My Yoga Journey

April 27, 2015

As part of my fitness journey, I've been practicing yoga for almost 6 months straight now and it has been unlike anything I have ever experienced. I took my very first class having never done anything yoga-related (except maybe the unintentional corpse pose when I lay in my bed utterly exhausted after a long day).

I had no yoga mat, my pedicure was looking horrible (didn't realize most of the time yoga is barefoot fun because you'll slide in socks - trust me) and I had no idea I'd be sweating as much as I did. (Note to self: there are yoga towels for that.) I left that first class feeling stronger and so relaxed and I knew I had found something wonderful.

yoga, yoga pose, side plank, side plank with tree variation

After that class, I couldn't get yoga out of my head (and still can't). To me, I felt challenged in a different way than when I'm doing dead lifts or hack squats. Holding these poses is not easy, don't get me wrong... but throughout the whole process, I feel so relaxed and stay focused on my breathing that it makes the process so much easier and fun. Breathing is so important in yoga.

yoga, yoga pose, king dancer

With Christmas approaching I wanted a yoga mat from Santa, but I was impatient so I bought my own. (Sorry Mom.. Santa!) When you have the right tools, in anything you want to do, you become so much more motivated to learn. And I knew if I had my own yoga mat, I could practice in my dining room since it had no furniture.... so, I set up my own yoga space where I practice on a weekly basis.

yoga, yoga pose, camel pose

Yoga has also changed me physically. Just like when I started weight lifting, I had no clue how much yoga would challenge my body and make every. single. muscle work during a class. There are many times my body is literally shaking, but that means it's working to be stable and strong. Sometimes, as much as I want to fall to the ground, my will power to keep going shifts into overdrive. Yoga is a different kind of strength training and I can't recommend it enough. You gotta start somewhere, right?

yoga, yoga pose, warrior II pose, warrior 2 pose, namaste

yoga, yoga pose, crescent lunge pose, namaste

I am still definitely a beginner yogi... but I have already learned a ton physically and mentally. I'm making it a point to practice weekly (or more) and encourage you to try it. I promise you that you will feel invigorated and amazing! Below are some tools I use on a weekly basis to grow my knowledge - and strength!

yoga, yoga pose, pigeon pose, namaste

Here are some tools I use:

YogaJournal.com - This website is amazeballs. You can learn poses by beginner, intermediate and advanced and watch videos on how to do each pose. I use it all the time to practice and to work on remembering each pose name.

YouTube - When I started taking yoga classes, I literally searched Instagram and YouTube for inspiration and found a ton of yogis that I now follow on the daily. My favorite YouTube videos are from Kylan Fischer. She is great at explaining poses and has a lot of videos for different levels.

Friends - It can be intimidating to step into a yoga class but if you have a friend that practices yoga going as a pair will be less scary and way more fun! (For me, that friend is Alison. She is a strong, beautiful friend and amazing yogi.) If you don't have a yogi friend, who cares! Try a class with a friend who wants to check it out too. It can be a fun first experience together.

Also, for those in the DC area, Yoga On The Mall is May 9th. I love the idea of practicing yoga - on the mall - with hundreds of other yogis. I can't wait to try it! Will anyone else be there?

You can also shop some of my favorite items below to get started.

Namaste!

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My Style: Cupcakes & Chambray

April 17, 2015

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

CHAMBRAY: Target [short sleeve & long sleeve favs] // JEANS: Gap [similar] // 
SHOES: Vans [similar] // BAG: Old Navy [similar] // BRACELETS: Alex & Ani / Mala Bracelet //

Just another casual weekend beebopping around Bethesda that included a stop at Georgetown Cupcake and my favorite chambray shirt. If you don't have a chambray shirt - get on it! It's definitely a goes-with-everything piece... I've linked to a couple favorites above!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

Bethesda Row, Bethesda, white jeans, Gap Jeans, chambray shirt, chambray, Vans, gray vans, vans shoes, bucket bag, tan bucket bag, old navy bucket bag

Clean Eating Recipes

April 16, 2015

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the Shakeology/Clean Eating challenge I did last week had so many yummy meals throughout the day. I have oatmeal every morning for breakfast so it was really nice to get fresh meal ideas. While I admit I didn't get to make some of the recipes if I got home late (I had a Shakeology shake instead) - I did make the Personal Pizza recipe below two nights for dinner... and I've since made it again this week... It's that good! #sorrynotsorry.

I've kept all the recipes from the challenge... right down to the snacks... and I've rounded out my favorite meals into 1 day of eating.

Breakfast:

Turkey & Egg Scramble
2 eggs
2 oz. ground turkey
Onion, diced
Green pepper, diced
1 T salsa
1 slice avocado (optional)
1 slice Ezekiel toast

Scramble the eggs, ground turkey, onion and green pepper together; add salsa and avocado. Serve with a slice of Ezekiel toast.

Snack:

1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup cucumber

Lunch:

Avocado Chicken Salad
¼-1/2 avocado, sliced
3-4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken
1 cup mixed greens
Cucumber, shredded carrots, tomato (or any of your favorite veggies)
2 T creamy garlic dressing

Mix all ingredients together until combined.

Snack:

1/4 cup hummus plus 1 cup raw veggies



Dinner

Personal Pizza with Garlic, Spinach and Mozzarella

¼ cup natural tomato sauce
¼ tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 whole-wheat pita
½ cup loosely packed spinach, finely chopped
1 oz. fresh mozzarella
1 T. minced fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, red pepper flakes and garlic; stir to mix well. Place pita on baking sheet. Spoon sauce on pita, leaving a ¼ inch border around edges. Sprinkle with spinach, and then arrange mozzarella over top of greens. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until greens are wilted and cheese is melted.

Enjoy with a microgreen salad and 1 cup of veggies.

What clean eating recipes do you love? Share them below!


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Shakeology/Clean Eating Challenge

April 15, 2015


Last week I participated in a 6 day Clean Eating/Shakeology Challenge. While my goal isn't to loose weight, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to clean eating and choosing the right foods for me so I decided to join my sister and a group of ladies to try it.

I really learned a lot in a short amount of time.... I was amazed actually! If you're looking to do a similar challenge, or just want to start eating healthier, read on about my experience - and hopefully this helps your decision!

Shakeology, clean eating, challenge, Shakeology Clean Eating Challenge

Before the week began, we were provided with a shopping list which was SO helpful! It literally had every single item you needed for the week. I loved being able to take 1 list to the grocery store. I did meal prep as much as I could on Sunday but it was tough because we received the next day's menu the day before so I couldn't plan very much out during the week.

Shakeology, Clean Eating, Challenge, Spaghetti Squash

What I didn't foresee was kind of an "off" first day, which went a little something like this:

Breakfast was oatmeal and I found it hard to measure all the ingredients at work (didn't plan THAT much ahead, turns out). As a result, I added too much water in my oatmeal so it turned out soggy and bland because I didn't think I needed natural sweetener. #Monday

Then, while assembling my salad for lunch, my chicken literally blew up in my face (in front of a coworker) after I took it out of the microwave. I pierced it with a fork and next thing I knew, I had chicken bits in my hair and eyes. #truestory Work was so busy I missed one of the snacks (we eat 5-6 meals a day) and several times I just wanted chocolate. (Maybe it was due to the bowl of Reese's peanut butter cups on my desk).

Shakeology, Clean Eating, Challenge, Spaghetti Squash

Despite a comical first day, I stuck with it and each day was even better than the last. I'm really glad I tried the challenge! The meals were really good too (I'll be sharing some favorites soon!) - and I'll definitely be making several of them more often. I was up later than I wanted some nights so I could prep the next day's meals but it was worth it. I also realized my portion sizes were too big since we had to measure pretty much everything. Oops! Also... fair warning: your lunch box will grow to become a lunch BAG big enough for at least 6 pieces of tupperware. #justsayin

Shakeology, Clean Eating, Challenge, Spaghetti Squash

The Shakeology shakes were pretty good as well. I didn't find them to be very filling even though 1 recipe makes quite a lot. Some nights they were a quick dinner (or snack) but I think I need more of a meal each night - especially after working out. That's just me though! I have heard a lot of Shakeology success stories.

This challenge was a great way for me to learn more about what foods work with clean eating and how much better your body responds to healthy food. If you're not sure where to start - this may be a great way because of the structure. If you have any questions, feel free to email or Tweet me. I'd love to help!


There was no compensation for this review - it's just something I tried and wanted to share!


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My Style: Boyfriend

April 10, 2015

brunch, brunch outfit, boyfriend jeans, boyfriend shirt, Gap boyfriend shirt, tan coat, crossbody bag, converse chuck taylors, my style, michael kors sunglasses

SHIRT: Gap [similar] // JEANS: Nordstrom [similar] // JACKET: Old Navy * last worn here // SHOES: Converse // BAG: Forever 21 [similar] // SUNNIES: Michael Kors //

Sometimes a girl just wants to go to brunch with her boyfriend.... boyfriend jeans, that is. I love pairing my jeans with a classic button up shirt for a relaxed look. It's perfect for eating yummy brunch food and enjoying endless mimosas. I'm finding myself grabbing more comfy clothes a bit more - maybe going to the gym so much is shifting my style a bit!

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brunch, brunch outfit, boyfriend jeans, boyfriend shirt, Gap boyfriend shirt, tan coat, crossbody bag, converse chuck taylors, my style, michael kors sunglasses

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brunch, brunch outfit, boyfriend jeans, boyfriend shirt, Gap boyfriend shirt, tan coat, crossbody bag, converse chuck taylors, my style, michael kors sunglasses

Shop: Strappy Sports Bras

April 8, 2015

The best sports bras are supportive, bright and are totes cute in my opinion.

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I am SO into strappy sports bras lately.... they add a little bit of interest to a gym outfit, no? A sort of "business in the front, party in the back" because the ladies still need to be supported when practicing good burpee form. I think these would look so adorbs under a loose fitting/off-the-shoulder top for Saturday yoga.

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The Meal Deal: Chicken Tacos

April 7, 2015


I just really don't know what has taken me so long to get a recipe up on here - so I spent all night working on this just for you, my lovely readers. Ok maybe not all night since I have this recipe in my head because I make it at least once a week.

Not only do I love pizza - but I love tacos. Smothered with cheese and sour cream. However, I have now turned my tacos into a healthy meal... which kind of makes me enjoy them more!

Healthy Chicken Tacos

2 Chicken tenders, cut in thin, long strips (you can also use crockpot shredded chicken)
A mix of sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow and/or green)
1 Sweet onion
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish, optional (I skip this)
Whole wheat/grain tortilla shells

Toppings:

Greek yogurt
1 avocado
Sriracha
Lettuce

1. Dice peppers and onion then sautee in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and remove from pan
2. Cook chicken tenders in EVOO, adding salt & pepper if you like (the remnants from the peppers & onion sautee will also flavor the meat a bit)
3. Add chicken and sauteed veggies mix to a tortilla shell
4. Garnish with toppings of your choice

If you make the shredded chicken, all you need to do is prepare the sauteed onion and peppers and you have a super quick dinner.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for lots more recipes!

What's your go to healthy dinner?


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Staying Motivated To Work Out

April 6, 2015

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential."
~ Winston Churchill

So you're ready to start a workout routine. Or maybe you've been working out for a few months now, but feel like you're losing motivation. In my own experience, it's easy to think 'I just want to go home and relax'.... but it's those days you need maaajor motivation. Keep on reading for my tips that I've started implementing a year ago when I began my fitness journey - and still use today!

Staying motivated to work out, fitness, fitness lifestyle

Have a focus then do your research - Think about your goals. Do you want to loose weight? Get toned? Finally be able to do push ups? Once you have a focus you can do more research on what exercises and habits will get you there. I use Bodybuilding.com every single day to get fresh ideas or research new workouts. You can search workouts by body part or name - so easy!

Welcome to the jungle, kickboxing, Kicks Karate Potomac, Maryland, Ashley Brooke Designs

Invest in clothes - Investing in workout wear that you love will motivate you to get your butt moving. I've blogged about it so many times already but I can't stress it enough! There are plenty of places to find affordable active wear as well. I love me some Nike gear, but my bank account... not so much. (Forever 21 has lots of great options!)

Go with a friend (or 2) - I'm not always able to workout with my boyfriend - but when I do he pushes me to not only finish each rep, but to stay focused and positive. Having a workout buddy will help you both stay accountable to each other and celebrate every little victory.

Have a set workout schedule - And know your body. I'll be honest - I know I cannot get my butt up at 5am (or earlier!) for a workout so I don't even try. Instead, I hit the gym right after I'm off work. By that time, I'm excited to work up a sweat before winding down and making a healthy dinner. Of course, there are some days I may not be able to work out at the same time - and that's ok! It happens, just don't beat yourself up over it.

staying motivated to work out, Calia by Carrie, workout wear, activewear, fitness, Garmin Vivofit

Use the right tools - And there are tons of them to help you in your journey. Believe it or not, I use Evernote to keep pictures and notes of different workouts I want to try. It's important to keep your body guessing so I'm always switching up my daily workout. When I'm not in the gym, I'm keeping track of my steps with the Garmin Vivofit watch. I religiously check that thing to make sure I get my 10,000 steps/day in which really helps since I have a desk job.

Keep a journal - Since I started my fitness journey, I have been keeping a journal because I forget too easily. Is there a good veggie for that?? I write down everything from my thoughts, when I reach a goal, new goals and even when I surpass my previous weight in training. It's a great way to keep track of everything as you go - and it'll be fun to look back on!

What motivates you?


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