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Staying Zen

September 16, 2010

Recently, I’ve been trying to fit in a little yoga at least twice a week– be it in a class or with a DVD (if by some minor miracle today ends up being less than an 11 hour workday, I’m going to try to make the 8:00 class at my gym).

I’m not sure I can give enough reasons why I love yoga. But I’ll try.

It’s a great workout.

I took yoga for the first time in high school, and I left the class thinking “What a joke, I’m not even tired. That wasn’t even a work out.” Boy did I feel differently the next morning,when my muscles burned from head to toe. Yoga works nearly every muscle in your body, often without you noticing until the next morning when you feel muscles burn that you didn’t even know you had!

It builds long, lean muscles.

Much like Pilates, you’re stretching your muscles as you’re working them. This helps build long, lean muscles, rather than bulky ones.

Stretching is good for you.

Limber muscles are injured less. You’re less likely to pull/tear/strain/whatever a muscle if it can stretch further– makes sense, right?

It’s relaxing.

Yoga helps improve your focus and it helps relieve stress. We often overload ourselves during the day by letting our minds wander to all the things we need to do, all the things we should be doing at that moment, and all the thing we won’t have time for. By learning to stay in the moment in class, you eventually carry it over into other areas of your life. And it really does help with stress. My favorite instructors will teach the class with soothing voices and play relaxing music in the background, so even when you’re twisting in the scariest of pretzels, you still can’t help but feel at ease.

It’s not silly.

People always tell me “I can’t help but laugh whenever I’m in a yoga class.” That may be because you’re with a friend who also thinks it’s silly. Try going alone. Everyone in the class is there for the same reason and is doing the same moves as you– some of them not very well. Don’t feel embarrassed or silly if the instructor corrects you, either. It’s better to learn something the right way and get a better workout and/or prevent injury than to continue to do something incorrectly.

Still not sure if yoga’s your thing? Try it at home first. If you have digital cable, chances are you have something called Exercise TV on your OnDemand channel, where you have around 100 free exercise videos at your disposal. They should have a pretty good selection– and I’d start with something relaxing.

If you want a DVD recommendation to get you started, I suggest going with AM/PM Yoga for Beginners. It’s the one I do in the mornings for a gentle post-training-night jumpstart.

I was inspired last night, so today’s full of good eats!

This morning’s breakfast, which I made last night, is one of my favorites. It’s called Overnight Oats. When I make it, it kind of reminds me of those glass jars where you put the different color sands in it. I used a recycled almond butter jar. Here goes:

Layer 1: Greek yogurt

Layer 2: frozen mixed berries (mine has raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and bing cherries)

Layer 3: oats!

Layer 4: milk (I used almond milk)

Shake it up!

Then I let it sit overnight in the fridge. When I wake up in the morning, it’s a fruity, creamy, delicious cold cereal:

Topped with some raspberry preserves and a little less than a tablespoon of almond butter.

America Brittany runs on out of Dunkin.

Today I got to savor my coffee while I got ready, rather than sip it while I drive (in a spillproof cup, of course). If you’re wondering what the tiny white bits are at the top, sometimes there are teeny tiny almond pieces that float to the top of almond milk. They’re harmless.

Berry Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt*
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 1/2 c oats
  • 2/3 c frozen berry mix

Mix all ingredients in a jar, shake it, and refrigerate overnight. I topped mine with a dab of almond butter and raspberry preserves.

*Ricera makes a dairy-free yogurt made from rice that makes for a pretty good substitute for traditional yogurt, and it still has the benefit of probiotics. It is, however, very sweet.

Lunch hit the spot today!

I modified another recipe I found on Healthy Tipping Point: Sweet Potato Balls

The recipe said to dip them in Greek yogurt, but I used the last bit in my overnight oats (I need to find Greek yogurt by the gallon!). Instead, I dipped them in some Sweet Chili Sauce that I got from Trader Joe’s. You may be able to find it in the Asian foods section of your grocery store.

One has a chomp taken out so you can see the insides of it:

Sweet Potato Balls

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cooked, peeled, and mashed
  • 1/3 c black beans, drained
  • 1 oz feta cheese (the size of an old-school pager)
  • 1/3 c small heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • flax seed meal, for coating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients except for flaxseed meal. Form balls about the size of golf balls and roll in the flaxseed meal. Place evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Trying to sneak into my lunch bag, are you? Okay, I’ll eat you for a snack today…

Dinner looks promising, but it’s not recipeworthy– scallops, spinach, and the last of the heirloom tomatoes in white wine over red quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). Quinoa, one of my favorite grains, is gluten-free and has more protein than wheat. Read more about it here.

That’s all, folks.

Don’t forget to leave feedback with questions, comments, and suggestions! I love hearing what you think!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 7:04 pm

    Ahh, I love the blog! I followed ya over from holdthewhippedcream and am so glad you made a blog just for your workouts/recipes! :]

    I’m definitely trying the morning oats recipe & pumpkin pie spice in my coffee tomorrow.. I love pumpkin coffee and can’t believe I never thought to do that.

    I’m lovin’ all these recipes.. thanks for sharing!

    • September 16, 2010 9:32 pm

      Thanks! Most importantly, I’m happy you like the blog.

      And I foresee pumpkin making an appearance in the very near future. Tomorrow, in fact…

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