Prepcation

Okay okay okay. So I may be guilty of taking blogging reprieve #387, but there was positive intent behind it. A little R & R in South East Asia? I’ll take it

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I have to say I feel utterly rejuvenated. Fourteen days of mango sticky rice, street Pad Thai, 5 hour muddy treks, spa days, ornate temples, sleeping on village floors, luxurious hotels, and so on.

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After accomplishing a big career to-do and  being finished with the Thailand/Laos planning, I feel ready to really buckle down and focus on my next steps and “the plan.” I’m a wee bit guilty of over-planning  and overextending details of my life, but at the same time I so often get consumed by the daily commitments that my to-do lists will then repeat for months on end. Thus I’m back from my first truly self-sponsored vacation with a college bestie and ready to focus on what the twenty four year old me needs at this moment.

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Coinciding with this motivated self is a very confused body and circadian rhythm. I’m thirteen hours off and surely feeling it on the return much more than on the arrival. Given that there are fellow type A’s out there who similarly like to micromanage the transit woes, I thought I’d discuss some of my lessons learned for jet lag and travel.

 

Tricks of the international trade:

  • Avoid checking bags if possible. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve arrived bagless at my international destination, only to have my bag returned the day I’m returning home. Save yourself some anxiety…and money buying new underwear

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  • Master the traveling chic. It’s that happy medium between wearing your PJs and being stuck in an uncomfortable formal gown, so that you’re confident if you meet your future husband while sitting in 5D. And luckily  that spells leggings and a cardigan or pashmina throw for me
  • Keep the stewardess on speed-dial. The 3 oz cups of water they serve could not possibly hydrate a mouse. I’m in constant need of a refill and why wouldn’t I on a 10 hour flight? Hydration is key especially with the hand and foot swelling that takes place inflight
  • Pack a neck pillow for 6+ hour flights. This trip was my first time using a neck pillow (which deflates to fit in my bag I might add), and it was a saving grace. I didn’t arrive in Bangkok in need of a chiropractor. Hallelujah
  • Prep those snacks. I’ve starved one too many times on flights when faced with the mystery meat that frequents airlines meals nowadays. Given I’m the snack queen, I can tell you I had sustenance on hand for my 23 hour flight
    • A few ideas: water dense veggies and fruit, protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, sandwich for your next meal, miso soup packets, seaweed snacks, etc
  • Slip on a pair of thick socks. A friend suggested this to me before I left and boy was it a great tip. Sandals and flats are the ideal security shoe; however, when the temperature on the plane drops to 50 degrees slipping on a pair of warm socks helps you maintain whatever menial amount of heat you have retained
  • Move it. I am not someone who will advocate doing lunges and stretches down the aisle. I once witnessed a woman do a full blown yoga sun salutation in the aisle, complete with chatarangas and down dogs. I still cringe. However, I will suggest you move when you make your arrival. I know all you want to do is sleep but whether you go for a walk and explore the city or hop on the treadmill briefly, you’ll thank me because these are the steps (literally) your body needs to adjust
  • Stay present. Whether your luggage is lost or you accidentally drank the native water, you’re at your prized destination and that’s what matters

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Any travel tips?

Practicing: Gratitude

Since beginning my Sadhana in October, I’ve been reflecting on my blessings and setting an intention for the day while I brush my teeth every morning. Two minutes of gratitude and clean teeth. I find that this keeps me accountable and present everyday rather than being consumed by the stress of the day. We all have so much to be grateful for each day, and it helps to practice our gratitude so that the beauty of our day doesn’t pass us by.

Given that Thanksgiving is approaching, I was inspired by a New York Times author’s list of some conventional and not-so-conventional gratitudes. So here I go…

“I’m thankful for my health, friends who make me laugh, and the colors of sunsets. I’m thankful for the smell of lavender and the feel of clean sheets. I’m thankful for the Shazam app and the ability to have any song at my finger tips. For memories. For spontaneous decisions. For the magic of mascara. I’m thankful for the relief that a good cry can bring. I’m thankful for those Sunday mornings with my family, for the Sunday funnies and banana pancakes we enjoyed together. For books that leave you speechless. For white goat cheddar. I’m thankful that I can’t read peoples’ minds, as much as I want to. I’m thankful middle school nights with AIM. I’m thankful my life is not like a Real Housewives of DC episode. I’m thankful for quiet morning runs, the warmth of cooking with others, and the zeal of advent calendars. For Whole Foods hot bar. For my long legs. I’m thankful for memories and the future.”

What are you grateful for today?

From Zero to Eighty

My 21 day cleanse came to an abrupt halt this weekend.

Well, it wasn’t a kale cleanse (though I have that Eat More Kale shirt) ha.

A few friends from TT suggested an alkaline leveling diet they had read about. I adjusted the cleanse to my work schedule and nutrition needs–but I did the full three weeks. Basically, I tried to primarily eat fruits and vegetables with limited processed food. Though I did continue to eat eggs because I know from experience that my body does poorly without protein. When I wasn’t traveling for work, juicing was a refreshing and convenient option. Sure, sure it was challenging but did I mention that the cleanse cut out CAFFEINE and ALCOHOL from my diet?

The first week was a challenge. Despite my proclivity for half caff–the headaches and grogginess came on with a vengeance. I supplemented my morning java with green tea, and of course I discovered the other day that it was decaffeinated (unintentional cold turkey move). My cravings for a steaming mug of joe in the mornings and a bold glass of wine after a  long day were insipid. But honestly, I feel incredible and more refreshed without that constant dependency on caffeine. You’ll catch me with an occasional half caff with steamed almond milk but not on the regular. It just feels right.

There was an inconceivable amount of laughing, reminiscing, and imbibing this weekend. Let’s just say our boozy brunch, four hours at a biergarden, and tequila rounds were not fluid reintroductions of alcohol and processed foods. Moderation is the answer, but not when you’re in New York visiting some of your best friends 🙂

Despite my not having been home in DC for literally more than 12 hours in the past two weeks, another Monday bares 5am wake up calls, morning airport lines, and hopes of remembering my toothbrush. If you find any rogue plums on your next US Airways flight, don’t be alarmed, the fruit basket that is my purse may have fallen over during boarding. I’m going to attribute that incident to my mammoth laptop rather tan my lack of caffeine. It’s been a long morning.

Things I Never Thought I’d Do

I’m a planner, always have been. Mapping out the agenda for my day keeps me sane. I like to know when I’ll be waking up, how long I’ll be at work for, what my dinner plans are, etc. My iPhone calendar provides a helpful glimpse at my month, but my moleskin notebook provides me ease of mind with my daily tasks. Life has changed immensely since graduating college and launching into a life in the real world. Over the past four years, there have been numerous changes in my personal life but let’s stick to the healthy living ones:

  • Doing laundry primarily because I’m out of sports bras and socks
  • Calling myself a Marathoner (or do I have to run more than one)
  • Going to the grocery store solely for grapes
  • Choosing an early run over sleep
  • Double-fisting green juice and Kombucha
  • Wondering if my yoga mat is so sweaty, it’s on the verge of dangerous
  • Baking a vegan pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (Warning: bake another pie for upset male family members)
  • Having more running shoes than high heels
  • Cursing the world when I run out of Greek yogurt
  • Starting sentences with, “So this one time in yoga class…”
  • Receiving a yoga mat for my 20th birthday and a GPS running watch for my 22nd
  • Contemplating what flavor animal crackers are in the waiting room of my yoga studio
  • Budgeting for that pair of spinning shoes I’ve needed
  • Realizing the liquids I consumed that day were coconut water and lots of Pinot Noir

I’m traveling for work this week and next, which gives me little independence and control over my schedule. But I’m making peace with it. Don’t get me wrong, my to-do list is still going strong and my early rising ensues; however, I’m going with the motions of my team each day. After this week of Kentucky Fried Chicken eating out, a little appliance is calling my name…

What are some of your idiosyncrasies?

Happy November

October, I bid you adieu.In my eyes, October always marks my favorite time of the year: the arrival of fall leaves, cool weather, pumpkin flavored everything, boots and scarves, and the holiday season. I can’t believe it went by so quickly. That only means that the eddy of holiday activities is almost upon us. Deep breaths. I have vowed to be on the top of my game this year. Not that I haven’t said that before…

Welcome November!

I know you will fly by, especially since I will be out of DC for two weeks and then out of the country for a week. Yikes. Regardless, I’m excited for the new month. I like to set goals for myself each month, does anyone else do that? And as a general ideal, I want to keep up my yoga, running, and healthy eating before the holidays start. With all this traveling it will be a challenge, but I’m going to persevere.

I have a lot of work-related goals this month, which I need to try and focus my attention on. I need to contact my company’s financial adviser and start being more efficient with the allocation of my paycheck. I also need to devote more time to my yoga readings and studying. Finding a balance with yoga readings, the WSJ, and pleasure reading is a challenge, but ultimately the satisfaction I receive from all three is almost palpable. The weeks I am in town, I want to make more time for friends and family. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get it together and have a Friendsgiving or at least some get-together at my house. Ideally I’ll be able to make some time to enjoy the outdoors (ie. walks, hiking, bike rides) before it gets too frigid. So here’s to a productive month 🙂

Putting my serious goals aside…

 

Since we’re so excited about this month, let’s discuss my favorite November things 🙂 I apologize in advance for the abundance of food (I’m limiting my food-related likes).

1) Coconut Body Butter

This lotion is amazing. So thick and soothing. My skin has not been this soft and restored in ages. It’s a keeper for the winter.

2) Apple Butter

Buy it or make your own. Really not that difficult if you do. But this stuff is addicting. You can top yogurt, bread, muffins, anything you want with it. Or just eat it by the spoon. It’s hard to make it through the day without finding some leftover smudges on my hand or elbow 🙂

3) Kombucha

As expensive as they are, I sometimes need to treat myself after 8 hours of yoga. So refreshing. I love the assortment of flavors but I stick to my favorites: Gingerade, Multi-Green, and Citrus. I’ve been detoxing from coffee for the past two weeks (trust me, headaches ensued), and this is the perfect probiotic and pH rebalance.

4) Sonicare Toothbrush

I picked this baby up at Costco the other month. Yes, I shop at Costco….or did before I changed project locations. Anyway, my teeth feel significantly more clean and the I love that the timer makes me brush for approx 2 minutes. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Also, I just went to the dentist and I’ve pledged to floss everyday for the next few months (hopefully to commit that to a routine), anyone want to join me here?

5) Power Tanks

I’m blowing through my workout wardrobe from all these yoga sessions. Laundry, laundry, laundry. I’m loving these little tanks for yoga practice, spinning, and layering. Perfect fit and so comfortable during whatever activity I’m doing. Mucho costo though, but I can still covet them.

 

What are you loving this month?

Do you have any November goals?

Practicing: Hot Water & Lemon

The biting temperatures are beginning to set in. Thanks a lot Sandy…and November, I guess. Oh yes, leg warmers, leggings, and Patagonia sweaters are frequently making appearances on moi.

Don’t judge the leg warmers–they go very nicely over my yoga leggings.

I digress.

It’s only natural as the temperature drops that my affinity for a hot cup of tea has been rekindled.  I’m  tea toating. Not teetotaling. I’ve been starting my mornings not with hot tea but hot water and lemon. This little combination was introduced to me during our TT discussion of routines/Sadhanas. Many of my teachers begin their days with this soothing, Ayurvedic concoction for its various mind and body benefits:

  • Citric acid detoxes your body, cleansing your entire system. Lemons are highly alkaline and help restore balance to your pH levels.
  • It improves digestion, as the vitamins and minerals in lemon juice aid in flushing out bacteria. The warm water stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis
  •  The Vitamin C rejuvenates your skin–leaving you with a fresh face and breath
  • Lemon water is a natural energy drink and provides a healthier energy boost than artificially, caffeinated beverages
  • Keeps the lymph system hydrated, preventing adrenal fatigue and toxin buildup
  •  Pectin fiber helps fight hunger cravings

If these weren’t reasons enough to love lemon water, read more about the benefits at:  Natural News , Livestrong , MindBodyGreen

What’s your morning routine?

J is For Juice

I finally bit the bullet. Yes, the”J” word—a Breville RM-BJE510XL to be exact. Over the past few weekends, I’ve been sitting in Sukhasana during Yoga Teacher Training (TT) with numerous bottles barricading me and my mat.

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We like to believe that our myriad of healthy beverages energizes us as our Sanskrit echoes throughout the room. Cups of tea, Kombucha, coconut water of every brand, and green juices.

Oh, the green juices. After spending many a pretty penny on cold-pressed green juice from the next door Whole Foods, I took the plunge and bought my own juicer. Much to Whole Food’s chagrin, I will no longer be buying $10 bottles of deliciousness (though I will assuredly patronize them in other departments).

After a lunchtime 4-miler with a friend (hi Courtney), I broke open my recent delivery and tested out my juicing skills.

Into the ravenous machine went celery, kale, spinach, apple, carrot, and lemon. I made a Trader Joe’s run just for the occasion 🙂

With lots and lots of pulp came the juice

And voila! Perfect energy-boost to get me through the rest of the workday.

Do you like green juice?

Do you prefer store bought or your own?

And So It Begins…

We sat scattered across the floor with our yoga mats, giant binders, and numerous readings in toe. Our teacher, the owner of the studio, led our first session and will do so for the imminent months. Two fellow teachers assisted her and there will be guest teachers throughout the course of the months.  Ten years of owning a studio with her husband and 8 years of teacher trainings, I expected her to give another monotonous lesson to a group of 25 striving yogis.  Not the case. I was bowled over by the passion our teacher evoked. Her discussions animate, her excitement palpable, and her mission lucid. “The world needs healers,” she said, looking around the room at each of us perched on our mats.

The class ice breaker was each student answered a question drawn from a handful of papers. My question was “What was the last nonfiction book you read?” I introduced myself as Grace H, because for the very rare occassion there was another Grace sitting right next to me. No duplicate Megans or Katies this time but two Graces. Seems fitting for a yoga teacher training, no?

We enjoyed an hour long practice, where our instructor took us through a nice flow. Focusing on her transitions, counterbalances, and asana categories, so that we could understand the thought practice behind her flow. By dissecting tadasana, which is the root of many poses, we grasped how to instruct students through the posture to perform it and warrior poses correctly. What verbage resonated in our past classes and by different teachers. “Pull your navel up and in”, “broaden your collarbone”, “relax your shoulder blades down”, “press down through all four corners of your feet.”

Of course, I’ve realized the emotional and physical benefits of practicing yoga over the years, but this “exercise”  is actually so much more. There is an indescribable spiritual connection that develops between your inner and outer body, as you move through each asana giving yourself entirely to your breath. Not only that, but the connection you are making with the world–devoting your intentions to the sun, cultivating positive energy in your students, and attracting like energies.

We discussed in detail our daily personal practices. We are expected to create a routine–1 week, one full moon, 21 days, however long it takes to form a habit. A short and long practice. As a class we discussed, various personal routines from morning crosswords to hot water and lemon upon waking to three pages of thought recording to ayurvedic cleansing. Any routine I choose to devote myself to. I have not yet resolved what my yoga routine will be but I’m thinking along the lines of a reflection of my blessings, hot water with lemon, some Om chants, and morning sun salutations (longer practice if time).  This discussion created an air of excitement in me as tomorrow is a brand new day unlike today.

My day was 9am-415pm, and I left energized rather than exhausted from homework readings, sitting on the floor for hours upon hours, and sanskrit lessons. I still have the entire weekend filled with yoga training, but its a chance to understand what is yoga and what gifts I want to draw on/give in my teaching.

I’m not sure what is in store for me during the next 5 months. But I do know that if my day was any indication, they will be incredibly dynamic, fascinating, and rewarding months in my life.