Take a Fake Sick Day — Book Excerpt

Yes, I want you to be a rebel and take a fake sick day.

Here’s why: I believe deeply in preventative wellness. If you’re feeling run down, absolutely fatigued, stressed out and only getting through the work day thanks to chocolate, sugar and four cups of coffee . . . you need a day off.

Otherwise, you WILL get sick and that will knock you and your productivity out for longer than just one day.

Sure, vacation days are great, but they’re precious, and if you’re like me, you carefully dole them out for strategic three-day weekend trips and a couple longer vacations each year.

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I never thought it was fair that I took such good care of myself that I only had to take two real sick days during my last six years working in finance. Usually, I’d come into the office and tough it out, even if I was exhausted.

Our human resources portal allocated eight to nine sick days to each person, but of course, you were only supposed to take them if you were genuinely sick. I always thought, why do sick people get sick days? What about the people who are adamant about trying to stay healthy in the first place?

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My last year, I thought of a plan: I’d take a fake sick day. For the record — and for my former bosses & HR Department that may be reading this! — I only did this twice, but it was 100% worth it both times.

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Here’s how you do it: 

 

1.  Pick the day in advance: Make sure you don’t have to reschedule important meetings or hit uber important deadlines. 

2.  Fake a migraine or a head cold or touch of the flu and send an email around 8 a.m. saying you won’t be able to make it in to work.

3.  Don’t tell anyone. Revel in playing hooky for the day and keeping it your little secret. 

4.  Go back to sleep if you need it. Hang out in your pajamas. Putter around your apartment, hit up the gym for that 11 a.m. yoga class you never get to go to, take a nap or get groceries delivered at 2 p.m. 

5.  Write in your journal or watch an inspiring documentary.

6.  Go get a massage around the corner at that local place.

7.  Order healthy-ish takeout and watch a movie. 

8.  Go to bed early-ish and get ready to wake up recharged and ready to rock.

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No one is going to really get in touch with you all day! All your friends think you’re at work. Your colleagues will ease up on their demands and you’ll be able to handle everything tomorrow anyways. It’s absolutely freaking glorious.

Remember, this is all about preventative health and true, deep self-care. Our bodies come crashing down when we’ve overextended ourselves and are exhausted. As a result, we get sick and put ourselves out of the game for days on end — feeling like crap and sniffling through every business meeting.

The key to self-care is learning to listen to cues from your body about when you need to slow down. When you need deep, authentic rest, and a day of unstructured time at home — to give you the energy to power through another five weeks until your next vacation.

Otherwise you may get burnt out, you may get sick, you may put yourself at risk for long-term chronic lifestyle disease. During your Fake Sick Day, your company will go on without you. Yes, it might mean 20 percent more work on the day you get back, but you’ll benefit from the renewed energy and positive mindset to get through your tasks.

Also, please don’t drink the night before. I highly advise you not to spend the day recovering from a hangover. You’ll only get the true benefits of a Fake Sick Day if you make it about preventative wellness and restoring your energy to charge ahead with greater productivity.

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>>> A WORD TO MY GOODIE-TWO SHOES OUT THERE: 

You’re a good employee. You’ve earned the brownie points. You’ve put in the time and sneaking in two sick days a year is not going to take that away from you.  

Feel free to send me an email at michelle@fitvista.com and tell me about your Fake Sick Day. I promise, I won’t tell a soul! 

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When in Doubt, go for a Walk — Book Excerpt

Hi Friends, thrilled to share another book excerpt with you! 

Today's post is all about one of my favorite things  — walking. How boring you think? No!

Walking is super efficient for your busy life. It's movement and relaxation, all wrapped up in one. Plus, we all need a bit more nature in our lives, right? 

As I always tell my clients, "When in doubt, go for a walk." 

You'll feel better.

PS: Make sure you'e on the list to pre-order your book by signing up here!  Thank you for your support!

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Book EXCERPT WAY #43 "SOLO Walk and Thinks"

 

“Solvitur ambulando” is a Latin term which translates as “it is solved by walking.”

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Walking helps you examine your feelings and understand the deep wisdom of what your body and mind is trying to tell you.

Have a problem you can’t logically solve? Go for a walk. Feel off and can’t figure out what’s bugging you? Go for a walk. Feel depleted and stuck creatively? Go for walk.

Walking and thinking is the perfect combination. Yes, even extroverts need time alone to think! And to my introverts out there, I can tell you’re already on board with this one!

When I first started going on long walks around age 26, I cared about what people thought. As a post-collegiate varsity cross country runner, I pondered, would they think I went for a run and got so tired I had to start walking? That would be so embarrassing!

My younger self planned my “walking outfits” very carefully to make sure it didn’t look like I was going for a run, but was still comfortable enough to stride at a brisk pace. Remember those bell bottom Lululemon black pants? Those were the best. Add on an athletic windbreaker or light jacket, a puffy vest, my Middlebury baseball cap, aviator sunglasses and Apple earbuds and I was ready for my walk.

Nowadays, I couldn’t care less about what people think of my walking outfit. I’ll throw on leggings, a sweatshirt, no bra, my eskimo parka, a hat and sneakers and get out for a 30 minute walk most days of the week.

>>> TYPES OF LONG WALKS

I have a few types of long walks that I absolutely love. Which ones am I missing? Feel free to mark this one up, circle your favorites and jot down your notes in the margins.

1. Podcast walks.

There’s so much good content out there these days that you should probably stop reading this book, go for a walk and listen to a podcast. #JustSaying.

2. Tech detox walks.

Leave your phone at home, throw on an old fashioned watch if you need to keep track of the time, and get out the door.

3. Kombucha walks.

Put $5 in your pocket and walk 10-15 minutes to a place that sells kombucha. At only 60 calories and 4g of sugar per bottle, Kombucha is a caffeine-free way to get a fun kick to your afternoon and a brisk walk into your day. Sip or chug it on your way home.

4. Walking meditation.

Walking is a proven meditative activity, and meditating on the move is a particularly efficient way to de-stress. 

5. Walking the dog.

Use your puppy as a built-in excuse to get outside. Don’t have a dog? Take yourself on a walk. You need it just as much as Fido.

6. Fake errands.

Take a 10-minute walk to go pick up some of that dental floss you keep forgetting to buy. Or go restock your soap supply. Whatever it is, it’s getting you outside and linking your walk with a sense of purpose and reward.

7. Friend “walks and talks.”

Feel the urge to gab and want a friend to convince you to head outdoors? Go for it! Ask a colleague or bud to come along for a walk-and-talk, which you’re now all-too familiar with!

8. Business walks.

I’m my own boss, so I often take myself on a “business meeting” walk to think through the complexities of my business, deconstruct a client issue or strategize for the future.

9. Creative walks.

Got writer's block? Can’t get that design looking quite right? Not sure what to say at your next sales presentation? Go for a walk and let the answer come to you.

Now that’s “solvitur ambulando.”

Revolutionize Work Entertainment — Book Excerpt

I'm thrilled to start sharing book excerpts with you . . . leading up to our official publishing date of April 24, 2018! Stay tuned in this space for official pre-order announcements later this month and make sure you're on my list for the latest updates.

Xo, Enjoy! 

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BOOK EXCERPT, WAY #17 REVOLUTIONIZE WORK ENTERTAINMENT

Entertaining clients over steak and wine dinners is exhausting.

I know, because I did it for almost seven years — and it can be a serious drag on your health and wellness goals. I would often dread work trips where we had multiple nights planned at fancy restaurants or gastropubs in London. Sometimes I’d even drink that second or third (or fourth) drink because I just didn’t want to be there and I was throwing an inner temper tantrum. 

At the time, I’d rather be saving my booze for the weekend with my actual girlfriends or for going on first dates with guys. Waking up early to work out during week and eating healthy have always been priorities for me. On all business trips, I’d pack sneakers and workout clothes and bring along healthy snacks but then, once I’d hit that third glass of wine, I knew it was game over.  

Sure, there is a time and place to bond over wine or beer and it sure can be hilariously fun. But if you’re in sales or tasked with building client relationships, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of boozy entertainment. Luckily, in 2018, and your options are way more versatile than they were back in 2008. 

Here are some methods I developed at the end of my career in finance that now work well for my professional clients.

1. Suggest a coffee meeting.

In a coffee meeting, you can chat with your business contact for 45 minutes, cover company updates, ask about their kids, and then — boom — you’re done! You can line up three to four coffees and knock out all your meetings in one day (and still have lunch by yourself!). Please, switch to decaf or tea at some point to save your adrenals.

2. Lunch at a fancy salad bar.

You’re going to eat a salad for lunch anyway, right? If that’s the case (and I hope it is), ask your professional contact to meet over casual salads. They’ll appreciate the healthy gesture and the time saved.

3. Sit outside.

We all need more time outdoors, so on a nice day, I’d suggest grabbing coffee and sitting outside. On of my favorite business trip memories is stopping by an outdoor cafe and sampling dark chocolate at the food trucks with a consultant I covered.

4. Have a club soda mocktail.

At work cocktail events, make your first drink club soda and lime. No one will know the difference. 

 

If you’re skeptical about my tips, here’s another story for you: Before I jumped ship from the finance world, I mentioned to my boss how much fun it would be to hit up Barry’s Bootcamp in Boston with the consultants we covered. We’d provide a unique experience for them, create more of a bond by seeing each other sweat, and get that adrenaline rush from a challenging workout class (plus, I hoped we’d be able to skip the heavy drinking afterward). We didn’t end up making it happen before I left for nutrition school, but two years later I got a text from my old boss that he was in a taxi in Boston, en route to Barry’s Bootcamp to take our consultants out for a hard run and thanked me. I was flattered.

I often notice how the tech, advertising and fashion industries tend to lead the way with unique client entertainment and thinking outside the box. Years ago, I remember my friends in these roles would take their female clients out for a spa afternoon, go get their nails done while talking shop at a boutique salon, or book exclusive bikes for a SoulCycle class with their business partners.

So be radical. Be different. People will remember you better. And most importantly, you’ll feel better. And that’s worth more than any unlimited expense account.

xo,

Michelle

5 Healthy Snacks for Biz Travel

 
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How many times have you rushed out of a long day's worth of business meetings and sprinted to the airport? Clocking every minute so you don't miss your flight?

Yup. I've been there. Done that.

You get to the airport and think  — shoot, I haven't eaten anything in over six hours! — so you pick up something sort of crappy from the airport kiosk or you just hope that the plane has some sort of passable snacks on board.

But it's usually pretty blah right? Do you usually feel kind of sick and off after eating that stuff?

I did. 

I worked in Finance for over six years and after a day of rapid-fire biz meetings, and rushing to the airport, the last thing my body needed was cheap, nutrient-poor food that made me feel like crap. 

So here's what I started to do — carry my own high-quality emergency snacks — always! Throw these in your work travel bag and you'll never have to think about back-up snacks again. You'll always have something nutritious on hand to eat and prevent that cranky, hangry, headachy feeling. 

Every couple months I just re-order everything in bulk on Amazon, so you always have these snacks ready to grab-and-go.

 

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Primal Kitchen's Macadamia Sea Salt Bars are worth the price. They pack in 15 grams of protein, 18 grams of healthy fat and 5 grams of fiber in to one bar. And I love that they only have 3 grams of sugar! Use this when you need some serious fuel to get you to your next meal. 6 bars for $17.

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Epic's Bison, Bacon and Cranberry Bars are perfect for getting high-quality organic animal protein on-the-go. Sure, getting used to eating a "meat stick" can feel weird at first. But I promise, you'll start craving them. So pick up that sad airport salad — and make sure it's vegetarian — and add your own clean, high quality meat to the salad with a meat stick. 12 bars for $26.

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RXBar's Chocolate Sea Salt Bars are everyone's favorite! They're made with real cacao and have a quality 12 grams of protein and 9 grams a fat. I don't love that they're higher in sugar, at 15 grams, so stick to just one a day. If you find yourself addicted to them — take a break. I find these are a much more glamorous option than eating a stale cookie from the airplane beverage service. So eat your RX Bar and be proud of your healthy choice. 12 bars for $24.

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Justin's Almond Butter Packets are so versatile, so make sure you always have them on hand. You can eat them straight from the packet, or spread them out over an RX Bar (my personal favorite option for breakfast while flying), or pair with a banana or piece of fruit, or celery / carrot sticks. Maybe it's the Vermont in me, but I'm partial to the Maple Flavor. 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and only 3 grams of sugar. 10 packets for $9.

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Cashews in a Zip Lock Bag I prefer to buy raw organic cashews in bulk from the bins at the Natural Foods store or Whole Foods and portion them out in to zip lock bags to grab and go. It saves me money and helps with portion control. But do what works for you! A serving size of 20 cashews (pictured in photo) is about 180 calories. Skip the roasted, salted versions. They're filled with weird oils and can be too addicting. Raw cashews have a delicate, buttery taste and make you feel wayyy better. Enjoy!

Hope these five quick snack hacks inspire your next trip. Why don't you hop on Amazon now and get planning?

I don't want you feeling sick and crappy at the end of a long day — that's the worst! So enjoy stabilizing your energy, mood and your waistline with these low sugar, high fat, high protein and high quality options. 

xo,

Michelle

Links include affiliate codes, but all opinions and suggestions are my own.

 

My Go-To Green Smoothie

It's almost 70 degrees in New York City today! It's starting to feel like spring may be just around the corner and boy do I need it. Every year I convince myself that *this will be the year* I skip out on the winter blues . . .  but then during the second half of February . . . it hits.

Seasonal Depression. Grey Skies. Cabin Fever. Ugh.

After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I've taken action. I went for a long run outside yesterday (my favorite medicine) and I've booked myself a Vitamin IV Drip (yup) at the Nutridrip Flatiron location next week and I'm writing a blog post about it soon.

I can just feel I'm deficient in Vitamin D (impacts mood) and Vitamin B (impacts stress & mood). So stay tuned! 

Anyways! One of my favorite ways to get back on track when I'm feeling off, is to blend up my go-to Green Smoothie. 

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Sometimes all we need is some greens and fiber to feel better, make our little gut bugs happy and restore our digestive systems.

If you've recently come home after a long trip, drank too much wine over the 3-day weekend, or want to ease yourself back in to healthy eating, then this ones for you.

My Green "Ice-cream" Smoothie

This is my go-to recipe all year-round. I recommend adding warming spices like cinnamon or pumpkin spice during the winter months to further help your digestion. 

  • 1/3 frozen ripe Banana 
  • 1-2 Cups of Almond Milk
  • Big Handful of Greens, like Spinach 
  • Half a (not-peeled) Zucchini 
  • 1 Scoop Vegan Chocolate Protein Powder
  • Pinch of Sea Salt + Pinch of Stevia
  • Cinnamon or Pumpkin Spice

In your Nutribullet or Vitamix, blend greens + almond milk first to avoid chunks of spinach. Then add the frozen banana and chocolate protein powder etc., and blend again until you reach your desired consistency.

 What my green smoothie typically looks like in a cup  . . .  yes, with our pet reindeer from Christmas. #normal

What my green smoothie typically looks like in a cup  . . .  yes, with our pet reindeer from Christmas. #normal

Feel free to add almond butter, avocado chunks, chia seeds, or top with nuts or paleo granola for healthy fat and satiation. Fat is your friend.

And just use 1/3 cup of almond milk if you're making a smoothie bowl.

And let me know if it tastes a bit like green ice-cream! 

 My clients and I swear by this doctor-approved vegan protein powder. Expensive but worth it.  Via Parsley Health .

My clients and I swear by this doctor-approved vegan protein powder. Expensive but worth it. Via Parsley Health.

Time-Saver Hack - Your FREEZER

I know you're busy. This doesn't have to be hard.

Like anything, it will get easier and quicker with practice. Promise.

My green smoothie takes me about 3 minutes to make in the morning and I used to whip this one up on the reg when I worked in Finance and commuted daily to Midtown, Manhattan.

I live by the motto “freeze yo greens.” Before you think I’m crazy, think about freezing some spinach, peeled ripe bananas and avocado chunks in ziplock bags before you leave for your next business trip. Just like this photo I posted on Instagram. When you come home, all you’ll need is some almond milk and vegan protein powder or almond butter to whip up a rebalancing green smoothie.

 Store frozen greens and bananas in your freezer, plant-based protein powder, nuts and superfoods in your pantry—you’ll never have an excuse not to be kind and loving to yourself as you sip on some restorative greens.

Store frozen greens and bananas in your freezer, plant-based protein powder, nuts and superfoods in your pantry—you’ll never have an excuse not to be kind and loving to yourself as you sip on some restorative greens.

Dark Chocolate + The Magic of Magnesium

Do you crave chocolate ALL THE TIME?? Mmm hmmm, thought so. Happy Valentines Day! Chocolate is everywhere today.

I love dark chocolate. If I was stranded on a desert island and had to choose between wine, cheese, bread, pizza or chocolate for the rest of my life  . . . I think I'd always choose the chocolate (and well, sometimes the wine). 

That said, chocolate cravings can tell you something. Dark Chocolate is chock full of magnesium and if you find yourself always seriously craving chocolate, you’re probably just magnesium deficient.

Repeat after me — this crazy chocolate craving is not about WILLPOWER people, it could be a magnesium deficiency! 

Hallelujah, right? 

At least 75% of the American population is magnesium-depleted. And I'd argue that highly motivated, driven — and stressed out — people, who also live in big cities, are severally deficient in magnesium.   

Yes, that likely means YOU.

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So, what the heck is magnesium?

Magnesium is a chill-out mineral — it helps regulate blood glucose and blood pressure, protects the proper functioning of the adrenals and female hormones, promotes muscle recovery, enhances a sense of CALM, helps you relax and allows you sleep like a baby.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

But!  

Caffeine and alcohol deplete our bodies of magnesium and chronic STRESS robs our bodies of this precious mineral little by little. 

It makes sense from an ancestral perspective. Our body knows to temporarily shut down our own production of magnesium if we're stressed. Hundreds of thousands of years ago — if cortisol and adrenaline were pumping through our veins as we’re running from a tiger — we'd stop producing magnesium. Same thing happens today, but from the stressors of daily life, emails from the boss, deadlines and tough commutes.

Action Steps

So! What do to about it? I'm glad you asked.

Counteract chronic magnesium depletion and go get yourself some magnesium supplements. Try: 

Always supplement with your magnesium at night because it is a chill-out mineral. Many of my clients find their chocolate cravings disappear within a week of consistent magnesium supplementation.

Bonus: You’ll sleep like a rock, poop like a rockstar (yes, magnesium helps with bowel movements too) and your chilled out self will thank me later.

And when all else fails, eat the damn chocolate. 

Health Coach Tip: I recommend skipping the sugary milk chocolate and always choosing the highest quality dark chocolate you can find, (with a cacao content or 75% or higher).

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, so always consult with a medical professional and do your own research before you start a supplementation regime. 

Why I Wrote This

My goal is to help people who are experiencing the same stressed-out symptoms I had five years ago — and fix their issues with stress NOW.

As a stress-less Health & Wellness Coach, I help you navigate the tricky grey area of adrenal imbalances and optimize your nutrition and lifestyle to upgrade your entire picture of health. Even if it feels overwhelming, it’s better to tackle stress early, than wait for decades as your stress manifests itself in to serious chronic illness or lifestyle disease.

Today, I support countless clients with stress and adrenal imbalances and here’s what I tell them during our initial consultations:  

If you suspect you have an adrenal imbalance, you most likely do. If you’ve tried to ask your doctor but they didn’t listen, you’re not alone. I believe you. I believe in the validity of your symptoms and that they’re trying to tell you something.  

You got this,

Michelle

 


 

 

Why You Should Flirt with Your Water Bottle

I was in a client session recently and found myself saying "I want you to want to MAKE OUT with your water bottle."

I blushed, realizing how ridiculous I sounded, but I continued on, "I want you to feel like you have a crush on it. Imagine yourself in a business meeting and your shiny new water bottle is sitting on the table in front of you. You keep stealing glances at it. You blush. You just want a sip  ..... You want to kiss your water bottle!"

We both started laughing. She said she totally understood the vibe of my story and immediately logged on to Amazon to check out the field and find her new water bottle soulmate. 

 Brought my favorite stemless plastic wine glasses (link below) to a weekend trip to Beacon, NY with Alex. Quick tip : Easy thing to throw in your suitcase for sipping water while traveling.

Brought my favorite stemless plastic wine glasses (link below) to a weekend trip to Beacon, NY with Alex. Quick tip : Easy thing to throw in your suitcase for sipping water while traveling.

Just think. You're touching your lips to your preferred water bottle or cup every time you sip.

It should feel good. It should feel pleasurable. 

Talking about drinking enough water can be really boring, so I I often ask my clients, "do you even like your water bottle?" 

Because, here's the thing, if we don't like our water bottle -- if it's old, creepy, hard-to-clean, easy to leak, not the right color, doesn't match our outfit, not fancy enough for the office, or has the wrong slogan on it -- we're not going to use it. 

We all know we should be drinking enough water, but how can you motivate yourself to actually do it?

Check out these top health coach picks for your next water bottle crush. You're going to want to pin them against the door as soon as you lay eyes on them and take a big sip for yourself. 

Happy sipping 'n shopping!

xo, Michelle

 

Don't touch my man, bkr Spiked Glass Water Bottle in London Opaque Light Grey

>>>>> Forward this to your friend who crushes on her water bottle and won't let it out of her sight and read on to my piece in mindbodygreen for how many ounces of water you really need in a day. 

 

 

Listen : Hear from my clients on Health Coaching with Michelle

Curious about: What is a Health Coach? What kind of clients choose to work with me? And what they love about the work we do together? Then pop in and listen to this audio trailer compiled from 1-1 interviews with some of my clients!

When I received the final cut of this project, it was my first time listening to any of the content. I was moved to tears, incredible flattered and SO PROUD of my former clients. You are all heroes (and heroines). 

A heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to my former client, fellow Middlebury College grad, friend and superbly talented, Alex Braunstein, for suggesting we put together a trailer, conducting 1-1 interviews and singlehandedly bringing this vision to life. You ROCK girlfriend. 

PS: Please check out Alex's work for projects of your own. She's insanely talented! 

Thanks for listening and being here, xo, Michelle

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Stressed? Burned Out? 7 Ways to Prevent Adrenal Fatigue.

Hello FitVista Readers!

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Dana Monsees - a fellow Middlebury College graduate, Varsity Collegiate Athlete, Health Nut, Fitness Lover and go-go-getter. Since we were five years apart during college, when we met each other via Instagram (yup) we instantly connected on our personal experience with Adrenal Fatigue and the work we do now with our clients and community - educating on how to stress-less with diet, smart workouts and lifestyle practices. We've teamed up for a duo guest post series - check out my 20 Ways to Give Yourself Adrenal Fatigue post here over on Dana's blog and read on below on how to practice prevention. This is the EPIC BIBLE OF knowledge I wish I had 3-4 years ago when I was burned out and a basket-case of stress.

Xoxo, Thanks for reading, Michelle 

Hey friends!

I’m Dana - the Nutritionist, Health Coach & Blogger behind Real Food with Dana, a healthy living website where I teach you how to heal and thrive with real, totally delicious food. I’m pumped to meet you all and be guest posting on www.FitVista.com for my awesome friend Michelle  - thanks for having me guys!

 

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I know what it’s like to have adrenal fatigue - and complete adrenal exhaustion, and I don’t ever want to go back there again. So how can we prevent adrenal fatigue?


Whether you run your own business, have a side hustle + a full or part-time job, are in graduate school and trying to balance all of those things, have a family, or are just busy AF and can’t keep your head on straight...we all have those times when everything just feels like *too much* and you’re just going to sit down and cry in the middle of the road if one more thing happens, right?

 

Let’s be real. Most of us who get adrenal fatigue, cortisol resistance or adrenal exhaustion are total type-A personalities, entrepreneur types, who love high-intensity workouts, competing in half marathons, triathlons, etc., have a million things going on and thrive on being busy (and stressed).

Work hard, play hard, right? It’s just how we do.  But it’s that work hard, sleep less, caffeinate (and drink) more, work out harder, play harder lifestyle that creates the perfect environment to develop adrenal fatigue. Adrenal exhaustion (and HPA axis dysregulation) are also tied in with a host of other adrenal-related problems, like thyroid issues, losing your menstrual cycle, leaky gut/intestinal permeability, sudden onsets of anxiety, low blood pressure, weight gain, cravings, and massive blood sugar imbalances, just to name a few. And by the time we realize that it may be our personality and lifestyle choices that are creating these symptoms, it’s already too late - and we’re in the throes of chronic exhaustion and adrenal fatigue, not knowing what to do about it to recover

So whether you’ve had adrenal fatigue before, you think you may have it, or you’re trying to prevent yourself from slipping into adrenal fatigue (for the first time or again), we need a game plan. Today, we’re talking about 7 strategies to prevent adrenal fatigue. These are tools I use in times of high stress to prevent both myself and clients I’m working with from slipping back into cortisol resistance, extreme fatigue, crazy whacked-out hormones and cravings, under-recovering from workouts, and the vicious cycle that is adrenal fatigue like from happening again.
 

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1. Chill the f*ck out. (stress less)

Easier said than done, especially for us competitive, go-go-go, entrepreneur, A-types. Many people who suffer from adrenal fatigue, or who on track to get it, have lifestyles similar to mine. They overwork themselves in every aspect of their lives, make food choices that don’t adequately support their bodies (specifically with extremely low-carbohydrate, low-fat diets and excess amounts of caffeine and alcohol). They have the “can’t stop won’t stop” mentality, and they force their bodies to go until they literally can’t go any more. And for these people, it is *the hardest thing* to chill out and allow themselves to relax. Have trouble doing yoga or meditation because you can’t calm your mind down, and you think you could be doing so many other things with your time? This is you - and these are the people who need yoga and meditation the most.

You cannot recover from adrenal fatigue if you have stress coming from every area of your life. So we need to figure out where we can cut some stress out, where we can learn to manage unavoidable stress, and build in some stress-relieving practices. 

Chill the f*ck out. PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Do some yoga, or meditate for 5 minutes in the morning with an app. Get a massage. Take a walk in the park with your dog. Listen to a podcast or some calming music. The world will not stop spinning because you didn’t hit everything on your to-do list or post on instagram today. YOU WILL BE FINE, I promise.

Another tip? Stop letting little things get to you. So what if you’re stuck in traffic on the way to a big meeting? Yeah, it sucks. But there’s literally nothing you can do about it (aside from get out of your car and sprint to the office, which I’m guessing you’re not going to do… and imagine the pit stains? ugh.), so you might as well chill out, apologize when you get there, and move on. 

I know you still have commitments, and a million things to do. Here’s what I do - at the beginning of every week, I make a list of all the things I MUST get done that week. Schedule it all out by day like appointments to yourself. Pro tip: schedule in breaks, where you can *actually* chill out, go for a walk, take time for yourself. This is key to recovery and preventing adrenal fatigue. 
 

2. Say no to high-intensity exercise, long runs, and your favorite spin class.

Yes, that means crossfit. And zengo cycle. And your yoga class with weights. And pretty much everything you love to do, I get it. 

But let’s think about it. When was the last time you weren’t *totally exhausted* after a workout, when it didn’t take you days to recover before your next one? When you didn’t have to drag yourself out of bed with multiple cups of coffee and then take a preworkout, just to get through your workout?  

You already have a lot of stress in your life, and stress - whether it’s “good” or “bad”, can come from multiple places - and exercise is one of them, even if you love it. Your body has a certain threshold for stress, and once you go above that, it’s the total exhaustion / hormones totally out of whack / can’t get out of bed in the morning / can’t recover from workouts / when is this going to stop? Feeling. 
 

Exercise is a form of stress on the body, and if you’re already dealing with a lot of stress, it’s probably too much for your system to handle. High-intensity exercise and cardio (running, biking, etc.) spike your cortisol, which is why people with adrenal fatigue sometimes can feel soooo good for a little while after a hard crossfit workout, spin class, etc. But then, you totally crash, can’t function for the rest of the day, and can barely drag yourself out of bed the next morning to do it all again. So yes, your favorite workout could be pushing you farther into adrenal fatigue. It sucks, I know. But it’ll get better as long as you take some time off to recover.

What to do so you don’t go stir crazy? Walk. hike or bike (leisurely). Scale your workouts waaaay back. Lift some weights - but not to your max. Stick with low intensity. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. it will tell you when it’s too much. 

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3. Be selfish. Put yourself first.

This may sound like weird advice, but it’s like oxygen masks on an airplane - you have to put on your oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else. If you’re sick, how are you supposed to help others - whether that be your family, your friends, your clients, your growing business, etc.? Take time for yourself, and put your recovery above others needs (while being reasonable, of course. If you have kids or a pet, you can’t just leave them to fend for themselves!)

Stop saying yes to to extra commitments or ones that stress you out. No, you do NOT have to go to that person’s party if you’re totally exhausted. You do NOT have to offer to drive carpool every day. You need to recover, so you can be there for everyone else in your life. 
Say no to toxic friendships and relationships (another form of stress and negativity that you could probably do with anyways). Avoid negative people and negative self talk.

If you can, work from home some days. 

Quit that job that makes you dread waking up every day. Maybe you can’t do it now, maybe not in a few months, but you can start thinking about options. I did it, and I’ve never looked back. 
 

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4. Stop eating food that makes you and your body feel like sh*t. 

Here’s the thing. Some of the foods you eat may seem totally fine for you. You don’t have celiac, you don’t feel like you’re sensitive to gluten, and you eat it all the time, so you must be fine, right? Well. The thing about gluten, dairy, soy, and a couple other potentially problematic foods is that they have a high probability of causing inflammation throughout the body (which you already have going on if you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue symptoms), and we can’t put that fire out unless the inflammation-causing agents are removed for a period of healing. 

ELIMINATE (for now) foods that can cause inflammation, blood sugar spikes, or an unhealthy psychological response.

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Crappy cooking oils (hydrogenated, vegetable oils, soy oil, peanut oil, corn oil) - check your ingredient labels!
  • Artificial sweeteners and added sugars
  • Junk food (processed, packaged junk. That means you, twinkies). 
  • Simple aka high glycemic carbohydrates (aka white foods) like white flours, white rice, white potatoes. These spike your blood sugar

 

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5. Eat REAL (nutrient-dense, healing) FOOD.

And make sure you’re eating enough. A lot of the time when I work with adrenal fatigue clients, there’s a common history of over-exercising and under-eating, whether it’s for weight loss or body composition goals, an  unhealthy relationship with food and their bodies, or even disordered eating. Did you know 1200 calories a day is the recommended intake for a THREE YEAR OLD? I don’t know how old you are, but if you’re reading this, you’re definitely not three years old. Just saying. Low calorie / low carb / low fat = high stress for the body. 
 

Healing foods for adrenal fatigue:

  • Healthy fat + protein at each meal.
  • Slow-digesting carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables (winter squash), parsnips, plantains, etc. 
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Colorful veggies = nutrient density. Eat as many as you want.
  • Vitamin C-rich foods: broccoli, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, kiwi, tomatoes, pomegranate.
  • Magnesium-rich foods: green leafy veggies, dark chocolate, and nuts + seeds.
  • Add himalayan sea salt to your food to help with low blood sugar. 

Increase the healthy fats. However. Upping the healthy fats in your diet will help. It’s hard to be prescriptive with specific recommendations since I don’t know you or your specific situation, but make sure you’re getting at minimum 75-100g of carbohydrates per day for adrenal fatigue healing, for now. 

Note: A ketogenic/super low carbohydrate diet is not your friend right now. Keto can be very therapeutic in other situations, however, for NOW, when your body is already totally stressed out and hormones are out of whack, your body won’t even allow you to get into ketosis. And going lower carbohydrate right now isn’t going to help heal your hormones or cortisol rhythms. 

Not only WHAT you’re eating, but HOW you’re eating is also extremely important here. Don’t scarf down your food while driving/watching tv/running between errands. Take time to sit, breathe, and practice mindful eating - so you can actually digest, heal and reap the benefits of these nutrient-dense foods you’re eating. 

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6. Stop drinking coffee AND alcohol.

This is not a fun one, I know. DANA. You can take away my gluten-filled goodies, even my favorite sugary snacks, but you CANNOT take away my coffee. I will. Literally. Die. (and or fall asleep at inappropriate times of the day) without. It. 

And that, friends, is exactly why you need to be away from all forms of caffeine right now. Every time you drink coffee, you’re stimulating your adrenal glands, aka activating the fight-or-flight response, and producing cortisol. We’ve all experienced it from having a little too much caffeine - your heart starts to race, you feel jittery, and like you just need to go run somewhere to burn some energy off.

When you have adrenal fatigue, your natural cortisol rhythm is thrown off. Normally, cortisol is high in the morning (to wake you up), highest at noon, and then gradually lowers throughout the day to allow you to naturally fall asleep at night. With adrenal fatigue, many people have very low cortisol in the morning, and then get “tired and wired” and have a cortisol spike at night. So of course, we reach for caffeine in the morning because we literally can’t function without it - you’re right about that. But using coffee to wake up when you have adrenal fatigue is like putting a bandaid on the problem - you’re not actually fixing anything, and are only messing up your cortisol rhythms even more. 
 

7. Sleep MORE

At least 8 hours a night. This probably goes without saying, right? But if you’re not sleeping, how are you supposed to stop being exhausted all the time? When you’re getting *restful* sleep, your body is in recovery mode - which is exactly what you need to get out of adrenal fatigue. This may mean you need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Which may totally not be feasible, but maybe a 45 minute nap in the middle of the day is. Do what you can! 

Try your best to get to bed before 10 or 10:30, which is where studies have shown the most restful type of sleep occurs. 
 

BONUS: Consider some supplements. 


When you’re stressed, the body is using up a lot more of certain vitamins to help compensate, to produce more hormones, and to try to bring your body back into homeostasis (balance). You can get these nutrients from food, but considering supplements in your period of recovery may be very therapeutic as well. Talk to your naturopath or nutritionist for specific dosage recommendations! 

  • Vitamin C helps the adrenals produce more cortisol
  • Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, and becomes more depleted the more stressed you are. It’s extremely helpful for both relaxation of the muscles, to support the nervous system, and for sleep
  • B vitamins support energy levels and can help replete what your body is losing from being in a constant state of stress and depletion from adrenal fatigue. 
  • Adaptogens are Ayurvedic herbs that studies have shown can help bring the body back into balance by moderating the stress response, strengthen the immune system, and may help lower cortisol levels. (Source: 1, 2, 3)
  • Current two favorites for stress are ashwaganda and reishi. Favorite way to get them? In teas from Four Sigmatic.

Remember, this isn’t forever.

As you recover, you’ll gradually be able to get back to your favorite workouts, your coffee and alcohol (to your tolerance, and in moderation). BUT. Remember what got you here in the first place. If, once you’re recovered and feeling better, you go back to the same lifestyle and choices that landed you to total adrenal exhaustion in the first place, what’s to prevent you from going back there again? 

Be smart. Listen to your body. Take care of it! It’s the only place you have to live. 

Dana Monsees is a Nutritionist, Health Coach, puppy lover, and the fun-sized founder of Real Food with Dana, where she teaches clients and readers how to heal and thrive with real food. Her goal is to help you find health and happiness with real food and a paleo lifestyle, one delicious meal at a time! Because life’s too short to eat boring, tasteless food. Caveman would if he could. Come check her out on Real Food with Dana!

Blog & Nutrition services: www.realfoodwithdana.com
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The 5 Veggies the Wellness World is Sneaking in to their Smoothies in 2017

Hey FitVista Crew! Here's a piece I wrote up and a shared with my private health coaching clients earlier this year and I hope it resonates with YOU today too. xo, Michelle

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Frozen ripe bananas are SO 2014. 

We've got a new crew in town and they're adding nutrition, fiber, bulk and that creamy texture to your green smoothies and smoothie bowls, without spiking your blood sugar. 

Most recipes from "back in the day" call for ONE or sometimes TWO frozen bananas. While I love fruits and encourage my clients to eat them, they can add up to a ton of sugar when blended in to a smoothie.

One medium banana has 27 grams of carbs and 14 grams of sugar! My suggestion? Reduce your banana use to 1/4 to 1/2 a frozen ripe banana and experiment adding in one of these veggies below. 

Scroll down to see a summary of the sexy ingredients the wellness world is sneaking in to their insta-worthy eats these days, and pretty soon, you'll be taking your green smoothies to whole new heights of satisfaction and nutrition this year.

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1. Zucchini

Trust me on this one, you won't taste it. Throw an entire green or yellow zucchini in to your blender and you'll get that creamy texture that is perfect for a smoothie bowl. Plus, added fiber and a serving of vegetables to count for your 8-9 servings a day. 

Pro Tip: Know your zucchini is organic if the PLU code on the little sticker starts with a 9. 

2. Cucumber

Cucumbers are hydrating powerhouses and special agents for glowing skin. Hungover? Add cucumber to your morning smoothie. Cucumbers tend to be on the watery side, so don't expect the magical thickening effect of the banana or zucchini. 

Pro Tip: Peel your cucumber. I've found that skin doesn't blend well, whereas, the zucchini skin does just fine in the blender.

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3. Cauliflower

This cancer-fighting cruciferous veg is another superstar way to add in bulk and that creamy texture to your smoothies. Use raw cauliflower florets, cauliflower rice or frozen cauliflower rice. 

Pro Tip: Go slow. A little bit doesn't taste like much. But too much and you could overwhelm your taste buds and your digestive system. Ease in to it babe. If you need a little extra digestive loving, try steaming your cauliflower first and letting it cool in the fridge or freezer. 

4. Avocado

Is Avocado a Fruit? Fine, stick with me here. Try adding 1/4 of this healthy fat "vegetable" to get that same desired creaminess factor, similar to the banana, zucchini or cauliflower. 

Pro Tip: Cut up 1/4 of the avocado for today and dice the rest in to chunks to keep in your freezer for future smoothies creations. 

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5. Sprouts

Sprouts pack a ton of nutritional value. Just think, they're the little seeds that could go on to create an entire leaf or head of lettuce. There are a ton of varieties: Clover sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, chickpea sprouts, the list goes on. Check out your natural foods store and choose organic. Use a handful and you can barely taste them! 

Pro Tip: Make my Chocolate Spouts Milk! It's 100% boyfriend-approved. 

The Final Blend

Experiment. Go easy on yourself. Some will work out, some won't.

I've been making green smoothies with my Nutribullet for over five years and it takes time to nail your favorite taste profiles and go-to, "don't have to think, it's still 7am" combinations. 

Need a blender? Check out my >> Top 10 Reasons Why I Love My Nutribullet << Blog Post here. 

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So here's my go-to green smoothie. I swear, it DOES sorta taste like ice-cream. 

My Go-To Green "Ice-cream" Smoothie Recipe

  • 1/4 to 1/2 frozen ripe banana 
  • Handful of greens like spinach or sprouts
  • Sprinkle of Cauliflower Rice (optional)
  • Half a Peeled Cucumber or half a Zucchini 
  • Almond milk
  • 1-2 Scoops Vegan Chocolate Protein Powder

Blend Greens + Almond Milk first. Then add banana and chocolate protein powder, blend again. Use less almond milk if you're making a smoothie bowl.

Cheers!

Find more of Michelle's tips for stress-free nutrition and wellness at www.FitVista.com and on Instagram at @michellefitvista or drop me an email at michelle@fitvista.com

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Stress at Work : Interview with Career Coach, Compass Maven

You guys, I'm so excited to share Carolyn Birsky with you!

First, she's a gem of a writer and human being.

Second, we both went to Middlebury College together (although we didn't know each other at the time) and she was one of my health coaching clients during most of 2016. I was lucky to witness and help support her nutrition and wellness during a period of major transformation for her, founding her business Compass Maven. She'll tell you all about it! 

Third, her bimonthly newsletter / blog is one of the only emails I allow straight in to my inbox, it's just that good (so subscribe, nudge, nudge). I've learned a ton about my own life, patterns from my prior career in finance and current work styles from reading her pieces and piggybacking off her knowledge. 

Finally, she's a very dear friend and you're in such good hands. This was a fun and important interview, thanks for reading!

Xo, Michelle

 

Q: Carolyn, can you introduce yourself and tell our FitVista community a bit more about you?

Sure! I'm Carolyn Birsky, a certified life and career coach based out of Cambridge, MA and the founder of Compass Maven, a business that serves to help 20-something women go after and get what they want in their lives through 1-on-1 coaching, workshops and content.

I help my clients navigate the confusing decade that is their 20s so they can set themselves up for a successful future while creating a fulfilling present.

I became a coach after spending the majority of my 20s confused about what I wanted to do with my life. After graduating Middlebury College in 2010 with a BA in Psychology, I started a career in sales, but kept finding myself switching from job to job, feeling stuck and unhappy. After more work bathroom meltdowns than I can count, I came across coaching through a webinar of all places, got myself a life coach, said “This is it!” and enrolled in a training program. I received my certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) in September 2016, quit my corporate job that October and haven’t looked back.

Throughout my journey, I knew there was an opportunity to help other women get out of that "stuckness" I felt in my life and career and that’s how Compass Maven came to be.

For more, visit www.compassmaven.com

 

Q. What do you think the biggest stressor for millennials in the workplace is?

I think it’s a combination of being overextended and unengaged.

From my corporate sales experience and listening to stories from my clients, I feel like there are a lot of people (women in particular) working their butts off to do it all: perform well at work, stay fit, eat well, keep up friendships, keep up romantic relationships, travel.

Being an extremely career driven generation of women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to prove ourselves at work and advance our careers. And yet, a lot of the time, we’re not engaged in the work we’re actually doing. This inevitably leads to many women finding themselves asking “What am I doing this for?”

Yes, some women absolutely love their jobs and others are totally okay with it not being their true passion in life - though I would argue these women are probably overextended as well. But I think it’s the combination of being overextended and disengaged that creates the biggest source of stress.

 

Q. How do you create space for yourself at work?

This can be a tough one, especially in high-paced work environments where people are expected to be “on” at all times.

My biggest recommendation? Take a lunch break! Like, an actual lunch break away from your desk and out of the office.

When I worked for other people, I was always really good at taking a lunch break. I think I got in the habit because my first job out of college was technically paid hourly and I wasn’t paid for my lunch hour, so I made sure to take it. Since taking a lunch became a habit, I brought that with me to my future employers. It helped with my sanity AND my efficiency. I got a break from the office and my work, so that when I got back, I was able to look at everything with fresh eyes.

Now, for those of your readers who are freaking out a bit at taking a lunch (some of my clients have pushed back on that too), I suggest working up to it. What I mean by this is taking 5 minutes here and there throughout the day to get up from your desk, walk around the office, and then get back to your work. Over time, you can take 10 minutes, then 20, then 30. And then, who knows?

By getting more comfortable with taking some time away from your desk to breathe, maybe you’ll find yourself feeling comfortable enough to take an hour lunch. It’s okay if you’re not there yet. I’d aim to get comfortable with at least 20 minutes, though.

You’ll thank yourself later.

 

Q. How do you handle stressors from work that are carrying over into your evenings?

I feel like there is a short term and a long term answer to that question.

Short term: Get your mind off the topic.

When I was little and had a bad dream, my mom used to tell me to “change the channel.” I’d pretend that I was clicking a button on a TV remote and literally change the scary image in my mind to something I loved, like a birthday party or swimming. Something that was completely unrelated to the stressor and made me feel good.

I think the same can be applied to work stressors. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the stressors entirely, but sometimes you need to just take a break from them when you’re outside of the office.

 

  • Get some exercise. Go to the gym or a workout class and sweat it out. Or even just go for a walk. Getting your body moving can help release some of the tension you’re feeling.
  • Schedule a “no work talk” dinner with your friends, family or significant other. Having a meal that has zero work talk involved can get your mind off what’s going on at the office and allow you to dive into other important topics of conversation in your lives. We spend so much time at the office, it can be a relief to go out with some girlfriends or your significant other and just talk about things that are completely unrelated to work.
  • Meditate. I know this isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s worth giving it a try. Even taking 10-15 minutes to just be silent and breathe can help you work through some of the stressors you’re dealing with at the office. I find when I’m stressed out and take the time to meditate, I often find some good solutions to the problems I’ve been mulling over.

 

Long term: You need to take a look at if this is a consistent theme or a one-off occurrence.

Do you once and awhile come home stressed out about a client interaction or a project at work? Or do you find that every night you are coming home with the same complaint about your boss or colleague or your job in general?

If it’s the former, use some of those short term solutions to just get it out of your system. If it’s the latter, it might be time to take a real look at the work life you’ve got going on.

If you really can’t disconnect from work stress every day, might it be time to look for a new job either internally or at another organization? Might it be time to advocate for yourself in a conflicted relationship with a colleague or your boss?

I’m not saying you should walk in tomorrow and quit your job upon realizing that it is a constant source of stress outside of the office. I’m suggesting that you start considering your options and what is really going to make you happy. And then find some space to explore this either with a coach or a mentor or someone you trust.

 

Q. What self care thing can't you live without?

Going on walks!

I love starting my morning with a cup of coffee while walking around my neighborhood listening to a podcast. I started doing this earlier this spring when I was sick of being cooped up inside from our snowy Boston winter and just needed to be outdoors. Now, I make sure I do it at least a few times a week. It gets my body moving and tons of inspiring ideas come to me as I listen to my favorite podcasts.

 

Q. How can you tell in your body when stress or anxiety is building in your system?

We focus a lot on physical health but a big contributor to physical health is mental health. Stress, anxiety, negative thinking can actually lead to physical symptoms, even if the root cause is mental.

You choose your thoughts.

You have the power to decide what you think about and how those thoughts are going to affect you.

For example, when I get stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, I immediately feel all twisty in my stomach and really tired. Like my body wants to throw up and then sleep to avoid the negative thoughts. But once I can break through that cycle, all of those physical symptoms just evaporate, like they were never there.

So the trick is training ourselves to change our thoughts when a negative thought surfaces. In order to change our thinking, one trick I often find it helpful to ask myself,  “What is the worst case scenario?”

Sometimes just following the negative thought to the worst case scenario helps us to see how unrealistic that scenario actually is. If we can recognize that it’s just something our mind has created and not something based in reality, it’s easier shift away from stressing about it.

 

Now … the the lightening round!

Q. What’s your go-to workout?

Spin class!

It’s fast paced, sweaty, pushes me harder than I’d ever push myself and it’s done in 45 minutes. Plus the studio I go to in the Boston area (Turnstyle Cycle) has themed music classes, so I can choose to go to classes with music that I Iove. Anything Beyoncé or Lady Gaga themed and I’m there!

 

Q. What are you having for lunch today? 

I’m having the Michelle Cady special (i.e. what you lovingly refer to as a kitchen sink salad)!

I use my gorgeous bamboo bowl - thanks again for the recommendation! - and fill it with lots of lettuce and kale.

Then I chop up pretty much every veggie I have in my fridge and sometimes fruit (today I have blackberries and strawberries that need to be used). I’ll top it off with some grilled chicken or eggs for protein.

 

Q. Inspire us with a recent client success story!

I have a client who has been very unhappy in her job for a while, knew she needed to make a change, but had no idea what she wanted to do next. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to stay in event planning or try something totally new.

We’ve done a lot of work around what’s important to her in a job (such as her ability to be creative and have the autonomy to make important decisions around projects), as well as her strengths (such as her ability to build great relationships with clients and her strong problem solving skills), and then exploring how those characteristics can carry over to different types of positions.

I’m happy to report she’s in the midst of interviews for a new role that she’s totally psyched about and happens to still be in event planning, but with a company that will give her much more autonomy to make important business decisions, as well as flex her creativity muscles!

In a way she surprised herself that she wanted to stay in event planning, but her story is a perfect example of how much a company’s core values and culture can affect your experience in a job.

>>> Bravo to you and your client, Carolyn! 

Q. What’s the coolest event you’ve recently attended? 

Can I give 2 answers?

The first would be going with my sister to a live workshop that Gabby Bernstein held in NYC. Her work has been really influential for both of us, so seeing her in person in this beautiful church in the East Village was magic.

The second is a little more personal and was the first Vision Board Workshop I ever held. It was in my apartment with 6 girlfriends testing out the concept. I had food, wine and a killer playlist and it was just this awesome night of creation and supporting each other. I’ve held other Vision Board Workshops (and continue to do so) here in Boston - hopefully NYC soon! - and they have all been great, but there is something about that first one that always makes me smile.

 

Q. Do you believe in doing less or doing more?

Ah this is so hard! I definitely believe in doing less but… I don’t always walk the talk. If you looked at my calendar you wouldn’t say I’m “doing less”. But I do think that there is a ton of value in finding time to do less and slow down. Also, I don’t believe in doing more just for the sake of doing more. Working smart and efficiently is my jam, even if I tend to have a very full schedule.

 

Q. Your favorite quote recently.

Damn girl with the hard questions!

I post a quote every Wednesday on my Instagram account and I read so much that I feel like I’m swimming in quotes. BUT I think that one of my favorites has to be from Elizabeth Gilbert - who wrote Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic and whom I’m dying to meet. In one of her podcast episodes she said:

“I will remind you that the definition of responsible is the ability to respond. The definition of responsible is not how many hours you put into the work week, but how well as a human being you are capable of responding to life.”

Mic drop! I mean, seriously, I think I paused the episode and just sat with that for a while. It’s so spot on and such a great reminder to all of us in our busy lives.

 

Q: Carolyn, where can we find you? 

My website is www.compassmaven.com, where you can find my blog, freebies and get on my newsletter. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram (@compassmaven) as well. Or if you want to just say hello, you can shoot me a note at carolyn@compassmaven.com

>>> Thank you for your time and knowledge Carolyn, you rock girlfriend!

5 Ways to Shift Your Energy (without food or caffeine)

Sometimes we eat to shift how we feel. 

Hold up, this is not 'woo, woo," it’s science!

When you eat, some blood leaves your brain and rushes to your digestive tract. This creates a (short-term) respite from anxiety, stress, overwhelm or spinning thoughts.

When you drink caffeine, your adrenals super-charge, which can (temporarily) override feelings of sluggishness, sadness or fatigue.  

When you eat sugar, the blood sugar rush IS a direct hit to the dopamine centers of your brain. 

 

But there are healthier ways to shift your energy - and tackle that 3pm slump - without adding inches to your waistline or keeping you up all night, wired from a caffeine-overdose. 

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5 Healthy Shifts

Here are some healthy, non-food related ways to shift your energy when you’re at home, at your desk OR transitioning from a busy day in to relaxation mode. 

 

1. A Shower : Hot, Cold or Alternating Hot / Cold : I recommend my clients take extra showers or rinse-off while on business trips or on hot NYC summer days. It’s one of the best ways to change how you feel in your body without digging in to the ice-cream or planning out your next iced coffee break. At work? Splash some cold water on your cheeks or put a cold paper towel briefly on the back of your neck.

2. Take a Walk : Try a 10 minute walk and look for green as a form of walking meditation. Get out of your own head for a few minutes by noticing green trees, green flower stems or green plants along your route. Find a loop that’s exactly 10 minutes (or 15 or 20) and next time you go, ditch your technology and walk without your phone. You’ll feel surprisingly refreshed returning to your workplace.

3. A 10 Minute Massage : Hit up the nail salon for a back and neck massage in the forward reclining chairs. Just 10 minutes can melt away stress, work on any knots in your back , mitigate a tension headache and even take away food cravings.

4. Power Nap : At home? Put yourself down for a 20 minute power nap and let your brain waves rest and reset. This could be all you need to power through your work project or recharge for an evening social engagement. Even if you don’t fall asleep, just lying in the dark with your eyes closed can calm down your nervous system.

5. Music : At work or commuting home? Rock out to a few of your favorite songs of the moment. Music has been proven to elevate your mood and change your energy.  

 

Try one of these next time you feel the blahs and let me know how it goes at michelle@fitvista.com -  I love hearing from you!

Xo, Michelle

 

FIVE WAYS TO START YOUR YOGA PRACTICE : Guest Blog

Hi FitVista Community! 

You guys know I've been preaching the benefits of stretching, balance and stress-relief for quite some time now. After dragging my feet for a couple years, knowing I *should* make yoga a part of my weekly routine (rather than only going about once a month), I finally committed to a weekly practice at a nearby studio in May 2016 and have been very consistent over the past year! 

I feel so much more OPEN in my body and torso and it's definitely helped my running too. 

So, I was thrilled when Michaela suggested we partner up and each write about how to fit in our favorite exercise in to A BUSY WEEK. Here's my piece, Five Ways to Incorporate Quick Workouts in to Your Busy Week, as featured on Yoga Wellness Mom

So let's get right to it! Here's advice from my friend and YOGA EXPERT, Michaela Horvathova! 

xo, Michelle

 Michaela getting in her 15 minutes.

Michaela getting in her 15 minutes.

 

FIVE WAYS TO START YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

A modern woman nowadays is like a superhero -- expected to be a success in all areas of her life, while also radiating happiness and having energy for everything and everyone, while looking and feeling beautiful. 

Yet, we are conditioned to believe that self-care is selfish, and should only be done after you finished your tasks; as a reward. However, there are so many benefits by focusing on self-care first! It just takes a little organizing, prioritization and self-love. 

Giving yourself the gift of self-care will completely change your life. The self-care practice I'm talking about today is YOGA.  

Think of yoga as a one stop shop. It is a great physical exercise, helps you to be more spiritual, improves your relationship with yourself and others, and motivates you to be more conscious at work, as well as giving you lots of energy. 

So how do you start YOUR Yoga Practice? 

 

1. BIO INDIVIDUALITY

Your practice should be tailored to your life. This concept of “bio-individuality yoga” simply means that no one yoga practice works for everyone. 

I encourage you to take a look at your schedule and block out 10-15 minutes, 3 times a week to start. A little bit of yoga, done often will bring you more benefits than a long class once a week. 

You can find endless amounts of yoga videos on YouTube, or you can just pick a few poses and create your own “flow-yoga”. 

 

2. CHECK OUT YOUR OPTIONS

Most yoga studios offer a free yoga class for new students.  Search for local studios near you, call and ask about this option and ask about their most popular class for beginners. 

I hear from many people how they didn’t like their first class, therefore they never went back (too advanced, or too slow). Not all classes are created equal!  Every teacher has a different style and you will like some more than others. 

So get out there, try different studios and teachers and enjoy this process!! With this method you will also meet many like minded people who will light the path for you.  

3. YOGA STYLE

Purchase a couple yoga outfits that are designed to move with you while you practice yoga. 

It’s so important to feel comfortable and not have to adjust yourself every time you change poses.  A bra that’s supportive, yoga pants that don't always slide and a shirt that will stay in place will make your practice enjoyable. 

When going shopping, pick colors that make you happy and make you feel beautiful.  There are so many fabulous options now that allow you to go from a yoga studio to dinner with your friends without having to change.  I love Lululemon (and Fabletics for more affordable options).

4. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Visit your local library or bookstore and explore different books on yoga and you will find different styles and teachers that will inspire you. The history and philosophy of yoga is fascinating as well and will give you a different perspective for your practice and life.  

>>>> No time to make it to the bookstore? Check out Michaela's Instagram here! 

5. HIRE A COACH

I always suggest to have at least one private lesson with a yoga teacher that you like in the beginning. 

It might seem like a luxury, but actually is a necessity.  When you work with a teacher one on one, this allows time for you to learn proper alignment which is so important to prevent injury in your practice.  This will be your foundation to a successful yoga lifestyle.  You can also ask questions without feeling like you're interrupting a class.  

Overall, have an open mind and have fun!!

Namaste.

 

PS: Ever since I became a mother, my time is limited and I usually don’t have time to drive out to a yoga studio and take an hour class as much as I used to.  So my practice now happens to be on a play mat with my daughter, in bed upon waking (light stretches and breath work) or in the kitchen or outside on our walks.  No matter how busy my day is, I always take this time to connect to myself.  By doing so I am able to be the best mommy to my little angel, honoring both of our needs. 

For inspiration on all things wellness you can find Michaela at www.YogaWellnessMom.com or Instagram: MiCHAELAHORVATHOVA

 

Michaela Horvathova, founder of www.YogaWellnessMom.com, empowers women to live a healthy and fulfilling life.  She is a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Yoga & Meditation Teacher and a Proud Mommy.  Her journey into the wellness industry began a decade ago when she first learned yoga on her own in her living room.  Since then, her passion for a deeper meaning of life began and evolved as she traveled the world, learning from experts and sharing her knowledge whenever possible.  

Thanks for reading! xo, Michelle

Spring Bucket List #2017

Before we spring forward, let's rewind. Wayyyy back to January 2006. 

I made a "Bucket List" of everything fun and out of the box I wanted to do that winter and spring at Middlebury College. It included, cross-country skiing, a trip to Lake Dunmore, root beer floats at A&W and most hilariously, "shoe-shoeing" (I'd spelled snow-shoeing wrong).

I have the list saved somewhere in a storage box, because I ended up keeping it on my bulletin board front and center for the next 2.5 years of college. It reminded me to get my head out of the books and break from the same old routine of study | run SO many miles | party | REPEAT.

 Manhattan Skyline View from LIC Waterfront.

Manhattan Skyline View from LIC Waterfront.

I didn't finish all my adventures that Sophomore Year at Middlebury and I'm glad I didn't give myself a hard deadline. In fact, it wasn't until a couple years after graduating that I finally crossed "shoe-shoeing" off the list.

Instead, the list served as a "vision board-esqe" reminder to break from my beloved routine, go on some adventure, laugh with friends and make some memories.

I was reminded of this strategy to think outside the box recently by one of my nutrition health coaching clients - who also just so happens to be Middlebury College grad! A couple months ago, she created an outdoor adventure list of places she'd like to visit outside Boston - as a reminder to create healthy weekend plans with friends that involved walking, hiking, sight-seeing and being in nature.

I was inspired. 

Feel free to jot down yours on a scrap of paper, take a photo and send it to me! I'd love to see what you're excited to get after. 

Again, I'm not holding myself to any specific deadline. If some activities end up happening next spring or later this year - ALL GOOD.

So without further adieu. Here is my 2017 Spring Bucket List!

1. New York Botanical Garden

I truly think now (end of April, early May) is the best time to hit up this Bronx oasis. My parents took me as a kid, but I think I'd have a renewed appreciation as an adult. Plus, long weekend walks are my jam. Have you been? Send me any recommendations about best time of year to go, pretty please. 

 View through gates of Gramercy Park

View through gates of Gramercy Park

2. Intrepid 

A few weeks ago, Alex mentioned he'd never been to the Intrepid Sea + Ship Museum. Which makes total sense (he's from Ohio). I think my parents took me when I was about 10 years old since we grew up just outside the city. And it was FREEZING and windy along the Hudson. That said, we might have to save this one for the Fall, based on a busy schedule the next few weekends.

3. Five Mile Runs to Music

RUNNING, I MISS YOU. 

I've gotten in a great habit of hitting up strength training workouts 2-4 times a week at Beyond Movement Fitness in Long Island City (LIC) that I LOVE, and running has purposefully taken a backseat since the NYC Marathon this past November. I run with my running clients 1-2 times a week, so I'm getting in a few runs, but I miss going out on my own five mile runs to music and just feeling, thinking and flyyyying. 

 After a full afternoon of my health coaching client calls + video calls, I like to get in a 20 minute walk along the water to unwind

After a full afternoon of my health coaching client calls + video calls, I like to get in a 20 minute walk along the water to unwind

4. Hiking in the Hudson

"THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING, and I MUST GO" - John Muir

When I can't stop thinking of hiking and vista hunting, it's time to schedule a day in the woods. 

Close to NYC, I'd recommend Breakneck Ridge, Minnewaska State Park, Harriman State Park (flatter), Mohonk Mountain House or Mohonk Preserve. Email me at michelle@fitvista.com for more details. 

5. Wearing my Black Vegan Leather Jacket

I finally got a black leather jacket this Christmas and all my outfits are starting to CLICK. It was certainly the missing piece in my wardrobe for the last few years.

Hint, hint, there is a new FitVista tee shirt color coming out any day now .... can you guess the color? It's going to look really good with YOUR black leather jacket. You can always buy a FitVista tee for $30. They're Bella & Canvas brand, so soft and the highest boutique quality. Just email me. 

6. Reading my White Kindle on Waterfront

The LIC waterfront boardwalk is spectacular. We also have a really sweet roofdeck on our building and our own private terrace, both with reading-friendly lounge chairs. I can't wait to get in the habit of reading outside.

I would highly recommend the book "Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery" (my Instagram shoutout here).

I'm currently reading Girl in the Woods. I dig epic stories about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (like Wild!), but warning: the story of how the protagonist was raped in college is sad and could be triggering for some.

Next on my list is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic and The Ramblers.

 Day before my Florida Writer's Retreat began

Day before my Florida Writer's Retreat began

7. Girls Weekends

First quarter of the year was all about getting a strong start on my business for the year (CHECK - amazing new clients!), taking care of my health and making sure my recently balanced hormones and healed adrenal fatigue were well-taken care of and stayed consistent (CHECK - I feel amazing and systems are working) and well, sort of hibernating with Alex most weekends (CHECK!).

But I've been missing some girl time and being more social. Good news is I booked a trip to Philly last weekend for Easter (so fun) and am gearing up for Alex's sister's Bridal Shower + Bachelorette Party in Columbus, Ohio this weekend. Woot woot.

In May we have three weddings, my cousin in LA, my original personal trainer in northern NJ and Alex's sister .... in northern Scotland!  

Operation FUN in the second quarter is happening. 

 Whole30 Chicken Salad has been my go to recently. Yum.

Whole30 Chicken Salad has been my go to recently. Yum.

8. Spring Greens

Spring is all about greens and inventive salads. I'll be writing about this more specifically in my book, but in short, we've got to eat spring greens coming out of the winter and transitioning in to summer months. Just think of the little sprouts coming out of the dirt this time of year. They're incredibly detoxing for our systems and "mustard greens" and bitter leaves are actually GREAT for you this time of year. 

I've been making sprout smoothies and incorporating more raw and fresh salads in to my lunches and dinners. It's a beautiful way to lighten up a bit after eating heavier food during the colder months. 

 I made beet dip with tahini and garlic. It was interesting + pretty good! Most importantly, EASY.

I made beet dip with tahini and garlic. It was interesting + pretty good! Most importantly, EASY.

9. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 

I know! We still haven't seen it yet. Alex is going to take me and we have to make this happen when it's still in theaters! 

10. New Shorts

You guys, I need to buy new shorts. My bootay is stronger now that I've been strength training all winter and well, my old shorts don't quite fit. What brand of shorts do you love? I've been a J.Crew fanatic for the last 15 years, but I seem to be in-between sizes now. Grrr. 

11. Bike Rides up Hudson to see Cherry Blossoms

I own my own hybrid bike and way back in 2009 / 2010 / 2011 and sometimes 2013 / 2014,  I'd bike up the West Side highway bike path, over the George Washington Bridge, up the river path to 9W and back down. It's a solid four hour trip from most of Manhattan, filled with epic views, tough hills and lots of satisfaction. It's pretty powerful to bike your way out of this crazy city. BRING SNACKS. I may not get to this trip until the summer, but that's OKAYYYY.

12. Crushing On 

I've been crushing on The Five Minute Journal .

These Gold Salt Shoes by New Balance / J.Crew Collaboration.

Just bought this Seed Sheet from Middlebury College Alum who was on Shark Tank. Herb garden coming at ya.

Bought a five-pack deal of blowouts from a local salon. My hair will be bouncing in to Spring, hallelujah! 

 . . . and workouts outside! BRING IT ON. 

One of my besties is having a BABY BOY any week now. I'm so excited for snuggles with her first child. <3
 

 Branchy, our reindeer, is all ready for spring with his eucalyptus.&nbsp;

Branchy, our reindeer, is all ready for spring with his eucalyptus. 

Events

Want to hang in person this spring? Check out these events I'm JAZZED to be leading.

Buy your tickets now and would love to see you there!

Thursday 4/27, 7-9pm: FITVISTA + HOLISTIC HAPPENING PRESENT // An Evening of Stress Relief, at Sacred Waters in LIC. 

Saturday 4/29 : When to Jump, Jump Club II : Ever think about making a big career change? I'm leading a four mile run in Prospect Park Saturday AM, then a mentored breakout session 12-2pm for all aspiring "jumpers". The afternoon will feature keynote speakers, live music, networking and plenty of locally-sourced food & beverages. Past keynotes include Sheryl Sandberg and other world-class presenters. With limited tickets, this event will likely sell out - so get yours here! And for a friends and family discount, use VIPNYC or my special #FitVista 15% off! 

Sunday 5/21, 11:30am, a NUTRITION talk at BeMoFit by ME! My topic is "Sexy Veggies, Sexy You" and I'll have green smoothie samples, a 20-25 minute presentation and a lot of Q&A. Would love to see you! Mark your calendars. This event is free. 

Wednesday 6/28, 7pm: Middlebury College Alumni Event: Fun Run in Central Park, lead by yours truly! Official details to follow by the Middlebury Alumni Office Email / Events Page. 

THANKS FOR READING, YOU ROCK. 

Seriously, xo,

Michelle

Writer's Retreat + Book Update!

First, you guys are THE BEST. So many of you have been asking about my Writer's Retreat at the end of March and since I had so many pretty (and random) photos ... I put together a fun post! 

Second, thank you to my dear clients who moved around THEIR schedules so I could disappear and write-write-write for a week. Thank you, thank you! 

Background

It had been really hard focusing on writing my book in NYC.

The energy of seeing multiple clients a day (via Skype, phone or in person) is *much* different than sitting down to WRITE A BOOK.

Throw in answering unlimited emails, posting on Instagram, going to my daily workouts and managing the admin side of my business and personal life, my brain felt scattered and ... the writing just wasn't coming. 

I got a little scared for awhile. Will I ever write this book?

But thankfully, I remembered advice from my Writing Course. Some writers can segment out 30 minute chunks every single day and write-write-write. Some writers need to schedule three day retreats in the woods and batch their writing during long stretches of unstructured time. Um YEAH, the WOODS one. That's me. 

So, I decided I needed to make a Writers Retreat happen. 

I looked in to AirBnB options in the forests of Vermont + Upstate New York, and frankly, spending $100-150 a night to go away solo to a somewhat creepy cabin with an iffy refrigerator just didn't make sense for my budget or my mind. 

So I googled flights to Florida, where my parents are now living. CHEAP FLIGHTS!!!! SCORE!!! 

I asked my Mom if I could come for a self-imposed Writer's Retreat and if I could, you know, have some space ... my own room and hours upon hours of uninterrupted time. She was SO in to the idea and promised to stock the fridge in advance, give me keys to the car and wave to me in the hallway as to not interrupt my writing process. Thank you writer gods and moms!

Social Media Detox

I knew I needed to tune out 100% from social media (Instagram is my biggest distractor and addiction) and my dear client emails in order to focus-focus-focus. 

It worked. 

Monday through Friday, starting at 8 or 9am each day and going until 5pm-ish, I would write. I sometimes went for walks when I felt myself getting stuck and I voice recorded sentences on to my iPhone. I rearranged my entire outline and built out content in each chapter. 

I wrote approximately 33% of my book. 

And yes, that accuracy may sound crazy, but it's not really! Read on!

The title of my book is still somewhat secret as I'm working with a lawyer to trademark it. . .  but I'm happy to share the subtitle: "100 Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition, Fitness & Wellness in an Urban Environment."

I've officially outlined all 100 ways, with comprehensive sub-points and I've written-ish the first 33 ways! 

The first third of the book is about Nutrition in urban living, the middle third is about Fitness in the big city and the last section is all about Wellness: self-care, stressing-less and navigating the noise living in the urban jungle. 

And since I'm a bit "written out" for now ....

Here's my week, in photos!

I flew down early Saturday morning to spend quality family time with my mom, dad and brother who was visiting. FUN. FUN. FUN!

View from the Yacht Club roof, belatedly celebrating my Mom's birthday on Saturday night.

IMG_2976.JPG

Beaching on Sunday. After this dreary and cold March we had in New York City .... I had to get tan and stock up on my Vitamin D levels before locking myself away with my laptop! 

You guys, I love views of the sky (and from the tops of mountains). Hello, #FitVista. So inspiring. 

I was feeling a bit apprehensive Monday morning before I opened up my laptop and dove in to my outline. I'd written my outline way back in January 2016 and I wasn't sure if it would be up to my admittedly high standards . . . So I decided to pull an "angel card" from a deck of Kris Carr cards my mom had in the guest room and picked this one! 

I'd just spent two days at the beach .... and now I was ready to trailblaze, make some waves with my book.

I tried to keep food light and eat about 5 small meals a day. Green smoothie with vegan protein powder and 1/2 avocado for one mini-meal.

Turns out I didn't even need the car keys, because I went for 1-2 hour walks each day and stayed on the premise, with very little distractions (or human interactions!). I'd bring along my iPhone and record sentences on my long walks, audio writing notes and paragraphs when I felt inspired. 

Writers block? Out for another walk. 

Another mini-meal. I was definitely hungry again like 2 hours later. Not pictured, all the hummus that went along with this one!

You guys, I had two cups of coffee a day. Ever since I healed from adrenal fatigue, I promised myself #JUSTONECUP. But I rationed that writing a book was worth bending the rules. 

This is my favorite mug of my mom's. 

Almond butter on gluten-free toast, FTW. Always. My favorite snack or mini-meal.

Went on two 50-minute sweaty runs when I wrapped for the day around 5:30pm! 

I thought I'd run more, but honestly, I wanted to focus all my energy on writing and my body didn't want hard workouts. I went for lots of walks and did yoga once. 

I can't wait to start sharing book excerpts with you in a couple months ... Not ready to share any book excerpts yet, as everything is like only 60-80% edited and I'm still fine-tuning my voice. 

Alex bought me these Bose headphones for Christmas and they were a GODSEND. It was pretty quiet in the guest room at my parent's house, but this drowned out the sound of occasional lawn mowers, vacuums and helped me get in the zone. The sound quality is incredible. I particularly have liked blocking out all the bad noise on airplanes and getting cozy with podcasts during flights. Thanks Alex! He's so thoughtful and understands how sometimes my highly sensitive nature just needs QUIET.

This was administration building where I walked on the first day to mail my FitVista, LLC Taxes for 2016. $$$$. I'm actually pretty darn proud "how much I had to pay" = a sign of my booming biz success ... right?! ;)

Wore the same outfit EVERY DAY and didn't wash my hair for four days. Yup. Simplicity. 

A high moment. There were lows too, but mostly highs. 

Little sneak peak! Again, not edited AT ALL. Just mind dumping everyyyyywhere. 

FRIDAY! I cut loose with appetizers, two glasses of wine, salad, and then ice-cream. (I swear there was more to this salad, I ate the good bits and then decided to take a photo). 

There was quinoa buried under there too. I ate SO many eggs this week. Eggs fried in ghee. Talk about an easy protein to throw together for mini-meals. Love, love pasture-raised eggs. 

My biggest weaknesses for unlimited snacking .... granola and chocolate covered ANYTHING. Absolutely no breaks. Can't keep them in my own house. But my parents *always* have them around.

The sky on the last night was stunning - quite the send-off for a productive and exhilarating week! Thank you so much for reading!

Want more fun updates and excerpts from my book? Keep tabs with me on Instagram at @michellefitvista and sign-up for updates here on my site, you'll be the first to get sneak peeks and free content in a couple months. (Don't worry, I usually only email like .... once every two months!).

xo,

Michelle

End on a sweet note! Ice-cream, MORE granola and MORE chocolate. Xo.