Fabulously on the Move: Yoga for Beginners {Guest Post}

It’s been a LONG TIME since I hosted a guest post here on NTTC.  After going through the blogtastic survey process a few weeks ago, I realized how many of you wanted to hear more about exercise.  With this new knowledge (thanks again!!), I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers who are amazing, many of whom I’ve met in person, and most of all… folks who inspire me!!

Fabulously on the Move Racing to Zen Jess | No Thanks to Cake

First up is the lovely Jess.  I met Jess this year at Fitbloggin, and we were quick friends!  Her warm personality, her bouncy curls, and that welcoming smile… I’m so glad to have met her, and I love her story!  A super busy mom, she just took a professional leap… leaving her traditional job, in favor of following her dream.  I love it when that happens!!

Today on NTTC, she shares her suggestions on getting started with yoga.  With a few simple poses that she demonstrates below, you too could be on your way to be practicing yoga regularly.  Thanks, Jess, for sharing your passion with us!

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I’m Jess from Racing to Zen and am thrilled to be guest blogging for Kelly! I recently completed my yoga teacher training and am excited to share with you what has become the foundation of my yoga practice – the classical sun salutation.

Many people are unsure of how to begin a home yoga practice, but when your budget is tight or you’re just looking for a simple way to unwind at home each night, sun salutations are a wonderful way to bring yoga to your living room. Sun salutations have a wealth of health benefits – improved circulation, regulation of your digestive system and calming your central nervous system. Adding yoga to your existing exercise routine is also a great way to improve your overall endurance. Learning and mastering a sequence can be a great confidence booster too – sun salutations can travel with you anywhere. And, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love an exercise routine that ends with laying on the ground in corpse pose?

Yoga for Beginners Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

You can follow along in the two photo collages. I’ll give you the English & Sanskrit words for each pose.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Begin in mountain (tadasana) or prayer pose – Feet hips width distance apart, knees unlocked, shoulders back and down, spine long. Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose, centering yourself before you begin.
  • Upward raise (hasta utthanasana) – lift the hands skyward, getting length from your toes to finger tips. Turn the gaze up and slightly backward if you like.
  • Forward fold (utthanasana) – fold forward from the hips, bringing the head towards the ground and chest towards the knees. Let the head be heavy and put a deep bend in the knees to bring the chest closer to the legs.
  • Lunge (anjaneyasana) – from forward fold, lift your left foot and send it to the back of your mat, drop your knee and lift your chest to come in to a forward lunge.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana) – from lunge, curl your back toes under and lift and send the front foot to the back. Spread the fingers wide and imagine pushing your chest back towards your legs.
  • 8 Pointed Star (ashtanga namaskar) – from downward dog, drop your knees, shift your weight forward and drop your chest between your hands. The sit bones stay up and the “8 stars” on the ground are your two hands, your chin, your chest, your two knees and your two feet.
  • Cobra (bhujangasana) – slither forward like a snake, keeping the neck long and allowing the belly to drop to the floor. Remember that snakes don’t have butts, so don’t squeeze your glutes! Lift from your lower back only.
  • Downward Facing Dog – from cobra, push down into the ground with your hands and lift your sit bones back to the sky for one more downward dog.
  • Forward Fold – step the feet one at a time to meet the hands and fold forward.
  • From forward fold, you can roll back up to standing and start the same practice again, sending the right foot back in to lunge instead. Completing one round includes lunging with both legs.

After your sun salutations, enjoy savasana or corpse pose. If you have any worries about falling asleep, just set a timer on your phone, giving yourself 5-10 minutes of quiet, restorative time.

Thanks again to Kelly for giving me a chance to share with all of you! Enjoy your home yoga practice and Namaste to you all!

Heres’s a few ways that you can follow Jess:  Racing to Zen Blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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My Favorite Headbands + {GIVEAWAY}

It’s not often that I make the decision to affiliate with a brand… for an entire year.  When Bic Bands reached out earlier in the year, I knew they were a brand I wanted to work with.  And, it’s been such a year of stylish fun!!

Bic Bands Logo

To start with, I love what Bic Bands stand for.  They are the Because I Can Bands – – Get it?? BIC Bands?  Not only do they empower women with the most amazing flyaway control for any physical activity you can imagine, but they also DO NOT MOVE while you do! And, the company’s founder Sandy also gives back to charity every month via their BIC Giving program.  It’s nice to know that important causes are benefiting from my purchases!

Bic GIving

Here’s some of the great causes that have benefited from Bic Band purchases year-to-date:

Donations Bic Bands | No Thanks to Cake

As though all of that greatness weren’t enough… I also have to mention, they’re ADORABLE!  I consider myself to be a bit of an accessory junkie.. and I love these so much!

They come in just about every color and pattern you can imagine…

Patterned Bic Bands | No Thanks to Cake

They can be sparkly…

Sparkly BIC Bands | No Thanks to Cake

So many designs to choose from… and I always find myself BIC’ed out!

Wearing BICs | No Thanks to Cake

Now it’s your turn!!

And… I have TWO special offers for you to enjoy as you try BIC BANDS for yourself.

BIC Bands Promo | No Thanks to Cake

and… I’m hosting my first BIC BANDS giveaway!!!

NTTC Bic Band Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll announce a winner via the NTTC Facebook Page and Twitter on Friday, October 10th!  Good Luck, Folks!

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How to Be a Good Friend to Your Friend on a Diet

I’ve been “on a diet” most of my adult life.  Heck, I remember when my mom put me on what I remember to be my first diet when I was maybe 8 years old, suggesting that “we” were on a diet… and “we” weren’t going to be eating the frozen brownie ice cream treats in the freezer.

As a result of being on so many programs for 30+ years, I’ve had a lot of folks try to give me outside advice on how I could be doing what I’m doing better/smarter/faster/with different ingredients/etc.  I’ve had great suggestions, great support, and well… I’ve had the other as well.

Inspired by this little life of mine and my lovely friends who supported me so well along the way, I’m going to share a few suggestions on how to offer great support to a friend/family member/co-worker who is watching their food intake.

How to Be a Good Friend to Your Friend on a Diet | No Thanks to Cake

Understand that this is a BIG Lifestyle Shift

Your friend/sister/brother/wife is embarking upon one of the most difficult feats!  Consider this:  If weight loss were easy, obesity wouldn’t be the epidemic that it is in America!  Your loved one is in the process of trying to navigate this brand-new lifestyle that they have committed to and they likely have a range of emotions brewing about it.  They may be nervous, afraid, eager, and impatient.

Change Friends | No Thanks to Cake

Change is not always as simple as flipping a switch.  Be patient and compassionate.  Know that they may implement trial-and-error along the way to create the best possible program for themselves, and that they may stumble 150 times along the way.  Be supportive of the change… and mostly of your loved one.  They’ll need it!

Do Not Play Diet Patrol

“Is that on your program?”

“Um… I thought you were eating healthy now?”

Danny Devito Friends | No Thanks to Cake

As someone on a journey to getting healthy, I’ll tell you right now… I don’t always do it right.  There are times that I want to eat everything in sight.  There are times when I just can’t resist driving through Chick-Fil-A (and getting the real-deal fried chicken sandwich.)  I don’t perfectly all the time… and, I even have the nerve to call myself a “healthy living / weight loss blogger.” :)

But… those decisions are mine.  I have to face My Fitness Pal at the end of the day to track my eats.  I have to look in the mirror and face the music… I’ll deal with me.  You deal with you.  Sound good?

Avoid the Urge to Fix Things

How many times in my life have I said this: I don’t want to get off the couch and go to the gym.  Um, many many times… my friends can attest to this.  Often times, I just don’t want to go and sometimes, I need to share that.  I don’t always need a rah-rah-ree, kick ‘em in the knee kind of response… sometimes, I just want a friend to listen.

Rachel Friends | No Thanks to Cake

My friend Natalie is one of the best when it comes to offering support… I really don’t know how she does it, but she always says just the right thing.  Lots of “Get it, girl” text messages… or, “Maybe you need a break.  Go tomorrow!”  Regardless… she walks the line perfectly for me.  She listens to all my shenanigans… and offers support.  This is all I need…a sounding board to my thoughts.  I’m so lucky to have her!  Now, if only she lived closer… 

Consider Hosting Healthy Food Events

Eating out when you’re watching what you are eating can be a HUGE challenges.  Even visiting a friend’s house for dinner can be a challenge!

Thanksgiving Friends | No Thanks to Cake

My friend Deb does an amazing job at making sure that we’re all going to have a blast when we get together while taking into account everyone’s eating preferences.  For example:  Deb likes to make healthy choices too, so when I was in the beginning of my process.  She sensed my nervousness about gatherings, and always called me separately to assure me that she would have healthy options on hand that she wanted to enjoy too!  I never felt like I was putting everyone else by “needing” healthy options… and I always appreciated (and still do!) her kind approach to making sure I could stay on track.

Join in on the Fun

Early on in the process and when things were getting a little bit tough for me, my sister-in-law Beth jumped on board with Jenny Craig and signed up for the program.  This was amazing support for me.  I finally had someone to talk about the food with, to talk about the process, and someone who was participating with me.

Door Friends | No Thanks to Cake

Beth, while miles and miles away, was on board and also had some success with Jenny.  It made the process that much more fun!

Not Everything Has to Be Food-Related

Before I started on my healthy eating journey almost 4 years ago, everything we ever did was food related.  Wine night, dinners out, game night with snacks… with no regard to the calories we would be eating.

In the beginning, I just stopped joining my friends…. but over time, we’ve found other ways to have fun that include healthy activities!  We go on lots of walks… Denver has SO MANY beautiful spots to walk and hike that this has become a common outing.  My friend Tiffany and I do this quite often…

Friends Phoebe Running | No Thanks to Cake

Instead of meeting for lunch, maybe we meet for coffee instead.  My friend Kristin and I have worked this into our regular “catch-up” routine, and I love it!

Please Talk to Me about Other Topics

Just because I’ve committed to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean I want to spend all my time talking about the do’s and don’ts of the latest fad diet on the market, what I had for breakfast, or how I’m spending my time at the gym.

Turkey Friends | No Thanks to Cake

I’m still your friend.  That fun-loving, shoe-shopping, wacky story-telling friend.  Let’s talk about all of those things… I love that you take an interest in my weight loss process… but even I need a break from it from time to time, and I get together with you to take that break.

Celebrate Success with Me

When the celebrations come… I’m going to want you to be there with me.

Cheesecake Friends | No Thanks to Cake

It could be to celebrate that I didn’t eat the free pizza at work… or that I hit my 10K steps for the day… or it could be that I reach my weight loss goal.  Let’s celebrate together, ok?  I love to share my life’s high points with you.

Ultimately, I’m going to win no matter what, I’m going to learn, and I’m going to change… but I’d like you there beside me along the way as my friend.  Thanks in advance for all your support, love, and encouragement.  xoxo

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Yoga on the Rocks {and a Breakthrough}

July was quite a month for me.  I was movin’ and shakin’ all month long.  Non-stop.  Every day, there was something.  Every weekend, I over programmed myself.

While it was a wonderful month, I came back from San Diego…. EXHAUSTED.

Throughout the month of July, I was a little more open to dining out… to having a cupcake… and to skipping the gym, en lieu of working at night.  Seriously, I don’t even know how I wrote content for NTTC there was so much going on.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, folks…

And, when the end of July arrived, I felt as though I had been changed…. in many ways, for the better, but in other ways, I had slipped back into an uncomfortable place.

Uncomfortable in an eerily familiar way… uncomfortable in that way where I didn’t know if I could get myself back on track.  Truthfully, I was worried.  Very worried.   Not only had my eating habits slipped significantly, but I also hadn’t been to the gym regularly since… well… Fitbloggin.

For the past month in regard to healthy living, I’ve felt like I was on the edge of an avalanche… where the ground feels unsteady, as though it’s about to crumble.

I knew I had agreed to go to Yoga on the Rocks bright and early on Saturday morning.  My friends over at Core Power Yoga offered me free tickets to attend, and I even roped my friend Erin into joining me… but, did I really want to practice yoga?  Most definitely, no.  I was out of practice and had felt lethargic for the past week.

What I wanted to do was sleep… but I’d committed to going, so I set my alarm for what I like to call “the butt-crack of dawn” on Saturday morning.  I’ll let you in on a secret amongst us friends… I am so not a morning person. Not even close…

Saturday morning came quickly, and I dressed and headed to Red Rocks Amphiteater for the event.  I’ve talked about Red Rocks here before both for a concert and for Film on the Rocks, but I realize that not everyone is familiar with my amazing state… so I’ll give you a peek at its amazingness.

Film on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

It is one of the best venues in the country for live music.  Surrounded by gorgeous red rocks, the acoustics are phenomenal… and then, there’s that view too.  I’m guessing that not every state has this little gem.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

When we arrived, Erin and I checked in… grabbed our free Core Power mats and orange sunglasses and went to find a spot to practice.  I knew I was in for a treat when I saw my favorite concert venue filled with brightly colored mats and yogis practicing their favorite headstand poses throughout the amphitheater.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As we set up our area, I was still hesitant about how I my personal practice would go.  Knowing that I’d be practicing on unforgiving cement, I layered the giveaway mat underneath my Affirmats mat for extra support… as if those the words staring back at me weren’t enough support.  I love this mat… and I love that these words stared back at me for the next 60 minutes.  I needed them, and I repeated them throughout the class.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Can we again pause at the magnitude of this venue??

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As the class began, Amelia Earhart kicked the event off… what an incredible and beautiful story she has.  If you’re not familiar, she recently just flew around the world!

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

She also reported that she is a huge fan of yoga… and spoke about her practice.  The instructor, Inanna Jessop, took over shortly after and we got to work.

Inanna described the purpose of the class was to “ground down in order to rise up.”  How beautiful is that?  And, truthfully, I feel like that is exactly what happened to me during the next 60 minutes.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

We warmed up, and then completed the most beautiful sun salutations and balance poses.  We spent some time working the core (they don’t call it “Core Power Yoga” for nothing!), and as we were working our way into savasana, I had that moment… the “I’m practicing my beloved yoga at freakin’ Red Rocks” moment… and it was then that I realized things had begun to shift.

When our time in savasana ended and Sam Smith stopped singing (love him!), I wanted more time.  When we sealed our practice with a collective namaste, I almost didn’t want to say that beautiful word… because it meant it was over.

Erin and I packed up our stuff to leave, and it took me forever to roll up my mats.  In that moment, I thought I was just too relaxed and not focusing… but in reality, I didn’t want to leave.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Something else happened that was incredibly significant… I realized that my body and my mind was craving yoga.  My cells hadn’t forgotten how this practice serves them.  It remembered, even when I took a month off… it remembered.  And, it responded.

I was energized, poised, and for the first time in weeks… empowered and inspired.  I knew that I COULD again… and with that, I knew that I WOULD.  

And what would I or could I do?  Ever since, I’ve felt the possibilities to be limitless.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Since then, I’ve had a laser focus on being grounded, fueling my body with healthy foods, and setting intention of what will come in upcoming days, weeks, months…

This journey that I’m on has lots of ebbs and flows.  I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t… but the recent pause scared me.  After that beautiful practice on Saturday morning, I don’t fear a thing.  I’ve got too much that I want in my life to worry about fears… and it appears that when I get lost, all I have to do is get back on my mat.

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Thank you to Core Power Yoga for providing Erin and I with complimentary passes to participate in Yoga on the Rocks.  I can’t wait to join you guys again next year!

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