Author Archives: kmeasel

How To Expand Your Consciousness Past Your Physical Experience

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Hey HFF viewers!! I know I haven’t posted in a while. Okay, a LONG while. About a year to be exact. I’ve been working on some really exciting things to share with you that are coming very soon! The thing I’m most excited about is that I have worked up 2- eight week fitness plans to share with ya’ll that will be available for purchase right here on healthyfitfabguide.com! Yayyy!

In the meantime, I wanted to take a quick minute to talk about something that we haven’t talked about much, but that I believe has the utmost importance when it comes to our degree of wellness. Now, before we dig into this, I’m asking you to have an open mind. I know that for a lot of people, as soon as the word “meditation” comes up, your mind automatically goes to a place of weird, tree-hugger, spiritual guru nonsense… But listen, I’m telling you there is really something to this.

Over the last few years, I’ve really been digging deep into yoga and meditation and experimenting with various types and degrees of both. As you may know, the two often go hand-in-hand as I believe that yoga, especially “Yin” is really a stepping stone directly into a meditative state. Not only does Yoga help to stretch and strengthen your muscles and the deep connective tissues within the body, but it also helps slow your mind and align your entire being, mentally, spiritually and physically. It allows you to feel grounded, centered, secure, and connected with life and the creator of life… however you think/believe in that creator. This is not religion-specific. This is literally for everyone! The transformation that you can realize in yourself, even after a few weeks, is something truly worth trying to achieve. Less anxiety, better sleep, better relationships, less irritability, more control over your own experiences, and a deep feeling of love and connection… If that’s not something worth at least experimenting with, then you can stop reading now.

So, let’s start with meditation. What is meditation? How do you do it? Well the truth is that the answer is different for everyone. For some people, praying is meditation. Some people like to focus on a mantra, a desire, a good feeling, and empty the mind of everything else. Meditation is really just getting to know your inner self. (mind, body, spirit connection) The most important thing to realize is that meditation is a “practice”. This means that it is not something that comes easy at first, you must work at it. And the more you do, the more you realize that you’re getting better at it, and start noticing subtle changes in your life. You have to give up any thoughts of “Am I doing this right?” and just focus and be mindful of your own unique experience. The fact that there are tremendous benefits to strengthening this practice/skill/whatever you’d like to call it is impossible to ignore.  Research has shown that monks who meditate for thousands of hours alter the structure of their brains and significantly decrease emotionally reactive behavior. However, we in Western cultures are trained to think that we don’t have the time or patience for these types of practices. We don’t have much free time, and the time we have is far too precious to spend it sitting and doing nothing, right? WRONG!! The fact is, the less time and patience you think you have for it, the more you need it! Last year Harvard research found that even those who had never before meditated, saw benefits in five different regions of the brain from just 30 minutes of practice per day, over the course of eight weeks. There are different types of meditation, so it’s important to find the type that is right for you. I’ll go over some of them briefly.

  1. Mindfulness – Here, you train your mind by focusing on your breath, or on sensations in the body. The goal is to purposely pay close attention to your experience with acceptance, patience and compassion. By intentionally focusing into the moment, we train ourselves to live less on auto-pilot, be more present in our own lives, and more comfortable in our own bodies. This type of meditation helps you to increase focus and release stress. This is a meditation you can even do while doing other things like walking or commuting. Although it is best done sitting in a comfortable, quiet place where it is easier to focus.
  2. Loving Kindness – This one’s pretty simple. It’s all about surrounding yourself with love. Connecting to the infinite loving power, or God if you so choose, and sending good thoughts, care, kindness, and love out to the universe and others. You start by focusing your attention on your chest area or “heart chakra”. As you focus on your inhales and exhales, you can imagine this area expanding and sending out love. Mantras such as “I am loved”, ” I am happy”, “I am grateful”, “I am safe” or “I am surrounded by love every day” can help this process. This type of meditation can decrease self-criticism, release emotional tension and blocks, and reduce risks for tension-related health issues like migraines. Also, the more love and gratitude you send out into the universe, the more love and things to be grateful for come back to you like a boomerang. BOOM! Who couldn’t use a little more of that?
  3. Moving – If you really cannot fathom sitting still for 20-30 minutes, then there are also physical practices such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong, which involve mindfulness, breath work, and movement. If you’re not sure where to start, you can sign up for a yoga or tai chi class. Or, if you’re still shy of doing these with other people present, just try searching YouTube for videos you can do at home. In any of these physical practices, you link breath to movement, which encourages a mind-body connection and focuses your attention on the present moment, which is the ultimate goal of all meditation.

I’ve found that a combination of Mindfulness, Loving Kindness and Yin Yoga works best for me, but it is different for everyone. Yin is a practice that encourages slowing down and introducing the kind of stillness that can lead to the expansion of consciousness. It’s a nice counter-balance to the intense physical practice I’m incorporating into my daily routine. When we do high-intensity workouts, we’re activating the sympathetic nervous system, which if not countered, can lead to anxiety, anger, aggression and competitiveness. Yin works to activate our parasympathetic nervous system which switches our body into a “rest and digest” mode, so that we don’t get stuck in that “go go go” mode which can be stressful and exhausting. Yin not only counter-balances the intense workouts we’re incorporating in our lives, but releases emotions and tensions that we are holding deep within our body and mind. It changes the patterns we’ve created in our body from feeling constricted, to feeling free. It releases our entire being in layers from physical muscles and organs, to emotional and spiritual blocks, allowing for an expanding of consciousness.

There is a direct connection between our physical, spiritual and emotional health. The amazing thing about these practices is that in practicing them, you are able to take the lessons you learn during your yoga/meditation and apply them more easily to your life. This allows you to slow down, be more aware and make better choices day-to-day. I will be getting more into this in future posts as I start posting yoga videos and sharing a few accounts, apps, etc. that have helped me in this journey, and will hopefully help you as well! But for now, I urge you to watch the short video below that I thought was a cool intro.

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We can’t talk about health, fitness and wellness and not dig into this critical factor. I’m really looking forward to sharing with you some of the amazing things in the works for Healthy Fit & Fab. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please click the “follow” button at the top of the right-hand banner here and do so. As always, feel free to comment, or contact me via the contact tab at the top of the site to let me know anything you are interested in discussing or may have questions about.

Til next time! 🙂

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How To Survive the New Year Gym Resolutioners


Is there anything worse than being a die-hard gym “regular” showing up on a “regular” day for your “regular” workout only to realize the gym has been taken over by newbies, and there doesn’t seem to be one single machine available that you need? I know this can be frustrating, but try to remember these are people who are trying to make positive changes in their lives, and dealing with your obvious frustration isn’t making them feel any better about achieving their new fitness goals. Don’t you want to live in a world full of people who are healthier? For those of us who have been a gym rat for so long that we can’t even remember what it’s like to be one of those newbies starting out, trying to get on track with a healthier lifestyle… It is our job to be supportive and help motivate people to keep at it. But how do we keep up with our own goals when we only have one hour to work out and there aren’t any machines open!? I hear you. Here are three tips to help you survive the “resolutioners” until some of them drop out. 

1. Free Weights: The use of free-weights is a great way to still get your complete workout done, without waiting for a half-hour at a time for people to get off the machine you need. You can work every muscle group you need to, and all you need is a couple dumbbells and a corner of the room big enough for you to lunge out in either direction. Don’t believe me? I’ve been doing total body workouts with free weights for years, and the longer I’ve been doing it, the more new and innovative ways I am able to come up with to work different muscle groups. Flys, presses, curls, squats, lunges, deadlifts, and the list goes on! If you want to get your heart rate up even more, try incorporating compound movements into your exercises. If your weight is heavy enough, you are able to get the same (and sometimes better) results than with machines.

2. Camp Out: No, I don’t mean sit down on a bench and sulk or stare down the person who jumped on your machine until they make eye contact and you can give them the, “That’s right I’m waiting” look. No need to be rude. What I mean by camping out is this: There are several machines at the gym where you can get a total body workout by using it in different ways. If you are patient and wait for these to open up, you can camp out on them until you have completed your entire workout. But be warned, you may have to deal with the same, “That’s right I’m waiting” looks from others. Here are two of my favorite examples:

A. The Cable Cross Machine: I LOVE LOVE LOVE this machine. You can use the cables to do chest pressses, bicep curls, tricep presses, lateral shoulder raises, cable squats, assisted one-legged squats, butt kickbacks, lunge step-outs, cable ab crunches, etc. There are even ways to do the same muscle group in various ways on this machine. 


B. The Assisted Chin-Up Machine: Chin-ups in and of themselves work a variety of muscles. If you alternate your hand position, you are getting even more of a variety. On this machine, you can also do tricep dips, and work your legs and butt by doing push-downs. To work your abs, you can put the leg part down and turn around to do hanging crunches. Work all four of these into Supersets and you’ve got most of your workout done already. 


These are only a couple examples, but you are a pro gym-rat by now right? Just think creatively and you can figure out how to use the machines in different ways than what the sticker shows. 

3. Home Workouts: The last technique I will talk about when it comes to surviving the resolutioners appeals to some more than others. Home workouts are a fantastic way to fit an entire workout into a tight schedule without panicking because the gym is packed. If you’ve been working out for a while, you probably have a lot of what you need already. A pair of dumbbells, a resistance band, maybe a stability ball… If you don’t, these things are not expensive and can be found at WalMart. Not difficult to obtain. You know what you need to work on. You can achieve most of what you need to do by using these three items. If you’re not sure how, Google is your best friend, and YouTube is a close second. If you want a more tailored workout and need it quickly, that’s what I’m here for. You can contact me and we will figure out what you need together. 

All things considered, the bottom line is that it’s already half-way through January and sadly, most of these people will drop off. Hang in there and you will have your gym back very soon. 

The Verdict is In : Muscles Don’t Need Meat!

What is up, all of my lovely peeps!? I’m taking a minute today to write about something that I don’t talk about a lot. (On purpose) And that thing is…. drumroll… being Vegan. Ugh, welp, that’s out there. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say right off the bat that I am what I call “dirty vegan”. Many people have difficulty distinguishing the difference between “vegan” and “vegetarian”. Here’s the diff. Vegetarian = No meat. Vegan = No animal products at all, whatsoever. This includes dairy. The term “dirty vegan” refers to someone who is vegan most of the time, but will occasionally make an exception with eggs or dairy. I prepare all of my food at home completely vegan. The recipes I post here are 100% vegan. However, if I go out to eat and there is butter in something, I’m not going to throw a hissy fit. Because, well… you just can’t always do that. And let me also state that if I find myself on a farm, where I see the farmer gently collecting milk and see the chickens roaming free and sitting on their nests, I have ZERO problem with consuming the eggs and milk that comes from this, but most of you probably (at least slightly) know… that’s not what happens before these things hit the shelf at your local grocery store. I have had people say to me, “I’m vegetarian, too! I don’t eat any red meat, but I still eat chicken and fish.” At the risk of sounding condescending… PEOPLE! STOP! PLEASE! Look up “vegetarian” in the dictionary because I’m pretty sure chicken and fish are still meat. Like, that’s not even a gray area. The term “pescatarian” actually refers to someone who does not eat other meats, but still eats fish. There is your Biology 101 lesson for the day. Anyway… I digress…

The reasons for my lifestyle choices are many, and that’s a post for another day. But coming from a family where, if you can’t go out back and shoot it or chop its head off yourself, it ain’t food… Let’s just say I have grown accustomed to not always being understood. I am, however grateful and extremely blessed that my family tries so hard to accommodate and accept my personal choices. However, I just moved to the South about a year and a half ago, where “vegan” feels like a bad word. I cannot tell you how many times I have been sick ALL night because someone said there were no animal products in something, when they clearly didn’t know… Or, I’ve requested something with no meat and it comes back with bacon in it… What??? Okay I get it… I’m the minority. So, I try to keep my personal food preferences to myself and of course you all, when sharing recipes. I also have learned to eat at home most of the time. However, after soooo many questions/comments of “how”, “why”, and “I could never”, I think it’s high time to answer some of these concerns. The biggest being how I’m able to maintain my training and build muscle when I don’t eat meat… I mean, “Where do I get my protein!!?” (My personal fave.) So, let’s talk about it!

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Leg Circuit

It’s #WorkoutWednesday! How about a simple leg circuit… because every day is leg day! Do 4-5 sets. You can do more than 10 reps for each move, and you can also add dumbbells to your step-ups if you wish. I guarantee you’ll feel it tomorrow!

Holiday Favorite Veggie Lasagna

  
I absolutely love cooking for family and friends during the Holidays! But when you have a strict “no animal products” policy when it comes to your diet, it can be difficult to make a Holiday dinner that will be enjoyed by not just you, but loved by all. The next time you find yourself in this difficult scenerio, try my veggie lasagna recipe. My family loved it… and I hope yours will, too! 😋🍴

Ingredients
2 packages of Daiya cheese in flavors of your choice

1 onion, chopped 

1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed 

8 oz mushrooms, sliced 

1 head broccoli, chopped 

2 carrots, chopped 

2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped 

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 tsp oregano 

1 tsp basil 

1 tsp rosemary 

2 jars pasta sauce 

2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles 

16 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained 

Note: to save time with the spices, I often just use Mrs. Dash Italian or Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend. It already has most of the spices you will need for this recipe and they are already blended together perfectly. For this recipe, I used a little over a tabllespoon of the Extra Spicy blend and nixed the cayenne as well. It worked out PERFECTLY!

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Saute the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Saute the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Saute the peppers until just beginning to soften. Add them to them to the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine. 

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles, and add about half of the cheese. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with the remaning cheese. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
  

HGH – OMG – WTF?

HGH

Okay, I just want to take a minute to talk about something that has been on my mind and all over the media as of late… What’s with this “human growth hormone” thing!? I actually think I’m a little behind the craze, but lately, I’ve been seeing the infomercial for the SeroVital HGH Liquid Concentrate which promises a miracle cure for aging. This product promises wrinkle reduction, increased fat burning, improved mood, better sleep, and even a heightened sex drive. I kid you not, every time I turn on the TV, I see this risk free, fountain of youth, miracle supplement flashing in front of my face, and I’ll admit I had the same thought that I’m sure every woman above the age of 25 thinks when they see the ad… “Maybe I’ll try it for 30 days and see if I notice a difference.” Right? But here’s the thing… I’m not sold. There were so many questions running through my mind, just as there are before I try a new supplement of any kind. It got me thinking… Read more

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