R & R Retreat at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center; my review


View from my room; 6th floor Annex building

Many experiences can be described as life changing, but this particular healing journey that I ecountered transformed my whole self while also reprioritizing my life intensions.  I am forever changed and grateful for the empowering guidance the dedicated staff at Kripalu Yoga and Health Center gave to me.

As I arrived from my fast-paced life in NYC for my R & R Retreat at Kripalu, on a gorgeous September day, and made my way down their long, breathtaking entranceway, I was a bit nervous. Would I fit in? I practice yoga and work hard at living a healthy lifestyle, but I had never visited a wellness center of this magnitude or with such a clear mission.

Kripalu’s Mission Statement  “To empower people and communities to realize their full potential through the transformative wisdom and practice of yoga.”

As soon as I entered the Kripalu, all of my nervousness disappeared. There was an immediate sense of calm, smiles from everyone that I passed and was greeted warmly at the reservation desk. I was lucky enough to be staying in the newer Annex Building; a carefully constructed environmentally thoughtful living space with gorgeous views and a private bath.


My room at Kripalu in their Annex building with private bath.

After getting unpacked, I took some time to become familiar with my surroundings and to review the daily schedule.  One of the many benefits of the R & R Retreat is that you can make it your own by deciding how you want to spend your time. Among other things, you can take a yoga class; which is offered for all ages and abilities, attend an introspective workshop, go for a guided hike or just take in the tranquil surroundings.

I attended a late afternoon intermediate yoga class that still makes me smile when I think of it. This practice was full of yoga poses that enabled me to release stress, relax and feel at home at Kripalu immediately.  The class included a stretch and meditation sequence that allowed me to let go, be present and embrace this tremendous experience.  And if you can’t make it to a yoga class in person, they offer Kripalu yoga videos online.

After my invigorating yoga practice, I was ready for dinner and excited to sample the all natural cuisine prepared by Kripalu’s Executive Chef Jeremy Rock Smith and I was not disappointed. Every meal is carefully and thoughtfully created with only the healthiest ingredients along with incredible flavor. Improving digestion is a priority at Kripalu and with just that one meal, my insides already felt better.

After allowing my dinner to digest, I attended a workshop called “Love is Our Soul Purpose”.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the interactive conversation opened my eyes to concepts and ideas I had never considered before.  It also enabled me to meet others as we discussed the subject at hand.  It was therapeutic in many ways for all of us.


Entranceway to Kripalu; absolutely gorgeous!

Day two started with a delicious healthful breakfast, also known as the “silent breakfast”; which occurs daily at Kripalu.  The silence enables you to commence the day with mindfulness so that you can focus on your food, chew one bite at a time, appreciate the taste and flavor while setting your intention for the day. There are numerous foods to choose from to fit everybody’s needs at every meal, but I especially enjoyed the incredible selection of seeded whole grain breads.

Next was a guided kayaking tour of the gorgeous pristine Lake Mahkeenac.  This was a memorable experience for sure as 12 of us were carefully instructed and guided through glass-like calm waters on a crispy Autumn morning.  With each row of my paddle and breath of fresh air, I felt completely relaxed and at peace.  We all made our way to the lily pads where we joined together for group meditation, it was magical.

After walking up the rolling steep hill fronting the main Kripalu building, I had worked up quite an appetite for lunch and couldn’t wait to see what was on the menu.  Not only did I have two helpings of their fabulous salad bar, I was able to sit and reconnect with a few of the ladies from the workshop the night before.  We opened up and shared so much with each other about our lives, like we’d been friends for years, it was simply amazing.

Whether just walking down the hallway smiling at those I passed, enjoying a special class or eating a thoughtfully created healthy meal, everything that I encounted at Kripalu made me feel better than before I had arrived, physically and mentally.  The R & R Retreat that I experienced at Kripalu Yoga and Health Center is one that I will never forget.

Learn more Kripalu’s R & R Retreat and how it can transform your life here.

Read my article about Kripalu for Examiner.com here.

Learn how to be happy; stop these 5 negative habits

mizunorunWant to learn how to be happy?  So many believe “if I just had this one thing I’d be happy” when that type of thinking is actually only blocking their happiness. Most of the time, that “one thing” doesn’t work out and they’re left feeling lost, confused and even more  unhappy. The good news is, YOU have control of your own happiness  You can be happy, starting today, by stopping these 5 negative habits and making some simple changes in your life.

1.Stop comparing yourself to others.

If you’re constantly jealous of what other people have and you’re comparing your life to theirs, you are consciously putting yourself into a state of unhappiness. Since we are all unique in our own ways, it’s a complete waste of time to compare and wonder why we don’t have what they have. Instead, try living in place of gratitude for all of the blessings you do have, while also being supportive and happy for others.

2. Stop complaining & blaming external sources for your unhappiness.

Whether you dislike your job, don’t have enough money or are in a bad relationship, your happiness does not come from what surrounds you, it comes from within, a mindset and intension. You have the power to be happy and change the things in your life that bring you down, stop complaining and blaming them for your unhappiness.

3. Stop allowing stress & worry to control your mind.

Most of things that we stress or worry about never actually happen, so we waste valuable time while allowing negative thoughts to control our minds. Instead, talk yourself through it, remind yourself that everything is going to be ok, think positively and take action. If you’re worried about something, seek answers.  Be happy knowing knowlege is power.

4. Stop making excuses not to exercise.

The #1 excuse for lack of exercise is no time when everyone has at least a few minutes to move their body everyday. If you have time to watch a reality show, you have time to exercise. The benefit of making exercise a priority is it will make you feel happier. Exercise has a direct affect on the brain, it makes you happy, so find time for it often. Check out these at-home workouts everyone can fit into their life, here.

5. Stop the drama from entering your life.

Allowing other people’s drama into your daily life can be a serious downer, especially if they are practicing the 4 unhealthy habits above. You can’t fix others, especially if they are unwilling to make the changes needed within their own lives. Giving your time to listen and be there for your friends and family is a special quality, but be aware and protect yourself from the drama that continues on without resolution, it can be exhausting and will steal your own happiness.

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Perfect hard boiled eggs

aeggsLooking for make perfect hard boiled eggs?  This easy fool proof recipe is what you’ve been looking for.  There are a lot of different ideas out there with many thinking they know the best way to boil eggs.  But, we’ve got this down, here’s how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs.

The easiest way to make hard boiled eggs is to:

  1. Bring a medium sauce pan 1/2 filled with cold water, 6 eggs and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil.  If you want to make less eggs that’s ok, just use a smaller pan with less water.
  2. As soon as the water starts to boil. remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 12-14 minutes, depending on who hard you want the center of your eggs to be.
  3. Carefully pour hot water out of pan and run cold water over your perfectly hard boiled eggs along with a couple ice cubes and let cool down.  Dry off & store in refrigerator for whenever you’re ready to eat.

There you go!  The easiest best way to make hard boiled eggs!!

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Healthy football food recipe; roasted vegetable pita pizza

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Healthy football food recipe; roasted vegetable pita pizzas

apitasIt’s football season!  And with that comes lots of tasty, and usually unhealthy, foods spread out in front of you.  Whether you’re having the football party yourself, going to one or looking for one of the best make ahead tailgate foods, here’s one to please the crowd and they won’t even know that it’s healthy because it’s sooooo good.  Check out this healthy football food recipe; roasted vegetable pita pizzas.

Step 1

Choose all of your favorite roasting vegetables like eggplant, onions, red peppers, garlic, olives, chop them up into medium sized pieces, spread on a large cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper, drizzle with a fair amount of olive oil, mix together with your hands and roast in the oven, on 400 degrees for 45 minutes-an hour +.  Turn often to be sure even cooking, adding a little more olive oil if needed.  Make your roasted garlic seperately, learn how to do that here.

Step 2

Take your roasted vegetables out of the oven, let cool and scrape up into a bowl to use when needed.  Depending on the amount that you make, will decide how many pita pizzas you will get.  Generally, I can make about 6.  If you’re ready to make them now, take a pita of your choice and put in the oven, on the rack itself, for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees to crisp it up, turning once.

Step 3

Take your pita out of the oven, put onto cookie sheet and layer with as much of the roasted vegetables and garlic that you’d like, top with cheese of choice, I love some feta and a little sharp cheddar.  Bake at 350 degrees until desired crispiness, I’ll do another 8-10 minutes.  Take the pita pizza out, put it onto a chopping block, top with arugula or an herb of choice such as fresh parsely or thyme, then chop up into desired sized pieces.  Serve immediately or pack up to bring along with you to the game!  Delicious!!

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Best 5 healthy heart foods to prevent clogged arteries & heart disease

Frozen spinach: one of the best foods you can buy at the store, for only $1 the work is done for you.

Frozen spinach: one of the best foods you can buy at the store, for only $1 the work is done for you.

Want to know how to fight heart disease and have a healthy heart?  Keeping your arteries, or shall we say, pipes within our bodies clean, is essential for them to carry the oxygen and nutrients needed to survive. Clogged arteries are a serious risk factor for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Are you having any symptoms of heart disease?  Foods high in saturated fats, excessive sugar consumption; alcohol abuse and lack of exercise play a direct role in narrowing and hardening of the arteries. What you choose to eat can prevent the deterioration of your pipes.

Here are the best 5 healthy heart foods to prevent clogged arteries & heart disease:

1. Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids

Fish such as salmon, herring and tuna prevent artery plaque from forming. Always buy wild or sustainably caught fish over farmed because its meat contains toxic chemicals, antibiotics and less omega-3 overall.

2. Red grapes and berries such as cherries, cranberries and strawberries.

These foods are powerhouses full of antioxidants and vitamins the body needs. Always choose organic whenever you can to be sure you’re not ingesting chemicals and pesticides.

3. Garlic doesn’t only add flavor to your dishes, eaten raw it can reduce blood pressure and lower the bad cholesterol.

The best way to eat garlic is through mixtures that go through the food processor like hummus. If you can’t bare the thought of eating raw garlic, buy the supplements.

4. Spinach is a super food for numerous reasons. Eat spinach!

The large amounts of Vitamins A and C in spinach shields plaque from developing. The blood pressure is also lowered by the potassium and folic acid in spinach.

5. Apples and grapefruit.

Both of these fruits lower bad cholesterol through the fiber contained. In addition, the potassium and magnesium control blood pressure.

“You are what you eat” was probably the most truthful quote you heard growing up. What you choose to put into your body will then in turn decide your health now and into the future. Be wise, choose clean healthy foods as often as you can.

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How to sneak exercise into your day when you have no time

Exercise whenever, whenever you can.

Exercise whenever, whenever you can.

Most women I talk to on a daily basis have little time for themselves, so when it comes to exercise they mostly just laugh and say, “yeah right!”  There is some truth to the saying, “if it’s important to you, you’ll make it a priority”, but let’s face it, most don’t like to exercise so it’s not top on their list of things to do whether they have the time or not.

Since we do know that moving your body and getting your heartbeat up for at least 20-minutes per day, 5 days per week, is not only essential to keeping your waistline trim, it’s absolutely mandatory for your health and longevity.  So how do you sneak exercise into your day when you have no time?  Here are some simple ways.

  1. Squeeze your butt at every right light for at least 10 seconds, release and repeat.
  2. Park the farthest away from the grocery store and jog in.
  3. Do as many squats as you can while on hold on the phone.
  4. Carry a basket versus pushing a cart at the grocery store, when you only need a couple things of course.
  5. Invest $10 for a walking tracker & attach it to your waistband each morning to see how many steps you took; knowledge is golden!
  6. Do tiny leg lifts, 10-20 each side, while waiting in line at the store.
  7. Stairs versus elevator is a given, but if you must wait for the elevator, keep squeezing that butt and doing those leg lifts, you might motivate others to do the same!!!

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Food is my true passion; making it healthy is my talent; learn 11 ways to cook healthier

Healthier option; baked jalapeno poppers, yum!

Healthier option; baked jalapeno poppers, yum!

If you know me at all, whether it’s from this blog, social media connections or happen to be a friend of mine, you know that food is my true passion.  I believe food brings people together, whether it be a collection of delicious appetizers surrounded by a group of fun girlfriends, a romantic roast chicken dinner with my husband or a special one-pot wonder that only gets better each hour it sits on the stove, food is fabulous!

I live to eat!  I think about food from the time I wake up until I go to bed each day, planning what I will make next, while always devising ways to make meals more delicious and also as healthy as possible.  Planning is an essenital part of being a healthy cook.  You’ve got to be sure you have the ingredients needed of course, but walking through a grocery store without a clear idea of why your’re there only spells trouble.

Cooking and inspiring others to think outside of the box when it comes to food makes me happy.  Since most don’t care to cook, think it’s too complicated or feel it’s a chore, as humans, we have to eat so why not put a positive spin on it?  Find ways to enjoy cooking, while also creating healthy dishes will not only enable you to live a longer, healthier life but will also keep your waistline trim.

Here are a few of my healthy cooking tips:

  1. Low sodium everything, whenever possible, read labels, choose a brand & stick to it.  This is especially important with chicken stock, being organic is a plus also.
  2. When a recipe calls for mayo or cream cheese (1/3 less fat), always use the reduced fat type.  You’ll still have plenty of flavor with less fat sticking to your hips.
  3. Don’t buy Fat Free anything, we know better than that now, it’s just full of extra sugar; which in itself will cause more harm than fat over time, such as diabetes.
  4. Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables!  In everything, all of the time!!  Choose your favorites & get comfortable grilling and roasting them, so delicious!
  5. Whole grain should be the only pasta or bread you will ever eat again, never buy another white piece of anything, it’s doing nothing for you but making you fat.
  6. Eat Quinoa!!!  Find out why here.
  7. Extra virgin olive oil and canola oils are the only two you should cook with, olive oil for flavor, canola for high cooking temps.
  8. Pick one night per week to be vegetarian!  Maybe a “meatless Monday”?
  9. Butter adds flavor and is needed for many recipes, but use the least amount possible, it goes a long way.
  10. Incorporate dark, leafy greens as much as possible for your health & to fill you up.
  11. Educate yourself on the lastest foods that fight illnesses & make them a part of your weekly diet, not only will you be healthier, you’ll feel good about your decisions.

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Even a little jog on the beach in the morning will make an impact on your body.

Bob Harper was on The Rachael Ray show this week and gave some pretty great simple advice for those looking to lose weight and live a healthier life that I thought that I’d share with you.  Rather than make it complex or complicated, Bob offered 3 easy steps anyone can start today.

  1. Sleep more.  Bob Harper says sleeping promotes weight loss, where the lack of can cause the body to hold onto fat.  Plus, the longer you are awake, the better chances of eating more and that usually equates to unhealthy choices especially late at night.  Have trouble falling asleep? Try one of these yoga DVD workouts here.
  2. Make 1 diet change this week.  Rather than going cold turkey and chewing on raw carrots all day, Bob suggested cutting just 1 thing, like sugar, for a week, and see how you feel.  Generally, when you make one healthy life choice, others follow.
  3. Set a simple exercise goal right now.  Decide right now that you are going to move your body is some way, shape or form for at least 20-minutes, three times this week.  This could be as simple as going for a walk and/or doing one of the best DVD workouts we recommend.

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