living intuitively


Posts tagged healthy lifestyle
The O T H E R
Styling and Images by Whitney Richardson Photography  Model Lily Cuoio

Styling and Images by Whitney Richardson Photography

Model Lily Cuoio

“I’m here to challenge you.”

As soon as my warrior queen friend Julie told me this, I acknowledged its brilliance and added it to my phone’s Notes. We’re all here to learn from each other. The people in our lives are there for a reason, I truly believe this. Every interaction, no matter how seemingly minor, has a purpose. We’re all here to learn from each other, inspire each other, empower each other, LOVE each other.

Everyone you meet has something to teach you. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. I’m willing to go out on a limb and posit you’re like me and haven’t mastered every single thing there is to master in the universe, and don’t know every thing there is to know. No matter how mature or advanced or enlightened or “woke” we are, there is ALWAYS something to learn. Maybe it’s a productivity hack. Maybe it’s a fitness pointer, or a financial tip, or a navigational shortcut. Maybe it’s a spiritual revelation. Maybe it’s even an example of what not to do.

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And technology has shrunk our world even more. More people from whom to learn and with whom to connect. So let’s all do each other a solid and keep (respectfully + lovingly) challenging each other.

And I challenge you to challenge yourself. Watch news from a different network, read a book outside your area of expertise/comfort, learn about a new religion, try something new - not to confirm pre-existing notions, but to question and expand your beliefs/outlook/assumptions/repertoire. Grow baby grow.

As Holocaust survivor/activist/author/professor Elie Wiesel advises, the more we are able to accept the many aspects of who we are, however contradictory those aspects are, the more easily we can accept others, with all their contradictions.

The extent to which we accept ourselves is the extent to which we accept others - ALL others, not just those aligned with our beliefs/lifestyle/etc.

So again, this requires:

  • Self awareness

  • Shadow work (face your demons, your repressed emotions, your fears, your S H A D O W S)

  • Self love

If you have issues with others, it’s a sure sign you have an issue with yourself. You’re projecting somehow. Our perceptions of others are reflections of ourselves. If we see a trait in others we don’t like, it’s because it’s triggering something within us, a shadow part of us. It’s triggering a fear/hurt/etc. It’s the ego at play, trying to protect us: protect our mental/physical/emotional health. Trying to preserve our dignity/sense of self. Our learned identity.

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It is the otherness of the other that fascinates me... What can I learn from him? What does he see that I do not, cannot?
— Elie Wiesel

We each have blind spots, just as every candle casts its own shadow. Only when you place a second candle next to the first do the shadows disappear, illuminated by the other’s light.

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A beautiful aspect of diversity is we EACH have our own way of perceiving the world, mixed with our unique set of background/chemical makeup/experience/etc. Even identical twins don’t share exactly the same outlook. We’re all like snowflakes, and we ALL have something distinctive and special to contribute.

That’s why:

  1. It doesn’t matter how saturated an industry is: We all have our individual eye/voice/view. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer amid 25,000 other photographers in your city. No one has your same eye, your same touch.

  2. It’s crucial you nurture and celebrate and promote your individuality! Your quirks and eccentricities. They’re what SET YOU APART and make you SPECIAL. They constitute your superpower!

The distance between us is necessary, not something to turn away from.
— Elie Wiesel

When encountering someone with differing beliefs, listen to them. Listen to find their strength, not their weakness. Listen to enhance your own understanding, to enrich your own perspective; not to find holes on which to pounce, or incompetencies on which to judge.

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And respect the distinctions among us. If we believe we’re all the same, we might be tempted to prescribe identical solutions to all. In other words, we might think others are feeling the same feelings we are, and require the same remedy we do. Sure, it’s important to recognize our commonalities and collectiveness, but let’s not forget to acknowledge and celebrate our differences!

We need each other precisely for our differences and our diverse experiences. Those differences can cause conflict, and that conflict can be destructive or constructive, depending on our approach and mindset. Sometimes conflict can be good, to challenge the status quo, or our way of thinking/believing. If we never had challengers, we’d never have innovation. We wouldn’t have scientific breakthroughs, or technological advances, or humanitarian improvements.

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Entertaining different opinions and outlooks fortifies our understanding and stimulates our thinking. Even if we end up keeping our perspective, it can strengthen our grasp of the matter at hand. Staying in our echo chamber, shunning opposition and diversity, only weakens us, in ever way.

So let’s do our part to open our hearts and our minds to the “other.”



B O D Y as B O S S
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What’s my goal weight? I don’t have one. I will not be defined by a number. My journey is about feeling strong, confident, and healthy.

I've had some people reach out lately mentioning they've noticed a change in my physique, and demanding to know my current regimen. First of all, thank you. I appreciate the good vibes.

Secondly, the honest answer is: living intuitively. Practicing what I preach. Letting my body call the shots. 

Fall in love with taking care of your body.

What I mean by that is, I listen to my body and act accordingly. I eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full. My appetite has always ebbed and flowed, so I've made a conscious effort to honor the fluctuations. Sometimes I want to eat everything in sight, sometimes I could go all day long with only one snack in my system.

When you ditch the diet mentality and allow yourself to eat what your body wants, and there are no “good foods” or “bad foods” it acts like reverse psychology: now that you can have it, you don’t really want it.
Same with exercise - let your body move how it feels like moving, not in the way that will burn the most calories. Don’t let the anticipated calorie burn dictate what workout you do.

When I do eat, I eat what my body craves: fruit and veggies. No, really. I really and truly have always loved fruits and veggies. That's just my palate, man. Some people naturally have a six pack. Some people can belt it like Beyonce. We all have our blessings, and mine is I naturally love to eat like a bunny. If your eyes are rolling into the back of your head right now, I get it. But trust me, there are ways to make nutritious food taste good to even the strongest veggie-averse taste buds. So who knows, maybe one day you'll drink the carrot juice (I'd say Kool-Aid but that's kind of the OPPOSITE of nutritious, ya feel?!). If you follow me on Instagram, I share some of my favorite concoctions and recipes. Give them a try!

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Focus on your health, not your weight.

And although I truly love the taste of fruits and veggies, I love more how they make me FEEL. That's a major motivator for me. And for the particularly open minded, I recommend following Medical Medium (@medicalmedium on Instagram). It's been a life changer for me. He's alllll 'bout dem fruits and veggies - especially fruit - and explains what various kinds do for your body. I strongly strongly suggest checking him out if you have any persistent illness/condition - everything from insomnia to rosacea to asthma to acne to aches to...ANYTHING. If you don't feel 100%, he will get you there. Though I have yet to follow his full detox protocol (basically pounding a smoothie every day with certain superfood ingredients) I do drink fresh celery juice every morning. I'll do a post on this later.

Eating well is a form of self respect.

I also let my body dictate what movement I get in. That means I've been working out less than EVER, and when I do - I check in with my body to see what I feel like doing. Some days I feel like working legs, so I'll hit those. Some days, I feel like I need a good cardio HIIT sesh. Others, I just want to focus on upper body. And many days - the most I get in is a simple walk. THAT'S IT. If i'm feeling exhausted, then I let my body recover. I'm now living in an alternate universe where my self-admitted workout-hating sister works out more often and consistently than I do. Whaaaaat?! Never saw that one coming!

Fitness has been a focus of mine for as long as I can remember. What that means is...I have to be careful about not stagnating - mentally or physically! What I've found that helps is I'll set an interval timer on my phone (I use the app Interval Timer) for about 25 mins and do various moves for a minute each. For fresh moves, I follow and bookmark workouts on Instagram from @alexia_clark, @sandyrxfit, @taralynemerson, etc. I try to share fitness inspo accounts every Friday on my Instgram stories, so if you're needing some inspiration, I got your back!

The most consistent workout I do is Pound, which I teach at Gold's Gym every Tuesday at 5:30 PM. If you've never done it, it's a full-body, drum-inspired cardio workout using weighted rip stix. It's a BLAST. When we're not squatting or lunging (which is 80% of the class), we're working abs/booty. It's ahhhhmaaaazing. We also take it up a notch by incorporating plyometrics (jump moves). It definitely helps keep me fit. Plus, there's just something about losing yourself in the beat and jamming out like a rock star. Come try it out!

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The last thing I want to say is...I truly accept my body at all sizes. It's been a journey getting to that place but once you's liberating and intoxicating and so so wonderful. I no longer see my body as something to conquer and manipulate and dominate. I see it as an ally. In my opinion...that, rather than any muscle definition or size, is the ultimate goal.



FAT is P H A T
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

For much of our lives, we were advised to avoid dietary fat if we wanted to stay svelte and healthy. It was drilled into us that fat makes you fat. Not PHAT (aka pretty hot and tempting, for those of you not up on early-2000 pop culture - who even are you), but f a t. The no bueno kind. Well guess freaking what?! That guidance is WRONG-O. 

Current studies show fat is actually ESSENTIAL to your health. Imagine that. In a powerful article by Dr. Dwight Lundell, a heart surgeon with 25 years' experience and over 5,000 open-heart surgeries under his belt, he admits he was wrong all those years. Here are some key takeaways from his article (which I will link below):

  • Inflammation is the real culprit
  • This has prompted a paradigm shift in the treatment of heart disease and other chronic ailments
  • Inflammation causes cholesterol to become trapped, causing heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended.
  • Inflammation is your body's natural defense to a foreign invader, such as bacteria, toxins, or viruses
  • If we chronically expose our bodies to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process (looking at you, McD's "chicken" nuggets), a condition occurs called chronic inflammation.
  • We have simply followed the recommended mainstream low-fat diet, unknowingly causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. Yikes! This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes (aka DIABEETUS), and obesity.
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  • The biggest culprits of chronic inflammation are, quite simply, the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour, and all products made from them) and the excessive consumption of omega-6 veggie oils like soybean, corn, and sunflower found in many processed foods
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  • (This is a gnarly analogy) Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes extremely red and nearly bleeding. Imagine you repeated this several times a day, every day for five years. If you could  even tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that worsened with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now. JIGGA WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • A diseased artery looks like someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall
  • SEVERAL TIMES A DAY, EVERY DAY, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into even MORE injuries, causing the body to RESPOND CONTINUOUSLY and appropriately WITH INFLAMMATION
  • In case you didn't get the point: "While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone" 
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Bananas, right?! Really makes you re-think what you put in your piehole, when you visualize the effects. Another argument for eating foods as close to their natural state as possible (future post on this).

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Back to the benefits of fat. Here are some solid reasons to embrace fat:

  1. Better body composition 
  2. More muscle
  3. Easier fat loss
  4. Improved reproductive health
  5. Better brain function and mood with less risk of depression
  6. Stronger bones and decreased risk of osteoporosis
  7. Reduced cancer risk (suck it, cancer)
  8. Better cholesterol ratio and reduced heart disease risk
  9. Stronger immune system
  10. Better SKIN and eye health (yassss! the better to see that glowing skin with, my dear)
  11. MORE ENERGY!!!!!!!!

So don't shy away from that fat, mis amigos! The closer a food is to its natural form, the better, so avoid anything that's been messed with, i.e. items labeled "low fat" or "low sugar." Real butter is much better than margarine (margarine is straight chemicals, yo), whole milk is preferable to skim, etc. And no more dry salads, puh lease!! Fun fact: Full-fat dressing actually ENHANCES nutrient absorption and bioavailability. So you're actually missing out if you pass on the fat. Good news, right?! Happy eating, PHATties!!!!

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W A L K it O U T
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Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

A few years ago, I read a health and fitness article which made a pretty bold claim: Walking is the best thing you can do for your body. It listed the following benefits you usually hear associated with walking: decreased blood pressure, increased circulation, improved blood pressure, decreased joint paint, elevated mood, etc. 

Sure, all good things. But really? Walking is the best thing you can do for your body? Exaggeration much? Turns It's actually pretty dang incredible for you.

Get this: Walking is the NUMBER ONE form of exercise for which our bodies are designed. Say whaaaat. Not squats. Not crunches. Not running. WALKING. Walking is the most natural movement for us. Not only does it generate the aforementioned benefits, but studies keep finding more and more. Here are some more:

  • Reduced body fat and body weight. (Turns out, it's truly effective at reducing belly fat. Hollaaaa!)
  • Improved glycemic control, especially if you walk 30 minutes after eating
  • Boosted memory and creativity - musts for me!
  • In conjunction with the previous benefit, it sparks ideas and solutions. (My best ideas/solutions usually come when I'm out walking my dogs.) 
  • Increased lymphatic flow, which helps flush toxins from the body. (YES PLEASE!)
  • Reduced pain (It's low impact and can even help offset joint pain and arthritis by keeping those muscles warm and limber)
  • Improved sleep (particularly if you walk outside during the day, which helps regulate your circadian rhythms)

And if you really step to it and get moving, it can be an even BETTER workout than jogging! Once you near that threshold, it's actually easier to break into a jog than it is to maintain that brisk walking pace. 

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Some tips on amping up your walk:

  • Incorporate weights: ankle weights, wrist weights, weighted vest, light dumbbells, or a baby :)
  • Add in intervals: play around with varying inclines/speeds. Note: If you jack up the incline while on a treadmill, keep it hands free! If you cling to the sides of the treadmill, you're technically cheating.
  • Take a hike! A hike is a fantastic way to squeeze in some extra booty work

Working out places stress on your body. This is a good thing, because your body's reaction to the stress is what makes it stronger and faster. However, if you're in a hyper-stressed state to begin with (mentally/physically), then this can do more harm than good. Especially if you OD on the the workout/don't let your body recover. Walking is an excellent movement option if you are:

  • Wanting active recovery (especially if your muscles are sore!)
  • Easing into exercise and don't want to jump into anything too strenuous
  • Recovering from adrenal fatigue and need to mellow out for a bit while not losing your endurance
  • Are needing stress relief
  • Trying to fit both exercise and meditation into your day, yet keep falling short. Hello, moving meditation (it's a thing!)

Your walking pace, intensity, and length of time are completely up to you, depending on your individual goals/needs. A ten-minute walk 30 minutes after eating can be just as comparable as a 45-minute walk. When I walk my dogs, I turn on my tunes and zone out. It's my release time, my me time, my reflection time. I'm not trying to make a certain time or cover a certain distance - I'm there for the mental benefits. 

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So decide what you're in it for, and go for it!

Here are some helpful resources:





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