Self Care During the Pandemic- What’s in your tool box?

Hey readers! My friend Lauren (an incredible yoga instructor and reiki practitioner) is sharing some great tips for our self-care series this week!
Written by: Lauren Tamburello Bio: Lauren found yoga when she was in the final months of her master’s in public health program. During this time in her life, she was anxious, burnt-out, and running on little sleep. She was not taking very good care of herself. Yoga helped (and continues to help!!) Lauren to sloooooow doooooooown, be more centered, and take better care. Just months after finding yoga, Lauren knew it was a practice that she needed to adopt as a lifestyle. Lauren completed her 200 hour teacher training at Lexington Power Yoga in Vinyasa Yoga. She is passionate about practicing and teaching safe and functional movement and making yoga accessible to all bodies. In addition to yoga, Lauren is a reiki practitioner. She believes in the healing power of touch and relationships. When she is not teaching, practicing or trying to incorporate yoga philosophy into her meetings and interactions at her day job, Lauren can be found dancing, cooking, reading self-help books, listening to live-music, drinking coffee, and having deep conversations with friends. Check out this link to hop into one of Lauren’s classes:
Live Classes
Yoga has been my lifeline – primary self care tool – during the covid 19 pandemic. I have found myself pulling it out of my tool box at least daily – often multiple times a day. It has helped my physical body through movement and stretches after long days at work and excessive time sitting. It has helped my mind (and preserved some degree of my sanity :)) by providing me the opportunity to slow waaaaaaay down, let go of stress and anxiety from the day, and create a quiet space for me to process, reflect, and connect/check in with myself. I have found it helpful to start and end my day with the practice – typically with just 15- 30 minutes. I have started leaving my yoga mat unrolled and favorite props <yoga blocks and foam roller> out for easier access and as a reminder. Sometimes I follow along to a class (I’ve included some of my favorite resources below) or sometimes practice without instruction and focus on moving my body organically and intuitively, sometimes with my favorite music playing. My practice looks different every day as I adapt it to meet my needs. Where to start? Body & Breath I always begin my practice with a few minutes in stillness (usually in child’s pose or constructive rest) and focus on slowing/ elongating my breath and checking in with my physical body and mind. I ask myself How am I doing? and force myself to slow down and answer honestly. (Please note- this is not that easy to do! How many times when someone asks you “how are you?” and you automatically, without even thinking, respond “good” or “busy”. Try to answer with more depth next time you’re asked the question.) I often do a body scan, a tool that involves bringing awareness to the entire body, part by part. You can notice any tension, discomfort, etc. and work to let it go. I typically start at the crown on my head and work my way down my body to the tips of the toes. Before/ after connecting with my physical body, I work to focus my attention on my breath and often will play with counting my breath – maybe you start with 5 cycles of breath (1 cycle = inhale & exhale) and work towards 10 cycles. I focus on sending my breath into my chest, my lungs, and into my belly and allowing my exhales to be just as long as my inhales. Sometimes I will try to take the deepest breath I have taken all day. I follow this body and breath work with an instructor-led class or unstructured practice or will end my practice here. Here are some of my favorite shapes- Back, shoulder, spine mobility Constructive rest
 Foam rolling Cat/ cow Reclined twist Stretch Backs of the legs Viparita karani (legs up the wall or block at lower back)
 Downward dog Forward fold Tight Hips Happy baby
 Figure 4 (can do this at your desk while seated or on your back.
 Child’s pose
 Mantras that have helped me through this time- Healing I can do the hard things. Breathe Do small things with great love. Stop rushing. Here are my favorite FREE classes/ instructors- YMCA of Greater Boston You can check out my weekly live classes here!!! I teach a live virtual gentle flow yoga class on Tuesday and vinyasa flow class on Friday. I also teach in person classes at the Oak Square YMCA on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30a. Yoga with Kassandra Insight timer

Walk your way to healthy

It feels appropriate to be writing this blog on my busiest day of the week (and probably my busiest work day so far this school year). But self-care is just as important on our busy days (arguably more so), so here I am…

Let’s talk about walking!! You might expect me to pop on here on a Wednesday and talk about Workout Wednesday. And while I ALWAYS encourage a good sweat session, I think it’s more important to take the stress away from exercise and focus on movement…especially on our busy days.

Today I worked two jobs. I rushed around getting the kids ready for school this morning, trained clients, and worked at 3 different schools throughout the day. Then pick up, baths for the kids, dinner, bedtime routine…you get it.

So today I didn’t get a workout in. But I did commit to fresh air and movement, walking between school buildings during the day and a quick walk with my son after preschool pick up. It was COLD and crazy windy here, so I did have to convince myself to do those walk…maybe a few times!!

Was I glad I took a break from the never ending “to dos” to move my body and get some fresh air???

Sure was!!!

Did I feel happier and more energetic because of it???

Sure did!!!!

I’m not here to tell you about the NUMEROUS health benefits of walking those 10,000 steps a day. Hopefully everyone knows that by now.

What I am here to say is that, no matter how tired, anxious or overwhelmed I feel on a given day, the gift of fresh air and movement does not escape me. And, like the ADAPTOGENS I wrote about last week, walking is a non-negotiable part of my day that truly makes a difference.

Pic of my two favorite waking partners…from sunnier days, of course!!

Adaptogens-what are they anyway??

In the spirit of my self-care/stress reduction tips on here this month, I want to focus on one of my daily habits that helps me mediate the harmful effects of daily stress: ADAPTOGENS

Adapta what??

Adaptogens are herbs found in nature that help modulate the physical effects of stress, such as increased heart rate, rush of energy and increased blood pressure. These responses are produced in our bodies in response to acute stress, but when the stress hormones that produce these reactions are in overdrive from chronic stress, the effects can be harmful.

And chronic stress is such an epidemic in our lives…these days more than ever. A few years ago I finally decided to add a botanical adaptogenic drink to my daily routine (after doing a good amount of research), and fell in love right away!

Better sleep!

Better energy!

Improved workout recovery (cortisol levels are elevated post workout)

Immune support

I’ve seen adaptogens getting a lot of buzz right now in mainstream media and I’ve seen for myself what a difference they make.

I’d love to hear if you’re a fan too!

My morning botanical tea!

Self care is NEVER selfish!

I haven’t written on here as much as I hoped to these last few months, for many good reasons. Like so many of you, I’ve been focusing on one day at a time, trying to stay present and trying to take care of my own physical and mental health. And amidst all that is going on in the world right now, that seems like the right place to place my priorities.

I hope all of you are prioritizing self-care as much as possible these days as well. Whether it’s a good workout, a good book or even a good cry in the shower, we all need some “me time”, some easy lifestyle hacks to add to our day and some moments to just breathe. And some accountability to make it all happen.

So this month, I’m going to be focusing my posts on easy things you can do to focus on self-care. Because, when so much of our world is out of our control, let’s focus on what is…

Stay tuned!!

How I’ve started each day of the last 3 months. And, believe me, it helps!!

The self-care activity you’re probably neglecting

Work demands ✅

Taking care of all the kids needs ✅

Getting in that Peleton ride or early morning run ✅

Sleeping 8 hours a night?? Ummmm….I don’t have time!

This is a topic on self-care that is always on my mind. Mostly because I’m a busy, working mom and I GET IT! I struggled with insomnia and the effects of lacking sleep for many years. And because I have so many clients, family and friends who are struggling with this too, I feel it’s super important to address.

But first, let’s delve into WHY we need sleep-

Sleep is an integral process in the body. It:

  • AIDS in cognitive functions
  • Regulates emotions
  • Boosts immunity
  • Balances metabolism
  • Balances hormones
  • Regulates blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Combats fatigue
  • Suppresses cancer cell growth

Lack of sleep has been connected to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer.

Now, before we start getting worried about what our late night work emails or Netflix binges might be doing to our bodies, let’s just take this one step at a time. Like any other sustainable lifestyle change, your not going to drastically improve your sleep overnight. It’s a process and grant yourself the patience and room to make it a process. Pick 1-2 changes from the lost below to implement each week, and add on only when one habit has become more automatic:

Lifestyle modifications to improve sleep:

  1. Find 1-2 pockets of your day to meditate. It can be for five minutes at a time, but make sure you make room in your schedule to do this consistently.
  2. Exercise daily! This can be a traditional workout, yoga or a walk. But daily movement is essential.
  3. Keep your sleep and wake times consistent, even on the weekends. (Easy if you have two young kids like me. But important for all of us).
  4. Remove those LED lamps, laptops and televisions from your bedroom. (When we moved from our apartment to our house five years ago, we moved the tv from our bedroom to the family room. I swear to you that was the start of my improved sleep patterns!)
  5. Always sleep in your bed. Not the couch as your watching tv late at night. And hopefully not on your kids floor as I find myself doing some nights…
  6. Keep the temperature in your bedroom around 65 degrees.
  7. Don’t hit the snooze button!! I mean, I always New this, but recent research taught me this new fact…”Jolting” awake multiple times a morning affects the cardiovascular and nervous system. Yikes.
  8. Eat a primarily plant bases diet (yet another point for plant based!!)
  9. Don’t shoot the messenger for this one- try to stick to one caffeinated drink per day, and finish it entirely 10 hours before bed.
  • Be mindful while eating (another tough one for us moms, amiright?!? I mean, when was the last time I ate my food warm and didn’t get up at least ten times per meal to fill cups, clean spills cut food or quickly stop the baby from dumping her entire plate on the floor??)
  • See what I mean…I’m not gonna implement all of these strategies overnight and either are you. But I will keep adding no a few at a time and I’ll get there.

This week, I’ve been working on:

  • Not hitting snooze! I was so good about this pre-pandemic, but anxiety and stress made it hard to have my usual morning energy. But honestly, it’s been feeling SO good to get up early, before the rest of the house.
  • Stop drinking coffee by noon. This has been easier than I thought… I’ve been sipping on cold brew hibiscus tea all afternoon instead of another cup of coffee and I love it.
  • Daily meditation-twice a day when possible.
  • Hope this article gave your all some good tips. Remember that all that other self-care stuff doesn’t work if you’re not getting enough quality sleep.

Tell us, what tips will you be trying this week…

(And here’s the cutest reason I didn’t sleep for eight months this year…)

Cutting Through the Noise on Fitness Trackers

I may be a Health Coach, but I’m just as overwhelmed as all of you by the number of activity trackers out there. I’ve tried a few and currently love my Apple Watch, but there are tons of other great options. Which is why I’ve partnered with ConsumersAdvocate.org to share information about what research is out there on trackers. Here’s a summary of their latest research findings:

Assuming you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 10 or so years, you’ve probably seen fitness trackers evolve from a fad into more than just a trend. By all accounts, it seems as if they’re here to stay; especially when looking at data from Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare survey, which reveals that 1 in 5 American adults use wearable trackers or health apps to complement their fitness routine. 

Whether you’ve considered getting one in the past or are just curious to learn more about the different models and what they exactly track, this guide crafted by the folks over at ConsumersAdvocate.org has more than enough information to help you find one that suits your needs without breaking the bank.

Here are some of their top picks:

Xiaomi Mi Band
Best for: Affordability

Usually, if things sound too good to be true, there’s usually a catch. But in this case, we’re hard-pressed to find a better fitness tracker than this one for just $40. To top it all off, the Mi Band doesn’t only cost less than its competition, but it offers just as many apps and features, including smartphone notifications, sleep quality and heart rate monitoring, inactivity alerts, reminders, and music streaming. 

The Mi Band is slim-fit, easily adjustable, and is made up of surprisingly durable materials like aluminum alloy and thermoplastic elastomer (try saying that fast 3 times). Unlike other fitness trackers, it even has a locator option within the mobile app so that the band lights up if you ever lose it (think FindMyiPhone).

While the exact cost of the Mi Band isn’t listed on its website, consumers can still locate and purchase it from several online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. 

Fitbit
Best for: Motivation

Boy, Fitbit really took the “tracker” aspect to heart with this one. Their devices are designed to track almost every part of your day and show you how even the smallest change in your routine can make big changes to your overall fitness goals (parking further away, taking stairs vs elevator, etc). This type of micro-tracking is meant to appeal more to those who aren’t usually fitness geeks and keep motivation levels up by measuring how those little victories count towards the greater goal. It’s like having your own personal trainer on your wrist, in a sense.

If you’d like to go a bit more hardcore than that, the Fitbit Ionic offers on-screen workouts and memorizes over fifteen exercise modes to keep things fresh and constantly challenging. On the flip side, those who plan to integrate their fitness trackers into their general, day-to-day lifestyle will probably benefit more from the Fitbit Versa 2 – this one offers Fitbit Pay for on-the-go payments, voice commands, Amazon Alexa, and more practical features that make certain things easier for daily use.

Polar
Best for: Athletes

If you really want to take off the kiddie gloves, the Polar A370 is specifically designed to appeal to the most demanding fitness nuts out there. For $150, this tracker can last up to four days on a single charge and includes GPS tracking, phone notifications, sleep tracking, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. Oh, and you also get access to a whole suite of stats and graphs that chart your progress with clinical-like accuracy. If you really wanna splurge, you can get the hybrid smartwatch version with even more applications and granular tracking features for $100 more.

However, because this brand caters to more serious fitness nuts and committed athletes, all the available bells and whistles may seem overwhelming to more casual users. The training log is very detailed, which is nice but isn’t really necessary for the average person who just wants to get off the couch and feel good about themselves. After all, there is such a thing as too many spreadsheets.

There’s no excuse to stay on the couch

Yes, we know most people are still social distancing themselves and it’s way easier to just hit play on the next show on Netflix rather than to actually stay committed, but it’s this type of technology that can make things a little easier to stay on top of your physical and mental health during such chaotic times. The good news is there’s plenty of ways to get moving at home and there’s a good chance you’ll find a model that suits your specific needs, so there’s never been a better time to try new things and find new ways to stay motivated.

Check out ConsumerAdvocate.org’s best fitness tracker guide here if you want the full breakdown of the rest of the reviewed models.

Self-care in the real world

On this #wellnesswednesday, I’m so grateful to have my article featured on the BU Alumni Network’s page. In this time of uncertainty, really commiting to my own self-care routine and helping my clients do the same has become more important than ever.

Hope you all enjoy this article…and all the other awesome reads in there!

https://www.bu.edu/alumni/2020/07/15/self-care-in-the-real-world/?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=link&utm_campaign=social_bualumni&utm_term=blog&utm_content=self_care_blog

A day in the life…

I know I’ve been MIA lately, but I’m just having the most AMAZING summer with my little guy. And guys, the busy life of toddlerhood is no joke…there’s trips to the park, yoga and swim classes and LOTS of outside time. And the transition from two naps to one was an eye opener… I thought I had no time to get stuff done before, but now the struggle is REAL.

But it is nap time (for the time being, anyway), and I just don’t feel like doing laundry or dishes. So here I am, making a quick appearance to talk to you about something clients ask me ALL the time: what the heck do I eat in a day?? Do I only drink shakes??? Do I eat cookies ever or drink wine????

Answers as follows:
1. We’ll come back to this.
2. Definitely not, but I do LOVE my superfood shakes
3. Definitely and most definitely (in fact, we’ve been baking a lot of 🍪  lately)

I do appreciate clients asking me this though. I think it’s important that people realize life, and food, is to be enjoyed. But that if you have specific wellness and fitness goals in mind, what you eat makes all the difference. So let’s get back to #1…

I think I’ll just run you through a typical day.

6 AM: This might seem early for some, but this Mama has already been up and gotten ready for my day. So right about now I sit down at my desk, write in my gratitude journal and sip this adaptogenic tea. When I drink this regularly, I notice the biggest difference in my mood, sleep and energy levels.
Image may contain: Jessica Treadwell, smiling
8 AM: After training a few virtual clients and getting my son ready for the day, I’m ready for breakfast. Almost every morning, it’s this superfoods shake: Image may contain: Jessica Treadwell, smiling, drink and closeup

If I have some extra time, I’ll make scrambled eggs with veggies and fruit or whole grain toast.

11 AM Time for a snack! This is probably the hardest thing for clients. But I’ll say this – DON’T SKIP YOUR SNACKS. I also practice protein pacing, so I make sure every meal and snack I eat has some healthy protein paired with some healthy carbs or fats. I’ll usually go for some berries with raw nuts or string cheese. When I’m really in a rush, it’s half of my favorite protein bar.

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1 PM: Lunch! ALWAYS my superfood shake. I actually crave it so much that I brought my blender on vacation with me!!

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4 PM: Here I go, snacking again…super important to keep your metabolism going. Veggies and hummus or homemade roasted chickpeas are a recent favorite.

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7:30 PM:

  • Toddler asleep (well, in bed atleast…)
  • Time for dinner with my hubby. We do some vegan meals, we LOVE the Instapot and once a month or so we indulge in a week of our favorite home delivery meal service. But my favorite meal to make is quick and easy: maple glazed salmon, black rice and roasted brussels sprouts. Such goodness right there!
  • And yes…sometimes a glass of wine

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9 PM: If I’m not getting ready for bed (don’t knock it, I get up early), I may have a Greek yogurt (I always read the labels closely to check for low sugar and NO artificial sweeteners). Protein before bed helps build those muscles!

And THAT is how you keep up with a business and                                                                       VERY energetic toddler!

Tune in again soon…with Summer winding down, I’ll be making a few more appearances 🙂

Healthy habits (plus chocolate)

Is it halfway through March already?? You wouldn’t know it, with 2 feet of snow outside my office window, but Spring really is around the corner…I swear!!

Now, March isn’t really my favorite month, I must confess. BUT, I do LOVE that it’s National Nutrition Month!! A time to reflect on something that I am SO passionate about, and hopefully inspire a few of you to love your nutrition just a little bit more too.

Image result for national nutrition month

I was talking to a client last night about our nutrition philosophies, and I realized just what I think this healthy life thing is all about. I mean, I’ve been a trainer and health coach for 13 years now, so I’ve definitely seen a lot of fads come and go, and have certainly tried a few myself. But mostly, I’ve stuck to a routine that works for me…and, thankfully, I feel better now, at 33, than I did at 20. It’s been 13 years of slowly adopting healthier habits that stick over time, finding what works best for my body, learning to NOURISH my body instead of just feed it, learning that life is too good to avoid entire food groups, and making consistent choices MOST of the time to fuel my health, my energy and my fitness. I think I live the 80/20 rule without having to consciously plan for that. We love cooking in at home, and we now know how to cook some veggies and grains that I didn’t even know existed 10 years ago. I eat mostly plant-based diet, but I enjoy fish and dairy sometimes. I practice protein pacing so that I can continue to get stronger in my workouts. I utilize nutritional cleansing to support long-term health and a healthy weight. I don’t skip meals, I enjoy wine and cookies, I check my macros every once and a while to make sure I’m on track. Oh, and I eat chocolate. Cause no one should live without chocolate.

And the best part…none of this feels hard to me. Ever.

 

All of these changes didn’t happen over time. 13 years people! But I made the decision in my 20s that, if I was going to help others achieve better health and fitness through my work, I better take some of my own advice. I’m not perfect, but I’m healthier, stronger and more energetic every year. And so are my clients.

 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Real, sustainable change takes time, initial effort, patience and persistence. But it’s always worth it.

 

How are you celebrating National Nutrition Month??

Finding balance in the busy

  
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of returning to my Alma Mater (Go BU!) to be one of the alumni guest speakers for current students entering various health professions. It was such an inspiring night, to network with other Alums who have made amazing strides in their careers, and to speak to students who I know will do the same. I think it was good for me also…to have to reflect on my career over the last (almost) ten years, because it’s been a whirlwind, to say the least! One of the questions I was asked a few times was how to achieve work/life balance. Which made me wonder: “do people think I have work/life balance??” 🤔

(Heh. At least I can pretend well, I guess?? )

But the thing is, I actually do have balance. And you probably do too…definitely more than you think you do. Don’t get me wrong…most days I don’t feel balanced. I often wonder if I should be doing more in one area of my life, or I just feel downright disorganized sometimes. But the advice I gave to the students is what I know I put into practice, even if I’m not always aware of it: 

Not every day is balanced. Some days I focus more on my Personal Training/Health Coaching business. Some days on my career as an Occupational Therapist. And some days, I say forget it all, and I just enjoy playing blocks and baking cookies with my baby boy. Some days I get the dishes and the laundry done, and some days it piles up. I meal prep like a maniac on Sunday, and then I don’t feel like cooking for a week. But what I do know is that, at the end of the week, we are all fed and we’ve eaten on clean dishes (huge props to my husband also…if you know us, you know he’s really the chef around here). I’ve showed up to work and managed to write out my workouts for the week. I’ve made beautiful memories with my family, I’ve been present as a mom and wife and a friend as best I could. Not every day has been balanced, but over the course of a week, I have done something to address every area in my life that is a priority (notice…I didn’t mention vacuuming or ironing. I definitely neglect some things!). And if I haven’t, there’s always next week. Just like I tell my clients, I’m always striving to make progress, but as long as I’m heading in the right direction, I’m not looking to be perfect. 
I’m not sure what made me write this post, but it could be the upcoming crazy busy holiday season. I hope you all stay kind to yourselves when things start piling up…we could all use a little more of that 🙌