just imagine what lives beneath a giant oak)!

Those roots are alive and vibrant, harnessing energy for the upcoming spring. But for now they are hidden, and take some getting to. When there’s not much to see on the surface, the only place to go is IN.

Try this daily simple breathing practice (courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil):

Body comfortable, spine straight.

  1. Inhale through the nose, for a count of 4.
  2. Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  3. Exhale through the mouth for a count of 8.
  4. Repeat 4 times.

Do it 2x/day preferably at sunrise and sunset, but this practice can be anytime.

2. Lighten Up. In Ayurveda, cold, frozen temperatures and dry fluffy snow bring out the Vata dosha, which governs movement of all kinds. In balance, Vata fosters creativity, inspiration and enthusiasm.

In excess, vata pushes these characteristics farther along the continuum towards anxiety, worry, and restlessness. Being overrun with thought can be debilitating. It is often about what you can’t do or don’t want to do, leaving one with a feeling of helplessness and discontent.

Traditionally, grounding activities such as sticking to a daily routine and warm, heavy foods will help to calm the mind but in extreme weather this can be tricky. If we overdo these practices we will give rise to the Kapha dosha, which in excess can foster a heaviness and lethargy.

The balancing act between these two doshas is a challenge in this environment and requires some work. Keep food choices cooked and warm to pacify Vata but stay light by choosing vegetable soups and stews. Take a day off meats and refined sugars. A 20 minute walk, preferably outside, is the key to keeping kapha in check.

Exposure to sunlight for 15 minutes (when possible) is enough to gather some of the sun’s energy to ignite the pitta dosha, which leads to productivity.

3. Go with the Flow. Everything in nature survives by adapting to its surroundings, and we are no different. Consider how in those first days of winter we are chilled by falling temperatures. Here in the northeast when the thermometer falls below 40 F for the first time we feel frozen, and by February we feel as if 40 F is practically a beach day!

Try not to hang on to the feelings you are experiencing in extreme weather, because you will miss the fact that it is already changing. Sunrise during this time of year is around the time most of us are waking up. Most weather apps that come with smart phones will tell you exactly when sunrise is in your area. Make a point to get up a few minutes before and deliberately watch the sky. Combine it with the simple breathing exercise described above. You will immediately feel the positive effects.

With each passing day, the ice is melting and the water is flowing underneath, the roots are spreading and foraging for moisture within the frozen ground. Each day has a beginning and points us towards our own spring. Sometimes the pace is not in sync with what we would like it to be - too slow or too fas t- but the more we can align ourselves with the pace of nature, the better we will feel!

Jill is a graduate of CCA as a Clinical Ayurveda Specialist and Pancha Karma specialist. She is the owner/operator of EverVeda, an Ayurveda wellness Center in Long Island, NY. EverVeda offers Ayurvedic Consultations, healing therapies, custom herbal medicines, Pancha Karma, cooking classes and a Meals that Heal© program, prepared meals specifically designed for the individual wishing to optimize their health.

Jill is determined to give the best Ayurvedic care possible to those she is given the privilege to see, combining the past, present and future of healing in all its forms.

Vist Jill at www.EverVeda.com.

There are a lot of new terms in here - if you have a question for Jill, post it below and we'll make sure you get a straight answer!

See you next week!

Let the Goal Find You.

Ahhh. The first Monday of 2015. The newest of new pages. I mean c’mon… nobody really starts their New Years Resolutions on January 1st… they ‘wait until Monday.’

They wait ’til Monday to start the diet… to join the gym… to stop eating sugar.

Yeah… the Magical Monday of the New Year… when everything is different… Except it’s not, right?

I used to be a serial goal-setter. And I’m not exaggerating. Sometimes I would find pieces of paper or journals lying around that literally just had lists and lists of goals and ‘challenges.’ Everything from exercising daily to saving more money. Occasionally there would be one about not hitting the snooze button or saying ‘yes’ to more fun things.

Then, last year a funny thing happened. I decided I wasn’t going to set any goals. It was the first year since I could remember that I had nothing. I was just confused. I didn’t even know what I wanted to accomplish. Sure I could do more yoga. Try running. Save money. Meal plan. Finally start my business. Bleh. It all sounded so whats-the-point.

I’m sure you could tell by now I wasn’t in a good place. I think I secretly knew 2014 was going to be a year of extremely uncomfortable growing pains, and all I wanted to do was get it over with.

So the months went by. I learned how to shuck an oyster. I turned 27, meh. I got sick. I went on a last minute, much needed getaway to the Dominican Republic with two of my best friends. I went through B-School. I started a business. I was a bridesmaid in NOLA. I got sick. I started teaching exercise classes again. I went to DC. I got a root canal. I was a bridesmaid in Paris. I went to Ibiza, what? I started teaching more exercise classes. I got pneumonia. My dog died. I gave my boyfriend pneumonia. And on December 31, 2014 I quit my job. Also, by the looks of my pictures I dyed my hair quite a few times.

Now I'm not saying that I'm 'over' the whole goal-setting thing. It just took me all year to realize, that maybe sometimes you just need to let the goal find you. See at the beginning of last year I could have never imagined that half of these things would have happened. But all of the opportunities that came my way made me realize what I was craving in the first place. I rediscovered my pure love for movement and teaching. I realized how much I missed making time for travel (and how much I hated being restricted to 'PTO' days). I felt from the core of my being how valuable my relationships are.

But I wasn’t making time for any of it. I was so bogged down between trying to balance work, with more work, with more work, with my family, my relationship, my friendships, and my house, that I wasn’t able to enjoy any of it. Getting hit with pneumonia was a real wake up call, but it finally hit me when I was on the phone with a coaching client and I thought to myself “I can’t help you! I can barely get myself to do the things I want to do!”

It was time for me to walk my talk and create space for what I really wanted: Time. Energy. Health. Passion. Love.

So the week before 2014 ended, I decided to go full force towards it.

Here's how I did it.

This Girl’s Guide to Goal Setting

1. Appreciate what you already have.

If you’re reading this… you have a computer. And the internet. Already you have resources that millions of people across the globe don’t have access to. You are fine. Remind yourself of this daily.

2. Lose your shit.

It’s OK to meltdown. Permission granted. I had a major meltdown. Ok, a couple of major meltdowns. It was a round robin of sorts. I cried to my doctor, my mother, my boyfriend, my shower. The usual suspects. The ugly, snotty, sorta cry too.

3. Figure out what you really want and what you really don’t want.

Go ahead, figure it out. It might be something that you already know but are afraid to say out loud. For me, I knew that I wanted to start my business. I wanted to teach. I wanted to have energy. I wanted to have more time for my relationships. I didn’t want to work 40 hours a week for someone else… and guess what? That’s OK. So whatever you figure out… that’s OK too.

4. Figure out why you want those things.

These things make me fucking happy. And not the kind of fake happy you see on someones Facebook wall or Instagram pics. The real indescribable happy you have when you walk around just smiling for no real reason. What lights you up? Is your goal getting you closer towards having more of that in your life?

5. Figure out how to get them.

What do you need to make your thing happen? I knew I needed more time and I needed to be healthy. I needed to walk my talk. I cant build my business, teach classes, support my relationships, and travel without those things.

6. Ask for help.

My Mom’s famous saying “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” I reached out to see if people needed my expertise, part-time. Something stable that I could really sink my teeth into, while also giving me the freedom to teach and grow my business further. No matter what your goal, its almost impossible to do it alone. Trust me. Ask for help. Phone a friend. Call ya motha!

7. Be flexible.

Know that your plans might change. Goals you never knew you had might find you. Be open to them. Be flexible. And most of all no matter what you decide to do… be grateful for all of it.

I hope this guide helps you get off on the right foot this year, I know it's helped me.

If you want more of this stuff for 2015, sign up for my newsletter below. You'll get some freebie meal planning goodies in your inbox when you do so!

1 Surprising Way to Boost Your Metabolism

Guys... Guess where I am right now? PARIS. Yup - my BFF is getting married there and I am performing the oh-so-stressful Maid of Honor Duties (can you sense my sarcasm? I'm in PARIS)!

I wanted to keep ya'll entertained in my absence so I have fellow Health Coach and Personal Trainer, Erin Melito to the rescue! And I have to say I am just loooving this post she wrote for the blog. Check out Erin's BIG secret on how to boost your metabolism - I'll catch ya'll next week!

So you want to boost your metabolism?

My guess is that you’ve done some research and have probably tried some, or maybe even all, of these:

  • Making healthy food choices
  • Watching your portions
  • Eating 5-7 small meals every 2-4 hours to keep things humming
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Getting your sweat on regularly
  • Lifting weights to add lean muscle
  • Adding some heat into your food because spicy foods might give you boost
  • Drinking more coffee or green tea because the caffeine might kick things up
  • Eating more protein because that might do the trick
  • Fidgeting like it’s your job because it just might burn a few more calories
  • Maybe even taking fat-burners or other “magic” supplements that make glamorous claims – YIKES!

When I started to write this blog, I went out on the wonderful world-wide-web and Googled “boost metabolism.”

No surprises here! Those listed above were the most common things to come up.

And yet, so many women still come to me because they’re frustrated that they’re not getting the results they want.

Can you relate?

  • You feel like you’re doing everything right and yet…nothing!
  • Your body won’t budge.
  • Or it feels like your progress is quite comparable to that of a snail. Ugh!

What’s a woman to do?

Well, there’s one rock that you may not have even considered looking under.

What’s that rock, you might ask?

It’s the state of your body and your mind when you’re eating.

Okay, some of you are rolling your eyes right about now.

I get it.

But stay with me.

Are you eating when you’re:

  • Stressed?
  • On-the-go?
  • Overly emotional about something?
  • While you’re watching the nightly news (unfortunately most of the stories we see aren’t exactly full of rainbows and unicorns)?

These situations typically cause STRESS.

There’s growing evidence that when you eat your food in a state of stress you drastically limit your ability to digest and metabolize effectively.

Whaaaaaat?!?!

Yup.

According to Marc David, founder of the The Institute for the Psychology of Eating, here are just a few things that happen:

  • Cortisol (stress hormone) and insulin levels increase and both accelerate fat storage
  • Blood flow to the digestive system decreases which inhibits proper digestion
  • Healthy gut bacteria decreases making it more difficult to absorb vitamins and minerals appropriately
  • Oxygen, a key factor in metabolic functioning, decreases
  • Inflammation in the body increases making it more difficult to shed fat

Holy moly! For realzzzz?!

Yup.

So, what to do?

Here are a few strategies to bring more stress-less eating into your life:

1. Sit down to eat

Sounds simple but this is one that I see so many women NOT doing. And this doesn’t mean sitting in your car! Sit at a table, take the time, and eat your food in a more mindful way. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and how your body feels.

2. Practice deep breathing before you eat.

This one takes a lot of patience! Before ANYTHING goes into your pie-hole commit to taking 5-10 long, deep belly breaths. Quiet your mind. Some people like to say a prayer or give thanks for the food they’re going to eat. Pay attention to your body and be sure that you’re feeling relaxed before eating.

3. Tune out any technology

Turn it off or tune it out. ALL of it. The TV, iPhone, iPad, computer. This can be so hard in our day and age when we all seem to have our eyes constantly attached to some electronic device. Detach. You can do it. I know you can! The idea is to get your body and your mind feeling relaxed when you are eating.

There are many other ways to lower stress in your life such as practicing meditation, yoga, getting adequate sleep, etc. The irony is that it can be overwhelming and stressful to try to incorporate all of them into your daily life!

My recommendation is to start with one. Commit to it. Practice it daily until it becomes a habit and then add another into your life.

Small, baby steps add up to big, consistent wins.

Erin_Melito

Erin Melito is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, lifestyle coach and passionate supporter of womenwho are ready to end the struggle with diets, exercise, and negative self and body image. She has a skill and passion for coaching individuals to create a vision, breakthrough physical, mental, and emotional barriers, and reach their goals.  She loves to eat, exercise, and enjoy life! Coaching and teaching other women to do the same is the reason she started www.erinmelito.com.