Why I’m Leaving New York

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

In the summer of 2005, I moved to New York City. I missed my graduation from Oberlin College to perform with the Opera Orchestra of New York, and stayed with a host on Central Park West, overlooking the Museum of Natural History. I found my very first New York apartment during that stay, and fell in love with this beautiful city and all it had to offer. Or so I thought.

The 10 years that I’ve spent here have been a journey in self-discovery. The hustle and noise of lower Manhattan proved to be way too crazy for my delicate sensibilities, and I spent a good part of those first few years feeling sick, disconnected, and lost. A move to Brooklyn in 2007 changed all that. I found myself a gorgeous, quiet, tree-lined street in Carroll Gardens, with loads of neighborhood charm and exactly the antidote to dirty concrete jungle that I needed. And yet, things weren’t quite ideal.

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Savory Grass Fed Yogurt from Blue Hill!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Blue Hill Yogurt

Blue Hill can pretty much do no wrong in our eyes… from the unique, menu-less, quintessential farm-to-table dining experience at Blue Hill at Stone Barns to the delicious comestibles and agriculture-themed goodies in their market.  So we got pretty pumped when we read about the debut of Blue Hill All-Natural Yogurt, from grass-fed cows, in a variety of yummy savory flavors like tomato, beet, and carrot.  Considering the dubious health-factor of most sugar-laden flavored yogurts on the market, it is certainly about time an unsweetened, but super flavorful option joins the ranks.  Can’t wait to try them all!  The website offers lots of delicious mix-in ideas, as well as some great recipes like Minted Carrot and Cabbage Slaw and Roasted Beet and Yogurt Soup.

If you’re going to do dairy, grass-fed is the way to go.  Loaded with omega-3’s and a much richer and more complex flavor than factory-farmed dairy, dairy from grass-fed cows raised on small, family-owned farms is also devoid of the antibiotics and hormones that make most dairy such a problematic food.

Available at Whole Foods Markets across New York State.

Do’s and Don’ts For a Killer Online Dating Profile

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Do’s and Don’ts For a Killer Online Dating Profile | The Organic Beauty Blog

I’m going to be honest, I’m a big fan of online dating.  Living in New York, a city that is notoriously difficult for dating, I found myself timidly dipping toes into the lukewarm waters of internet romance after a few years of absurd pickup lines in bars, and unsuccessful setups from friends.  I was instantly hooked.  It’s like shopping!!  For boys!!  The ability to peruse and pre-screen, to read about how someone characterizes themselves, and then exchange some pithy emails before meeting up had an air of excitement, and helped me feel more in control of my dating scene.

Perhaps the best thing that can come out of online dating is getting super clear on what/who you’re looking for.  You quickly learn that “good on paper” does not always equal perfect in person.  A few dates in, you’re forced to really home in on what works for you and what doesn’t, which is an excellent journey in self-discovery.

I met my true soulmate, the love of my life, and my now husband on OkCupid, so yeah, I’m a believer.  But having a successful online dating experience requires some effort, introspection, and yes, even some skill.  Read on to find out how to craft the perfect profile to attract exactly what you’re looking for — whether that be a super fun date, a casual relationship, or your one true love.

DO Get clear on what you’re looking for

If you’re a serial monogamist looking for a serious relationship, coming off as all casual and devil-may-care is not going to land you a good match.  Likewise, if you’re really just looking for some casual dating, detailing your long-term life plans in your profile may send the wrong message.  Do some soul-searching, and identify what kind of relationship you are looking for right now.  Don’t be afraid of honesty in your profile.  Without going into too much detail (recent breakups, relationship cynicism, and tiny violins are all best left out of your profile), feel free to state exactly what you want!  “An awesome guy for some summer fun,” or “A fly lady for some great dates and conversation” sets a casual tone without making you seem like you’re just looking to hook up.  Whereas the more relationship-inclined could state that they’re “Looking for the Clyde to their Bonnie” or just straight up say “Definitely not into one-night-stands.”  Either way, say it in your voice, and have it reflect your truth, but try not to go overboard in either direction (see below).

DON’T Come off as sleazy, shallow, or desperate

Stating what you’re looking for has it’s limits.  Unless you’re looking for Mr. Sleaze Bag, avoid terms like “casual sex” or “missing piece,” which can send quality dates running.  “Must have nice body” is a first-rate douchey thing to say… Instead opt for language that conveys your love for fitness and an active lifestyle, and a desire that any match share the same.

DO Let your personality show through

Are you quirky? Funny? Dry? Sarcastic?  These are aspects of yourself that are going to come out pretty quickly once you’re talking with someone, so there’s no point in masking them in your profile.  You’re looking for someone who appreciates and is actively seeking those qualities!  So let them shine!  Are you a sci-fi nerd?  List some of your favorite books and movies.  An intellectual?  Make some obscure references that only a true kindred spirit would get, if that’s what you’re looking for.  Remember, your dating profile is a representation of who you are, not a glossy advertisement of who you wish you were.  Don’t worry about coming off as cool or as a dream boat… The more accurately your depict your true self, the more satisfying your dates will be!

DON’T Lie or stretch the truth, in words or in photos

If you’re 5’10 1/2, don’t round up to 6 feet.  If you’re unemployed, don’t make up a career.  If you are divorced with a kid, don’t gloss over those details.  If you live with roommates in Brooklyn, photos of you in a swanky Midtown high-rise send the wrong message.  If you’re a few pounds heavier than your ideal weight, don’t post photos from your skinny college days.  Your date will find out the truth eventually, and coming off as inauthentic in your profile shows that you don’t think the real you is good enough, so why should your date??

DO Pick some awesome photos that reflect who you are

It’s online dating after all, so your photos do count for a lot.  Spend some time picking your best recent photos that really show aspects of your life and personality.  Pick at least two close-ups, a full-length, and maybe an activity shot, all of which put your best face forward.  If you don’t have any good photos, grab a friend with an artistic eye and head to the park for a little photo shoot!  Highlight your best features, like your eyes or your smile, and let your personality shine through!  If you’re a high-energy, fun person, choose photos of you laughing or sporting a great grin.  If you’re a more serious, shy type, it’s perfectly fine to choose an artsy photo with a demure smile.  If you’re looking for a relationship, photos of you doing a keg-stand or on a pub-crawl with your posse send the wrong message (and are just generally best avoided).  If you’re a casual, jeans and t-shirt kind of person, photos of you all dressed up at a friend’s wedding aren’t going to be an accurate reflection of who you are.

DON’T Pick blurry, group, or barely clothed photos

Seriously, no one needs to see your abs or your cleavage in your profile, unless of course you’re just looking to hook up.  Group photos are confusing and way too open to interpretation (seriously, she hangs out with guys like that?).. You don’t need to prove how popular you are.  Blurry, dark or unclear photos make it seem like you’re hiding something, which doesn’t send a good message.  If you want to throw in a dark or moody photo that may not offer the best view of your face, make sure the rest of your photos are more clear. Remember, if all you have are photos sub-par photos like this, take the advice above and go for a little photo shoot!

DO Pick the right dating site for you

Picking the right dating site can mean the difference between a tortured and miserable online dating experience, and one that is super fun and fantastic.  OkCupid is a free dating site which has the most volume, making it great for casting a wide net.  You may also want to check out some great, niche, city-specific sites.  Want some great, active dates?  HowAboutWe is for you, creating dates for you based on shared interests and experiences. Sparkology is a paid dating site for NYC-based young professionals who have graduated from top universities.  Prefer to tap into your extended social network for dates?  Try Swoon, an app that let’s you flip through potential matches with emphasis on shared contacts and interests, which you can “like” or “pass.”  If the “like” is mutual, you both get contacted, eliminating the rejection factor.  Older singles may have more luck on Match or OurTime.  More conservative or religious singles may want to check out EHarmony or JDate.

 

No-Cost Holistic Living

By: Callie McBride

If a fear of costliness is preventing you from delving into the wonders of a holistic lifestyle, you are not alone. But, you may also be confused. Its no secret that organic meals and bi-weekly yoga classes can burn through your pocket quite quickly, but there are ways around those bright green dollar signs that offer you the same incredible benefits of living naturally and healthfully. The trick is to simply open your eyes! Scour the web, check out coffeehouse postings, and chat with your fellow yogis to learn about free deals; you will be amazed with what you will find.

Yoga, etc.

Often times yoga and pilates studios, as well as fitness centers, will offer complimentary classes to new customers. Core Power Yoga , Lulu Lemon retail stores, and YoGoer all offer free trials, just to name a few. Let Google be your friend and check out what studios in your areas do the same. Take advantage of those introductory classes to both try out different locations around your city and possibly discover a new favorite spot. I recently browsed the Internet for a martial arts class in Manhattan, and in about ten minutes I was registered for a free one-on-one lesson for the following week, that easy!

There are also studios that generously run classes by donation; if $5 is all you’ve got, they will gladly take it. Both Yoga To The People and Brooklyn Yoga School in New York boast this deal.

During the summer, outdoor yoga skyrockets and prices dip lower than ever. In fact, they disappear. Well and Good NYC puts together an annual Summer Fitness Guide for New Yorkers filled with free yoga, pilates, and bootcamps around all 5 boroughs. Classes include Bryant Park Yoga, Sixth Street Pilates, Washington Square Park Yoga, and much more.

Let’s not forget the wonderful online world of Youtube, home to plenty of fantastic fitness instructors that post free videos to do at home-my favorites are Tara Stiles and Cassey Ho of Pop Pilates. These women are consistent with uploading new videos and have mastered the art of training through the camera.

Meditation

Another important aspect of a holistic lifestyle is meditation, which can always be free. This summer, grab a blanket and pick a park to visit during your free time. Of course, chanting is optional, but ultimate relaxation and peace of mind is garaunteed. My NYC picks are Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Riverside Park on the Upper West Side. With no shortage of parks wherever you live, meditation can be a quick and effective way to check in with your body and maintain a focus on your goals of healthy living.  If you need some guidance on how to start meditating, keep your eye out for guided meditation challenges from Deepak Chopra and other wellness experts!  There are also tons of free guided meditation apps available for your phone or iPad.

Organic Produce

No-Cost Holistic Living 2 | The Organic Beauty Blog

Organic and healthy foods generally aren’t free–though if you know of a place, shout it out. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the bounty of organic food made available to us. For those of you who like to stock up on organic fruits and veggies, consider shopping wholesale. In New York, the Wholesale Greenmarket is your best bet. The vendors there grow their own produce, and “straight from the farm each morning, their products travel a very short distance ensuring premium quality, and greater food safety and traceability”. (grownyc.org/wholesale) By purchasing your fresh produce in bulk, or least in larger quantities, you’ll save both money and daily trips to the grocery store. The San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market is another example that looks great and includes a huge list of merchants who deliver fresh produce each morning (www.sfproduce.org).  A local CSA can also be a super affordable option to eat organic.  NextDoorganics is an amazing CSA delivery that sends a huge bag of local organic produce and other goodies to your door for as little as $35 a week!

To sum up, cheap healthy living is entirely possible with a little determination and research. Once you find your collection of free and/or cheap spots, spread the word and get others in on the wonders of holistic living on a budget. Enjoy your mission to locate deals and steals throughout your city, and share what you find in the comments below!