Tone & Tighten with The Bar Method: Part 1

The Bar Method FresnoI love it when a new fitness studio or healthy restaurant opens in Fresno — or anywhere for that matter! If done well, it has a positive, high vibration impact on the community around it, like a ripple effect. People are interested in what others are talking excitedly about and it motivates them to give it a try. That’s exactly how I was drawn to The Bar Method and why I took my first class.

Jennifer Hoekstra, the Owner (and Instructor) of The Bar Method Fresno, opened the studio a little over a year ago. In that short time, they’ve gained a large client base, most likely of those seeking the lean and toned body The Bar Method workouts are known to create. A plus: it works for all body types and ages.

To get a glimpse into a typical class, Lauren Hoekstra, the Studio Manager & Instructor, explains the 2 key exercises with demo by Instructor Brittany Fontes.

1. One-Weight Lifts:  Bar Method: One-Weight Lift, step 1heartWhy Do It: One-Weight Lifts sculpt and align your shoulders (specifically, the posterior deltoid) while also toning your upper back. The position and movement strengthens and straightens the back, improving your posture. The legs are also being worked, which helps to burn more calories! BM_OWL step 2heartWhat You Need: This can be done using a 2-3 lb. weight, no weight, or any prop (like a soda can) to replace the weight. BM_OWL step 3

heartHow To: Start slow with about 10-20 tempo reps using 1-inch isometric movements. Speed it up and finish with 20 faster lifts. BM_OWL final productheartThe End Result: The desirable “Bar Method Arms”.

2. Pretzel: Bar Method_pretzel: step 1

heartWhy Do It: The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen, tone and reshape the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and hamstrings. It not only works your hamstrings, but also tones and slims your waist by working both the internal and external obliques. By keeping yourself upright, it strengthens and defines your upper back muscles, giving you beautiful posture. BM_pretzel finalheartWhat You Need: Just a floor!

heartHow To: Start slow with tempo reps, about 10-20, then speed it up with fast lifts, about 20-30. Use 1-inch isometric movements.

heartThe End Result: This exercise is what carves the waist and gives the gorgeous “Bar Method dancer’s dent”.

Lauren says, “One-weight lifts and Pretzel are great because they work both the upper and lower body.” I highly recommend taking a class at the studio. “A Bar Method instructor can provide attention to detail and hands on adjustment,” adds Lauren.

Please check back in tomorrow. Lauren tells us how to experience the famous “Bar Method” shake!

I’d love to know – have you been to The Bar Method & if so, what’s your favorite exercise?

Photos by Kelsey Burton Photography for A Lovely Life.

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A Lovely Life x Beaming: Juices + Pregnancy

Beaming 1There’s been the question on the safety of drinking raw, unpasteurized juices while pregnant. Some labels on juices advice against it and they have a valid point that raw juices are more prone to contain bacteria. But, we also know the amazing benefits of drinking our favorite cold-pressed green and other fruit juices and smoothies.

To get the facts, I collaborated with Beaming and Certified Health Coach, Maureen Boese, of Wild Ginger Wellness. This week on the Beaming blog, is my post on Juicing while Pregnant 101: Juices + Pregnancy: How They Blend TogetherBeaming 2Please check it out! Feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments section for Maureen.

|All images: @livebeaming|

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World Pistachio Day

pistachio 2Happy World Pistachio Day!! This is a meaningful day for California because farmers in California’s Central Valley are the world’s largest growers of pistachios. Impressive, right? So, each time you have a handful of this nutrient-rich, powerhouse of a nut, think of the farmers and the farmland they come from.

Check back on Monday for a delicious homemade pistachio nut mylk recipe and to learn more of the nuts benefits. They’re also great to have on-the-go, like they were thrown in this honeymoon bag. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for cashew nut mylk. I hope you enjoy!

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The Present is the Present

be presentHere’s the scenario: You’re somewhere by yourself or with friends/family and you’re thinking of something else entirely. Then, you get down on yourself for not being fully there and in the moment. Has this happened to you? Because my hand is shooting up! I was and am still, but thankfully not as often, guilty of this. There have been so many times when I get stuck dwelling on the past, asking and blaming myself for what I could have done differently. There have been just as many times when I put too much emphasis on the future. But, you know what, it’s a big waste of time! When it comes down to it, all we have is the present. Worrying about the past or the future can’t change or make either one of them better.

Out of really wanting to work on being more present, so I didn’t miss out on what is real in my life, I began this practice of tuning in and asking myself every morning:

“Just for today, I want to…” just for today, i want toHere’s an example of one of mine:

Just for today, I want to: 1) listen to my intuition; 2) go with the flow & don’t make so many plans; 3) focus on work.

Your list can consist of anything you want to focus on for that day. Every day is different and your needs vary, so the list will change. Some days mine include 1) getting organized; 2) have a good time with Kate (insert a friend or another person in your life). It can be as broad as “be an amazing partner” or as simple as “clean the house”.

This one, easy practice has changed my life immensely. It helps to center and ground me. It gives me clarity in how I want to show up and be the best I can for that day and in each moment. Because as they say: bil keane quoteby Bil Keane via POPSUGAR and…mother teresa quoteby Mother Teresa via sevenquotes.com.

I’d love to know – will you try this and/or what are your tips to being present?

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Mercury Retrograde’s Silver Lining

newmoonToday Mercury (in the Air sign of Aquarius) goes direct after being in retrograde for the past 3 weeks. Lots of people celebrate the ending of Mercury retrograde because it’s known to cause difficulties in communication. It’s recommended to not begin anything new, like a project or relationship and to not sign contracts. Think of it as a pause button! Despite the challenges it might bring, there is a silver lining. It’s a great time to do research, be more internal, strengthen your foundation and cleanse + clear. If you take advantage of this opportunity to slow down, by February 12th you’ll be ready to step into your life with more clarity!

MysticMamma described it like this:

“This will be another important retrograde, where the past will be reviewed to see what we can and cannot bring with us into the future in mid-February…By learning how to use Mercury retrograde periods wisely and consciously, even if our affairs are momentarily diverted in strange directions, coordinated in some unusual ways, or take some peculiar twists and turns, they often turn out for the best over the long run, whether we knew that or not during the retrograde period.”

There were some twists and turns for me. I had plans to go out of town for work, but they were interrupted when I got sick with a cold and cough. Despite not feeling well, I was still considering going, even though I didn’t honestly feel like it was the best idea. After struggling with making a decision whether to go or not to go, I stopped to really think about what I was doing. I knew and was disappointed that I was taking part in a continuous cycle of mine where I don’t trust my body or my intuition and try to “power” through. I don’t want to live that way any longer, so I made the decision to honor my body and stay home to get some rest. And I’m so glad I did because I was in bed all day yesterday! I’m not saying I blame Mercury retrograde for why I got sick, as cold and flu season is in full swing. But, I do believe that my body needed to learn to take advantage of this time to rest, reflect and reenergize. I also learned what I don’t want to bring with me into the future: not trusting the intelligence of my body and not practicing self-love and self-care. There will be more to come on that next week… Satya Jewelry_Gunmetal And Gold Moon Ring-Chandra_finalSomething beautiful + meaningful — Satya Jewelry’s Retrograde Style collection of pretty, delicate pieces that “project positivity and protection”, like (image above) the stackable Gunmetal & Gold Moon ring, $49.

I’d love to know — Did you realize what you can and cannot bring with you into the future?

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Run for Your Life

marathon_chicago skyline editeditedfinal{Downtown Chicago on race day}

Marathons are a test of endurance, dedication and willpower. In my circle of friends alone, many of them are running half or full marathons this year. The reasons why they’ve committed to something so intense vary, whether for their love of running, wanting something to train for, a motivation to get moving and in shape, to have a routine and/or to prove to themselves they can do it. With it being the start of the year and lots of marathons ahead, marathoners and soon-to-be marathoners are in training mode. I, personally, have never ran a marathon so I asked my good friend + six-time marathon runner, Leia Espericueta, for her insight and advice on training for and competing in a marathon.

Leia’s most recent race was in October’s 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. She’s also completed marathons in Madison, WI, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Santa Barbara.

marathon_Leia pre race{Leia, the night pre-marathon}

A.L.L.: What’s your inspiration to run marathons? Has your motivation to run this last one changed from your reason to run the 1st?

L: My inspiration to run marathons came in grad school when my mentor told me she couldn’t conceivably see me playing Juliet unless I lost 25 pounds. The next day I started running; I ran a mile and walked the rest of a half hour, 3 times a week. I had always been an athlete but hated any sort of running over 800 yards, so running a mile was a big deal to me. Three weeks later, I ran 2 miles without stopping and walked for a half hour. A few weeks later, I was curious if I could do three. I started seeing the changes in my body which definitely propelled me forward, but I still hated the act of running, just loved the benefits, so I kept doing it. I signed up for my first 5K race thinking having a goal would make it fun. I had never run with thousands of people before and it was more fun than I thought it would be. I remember starting to wonder if I could call myself a runner since I ran a 5K. I was so eager to be “one of them” and didn’t know what qualified me. Looking back, I have such a respect for people who have the courage to get out there. 50 yards, 50 miles, it doesn’t matter. The fortitude and determination it takes to lace up your shoes, to get one foot in front of the other and keep at it is truly admirable and inspiring. I decided to sign up for a half marathon shortly after that 5K and a couple other races. And exactly a year after my first half, I ran my first marathon. I was 25 and was so disgruntled by how painful and awful the experience was, I thought it would be a great idea to run one a year for the next ten years, always running one before my birthday in November. marathon_chicago{Downtown Chicago}

A.L.L.: How far in advance do you begin training? Please give an example of your training schedule. 

L: Most runners take 16 – 20 weeks to prepare for a marathon. My first marathon prep came from the back of a book geared towards marathon running for non-marathoners. It was a combination of running/walking and I hated every second. My longest run was 18 miles and I cried the last hour wondering how I’d ever finish 26.2. By marathon #4, my training schedule consisted interval training, hills, cross-training, and 4 to 5 runs a week, including three 18-milers, two 20-milers, and two 22-milers. That marathon, I ran a sub 4-hour marathon for the first time. I had never been so dedicated to anything in my life. The best training schedules will incorporate cross training with a lot of running. The ideal combo for your most successful race will be weight-training: high reps, low weight and at least 4 days of running.

A.L.L.: What’s your typical daily diet like while training?

L: 60% protein, 40% carbs. A week before the race, the ratio switches and the carbs become really simple, with sporadic splurges of the carbs you never allow yourself that make the training worth it! Coconut water or electrolyte infused water are also staples for me.

A.L.L.: Where’s your favorite place to run? 

L: I fell in love with running 4 1/2 years into it on the streets of Chicago. Lakeshore Drive became my second home. No city is more enthusiastic and supportive of runners than Chicago. I live in New York now, run in the city all the time, and Chicago still takes the cake. On Saturdays and Sundays in the summer, I’d wake up at 5:00 am and would never be the only one out there. Small running stores would set up tables on the path, bring jugs of water and Gatorade, water hoses when it was hot out and would spend hours simply encouraging strangers, offering fluids and high fives. A real sense of community there for runners unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

A.L.L.: Name the top 5 songs on your running playlist.

L: Five is really hard, but here you go:

  1. ‘Til I Collapse by Eminem
  2. Cinderella Man by Eminem
  3. In da Club by 50 Cent
  4. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
  5. Quiet Little Voices by We Were Promised Jetpacks

A.L.L.: What’s the most challenging & the most positive/enjoyable part of the whole experience? 

L: Finding the time will always be the hardest thing about marathon training. But I’m a firm believer that you don’t find it, you make it. And there are always enough hours in the day to do the things that matter to you. The most positive thing about completing a marathon is the sense of accomplishment. In the last few minutes of a successful race, that euphoria, there’s nothing like it. Running will give you 100% what you put into it. Your parents, your partner, your friends can’t. You’ll always be disappointed at one point or another. But running will give you whatever you give to it and that’s a really incredible thing. marathon_Leia + friends on race day{Leia + her running partners/friends}

A.L.L: Will you run another marathon?

L: I set a goal of 10 marathons when I was 25, one every year until I’m 35. I’m six in. And nothing has stopped me yet.

I hope this inspires + motivates you! To follow Leia’s running (+ life) in pictures, connect with her on Instagram @ladylikeleia. Also, if you have any comments + questions for her, please leave below!

{All pictures courtesy of Leia}

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Fresh Start, Fresh New Year: Warm Water with Lemon

lemons_in bowlMost of us now have heard that a cup of warm water with lemon is a great way to start the day. When I first heard about it I thought it sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t want to add one more thing to my already busy mornings. Then, after an Ayurveda practitioner recommended it again, I tried it and have been hooked ever since!

Sometimes that’s what it takes. We hear something, let it marinate for awhile, one day decide to try it and wonder why we didn’t do it much sooner! Such is life. Now, it’s one of my daily morning rituals. Besides it jump-starting your day, what’s the big deal about warm water with lemon?

The Benefits:

heart Clean + refreshing taste.

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Improves digestion + detoxification + elimination.

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Reduces bloating + gas.

heartBoosts metabolism.

heartLemons are highly alkaline, so will alkalize the body (the majority of people have an unhealthy, acidic diet).

heartStrengthen immune system because lemons are high in minerals + vitamins.

How-To:

heartDrink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

1. Heat 8 oz of water in microwave/tea kettle until warm. lemons_cut in half2. Squeeze juice from 1/2 of an organic (preferred) lemon into the water. I like to use this lemon press (keeps the water seed-free). lemons_squeezing into mug3. Sip away + feel rejuvenated! lemon_next to waterI hope this inspires you to take 1 more step to being a healthier you!

|images by Shina Welch|

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Thank You + Farewell, 2014

It’s crazy how much can happen in a year and also how much can stay the same. At the beginning of 2014, I went back to my old life of working in fashion public relations in Los Angeles. I did PR during the awards season for a high-end jeweler. After being fully immersed in that, traveling back + forth, having the opportunity to stay with good girlfriends + deepening those friendships, the freelance job came to end.

Another chapter began when I became the Lifestyle Editor for CV Luxury. Around the same time, I decided to start this blog. It had been a goal of mine for the past 3 years. So, I transitioned from PR into creating A Lovely Life. It launched in August + is now my full-time job. I have big hopes for it + am excited for 2015!

The evolution hasn’t only been in my career, but also in my personal life. These are the top 5 lessons I learned in 2014: DryBrush_me1. Strengthened my Foundation. I began incorporating daily self-love + self-care practices, such as Dry Skin Brushing, which I’ve talked a lot about. This helps me to feel grounded and my overall best. I can do them anywhere, so now I’m able to feel grounded no matter where I am. As they say, “Wherever you go, there you are.” core values2. Established + Practice Living My Core Values. Now that I’m clear about my core values (the 5 things most important to me), I can make sure I live by them. My core values are: Self-Love, Love, Truth, Wellness, Expansion + Growth, & Beauty.

3. To be present in the moment.

Photo Credit: Shina Welch Photography

Photo Credit: Shina Welch Photography

4. To stop, listen to myself + breathe when I’m feeling scattered. Doing Legs-Up-the Wall is a good way to take a break + reconnect.

5. Go with the flow more + not overthink! I’ve always been a planner, so this is a challenge for me, but necessary.

I’d love to hear – How was your 2014 + did you learn anything about yourself?

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December 21st, 2014: New Moon in Capricorn + Solstice

newmoon1Today on Mystic Mamma, there’s a relevant + inspiring message by astrologist Kelley Rosano about the New Moon in Capricorn + Solstice that is happening tonight.

Some key messages I took away from it are:

Right now is a turning point – “it’s a new time, new season & an opportunity to stand on behalf of our soul.” That can be done by tuning into your own heart and that will align you with the heart of others + of the Earth. Why? Because we are all connected. On that same note, “harmony & peace in ourselves creates harmony & peace in the world.” The many horrible acts going on in the world today are the result of individual people suffering. That can end if we become at peace with ourselves.

Come to your higher consciousness. This empowers you to live an authentic life. “When you live an authentic life, you live from love not fear.” Kelley Rosano also says,

“When you do what is right for you, you are in alignment with your soul. You don’t feel the need to control or change people. This is because you know who you are and what works for you. You live from the motto, ‘live and let live’.”

How can you take control of your life?

“Be awake. Be aware. Be grounded. Breathe deeply.” Those are all ways to ground and center yourself; important to do before taking action.

Read more lovely news on tonight’s New Moon here.

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5 Ways to Shift Your Mood to Be Party-Ready

holiday party 1editedfinalWith it being the holidays and a festive time, there are lots of events and parties. It can all be really fun, but as we know, sometimes we just aren’t excited about another get-together. If you’ve already committed to going and/or think you’ll be disappointed if you don’t, here are 5 tips to shift your mood + get party-ready:

1. Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. (For example, if you don’t want to go, say to yourself that you don’t want to go.)

2. Attempt to shift your mood. (For example, “I can be home anytime, but now I have the opportunity to go to this great event.”)

3. Don’t have too high of expectations of the event.

4. Be yourself & be open to meeting others. It’s fun to think: “Who am I going to meet tonight?”. Judgement blocks us from connecting with others. We also attract what our vibe is, so have a positive vibe!

5. If all else fails, ask people about themselves, what’s going on in their life, etc.

I hope this helps! I’d love to know – what are some ways you shift your mood?

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