Monday, September 1, 2014

Shine your light project

My beautiful new friend, Melora Morgan, asked me to share my favorite pose and why it inspires me for her #shineurlight project in the hopes of awakening people to all of the amazing benefits of yoga besides the physical.
"I'm hoping to teach people who may be nervous about yoga, or feel like they aren't flexible enough or balanced enough to even try. If they hear other people's stories, it may help them to open their heart and eyes to the multitude of benefits that yoga brings. Physical, mental, and spiritual." - Melora Morgan, founder of Serenity Tree Yoga

Ustrasana is one of my favorite heart openers because it makes me feel vulnerable and open. It exposes you and shifts your gaze away from anything coming towards you that could be potentially threatening.

In the last few months, I've placed myself in vulnerable situations with purpose. Situations I typically like avoiding! I left a comfortable job at the risk of failure, I've said "no" when ordinarily I would be passive to avoid confrontation, and I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve with the risk of being hurt. Whatever the outcome in any of these given situations- I'm accepting.

We tend to associate vulnerability with weakness, and hide behind what we're good at or what's familiar to us. Maybe out of fear of failure, confrontation, or being hurt. But if we become defensive or numb ourselves... with drugs, alcohol, work, food... we can avoid all those uncomfortable feelings right? But numbing ourselves to the discomfort of vulnerability does more damage than good. We rob ourselves of growth, love, forgiveness, and support. So you see it's not vulnerability that makes us weak, it's avoiding it all together.

Approach joy, challenges, and disappointments with the same earnest. Challenge yourself to accept vulnerability. Start a relationship even if there's no guarantee it'll work out. It's scary as shit. Do it anyways. Share your gifts and talents freely with the risk of ridicule. Share it anyways.

Fail. Succeed. Do both with an open heart. Then shine on.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you've been living under a rock, you might have heard about the ALS Ice bucket challenge.

The ALS association is the only non-profit organization raising funds to fight Amyotrphic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It's a neurodegenerative disorder affecting approximately 5,600 new patients every year. It is progressive and causes paralysis of voluntary muscles. In rare cases, patients can survive with this disease for more than 20 years, but in most cases patients will only live about 2-5 years after diagnosis.

What's this have to do with dumping ice water on your head?
The Ice Bucket Challenge is just a fun way the association has used to get the word out, raise awareness, and raise funds for research. And they've done just that, reaching 1.2 million new donors with this challenge, and raising $70.2 million so far this year, compared to $2.4 million they raised by this time last year.

Challengers are dared to either complete the challenge within 24 hours of being nominated, or donate $100 to the ALS association. I'll gladly say, most of my friends who have posted their videos have accepted the challenge AND donated to this cause.

Even celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon. Probably one of my favorites was uploaded by Chris Pratt!

And David Beckham
....I could honestly watch that 10 more times

I sat around like the last kid to be picked in gym class, waiting to be nominated. And received two nominations within 24 hours, from my dad (yea...I can't believe my dad was picked before me, I've apparently underestimated his coolness) and from challenge duo, Brody & Shaun. I was only willing to post one video, but upon learning of my second nomination, my mother had other plans in mind...

Although I'm not overly fond of dumping clean drinking water on the ground, mom did say she needed to water that side of the yard anyways today icon wink C. Wonder Weekend Sale    40 50% of everything!

Before you donate to any foundation or fundraising event, I urge you to do a little research on charities before making a contribution. Mindfully give to those who are transparent about their much actually goes towards research, and how much revenue the CEO pockets. The ALS association scored very high, so you can take comfort in knowing your money is going to an accountable cause!

So for those others like me, still waiting to be nominated to participate...this is for YOU! I challenge any reader who has not yet known the fatal freeze that is the Ice bucket challenge, to post your video and #alsicebucketchallenge and #yogabarrechs so I can see yours!

If you want to 96 the challenge but still want to make a difference, donate here!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Charleston James Island Connector Run

JIC run 2013

This past November, I ran the Charleston James Island Connector Run as a race ambassador with my family, Shanna, and Shannon. It was such a well organized event and benefits a great cause, the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation. It's a partnership of local Charleston sponsors with CofC, CSU, The Citadel, TTC, and the Art Institute to provide scholarships to students with disabilities. As a rehabilitation counselor, you know this is near and dear to my heart and is important for me be involved with in my community. I plan on running it again this year and I've been looking forward to it literally since I finished the race last year!

As an ambassadorI was able to meet the recipients of last year's GKF scholarship and speak with each student individually about their plans for college. The kids blew me away! I had a chance to talk with a few families of these brilliant students, two parents in particular who were lighting up the entire room with their smiles. I knew immediately who their son was in the group of 13 recipients. He was smiling even bigger than they were, and it was so contagious I found myself grinning ear to ear! They talked about how proud they were of him, how smart he was, and what he wanted to do when he graduated college. This was a BIG deal for them. For several students with disabilities, the cost of medical equipment and disability management is an issue. This foundation extends the opportunity for a college education to students who may otherwise not have the funds. I don't run the race to break records (because Lord know I'm slow as molasses). I run the race for these kids! The 6 hills are just an added bonus ;-)

There's a 5k and 10k run/walk option, as well as a 10k bike before the runners start. The race features stunning views of the Charleston peninsula via the James Island Connector, normally not a bridge pedestrians are allowed to run on! The race itself is big enough that you feel this inspiring sense of community, yet small enough that the crowd isn't overwhelming (unlike other bridge runs *ahem*) icon wink C. Wonder Weekend Sale    40 50% of everything!

Use discount code: Melissa14 at checkout for 20% off

If you don't want to run/walk, but still want to be involved, volunteers are needed to fill lots of roles before, during, and after the race! Sign up here to volunteer!

(No, I did not mean to rhyme)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Millions of peaches, peaches for me!

We went peach picking out at St. Julien Plantation in Eutawville!

There's nothing I love baking more during the summer than Peach Cobbler. Every single recipe I've come across has been different, but in my humble, untrained palate, I prefer a simpler flavor. I think any spice besides cinnamon can overpower the peaches and a little nutmeg in my cobbler can ruin it for me! So the recipes I've seen for "easy peach cobbler," don't compare to how easy this recipe I use is. It is SIMPLY the best!

SUPER Easy Peach Cobbler

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 - 3/4 stick butter (I use 1/2 in a dark casserole dish)
2 cups cut up peaches (for me, this was 3 large peaches)

Melt butter in casserole dish. Mix sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, and milk together to a smooth paste. Pour into middle of melted butter. DO NOT STIR!! Spoon in the peaches and resist the urge to stir! 
Bake at 325 for 90 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may not need the full 90 minutes. I like a bit of a crust so it's my preference to leave it in that long! And oh my gosh it is sooo good! Bon appetit!

This picture does NOT do it justice!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's PiYo?!

What is PiYo?!

PiYo was created by Chalene Johnson. It's a unique workout presented by BeachBody that "combines the muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of Yoga." It's a fast, low-impact exercise that uses no hand weights, but instead lengthens and tones muscles using your own body weight. 

"I wanted to create a workout that would work for every age and fitness level."                                                                                                              - Chalene Johnson

Want to see it first hand what it's like?

Come find out for yourself this Thursday!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

6 Recipes for Healthy Burgers

I need to be better about posting food more often! Those seem to be the entries that get the most hits! It's a day late..sorry bout that, but here's a Tasty Tuesday post with 6 healthy burgers to the heavier greaseburger option we've all come to know and love. I want to make an effort this summer to eat less red meat. I tried it for Lent this past season, and if I were to be graded, I would've scored a 78% (oops). I really love steak! And it's hard for me to pass up an opportunity to eat good BBQ or grill out. Especially now that the weather is so nice! I scoured up a few recipes I plan on trying this summer that I think you'll enjoy icon wink C. Wonder Weekend Sale    40 50% of everything!

1. Quinoa turkey burger with caramelized kale and onions

Full recipe at Fabtastic Eats 

The recipe sounds mouthwatering! I'll definitely be trying this one first. Until last month, I'd never cooked kale's so tasty sauteed with a bit of garlic! This recipe's not exactly meeting the terms of an ahimsic diet that my yoga teacher training encourages, but steps.

2. Teriyaki salmon burger

Full recipe at Grill This, Not That

A nice pescetarian option! I had a very similar salmon burger at the First Flush Festival a few weeks ago at the Charleston Tea Plantation. I can't remember what the name of the food truck was, but they have an actual restaurant on Folly Rd. It was really good! I've never attempted making a salmon burger before so this should be interesting.

3. Green chile cheeseburger

Full recipe at Cook This, Not That

OK. Not everyone has jumped on the gluten free, vegan/vegetarian (or even pescetarian) band wagon. Here's a nice MEATY burger that's still very healthy. And not that I count calories (I don't even know what that means) but this burger is under 400 while your typical burger at a restaurant is over 1,000!

4. Spicy chickpea veggie burger

Full recipe at Running on Real Food

For those looking for a gluten free and/or vegan option, this looks great! I do love some hummus so I just may give this one a shot. I am a bit concerned about the texture and structure though, so if you happen to try this one let me know how you like it and how you kept it from falling apart!

5. Stuffed Portobello burgers with caramelized onions

Full recipe at Women's Health

I don't often cook with mushrooms, but when I do I always wish I'd made more. (Did that sound like a weird Dos Equis commercial?) Good thing this recipe makes 4!

6. Build your own vegetarian burger

You could always make your own recipe! I've discovered the perfect formula:
[1 lb beans of your choice] + [1/2 c onion, chopped and 1 garlic clove, minced] + [2 c veggies of your choice] + [3 tbsp liquid flavoring] + [4 tsp - 2 spices of your choice] + [1 c binder of your choice] + [1/2 c texture optional]

Beans - Use a food processor but watch your consistency. You don't want it too emulsified. For beans I recommend using lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, or black beans. But remember black beans can be pretty dominant and even if you use a little, you're making a black bean burger no matter what you use next

Veggies - I suggest carrots, celery, spinach, kale, artichoke, zucchini, or squash

Liquid flavoring - Mix and match from the following: ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, Worcestershire, teriyaki, buffalo, balsamic vinegar, salsa, pasta sauce

Spice - I suggest combining at least 2 of the following: paprika, cumin, chili powder, italian seasoning, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel, oregano, curry powder, and salt IF your liquid flavoring doesn't already contain any

Binder - I recommend sweet potato, bread crumbs or panko, quinoa, buckwheat, or oatmeal

Texture - I recommend avocado, sun dried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, or crushed cashew, walnut, or almond

*TIP:: If your patties are too mushy and not holding the shape, add a bit of flour or baking powder!*

There are countless wonderful recipes online for healthy burgers and vegetarian options. If you have one you particularly love, share it with me in a comment down below!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

We have lift off!

Ever since my last post (announcing the Barre Launch event), life has been a complete and total whirlwind.

- taught two classes at the Barre launch event and it went GREAT! Could not have asked for a better turnout. There was lots of newbies and the ladies in attendance loved the class. Extra shoutout to my friends and family who attended in support!
- got a job offer for an addictions counselor position (and YES, of course I accepted). I start on Monday :-)
- flew to Colorado for some much needed R&R and to watch my cousin, Madison, graduate

The view from Cambio Yoga studio, where I spent one morning practice. Beautiful isn't it?! 

- started teaching 3 Barre classes a week at Pivotal in West Ashley. There's been a pretty good turnout each time, and in each class, the "first timers" are still the majority! Which is awesome..the program is steadily growing. If you haven't come to my class yet, you've got to try it out! Tuesdays at 6pm, Wednesdays at 5:30, or Saturday mornings at 9. Take your pick :-) 
- had my last day at Voc Rehab yesterday and it was so bittersweet. My coworkers threw me a lovely party..and afterparty icon wink C. Wonder Weekend Sale    40 50% of everything! Many people have asked me if I'm excited. Of course I'm excited, but it also really hasn't hit me yet. I don't think it will until I'm on my way to work at 4:30 Monday morning. (Yea...the work hours are 5am-1pm) This is a good thing though, as it gives more time in the afternoons to enjoy daylight and I'll need the extra hours because...
- will be starting my 5 month journey with Holy Cow to become a yoga teacher beginning this weekend!! I am so flippin excited. I've been counting down the days since December when I started putting my application together.

You think I've got enough on my plate?! 


So tell me, since I've been putting together playlists for my Barre classes, what song gets you goin at the gym? Comment below! :-)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Barre Launch Event is HERE!!

I have been waiting months to finally announce a date for the Barre Launch event at Charleston Pivotal Fitness!!!

It's here!! Join us this Wednesday, May 14th

Space is limited to 25 people so there will be 3 separate times to accommodate:
9:00 AM with Jessica L
5:30 PM with ME!!
7:00 PM with me!!

**Sign up sheet is located at the front desk of the Pivotal Fitness-West Ashley**
The Launch event is open to both members and non-members. RSVPing for the Facebook event will not secure your spot- you must either sign up at the gym or give them a ring at (843) 571-5858.
First come, first serve so act quickly!

Me, every time I have to go anywhere besides the yoga studio:

But seriously,
What do I wear?!

From the beautiful Caroline at This Styled Life

1.  I recommend dressing comfortably in a fitness top that's not too loose and not too tight. There is seated work and leg lifting so I don't recommend wearing shorts, unless you don't mind flashing 25 other people. Anything knee length or longer and fits close to the skin is good.

2. Bring a yoga mat if you've got one! If you don't, no worries you can borrow one from the gym

3.  You don't have to wear "sticky socks" since the studio is hard wood floors, but if you have them and you feel so inclined, by all means bring 'em. But if you don't already own a pair, you don't need to go out and buy them icon wink C. Wonder Weekend Sale    40 50% of everything!

4. A smile! Don't be nervous! If this is your first time at a Barre class, you are part of the majority! Hydrate before you come, and bring a bottle of water cus you. will. sweat.

Get ready to get's gonna be a BLAST!

***UPDATE!! - My 5:30 class has only one spot left! Tiffany is no longer teaching the 7:00 class, it'll be with me now! That class still has 10 spots left so call the gym and get on the list ASAP! (843) 571-5858***

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This was MMM mmm good! Stephen made this a while ago; he found this recipe on AllRecipes and it turned out amazing. That's cooked rice, steamed with some green beans there in the background.

Sweet and Sour chicken recipe found here

1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp garlic salt
10 chicken tenders (or a package of chicken tenderloins)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup chicken brother
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Pour cornstarch and garlic salt into large resealable bag
3. Dip chicken strips in beaten egg and drop in cornstarch mixture. Shake chicken in bag until all pieces are fully coated
4. Heat vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat. Brown chicken for about 5 minutes.
5. Stir vinegar, sugar, chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, and salt together in bowl.
6. Arrange browned chicken in baking dish and pour vinegar mixture over the chicken.
7. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Spot check for color- should come out golden!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spicy Sausage Pasta

I've had this recipe pinned for over two years! About time I decide to make it!

From Kevin and Amanda

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage (I used Johnsonville mild Italian sausage)
1 1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta (I used elbow maccarroni because 3 years ago, Christian bought 10 boxes
"because they were on sale"--and I've been trying to get rid of them ever since)
1/2 tsp salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used the last of the Fontina cheese)
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

  1. Add olive oil to skillet and cook sausage and onions til light brown.  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt, and pepper. Stir together and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for about 15 minutes (or until pasta is tender).
  3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 of your cheese.  Top with the remaining cheese and scallions (do not stir!) Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.

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