Mindful Monday: Kindness

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Kindness is such a simple concept yet when you read the news or tune into what is happening in politics it feels absent. I think kindness is something everyone could use a little more of and it doesn’t have to be in the form of grand or mass gestures. Think about it if we just spent a little more time on being kinder to ourselves, others, and this planet those little acts of individual love could snowball into something a lot bigger and more impactful.

You can accuse me of being a Pollyanna, but be honest when you see a friend or stranger in an act of pure kindness doesn’t fill your heart and inspire you to do the same? For the next couple of weeks, I have a number of posts coming up centered around kindness because I think we’re all wanting a lot more of it at this particular time.

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Mindful Mondays: Healing Teas

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Admittedly I’ve always been a coffee girl, but over the years I’ve found an appreciation for the other hot beverage…tea.  Tea offers a bit more variety when it comes to taste and flavor compared to java.  Another benefit to tea is the health perks.  Here are some I’ve discovered over the years:

Acid Reducer: I used to suffer from acid reflux and when I’d have a flare-up certain things I loved like chocolate and coffee were off limits because they end up making me feel worse. Many people with reflux or GERD find that tea also upsets them, but when I was dealing with this ailment I found that low caffeine tea was easy on my stomach and prevented me from having caffeine withdraw headaches. I still drink low caffeine teas in the afternoon and evenings when I’m looking for a little pick me up but don’t want something that will keep me up all night. 

My favorite low caffeine teas are:  Zen by Tazo, Ginger Peach by Republic of Tea, Monkey Picked White by The Tea Spot

Cramp Relief: Mint tea is great when it comes to cramp relief. During my cycle, I always have it on hand. In the winter months, I sip on hot peppermint tea throughout the day. Once the temperature rises I make pitchers of iced Moroccan mint tea. 

Mint teas I love: Peppermint by Celestial Seasonings, Mint Verbena by Harley and Sons, Armenian Mint by Argo

Sore Throat Aid:  There are a variety of teas I drink when I’m suffering from a cough or have lost my voice. Black tea with honey and lemon is the standby. However, there are a number of herbal teas that are also great aids when under the weather.  

My go to’s for a sore throat are: Throat Comfort by Yogi, Liquorice and Mint by Teapigs, and Red Rose Original by Red Rose

Stress Reducer:  An afternoon cup of herbal tea is a great stress reliever. Several months ago I purchased a cast iron teapot for the meditation area in my bedroom. I’ve made enjoying some tea at the end of a yoga practice or when I’m curled up in my reading chair a ritual.  I gravitate towards floral fragrances I love. I also look for caffeine-free or low caffeine varieties when it comes to sipping for stress reduction.  

Stress relief teas I adore include: Earl Grey Lavender by Adagio, Pure Camomile by Twinings, and Jasmine Blossom by Stash

Mindful Monday: The Art of No

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There are many books out there on why you should start saying yes to anything. That may be good advice for people who never take risks or who don’t deviate from their routines. However, if like me you are a Type-A person who loves to juggle multiple things at once you really do need to learn how to say no sometimes. Think about it even the most skilled juggler will eventually be thrown one ball too many and then BOOM…they all come crashing down on her head.

Now I like having lots of things going at once it’s what keeps me energized because I easily board. I tend to over do it sometimes though and that’s when I need to pull back and ask myself “Do I really want to take this on?” If the answer is yes then the next question is what am I willing to give up for it.

I don’t like to make gender generalizations because I certainly have male, female, transgender, and non-binary friends and family members who don’t fit into pigeon holes that society has fed us over the years. I will say that as a woman I have noticed that myself and many other of my female friends have this challenge. I can only speak for myself but, some of the reasons I have a hard time saying no are:

  1. I’m a people pleaser. I never want to disappoint anyone and I’m afraid if I say know especially to someone who I think of highly that they will think less of me.
  2. I’m curious by nature and love expanding my horizons. If someone offers me the opportunity to do something new or expand my breadth of knowledge, I’m going to jump at that chance.
  3. Sometimes I keep busy when I know something is bothering me as a way to avoid having to face it.

If you are a “yes person” like me one or more of these reasons might resonate with you. Maybe you have other reasons. Understanding why you always say yes is important but the challenge is figuring out what do you really want to say no to and what do you really want to say yes to.

I’m fortunate at work because I have a healthy work-life balance. I work hard and love what I do and I feel comfortable speaking up if I think there’s too much on my plate. I have certainly had other jobs where that wasn’t the case. I had one job where I once worked 15hour+ days for two weeks straight and felt guilty when I asked for a day off. I realize now that wasn’t a healthy environment and that was me at the height of my people pleasing.

For me right I’m trying to be better about not saying yes to every social invite I get. I love spending time with people and my friendships are important to me but, I would find I was skipping things that were important to me like going to a yoga class, finding time to clean my apartment, or having a chance to write an entry for this blog.

These days I try to schedule some me time for all of those other things that are important and make sure I leave at least one weeknight free and one weekend day for me to do my thing. I can’t always accommodate this but I do the best I can. I find it makes me better at the other aspects of my life because I can be there 100% if my basic needs are taken care of.

Are you a yes or a no person? What would you like to change?

Mindful Monday: Time to Wind Down

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This is one from the archives from the old site that I’ve updated with some more tips.

In the past meditation like yoga was something that I didn’t really get. I tried it multiple times and dismissed it as not being for me. My excuses were 1. I’m too type A for this, 2. This is too New Age for me, and 3. I don’t have time for this every day. Like yoga, though I found that practice and finding what works for you makes meditation easier.

I started by taking yoga classes that had a very brief meditation component. By brief, I mean 5 minutes or less. I figured I could handle five minutes. Five minutes turned into doing 9-12 minute guided meditations through apps at home. Eventually, I started doing as long as 30 minutes of meditating either at home or as part of a yoga class.

I try to start and end the day this way. Does it mean always sitting in a meditation pose and imagining I’m on a mountain or a lake no, although I do sometimes meditate that way. I tend to alternate between mantras set to music, guided meditation, and sometimes even just reading or listening to something worth reflecting on.  

Have I gained spiritual enlightenment? No, at least not yet. What I have gained is some peace of mind. I’ve noticed when I have this routine I’m more patient with people and have an easier time sleeping. My office has a meditation group that meets a few times a week. I don’t make it to every session, but if I’m really stressed or feel like I’m “too busy” to go that’s when I know I should. 

I recommend giving some form of meditation a try. If you don’t know where to start there are a number of great apps out there to get you started with guided meditations. My personal favorite is Insight Timer

Class Pass

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I mentioned that I recently rejoined ClassPass which allows members to take classes at a variety of gyms and studios throughout the city. I had been a member in 2015 and ClassPass was different then. You had access to as many classes as you wanted in a month and could visit any one studio up to three times.  I did it for about six months and left when the prices were going to be raised again. At one point it was $99 for the unlimited plan and I believe it rose to $199 eventually. I left to join a gym that I found through ClassPass. I decided not to renew there because as I mentioned I’m not great about going to the gym just to use the equipment and the classes I was most interested in happened to fall on evenings when I had other commitments or during work hours. 

ClassPass has changed and now charges based on how many classes you want to take each month and there are options to add on gym time if you do like to go for some solo workouts. I’m doing the five class a month plan which is great for me. It forces me to take one class a month and I found a particular studio I enjoy that sells a la cart classes so my plan is to take a class there once a week for my cardio and use my ClassPass membership to take some more toning classes and try new workouts. My first dabble with ClassPass is how I got into Yoga which is primarily an at home practice for me now, however, I do occasionally take some classes with instructors I enjoy.

What ClassPass has really done for me is taught me what I like and don’t like in a fitness class. I found that activity wise I enjoy Yoga, Barre, and Dance classes. I don’t really like high-intensity classes or spinning, but I did enjoy water cycling. I also like body positive studios where everyone feels welcome and the instructors are fun and attentive to everyone. I’m including some of the studios I’ve enjoyed the most below so if you live in NYC or are ever visiting and want to take a class this may be helpful. Most of these centers sell one off classes or day passes so you don’t have to be a member to try it out.

Dance 

Blood Sweat and Tease: They offer really fun cardio and burlesque dance classes.

Broadway Bodies: They offer dance classes to songs from Broadway musicals and pop music. I’m obsessed with their Broadway Cardio class and that is the other weekly course I’m currently taking.

Toning

The Lab: Their bounce class shakes pilates up by having a portion of the class take place on trampolines.

Nalini Method: Intense Barre

Yoga 

Abhaya Yoga: Some of their classes feature live music.  Plus you have beautiful views of the city from Brooklyn Bridge Park during your practice.

BeFit NYC: This studio offers dance, yoga, and other classes. I like their late evening classes which are a great way to destress.

Naam Yoga: Most of their classes are Restorative Yoga which is more about releasing stress than sweating. My personal favorite is aromatherapy yoga which is a class where the instructor exposes you to a different essential oil each week.

Upper West Side Yoga: Great Vinyasa classes for all levels. My only complaint is sometimes the classes can be too crowded but the instructors are great. If you’re able to go during an off time when people are typically at work you’ll probably enjoy it more.

West End Health and Fitness: This is a full-service gym but I love their Yoga classes which are Hatha and Vinyasa Flow.

Other  

Aqua Studio: I’m not a fan of spinning classes but I loved this one. The bikes are in the water which sounds weird but is gentle on your joints and you realize when you get out of the pool what I good work out you got from the natural resistance caused by water.

Grassroots Fitness: A mix of toning and cardio in intervals. You rotate stations in a small class. I like their classes because I tend to be turned off by intense classes that last for more than 45 minutes but this30-minuteminute class and it goes by fast.

Row House: This is a great upper body workout using row machines.

 

 

Couch 2 5K

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Running is my cardio of choice and aside from being a free workout, I find it great for clearing my head.  I used to have misconceptions that I wouldn’t ever be able to take up running because I have flat feet, I don’t have a lean figure, and I would never have the stamina for it.

In 2011 I discovered Couch to 5K (C25K) which is a free program that is designed to help someone who has never run be able to complete a 5K in 30 minutes after nine weeks. The way the program works is you do intervals of running and walking to help you build stamina. As you advance through the weeks you do more running and less walking during your workouts.  

There are a variety of apps you can download to help you with the program. Some of the apps are free, but most of the paid ones are under $4.99. I personally went with the NHS C25K podcast which is free to download. I liked the narrator’s voice and the music during the walk/run intervals. 

There were times when it was tough, but I stuck with it and now I love running. I even did the next level with is Bridge to 10K. There are additional programs for 10K to half marathon and half marathon to marathon if you have distance goals. I’d like to try the half marathon program at some point, but I don’t know if I want to go beyond that. When I feel off my routine which often happens in the winter if it gets icy or too cold. I’ll go back to the 5K or 10K programs to get back into a rhythm. 

If running is something you are thinking about trying then C25K is an accessible way to see if it’s the right sport for you.  

Mindful Monday: Fitness

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Last week I focused on food. This week I’m focusing on fitness. Now I don’t mean fitness in terms of having a certain exercise routine for weight loss. For me, it’s about finding activities that you enjoy and that challenge you in a good way.

My gym membership was up and instead of renewing I rejoined ClassPass. If you’re not familiar with it, ClassPass allows you to take different classes at a variety of studios throughout the month. There are pros and cons to this over a traditional membership. If you enjoy working out alone on machines or in the weight room this probably wouldn’t be the right plan for you.

I personally don’t enjoy using the treadmill and am more likely to show up to the gym if I have a specific class I’m looking forward to. This is why ClassPass is a good option for me. I’ll be talking about specific classes I’ve taken later in the week.

I also run which is a solo activity for me. I’ve run in groups before, but I run to also clear my head so I prefer to do that alone. I also track my steps using FitBit. I’ll go into all of this in other posts this week. What activities do you enjoy the most?