Fitness Trackers: Your New Fave Healthy Accessory

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Fitness Trackers Your New Fave Healthy Accessory | The Organic Beauty Blog

All it takes is a peek at the wrists of your friends, coworkers and passersby on the street to see that fitness trackers are all the rage right now. And for good reason!

These unobtrusive bracelets track your steps, workouts, sleep, mood, food and more, and in the opinion of this holistic nutritionist, they can be an invaluable tool in understanding your body, setting and sticking with wellness goals, and getting (and staying) super healthy and fit.

For the last 4.5 months, my techie husband and I have been testing the UP24 Band ($127), and I have to tell you, it rocks.

Continue Reading…

Don’t Let Memorial Day Screw You!

Don’t Let Memorial Day Screw You! | The Organic Beauty Blog

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

It’s finally, officially summer this weekend!!  I am soo excited for what might be our last summer in Brooklyn. Biking in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Saturdays on Governor’s Island, picnics in Prospect Park, getting super cozy with our friends that have gorgeous patios (yeah, I’m talking to you!!), summer is pretty much the best time of year.

But, it also has a dark side. Between all the BBQ’s, the dinner parties, the cocktail hours, the vacations, and the lobster rolls, suddenly bikini season becomes a whole lot more stressful.

See if this rings any bells:  You’re so awesome and on your game all week long. Eating those delicious green salads, drinking water, being a good little you.  And then comes the weekend.  You feel like you “deserve” a reward for all your being on, and you totally overdo it on burgers, and ribs, and cheese, and ice cream, and come Sunday night, you feel like a bloated, fat mess.  Cue the guilt and self-criticism and drama.  Cue the cravings for sugar and coffee on Monday as you come out of your food coma.  Cue beating yourself up the next time you have to get in a bathing suit.

Guys, this has to stop!  And we’re starting this weekend.

Continue Reading…

Amazing Natural Anxiety and Stress Relief

By: Natasha Uspensky

Yes, some stress and anxiety are a natural part of every day life. But how much is too much? How much is “normal”? If your stress and anxiety causes you to:

  • Lose sleep, or experience poor quality sleep
  • Emotionally eat or over eat
  • Turn to drugs, alcohol, or other substances for relief
  • Avoid social gatherings, giving presentations, or other situations that may out you on the spot
  • Experience stress-related health issues like ulcers, IBS, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, weight gain (particularly around your midsection), or chronic inflammation

…then your stress and anxiety are out of hand. This is not something to “just deal with,” ignore, or drown in medication.

Continue Reading…

The Power of Ritual

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

The Power of Ritual | The Organic Beauty Blog

In my holistic nutrition practice, I am always talking up the power of creating rituals for eating, wellness, and self-care.  Rituals not only help you to create and stick to new healthy habits, but they can also play a huge role in how full or satisfied you feel after a meal, how effective your meditation practice is, or how relaxing your mani-pedi is.

In some exciting news, a new research study co-authored by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Minnesota will be published in the Journal of Psychological Sciences, proving what I’ve been claiming for ages… rituals matter, and they could mean finally feeling fulfilled, consistently happy, and yes, even dropping those last 10 pounds!  The study showed that when a ritual was performed before eating, thse food tasted better and was more satisfying than when there was no pre-eating ritual. Whether it was a chocolate bar or a carrot, participants who performed a specific pre-eating ritual ate slower, enjoyed the food more, and ultimately felt more full and satisfied after eating (which means they didn’t need to keep snacking!).  Though this study was specific to food, the results can be translated across all healthy behaviors.

Rituals promote mindfulness, a slowing down that brings the action at hand to the forefront of your consciousness.  When simple, everyday activities are given more meaning in this way, they are elevated from mere automatic behaviors to moments of connection, fulfillment, and joy.  The more you feel these uplifting emotions, the less likely you will be to overeat, abuse your body, or skip the activities that fill you with energy and vitality (like exercising and meditation).  Pick rituals to perform around the areas where you struggle — food, sleep, relaxation, exercise, self-care.

Try some of these rituals for yourself, and see what a difference they make!

  • Morning rituals:

    • Sip hot water with lemon right when you wake up.  It’s super alkalizing, hydrating, and just feels great!
    • Meditate
    • Spend some time mindfully making your morning tea or coffee
    • Move your body — some sun salutations feel especially great in the morning
    • Listen to music
  • Rituals before a meal:

    • Say a prayer or a few words of thanks, or sing a little song!
    • Take time to beautifully set your table, even if you’re eating alone!
    • Arrange your food creatively on the plate, garnish it with fresh herbs or other edible adornments, and take a moment to admire your work before digging in.
    • Put on some lipstick, brush your hair, and throw on a fresh, cute outfit before sitting down to dinner.
  • Rituals before meditating:

    • Light candles or incense.
    • Water your plants.
    • Do some stretches.
    • Create your own ritual of bowing to an icon, statue, or symbol that has meaning to you, and saying a few words of intention.
    • TIP:  I am a big fan of having a dedicated meditation space (I use my window sill) where you can arrange these ritual items.  I water my plants, light some candles, gain calming inspiration from my Buddha statue, and only then do I start my practice.
  • Bedtime rituals:

    • Unplug from electronics 30-60 minutes before bed
    • Sip some relaxing tea, like chamomile, kava, or sleepy time
    • Take time for a bathroom pampering ritual
    • Take a hot bath with relaxing essential oils like lavender
    • Slip into something that makes you feel sexy
    • Read a great book
  • Other self-care rituals:

    • Have a weekly, at-home spa ritual.  Put on a face mask, listen to music, take a bath.
    • End your week on a high note by walking home (or getting off the train a few blocks early), taking a ferry, or a different, scenic route while driving home.  Listen to music if it helps you relax and wash off the week.

What are your favorite healthy rituals?  Share them in the comments below!

Sexy Yoga Essentials for Wanderlust and Beyond!

By: Nkechi Njaka, Msc.

I am leaving for Wanderlust today! I am so excited to travel up north to Tahoe with a car full of my yogi friends for a weekend of yoga, music, amazing food and people.

One of my favorite things that I did to prepare for my trip was create a mini look book for the Lululemon Cow Hollow store. It was so fun to piece together festival looks and styles that would work for a weekend at Wanderlust or any summer vacation.

tumblr_inline_mq1mlldes11qz4rgp

Lululemon.com: Hot Hitter Dress | Festival Bag | Essential Polo | Daily Short | Every Day Gym Bag

Lululemon.com:  Mod Moves Tank | Wunder Unders | Energy Bra | Iconic Wrap

Lululemon.com: Mod Moves Tank | Wunder Unders | Energy Bra | Iconic Wrap

Lululemon.com:  Free to Be Bra | Ago Go Crop | One Hit Henley | Surge Short | Sand to Savasana Bag

Lululemon.com: Free to Be Bra | Ago Go Crop | One Hit Henley | Surge Short | Sand to Savasana Bag

And while I was dancing around my apartment listening to Beyonce while packing, I realized something about my excitement.  It’s not about the clothes. I mean, it is, and it is also about how I will practice yoga on the top of a mountain outside in the middle of summer.  I really can’t think of a better vacation! In order to enjoy EVERYTHING while I am there, I must stay hydrated, fueled and skin-protected.

Here are my 6 must-haves:

 PROBAR | Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer|Harmless Harvest Coconut Water| Elemental Herbs | The Mat

PROBAR | Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer|Harmless Harvest Coconut Water| Elemental Herbs | The Mat

 

Why these guys?

PROBAR is rich in raw ingredients and nutrient-dense calories for lasting energy and nourishment. Great for a post work out snack or something to grab in between means. I love that it is non-GMO product, gluten free and vegan. Happy for all dietary restrictions. They also happen to be DELICIOUS.

Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer 99.9% of bacteria eradicated while being Chemical-free. It is a safe, effective alternative to preventing the spread of germs and impurities. #notoxicshit

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water Nothing is added, nothing is ever heated. They source unique coconuts from small organic agroforestry farms. Super hydrating, outstanding flavor and the nutrition of raw and organic without the need for unnatural and harmful additives. Shweeeet!

Elemental Herbs includes a host of rich, skin-saving certified organic oils–including jojoba, coconut and avocado. Amazingly tested and approved by people like us, the sunscreen is chemical-free and coral reef safe. Beautiful!

The Mat is hands down the best mat to practice yoga on. It doesn’t slip or stick, it provides a ton of padding for those difficult poses and it is easy to clean.

—–

Nkechi Deanna Njaka, MSc. is a health and wellness lifestylist combining her backgrounds in neuroscience, dance and nutrition to create a holistic practice.  Nkechi is a private practitioner, seminar and workshop leader and a writer. Professionally having studied and worked as a neuroscientist and as a choreographer/dancer, Nkechi has spent the majority of her life investigating the relationship between the brain and the body. In her practice she approaches stress management and lifestyle goals with equal parts mindfulness, movement & diet.

10 Rules of Longevity and Agelessness

Dr. Deepak Chopra, one of our favorite healthy living gurus, prescribes 10 simple rules for aging gracefully and beautifully in his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind – A Quantum alternative to growing old. We absolutely love the simplicity of these rules… So spot-on, so intuitive, and so vital for staying young, healthy, beautiful and happy.

1. Intake fresh food, eat frugally, drink wholesome liquids, abstain from stimulants and sedatives, and have a bowel movement at least once a day.

2. Maintain a high level of personal hygiene, get plenty of fresh air, sunlight and rest, have enjoyable leisure time, and satisfying hobbies.

3. Exercise, meditate, practice balanced refined breathing (pranayam) and yoga, listen to the body’s signals of comfort and discomfort.

4. Work for a happy marriage, long-term relationships, cultivate the ability to laugh easily, to make friends and keep close friends.

5. Choose a congenial occupation, go on vacation every year, be optimistic about the future, feel financially secure and live within your means.

6. Develop an easygoing personality, cultivate nonviolent behavior, and have reverence for life.

7. Live in temperate climate, enjoy a reasonable sex life, and get proper medical attention in case of illness.

8. Live in the present – accept what comes your way, appreciate it, learn from it and let go. Resisting the natural flow of things causes negative emotions.

9. Relinquish external approval, avoid being judgmental, replace fear-motivated behaviors with love-motivated ones, nurture positive emotions and express them freely.

10. Always know the world outside is a reflection of your deeper intelligence – the real “you” is within.

Photo: DeepakChopra.com

How to sleep better, naturally!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

How to sleep better, naturally! | The Organic Beauty BlogIf you have trouble falling asleep at a healthy time, the culprit is often everything that’s happening in the hours leading up to bedtime.  The late evening (on weeknights) is not a time for high energy, intensive activity, doing work, or eating heavy, hard-to-digest foods.  It’s a time to naturally wind down after your day, and start to calm the body and mind.  Follow this pre-bedtime timeline to insure a great night’s sleep, and shoot for being in bed, ready for sleep no later than 11pm.  Adjust your timeline accordingly to make this happen!

  • 3.5 or more hours before bed:  Eat a light, healthy meal that is quickly and easily digestible.  Soup, a salad, or some cooked veggies work best.  Avoid anything super greasy, fatty, salty, sugary or high in protein.
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed: Turn off the TV, your phone, and any other electronic devices.  These interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, and can be really stimulating for a brain trying to gear up for sleep.  An obvious no-no is doing any work, checking work emails, or anything like that before bed!
  • 45 minutes before bed: Take a hot bath and/or drink a cup of chamomile or Kava Stress Relief teaall of which are deeply relaxing for mind and body.
  • (Optional) 30 minutes before bed:  Take an herbal sleep supplement.  If you need a little extra soporific action, opt for a natural sleep formula that combines melatonin, valerian root, GABA, hops, and L-Theanine.  My favorites are Natural Balance Herbal Slumber and Schiff Knock Out.
  • Get in bed and do this 5 minute yoga routine.  Doing some light, easy stretches before bed helps to get you out of your head, and to relax tense muscles.
  • If you’re still not ready for sleep, take out a somewhat boring book (now would be a great time to brush up on your Kafka!) and read until your eyes start closing.  Don’t read anything super exciting, engaging, or steamy (Game of Thrones and Fifty Shades of Grey are obvious no-no’s!).  And no reading on your iPad or other eReader!

Click below for my amazing, quick yoga sequence that helps to improve sleep and increase relaxation of both body and mind. Complete this routine right before going to sleep, in your bed.