so fresh mag

stay on track when you travel

I'm a very proud contributor to one of the latest online publications for a holistic approach to life, So Fresh Mag. I'm writing for them on a regular basis and love to share the latest articles with you! Check out the article at So Fresh here.

My husband and I have been fortunate in life to be able to travel extensively for work. Criss-crossing the country, checking out remote corners of the world—between the two of us, we have racked up a fair number of frequent flyer miles. Traveling for work is certainly different than traveling for vacation—you have to be ready to go, perform at a high level and have endurance to do your job while adjusting to time change. 

To stay on track and make sure life stays as normal as possible, across all the leaps and bounds around the world, here are some things that we always do.

Sweat Everyday
Exhaustion and a busy schedule can make it easy to skip a workout. Additionally, being away from home can feel like there has been a wrench thrown in whatever workout plan/bootcamp attendance/yoga challenge you are in the middle of. Exercise will help to maintain immune function, detox the body and calm the mind. Don’t view your trip as a set back, but a chance to try something new:

  • Hotel workouts: Type “hotel workout” or “body weight workout” into any search engine for some ideas about how to start a sweat. Squats, lunges, planks, push-ups can all be highly effective without requiring any equipment. Make sure you pay attention to form and stay in your comfort zone—injuries while travelling are never good! 
     
  • Local opportunities: One of the best ways to experience a new city is jumping into the local fitness culture. Look up a community centre pool, crossfit gym or yoga studio before you even depart. Many studios and gyms offer an introductory trial pass for first timers, which is a great way to get some high quality workouts in without needing a full membership. Local running shops may host evening runs while some cities even have bikes for rent. 
     
  • Stretching: Often one of the most neglected parts of physical fitness, stretching, can be the perfect thing to hone in during a trip. Stretching will help to lengthen your muscles, massage your organs and relax the mind—even if you are pressed for time or space. Spread out a towel on the hotel floor and work through basic stretches, or check out our Pose of the Month for some additional ideas.

Source Out The Grocery Store
Small sacrifices add up when you are travelling—opting for a heavy breakfast, forgetting to hydrate, subsisting on bagels. We head to the grocery store when we land, even on short trips, to grab a few things for the hotel mini-fridge: 

  • Lemons: Starting the morning with a lemon squeezed into warm water is one of the most detoxifying things you can do. It helps to cleanse the liver and also gives you a kick of vitamin C, boosting your immune system. 
     
  • Fluids: Kombucha, green juice, aloe water. Pick your poison, but make sure it will help to rehydrate you after a long flight. Caffeine may feel like a great idea, but refilling your body’s cells with hydration and nutrients will go farther in terms of helping you feel your best.
     
  • Fruit, trail mix, granola bars: Time change can have you craving food outside of the normal breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule. Beat that by stocking up on snacks that are easy to transport and are healthier than a fast food option. Just make sure that you select packaged foods that are high on simple ingredients and low on added sugar.

Pack Up The Essentials
Traveling takes a toll on the body—long hours sitting, time changes, dry airplane air, unfamiliar hotels. Some of the items that have earned a spot in our carry-on include:

  • Lavender essential oil: Lavender can help to make the hotel room smell like home. Due to its calming properties, lavender can even help you unwind and get to sleep. Adios, jet lag.
     
  • Peppermint essential oil: This oil is key for battling headaches, and can reinvigorate the most tired traveler. Applied topically with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, peppermint can even ease achy muscles.
     
  • Small beeswax candle: Burning beeswax is thought to release negative ions, which helps to neutralize and purify the air. The gentle glow is soothing, perfect to light for a meditation session to calm down after a hectic travel day.
     
  • Coconut oil: It works to hydrate the skin, soothe the lips, or as hair oil. The options are endless—just make sure to store 100 mL or less in a leak proof container, as it can liquefy in the heat!

how to survive 30 days of yoga

I'm a very proud contributor to one of the latest online publications for a holistic approach to life, So Fresh Mag. I'm writing for them on a regular basis and love to share the latest articles with you! Read online, at the magazine, here.

 “As you push back into down dog, lift with your hips, rotate your thigh bones in and up towards the sky!” the yoga instructor chanted. I was about halfway through a thirty-day yoga challenge, which meant I had pushed back, lifted hips and rotated in about fifteen times that month already.

When my local studio sent out an email for a thirty-day challenge, it was the perfect timing—I was in a bit of a fitness rut, had an open calendar and the studio was around the corner from my house. The yoga was moksha, a heated series of poses, something I had done a few times before. So I threw myself into it, scrambling out the door to 6am classes, squeezing in two classes in one day to make up for ones I’d missed and scheduling social times around my time on the mat.

Logistics aside, it was a month that tested me, but also ripped my heart open in ways I couldn’t imagine. My initial misconceptions about the commitment levels were tested and I found myself going deep physically as well as mentally. It was something I had never done before—a daily practice in which I was only accountable to myself.

Since that first month long challenge, I’ve completed numerous other ones—some are studio regulated, others are my own personal challenge with a customized start and end date. I’ve learned a lot about what to expect and also what I wish I would have known that first time around. 

Set up for success

When I got that email about the first yoga challenge, I checked my schedule to see how it would work with the reality of my life. A month with birthdays, trips and work obligations can derail your commitment before you even make your way into that first downward dog.  

Set yourself up for success by clearing the social schedule, or at least planning for the days that you know will be busy. I did this by doubling up on classes (pairing two shorter classes, or tacking a restorative class onto a more vigorous session) or making sure my practice was the first thing I did on the busy days. Also, knowing that the class schedule works with your schedule is key. If you just can’t make it to the studio, you can always substitute in an at-home practice. That’s okay- you can make the rules!

Know your intentions

In yoga, students are continually reminded to set an intention for their practice, a way of focusing the mind. If you are embarking on a month long yoga challenge, get clear on why you want to commit. Are you looking to get into shape? Set new habits with a daily practice? Seeking internal satisfaction from the accomplishment? Whatever it may be, knowing your intention before you start will help to keep you motivated throughout the entire month, especially if things get to be hard, or the social scene beckons. Throughout my challenge, my intentions actually evolved. I’d initially started the challenge as a way to accomplish something, ticking off the days. However, by the end of the month, I’d developed a greater awareness of the practice and had fallen deeply in love with yoga. I’ll take that bonus.

Be kind

In yoga, the physical poses (“asana”) are only one component of the multi-dimensional practice. Ahimsa, the yogic principle of nonviolence, can be just as important as the physical practice—it can be really easy to get frustrated with yourself, or compare yourself to other students. Be kind towards yourself and refrain from judging others. Competition and yoga don’t really mix.

It is important to celebrate the incredible investment you are making in your mind, body and soul. Remember that progression isn’t necessarily linear when it comes to yoga—each and every time you come to the mat, it is a new opportunity to practice. You may not open into full dancer’s pose each time, or rabbit pose may feel different every day. That’s okay. If you show up to the mat, all month long, you are doing incredibly well. 

Be prepared

In prepping for this article, I thought back to everything I experienced the first time I jumped into a month-long yoga challenge. In addition to the incredible self-satisfaction, deeper study of yoga and the physical changes in my body, there was one other resounding memory: laundry. 

Because I did a hot yoga challenge (and because I certainly sweat more than I just glow), I ran through clothing, towels and even yoga mats like crazy. When you are checking out your schedule, also make sure you are prepped for the challenge. Check out some meal planning ideas like So Fresh Mag's clever smoothie solutions. Start carrying around a water bottle and make sure you are treating your body right in all other ways. Staying hydrated and mindful of how you fuel for yoga will keep you happy on and off the mat. Finally, make sure you are achieving a balanced work, social and yoga life. 

Enjoy it all

A month long yoga challenge is an amazing way to treat yourself and go deeper on a number of levels. It is also a great way to spend your free time, so make sure you enjoy it! Try to take a few classes before jumping into a challenge and make sure that you like the style and atmosphere of the studio that is hosting you. 

If rotating your thigh bones in and up seems like an anatomical nightmare, connect with the instructor after class for further guidance. You want to make sure that this challenge is yours, enjoyable and is everything that you intended it to be. 

Namaste.

want to be a runner?

I'm a very proud contributor to one of the latest online publications for a holistic approach to life, So Fresh Mag. I'm writing for them on a regular basis and love to share the latest articles with you! Check out the whole article on So Fresh here.

The incredible surge of endorphins that surge through your body post-run is undeniable. Lacing up your shoes, connecting with your breath and seeing the world—these are some of the best parts of running. 

One of the most accessible ways to work out, running is easy to start, not requiring much more than a pair of shoes. While everyone’s reasons for starting are different—weight loss, ticking off races or just a new challenge—it is important to know how to proactively avoid injuries so that you can enjoy the sport for a long time. 

Get out the door
Fill your doctor in on your plans—checking in with a health practitioner is a great idea, especially if you are on medication, have a chronic condition or haven’t been active recently. They can help you chart out a course to start running and keep running.

While a few toe touches may seem like a good idea, a dynamic warm up is more important. These functional movements help to warm the muscles and mimic the range of motion found in running. While holding on to the back of a chair, try swinging one leg at a time or a few strides of high knees and butt kicks.

It is easy to assume that running injuries are only musculoskeletal, but it is important to take your entire body system into consideration. This means proper fuel and hydration before, during and after the run. Everyone’s body is different, but hydrating properly with water and fuelling with easy to digest, simple foods are good principles to start with.

Fashion isn’t a component of running, but the right gear can keep you comfortable and pain free, allowing you to increase your mileage over time. Invest time into finding the right pair of shoes—a specialty running store will be able to assess your gait and recommend the best shoe for your unique feet. In terms of clothing, select items that are made from a wicking material. This will help to reduce chafing, a painful skin irritation. If you still find your skin is being rubbed raw, smooth some petroleum jelly or specialty anti-chafe balm on the trouble area before you head out.

On the run
Exploring can be one of the best things about running, whether you are in an urban or rural environment. However, failure to notice a root, cracked pavement or low hanging branch can bring your run to an abrupt and painful end. Constantly scan the route in front of you for any possible obstructions. If you prefer running under the cover of darkness, head out with a headlamp and reflective gear. This will ensure that you can see what is coming, and that others will see you as well.

Paying attention to your body’s cues is extremely important. Whether it is a twinge up your shin, knee pain or laboured breathing, honour your body. Listen to any aches—don’t try to muscle through. Walking is perfectly acceptable, as is cutting the run short. Check in with a health practitioner for persistent pain and always stop if you feel dizzy or nauseous, experience numbness or chest pain that is beyond normal exertion. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Hydration and fuel are still important during your run. If you are running over 10k, it is advised to take along nutrition (in the form of simple carbohydrates) and hydration (water, or an electrolyte solution) in regular intervals. However, make sure you are prepared for the elements— even if it is just a few kilometres, water in the summer is always a good idea.

Cool down
Even though it may be tempting to finish your run and flop down on the closest couch, make sure you give yourself time to cool down with a short walk. This is a controlled way to bring your heart rate down. Also, continue to monitor to your body after your run—if something feels tight, try some isolated stretches or pop into a local yoga class.

The new endorphin high may have you craving running all the time, but it is important to pace yourself, especially if you are new to running. Frequency and duration of runs should increase gradually over time, with your longest run distance increasing by approximately 10 per cent every week. It can be helpful to track your progress on a calendar, scheduling in rest days and cross training sessions. Cross training can consist of activities such as swimming, cycling or weight training. The key to a well-balanced body is a variety of physical activity.

Seek preventative care. Even if you don’t have an injury, receiving physiotherapy, massage or chiropractic care can help counteract issues before they become a full-blown injury. Look into sports massages or ask for recommendations from your new running friends. Treating your hardworking body right will ensure you are ready for the next run, race or trail!