snack well | mix it up : pistachios + sunflower seeds

We know that what we put into our body matters. We can all recognize how food affects the way we feel, how our body functions, and the way we look. Often times though, there is a disconnect when it is actual snack-time or meal-time. Our hankerings or our immediate needs (hunger) usually take over. So having something ready to go in our mouth at the drop of a hat can be an enormous lifesaver and can ultimately make the difference in our success. And for such a task, we find that a nut/berry/seed mix is the perfect option for so many reasons. It takes very little preparation, is easily portable, stores well, has endless variations, satisfies hunger (good fats), and can ward off cravings (especially if you add just a little something sweet).  Here's a favorite combination that we love. 

pistachios + sunflower seeds + dried cranberries + golden raisins.

live well now | own your weaknesses

As you know by now, our greatest hope is to help you make lasting healthy lifestyle changes.  And in case you missed it, we've shared approaches starting with how we think about our health, creating a wellness vision, finding motivation and setting SMART goals to actually make that vision happen.  We hope identifying your strengths to make healthy changes after this recent post was another helpful step.

 I found yoga after I decided to stop dancing in college because of an injury and the stress and time it was taking up in my life.  Weakness: an injured body and mind (feeling like a major quitter).  Strength: I found a new love and became certified to teach soon after.  -Maria

I found yoga after I decided to stop dancing in college because of an injury and the stress and time it was taking up in my life.  Weakness: an injured body and mind (feeling like a major quitter).  Strength: I found a new love and became certified to teach soon after.  -Maria

Today we want to talk about the things that seem to get in the way of us being healthier, but in a positive, own it and use it, productive way. We can actually use our weaknesses to help us grow and change instead of letting them constantly hold us back.  We're guessing you're more aware of your weaknesses than your strengths, right? It's a huge part of the a daily battle to get past them.  But instead of trying to push them aside or letting them get the best of us, let's use them to our advantage.  Have you always loved baking but you feel like you have to give it up to be healthy?  Don't do it!  Use that love and start experimenting with healthy substitutions or new recipes (we've got a great recipe you can start with here).  Do you get bored with your workouts? Have you tried every fad diet around?  Is your energy low? Do you crave sweets? We've totally, completely been there.  Use your experience, figure out why it hasn't worked for you in the past and how to make it work in the future. Being healthy is not about transforming into a completely different person. If you love quick and convenient food shop and prepare to have quick and convenient - healthy - snacks and meals. Does a weakness come to mind that you think you could find a way to fit it into your healthy lifestyle?  Own it! It's you baby. And it's time to make it a strength for lasting change.

eat well | butternut squash soup

Rain is in the forecast for our weekend, so what better meal to make then some delicious creamy soup?  We want to get every bit of use out of winter squash before they go out of season.  This recipe is simple (only 4 ingredients and that includes water!), nutrient packed and delicious.  My husband even raved about it and soup is generally not a meal he raves about! 

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2 medium sized butternut squash (or any winter squash)

2 cups coconut milk

1-2 teaspoons red thai curry paste (more if you want an even bigger kick)

1/2 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash on a baking sheet (no need to cut or prick, you can just roast them whole which makes cutting a lot easier later on!).  Roast squash for 60 minutes or until it is tender.  Cut squash is half and let cool and then spoon everything out (except the seeds) into a blender.  Add other ingredients and then blend until smooth and creamy.  Add water to thin if you'd like.  Heat over stove top, serve and enjoy!  We love to eat it with whole wheat toast or a margherita grilled cheese (whole wheat bread, mozarella, tomato and basil). 

move well | side leg series 4 ways

We love our side leg series. We could sum it up in one word: glutes. Typically it's as simple as small lifts or circles with your top leg. Whether you find yourself in a class that is moving a little too fast or your tried and true home workout is losing its luster, there is an option to make this series work for your body. The key to having a successful Pilates practice (and yoga too) is to make the right personal progression by knowing your modification and variation options. All four options here will keep the focus in the hips and glutes, and as you progress, bring more emphasis to the core. 

1 | Lie flat, head supported by your bottom arm. This is a great place to start. You will get all the glute work while supporting your neck and core.

2 | Support your upper body with your bottom forearm, elbow lines up under shoulder. This is a great moderate option that will help build stability in the shoulder. The top hand can come to the ground for more support or the top hip for a challenge.

3 | With the upper body supported by the forearm, lift the hips. Create a long, straight line from head to heels. This takes the most shoulder and core strength of the four and is certainly the most sweat inducing, multi-tasking option.

4 |  Bring your bottom hand to the ground, lined up with your shoulder, and lift to support yourself with your knee. The top leg is extended to lift. This option will challenge your stability the most, without so much work in the shoulder.

swell feature | whitney of sonnet james

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Today we're so excited to be featuring one seriously talented mama, Whitney of Sonnet James. We love to learn from and to be inspired by other women. And as we've watched Whitney launch a beautiful and modern line of "play dresses for playful moms", we've noticed that she truly lives that playful and beautiful life that she's designing for; a life we believe in whole-heartedly. Here are Whitney's 5 things that help me to be a playful mom. We hope you'll be as inspired by her as we are (and if you haven't already, go check out her dresses!).

1. SLEEP! I usually try and get in bed at 9 and read or write and then try and be asleep by 10 pm. It's not the most exciting night life but it makes the world of difference to how I parent the next day. 

2. Food. I'm sort of a like a small child. I just need enough sleep and food to be happy. I try hard to have a really good breakfast every morning, either oatmeal with sautéed bananas or scrambled eggs on toast. Oh and a glass of orange juice every morning, for sure. 

3. Exercise. I exercise probably more for mental health than for my physical health! Exercise makes me feel so much happier. My exercise of choice is yoga and walks. Hatha, vinyasa and gentle are my favorite. I also love to dance. I try and not take life too seriously and dancing helps me do that. As weird of dance moves as possible!

4. Prayer/meditation. Having a few quiet moments everyday helps me focused on what's important and what my goals are for the day.

5. Appreciate every little thing. A few years ago I had a life changing experience that left me looking at life in a whole new way and feeling so happy for the smallest things. Every single day is a gift and even the toughest days are filled with things to be grateful for.