Posts Tagged ‘Yoga and Wellness’

Wellness Wednesday: How to Start a Running Routine

Holly Courville running through a sunflower field.

Holly Courville running through a sunflower field. Photo courtesy of Runner’s World.

Guest Editor: Xina

Running is an area of my life where I make no compromises. Every morning, I wake up thinking about where I want to run that day. I am blessed to live in a run-friendly area where there are many trails and places to run outdoors. Whenever I travel for business or pleasure, you can expect me to pull out my gym shoes (I’m from the Midwest and “sneakers” is not part of my vocabulary) and hit the pavement to explore my new surroundings. I could end up anywhere because I love to run.

Friends, family, and colleagues are fascinated that I run. After a race, I get texts, emails, and Facebook posts asking how do I do it? How can I start running? I can’t run like you because it is too late for me to start. My response, it’s NEVER TOO LATE.

{GW Parkway Race}

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{Start of Detroit Marathon}

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If you are interested in running, I recommend the following tips on getting started:

  1. Get fitted for running shoes. This is always my number one suggestion because you can hurt yourself if you don’t. Find a shoe store that specializes in running and ask a specialist to watch you run so they can recommend the best shoes for your feet. And, don’t be cheap. Expect to spend $120 or more. I burn through 2-3 pairs of gym shoes a year. True story: I wanted to save a few bucks and bought a pair of shoes that were on sale that wasn’t the normal shoe brand I run in. Guess what happened? I fell! That fall took me out of running for a month and caused me to miss a 10-mile race I trained for. It’s not worth skimping on the cost of gym shoes!
  2. Start at your own pace. Fitness Magazine suggests starting off running 20 minutes at a time, three times a week. If you need to rest, take a walking break in-between the 20-minute intervals. Then you can build your mileage and time from there.
  3. Eat foods that are rich in nutrients, low in carbs and lots of vegetables.  When I first started running in my 20s, I ran for weight loss. I had the mentality “I run, therefore I can eat whatever I want.” As I aged, that philosophy went out the door. I gained 20 lbs even though I ran more miles. I now limit sugar, carbs, dairy (I only eat eggs) and basically any food that is white in color unless it’s cauliflower.
  4. Cross-train. Not only do I run, but I bike, spin, lift weights and practice yoga. The more strength and core training, the faster the runs. Cross training increases your endurance. Cross training also helps prevent injuries.
  5. Drink water. I have a friend who drinks one gallon of water a day. I am still working on this goal and I highly recommend you start doing it. Water helps you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  6. Buy proper clothes. Another question I get a lot is “do I have to buy clothes from Lululemon?” No, running is not about being cute. Although I have some pieces by Lululemon, I look for running clothes that are durable and can wick the sweat away from my body. Running isn’t expensive!
  7. Find a running community. The goal to run a marathon was NOT on my bucket list until I started running with a group. After several runs, I wondered if I could run a marathon. Before I could change my mind I found myself training for my first marathon. Training for that first marathon was tough, and I needed some marathon warriors to help me persevere. If you don’t already have a running partner, join a meet-up running group or look for a running store that hosts weekly runs. Which leaves me to my last point:
  8. Sign up for a race.  In August 2015, I signed up for a 5K race. Although I am currently training for my fourth half marathon, I set a goal to a run 9-minute mile for the 5K. Notice I said goal. I ran the 5K in less than 30-minutes, which will help me to build the confidence I will need for the Virginia Beach Half-Marathon. Goal setting will help you stay consistent to your runs.

All in all, the single most important advice I can give you is to HAVE FUN. Don’t let other runners get into your head. The minute you start comparing your runs to others, you’ve lost the race.

I love to run. Staying active can mean walking, running, biking, etc. I was crushed to learn the French loathe exercise because I was all about living the way the French do. I still do – with a lot more running.

{Chardonnay 5K. Yes, you get a glass of wine at the finish. So much fun.}

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Wellness Wednesday: My Personal French Diet {Guest Writer}

Rue Cler Market

Many of you know that I am a big believer of health and wellness. I believe beauty starts on the inside and no matter what product you buy it won’t look good on dehydrated skin and skin that needs internal repair. Wellness Wednesdays are here to promote beauty as a lifestyle and not just a product. I love a good workout, but wanted to write about wellness more and I have asked my good friend Xina to contribute to a few posts to help you on your beauty and wellness journey.

Guest Writer: Xina
Wellness Wednesday: My Personal French Diet

Over the past three years, since returning from my first visit in Paris, France in November 2012, I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog on the adventures of my life. Friends, family, and colleagues tell me that I really have great stories to share, especially about my life as a PR strategist living in D.C.  Although I agree that I work with some of the most amazing clients in the world, there is a greater message that I want to share with everyone – good health.

My work as a PR strategist includes not only projects with nonprofits, government, and corporate clients but also businesses and organizations that focus on health. I’ve worked on national large-scale campaigns such as HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, flu vaccination, cancer, diabetes and many others. While working on these campaigns, two common threads I see as I travel all over the United States – deteriorating health in African Americans, Hispanics and other disenfranchised communities and obesity among children and teens.

Americans enjoy one of the most luxurious lifestyles on earth: Our food is plentiful. Our work is automated. Our leisure is effortless. And it’s killing us.

I went to Paris with a group of friends who are fashion and beauty bloggers to visit a few beauty houses around the city. My friend Julia Coney, creator of this blog suggested I go even though I wasn’t a blogger.  It was supposed to be a five-day excursion but due to Hurricane Sandy, I was there for an extra four days.  It was the first time I had ever been out of the country, except for trips to the Caribbean and Mexico.

While I was in Paris, I became fascinated with the culture of the city and the food. I couldn’t get enough of the rich foods the French eat. Food is a very important part of the French culture. The French are notoriously chic, especially when it comes to cuisine. They eat lots of rich foods, creamy cheeses, decadent desserts and drink full-bodied wines.

{Market bounty. Fresh, local, and healthy.}

Biarritz Farmer's Market

{Exceptional food and normal size portions.}

French Food

Before I arrived in France, I was at least 15 lbs heavier even though I am pretty athletic and a healthy eater.  Like most people on vacation, I decided not to worry about my weight and indulged on the French cuisine without worry or guilt. The end result: I lost at least 5-7 lbs when I returned to the U.S.

So how, then, did this weight loss happen? Why did I come to Paris weighing more than I ever have in my entire life and lost the pounds that I was struggling to shed in the U.S. in the “City of Lights?”

Subconsciously, I started living as if I were a Parisian. I took in everything I saw them do, including how they eat.

While I was standing in the crepe line, yes I said the crepe line, I asked a French woman how do the French stay so skinny and they don’t deprive themselves of food. She gave me a few answers: watch food portions, eat locally-grown produce, walk or take stairs as much as possible, drink more than eight ounces of water and finally no in-between snacking; only eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With that said, she went on to tell me that her teenage daughter lived on the U.S. West Coast for a summer and gained 10 pounds. She said that she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her daughter the first time after she returned to Paris.

{Stuck in Paris for a few more days in Paris. I’ll take it.}

Additional days in Paris

Once I returned home, many of my friends commented on my weight loss. I had no idea of what they were talking about. To me, I looked the same but it wasn’t until my girlfriend showed me the difference in the before and after pictures did I notice how much weight I took off in such a short amount of time.

I was on the French diet without realizing it. Now, I want to share those adventures with you.

My blog posts aren’t about dieting; it’s more about changing your lifestyle. I will share with you trips to farmers markets and discussing the different fruits and vegetables I buy to make my meals at home.  I’ve stopped eating out as much unless it is for business. I will also be about talk about my runs, workout classes and other methods I try to keep the weight off.

You will also learn about my weak moments with food such as whenever I go home to Detroit to visit with friends and family I eat more than I ever have in months.  It will be about how I fall back into old habits that sometimes take me days to get back on the healthy track.

Welcome to “La vie de Xina.” I hope you enjoy!!!

{Living the French lifestyle in Miami}

August 2015

Wellness Wednesday: Wanderlust 108, a Mindful Triathlon

In my never ending quest to stay healthy and fit, I have decided to start trying different fitness events to challenge me and get me out of my comfort zone. As a yogi, we are reminded often the only thing constant is change. It’s not always the easiest concept to grasp and as I get older it really hard to accept so much change I can’t control. Instead of going with the flow and being mad, I have decided to go with the flow and have fun. Smile, laugh, and wear a hot pink lipstick in the process.

One way I’m getting through the changes in life is to embrace fun. I mean the things that inspire and motivate me. I have been loving the concept of Wanderlust from a music and yoga festival to mini events all over the country. It takes yoga outside of the studio and into the world, literally. Wanderlust 108 is touted as the world’s kindest triathlon. What exactly does that mean? “This ‘mindful triathlon’ brings three events together in your favorite local park: a 5k run, an outdoor yoga experience, and a guided meditation — but with a twist.”

I know this is going to be a fun event and I hope this ankle injury I’m dealing with is healed by that time. I hope to see you there. I know this is going to give me the Wanderlust bug because I already have my eyes on the Wanderlust festival in Oahu in February.

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Global Wellness Day with Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC

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I hope everyone had a glorious weekend. It was hot here in the DMV and I loved every single minute of it. On Saturday, I spent time at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC to celebrate Global Wellness Day. Global Wellness Day is just what it says – a day to celebrate wellness in various forms. It was also great to meet new local bloggers in real life instead of just on the Internet. For me, wellness is sleep, great food, and working out.

The Four Seasons Washington, DC is a true luxury destination and as a one of the invited media it was great to see the hotel participate in making wellness global. The hotel is situated in Georgetown, a popular area in DC and perfect for runners. The hotel’s spa is one of the best in the area for relaxation and rejuvenation.

The morning started with yoga (my personal favorite) outside with local instructor Christina Popescu. I normally practice in a studio and outside can always present challenges. Bugs, heat, uneven terrain, but the best thing about it is I have to focus on my breath and each posture.

{Yoga outside. I could get used to this.}

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By the time, we sweated it out and finished with savasana I was so relaxed. Savasana takes on a different meaning outside listening to the birds and babbling canal water. After yoga is was a post-yoga green juice (Green Goddess) and superfood muffins (I need the recipe).

{Green Goddess Juice & Superfood Muffins}

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The snack was a great preparation for breakfast. The hotel created the Green Machine omelette in honor of Global Wellness Day. I never have delicious Huevos Rancheros therefore I did my Texas duty and devoured mine. After lunch, it was time to relax in the spa area and because I never met a sauna or steam room I didn’t like I treated my body to a sweaty detox session.

{Green Machine Omelette}

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{Huevos Rancheros}

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{Spa treatment room}

Four Seasons Spa

I finished the day with a makeup session with local makeup artist Gavin Hebert using Jane Iredale products which I loved. I’m usually not a mineral makeup fan, but Gavin changed my mind.

{My before and after. My face felt light all day.}

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If you want to see how other Four Seasons around the world celebrated Global Wellness Day search the hashtag #FSWellness. Thank you to everyone at the Four Seasons for such a lovely day. Ladies, let’s make wellness an everyday event.

Cooking Light & Health’s The Fit Foodie 5K

I love my food. In all its glorious forms and I usually say “I workout so I can eat.” Cooking Light and Health Magazine heard the fit foodie’s cry and created a weekend of fitness and food. Cooking Light & Health’s The Fit Foodie 5K Weekend is June 19-21. The weekend consists of a VIP Cocktail Party, 5K run, yoga and food. What more could you ask for? Grab a girlfriend and see you next weekend. Run.Eat.Drink.

I also have a personal code for you to register for the weekend:  AMBASSADORGUEST. The weekend will also be taking place later this year in Chicago and San Diego.

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Reading Pretty: The Beauty Detox Power: Nourish Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss and Discover True Joy by Kimberly Snyder

The Beauty Detox Power Cover

I’ve been a huge fan of Kimberly Snyder for years. I met her when she lived in NY and she made me raw food and her famous green goddess smoothie. This was before there was a juice bar on every corner and green drinks now replaced soda in many hands. I love it. I believe one of the keys to beauty is food.

Kimberly’s new book focuses on cleaning the body through nourishing and healthy food that actually tastes good and is good for you.The Beauty Detox Power is a great addition to the beauty wellness bookshelf. After traveling the past few weeks, I decided to take a few days to reset. The best way for me is to relax, eat clean, and sleep. It’s amazing, but I seriously have been craving salad of all kinds and Sweetgreen definitely is my weakness. I’m definitely turning into my mother. The woman has eaten a salad every day her entire life. Yep, that’s why she’s so healthy at 75.

Wellness Wednesday: My YogaWorks Online Yoga Classes

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I can’t get enough of online yoga classes. As much as I am on the go and love to take actual classes sometimes it isn’t possible. If I’m on the move, online classes are the next best thing. I have been testing out My YogaWorks for the past few weeks and I’m in deep love. All my favorite yoga teachers, especially my Los Angeles based teachers are on there and I am able to take class and practice with them from afar. Like now since I have been in Louisiana for a week and it has been pretty hectic since I arrived.

I have been a fan of Alexandria Crow for a long time and always wanted to take a workshop with her. Now, I can take her various level classes and work on my handstand in the process. Yes, it is a process. Last year at the Yoga Journal conference in NYC I took classes with Vinnie Marino and let me tell you what an absolute crush I have on him now. I get to practice online with Vinnie and again at this year’s conference. Vinnie has some of the best music for his playlists. Eka Ekong is new on my yoga teacher crush list and when I need to slow my mind (which is quite often actually), I take her classes and feel renewed.

My YogaWorks classes have great teachers I plan on taking classes with and various series. They have a series on splits that I want to start trying next month. If you are curious to try yoga, take their free 14-day trial. You will be hooked.

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Wellness Wednesday: solidcore (the hardest workout in Washington, D.C.)

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A few weeks ago I participated in a class at solidcore. The class has been touted by many people, including my fitness trainer friends as the hardest workout in Washington, D.C.. At first I was skeptical and then I watched the video and became afraid, very afraid. I was still excited to try the workout and glad I put my fear on the back burner.

A few of my blogging friends were at the studio with me so we bonded over fear, sweat, and a kick butt instructor, Alex. I sweated so hard and at times I thought I had been dipped into a pool. I will say it was the hardest workout I have ever done in my life. I’ve taken hardcore exercise classes in New York and L.A. and this one kicked my butt and took everything out of me. There were times I thought I was going to throw up. I pushed through it. And guess what? I loved every single minute, second, and drop of sweat of it.

I was sore for three days after the class and all I can think about is figuring out a way to make solidcore a part of my lifestyle a few days a week.

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{This is after I dried off and was still trying to look cute}

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