Slim Down for Summer: Your 10 Week Plan

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Summer Slim-DownSpring is officially creeping in, with it’s gusts of 50 degree breezes and stir-crazy excitement in the air. That means bikini season in just a few months away!  So before you jump on yet another, crazy crash diet, or start doing juice cleanses every other week, let me help! Below you’ll find a 10 week plan to slim down for summer, revamp your diet, and revitalize your workout routine. If you make the commitment to yourself, your body, and your sweet, sexy summer self, this plan will take you there. Stay in touch in the comments or on our Facebook page to support each other throughout these 10 weeks, ask and answer questions, and keep yourself accountable!

The Organic Beauty 10 Week Slim Down for Summer PlanWeeks 1 and 2:

These first two weeks are about starting and sticking to a few super healthy habits, before we move on to eliminating a some nasty ones.  First and foremost, spend these two weeks going gaga for greens.  I mean it!  Commit to having a full serving (at least 1 cup) of greens at two meals a day. For an added bonus, rock greens at all three meals!  And when I say greens, I don’t mean pale, flimsy lettuce.  I mean rich, darkly colored, super nutrient kale, spinach, chard, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, and collards.  Eat ’em raw, eat ’em cooked (just a quick sauté with olive oil or coconut oil, garlic, and a pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper does the trick), throw ’em in your smoothies, your eggs, and your grains.  Greens are a super potent, detoxifying slim down food that is essentially “free” in terms of calories.  So eating those 2-3 cups of delicious greens every single day for the next 10 weeks means less room for other bloating, crappy foods.

Next, work on making lunch the biggest meal of your day.  Having a lighter dinner is one of the fastest ways to promote weight loss and detoxification, while helping you feel more energized and balanced throughout the day!  So make lunch dinner-sized, and dinner lunch-sized (think soup and/or salad), and watch the pounds start falling off.

Lastly, commit to working out, in any way that you enjoy, for 30 minutes to an hour, at least 3 days a week for these two weeks.  This could be yoga, pilates, running, Zumba, swimming.. whatever you love!  Don’t worry so much about the what for these two weeks, just focus on making those three days a week a non-negotiable part of your routine.  Set the days, put them in your calendar, and stick to them.  It works best to have a set three days a week that you work out, so you’re not figuring out where to fit it in every day.  Our bodies and minds thrive on routine, and this is the only way to build sustainable, healthy habits!

Weeks 1 and 2 at a Glance:Greens at least twice a dayBig lunch/light dinnerExercise 30 min-1 hour 3 days a weekWeeks 3 and 4:

Now that you’re eating tons of greens every day and working out a solid three days a week, we can start to eliminate some habits that are getting in the way of your smokin’ summer bod.  It’s time to cut out processed sugar.  Completely.  As in, sayonara to Snickers, Skittles, and soda.  Does this mean you don’t get to eat anything sweet until summer?  Of course not!  Stock up on delicious fruit (especially potently antioxidant berries that are coming back into season), and sweet seasonal veggies like tomatoes, beets, bell peppers, corn, fennel, and sweet peas.  The more you incorporate these naturally sweet foods into your diet, the less you’ll be craving crappy sweets that relegate you to tankinis all summer long.  Treat yourself to a couple squares of dark chocolate (like, actually 70% dark chocolate) when you want a little something extra, and sip naturally sweetened tea throughout the day to help curb cravings.  Hibiscus, ginger, and dandelion root teas are all deeply detoxifying for spring, and with a touch of stevia to sweeten, they are a lovely drink to sip on all day long to promote slimming and steer clear of sugar!

Next, let’s amp up your workouts.  Wherever you’re at, take it up a notch.  If you’ve been doing yoga three days a week, add a fourth day of cardio or strength training.  If you’ve been running or using the elliptical machine three days a week, add a day of weights or a boot camp class.  If you’ve been a slow starter and have just been walking those three days a week, commit to taking a class of your choice for two of those days.  Wherever you’re at, amp it up!

Weeks 3 and 4 at a Glance:Cut out all processed sugarEat fruit (especially berries) and sweet veggies.Use natural sweeteners in tea and coffee.Amp up workouts to 4 days a week.Weeks 5 and 6:

So now you’re been eating big piles of greens at least twice a day, you’ve cut out processed sugar, and you’ve taken your workouts up a notch.  Let’s keep it going!  These two weeks are all about healthy grains.  First things first, we have to cut out the bikini bod’s mortal enemy, refined and processed grains.  This means cutting out the white bread, pasta, the processed cereals (basically any cereal other than granola), and if you haven’t already done so the last two week, all pastries!  Now I’m not saying you can’t have a slice of pizza for the next six weeks, but keep it to just once or twice a month.  Before you get all panicked at the thought of giving up bread, take a breath and chill.  You don’t need to give up grains!  These next two weeks, we are going to amp up your whole grains, which are awesome for weight loss, digestion, balancing blood sugar, and minimizing cravings.  So make sure to have a serving (about 1/2-1 cup) of whole grains at lunch and/or breakfast every day.  Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats and millet are all your best friends!  Have some oatmeal or quinoa porridge for breakfast, or a slice of sprouted whole grain Ezekiel toast with nut butter with your smoothie or eggs.   For lunch, have some brown rice or quinoa with your stir-fry or in your burrito bowl, have some sushi, or just rock some grains alongside a delicious piece of salmon and a bunch of greens for a perfect, balanced meal!

How are the workouts going??  Hopefully by now you are working out a solid four days a week, even if it’s just for 30-45 minutes! If you’re not, hang that bikini up somewhere you’ll see it every day, and repeat to yourself that YOU NEED TO WORK OUT TO LOOK GOOD IN A BIKINI!!!!  There is no way around this.  Even if you are a lucky, naturally slim person, working out 3-4 days a week, every week is going to tighten everything up in all the right places and take your body from meh to WHOA.  So quit messing around and make it happen!  If it isn’t already a part of your weekly routine, I recommend adding a pilates workout to your regimen.  Pilates is amazing for toning abs, legs, and arms, and creating the long, lean lines that we all want for summer.

Lastly, WATER!!  Make these two weeks ALL about water.  Drink half your ideal body weight in ounces, every single day.  If you need to spruce up your water, add a squeeze of fresh lemon or some lemon slices, or get creative and add fun flavor boosters like sliced ginger, berries, and mint!  Drinking tons of water is crucial to slimming down, detoxifying, and getting that hot summer bod.  So make it happen!

Weeks 5 and 6 at a Glance:Cut out processed and refined carbsIncrease whole grains at breakfast and lunchWork out 4 days a weekAdd PilatesDrink half your ideal body weight in ounces of water every day.Weeks 7 and 8:

Alright guys, we’re almost there!  You are now working out 4 days a week, doing pilates, eating lots of greens and whole grains, and you’ve cut out all processed sugar and carbs.  Amazing!!!  By now your body is looking leaner, slimmer, and you probably have a whole lot more energy too!  Take a minute to write down all the awesome benefits you’ve noticed over the last 6 weeks.  This will help you stay motivated for this final month!

For these next two weeks, we’re going to clean up your proteins to make them leaner, healthier, and more conducive to a hot, slim, summer bod.  If you’re a meat-eater, over the next two weeks, work on keeping your animal proteins to lean, organic, free-range chicken, eggs, and low-mercury fish.  Also, start the practice of have two meatless days per week.  Regardless of whether or not you eat meat, focus on healthy plant proteins for these two weeks.  Beans in all their many varieties, nuts, and whole grains are all wonderful sources of protein.  Even greens have protein!  So don’t feel like you need to center your meals around a Protein, with a capital P.  Eating mostly plant proteins, fish, and eggs will give your body all the protein it needs, and will promote a healthy, lean physique year-round, not just in summer!

If you aren’t doing so already, make sure one of your weekly workouts uses light weights to boost metabolism and tone muscles.  For most women, I don’t recommend using dumbbells over 5 lbs., unless you’re going for a super muscled look.  To keep muscles long, lean, and slim, use 3 lb. weights in your workouts at least once a week.  If you’re a dude, you’re free to lift more, but focus on lower weight and higher reps to get a sexy, sculpted look.

Weeks 7 and 8 at a Glance:Write down all the amazing changes you’ve noticed so far.Keep animal proteins to organic, free-range chicken, eggs, and low-mercury fish.Increase and focus on plant proteinsHave at least two meatless days a week.Add light weights to your workouts at least once a week.Weeks 9 and 10:

Here it is, guys, the final stretch!  Your body is just a month away from being totally prepped for summer, and for some of you, you may already be there!

Keep up all the amazing changes you’ve incorporated over the last 8 weeks.  You’re doing such great things for your body!  These next two weeks, we’re going to make just a couple final adjustments that will get you where you want to be in no time at all.  First, we have to cut out bloating foods.  Retaining water and a gassy belly are major buzzkills when it comes to feeling sexy in slim on the beach, so we’re going to cut those puppies out to give your amazing abs a chance to shine!  Salt, dairy, and gluten are the three biggest bloaters around, so let’s be mindful of reducing or eliminating these foods for two weeks to really get some crazy results.  If you’re cooking your own food, you’re in control of how much salt is in everything, which is great.  Keep it to a pinch of sea salt when cooking, and you’re good to go.  If you’re eating out a lot, you don’t have as much control, so use these next two weeks as motivation for getting your cook on!

If you do ok with a little Greek yogurt, I won’t take it away from you, but cheese and milk are a slim-down (and general health) no-no.  Switch to a nut milk in your coffee and granola, and ditch the cheese altogether.  It’s salty, it’s fatty, it’s bloaty, it’s bad!

If you didn’t already do so in week 5 and 6, experiment with cutting out gluten for a couple weeks to see how it effects your digestion, especially if you experience bloat, gassiness, or feel like your belly just isn’t where you want it to be.  Check out this great resource on gluten-free grains!

Your workouts are settling into a nice routine by now, with a good balance of light weights, slimming pilates, and whatever else floats your boat.  These next two weeks, let’s make sure your boat is floated by some cardio.  If cardio isn’t a part of your 4 days of exercise by now, make it one!  Better yet, do it outside!  Biking, running, swimming, or a great boot camp or crossfit-style class are all awesome cardio workouts which will make sure you’re burning off fat and keeping things lean.  If you really want to amp up these last two weeks, add a fifth day of exercise to shred, slim and ensure that awesome bikini bod.  Even if it’s just a yoga class, working out 5 days a week is an unbelievable gift to your body, your mind, and your health.

Weeks 9 and 10 at a Glance:Reduce salt (cook more at home).Eliminate milk and cheese.Experiment with cutting out gluten.Add cardio (outside if possible)Add a fifth day of exercise (optional)

YOU DID IT!!!!

Share your experience as you go and definitely at the end of your 10 weeks here or on Facebook, and feel super proud of the amazing things you’ve done for your body.  Make a note of what worked and felt great, and keep those habits up, past summer, year-round.

As always, if you feel like you need some more support getting to where you want to be, please check out my whole body transformation programs and get in touch!

[Image: Pinterest]

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Sensitive skin? This line is your savior!

Block Island Organics

Super sensitive skin can be a real downer. It seems like everything from a scented lotion to the tiniest drop of an abrasive ingredient can set your skin on a downward spiral of redness, breakouts, and bumps.  Finding pure, organic, unscented skincare that is actually effective for slowing the signs of aging, protecting skin, and balancing skin can seem downright impossible.. Well fret no more!

I discovered Block Island Organics a few months ago, and love their streamlined products that give you all the basics for balanced, beautiful skin, regardless of your skin type. The ingredients in this 3-product line read like a who’s who of organic beauty powerhouses. After just a couple days of use, my skin was soft, nourished, and super healthy, with no sign of redness or drama.  That’s all a girl can ask for!

Start with the Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser, a super luxe and rich cream cleanser that’s loaded with antioxidants, nourishing vitamins, and botanicals like calming chamomile and rosehip, moisturizing avocado, sunflower, and coconut oils, and deep cleansing rosemary and oat, on top of vitamins C and E to prevent and reverse aging.

Follow with the Natural Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen, to protect skin from the damaging and aging effects of the sun.  Safe and gentle enough for use on kids and babies, while effective enough for mature skin, this super lightweight and non-nano zinc oxide formula also has aloe, shea butter, green tea, and coconut oil, making it an amazing daytime moisturizer.

At night, the Organic Revitalizing Night Cream totally has your back, healing skin from the environmental damage inflicted during the day, deeply nourishing and moisturizing your face while you sleep, and infusing skin with soothing botanicals and oils that calm sensitivity and slow the signs of aging.

All three of the powerful products are unscented, vegan, free of harmful chemicals like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, and have never been tested on animals.

–> Use discount code “natasha” for 15% off all Block Island Organics products until July 6th!

Want to try this skincare dream team for yourself?Click here to enter our giveaway!

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Pure Fiji Coconut Haircare Giveaway!

 

We’ve been touting all the benefits of coconut oil on The Organic Beauty of late, and we want to share with you all of the amazing benefits of this magical beauty and health ingredient you might already have in your cupboard!  If you aren’t using coconut oil in your cooking and beauty regimen yet, you need to be!  Check out Go Nuts for Coconut Oil (6 Amazing Benefits and 10 Beauty Tricks), and our Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil infographic to learn why this is your secret to shining, healthy hair, moist, radiant and clear skin, and healthy gut and even a trimmer waist line!  You can also read about all the favorite coconut oil beauty tips of various health and beauty experts, including yours truly, over on AllParenting.

So in honor of all this coconut obsessing, we’re giving away a duo of Pure Fiji Coconut Milk and Creme Shampoo and Conditioner! (Retail $50)

We fell in love with the Pure Fiji line of products on our honeymoon (in Fiji!), and absolutely loved the moisturizing natural ingredients and delicious scent. This ultra nourishing shampoo and conditioner feature exotic blends of coconut crème, cold-pressed oil, island drift-nut extracts, and sugar cane derived cleansers, and is fortified with soy and wheat proteins, which helps repair damage and improves resilience – restoring bounce and shine for healthy looking hair.  And of course, this line is sulphate-free!

To Enter:

Step 1:  Share us with your friends!  Tweet or post to Facebook your favorite Organic Beauty article and share the love!

Step 2: Post in the comments below and let us know which article you shared, and where!

Bonus Entry: If you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter!  Don’t worry, we’ll never bombard you with emails.  We just send out a couple emails a month of super awesome natural health and beauty content, and of course, super sweet giveaways and events!

We’ll announce the winner on Friday, June 7th! So make sure to enter before 6pm EST that day ; ) 

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What would happen if you let go?

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

What would happen if you let go of it?  Of the need to be perfect.  Of the fear of standing out. Of the plan. Of the self-criticism.  Of that crappy relationship or unfulfilling job.

A lot of my clients and readers who struggle with weight or their health are holding on to negative thought patterns, past experiences, or current habits that are holding them back.

When we’re in a place of “holding on,” our bodies and minds get a clear signal that we’re not safe. It’s not safe to lose the weight.  It’s not safe to get out of emergency mode and feel calm.  It’s not safe to put yourself out there.  It’s not safe to be happy.

But ask yourself this:  What would really happen if you let go? If you stopped worrying about being “good” all the time, and savored a delectable pastry from that lovely little French bakery you pass on your way home?  If you took a sick day and went to the spa, or enjoyed a little spa day at home?  If you didn’t answer your emails right when they came in, and committed to some tech-free time?  If you asked out that cutie in accounting?  If you booked that trip to Paris? If you signed up for that writing workshop or art class?

What would happen?  Would your world fall apart?  Would you instantly gain 10 pounds?  Would you get fired from your job?  No, no, and no.

The only thing that would happen is you feeling more free, more alive, more YOU.

Being “good” doesn’t make us feel more alive, but letting go every now and then totally does. {Tweet it!}

Last week I told you about the Greens. Grains. Gorgeous. 30 Day Challenge. Together, for the whole month of July, we’re going to take steps every day to feel more vibrant, more cared for, more free, and more you.  If you haven’t signed up yet, click here to join us for free!

In the comments below, share with us what you’re going to do this week to let go and experience more freedom in your life.

 

{Image: Pinterest}

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Healthy Easter Recipes (Brunch, Dinner, even Dessert!)

By: Stephanie Heino

Colorful-Eggs-Wishes-Happy-Easter-Day-2013Easter is approaching and we want to help you find the perfect healthy Easter menu for your celebration, so you don’t have to go crazy on the unhealthy options on that dinner table. If you are looking for anything from a casual, outdoor Easter brunch recipe to a formal Easter dinner recipe, we’ve got you covered. Instead of filling up on empty calories that will make you feel sluggish and heavy during the day, go the healthy route and feel great and energetic all day. And, listen — healthy doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out! There are plenty of great recipes online, and we compiled some of our top picks for you. These recipes taste decadent but are made using only healthy nutritious ingredients and techniques.

DSC_6257Healthy Vegan Brunch Pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened almond milk1 tablespoon coconut flour2 teaspoons flax seeds1/4 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions

Measure out all the ingredients and add them to a blender. Blend together for about 60 seconds. Heat the teaspoon of olive oil on a non-stick pancake pan and add 1/3 of the mixture. After one minute, flip pancake over to other side. After one minute flip over again; it should be a golden-brown color. Do the same with the rest of the batter and you are done! Healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and filling pancakes. Enjoy them with fresh berries and a banana!

Grilled Wild Salmon and vegetablessalmonzebrano

Ingredients

4 small red onions, cut into 1-inch slices (about 1 pound)4 Vidalia spring onions, quartered (about 8 ounces)4 cipollini onions (about 4 ounces)2 cups sliced fennel (about 7 ounces)1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets2 cups baby spinach1/4 cup Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Directions

Prepare grill.Place onions and sliced fennel in a large pan of boiling water; cook 3 minutes until tender. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain.Toss vegetables with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until tender and lightly browned. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, fennel fronds, and parsley.Sprinkle salmon with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place salmon on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place 1 salmon fillet onto each of 4 plates. Toss pea tendrils with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette. Place about 1/2 cup pea tendril mixture over salmon. Add 1 1/2 cups grilled vegetables to each serving, and serve immediately.

parsnip+cakesParsnip Spinach Cakes

Ingredients

5 parsnips, thickly sliced & roasted1 handful spinach leaves1/3 cup blanched almond flour2-3 cloves garlic, chopped2 pastured eggs1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea saltpepper to taste1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions

(If your parsnips are raw, bake in 400º oven for 20 minutes, allow to cool slightly, then proceed with recipe.)
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s doughy. You might need to turn it off and push the spinach leaves down towards the blades, then turn it back on to get it all to incorporate. Use your hands to form balls and flatten into cakes, about 1/3 inch thick. Bake in oven on 350º until browned and crispy. Serve warm and enjoy those delicious cakes!

paleo-coconut-macaroons-thumb Coconut Macaroons (Paleo-friendly, gluten-free)
(8 Servings)

Ingredients

2 large egg whites¼ cup honey¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt2 ½ cups coconut flakes

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites and honey with a forkBriefly whisk in salt, then stir in coconut flakesPlace bowl in fridge to chill for ½ hourFill a 2 tablespoon scoop with batter, so it’s heaping fullUsing your hand, firmly pack batter into scoop so it is levelRelease batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheetBake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until macaroons are golden brownCool for 1 hour and serve

Brunch can get pretty heavy though, and the cocktails are no exception. On their own, most spirits average around 120 calories in a typical pour. Start adding fruit and veggie juice to the mix and that number quickly goes up — a Bloody Mary can easily add 350 calories and a ton of sodium to your meal. But since many people refuse to give them up, I will help you make healthier versions at home. In a way, it’s almost like having a salad in a cup, specially if you make it virgin!

Healthy Bloody Mary

red-snapperA Bloody Mary doesn’t have to equal a glass full of empty calories. To healthify your drink, opt for making your own tomato juice or buy a low-sodium variety without added sugar or sodium, instead of buying the standard bloody mary mix or tomato juice. The spices in a typical Bloody Mary make all the added salt unnecessary. When making it, think beyond celery, olives and lemons, and pile on the veggies. Use green beans, asparagus, carrots, and radish for great results. To save even more calories, use low-cal shochu (tastes like vodka but has fewer calories) instead of vodka, or simply skip the alcohol and make it a virgin. By skipping the liquor you can really feel great by getting all the benefits from the veggies, especially the lycopene from all that tomato, when the rest of the group will feel sluggish after a couple of hours! Win!

Ingredients

(Optional: 2 oz. of Organic Shochu)Fresh juice made from blended baby carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus, radish (you name it!)Dash of Tabasco sauceDash of organic ground black pepperDash of organic sea salt

Directions

Pour a scoop full of ice into a metal shaker(Add 1 oz of the shochu)Add in the dash of black pepper and organic sea saltFill the shaker with the blended vegetable and fruit juiceShake for a few seconds, or enough until the mixture is well blendedPour into a high ball or pint glass.Garnish with a celery stick.[Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

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Healthy Summer Reads

By Callie McBride

Whether a new book sits on your bedside table each week, or summer is the one time of the year when you’ve even got extra time to read, a great genre of books that both entertains and educates is “health and wellness”. You can find light reads and much more in-depth books alike, that inform you of important health topics and also stir up inspiration for your own personal lifestyle. Soaking in a bubble bath or lounging on the beach are two prime spots to sink into a book and escape the world for a little while.

Here are my top healthy reads for this summer:

1. Vegan Before 6, by Mark Bittman

vb6Mark Bittman offers an interesting and completely doable concept to his readers by taking the pressure off of becoming a full-fledged vegan, and instead eating a diet free of any animal products until 6pm each day. This means that no foods are “forbidden” and no sense of deprivation is felt throughout the plan. Filled with recipes, helpful tips, and a 28-day eating plan that shows why a vegan diet is the way to go most of the time, this easy read could have even the meatiest of eaters have a change of heart.

2. Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr

The strong, beautiful, and hilarious Kris Carr brings her spunky energy and full-of-life attitude to her fourth book which walks readers through a 21-day cleanse as well as all the needed information to adopt a plant-based diet. Her writing is smart, witty, and filled with life experiences that add that personal touch necessary for readers to relate to. She covers all of the bases, including skin, hair and nails; body; spiritual energy; mental health; physical strength and energy; and happiness, all of which she promises will improve and skyrocket when switching to veganism. Especially touching is her recounting of her battle with cancer, and how incredibly brave she was to successfully turn to food as her ultimate source of medicine.

3. Yoga Cures, by Tara Stiles

This quick and fun read by Tara Stiles reveals in tiny chapters every single awesome benefit that yoga offers. From joint pain relief to weight loss to less anxiety and better sex, Stiles’ voice is relaxed and to the point in her book, which also demonstrates tons of yogi moves and includes tips and tricks to perfecting one’s flow.

4. Unbearable Lightness, by Portia De Rossi

This intense but beautifully crafted novel by actress and vegan Portia de Rossi delves into the dark world of eating disorders, as well as the touching journey to recovery. de Rossi grew up modeling and acting in Australia and, once thrown onto television in America, lost sight of what was important in surrender to her highly disordered thoughts. Her story is closely detailed and so personal that readers feel as if they experience everything alongside her. A heartwarming ending places this book on my favorites list, as it is a huge reminder of how precious life is.

5. The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone

It’s all in the title: “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet”. Actress and resident vegan Alicia Silverstone approaches veganism in an extremely approachable and easy way in her book, which features tons of recipes that I can personally say are life-changing (I’m referring to the vegan seven-layer dip and the homemade peanut butter cups). Without going too much into detail about nutrition and health benefits, Silverstone’s cookbook serves as a reminder of all the other amazing things that going vegan can do: literally save the planet! Her aim is to cause the most cautious of readers to consider the lifestyle, and her method seems to work. Her online forum is extremely popular, as is her incredible food.

20100121-tows-the-kind-diet-300x205

6. YOU: The Owner’s Manual, by Dr. Mehmet Oz

For a more scientific, biology-lesson type read, pick up this heavy-duty manual by Dr. Oz. It’s got an interactive element to it with mini quizzes at the beginning of each chapter to test you knowledge on health and the body, before delving into the nitty-gritty of the body’s entire makeup. Don’t fear, this isn’t a bore. It’s chock full of information that can help turn your  entire household into a much more health-conscious one. Dr. Oz places all of the focus on YOU in this book, so with each page you will learn more ways to improve your lifestyle and maintain the best health state you possibly can.

Pick up one of these books today for your next day at the beach, and soon enough they’ll be dog-eared and torn from love. If you’ve already gone through them, enter the titles into Amazon and click  “similar to” for more healthy reads that won’t dull your mind this summer. Happy reading!

 

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Help Bring Organic Chocolate to the Masses! Today!

The SweetRiot Team in NYC!

We here at The Organic Beauty love ourselves some delicious, organic chocolate.  We may not indulge super often, but when we do, you can bet that SweetRiot’s delicious bars top our list (remember our review of the awesome company from this summer?).  Their yummy, innovative, healthy dark chocolate treats are creating a movement to make a difference in the lives of farmers, artists, and in the fair trade, organic, healthy eating culture, and they need our help!  SweetRiot is developing a 100 calorie product line and they’re looking to raise $50,000 through their IndieGoGo campaign, dishing out amazing goodies like yummy gifts (like a year’s supply of chocolate!), a trip to NYC, a trip to the cacao farm, and more!SweetRiot supports Fair Trade and sourcing exclusively with their Latin American amigos, which directly supports a better life for farming families through fair prices and direct trade… This is something we can definitely get behind.There are 14 hours left to help out, and less than $8000 left to go!  So come riot and help artists, fair trade farmers, and the expansion of healthy, organic, sweet treats become an irresistible, insatiable reality. You’ll reap an abundance of delectable rewards: igg.me/at/sweetriot  

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Surviving Wanderlust: Tips for the Best Yogi Vacay Ever

By: Nkechi Njaka

As I leave for the mountains, I’m excited to remind myself of the experience I had last year and what this year might be like. For those of you unfamiliar, Wanderlust Festival is a 4 day yoga experience in the mountains and I am going to attend the one in Squaw Valley, Tahoe. Some of the best yoga instructors in the world come from all over to teach. Additionally, there is a huge meditation and wellness component where thought leaders are invited to speak and teach as well.  Last year was my first time attending and I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I know that a few tips would have benefitted me so here is what I wish I knew:

image1. Be flexible.  Not just on the mat but with your schedule. There are so many classes and so many beautiful people to see and meet. Maybe you can’t get to everything (on time), but be grateful for what you do get to and what experience you have there.image

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2. Its OK to do things solo. Why stress over whether or not your friends and you want to attend the same meditation talk or Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga class? What is important is that you make the most of what you came to the mountain to experience. Your practice is yours.

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3. Be in nature. Maybe hikes aren’t your thing, but you are on a mountain. Enjoy it. Even if it’s a walk (or realistically, an adventure ride on the Gondala) to the pool. Seriously. I will be there, breathing deep elevation air, doing stretchy stretches.

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4. Take time to reflect. Ok, so maybe you wouldn’t do this at Coachella, but it’s totally appropriate to do it here. Don’t believe me? I am positive that you will feel inspired at some point during the festival. I plan to carry a journal and make time in my day to write. Here’s a photo after one of my favorite yoga classes last year where we were asked to write down how we are going to bring yoga Off the Mat and into the World.

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5. Share. Chat with new friends, friends you traveled with or with complete strangers about your experience. The word yoga literally means yolk– unite. So if the opportunity arrives, why not hold hands in the middle of the road wearing stretchy Inyo pants?

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6. Sleep and Hydrate. It’s pretty simple. And this can simultaneously be done with finding a pool somewhere.

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7.  Make it impossible to say no. You never know where you will end up or what you might experience if you are open to it. Talk to anyone and everyone and SAY YES, especially if you feel a connection to someone. Instead of expecting/hoping to run into them again (there are seriously 20,000 other people on the mountain), get their contact details. Connect!

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8. Get in the front and practice next to someone new. Try it! Could be fun. It’s not high school.  No assigned seats and the ‘back of the class room’ is not necessarily the coolest place to be.

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9. Self care. This is huge, yogis! 3+ classes a day is a bit aggressive, especially in the heat and in the elevation. Just remember that when you are attempting scorpion pose after practicing for 8 hours. Find time to chill. Self care also includes, but is certainly not limited to eating well, protecting yourself from the sun and listening to your body.

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10. Document. Instagram, Tweet, blog, pin, re-pin, re-tweet.  Do people really need to know how much fun you are having? At ALL times, obviously. Hashtag some cool vendors while you are at it. It’s a special weekend WORTH remembering.

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6 Steps to Nailing Healthy Travel

Organic-Beauty-6-Steps-to-Healthy-Travel

The last few months have been a non-stop whirlwind of travel.  When you’re on the road more than you’re not, it can be really destabilizing to your healthy routine.  But with a bit of planning ahead, you can make your trips super healthy, while not sacrificing the fun!

Here are my 6 steps to turning your travel into your healthiest experiences!

1. Change your mentality.

Thinking about your travel as a way to escape healthy eating, exercise, and good habits can really come back to bit you in the ass, especially if you find yourself traveling often.  Instead, shift your mentality!  Travel isn’t a carte blanche to let loose and undo all the good you’ve done, but instead, it’s a way to treat yourself amazingly, increase your self-care, and go above and beyond your typical routine!  Imagine coming back from every trip feeling rested, slim, energized and gorgeous!  Quite the contrast from the usual deplaning a hungover, tired, dark circle-eyed, bloated mess, right?  This one shift can make a world of difference.

I found that once I shifted my mentality around how I wanted to travel, I was able to enjoy my trips so much more!  I started thinking of travel as a great way to practice living exactly the life I want to live, without the distractions of work and everyday obligations.  Since daily movement, tons of luxurious self-care and plenty of down time are all big parts of the life I’m creating for myself, I use travel as an opportunity to really put it into practice.  I love doing yoga in my hotel room or at a great local studio, I always schedule in a spa treatment to luxe things up, I slow down, relax, and read, and I naturally wake up super early, feeling awesome, while traveling, which leaves me so much time to enjoy my stay!

2. Plan ahead.

Snacks for Healthy Travel

From the moment you leave the house, you set the tone for your whole trip, so make sure you plan ahead!  Eat a healthy meal before your flight, pack healthy essentials like your gym shoes or yoga mat, bring healthy snacks like nuts and kale chips for your flight so you’re not stuck with the in-flight options, research the healthy restaurants, spa treatments, yoga studios or outdoor activities you can partake in during your stay.  Set the intention for what kind of trip you want to have, and plan ahead to make it happen.

I always eat before leaving the house, and make sure to grab a huge bottle of water, a healthy lunch to carry on the plane, and some nuts if I have a longer flight (see my fave healthy plane snacks at right).  This way, I never arrive at my destination starving and primed to make poor food choices.  Instead, I feel energized and am ready to start the fun!

3. Focus on lunch.

Eating Healthy While Traveling

You certainly don’t have to deprive yourself of sampling the culinary delights that your destination has to offer, but eating huge, decadent dinners every night is going to have you coming home 5 pounds heavier and feeling like crap about yourself.  Instead, make lunch the biggest meal of your day while traveling (and ALL the time!), which gives you a little more leeway to try some yummy delicacies, while still having plenty of time to burn them off before bed.  Then, stick to lighter, more veggie-forward foods at dinnertime, when your digestion is slower and your body is winding down.

We always eat in a lunch-focused way, but particularly enjoy it when we’re traveling! Not only are prices lower at lunch, so you can indulge in yummy things like lobster or multi-course meals, but it also fuels the rest of our active day, and leaves us totally not hungry at dinnertime.  Since we like to go to bed early while traveling, this means our evenings can be jam packed with fun activities, without feeling weighed down and sluggish with a heavy meal, or unable to sleep because we’re still digesting.  Here’s a big yummy lunch we had while traveling in Minneapolis!

4. Be more selective.

You don’t have to order every famous dessert on the menu or drink two glasses of wine with every meal just because you’re on vacation.  Be a little more selective with which indulgences you choose to go for.  Have dessert with one meal (preferably lunch), but not all three.  Enjoy a glass of wine, but don’t go crazy.  And don’t forget about quality!  Honor yourself enough to only put the highest quality foods into your body.  Don’t blow your load on crappy food that you’ll regret later.

When Jonathan and I were in Key West, we obviously wanted to try all the yummy key lime pies the area is famous for. But we didn’t order them just anywhere!  We got our pie on at the yummiest, best restaurants, where we knew they were using quality ingredients.  And believe me, those slices were off the hook!

5. Stay active.

Staying Active While Traveling

Staying active while traveling helps you feel energized, healthy, and happy no matter where you are. Check out your hotel’s fitness facilities or class offerings in advance and bring whatever you need to partake in them.  Rent bikes and see your destination from a different vantage point.  If you’re visiting friends or family, have them take you to their favorite class.  Or simply do a quick 15 minute morning workout in your hotel room! Check out my playlist of workouts on Youtube!

Finding cool yoga classes to try when I travel is a new favorite activity of mine.  It’s so fun to get a feel for the community and experience a location as a (healthy) local.  We also love renting bikes when we travel.  It’s such a great way to explore a new city!

6. Indulge in self-care.

You deserve a reward for all your hard work and efforts in staying healthy! Schedule in a spa day, a massage, a mani-pedi, or at the very least, plenty of relaxing down time whenever you travel, be it for work or fun.  Taking time for you is more rewarding and the effects are more long-lasting than any pizza binge, and you’ll feel like a million bucks after.

This step is what really changed my travel from “time to let loose” to “time to really treat myself.”  When your trips become all about feeling really, super GOOD, the entire tenor of the experience shifts.  It becomes more about “how can I best serve myself during this stay?”

Healthy travel isn’t about depriving yourself of fun or being boring, it’s about turning your trips into occasions to be living your ideal life!

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