Monthly Archives: June 2022

Eight Reasons Why I Love Yoga ~ And Why I Think You Will, Too

How do I love yoga?  Let me count the ways!  I know that’s such a cheesy opening. . . but it’s honestly SO true!  Yoga has tremendous benefits ~ ones you feel instantly and from the inside out.  Yes – even after your very first class.  

You do not have to be at any certain fitness level to practice yoga.  The beauty of yoga is that it is FOR YOU – where you are right now.  Your practice changes, grows, and improves as your body and fitness level change.  Some true, long-time yoga practitioners are definitely advanced in their physical fitness ability, flexibility, and ability to get into and maintain challenging postures.  But their capabilities were not automatically present at their first class.  It’s called “practice” for a reason!  In any physical fitness activity, there’s always room for growth and skill development.  Yoga is no different.  

  • Your yoga is just that – all yours!  Every time I get on my mat, whether I’m teaching a class or taking one, that time is all mine:  learning more about what my body needs, what I’m capable of, and mostly recovering from daily and/or weekly stresses (emotional, mental, and physical). Today’s yoga session may be completely different than tomorrow’s, depending on which muscle groups are sore or tight and how stressful the week has been. 
  • Yoga is “time friendly.”  Thankfully, there is no minimum or maximum amount of time required!  A good yoga session can last from 10 minutes up to 90 minutes.  The decision is completely up to you.
  • Had a few hard workouts that left your muscles feeling sore and tight?  Yoga sessions can target those areas!  Let your yoga instructor know if your lower back or hip flexors feel tight or if your shoulders and upper back have been bothering you.  A good yoga session can definitely help relieve that tightness and aid in recovery.  Actually, weekly yoga sessions can greatly improve your recovery and help maximize your workouts.
  • Yoga is one of the best ways to relieve stress!  Settling onto a yoga mat, concentrating on your breathing, and stretching tense muscles will calm your heart rate and release a great deal of tension and stress.
  • Recovery yoga before bed will greatly improve the quality of your sleep.  Tense muscles are stretched, stress is relieved, circulation is improved, and your body is relaxed.
  • With each yoga session, balance, flexibility, and mobility improve.  Especially as we age, these help us maintain our independence so we can continue to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.  Each time you perform a difficult pose, your body improves!  Those tight muscles and tissues DO remember and respond.  Even repeating a pose later in the same session will be improved. 
  • In addition to the obvious muscle stretching, yoga also incorporates resistance training as we use our own body weight to hold stretches and in moving in and out of poses.  Not only are you improving your balance and flexibility, but you’re also gaining strength and endurance!
  • No two yoga sessions have to be the same!  Remember, it is for you!  Each instructor has their own style, and each app or video is different.  If you’re plugging yoga in at home, you can play music or nature sounds.  Your room can be brightly lit or have low light.  You can incorporate aromatherapy with candles or oils.  I love that one day my class utilizes low light and the sounds of ocean waves, while another class is more about fellowship and communicating while we stretch.  A yoga practice can be more flowing in and out of poses, or lingering in stretches for longer periods of time.  Each yoga session can meet your needs at that time!

If you haven’t tried yoga before, please do yourself a favor and give it a try.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!  Many gyms offer yoga classes if you don’t have a yoga studio near you.  The Down Dog app is one of my favorite go to’s for my own practice at home when I don’t want to plan my own practice.  If you’re local to me, please check the Yoga tab on this web site for class opportunities!  

As always, please feel free to contact me if I can help you with your healthy and wellness goals!

What’s The Deal With Inflammation?!

Recognizing symptoms of inflammation and managing it is crucial to your overall wellness journey.  There are so many common, chronic symptoms we all experience from fatigue, headaches, and even congestion/runny nose that may actually be a symptom of inflammation rather than allergies or a cold.   Most often we associate inflammation with an injury or arthritis, but it can warn us about other health issues.  If your body has excess inflammation, it’s trying to signal you that something is off in your system.

After researching this more in depth (from,, Medical News Today and Harvard Health), I’ve learned that there are two types of inflammation:  Acute and Chronic.

Acute Inflammation is what actually happens at the onset of an injury, such as a sprained ankle or wrist, that actually helps us heal.  The swelling, and oftentimes heat, are our bodies reaction to an injury; these symptoms are fighting the injury and signal us to rest that area as the swelling goes away.

Chronic Inflammation is serious, and if this isn’t treated, it can start a domino effect in our bodies of other issues.  Here are a few signs of chronic inflammation:

  • You’re tired all of the time. Can you believe that too little or too much sleep can lead to inflammatory reactions in your body?  Irregular sleep patterns can cause cells in your body to respond as if you’re dealing with an illness.
  • You have aches and pains that cannot be attributed to an injury.  If you experience pain at either end of the range of motion, you could be dealing with inflammation or arthritis.  Either should be checked out with your doctor, just to be safe and to keep you on the right track.
  • You’re experiencing digestive problems.  If you’re dealing with ongoing excessive gas or diarrhea, this could be caused by inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract.  Chronic digestive issues should never be ignored!  This could be inflammation from food allergies, Crohn’s Disease, Diverticulitis, etc.  These definitely need to be checked by your doctor.
  • Your lymph nodes are swollen. These are located in your neck, armpits, and groin area.  Swelling in your lymph nodes is a definite signal that something is wrong with your immune system.  A viral or bacterial infection will cause these to swell, but as the infection heals, the swelling decreases.  If your lymph nodes stay swollen, this should be checked with your physician as well to determine if there is something more serious going on.
  • You have a stuffy or runny nose.  The obvious sign for allergies is inflammation in our nasal passages.  At the onset, we believe it’s all due to seasonal allergies or a common cold.  However, since inflammation is the body’s way of fighting a foreign substance and protecting itself, a stuffy nose that persists could be a sign of something else. 
  • You’re experiencing skin irritation or break outs. Internal inflammation can sometimes make itself known by breaking out on our skin.  If you’re experiencing a new rash, dry skin, eczema, etc., it could be a sign of internal inflammation.  If it becomes a chronic issue, having a doctor check is always a good idea.
  • You’re having problems with focus or are noticing “brain fog.”  Inflammation can definitely affect us mentally.  We become a little more forgetful, have trouble focusing, lose track of what you’re saying during a conversation.  If we treat internal inflammation, mental clarity improves.  Our nutrition plays a huge part in this!  Fast foods, processed foods, convenience, and restaurant foods can lead to nutritional deficiencies.  Our brains, and entire body, operate at optimal levels when we are fueled appropriately!

Chronic inflammation, untreated for an extended period of time, can lead to any number of health concerns.  These include:

  • Diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • Arthritis and other joint diseases
  • Allergies
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

So, what can we do?  Can we avoid chronic inflammation?  The answer is YES!  At the very least we can minimize our risk.  Here are a few factors that typically lead to this type of inflammation:

  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • A diet that is rich in UNhealthy fats and added sugars
  • Smoking
  • Low hormone levels
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems

You likely already know that I’m headed straight to the nutrition and exercise fix, right?  Because proper self care is ESSENTIAL for our health and wellness right now, as well as our long-term health, wellness, mobility, and longevity.   Wouldn’t you prefer a better quality of life as you age?!  

So let’s look at nutrition.  First, there are so, so many foods that can not only lead to inflammation, but actually cause it.  These are:

  • Processed, refined carbohydrates (white bread, donuts, etc.)
  • Fried foods (french fries, tater tots, etc.)
  • Sodas and all sugar-sweetened drinks.  This includes Gatorade!!!
  • Red meat that is fatty (always choose the leanest possible) and processed meats (sausage, hot dogs, bacon, etc.)
  • Margarine, shortening, and lard

Now onto the good stuff!  Please DO NOT PANIC!  You will not be giving up flavor or enjoying your foods, I promise.  In fact, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by how good you feel without the “crap” foods listed above in your system.  Here are some examples of ANTI-inflammatory foods:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts like walnuts and almonds
  • Salmon and tuna
  • Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • Coffee (Yup!  Without the sugary creamers and sugar)

Not only will these foods help decrease any inflammation in your body, a diet rich in these can also help prevent inflammation!  This can also help control your blood sugar levels, decrease body fat, and increase your energy.  

Movement and getting in an adequate amount of exercise can also tremendously decrease inflammation.  If working out only reduces stress for you, you’re still ahead of the game!  We all know there are more benefits than that.

The bottom line here is to cut back or eliminate the foods that are unhealthy and cause inflammation.  Eat a diet full of the anti-inflammatory foods, and get moving.  You will feel so, so much better!   If, of course, you are dealing with any of the signs above of chronic inflammation, go ahead and see your doctor.  If there is a problem, you can be on your way to resolving it.  If not, you’ll have peace of mind and a direction (healthy nutrition and exercise) to go.

As always, if you want or need help with nutrition and/or a workout plan, please feel free to contact me at, or through the Contact Me tab on this web site!

Time Is On Your Side

This has to be a joke, right?!  None of us ever seem to have enough time!  In fact, the most common reason I hear from clients and friends for not eating right or working out is “I just don’t have the time.”  So, here’s the thing – you/I make the time for things that are important.  The things that are priorities for us or our families are the things that take precedence in our schedules as well.

Even though fitness and healthy eating take time and effort, and seem to be more selfish pursuits, the truth is that your health and wellness ARE essential!  When moms and dads are sick, managing our households becomes much harder.  We can’t prevent all illnesses, but placing an emphasis on your nutrition and fitness level will certainly minimize chronic illnesses and maximize your overall health.  Just imagine fewer doctors appointments!!  That will certainly free time in your already hectic schedules, right?  

I want to review a few basic principles from earlier blogs about the advantages of healthy eating and working out, as well as some disadvantages from unhealthy eating and not getting weekly exercise.


  1.  Healthy eating provides clean nutrition – think of that as fuel for your body.  Taking in the appropriate amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats keeps your body and ALL of it’s systems (cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, etc.) operating at optimal levels.
  1. Taking in clean nutrition boosts your immune system!  Naturally, this helps your body fight off any germs and illnesses you encounter.  
  1. A healthy diet minimizes complications from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even allergies.
  1. Getting in three (3) to four (4) days of exercise every week maintains a healthy weight and can aid in losing excess body fat.
  1. Some form of daily exercise will help manage stress, burn off frustration, and help with our mental health.  
  1. Exercise can aid in clearing “brain fog” and give a different perspective on stressful situations/decisions.
  1. Exercise keeps your joints and soft tissues operating at their best.  Think of the “use it or lose it” theory.  Sitting still for long periods of time freezes your joints and they become stiff.  Movement does just the opposite.
  1. Getting exercise allows us to maintain and improve our balance, flexibility, mobility, and strength


  1.  Eating a diet that consists of primarily fast foods and processed foods can lead to any number of digestive issues, and in complicating chronic health conditions.
  1. A diet that consists of either too little or too many calories, protein, carbs, and the wrong kinds of fats can actually cause many health issues, as well as causing the body to store unhealthy body fat around your organs (visceral) as well as under your skin.
  1. An unhealthy diet in addition to already carrying too much body fat is harmful to your organs, joints, and connective tissues.  This can also weaken your bones.
  1. Eating a diet that is full of processed foods and high in sugar actually suppresses your immune system, making you a target for every illness and virus.
  1. Avoiding exercise is harmful to your joints.  Remember that we are Divinely designed!!  Each bone, joint, ligament, tissue, and organ has a purpose, and these all work together.  I know from personal experience that if you neglect one muscle group, another takes over, causing imbalanced and improper work on your joints.  If your core is weak, your lower back will become overworked and begin to give out.  If your hamstrings are weak, your knees will have more “pull” from the front of the leg, causing improper work dynamics which in turn will cause pain and possible injury.

Ok – now you see just why a healthy lifestyle is so crucial to your overall wellness, longevity, and healthy aging.  However, you still have the issue of finding time.  This is where priorities and time management come in!  

We’ll tackle nutrition and meal replacement first.  Journaling might be a helpful option, or at least a notepad and a pen!  First, make note of how many you will feed each day.  Will you need to prepare all meals and snacks for your spouse and children?  Just you?  (I have made MANY meals that have been tweaked to allow for my competition prep, as well as meals my husband and sons will eat.)  The next step will be to prepare a weekly menu for each meal – breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks.  Is this accounting for everyone’s particular likes and dislikes, allergies, etc.?   Now you’re ready to put this into a grocery list; include ALL items needed to cook (seasonings, herbs, extra virgin olive oil) as well as all ingredients.  

Helpful Tips:

  • Look at Pinterest or Google for clean recipes for your favorite dishes
  • Purchase the containers in the produce section that have fresh vegetables already chopped – huge time saver!
  • Order your groceries online to pick up.  This saves you time going inside the store, waiting in a line to pay for your groceries, AND allows you to purchase ONLY the items needed for your menu!

Now just pick a couple of days to prepare a few meals in advance.  Don’t forget about what a time saver a crock pot is!  Pinterest is really helpful here, too.  Once the meals are prepared, divide by servings, and put into individual containers to keep in the refrigerator.  Then you just grab and go.  Even back at home at the end of a busy day, knowing you have dinner all ready to heat up is such a relief.  If you are out and about for sports practices and games – knowing you have a meal already prepared will save you time AND money going through a drive-through for fast food.  Just heat your meals and relax at home while you eat.

Up next – workouts!  I promise this isn’t as daunting as you might think.  Look at your calendar, and take your daily schedule into consideration.   If you have a gym membership – use it!  Pack your gym bag before you go to bed at night; even put it in your car if that helps!  Make sure you have workout clothes, socks, the right shoes, your head phones, etc. already in the bag in the evening.  Just like your meals – you grab and go on your way out in the morning (unless it’s already in your car).  Just carve out 30 to 45 minutes at least 3 days each week to stop by the gym on your way home.  Depending on your work schedule, maybe going to the gym first and then onto work is better for you.  You’ll only need to get up a little earlier; I promise it’s more than worth it!  If you’re like me, you spend nearly that much time piddling on household tasks in the morning anyway.  Make a plan, and stick with it!  Don’t let yourself get sidetracked.  

If you aren’t a gym member, do NOT let that stop you!!!  If you feel that you would be more consistent with the accountability of a gym environment – then research the gyms local to you.  Most will offer a week-long guest pass.  Just try it out.  If joining a gym just isn’t for you, then plug in at-home workouts for yourself.  Either first thing in the morning before you get ready for the day, or immediately after work.  Depending on your dinner menu, you will likely have 20 to 30 minutes while supper is cooking!  

The final step for getting workouts in is making a plan for each week.  Go ahead and schedule your workouts.  Yes – write them down!  If you want to lift weights, plan which days you will work which muscle groups.  Have a plan for each muscle group for when you walk into the gym or pull out any home equipment.  If you prefer a variety – make sure you schedule a day for an outdoor walk, a yoga class, dance fitness, running or walking with friends.   Look for gaps in your schedule; for example, if your child has a sports practice that lasts an hour, use that hour to jog or walk (through in some jumping jacks, plank, squats, walking lunges).  

Make your health and wellness a priority!  Self care is never selfish; your family is depending on you!  It can certainly seem overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time.  Start with nutrition.  Make a plan, and stick with it.  Be consistent, and you will have developed a healthy habit!   Then add in some form of exercise.  Mix it up, invite friends; have fun with it!  

A personal trainer can certainly be a huge benefit in creating a workable plan for you, aiding in time management, proper nutrition, and planning effective workouts.  A consultation isn’t a commitment.  If you’re weighing hiring a trainer, get references and consult with one or more to make the most informed decision.  I would love to help you!   Please click on my Contact Me link or email at:  Mention this blog for a free consultation!!

Low Back Pain? Check Your Hip Flexors!

All of us have experienced low back pain at some point in our lives, and it is surely aggravating!  Even though you might be able to pinpoint what activity caused it, you could be missing a very important underlying factor!  Tight hip flexors can really throw a proverbial monkey wrench into things.  

Foam rolling and stretching your lower back is always helpful, but don’t neglect those hip flexors!  It’s always a great idea to stretch your hips and hip flexors – just to be proactive.  You already know that I’m going to recommend yoga. . . honestly, you cannot go wrong!  Whether you’re looking for recovery, stress relief, pain relief, improved balance, improved flexibility, improved mobility, improved strength, or ALL of the above, yoga is the answer!   But back to how hip flexors affect your lower back. . .

Quite often lately, I’ve noticed that stretching my hip flexors always makes my lower back feel better and improves my flexibility tremendously.  So I researched the connection between hip flexors and low back pain.  I’ve read over so many articles on web sites such as,,,, and  The overwhelming results are that tight hip flexors are most likely responsible for a large percentage of lower back pain!

First let’s pinpoint exactly what hip flexors are:

  • Iliopsoas muscle is actually two muscles working together to stabilize the lower back – the psoas (my personal nemesis) and the Iliacus.  The psoas is SO hard to stretch because it runs from the lumbar spine (mid back) into and through the pelvis to attach to the thigh bone (femur).  The iliacus muscle attaches the pelvis to the thigh bone; its purpose is to rotate the thigh.
  • Rectus femoris muscle attaches the pelvis to the knee and the quadriceps muscle, which is used in squatting and lunging.
  • Sartorius muscle goes from the pelvis to the knee and flexes the knee and leg.
  • Pectineus muscle, more commonly known as the groin muscle, is used in hip flexion, thigh rotation, and adduction.

All of these hip flexor muscles work together to stabilize the spine, and to allow us to have hip flexion.  Now let’s examine some signs that your hip flexors are tight.  

  • The most obvious sign is these muscles just feel tight, even when you try to stretch them. 
  • You experience a tightness or pain in your lower back, especially when you stand up.  (This one is me!)
  • You have poor posture and have a hard time standing up straight.
  • You have neck tightness and pain.  (Yes!  Hip flexors affect our entire back!
  • You experience pain in the glutes.

To sum all this up, tight hips can negatively affect our whole body, especially our lower back.  To alleviate low back pain, you can’t go wrong with foam rolling, icing, and/or stretching.  However, if you fail to address the underlying problem, the problem and the pain will persist.  

Tight hip flexor muscles will shorten, which pulls on the lumbar spine of your lower back causing the muscles of your lower back to tighten and cause pain.  That dreaded psoas (remember, my personal nemesis?) is attached straight to the vertebrae of the lower spine.  It’s really hard to stretch because of its location, and once it tightens and shortens, it can cause some serious pain.  For me personally, it’s always the right side and reminds me of experiencing a kidney stone!  It can become really painful.

Specifically quoted from  “From the perspective of a doctor of physical therapy, Tony Matoska, PT, DPT, CMPT, Clinic Manager for Athletico Muskego, WI and Wisconsin Spine Specialty Program Regional Coordinator for Athletico, notes that “tight hips and hamstrings are more likely to affect your lower back than your middle or upper back (thoracic spine).”

In addition to muscle tightness in the hips, Matoska notes that stiff hip joints can lead to lower back pain. “A lack of rotational motion and ability to flex or extend your hip forwards or backwards can affect your walking, running, swinging, and twisting motions and increase mechanical strain on your lower back.”

So now that we see the connection between hip flexors and low back pain, what do we do about it?  Stretching is incredibly important!  Before you begin any workout – dancing, lifting, running, swimming – stretch!  Take the time to stretch; it’s more than worth it!  Strengthening the hip flexors is also incredibly important.   Include lunges, lying leg raises, kettlebell swings, hanging leg raises, glute bridges, and Bulgarian split squats to strengthen those muscles.

And, of course, YOGA!  There are SO many yoga stretches to stretch and strengthen your hip flexors and lower back – in the same session!  You can easily fit 10 to 15 minutes of yoga when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night.  (Yes, you can.  Make the time; it’s that important!)  Include child’s pose, forward folds (standing and seated), butterfly pose, pigeon, sleeping pigeon, lizard, seated and supine twists, just to name a few.  Please check out the Yoga section on this web site if you’re local to me for class locations and times!  If you’re not local, please find a local yoga studio or gym that offers yoga classes.  You’ll be SO glad you did!

Start taking proactive care of your hip flexor muscles to improve your overall posture and relieve, if not prevent, low back pain!