I Tried It: Tai Chi

After working on a piece about Tai Chi for older adults for Dr. Oz The Good Life, the instructor and director of the center invited me back to try it out for myself. I didn’t think it was something I would ever do — I mean, I’ve yet to even attempt yoga. (Thursday, guys!) But after learning about all the benefits of the ancient art — from improving your mood to reducing stress — I thought I would give it a shot.

The only time I had ever seen Tai Chi before working on my article was while walking through parks. There seemed to always be a group of cute older men gracefully moving at snail-speed in silence. It looked like a choreographed dance. I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable totally letting my mind go and fully relaxing in a meditative state, but I was in for quite a treat. I let loose in the best way possible.

The introduction class was almost three hours. I learned the background, the Eternal Spring movements from their program, and had a much better idea of how to relax. Mastering the art takes years, and there’s always something to learn and do better. Anyone can do it. Young, old — it doesn’t matter.

After leaving class, I felt so at ease… which is saying a lot considering I had to walk through Times Square to get home. And the next day, I was ridiculously sore. Holding the stances for minutes at a time made me work muscles I didn’t even know I had. This art form requires a whole lot of skill, patience, and practice. Even doing a few of the movements every morning can reduce stress and anxiety.

Tai Chi isn’t something I’ll do every day, but it’s something I really want to incorporate into my life. It’s an amazing form of meditation, plus a way to work your muscles at the same time without even knowing it. Win-win? Pretty much.

If you want to learn some of the Eternal Springs movements, head here to see the video clips I shot. As for me, BRB — finding my inner chi.

The Easiest Way to Get Yourself to Eat Vegetables

I’ve never been much of a veggie person. Well, the “healthy” veggies, anyway. I could eat mashed potatoes for days (going back for two or three more heaping helpings growing up was standard), but unfortunately some vegetables outweigh others healthwise. Because nutrition can never be that easy.

But I’ve come a long way since my days of crying and hiding behind curtains every time my parents tried to get me to eat beets or spinach thanks to a simple trick. It just took about 25 years. I tried almost everything to make myself put a pile of colorful veggies on my plate with every meal; my fridge would be full, but most of the broccoli and asparagus would go bad before I made time to cook it.

Frozen vegetables are great, but they would often get pushed to the back of the freezer and completely forgotten about until my monthly deep clean. And canned veggies? They’re alright, but they lack nutrients. Unless I whipped up a veggie dish the day I brought them back home from the store, it was basically pointless and a whole lot of money went down the drain.

My solution that’s actually worked? Frozen veggie steamers. I avoided them for so long because options with wholesome additives and low-sodium are hard to find, but then it hit me: isn’t an easy, microwaveable, pre-packaged bag of seasoned vegetables better than avoiding them altogether? Instead of being tired and ordering in something unhealthy (cough, Chinese, cough), popping a veggie mix into the microwave for 5 minutes is delicious, satisfying, and a whole lot better for the body. So what if it has a little more salt than I’d like; It doesn’t even come close to what my sesame chicken is coated in.

Even though there are a handful of steamed veggie bags that totally defeat the purpose of eating vegetables, there are also a handful that will leave you feeling great. And the best part? They have all the nutrients locked in since they’re frozen right after being picked opposed to fresh produce that can lose nutrients pretty quickly.

Now that you know my secret, what’s yours?

5 Minutes with Laura Henshaw of Food, Fit and Repeat

In the ‘5 Minutes’ series, you’ll meet the raddest health and fitness ladies on the internet. Get ready for a serious dose of inspiration from empowering women I admire around the globe.

Name: Laura Henshaw
Age: 22
City: Melbourne, Australia
What Keeps Her Busy: Co-founder of Four Protein, Health & Wellness Blogger, Model, Law Student
What’s something people don’t know about you?

I’m actually a huge nerd at heart! I love challenging myself and learning new things every day.

What keeps you motivated on days you’re feeling blah?

I always remind myself how much better I’ll feel after I get up and get active. You never regret a workout!

Your go-to healthy snack obsession… and unhealthy guilty pleasure.

My fave healthy snack is a smoothie. I love combining Vanilla Bean Four Protein, coconut water, spinach and frozen banana! My fave unhealthy guilty pleasure is chocolate… but I believe everything is OK in moderation. It’s so important to have balance in your life and diet.

Most random thing in your gym bag.

Face wash? I’m not sure how random that is though… I love to sweat when I work out and find if I don’t wash my face straight after, my skin will break out from the sweat buildup in my pores. This is super handy when I have to go somewhere straight from the gym and don’t have time to have a shower in between.

Your favorite and least favorite workout moves.

My favorite workout is interval training on the treadmill. I love to run and I love how good you feel afterward. It’s such a great way to get your metabolism firing. My least favorite is probably burpees… no matter how much I do them, they always kill me!

Tell me something (anything!) 100% honest.

I’m addicted to chocolate and don’t go a day without it!

Most embarrassingly awesome workout jam on your playlist.

I love listening to rap while I run… I find it motivates me so much more than other genres!

Love Laura as much as I do? Keep up with her here:

Instagram: @laura.henshaw, @foodfitandrepeat
Snapchat: laurahenshx
Websites: foodfitandrepeat.com, fourprotein.com.au

 

A photo posted by Laura H (@laura.henshaw) on

 

12 Healthy Travel-Friendly Snacks

I love traveling. Airports are weirdly really fun for me, and I’ve always really liked road trips — especially now that I live in New York City and am constantly squished in the subway with millions of other people. The only real problem about traveling besides crying babies and delayed flights? The food, because #thestruggleisreal while you’re trying to find something healthy.

Then there’s also the mess. Some of my favorite healthy foods definitely don’t do well on a plane or in a car. Snacks that are sticky or leave crumbs all over the place is a big no-no when you’re crammed in a small space…with the exception of popcorn. I always end up with it in my hair and on my shirt, and I don’t care. More for later?

Since I’m going to Cabo this week (!!!) with my boyfriend for a much-needed getaway, I’ve been stocking up on some bad boys to have on hand for when I get hangry on the trip. Not if, when. And these healthy finds always keep me satisfied and feeling good when I’m on the road.

12 Snacks I Love (In No Particular Order)

1. Popchips in Crazy Hot

I’m not usually one for anything hot, but these have just the right amount of spice to make me sweat but not be totally miserable. It’s easy to get hooked on the real ingredients.

2. Nature’s Bakery Whole Wheat Fig Bar

I love Fig Newtons, but these are much healthier. With 110 calories per serving and wholesome ingredients in these compared to the not-so-good ingredients in my old favorite, you’ll usually find them squished in my purse.

3. That’s It Apple + Blueberries Bar

It’s hard to find an all-natural fruit bar that actually tastes good, but these are 100% real fruit with only two ingredients. 100 calories a bar, 19g sugar. Kind of like Fruit Roll-Ups for grownups (minus the fun roll-up part).

4. Smartfood Delight Sea Salt Popcorn

I can’t get enough of this popcorn — more so the white cheddar kind, but that gets preeetty messy. The sea salt variety is a perfect snack with 140 calories a bag and only 115mg sodium.

5. Bare Fruit Crunchy Granny Smith Apple Chips

Apple chips without all the work. 100% natural, no added sugar, and no preservatives. The sugar is still naturally high, though, so be careful with the bag’s portion sizes.

6. Little Duck Organics Tiny Fruits

Yeah, they’re for babies. But because of that, they literally only have two ingredients: strawberry and mango. And only 5 grams of sugar. You can eat the entire bag for under 100 calories.

7. Lucy’s Gluten-Free Snack ‘n Go Chocolate Chip Cookies

They’re chocolate chip cookies — enough said. Eat three of them for 130 calories. Since one cookie is usually 100 right there and loaded with sugar, this is a major win.

8. Annie’s Berry Patch Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

Probably the most best gummies you’ll find with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

9. The New Primal Turkey Jerky

Natural ingredients, humanely made, and delicious. I love jerky, but this brand is one of the best on the market.

10. Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame Goji Blend

Lots of protein plus a hint of fruity superfood? I’m in. One of my friends got me hooked on edamame, and this is an easy way to have it on hand whenever you get hungry.

11. Harvest Snaps Lentil Bean Tomato Basil

Lots of fiber and flavor. Definitely a much healthier take on your typical bag of chips.

12. Rhythm Superfoods Kool Ranch Kale Chips

Because when you can’t eat Cool Ranch Doritos all the time, this is the next best thing.

9 Ways to Have Real, Actual Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is hard, guys. Like really, really hard. Sometimes (especially as a 20-something) it can feel like your whole life revolves around your job, and that’s probably because it does. We grind away to get to the top, and even though there’s success, there’s also a side of under-eye bags that come with it. And quite honestly the only bags we want at this age are Prada and Chloé.

With every job, I keep telling myself something: You’ll have more time for yourself – just after this week. And after that project is done. But then three years fly by and you realize you still haven’t picked back up those hobbies you love because the only hobby you have enough energy to do after getting home at night is watch Netflix.

We’re going to change that. Or at least make an actual, concrete effort to. Ok? Ok.

When you’re working your ass off to impress the people you work with and move up that corporate ladder, it’s hard finding time for you. But because the next thing we know we’ll blink and be 35, let’s make the most of our youth right now. Starting with these steps to finally, actually, really achieve a work-life balance and get rid of stress (and prevent gray hair — the horror!) once and for all.

1. Go to work at a decent time.

Sometimes it’s tempting to go in an hour early just to check some things off your list. But since mornings should be your time to enjoy some peace and quiet before the craziness of the day starts, make sure you don’t give that up too easily.

2. Take a lunch break.
Lunch breaks. What are those? I never used to take them because I felt like I was doing something wrong. But they give us an hour for a reason. Even if you don’t take the entire thing, at least take half of it. Go for a walk, eat lunch in a park — just get away from your desk. Even on days I’m slammed, I still try to make time to get a breath of fresh air and my day instantly gets better.

3. Leave work at a decent time.
Once again, it can be really easy to lose track of time and stay late. The thing I’ve realized about work is no matter how late you stay to try to get things done, it’s never really done. You’re never really caught up. There’s always more to do. By staying at the office until 9 p.m. every night then going straight to bed and starting all over again the next day, you’re basically just going to drive yourself crazy. Leave work before the sun goes down — most of the time those things on your list can wait until tomorrow.

4. Stay off your email and computer after hours.
I’m writing this as I’m on my computer AND checking my email after hours. It’s easier said than done, I know. But even if you can’t stay off completely, at least cut your screen time down and focus more on the people right in front of you. Your emails can wait.

5. Put your phone down. Seriously.
Your phone counts as a screen. Turn it on airplane mode and enjoy a few hours of peace every night. It will save your sanity.

6. Stay off Netflix most weeknights.
This one is especially hard for me, because Netflix and I are like two peas in a pod. BFFs. We’re in love. The only problem is this love can be toxic, and one TV show can quickly turn into five. Meanwhile, I could have been grabbing dinner with friends or going on a walk with my dog. Priorities.

7. Find a hobby you love.
Even if you love your job, still make sure you keep up with your hobbies. Whether it’s music, writing, working out, cooking, or reading, don’t stop. You’ll regret it if you do.

8. Call your friends. Better yet, spend time with your friends.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget about the people you’ve been neglecting. Sometimes I realize an entire month has passed since I’ve had a real conversation with my closest friends. Days blur together in the working world, so make sure you take a step back and keep your relationships strong.

9. Sleeeeep.
They say we need eight hours for a reason. On nights I stay up too late, the next day is almost always miserable. I’m not fully there, I’m grumpy, and I’m not doing my best work. Part of having work-life balance and making sure you treat your body the way it should be treated so you can get the most out of your days. Being groggy won’t help.

If you want to be the best you can be at work, you have to be the best you can be in general. That means taking time for yourself, replenishing yourself, and making sure your wellbeing and sanity are in check. If you can’t do that, something needs to change. Rethink stressful jobs, bosses who don’t treat you like you should be treated, and co-workers you don’t enjoy being around. Is the money worth your happiness? Being able to afford designer bags is cool, but most likely not.

We only get one life, so don’t waste it away being unhappy or stressed… even if that means you get a raise. Because raises and cool perks aren’t fun unless you can actually enjoy them. Don’t look back on your twenties wishing you wouldn’t have spent the best years of your life slaving away. Find your balance and I promise your mood and quality of life will change quicker than you think.