Category Archives: Fitness and Wellness

Words I have heard in my yoga practice that you might need to hear right now

First of all… this poem called Joy For No Reason by Danna Faulds:

I am filled with quiet joy for no reason save the fact that I’m alive.

The message I received is clear – there’s no time to lose from loving,

no place but here to offer kindness,

no day but this to be my true, unfettered self and pass the flame from heart to heart.

This is the only moment that exists – so simple, so exquisite, and so real.

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography
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…You are beautiful, inside and out.

…Sometimes it’s tough.  Mentally.  Physically.  Emotionally.  But you push through it and the relief at the end is a feeling unlike any other.

…The most valuable gift we can give our bodies is time.

…This breath in…this breath out.

woman in black bikini underwater photography
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

…May you be happy, may you be safe, and may you live your life with ease.

…We always seem to be tied up in what has happened and what is happening later.  But when we lock into our breathing, we are in the present.

…You are here, you showed up.  You did the hard part.

…Appreciate that you are alive beneath your hands, that you are the only person under your hands that matters right now.

Image result for supta baddha konasana with hands over heart

And don’t forget…

…If you can balance your body in here, you can balance anything out there.

…It’s okay if you fall.  It means you pushed it to your edge, and you get right back up.

…You’re the most graceful fall-er I’ve ever met.

…Your pose is not going to look the same as any other pose, because every body is different.

…Every day, your body needs different things.  One day you may be able to hold a headstand for 10 minutes, the next maybe you need to lie down into child’s pose most of the practice.  Wherever your body is, is perfect.

man standing with two hands
Photo by Zsolt Joo on

…If you are really stressed or overwhelmed, try doing a few handstands.  They take conscious effort and focus, so it diverts your mind for a minute, and brings your attention to your balance and breath.  I think of it like hitting a mini restart button on whatever you were doing.

…We all know about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would like to be done unto yourself.  But did you know it goes both ways?  You should do unto yourself as you do unto others.

…Find comfort in the discomfort.

…Whatever it looks like right now is beautiful.

…You’re sweating and you’re breathing: that’s all that really matters.

..Nothing changes if nothing changes.

…When the merry-go-round of thoughts come in, let them.  But don’t get caught up on any that don’t matter in the right now.  Just let them keep going around.

carousel at the park
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In case you need a reminder…

…You are enough, you do enough, you have enough.

…Practice self-compassion.  Compliment yourself and appreciate your body just as you would another person.

…If your loved one was going through this, what would you tell them?  Sometimes what we tell others is what we need to hear ourselves.

…Find softness in your edge; the furthest point you can push your body.  Then exhale, soften, and push just an inch further.  That’s where the change happens.

…Sometimes what we need is not what we want.

…Heart open, back straight, booty low.

…It’s so easy to just send a text, or post a photo.  Showing up, being present – that’s showing passion, commitment, appreciation, drive.

…Just being here, right now, adds to the dynamic of the room.  If one person was missing, this whole practice would be different.

And finally…

…The light in me sees, and honors the light in you. Namaste.

brown and blue polka dot textile
Photo by Vinícius Vieira Fotografia on

Special thank you to The Yoga Shop of Salem (well the entire TYS community, for that matter) for allowing me to grow in my practice, my mind, and my life.  Thank you for sharing these words with me in and out of our practice.

If you would like more mantras like these, I highly suggest getting yourself a copy of  Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. (Shout-out to Amanda for the best Secret Santa gift this year.) Some of these words came from this book, as many of my instructors use it for their opening meditations in class.

Or, better yet, come join a practice sometime.  I promise you won’t regret it.

When a Health Issue is a (Financial) Death Sentence

When I was let go from my first full time teaching job due to budget cuts, many things went through my mind.  Would I find a new job?  What will happen to my students?  How will I tell my parents?  On top of this my biggest fear of all was that I was losing my health insurance.

I don’t remember much of the meeting.  I was called into the Principal’s office (something equally if not more scary for a teacher than a student) and there was a Human Resources representative sitting in the room.  I sensed what was going to happen.  My face felt hot and there was a rock in my stomach.  When I was told that I would be finishing the year but not having my contract renewed, I sat, shaking, and asked why.  The principal listed reasons but I barely listened.  I began crying and blurted out “but what about my health insurance?”

This job loss came only a week after I found a tick in my leg.  At first, I thought it was a scab–possibly from a razor nick I didn’t notice.  ~WARNING: GROSS TICK-IN-LEG DESCRIPTION AHEAD~ The next day, I took a closer look and realized something was embedded under my skin.  It was black and no bigger than a poppy seed–it was a tick nymph.  Nymphs are the smallest and most likely to transmit Lyme disease.  I did my best to dig it out, but it wouldn’t budge.  I was not able to fully remove it until about a week later–when my skin had grown and pushed the (now dead) tick up.

My fate was sealed.  After only a couple days, the signature bullseye showed up around the bite and I felt fatigued.  My worst Lyme symptoms were the fatigue and brain fog.  Being tired is one thing.  Being sleep deprived is another.  Having fatigue is an entirely different beast.  I would have trouble waking up, be falling asleep at my teaching job, come home and nap, work my second job, and then go to bed and sleep for ten hours.  My work schedule was tough but I had never had an issue with being so tired until this symptom showed up.

In addition to the fatigue, I had brain fog.  I had a lot of issues with communicating.  I remember getting so frustrated in conversations when I couldn’t find the word I was looking for.  I was having trouble articulating exactly what I wanted to say, causing misunderstandings that I struggled with clarifying.  The fatigue was awful, but the brain fog was frustrating.  Luckily, I found help.

I was connected through a friend of a friend to my wonderful doctor who tested me for Lyme, which came up as positive–with two cases.  I was shocked to hear this.  She told me that often, the disease goes undetected because the symptoms can be mild and hard to pinpoint.  We figured out Lyme had been in my body already for at least ten years and that I had developed this new case on top of it.  I started on antibiotics right away and have been on strong antibiotics for six months now.  My older case is gone and my treatment is progressing as planned, but my monthly tests are still showing Lyme and a weakened immune system as a result.

When I lost my health insurance, I went back onto my mom’s.  Unfortunately, many insurance providers don’t cross state lines, and if they do, they have confusing hoops to jump through (like sending a fax–not an email or letter–a fax).  My monthly appointment with my doctor is just over $300 a month.  My medication is $100 a month.  My lab tests are $150 a month.  For someone who just lost a job, an unexpected $550 a month expense is financially devastating.

My mother’s insurance is able to cover some costs and I am able to apply for some reimbursement for my treatments, but it is still costing me about $200-300 out of pocket per month.  This is much more manageable now that I have a job as a substitute teacher and my second job in the evenings, but I much preferred my $20 copay and partially covered prescriptions.

At the end of the day, I am thankful.  A lot of things could have gone wrong over the course of this journey.  I could have never found my doctor.  I could not have responded well to the antibiotics.  My mother’s insurance could have refused coverage for all of my medical expenses.  I am thankful for my caring doctor, my mother, and the support I have received from family and friends throughout this journey.  That being said, I must now get up on my soapbox.

I have said it so many times over the past six months and I will sound like a broken record to anyone that knows me: we need Universal Healthcare.  I am so privileged to have access to the healthcare, finances, and (albeit lacking) insurance needed to treat my Lyme.  I can’t imagine how much worse my situation would be if I did not have my two jobs or my mother to help me.  I am lucky that my condition isn’t much worse.  I don’t need surgery, chemotherapy, or insulin, just antibiotics and a monthly check-in.  I hate to think about the financial ruin I would be in if it was worse.  If we had Universal Healthcare, we would only worry about getting better, not the cost of treatment.

The fact that millions in the United States do not have health insurance and are susceptible to suffering from treatable diseases due to a lack of funds is a national embarrassment.  We are the generation with the lowest voter turnout rate.  So vote.  Advocate.  Make this issue known.  Because a bug the size of a poppy seed should not become a financial death sentence.


My Boyfriend is a Smoker and It’s My Fault

I knew Ian was a smoker long before we even started seeing each other.  Going to a small college with only so many students, the smokers stand out.  You smell it in the air when you walk by.  Sometimes you hold your breath or cough.  To any non-smoker, the odor is offensive and disgusting.  We associate smoking with something that old people do.  My grandparents smoked and so do many of our generation’s parents.  With the knowledge we now have about the harm it causes to our health, why would anyone start?

I cannot count the number of times I have asked Ian why in the world he would take up smoking.  His answer is always the same: he is the product of his environment.  He was raised by a single mother (a smoker) and all four of his older brothers started smoking around the age of eighteen.  Ian would get so upset when his mother and brothers would smoke.  He used to steal lighters and hide them away–you can’t take cigarettes without getting blamed, but you can definitely “misplace” lighters.  Despite all of this, the culture of smoking was contagious. One day, when he was feeling particularly stressed during his senior year of high school, he picked one up and that was it.  He has now been smoking for nearly five years.

According to my parents and several other well-meaning “friends”, I should put a stop to this.  I have been told countless times that I am responsible for getting him to quit.  At first, I thought they were right and that this was possible.

I’ve tried badgering him.  I’ve stolen his lighters.  I’ve taken to hiding his cigarettes when I am drunk.  I have asked him to cut down.  I have monitored how many cigarettes he has smoked in a day.  I have done everything I can possibly think of.

Except for one thing.

I am always told to do it.  I am always told it would work.  I refuse.

I will not give him an ultimatum.  I will not say to him “Give up smoking, or I will leave you.”  Just the thought of this is horrible to me.  The idea that I should leave him unless he makes this change is unfair.  I could stay with him and help him follow through his plan to quit which is mainly based on his plans to move out of his mother’s house and get away from that environment.  Or, I could throw away the relationship we have built for the last two years and threaten to leave on this condition which will not only hurt him, but hurt me as well.  Even if it were to work, is giving an ultimatum any way to have a healthy relationship?

Some may disagree, but it all boils down to this: Why am I the one being held responsible for making him quit?  At first, the question was “How?”, but I have realized that the real question is “Why?”. Why am I expected to fix the problem?  I was not the one that caused it and while I certainly do not encourage or condone the habit, is it mine to break?  This is not the first time something like this has come up for me or for anyone else.  In fact, it is a problem in our society.  Too often women are expected to fix the problems of the men in their life.

I was reminded of this recently when Mac Miller passed away and Ariana Grande ended up disabling her Instagram comments due to trolls blaming her for his death.  This is any woman’s personal nightmare.  While she is thinking “what could I have done differently?” and “is it my fault?” awful people sit behind their screens blaming her for every factor leading to his death.  She is not responsible for him taking drugs.  She is not responsible for his addiction.  And even if she broke his heart, she is not responsible for his unhealthy ways of dealing with that.

Am I responsible for Ian’s smoking?  Is there anything I can do?  If he develops cancer or emphysema or heart disease and dies, is that my fault?  A stupid 18 year-old boy made this horrible life decision, so why is the 23 year-old woman in charge of fixing it?

couples who work out together

couples who work out together

I won’t lie, I am jealous of those staged videos [you know the ones]. Where a couple [generally a male and female] are getting fit together and barely look like they are breaking a sweat. THIS IS NOT REALISTIC.
Often times I will be scrolling through my social accounts and these videos will pop up. I immediately am overcome with jealousy because [wow] and because I would love to find a man like this, but again. It is not realistic.
To the couples that do this, I have no doubt that you share a special kind of bond, but as for the rest of us… when you see me running just look the other way because it will not be pretty.

Networking – Life From Behind the Burrito Counter.

the drop [CLICK IT]

Over the past month or two myself and one of my bosses, Kirk, have been working hard to hype everyone up about the release of some all-new fitness apparel products that he was developing. Today the site went live and word is we are already selling out fast with some massive pre-orders from our men and women overseas.

With this high-quality gear I have noticed a boost in my own confidence, my approach on social media marketing, and in general, I am just so proud to be working with a small company that is lead by someone who serves our country and stands by his values.

To read the full backstory of how I found a job by working behind a burrito counter keep scrolling but to buy some gear – well you know the drill, click here  and use the promo code RACLS to get 5% off of your purchase then be sure to go on Instagram and follow @lifestrongapparel where you might find more discounts and fun material.


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the backstory

So first off I want to give a huge shout out to my guys and gals at El Diablo Burritos… to give a little backstory, I came out of my freshman year of college with a lot of soul searching left to do, and a high desire to let my liver recover. Coming out of my freshman year – I knew where I belonged, knew what I loved [realized who I loved] and sadly – none of it was at home anymore. eldiabloburritos2.jpg

Despite knowing where I was like the back of my hand, in my head I had never been so lost. Then I met my Burrito Baby family.

Look I know it sounds cliche but it is true that jobs like El Diablo, jobs where you’re on your feet and on a line for fourteen hours a day, they create families. See I knew that staff like I knew myself, sometimes too well – and sometimes not well enough, but working on that line taught me a lot about who I was – and made me realize what problems I still had to fix in my life.

Look I get it – people drill it into your brain that you should “shake hands and make connections” they tell you to be polite and introduce yourself – but they don’t tell you that if you are driven enough, and friendly enough you can change your life by meeting a couple of incredible people by just tendering their money while they grab their burrito…

img_1993I met Kirk while I was at El Diablo three or four years ago – he was handing out lifestrongfitness wristbands and working the side hustle he was building for himself when he wasn’t actively deployed.

Something about him handing that stuff out clicked for me – so I told him he should start working his business out of The Mill in Wilmington, where I was working my second job.

I gave him the numbers to call, the people to talk to – then he took his food and that was it.

A couple years passed, maybe one, maybe too – a working girl never knows – and I kept seeing Kirks clothes on Instagram, I loved the brand and was interested in getting some more marketing experience so I reached out.

See the benefit of wanting to work is that there are always people that need and want help [especially when you offer to work for free]. See the truth is, I knew I wasn’t going to work for Nike [which was good because I didn’t want to], instead I wanted to work with a small business, one that I could help grow and bounce ideas around with the CEO. Working with Kirk started with a message over Instagram. One step of me reaching out – telling a fellow Delaware, Burrito loving local, that I was looking for experience and I wanted to work for him. And then he said yes – and I guess the rest is history…

So why am I telling you this? Well, the first reason is that I want to prove a point that anyone – anyone who is driven and wants work experience can’t hurt themselves by putting themselves out there. By being willing to be told no or to be ignored, I actually was able to join a venture with someone who is an amazing guy to work with and who’s philosophies are just like mine.

And Second, well the other reason is that today Kirk is releasing some brand new life strong gear – and if I wasn’t at work you know I would be in mine right now. See what I have learned from working with Kirk is that connections are important, no matter where you make them.

By being nice to someone and making friends behind a checkout counter I was able to follow Kirk’s journey and then join it soon after. And this month alone we have been working on social media and hyping up today’s release – and I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of it.

Taking chances and working hard leads to large gains and huge results – and with drive and determination, nothing can stop you from reaching your goals. And while I can’t say what is coming next to the site, I can tell you what’s going live today – and I can’t wait for you all to check it out.




If working out was Sexy

Girls you know what I mean

By the end of any good gym sesh we are sweaty, hot, bothered, and none of it is in a good way. Guys – don’t act like you are immune either – you look [and smell] just as bad as we do because no one can look sexy working out.

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if working out was sexy we would all be obnoxiously fit

and we would all be much more inclined to go to the gym – but we aren’t and it is not.

Fun fact: I will never be an Olympian. I don’t have the drive, the determination, or the self control when it comes to food to be able to work out at that level. Power to the people who can – but it just isn’t me. [Hell I haven’t even been to the gym in a week] ‘

Now there is no doubt in my mind that Olympic gymnasts are sexy, as are most Olympians, but there is a definite reason that the judges sit closer to the athletes than we do – because they have to see the movement while we just get the wide angles of biceps that literally defy gravity.

My point of this is that like crying, working out isn’t supposed to be sexy, it’s kinda just supposed to be. But the important thing to note is that this is ok.

So my advice ….Get Swole in Solitude?


As I conclude todays ramblings I would just like to give a round of applause to the people who have figured out a way to look good while working out. [You are in a vast minority my friends but we still love you]. It probably was not an easy journey for you and I truly commend your efforts.

So yeah…

To the rest of the population, guys, gals and otherwise, working out is a quintessential part of living a healthy life so my best advice to looking sexier at the gym is simply staying away from the mirror, push yourself, and stay confident. Love the life you live, love the body you are in, and forget about how you look because at the end of the day you aren’t working out for anyone but yourself.


An Open Letter to My Muffin Top

Just because they were sexy on Seinfeld doesn’t mean I want one on my body – my battle with being flub-ulous

I used to work at camp. Now don’t get me wrong I love children, but working with them. Well they tend to want to chase and poke you. As someone who needs personal space this was a long time struggle – but it wasn’t the space as much as it was the “flub”

Think of that scene in Nemo… “Nemo, go touch the butt (boat)” Kids are like that. They poke and push and being a favorite means you barely get time to yourself. Like I said I loved the kids, but could have appreciated some more space.

As a young teen I was incredibly fit, but then I grew up, I went to college and my body got away from me. Now I am not saying I am not healthy – I am saying I am normal and insecure.

The Half Baked Truth

Having a muffin top is common for most women, in fact I have heard speak that this little pouch of extra skin has the purpose of preparing our bodies for child birth, but as a 22 year old with no plans of getting  pregnant – id rather have my body hold off rather than being so proactively prepared.

My point? Who is to say I have to have a belly? Why is it so hard to take the top off? Well I think a lot of it is diet – but more of it has to do with our culture.

Personally I would love to have abs again. I felt strong and sexy when I did, but it isn’t as realistic as being toned. When it comes down to it, I feel like the best version of myself when I have my belly covered by high waited shorts – but that is no good way to live.

A Movement

Dear belly, you have asserted your dominance on my life. I respect you for being strong, for providing a pillow for my friends, for being there when I fill you to the brim, but you don’t have to hide. You can be proud, you can be present, you can be you. And that is why I want to start a movement. A free the belly movement that promotes self worth, self care and self pride among women.


We aren’t here to be normal we are here to be extraordinary.

How can you free the belly, how can you be proud of who you are and who you still stand to be? Don’t be half baked – be firm fluffy and bursting with flavor.



the average person burns 85-100 calories per half hour of sex.

According to CNN, and a variety of other sources this is the statistic. Now obviously some people defy the odds based on what positions they do and how long they can last –  but on average this is the number that is shared.

Now what if I told you that you could do better? Not in bed… but in calories burned. What if I told you that some things you do every day, outside of the bedroom, counted for your calorie deficit and that sexersise wasn’t the only way to feel sexy or toned this summer. Interested yet?

pexels-photolet’s get physical

As someone who works for a business that focuses on longevity, health, and financial security, finding the best and most enticing ways to sell health to the public is kind of in the job description. So I figured I’d spark a theory on some of the summers best thought-less workouts. [and maybe if you guys have more you could leave them in the comments below.]

1. yoga

Did you know that 1 HR of yoga can burn 475 calories. [doubling the amount you could burn if you were rocking that downward doggy style]

Depending on severity, yoga is a series of stretches, balancing exercises and core stabilization techniques – which absolutely kicks my a** – but it often sounds much more appealing than a three hour run. And if you go for just a half an hour more, for a 1.5 HR class your count can go from 475 to a range of 630 -712. [like I said… better than sex]

2. dancing

depending on what time of dance you do, did you know that the bump and grind could benefit you more on the dance floor than it could behind closed doors. according to sources like new health advisor dancing could burn anywhere from 105-620 calories per hour.

Now personally, I only tend to think I am a good dancer if I have had a drink or two, but if a class like Zumba is more enticing than doing yoga, or going on a jog – then learning how to dance or just trying to could help you turn up by breaking it down.

3. rock climbing

forget numbers on a scale. Just a half an hour of rock climbing could help you burn 409 calories. This way of lifting yourself up beyond your own standards won’t just be fun, but it will help you work those quads and glutes way way better than the boy next door.

Side note: as someone who has been rock climbing, this excersise has the added bonus of sanding out that competitive edge so many of us have. Getting on top is well and good, but getting to the top of that wall and ringing the bell. Well… you know what I am going to say, its better than sex.

pexels-photo-326582the down and dirty… [truth]

Now keep in mind these three ways aren’t the best ways to be fit. They are not the end all be all, or the only ways you can be that person you’ve always wanted to be. Truth is – nothing I say will get you there… but you can. Taking adventures like this is the start, and if you are like me and you hate to be told to work out – then these types of activities could be better for you than running or jogging, or even having sex. Truth is, being healthier isn’t about what others think, it isn’t a number on a scale, it’s about you and at the end of the day, you are all that matters.

As an athlete and a young woman, being fit isn’t just about making my bosses trust me – it’s important to me too. At 22 I have explored a lot of the options above, and as the descriptions indicate, not all of them have really stuck… but truth is it’s not always easy to get to where we want to be, and not all of us can manage a steady stream of “workout buddies’ so that’s when I thought of something:

Could the best way to get a summer bod not be going to the gym, but could it be as easy as seeing a summer concert series. Could your favorite band not only claim to be better than sex… but actually be the key to a better you?

hello from the other side… I wish I only realized…

Truth is… yes. According to Livestrong 1 HR of jamming out can help you burn 300 – 400 calories, and similarly singing [which I know you all do in the shower, in the car, in the rain, and YES AT CONCERTS] also can burn 100 – 140 calories depending on the time and your size. [three words. better. than. sex.]

So wait… does this mean that Coachella, could really be COACH-ella? Well no that is a little bit of a stretch [and a horrible pun], but it does mean that those concerts and shows we all love to go to are actually a key factor in keeping us happy and healthy. Not to mention this could also explain why a lot of the people we see at the most popular shows can have the stamina to dance and sing the whole way through.

Based on the types of music you listen to, the shows you hang out at, and even the small town bars that feature your favorite swing singers could be playing a major role in you living your life. Which if you think about it… is kinda awesome.

its more than kinda awesome…

By the logic above I burned around 1200 calories seeing Taylor Swift, and that doesn’t even include the long ass walk I took to get there or the other acts I was jamming to.

By the logic above I burned 800 calories dancing with Jesse McCartney and at least 300 calories listening to Nina Nesbitt who will hands down be the next best star we have seen in a while.

By the logic above I have burned thousands of calories in my life doing something that cost me less than a gym membership – and made me hate a gym far less. And as an added bonus, I got to experience real moments with my friends rather than pretending that I was training to be the next American Ninja Warrior.

I guess what I am trying to say is that – I never expected there would be data on a question like this. I never expected that 100 bucks on dinner, a show, and a workout, would give me a reason to keep doing what I am. Today I realized that when I say I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should it wasn’t just a line – it was an excuse. An excuse to realize that living our lives and singing our hearts out are not only a way to live happier lives but longer and healthier ones as well.

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featured shows include T-Swift, Jesse McCartney, Beyoncé, Budweiser Made in America (Macklemore), not featured. Logic, G-Eazy, Timeflies, SoMo, Daughtry, High School Musical. And how lucky am I that this is only the start.