Max is one week old

Ever since working with my first pregnant client,  I have observed how hard those first weeks postpartum can be for new mothers on a physical and emotional level. As such I had planned to not only document Max' growing up, but wanted to see how I felt week-to-week in those six weeks that are so crucial for healing but which are also without any support on the medical side and often any assistance on the logistical end if you live - like I do - in the US/ NYC without that proverbial village or your family close by. 

In comparison, women in Germany have access to a midwife that is assigned to them for six weeks to help them maneuver questions such as nursing, sleeping and self-care, whereas here, these services could probably be summed up in the work of postpartum doulas or babynurses who are difficult to afford especially as an entrepreneur that is taking a pay cut for the duration of their choosing, while recovering from childbirth. A friend in Germany who is in the same business as I am, was paid close to $2,000/ month for a full year of maternity leave. It makes me weep.

Anyway, I digress. We've made it to a week. Seven days ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural in my back, had tracked some of my runners in the NYC Half Marathon and taken a nap. We even thought we'd watch a quick episode of "Call the midwife". But transition was fast approaching. I was on an IV of pitocin and they had broken my water... (*I can tell you my birth story in more frightening detail in person - I'll just focus on the positives here). Six hours later my doctor checked and it was time to push. 

I believe her exact words were: "I've only ever seen one woman push that child out in super fast pace of two contractions and she was an Olympic rower". Didn't she know who she was talking to? "Roma, this is not a competition..." Yeah, right. "I have to tell you that she tore BADLY!" Ok, maybe not two then. 

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Max came out 30 minutes later and he was perfect. Since then, he's taught me how to breastfeed him, we've passed the diaper test of soiling as many diapers per day as he is days old. He took a first sponge bath, gained an inch in length, met his pediatrician and managed to sleep through a friend's party as well as a few coffee outings. Some of my interactions with him feel incredibly intuitive, some others make me scratch my head. Like: how much can a little boy of 7.5 lbs possibly drink? 

As for my recovery, there are two things that hurt and are making moving around a little more difficult. One is the tearing that I couldn't avoid despite admitting defeat to the Olympic rower... The other is a self-inflicted (and self diagnosed) psoas strain, possibly from pushing. The latter occasionally robs me off breath and knocks the wind out of me. Both of them hurt laughing. Either will make it hard to resume running as a form of exercise in the foreseeable future. 

And you know what?

I.DON'T.CARE. I have just spent the most incredible week getting to know a person that we made. All we do at this point is dictated by his schedule and his needs. I have plans on the horizon and I have no doubts that I will get there. But how... that remains to be seen. 

One week in it is hard to believe that Chris and I were ever just the two of us. 

Healthy Breakfast and Snack Ideas (with Strawberries!)

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If you are pressed for time (like I am today!!), I say, go break out the blender for these healthy breakfast and snack ideas. I am obsessed with strawberries! I can eat them fresh, frozen, on cakes, pureed, as ice cream, yoghurt and even on toast (remember?).

So what better way to start my busy morning today than with a smoothie! I have recently acquired a Nutribullet and oh boy has it changed my life. It's quick and easy to clean and store which is vital in a NYC apartment.

This morning we had a beautiful smoothie that really packed a punch with the following ingredients (and nutrients):

SPINACH: vitamins K and A, folic acid, dietary fiber and protein! BANANA: potassium, tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine! DATES: iron, calcium, vitamin A and ß-carotene! STRAWBERRIES: vitamin C, fiber, manganese and folate!

So with one delicious cup of smoothie (even though the colour doesn't give it away) we took care of our heart, bones, memory, muscles, immune system and mental health as well as female health.

For a late morning snack I prepared some Chia Seed Pudding with Strawberries. Chia Seeds are the flaxseed of the millennial generation ;) They reduce food cravings, help you stay hydrated, lower blood pressure and are rich in Omega-3. Add 2 tbs of seeds to 1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk, add the fruit of your choice (2/3-1 cup), buy a cool looking mason jar to store in, and refrigerate for 5 hrs or overnight.

ENJOY!

xxR

Healing and a New Moon

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2014 is charging ahead. It is supposed to be ripe with opportunity and to favour the quick thinkers and decision makers. It is also full of new moons already! In less than three days, we will have a new moon again, the third one this year. This new moon will be in Pisces. I won't attempt to give you an astrological or mystical breakdown of what awaits, but I have come to appreciate new moons as mini new beginnings so I will do the same with this one. Also, the topic of healing came up (my husband compared me to Chiron... I'll write a separate post on that, ha!). As you may know, I suffered from sciatica for three years. It was excruciatingly painful and had absolutely no physical source (at least initially). I talked to a few new mothers this week and some of them told me about their experiences with lower back issues and also sciatica. Sciatica just like many other ailments and pains, usually stems from imbalance, emotional or physical. We can treat the symptoms but until we attack the root cause, the problem will keep returning. It took me another 2 years to get to the root and work on eliminating it and therefore reducing the pain and it took some pretty big changes in attitude and behavioural patterns. I was able to heal with a lot of support from others but mainly because I sought and went after more balance in my life.

Now this new moon on March 1st is in Pisces and asking for a closer look at some of our patterns, it is supposed to set a tone for pause and reflection while we consider where our energy has become totally out of balance.

There it is again: balance. The word pops up a lot. We talk about work-life balance, mind-body balance, balancing acts, balanced meals, the balance of power, standing balances and being well-balanced mentally.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Balance is such an integrative part of our vocabulary but still, we rarely achieve it in our life. This upcoming new moon wants to remind us how to do it. It asks us to tune inward and listen. To pay attention to our dreams. To flow and be connected. To merge and take a break from mundane activities. My interpretation and what I'm intending to do (especially since it's coming on the weekend) is the following:

  • Seeing people that I don't often see and miss (!). I started today with a lovely lunch and it made me happy.
  • Engaging in activities that I love and that allow me to reflect. I will probably go for a run.
  • Taking some me time.
  • Trying to refrain from being impatient for x amount of hours per day. With others AND myself.
  • Preparing and savouring nourishing food. And ideally sharing it in lovely company.
  • Resting and taking a moment in the morning to reflect on my dreams.
  • Beginning or ending the day reminding myself of what I'm grateful for (and writing it down).
  • Writing down my dreams for the future as a way of manifesting them / announcing them to the Universe.

I can't believe we are almost in March. Three weeks and change until Spring. Could it be true?

Let me know what you will be doing for the new moon or what you have done to heal after a difficult emotional or physical setback.

I would love to hear from you!

xxR

Baked Rolled Oats - Pecans & Blueberry

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Just tell me in the comments if you are already over my rolled oats recipes? But these are baked rolled oats! As you may have gathered by now, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, closely followed by lunch/ brunch. I'm not that crazy about dinner, because big meals usually make me very sleepy. I'm known for falling asleep on my friends' couches after dinner parties. Not my proudest moments. But also occupational hazard, I may add.

This dish will be done in 45 minutes and you can eat it for the next few days.

You will need 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of almond milk, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of melted butter or ghee, 1-2 cups of pecans chopped and 1-2 cups of frozen blueberries and 2 bananas. Maple syrup is optional.

Butter a medium sized baking dish and line the bottom of it with bananas. In one bowl mix the oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the almond milk, maple syrup and the butter.

Sprinkle 2/3 of the blueberries over the bananas, then evenly coat with the oat mixture. Pour the liquid ingredients on top and give it a little shake to make sure the milk runs in between the oats. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and the blueberries on top.

Bake the dish at 375 F for approximately 40 minutes, enjoy the beautiful smell and then devour!

Let me know if you like it!

xxR

PS: The beautiful serving spoon was a gift from my in-laws. I love the South African designer Carrol Boyes.

 

 

***Recipe adapted from http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2011/04/baked-oatmeal/

How to overcome Fear

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Fear... we all have it. Some of us are more inclined to discuss fear (publicly) than others but we all want to know how to overcome it. When I say fear, I include phobias and anxiety, that dreaded feeling that makes us lose control and stops us from thinking clearly. I recently saw the photos in this article mentioned by and featuring Kathryn Budig (renowned yoga teacher) that shows people with writings on them that describe their fears and insecurities. Steve Rosenfield’s “What I Be Project” depicts his friends and famous people in a very vulnerable way and there is a beauty to it.

We live in a society where being strong dominates, so does being fast and successful, beautiful and confident. But the real strength, in my opinion, lies in showing people our vulnerabilities and owning them. In most cases, talking about them already relieves a burden and most people will probably offer a helping hand to help us overcome our fear.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be more confident in front of a lens. Photo or video, particularly when I'm not moving but telling a story. And I do hope to share videos with you on topics around exercise, food, mood, motivation and body image. So look out for them.

In order to get there, I believe 5 things will help me:

  1. Just doing it: it's like that old band aid as a child. The quicker you pull it off the easier and less painful it is. Just doing it means trying it and not judging yourself. There really is nothing bad that will happen.
  2. Support from friends and family: as I mentioned above, talking about fear and anxiety is a first step to releasing some of the tension. Most people probably relate and will be more willing to come forward with theirs. Then, when the situation arises, make sure you have one of them by your side to squeeze your hand and tell you you're doing great!
  3. Practicing: make it a regular thing. When I started teaching classes, my heart was thumping and I was sure everyone could hear my voice trembling. With several classes a week, I am still a bit nervous at the start especially when new people are there but I can focus on other things more now. I talk to people, listen to their stories, laugh with them, because it's a routine now, the anxiety has made space for nicer things to focus on!
  4. Breathing: in most yoga classes you start with deep breathing. I start my class with the same. Breathing and releasing the tension in your abdomen from holding it in is super important. The deep inhales lift your chest up and make you feel powerful, the long exhales release anxiety and help you drop the shoulders which are probably up by your ears. Inhale tranquility - exhale anxiety.
  5. Being kind to myself: I am my biggest critic and I'll second-guess even if friends tell me it was good. So in this New Year's resolution, I also need to stop that. Being kind to ourselves means being accepting. Something we gladly extend to good friends. Being accepting of our own imperfections and the fact that everything is a process, is a major step to being more relaxed about our fears.

There... if I can do it, you can do it! Whether you get nervous about public speaking, fear flying, get anxious in new situations, I hope those five steps help you.

Let me know in the comments if you use some of these techniques and in general how YOU overcome fear! The sky's the limit - I dare you to embrace it!

xxR

PS: I'm afraid of heights, too. Hence the photo!

 

Yoga Happiness

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Does yoga bring happiness? For the longest time I was mainly a runner. I was a passionate fencer for many years and I love show jumping on horseback. And then not too long ago I threw yoga into the mix. My husband who has been practicing for decades promised me that if I stuck with it past the point in which downward dog would actually become a relaxing pose, I wouldn't regret it. He is a wise man, my husband :) I can't think of a better way to stretch out after a long run or to start other days building heat in my body (especially in this weather), than through yoga. It has helped me deal with anxiety, makes my skin looks rosy (say my friends) and it is a perfect way for me to end each of my classes and sessions with people that I work with.

Yoga makes me happy. It is the balance to my running. It has helped me trust in things instead of wanting to control them.

Balance + Trust = Happiness

Let me know if you agree or how yoga has helped you, below in the comments!

xxR

Peach Pancakes - Tasty Tuesday

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I love peach... and pancakes ... you may say, why is she making a sweet dish again. Well it's because: why not? You can make your own salad but to get creative with healthy options of otherwise over-sweetened uber fatty dishes that you order when you eat out, is harder. So here's a little help. For these pancakes I used fresh peaches from the Farmer's Market. They are succulent and big and ripe these days so you don't need much additional sugar. Also making the pancake dough from scratch is easy and you know what goes in it exactly. Substitute yoghurt for milk and I used 50/50 white flour and whole wheat. One egg, some spices... delish!

Ingredients are:

1 large egg 1 cup Yogurt (I used Ronnybrooks maple vanilla) ½ tsp vanilla 2 Tbsp sugar (or less) ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 1 pinch ground nutmeg (or not - or try cardamom, it's really good for you) ½ cup all-purpose flour ¼ cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda butter, for pan 1 peach peeled, halved, pitted, and sliced into ¼” sliced Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 250 F and set a baking sheet inside. Combine the egg, yogurt, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until completely smooth. In a separate bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, flours, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Heat a skillet to low-medium heat, and melt a Tablespoon of butter in it. Scoop about 1-2Tbs of batter into the pan (this will look like a very small amount), and place a round half slice of peach on top. The pancake will flatten out and be about the size of the peach when fully cooked. Cook on this first side for about 3 minutes, or until the edges are dry and the middle is bubbling, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Place cooked pancakes in the oven until all the batter is used. Serve with maple syrup or topping of your choice.

3 ways to manage stressful situations

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This week presents two stressful situations for me. One was teaching a first class at a new place, you know, will the music work, will the owners like it and will the participants like it? Yes, yes and yes. It was a great hour with lovely people, sweaty, heart pumping and incredibly relaxing at the end. Just so beautiful. I tend to get very stressed and forget to focus during stressful situations. This week, in addition to teaching my first class at Melt Massage I'm also running the Miles for Midwives 5k fun run. I am a professional procrastinator so I started preparing for class the night before and the day of but with the race on Saturday there are a few more things I need to remember. Most importantly: to chill out.

Here are 3 ways that help me when my mind starts racing, my jaw clenches up, my brain is already focused on an appointment 5 hours from now and my stomach acts up, which is especially uncomfortable during workouts:

  1. Stop! Turn your eyes away from the computer, the phone and for a moment focus your mind on something else. I like to look out the window and watch the squirrels chase each other down a tree, a dog helps too, playing with Zola calms me down and makes me happy or if you are in the office, get up and walk over to a nice colleague of yours, say hi and chat about something or go get some water.
  2. Nap! Seriously. The racing monkey mind creates a lot of physical anxiety too and that's tiring. If you can close your eyes and snooze or at least drift off for about 15 minutes, it does wonders to your state of mind, emotional and physical well-being. I find that when my stomach gets really worked up, that helps calm it down, too. You can do that outside on a bench, at your desk or at home you can lie down.
  3. Laugh! Remind yourself that nothing horrible will happen. It will probably go incredibly well and by the end of whatever it is you are dreading (public speaking, a sports event, or anything else) your relief will make you happy and crave even more of that adrenaline rush. If you can't think of something funny yourself, ask a friend to check in with you beforehand and make you laugh. If they do, they are truly good friends. Laughing releases dopamine and dopamine makes us smile. Win-win situation.  which help the body stay in tune and even heal.

As children, we didn't anxiously await horrible outcomes to new situations, we were able to live much more in the present and go about our daily business. With experience comes fear. But that doesn't mean we can't remind ourselves of these three simple things that were so simple once and are so vital to our well-being.

I dare you to try it! I'm going to go take a nap now.

xxR

Monday Moves: planks, planks, planks / stütz, stütz, stütz

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I must admit, I wasn't always the biggest fan of planks in any form, but since doing them daily with and without clients, it is astonishing how it has defined and strengthened my core. It has helped me alleviate sciatic pain and I even recorded a little video with useful exercises and tips that you can find on YouTube or right here on the blog. I muss zugeben der Stütz, war nicht unbedingt meine bevorzugte Übung (kam gleich nach Klimmzügen) aber seit ich ihn täglich durchführe, mit Kunden und ohne, beobachte ich mit Staunen wie sich mein Rumpf verändert hat. Soviel stärker und definierter (Bonus!). Die Übung hat mir geholfen meine Ischias Schmerzen unter Kontrolle zu bekommen und ich habe sogar ein kleines Video aufgenommen, das ihr auf YouTube bewundern könnt oder direkt hier auf meinem Blog.

Simple (Prenatal) Exercise Routine for a hot day

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It is September 11th, an important date in the US and specifically in New York City. Exactly 12 years ago this city and the world watched in horror at the events that unfolded in the Financial District and later mourned together all those who were lost and their families who were affected. Today it is also unusually hot and humid, not the weather we were expecting in September after an unseasonally cool August and people have been dragging their feet and feeling heavy and uncomfortable.

I was training with one of my pregnant clients today who is due in 3 weeks (!!!) and who is in great shape but was feeling tired like me. The following is a routine of five exercises that energized us but also wasn't too strenuous and can be done by pregnant and non- pregnant people alike.

Seesaw Stretch:

Sit in a wide legged seat and either hold hands with a partner across from you or interlace your fingers and point the palms out in front of you. Inhale straightening your back, sitting tall and exhale leaning forward as much as you can without collapsing in your back. If you do this exercise with a partner, they assist you by holding your arms up. Together you should get into a rhythm of inhaling/ exhaling sitting tall and leaning forward. Do this for 2-3 minutes.

Simple prenatal exercise

All fours / leg lift:

Come to all fours and do a few cat and cows (inhale arch your back, look up and exhale round your back and look towards your thighs). With a neutral back, lift the right leg, knee at a 90 degree angle and foot flexed. Lift the leg up and open up the hip as if you were kicking something behind and above your left hip. Repeat 25 times and then switch to the left side.

Supported side plank core work:

Come into a side plank on your forearm. Lower and lift your hips with feet stacked and legs long and strong 10-15 times on each side. When you are coming down, avoid touching your mat.

Inner thigh work:

Lie on your back and if you are pregnant elevate your hips by placing a yoga block under your hips. Turn you feet all the way out in opposite directions. Then cross them while engaging your inner thighs. Bring your legs apart and then cross them. Switch between the right leg on top and the left one. Do 3 sets of 30.

Lizard into pigeon into ankle over knee:

In a low lunge with the right leg in front bring both of your palms to the inside of your leg. Keep the back knee up and then lower down to your elbows if possible. Breathe deeply. After 10 breaths scoot your right foot over to the left and set yourself up in pigeon pose. Fold over your front leg and take 10 deep breaths. Then, swing your left leg forward and cross the ankle over the right knee. Melt over your legs and relax. Switch sides and repeat the routine on the left.

Simple prenatal exercise

Extra pose for pregnant ladies to stretch out the achy side and hips:

Stand about arms length from a wall or tree if you are outside. Face it sideways and place the inside foot outside the outside one, crossing over the front of the ankle. Place your hands as low on the wall as you can and press your hips outward. Then switch sides.

Simple prenatal exercise

I hope you enjoy the routine, that it gives you energy, some strength and relieves some minor aches and pains. Stay cool!

xxR

Tasty Tuesday: Turmeric Honey Iced Tea/ Kurkuma Honig Tee

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I love tea! But let's be honest in the summer we usually tend to drink fresher things. So I came up with this iced tea recipe to bid summer farewell and welcome fall. The honey is soothing and local honey will help you keep seasonal allergies in check and turmeric is 2013's wonder spice. It boosts your immune system, reduces your cholesterol, improves digestion, it can help control diabetes, prevent cancer and heals wounds. Boom! For the recipe I like to use loose tea (2 tsp), either Darjeeling as I did or if you don't like caffeinated teas, use Rooibos tea, a pinch of turmeric, 1-2 tsp of honey. Brew it, steep it and then cool it down with ice cubes. Enjoy!

Ich liebe Tee. Aber im Sommer war es hier in New York so heiss dass mir meist nach etwas frischeren Getränken war. Aber nun habe ich dieses Rezept ausprobiert um den Sommer artgerecht zu verabschieden und den Herbst standesgemäss zu begrüssen. Der Honig vor allem wenn er aus der eigenen Region ist, kann mit Allergien helfen und Kurkuma scheint das Wundermittel des jahres 2013 zu sein. Es hilft das Immunsystem zu stärken, senkt den Cholesterinspiegel, hilft mit der Verdauung, kann mit Diabetes helfen, Krebs verhindern und heilt Wunden. Ich habs euch doch gesagt!

Um den Tee zu zu bereiten, verwende ich gerne losen Tee (2 Teelöffel) entweder Darjeeling oder Teein frei Roibusch Tee, eine Prise Kurkuma, 1-2 Teelöffel Honig. Lass den Tee eine Weile ziehen, und kühle ihn mit Eiswürfeln ab. Lecker!

Words on Wednesday: 5 ways to be more approachable

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I think I have mentioned it often how important my coach was to me. He was a mixture of a friend and a father figure after my dad passed early. He was a mentor and someone I could trust blindly and still would today... Connections like these are hard to find. Admittedly I am not a very trusting person and some of my close friends now would attest to that. They all initially interpreted my (intense) personality and lack of openness with arrogance and it usually took a long time for me to let them in... In NYC where every store clerk asks you how you are doing and where people greet you with "what's up?", I used to earnestly respond to the question and shake my head saying that I had seen better days. Upon which I would realize that it was a rhetorical question and the other person had long since moved on. My bad. I am not trusting but that doesn't mean that I am a superficial brute or not interested in you. It just takes me a tad longer to let my guard down while I explore if it's safe.

And now, I'm a personal trainer and my goal is to be approachable, happy, positive and a good motivator. Last week I had asked great clients of mine for a referral/ testimonial of the work with me and they came back SO detailed and beautiful they made my heart sing. It was a major acknowledgement that I am capable of creating an environment in which people enjoy working out and trust my knowledge and guidance. And may I just say, I am very fortunate to work with amazing people that make my job something I look forward to and come out of humming!

So how did I bring about something in my professional life, that I have had trouble with in my personal life? 5 things that I am applying more and better in my personal life now, too! Here's the breakdown:

  1. Wait and See: I used to jump into relationships head first, spilling my secrets, family history and many embarrassing details way too early. In a professional relationship that's not possible and that's a good thing. Waiting to see what people are like, if we get a along and are on the same page is something that I have taken from my work to my home. And it works.
  2. Look them in the Eye: we as a society don't like it. Eye contact feels intimidating, threatening almost and must be avoided at all times. But our eyes are the windows to our soul, so how could we? Looking at people for real means seeing through them but also showing them a certain vulnerability which will make them trust us more. It helps me to see whether someone I work with is tired, happy, exuberant, annoyed, etc. And I can respond appropriately.
  3. Lower your Voice: have you noticed that animals respond to lower voices with more calm? Horses slow down when we tell them and dogs obey commands better than if they are with a young child that shrieks and acts erratic. Low voices are perceived as sexy and warm. Don't we all wish we could make everyone swoon like Angelina? Even though we may resent their effect on men, but we want to be their friend, too... Check it out: Top Ten Women with Deep Voices
  4. Touch: The favourite part of many people, is Savasana usually because I or the yoga teacher gives us a quick kneading of the shoulders, touches our temples or pulls our neck straight. Humans need touch, we thrive on it. In families and friendships and of course relationships, happy hormones are released through cuddles and other physical forms of intimacy. It makes us all sigh when we see a senior couple that still have a very tender relationship, when they hold hands and lean their head on the others' shoulder.
  5. Laugh: for real! Don't fake it. Laugh and make it infectious. Laughter is great for a strong core and sharing deep gurgling belly laughs is a connection that is almost impossible to cut. Whatever happens in the future, you can be sure that you will remember those over any argument, disagreement or extra set of reps that I pushed you through!

So now, armed with this knowledge, I dare you to deepen your relationship with that person that your intuition has told you by now is safe, look them in the eye, grab their shoulders, tell them a joke (deep voice!) and then laugh it out together.

Just writing this puts a smile on my face.

xxR

 

Tasty Tuesday: Kale & Coconut/ Grünkohl & Kokosnuss

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A simple yet yummy recipe as a side dish or a main course. I like to buy the kale pre-washed and bagged and make a big batch of this. Spread the kale out on an oven tray after massaging it in some sesame oil. Set the oven to 300-350 F and bake for about 15 minutes. Make sure to check on it and maybe toss some more in between. Towards the end add some coconut flakes. I use Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Take the mixture out of the oven and toss in about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or more if you like it. Enjoy!For an extra kick and some grains you can add some cooked barley and have a delicious vegetarian dish. Ein sehr einfaches und extrem leckeres Rezept das man als Vorspeise oder Hauptspeise geniessen kann. Ich kaufe den Grünkohl gerne vorgewaschen in der Tüte und verarbeite die ganze Tüte auf einmal. Verwende Sesamöl und massiere es in den Grünkohl. Richte die Blätter auf einem Ofenblech an und backe sie bei ca. 180 Grad für etwa 15 Minuten. Achte darauf dass die Blätter nicht anbrennen. Gegen Ende kannst du die Kokosnussraspeln hinzufügen. Ich verwende hier in den USA Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Nimm die Mischung aus dem Ofen und mische sie in einer Schüssel mit ca. 3 Esslöffeln Soja Sauce oder ein wenig mehr falls du das magst. Lecker! Für einen extra Kick und ein ganzheitliches vegetarisches Mahl, kannst du noch gekochte Gerste hinzufügen.

Words on Wednesday: Less is More

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I just stumbled across an old friend from Uni online, who commented on a Facebook post saying that "we have lost the awareness to be excited by the little things"... Ever since I left my office job, I realized that while I'm doing what I really love, time slows down. I have an awesome session with a client and the hour seems much longer (I think for them too, depending on what we're doing). No but in a positive sense I cherish moments much more.  Before, I obviously also had really great days at the office, but the simple setting which was an office that forced me to be at my desk at certain times of the day and dictated that I was to have lunch around 12-2pm made me really look forward to 6pm and the freedom that came with it.

I tried to bring food to the office to not have to rely on food chains because ultimately in a 5 day week I would have at least one, twice. I'm not good at leaving things on my plate, so the places dictated how much I was eating... Now I take my time to prepare breakfast and some of the results you see on here. I enjoy eating it, I go workout, by the time I come back I really look forward to preparing a nice lunch. And I cook most evenings. There was never really time for that before.

Even though I work physically and mentally harder getting Chitta off the ground, I run around, I work out with my clients and I try to keep up with my own exercise routine, I feel less tired than I often felt after a whole day at the desk. My anxiety levels are lower even though every new client feels like going on a first date, my hair and skin are healthier and my digestion... well, you know :)

My friend's comment was on an article about how we consume a lot these days and I must admit as a budding entrepreneur I consume much less these days. And interestingly I'm happier.

This NY Times article also weighs in on how we have become a society of consumers and how the author scaled back which - you guessed it - made him happy.

How does all this relate to what I'm doing?

I once met a client who told me she was working out six times a week, she had changed trainers a few times, she did her own cardio but still she said "I don't run faster than some New Yorkers walk".

In my trainings, I try to bring as much versatility to each session as I can. Often I switch up exercises after only a few sets or combine them and I try to squeeze the maximum result out of each proposed exercise. And I am seeing peoples' results. My pregnant ladies felt energized after sessions albeit challenged, other people have lost weight and others were able to increase their strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. All of them - if I had them do their very first session again today - would do it without breaking a sweat and hardly being out of breath.

These results make me incredibly happy! And they show that by tickling my clients with these 1-3 hours per week, which is easily incorporated into their busy schedules, we are making amazing progress in a relatively short time. Think of their muscles being excited too by the diverse, rapidly changing movement and because they are happy, they interact better, within (intramuscular coordination) and between each other (intermuscular coordination). It all creates a well oiled machine. Moreover, because the results stick, this new regimen becomes sustainable: it's fun to see yourself transform.

I strongly believe in breaking the loop of living to work, rewarding ourselves by consuming more, buying more, eating more and ultimately feeling obliged to exercise more.

I dare you to work to LIVE, then the work itself becomes rewarding, consuming becomes a luxury and eating is a part of a delicious routine that creates balance in our body... a strong body that loves to be tickled regularly.

xxR

PS: Every now and then, stop and smell the flowers...

Moving with ease and accepting impermanence

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This post falls under the same category as 'how our puppy taught us to stay sane' except this time she is the culprit among other things. I have been known to do things fast, to do many things at the same time and somehow that results in me, always having a deadline...

So for 2013 that meant getting above mentioned brand new puppy in January and training her, concluding a yoga teacher training in March, opening a business in April, planning an international wedding in May, bidding the in-laws and family farewell closer to June (they all decided NYC was only worth a trip if it was at least two weeks) and then marching full steam ahead with promoting my business while working with clients. It is only August but I feel like I've filled the first half of this year with enough tasks for a full 365 days.

And now... we're moving apartments. To be exact by the end of this month. Boxes, movers, bills, organizing, while maintaining our jobs as two entrepreneurs who work from home. And right on cue, Zola our pup came down with a UTI (urinary tract infection). I am sure all of my female readers can commiserate and believe me, the symptoms are just the same. I wonder if it's stress related.

The term 'moving with ease' is used a lot in the wellness field. Usually to describe economical physical movement. Ultimately it means that we move using little strength while getting to where we want gracefully without breaking a sweat.

I am not good at that.

As an athlete I was taught how to do things economically, in an agile way and simply trained so many hours, that very little could make me tired. International competitions involved the following: travel, short nervous first nights, a semi-final on the first day, one recovery day of light training to get rid of as much lactic acid as possible, the biggest event: the final on day three, another day of recovery at which point that lactic acid had stubbornly set up camp in our muscles, and the team event. 5 days, 3 full pentathlons, one last night of partying and connecting with everyone and a flight home. The next day I was focused on the next competition and back on (the) track.

My current events are slightly different but I was thinking of ways to make them easier. This is not a five step plan on how to do things. For that you could check my article on how to lead a balanced lifestyle. But rather I would like to describe a feeling to retreat to when things get overwhelming, that has helped me and that I have to fight for to create in my daily life.

I usually get into that feeling in random places. In NYC most often on the subway. It is one of the few places where there is no cell phone service and if I am not reading or drafting emails a place to reflect. It is there that I remember that I constantly am planning the outcome of different things and even the ones that can not be planned. On a side note I recently saw the kaleidoscopic art work by Suzan Drummen where she lays pieces on the floor to create mandala like structures. And people can walk right up to them to admire them. It made me very nervous to think that someone would bump into one of the pieces or step on them and destroy Ms. Drummen's thousands of hours of work.

But then (after laughing out loud at myself) I thought of the Buddhist concept of impermanence and how important it is to remind ourselves that it is not a bad thing. And that's exactly where I found some peace. Things around us are in flow. We, mere mortals, can't stop it. Things happen, sometimes amazing things. Sometimes things that initially are disappointing but ultimately lead to something different. And most of the time that next situation is not half bad.

Of course there are very trying times when there seems to be a succession of only yucky things and right now I feel like there are a lot of chores awaiting me while I would much rather enjoy the lull of August and kick back instead of leaning in.

I am working hard and somewhat successfully to take each day as it comes, to wake up and not rush to mid-afternoon or evening in my head. To acknowledge that if I allow the hours to unfold, they pass slower than if I'm already at 5pm and stressing out over how short the day is. To really enjoy downtime, be it a meal, a quick coffee with a friend, a workout session I particularly enjoy or walking the dog. And to stay present without escaping into the crazy future place in my brain.

There you have it: presence and impermanence. The two states that help save my day. Today.

I dare you to try it. Have a calm rest of your week.

xxR

Monday Moves: Work multiple body parts/ Trainiere mehrere Körperbereiche

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Sculpt multiple body parts at once. Deep lunge w/ resistance band. Good for the core, thighs, upper back, bingo wings & armpit. For starters use the lightest resistance band, wrap it around a pole as shown in the photo or at home against a sturdy object on chest level. You should be pushing out the palms straight in front of your chest. Do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions; then switch the legs and repeat. Over time, build towards 30 repetitions and/ or use a stronger band. Trainiere mehrere Körperbereiche gleichzeitig. Tiefer Ausfallschritt mit Trainingsband. Diese Übung eignet sich besonders gut um den oberen Rücken zu trainieren, die Oberschenkel, die Unterarme und den Achselbereich. Fur Anfänger: schlinge das Band um ein Objekt auf Brusthöhe, bringe dann die Handflächen gerade vor deiner Brust nach vorne. Beginne mit 3 sets von jeweils 15-20 Wiederholungen und wechsel dann das vordere Bein. Mit der Zeit, kannst du dich auf 30 Wiederholungen hoch arbeiten.

5 ways to get back to a healthy back

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I mention in my about section that I suffered from sciatica... It started at the ripe age of 28 and I had no idea what was happening. I was in a very stressful office environment under a lot of pressure to make a project happen and suddenly my leg started aching. Having just run a half marathon I assumed I hadn't trained appropriately or over-trained or simply wasn't young enough anymore to bounce back without problems as I would have ten years earlier.

With more pain that wouldn't stop, other thoughts came up: "it's the long term effects of training so hard as a young person", "I have a serious injury that I keep aggravating by exercising", "maybe I should try yoga", "ouch, stretching hurts- yoga is not the solution".

I became increasingly alarmed and stopped running, by this time the pain was shooting down my hamstring into the back of my knee and all the way down into my pinky toe. The result was that I couldn't sit in an office chair for many hours a day and worse, even lying became a problem.

I spent hundreds of dollars on heat patches, arnica, traumeel, tiger balm, eventually acupuncture and a chiropractor. I tried for as long as I could to stay away from pain medication to avoid getting hooked on them. What I didn't know at the time because it had never happened to me, was that chronic pain can cause a large number of other related issues: my digestion became horrible, irregular and it caused weight gain, any meal caused painful bloating. This was closely followed by skin problems, my face became a minefield of acne that I couldn't get under control, so I stopped going 'bare' and used more make up (I don't have to tell you that that wasn't a great idea). Other side effects included fear because I didn't understand what was happening and people suggested herniated and/or bulging discs, anxiety trying to still do well in my job and ultimately a slight onset of depression because nothing worked.

I am not trying to depress you here, but this is to show you how bad it was for me... Eventually I found out what sciatica was (I was way too young for it, but it is happening more to younger people).

And here is, what helped me:

  1. Realizing that there is usually a psychological component to physical pain that becomes chronic. I had gone through a breakup, work was intense and I tried to do it all at once, all by myself, and as fast as possible.
  2. Finding out that my pelvis and therefore my hips and shoulder strap were about 2 inches higher on one side (no wonder I was in pain). An amazing chiropractor placed a finger on my right hip and then one on my left, stepped back and showed me...
  3. Accepting that anti-inflammatory medication when used responsibly to avoid pain and manage it, will help. I was always worried about addiction.
  4. Walking away from doctors that were ready to operate, prescribe incredibly strong pain medication for open-ended periods of time and generally anyone who told me that I would never be well again.
  5. Listening to myself and addressing the root of the problem, namely the anxiety that was caused by my job, the stress that came with it and learning relaxation techniques (I went back to autogenic training, tried meditation and learned how to do yoga without overstretching which can aggravate lower back issues). Also, mindfully removing those same triggers from my personal life, carving out 'me time' and not being rushed.

I get VERY few onsets of sciatica these days, a whole lot of things have to happen all at once to bring on an attack but I've also learned exercises and tools to get back to pain free. It took 2 years to get to where I am now. And I am writing this article precisely because I don't want people to wait as long as I did, to take action and hopefully avoid surgery.

The NY Times Health and Science section posted an article today on how back pain is being over-treated. I will be posting a video of a few exercises to help level the pelvis and restore balance in the hips, soon; to contribute to healing naturally and empowering individuals like you, to stop the pain.

I hope you will like it and mostly of course, that you don't need it in the first place!

Today I ask you to tuck your pelvis and engage your core!

xxR

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberries on Toast/ Erdbeer Toast

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Instead of more sugary jam or marmalade options, today I chose to use the fresh strawberries I still had in my fridge. What a yummy result! For people with lactose intolerance I would suggest substituting dairy-free options like a nut butter or ghee. An Stelle einer zuckrigen Marmelade, habe ich mich heute morgen mal für frische Erdbeeren auf meinem Toast entschieden. Was für ein leckeres Resultat. Und schön anzuschauen auch noch. Für Leute mit Laktose Unverträglichkeiten empfehle ich anstatt des cream cheese, eine Mandelbutter oder Mandelmus zu verwenden oder das indische 'Ghee'.

Monday Moves - Exercise Kneeling/ Übungen knieend ausführen

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I often ask my pregnant friends to do strength exercises kneeling to engage their core. It's strengthening those important muscles in a gentle way. If this feels hard on the knees, fold over your mat, for support. The same works for everyone else who's not pregnant, too. Try it! Ich bitte meine schwangeren Klientinnen oftmals, Ubungen knieend auszuführen um ihren Rumpf mit einzubringen. Dies hiflt die wichtige Rumpfmuskulatur auf sanfte Weise zu stärken. Natürlich trifft das selbe auch für nicht-Schwangere zu. Versucht es!

 

International Inspiration - How to be polite online in true Olympic spirit

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As an athlete traveling to foreign countries, we were instructed to observe certain laws of politeness. As ambassadors of our country we had to remember that any mischief would reflect badly not just on us but our nation. Later, when I worked at the United Nations, it became normal for me to switch languages to address coworkers, to learn the specifics of how to interact with people from different backgrounds and to get accustomed to the food and culture of different regions of the world. At my wedding recently, we counted guests from circa 15 different nations and when I look at people who support me on social media, that read and comment on my postings, they come from many different places, too. It's pretty amazing how interconnected the world has become. In New York it almost seems normal to be at a dinner (or a wedding) and meet people from several different continents and from all walks of life. Online and in social media even more so.

I have noticed that I know people who have accumulated over 1,000 Facebook friends on their private accounts and consider it normal to share their (somewhat) private information with every one of them although some, they may have only met once. This trend can be dangerous without a set of rules (of conduct) in place and whether it is voyeurism or sharing of our private information by others, it seems we are doing less to safeguard our personal lives. On the other hand we have to do more to learn how to do so, because it is not in the interest of the providers of these platforms to keep our lives private.

While looking for rules that would be a good example of how to live together in peace across different languages, cultures and nations, I remembered the Olympic Games. They are the epitome of young people coming together to challenge each other but remain peaceful and respectful with a sense of integrity and acknowledging diversity. There are seven rules that can be read in whole on the Olympic website.

And here is my adaptation of the essential elements of five of the seven and how they could help us stay polite in a digital age:

  1. Rule One describes Olympism as a quest "to create a way of life based on the joy of effort and the educational value of good example". As adults nobody reminds us of how to be a good example anymore. This results in us over-sharing and sometimes embarrassing ourselves and those close to us. Social media started as a way to connect and exchange. Now it sometimes seems that the more ridiculous a post is, the more attention it gets.
  2. Rule Two mentions the harmonious development of humankind and promoting a peaceful society. In times of controversial news spreading within seconds, we have to remind ourselves that not everything (especially negativity) needs to be shared online in comments and tweets that may hurt another.
  3. Rule Three speaks of the five interlaced rings as a symbol of nations coming together and using concerted efforts to stay intertwined. Too often, when news breaks that concerns one country or region, we are quickly divided by ethnic lines. Maintaining a respect for different viewpoints of religion, politics and culture, is crucial. As individuals we should refrain from using social media to further fan the flames of intolerance.
  4. Rule Four talks about practicing sport as a human right. Freedom of speech is a human right, too. And people shouldn't be so quick to condemn others because of their values or beliefs. Not online and not in person.
  5. Rule Six condemns any discrimination towards another. As in "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all". We should all think before we speak or type. Discrimination is closely tied to stereotypes and misconceptions about other countries and cultures. Maintaining a polite way of talking to others is crucial.

I believe that in times of constant exposure and connectivity, these rules apply to our life in busy urban settings as well as in the privacy of our home when we go online. They were created as a means of people getting along and shouldn't only be followed by a select few at a special event but - if we remind ourselves of their value - would make our coexistence much more enjoyable on a daily basis. So any time we are quick to judge, roll our eyes, over-share or condemn, maybe we can take a step back and remember that the profile photo represents a real person, with feelings that could potentially get hurt.

I dare you to try it and let me know what you think in the comments, below!

xxR

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