5 (Non-Diet) Healthy Habits to Start Today

Hey guys!

I’ve been doing a lot less mindless scrolling these days, and dedicating more time to do the simple things I love — like journal, read and even re-evaluating my life around technology. At the end of the day, we co-create the environment we’re in, what we choose to do with our free time and what we expend our energies on.

Instead of focusing on body based healthy habits, I want to share with you 5 awesome, NON-DIET based, healthy habits I’ve taken on. Hope you’ll join me!

Protect your energy - … Especially the energy you have when you start your day!

I’ve been thinking so much about social media lately and the insane amount of time we waste mindlessly scrolling on Instagram. I used to start my day in bed like this: snooze a few times, scroll through Instagram and then begin my day. Sometimes my head would spiral into comparison mode (no one should start their day off like this) and mostly I just wasted precious time. Going down the rabbit hole that is Instagram can be soul sucking energy.

Now, I wake up without looking at Instagram and don’t respond to emails or texts until I’ve taken care of me. I feel more refreshed and happier.


Starting Journaling - I know this sounds cheesy but there are so many benefits. Something magical happens when thoughts get transferred from mind to paper. Below are two ways you can go about doing this. 

Stream of Consciousness Journaling - This is a great tool to alleviate stress and improve your mental health. The key is to write down any thought that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be a complete thought or sentence. This is a no-judgement where you can write how you’re feeling, from what bothers you to what excites you.

Allowing your thoughts to flow gives you space to increase self-awareness and improve your creative potential. Ever take long hot showers, zone out while reflecting on things and suddenly a new idea/different perspective pops into your head? This is the magic that often happens when we self-reflect. 

Gratitude Journaling - This is a favorite of mine and helps cultivate mindfulness. Start anywhere from listing 1-3 things that you are grateful for. I know people who do this exercise every night but I’m usually wiped by then, and so I like to do it every morning while drinking coffee. (New habits are formed when it works with your schedule, not against it!)



Writing what you are grateful for helps you gain clarity on what’s important in your life, shifts the focus to what you have rather than what you don’t. 


Move Your Body in any direction, however you want. If dancing is your thing, turn up the music and dance! Yoga? If you can move your body you can do yoga anywhere. #truth. If you’re new to it please message me, I’m happy to share virtual recs and studio recs in NYC!  If you want to try classes, you can Google “free Classpass trial in (your state)” to test it out! 

BUT here’s the catch: Instead of focusing on an end goal (weight loss, toned arms, abs) can you consider shifting the focus to feeling GOOD?! The best exercise is the one that you enjoy and it will bring out the feel-good endorphins! 


Breathe - Yup. This is probably the most underrated advice out there but it’s probably the best advice I’ve ever received and I’m sharing it with you.

Whenever you feel tension, anger, sadness, stress, nerves and anxiety, I encourage you to return to your breath. Breathe in deep belly breaths and long exhales 3x and see what happens. 

And because getting really great at what we do means practicing it not only when times are tough, but when things seem “easy, ” I’m going to encourage you to breathe deep belly breathes when you are doing dishes, standing on a crowded subway, walking up a flight of stairs, sitting at your desk. Can you relax a little? Release some tension in your body? Stress contributes to inflammation in the body so anytime you can let go and release is a gift to the mind and body.


Set the Scene for a Restful Night - OK. Be honest. Think about how many times you pick up your phone in a day, how many hours you spend staring idly at a computer screen at work, TV screen at home, and phone screen for all other hours in between. AHH! 

Our brain and bodies can pick up cues from the environment. Any lights or electronics keep the brain wired. Sleep is such an underrated healthy habit to cultivate. I recommend turning off the electronics, dimming the lights 30mins to 1 hr before you sleep. You can use this time to read, journal, or better yet, spend time with yourself or your partner ;)  

Best Banana Bread
 
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Some people dread brown bananas... but me? I love them because it only means one thing: that banana bread is in my very near future!  

And for me, banana bread is just one of those things that don't get old. 
I like to enjoy it topped with a nut butter
Warmed with a scoop of ice cream
Simply as is.

Unfortunately, bread has gotten such a bad rep *ahem diet culture* that it's almost always tied to some form of food label to entice people to buy, eat, or bake it.
You'll see recipes for bread and products on the shelf gilded with the labels: Gluten-free/ Grain-free/ Dairy-free etc. 

Holy crap. How many more restrictions can we add on before bread is no longer bread?! LOL.

I don't know about you, but if you like good ol' fashioned banana bread, you're going to love this recipe.

banana bread - regular.jpg

This banana bread is:
soft
moist
tender
flavorful

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups mashed banana (3 medium very ripe bananas) 
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Use mixing bowl or fork to whip in air. 
Add mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking soda.
Combine wet and dry ingredients, gently folding until all ingredients are wet. DO NOT over mix!

Pour mixture into pan, place in middle rack and bake for 50 minutes. 

 

 
What I Learned From Yoga
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Today I wanna talk about yoga. Why I got started, how it's changed me and how it can help you too!

These days boutique yoga studios are popping up everywhere. Seriously, in NYC they're just as prevalent as a Starbucks or Chase bank on nearly every corner. But let's take it back 7-10 years ago B.C. (that's Before Classpass) when New Yorkers mostly worked out in gyms!  There weren't that many yoga studios around and certainly not one that offered "free yoga." That's right, Yoga to the People offered free classes to the public. Ok so maybe it wasn't free (it's donation based with suggested amount of $10) but as a broke college student it's no wonder I took classes there. 

I don't remember the exact reasons why I started taking yoga but I know one thing for sure. I wasn't taking it for mental clarity, to gain an inner sense of self, or become closer to “God."

What I do remember is that I didn't look forward to taking it, there were moments that I dreaded being there, and I wanted to use it as a way to help me lose weight/be more "fit." I can vividly remember flowing through the poses and saying to myself, "f%#! Why did I come here?!" 

I know what that sounds like and who I am today is so far from the girl I was in college. I wanted to be thinner. I wanted abs. I wanted to be liked. I did yoga but I was so far from actually practicing it. Around the same time that I got tired of the vicious self-loathe/diet cycle (see one post back for more on that), I just got fed up with exercise that I did NOT enjoy and so I made it a point to try several different types of workouts… including different yoga studios. 

Finding movement you actually enjoy is like trying different types of ice cream.
Just because you don’t like strawberry ice cream doesn’t mean that all ice cream sucks. 
You have to try different flavors. And if you're into taking classes, finding the right instructor can be like dating. You have to see how you feel in the studio, if you vibe with the instructor, what do you give and gain out of the class?

Well, I can't say I have great dating skills but my exceptional Googling skills led me to Laughing Lotus - which remains one of my favorite yoga studios in the city. Turns out it wasn't the studio that was wrong.. but more so my mindset. I reaped the most when I stopped asking for physical results and instead started asking, “What will I learn about myself today?” I could go on and on about the many things I gained since practicing yoga but here it is in a nutshell:

It’s not at all about how long you can hold each pose (that’s a thought we create in our heads) but rather flowing through the thoughts that come up while on the mat. And if you’re anything like me, some negative/harsh $hiz will show up... it’s about breathing and flowing through those moments.
Trust me, housing fear, resentment and anger does no body’s body good. I call that soul sucking energy. Moving through the stuff that shows up while you’re on the mat can help you make space for more loving thoughts.
This can lead to a decrease in stress and levels of anxiety.
Studies show that yoga can heighten certain brain chemicals that combat depression.
It also improves flexibility, reduces back pain and can help lower blood pressure. 
It allows us to re-connect with our mind and body.  Not to mention, it shows us all the amazing things our bodies are capable of doing.
Bet you didn’t think you could be in chair pose for 30 seconds? Think again.

Remember, at the core of yoga there's no pressure to be perfect physically, emotionally or spiritually. Every time you show up on the mat, you are essentially showing up for yourself. Maybe it will be helpful for you too, or maybe it won't - but you won't know until you try. All I know is that I look forward to it as part of my self-care routine and know that I walk out of class a better human than before I entered it. 

I know going to a class can be ultra intimidating. Been there. Done that. Still feel that way when I try something new. But if you are looking to give yoga a try, here’s a few studios that I liked and hope you enjoy too! If you try any of them, I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

xx Laura


Yoga to the People - Grateful for this incredibly giving studio that makes yoga accessible to everyone. Still maintains a suggested $10 donation after all these years.  

Laughing Lotus – For beginners I’d recommend Lotus Flow, lot’s of energetic music and a bit of chanting. Favorite part is listening to the instructors share a personal story which I can then apply to myself.

Strala Yoga – Simply and purely yoga. Great but challenging classes that you can download and do at home, on your own time. Led by the amazing Tara Stiles

Yoga Vida – Welcoming studio. Great intro class that explains each move. No chanting.

Yoga Works – Offers a variety of teaching styles and modifications for different levels.