Vegan ‘Merica Day: Featuring the Music of Caleb Cox-Johnson

It’s 4th of July weekend and we are celebrating with local music and homemade vegan treats!  In honor of the holiday we are featuring music and an interview with Kansas City based musician, Caleb Cox-Johnson with Merica Records.

FullSizeRender (1)Caleb Cox-Johnson has studied many different styles of music including jazz, funk, and has a background in classical.  What rings true however, is a not-so-traditional incorporation of folk music.  With influences from old and new artists, this singer/songwriter brings forth a kind of soul that is not found in modern folk music.

To pair with Caleb’s unique folk-style music we created some tasty 4th of July recipes including strawberry and blueberry mini fruit pies and a frozen watermelon limeade cooler that lives up to it’s name – this frozen beverage is family friendly and perfect for your holiday weekend of fun in the sun!

Click here to listen to the music of Caleb Cox-Johnson and to watch these recipes being made.

Watermelon Limeade Cooler

Ingredients:

1/2 Watermelon

2 cups Limeade (we used Santa Cruz Organic Limeade)

Directions:

Slice watermelon into square pieces, about 1-2 inches.  Place watermelon pieces in a container and place in freezer for 3 hours.  Once frozen, remove watermelon from freezer and place in blender.  Add 2 cups of limeade and blend thoroughly.  Once blended pour into glass, garnish with lime wedge, and enjoy!  Makes 2-4 servings.

Mini Fruit Pie

Ingredients:

1 cup Chopped strawberries

1 cup Blueberries

1/4 cup Sugar

1 tbsp Cornstarch

1 tbsp Lemon juice

Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 Pie Crust Mix (we used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free)

Directions:

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees

If using a pie crust mix, follow directions on package and then place dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.  We used Earth Balance Buttery Spread in place of butter and shortening to make the crust.

In a saucepan add blueberries, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.  Let ingredients heat thoroughly and simmer for about 10 minutes.  The sugar will melt and create a liquid coating with the berries.

Roll out pie crust dough on a flat surface.  You may need to use flour on your rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking.  Once you have the dough rolled out you can choose a fun shaped cooked cutter or you can cut the dough into squares.  Be sure to cut two shapes for each pie.  Once your dough is in the shape you want place 2 tbsp of berries in the middle of the first piece of dough.  Place the second piece of dough on top and use a fork to press the edges of the dough in order to seal your mini pie.  Place mini pies on a baking sheet.  Brush about 1-2 tbsp melted Earth Balance Buttery Spread with a pastry brush on top of the mini pie and then sprinkle with sugar.  Place baking sheet in oven for 15-20 minutes. Yum! Makes 4-6 pies.

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Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

As always, thank you for reading.

-Candice

 

 

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Habit: Morning Routine

I have had a morning routine for several years now and it is probably one of the best life decisions I have ever made. I like to stay up late…at least I used to, but now I like waking up early so much that I try to avoid staying up too late. The benefits of having habits you do every morning are numerous, but here are a few.

One: You get alone time no matter what happens the rest of your day.

Moms never get privacy or alone time once everyone is awake. When I was working full time and in school full time, I would have really suffered without this morning routine. I am a firm believer that EVERYONE needs alone time and not just introverts.

Two: You are more productive.

As a new mom I didn’t think it would be possible to accomplish all I can accomplish before 7:00am. Many mornings when I finish my routine, I have time to do laundry and write blog posts, film or edit videos. When my son wakes up, it feels really good to have already addressed some things on my to do list, as well as have invested in my self care. Of course there are other mornings, especially at first when sleep was more important, but even if it took me until noon, I kept these habits up.

Three: You have time for self-care.

Busy people like new moms or full time students really have a hard time investing in self-care. I know I always put this low on my list, but I made it a goal to incorporate self-care into my morning routine. Self-care is not to be taken lightly. Audre Lorde, says that “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” What does she mean? Is massaging my shoulders or taking a bath really that serious? Well it is. Women are more stressed than men  and are often the caretakers of others, even grown men…I dare say. It is crucial to find time to care for yourself and for me the best way has been mornings. Women are usually supposed to put everyone else first, even in the most well intentioned relationships.

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So…what do I do in the mornings? This has changed throughout the years, but I have a few standards.

One: Meditation or quiet time.

This is one that I wrote about last week and again I will say it changes day to day sometimes. Today I did a traditional meditation for 10 minutes. Sometimes I journal, make art , do oracle cards or read a spiritually focused book. I really like to use this time to focus and to reflect. One thing I am trying to do is to visualize success, rather than always asking myself for direction. I think all people need time for quiet and everyday. I think it is possible for everyone to get even 5 minutes of this. I like to light a candle or two and if I am feeling really not like doing this quiet time, I put on some music and sometimes I make tea.

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Two: Brush teeth and take care of face.

I start with doing a tongue scrap, then I brush my teeth. I love the feeling of clean teeth. What happens to our mouths overnight anyway?!  I also do a compress on my face with essential oils and warm water. Lately I have been using a lavender and tangerine essential oils. Then I moisturize my face with a blend of hemp, rose and lavender oil that I made. Lastly, I massage my shoulders and wrists especially with that oil blend or coconut oil. It is kind of indulgent, but super simple at the same time.

Three: Movement.

I wake up every morning and do some movement. Usually this is my favorite activity of yoga and I do anything from one sun salutation, to five or if I am not going to a class later, a full 40 minutes. Before I had Sage, my yoga practice was 90 minutes, but that is nearly impossible now unless I leave the house. I usually wrap up my practice with savasana and breath work called pranayama.

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Three: Hydrate.

Mike, my partner and I are currently challenging ourselves to try to drink a gallon a day. I am winning, but even if I don’t get to a gallon, it is helping me hydrate more. It is important to hydrate yourself and I feel it if I don’t. Imagine you have gone 8 hours without water, so get that water and fast!

Four: Breakfast.

Usually Sage is awake by the time I get to this step. If Mike is home we eat breakfast together. Usually though I am eating on the floor with Sage as he plays. I don’t have a cooked breakfast much anymore because it just doesn’t work out to watch a baby and cook at the same time. I am beyond burnt out on smoothies so typically I eat a fruit bowl  with seeds or banana nice cream with berries and nuts. I wasn’t always good at eating breakfast, but it is an important part of my day now.

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Five: Work on most important task or write.

If Sage hasn’t woken up then I start writing unless I have something important due that day that I haven’t finished. I also like to do one load of laundry a day. We cloth diaper, so this is how we maintain that system. Anyway, I write best late at night or early in the morning. I really like to be all there with Sage, so I try not to work or exercise while he is awake. If I don’t get to work in the morning, it happens during nap time. I really like working in the early morning though because I can get more finished because I am so focused at that time of day.

Six: Play.

Even if you don’t have a baby we should make time to play as research is showing. Brene Brown says that it is more important than us type A personalities realize. Play is unstructured and a way for us to lose track of time doing something we enjoy. I love reading and learning so as nerdy as it sounds that really is play for me, but now that I have a baby I have gotten a lot goofier and fun during my play time. I am a lucky mom because I have a laid back, happy baby and he is teaching me to be goofy. I also try to remember to play with my fur children who are also very goofy.

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Seven: Walk.

We like to go to the park on mornings when we can together as a family. It really helps us stay connected to nature and to each other. I wish we lived in a forest or near mountains, but since we don’t our connection to nature has to be intentional on our part. When it’s just me, our dog (Ceci) and Sage we still take a walk, it’s just not as pretty. Sage really loves walks and of course Ceci does.

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These are the things I do in the morning. It seems like a lot, but the first three are usually finished in less than an hour and the rest happen on good days, which is now thankfully most days. I slip into being a night owl once in a while and I always regret it. Staying up late is not as magical as waking up early to me. Hopefully this helped you out and maybe you can start doing one of these things if you don’t already. We would love to hear from you!

Find the corresponding video here.

-Rosemary Barria

 

 

 

 

 

Habit: Demystifying Meditation

-Rosemary Barria

Meditation is often seen as one crossing their legs in lotus on a special pillow, at a special time of day and in special clothing, but meditation can be so many things. Candice defined it beautifully when we were working this weekend “Anything that can get you from thinking of the past or the future and can let you be in the now is meditation.” Some people think it best to empty your mind, some find it useful to visualize and to focus on one thing, some chant, some sing, some do any of the many variations of movement, such as yoga, tai chi or even running. Some people meditate while finding flow in their work. My friend Alison, an artist , made a piece that I thought was a beautiful visual of meditation where she knit in a performance. She called it active prayer.

I used to be strict about knowing the “best” way to meditate. I wonder now if that search for doing things just right kept me from actually meditating some days. A phrase came to me a few months ago “The practice should work for you, you should not work for the practice”  Now I think if  I wake at 5 am going directly to my mat sitting crossed legged because I am supposed to than this would defeat the purpose, so instead when I open my eyes, often times now while nursing my son I check in with myself and see what the best use of time that morning will be. I always meditate though. By this I mean that I always spend time in quiet.  Do I journal, do a guided meditation, just breathing exercises, do I chant, do I make something, do I jump right into yoga or walking, do I work with oracle cards? It depends on the day. More often than not it looks the same for a few weeks until I decide and feel that I need something else or Sage (my 6 month old) starts teething and I have to meditate with him. We did a lot of meditation together at first and laying down. I call it meditation because I wasn’t asleep.

Regardless of how you meditate,  I believe committing to some time during the day for quiet is so important. For me waking early is the best and sometimes at night too. Check in with yourself, experiment, but whatever you do make time for quiet away from your phone, away from anyone else, away from anything that isn’t giving you peace for the day. Commit to a time and make it non-negotiable. If you have to hide in your bathroom then do it! To me meditation is a way I heal myself so that I can heal others. By the way, healing is not this special thing only certain people can do. We are all healers and I believe that healing happens daily. Just as our skin regenerates, so does our soul or whatever you want to call that magic you have. You may not notice the affects of meditation right away, but you will definitely notice if you have been away from it. I know I do and I know my partner does! So find your practice, play around with it and quit being all serious with what you do, but be serious that about the commitment to do it. You deserve it! If you aren’t spiritual than do it for your brain.

We are doing an Instagram challenge. How do you find quiet? Find us on Instagram @radiantlifeproject and share a photo, tag us and we will send someone a gift basket to help you with meditation! Contest goes from today (Friday) June 10th to Monday June 13th. Winner will be announced Tuesday  June 14th!

Is a Plant Based Diet Too Difficult?

A plant based diet?  I know what you are thinking; you are going to be living off of carrot sticks, celery, and lettuce.  You will never feel satisfied after a meal.  You need meat and dairy for essential nutrients, such as protein and calcium in order to maintain optimal health.  But this could not be further from the truth!

A plant based diet can be as strict or as lenient as you choose it to be.  Adding just a serving of spinach or 1 apple to your diet per day has been shown to decrease your risk for certain diseases!  However, the more plants you incorporate into your daily meals and the less meat and dairy you consume will have the best outcome for your health and prevent chronic disease.

Think switching to a plant based diet is too difficult?  In all honesty it does not have to be, but it can seem difficult depending on your current lifestyle.  If you think about it, you have probably been eating a Standard American Diet for most of your life.  You were probably told that milk builds strong bones and you need meat for protein, and other nutrition misinformation.  If you are now asked to cut out the very foods your diet has been centered on this can leave you feeling frustrated and wondering what you are supposed to eat.  Good thing there are plenty of easy recipes that can help you make a transition and start a healthier lifestyle today!

If you are curious about transitioning to a plant based diet, or you are ready to add some plant based meals into your current diet then the following are some very simple recipes that I eat most days.  It does not have to be difficult.  It can be as simple as trading your bacon and eggs for some hearty oatmeal or opting out of chicken or steak fajitas and instead piling on the veggies!

I start every morning off with a fruit smoothie so I will begin my day with about 1 ½ servings of fruit to boost my energy.  Did you know that berries have the highest amount of antioxidants compared to most any other food?  And may help to prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease?  Bring on the berries!  I also add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to my smoothie because it is extremely good for you.  Flaxseed has been shown to not only protect against high blood pressure but also to prevent and treat breast cancer.

Berry & Banana Smoothie

1 banana

½ cup of mixed berries

1 handful of spinach or kale

1-2 tbsp. of ground flax seed

Add Water or your choice of dairy free milk (cashew milk, almond milk, or soy milk)

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I usually get hungry for something a little heartier in the mid-morning.  I keep oatmeal with me at work and at home so I always have access to a healthy and satisfying breakfast.  Oatmeal is good for you because it provides your body much needed fiber as well as help to prevent heart disease.

Hearty Bowl of Oats

½ cup dry oatmeal

Add hot water

Dash of cinnamon (if desired)

2 tsp of chia seeds

1 handful of fruit and nut trail mix, or any nut such as almonds or walnuts

Top with unsweetened shredded coconut (if desired)

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If I am hungry before lunch I will reach for a handful of nuts and seeds.  I like almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Not only are nuts and seeds an inexpensive source of protein they are a good source of healthy fats.  They have also been shown to protect the body against cancer growth and lower the risk of heart disease.

Lunch time is when I try to get my large serving of greens for the day.  Most days my lunch will consist of a bed of greens with choice of beans, choice of grain, and topped with whatever veggies I have leftover in the fridge.  Did you know that spinach is high in antioxidants and protects against several different types of cancer?   It is also a good source for protein, and can reduce the risk for anxiety and depression.  Beans are also an excellent source of protein.  I usually add chickpeas to my every day salad.  Chickpeas specifically have been shown to lower cholesterol and to prevent and treat diabetes.

Greens, Beans, and Grains Salad

2 cups of dark green leafy vegetable of choice

Add veggies of choice (carrots, broccoli, tomato, cucumber, zucchini etc)

½ cup of grain of choice (brown rice, quinoa etc)

½ bean of choice (chickpeas, black beans etc)

Choose a salad dressing without oil.  I usually make my own dressing by mixing horseradish mustard with white wine vinegar and a little agave nectar to sweeten and then mix to the right consistency.

I will usually get hungry again in the late afternoon before dinner.  I always take a piece of whole fruit with me to work, or else I will bring a bowl of fresh berries to snack on.  One of my favorite and most convenient snacks to keep with me during the day is an apple.  Apples have so many health benefits including lowering your risk for heart disease as well as providing your body with much needed fiber.  Apples have also been shown to increase energy and improve your mood, which is why I try to eat one when I am starting to feel a little sluggish on a mid-afternoon workday.

Dinner time is when I like to experiment with new recipes if I have time.  I have about 5 go-to recipes that I make if I am short on time and veggie fajitas is one of them.  I like to use bell peppers, onion, mushroom, and zucchini, but you can use any type of vegetable that you wish. Pile on the fresh salsa and add fresh avocado slices or guacamole to make it even yummier!

The benefits of including a variety of vegetables in your daily diet are endless. But it has been shown that eating a large variety of vegetables daily lowers your risk for Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is currently on the rise due to the Standard American Diet.

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Veggie Fajitas with Fresh Salsa and Avocado

1 zucchini chopped

2 bell peppers chopped

½ white or yellow onions chopped

5 white or baby bella mushrooms sliced

Whole grain tortillas (Stacey’s Organic Tortillas are Vegan)

Chili powder

Cumin

Garlic Powder

Vegetable broth

Lightly sauté mushrooms and zucchini in a pan with vegetable broth. (Just enough so the veggies don’t stick)  Add garlic powder and pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

In separate pan lightly sauté peppers and onions with vegetable broth (Just enough so the veggies don’t stick) Add cumin, chili powder, and pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

When veggies are tender to your liking take off heat and add them to a whole grain or corn tortilla.  Top with fresh salsa and avocado if desired.

You can also make a side dish seasoned of black beans and brown rice if desired.

As you can see a plant based lifestyle does not have to be difficult or leave you feeling unsatisfied.  These recipes are not only easy but they all took me under 30 minutes to make and left me feeling full.   Adding more servings of fruits and vegetables to your current diet will not only make you feel more energized, it has countless advantages for your health!  I hope I was able to introduce you to some new ideas for replacing even 1 of your current daily meals.

Thank you for reading and stay posted for more tips on living a whole health lifestyle!

-Candice

To see me making all of these recipes click HERE

10 Tips for New Moms

-Rosemary Barria

Having a baby does really strange things to your body, but it also gives you bragging rights for life. I am a very active person, so the changes that happened were shocking. I’m not talking just about my weight either or even the shape of my body, but the loss in strength. I had my son about six months ago and am just now feeling like myself. I know it is a giant pill to swallow when you are not the same shape, you may be weaker and you are still wearing maternity clothes months later. I am finally putting maternity leggings in the donation pile. We are all struggling as new moms to adjust.  I have some tips for you on how to get exercise, but I will first say BE PATIENT! Again you just gave birth to a baby…don’t let anyone forget that!  Here are ten tips that I have helped me:

One: Always Be Ready for Exercise.

 

Before I had a baby, my mornings were like three hours long. I woke up at 5:00am, had coffee, journal, read, listened to the news, then did like an hour to an hour and a half of yoga just about everyday. I then slowly got ready for work or school. I thought I was SO busy then…HA! Anyway, now my mornings are the mercy of a baby, so they look a bit different. I have to admit, there have been a few times that I have gone to my evening job without brushing my teeth…I think. If you want to exercise during the day, you are likely not going to know when that will happen, especially at first. One thing that helps me is that I put on workout clothes as soon as I wake up. This serves two purposes. First, I am not in pajamas or half naked for most of the day so it is psychologically super healthy to “get dressed”. Secondly, you won’t waste precious minutes trying to find an outfit that fits or have to dig through unfolded baskets of laundry (I used to put my clothes away immediately…I swear). Have that outfit ready to go and you can exercise as soon as the baby allows you to. Another trick I had to learn and this is pretty gross is to wear black workout clothes, so in case my relief…my partner got home from work late, I could throw a dress on over my workout clothes and run out the door to get to work.

Two: Start off with as little as 5 minutes.

 

My goal for exercise used to be an hour at first. Another big HA! Now I start off with Sun Salutations and do a little flow if time allows. Then I practice some other yoga skills. Once in a while the baby will nap long enough for me to do other exercise too, but at least if I do 5 minutes of yoga I get something. If I happen to put on a longer exercise video to try and I don’t get to it, I really don’t care anymore. Even five minutes transforms me from being a tired, cranky person, to a tired and not so cranky person. Don’t get caught up in the perfect workout because often times, more often than not, you won’t get it all into your day. Do sun salutations, do burpees, do a dance…just get moving even for just 5 minutes.

Three: Start with Walking

Before I had my son I was on bed rest for 10 days because my water broke at 27 weeks. Bed rest made my muscles so weak. As an example of how week, a few weeks after I gave birth to my son, I was trying to run across the street and my legs would not let me. They were like lead. Also since he was born at 28 weeks and we were in the hospital for 40 days, I wasn’t really in exercise mode. To keep my sanity though, I walked. I needed to rehabilitate my muscles somehow and bring peace to my mind since yoga wasn’t available to me. I don’t know what your story is, but be gentle with yourself. Know where you are and listen to your body!

Four: Workout with your baby.

 

If I really feel like I need to workout and the little baby isn’t napping, I put him in his carrier and exercise with him. He actually giggles now with it, but he used to fall right asleep. Of course, you can’t do aggressive jumping, but it can be a good strength workout. I find doing lunges, squats  and a weird version of a deadlift are great baby wearing exercises. My baby weighs 14 pounds now, so when I wear him and do just those three exercises, I am sore!

Five: Use YouTube or Apps.

 

This may seem super obvious, but at first most of us can’t go to a gym or yoga studio so youtube and apps like Popsugar’s Active app are super helpful. Fitness Blender has so many free videos on YouTube. I did a kickboxing one today and I got to do 30 full minutes of a fun and challenging workout! It is surprising how many free workouts we all have access to.

Six: Get a sitter.

 

Though my baby is 6 months old, I was just ready last month to leave the house for other reasons besides my part time job. I asked a grandma to watch baby for 2 hours on Saturday mornings, so that I could go to yoga. She, of course, was happy to so. A lot of gyms have child care, which would be a great option for many of you. For us, since our son is a preemie he cannot go to daycares yet. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to step up and help you. I was secretly resenting my partner for having all this freetime, when all I had to do was ask! He will now be taking over so I can go to yoga for on hour twice a week. Many times it is just default that the mother be the primary caretaker and this is a deeply ingrained in even the kindest soul like my partner, so take a stand moms and get out of the house once in a while!

Seven: Sleep is ALWAYS more important.

 

This is something I have struggled with my whole life, but it is truly a goal of mine to nap at least once a day with my baby. I am not a napper and have always prided myself on how little sleep I can live off of. Can and should are two different things though. One really shouldn’t live off of 4 hours of sleep! What does this have to do with exercise? If you want your exercise to count for something and if you want to truly feel better and stronger, you must sleep. Did you know that not sleeping can cause weight gain?!

Eight: Don’t weigh yourself obsessively, maybe not at all.

 

I started weighing myself early on after I had my baby. Why amidst all we were going through did I think that was important? I think it goes back to some control issues because like nothing was in my control. This is not a story about my disordered eating though. I stopped weighing myself everyday and the last time I weighed myself was probably two weeks ago. I noticed a significant drop in weight. I also stopped counting calories…hopefully forever and began the practice of intuitive eating. I really believe when you put your body in a place of scarcity and worry, it wants to hold onto weight. I don’t know about you, but when I weigh myself it is never a great feeling. Even when I was at my leanest, it still wasn’t the best feeling. You are not a number on the scale, plus that is a really silly way to see how you are doing health wise.

Nine: Eat enough and eat intuitively.

Like I said, I stopped counting calories hopefully for good and instead eat intuitively. It is a mindfulness practice for sure. I try to eat only when I am hungry and for sure eat when I’m hungry, not waiting to eat ever 4 hours or whatever. At first, I was hungry in the middle of night because I was feeding him in the middle of the night. Breastfeeding is hard work and if you are exercising on top of that, you need plenty of food. Again, I will mention since I quit counting calories and just started eating as many healthy foods as I need, I have started to lean out. My body is trying to find it’s true self and feels safe that it won’t starve.

 

Ten: LOVE YOURSELF.

This is by far the most important tip. Loving yourself is EVERYTHING. I know that sounds cheesy and like you should be happy and in denial all the time, but no it’s not about that. Working toward a goal and not being exactly happy about where you are strength wise or shape wise is fine, but it is what you say to yourself. Your words can poison you or heal you. Take this for example: ” I am so weak” vs. “I am working on getting stronger” Saying you are something leaves little room for improvement. You just are. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have been working on this my whole life. Some tools I use sound silly, but they really work. I wrote down all the negative thoughts I had and replaced them with active, positive ones. I put them on mirrors where judgment usually takes place and memorized them to say when I had poisonous thoughts. I have noticed it transforming me. Every morning I do a compress with essential oils on my face. I then use them on my heart chakra and my solar plexus. Other things to try are saying your name while looking in the mirror. Say out loud that you love yourself. Write down things in your journal that you did that day that were awesome…your wins. Write down things about you that are great. “I have a great butt” ” I am a great mother” or my favorite “I am a powerful being.”

I hope this tip helps you mommies! Remember…I think this is the third time I am typing this…YOU GAVE BIRTH TO A HUMAN BEING! If you need anything to be your mantra…make it that, but I am sure on top of being a mother, you are so many other things. Exercise heals, it helps our brains work better, it gives us energy we as new moms especially need and it makes us stronger. Use exercise to heal and not to punish and I bet you will see results inside and out. Sending everyone who reads this so much love! Thank you for reading!

 

Here’s a video of this if you want to see me in action!