I am so glad I learned that was not true.
In my early 20s when I was living on my own I became very interested in The China Study, the work of the Cleveland Clinic, and also simply studying my own experience when I stepped away from the food I was raised on and began to cook mostly plant-based and sometime introduce responsibly raised fish when I could afford it. My health and self-esteem once I began to cook for myself more regularly dramatically improved.
Whether someone goes totally Vegan, or simply wants to shift the ratios in their diet, reframing a diet to become more plant-based can be a challenge when the recipes you were raised on rely heavily on milk, meat, and cheese. I don't really think that fall back on these recipes because they 'don't like' plant-based meals, but simply because they don't know how to easily choose something else - and quite frankly their kitchen isn't set-up to support a a new way of cooking.
In this blog I introduce some of my favorite and most used kitchen tools that I use, and I believe can help anyone increase their vegetable consumption!
I use this badboy every.single.day. Here's the thing. I have had other blenders and they have all paled in comparison to Vitamix. Yes the price tag is higher than other blenders... but in the long run this blender has lasted YEARS longer than my previous blenders. The Vitamix also has the power to create enough friction that you can make hot purees and soups - which is one of my favorite aspects of this machine. Be it plant-based soups like Black Bean Tortilla Soup or my daily green smoothie, my Vitamix has been the best investment in my kitchen by far.
If you are going to cook more plants, you probably will start using your strainer for more than pasta. Bottom line every can of beans, and all of your dehydrated grains (rice, quinoa etc) need to be rinsed! Rinsing your beans and grains makes them easier on your tummy. But your typically pasta strainer often has holes that are too wide for small grains and beans and you end up losing a lot of your product down the drain. So grab a finer mesh strainer and keep more of your food where it belongs - in your belly!
Pyrex Bowls with Lids
First every kitchen, plant-based or not, needs a lil Pyrex in it. Their products are timeless for a reason - they work. But for plant-based home cooks I love their nesting set of bowls with lids because I find it is often easier to batch cook and store recipes so you have something easy to reach for later in the week. And BONUS a lot of plant-based recipes get better over time due to the fact that hearty veggies, beans and grains then have time to soak up whatever dressing you have tossed them with. Having beautiful and convenient glass bowls with lids makes preparing large batches of coleslaws, and pasta salads, and bean and grain dishes more appealing!
To-Go Glass Containers with Locking Lids
Similar to the Pyrex bowls above, locking lid containers are great to take your plant-based meals on the go. I like sauce with my food and I hate chasing down the tiny little dressing containers. So locking lids that have the silicon rims keeps things really simply... and prevents spilling.
Overnight oats are my jam and I like making them in Ball Jars so that I can take them on the go - but also so that I can pour hot liquid over them in the morning if I want to warm them up.... there is some debate over their microwave-ability... so nuke at your own risk ;). But I also love having mason jars on hand for other fun plant-based foods - that are way easier than you might think - like quick pickling! I love a refrigerate pickling of dilly beans, pickled red onion, and pickled carrots and cauliflower. Now you could go all the way and do heat-based jarring and canning and I have in the past. But honestly I find that I end up eating the foods so quickly that I don't take the time to jar up my pickled foods for long term storage. Having quick pickled veggies on hand lends that zing you want for yummy sandwiches, toppings for tacos, and zesty salads!
I have all of these products - and more ideas - listed for you in my Amazon Idea's List. Check it out here.
It often happens often and creeps up quickly — you've skip a workout, then inevitably, two. Before you know it, you've missed a week or two of exercise. Do you simply dive back into your previous routine or should you make up for it by adding extra minutes or even doubling your effort?
The short answer is 'no' and the long answer is, 'it's a little more complicated than that'.
Short Term Misses
When you miss a workout, by a day or two, not much has likely happened to your body. There's really no reason to "double up" and in fact doing so might actually hurt more than it helps.
Significantly more intense or long lasting workouts that are far beyond what your body is used to are much more likely to open up an opportunity for injury. At the very least a significantly longer or extra vigorous workout is going to leave you most sore, and that higher than normal level of soreness might dissuade you from working out the next day - and thus the cycle continues.
What if It's Been A While?
However if you miss a week or more of a workout, your powerful muscle fibers (fast-twist fibers) are likely starting to de-train. To understand this a quick physiology lesson related to the principle of adaptation will help.
Our bodies are designed for efficiency. If you have ever heard the word "use it or lose it" it relates to this principles. Our body will adapt ONLY to the level of stress it needs to and no further. Keeping muscle on the body is energetically inefficient because muscles require calories. Human beings evolved to have innate processes that will prepare the body for long periods of time without food in the event that we couldn't gather or hunt enough to sustain. Detraining and adaptation are terms related to this reality. Our bodies will adapt to the environment and stress introduced to it, and thus after a week or so of inactivity, the muscles will revert back to whatever the current stress level is.
So if you've been gone from your routine for a long time, no only should you not double-up to make up for lost time, but you likely shouldn't simply go back to the level you were used to. Instead allow your first session back to be at a low to mid-range intensity. This will allow you get back into your groove, while minimizing the chance of injury, so that you can continue to build a routine day by day that serves you.
Does that Mean Extra Long Workouts Are Always Bad?
While doubling up after a miss isn't the answers, two-a-day workouts are not necessarily bad. But they aren't necessarily
the same as extra long sessions, either.
Both extra long training sessions, and two-a-day workouts are often necessary for high-level athletes who are training for a specific reason. When done correctly, working out twice a day can increase strength, endurance, and decrease body fat percentage. And while done correctly, extra long sessions 90+ minutes may also be an athlete. But, if you're not an athlete or training for a specific competition, the risk may outweigh the reward. Here's why. Both extra long single sessions and two-a-days put you at risk of overtraining. Most of us aren't working out with a trainer developing our plans and overseeing our every move. And when it comes to extra long sweat sessions that force the body to work intensely for longer than 45-60 minutes, those workouts may actually be producing the exact opposite result that you seek. Unless you are an endurance athlete used to working at high capacity for extended periods of time, overly long sessions signal stress to the brain and your body may react by creating secreting more stress hormones that can have an adverse effect on everything from your energy levels, fat-burning capabilities, blood sugar, sleep and more.
The Final Word
Bottom line: every workout opens you up to potential injury, and every body needs rest. Attempting to ignoring ignoring those signs can result in decreased results or injury. Listening to when your body needs rest is one of the most important skills you can cultivate to ensure that your workout plan is sustainable for the long haul.
So if it's been a short time, like missing only two days, remember it won't have much of an effect on your body. So it's much safer and smarter to just get back on your normal routine. And if it's been a while, your body will need time to adapt to reclaim some of the strength lost, so attempting something extra intense isn't going to yield a positive result.
Though totally understandable, the most useless feeling in all of this is guilt. Dwelling in guilty feelings over a missed workout is not going to produce anything positive. Remember that exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, and should never be used as a punishment. You're awesome as is, right now, no matter how many minutes you have or have not worked out today.
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Are you looking to create the personal wellness space in your home that function beautifully as both workout and meditation space - on a budget? Any quick search online is going to provide you with dozen of ideas for expensive equipment, if you've seen the aftermarket for large equipment like stationary bikes and treadmills you'll understand that cardio equipment might be taking up more space than they are worth (and not to mention they are expensive leaving little room in your budget for anything else). You can create a great space in your home without expensive professional gym equipment. This guide will show you what you need to get started.
Evolve from "Gym" to a Mindful Movement Space
A home gym can mean different things depending on what movement you love. But for many of us when we hear "home gym" we assume that we have to invest in a bench, a bar, heavy weight racks and convert our garage into a room for pumping iron. But since you're reading this blog, I'm guessing that's NOT quite what you had in mind. A space in your home that is both a place for mindful movement, challenging workouts, and relaxed enough for meditation.
When selecting items for your space there are a few things to consider:
Small and Shared Spaces
Even in small spaces you can create a movement and meditation area that is portable, functional, and enjoyable. For those in an apartment, or sharing their movement and meditation space with another function in the home, it's important to select items that can offer multiple uses, are portable and made of materials that won't scratch floors or rip furniture.
Respecting The Budget
When it comes to spending money in items for your movement and mediation space it is important to remember that the price tag isn't the only consideration, the durability of the products is equally important. Time and time again people buy cheap $20 or $30 yoga mats that have a cheap price tag, but they don't perform well and that money invested is really a waste. So premium quality products are important because they ensure that the investment will continue to offer return over a long period of time.
That said, no one needs to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to create a Mindful Movement space. A few select investments and know where you should direct your more of dollars is the best way to ensure that you are going to be pleased for a long time. Look for equipment that offer multiple functions so that you can pursue variety and cross-training in your space. These are items like a Yoga Mat, firm yoga blocks, kettle bells and free weights, and resistance bands.
Here are my must-haves for a space that can host an amazing workout and double up as a calm meditation space too.
1. Enroll with a Mindful Movement Service Provider
Usage and value of your space depends on personal motivation. If you never use any of these products it won't matter how much you spent because it was ultimately a waste. I often find that even as someone who has worked professional as a personal trainer and a Yoga Teacher for a decade, and have been practicing Yoga & Meditation for over 18 years, I still greatly benefit from the guidance and instruction of someone else. I also benefit from variety and flexibility in of day and length of a session. Connecting with my mindful movement family at Practice Everywhere offers accountability and also takes away mental pressure and fatigue. But truly, I recommend that anyone find a service provider rather than simply embarking on their own to ensure that the products they buy are sure to get use.
Selecting a fitness channel or app doesn't have to be a daunting experience. Most offer a free trial and the service itself is significantly less expensive than in person sessions because the cost of the instructor is getting spread out across the whole community. Of course I am biased, and would suggest that everyone become a member of Practice Everywhere for Yoga, Fitness & Meditation videos on a site that is rolling out new content several times per week for only $9.99/mo. For those that want even more accountability, I encourage adding on live virtual classes. But even if you are not a Practice Everywhere members, do find a fitness channel or app that works for you (or even a couple that you can rotate throughout your week). Virtual training and instruction is a great way to connection with others ( an absolutely essential for continued motivation) and stay on budget (online services are typically much less than in-person).
Start your journey: watch.practiceeverywhere.com
2. Get a High Quality Yoga Mat
A yoga mat for this set-up is not just for asana practice. It also is your primary surface for all of your fitness modalities done in your home mindful movement space from mat pilates to vinyasa yoga to free weights and bodyweight training.
If your mat is made of plastic or foam (do not buy a PVC mat; and despite the number of times in the last 8-10 years companies have tried to convince me otherwise I have never found a mat made of PVC that could actually go the distance). I am going to be bold and just tell you that if you have a foamy style plastic mat - it's time to replace it. And if you have one of those "washable" mats that is fabric on top and foamy grip on the bottom, keep it if it's working for you. But more often than not I find that may not be tough enough either. But good news, you don't need to throw your cheaper mats away. A cheap mat can be cut up and used for knee pads. But it really should be your go-to surface for your movement practice.
I recommend mats that are made of rubber or synthetic rubber that are 5-6 MM thick. Some cork mats are nice for practice. However, I find that despite their eco-friendly claims, cork mats often fall apart faster meaning you're replacing it twice as fast and therefore the claim of being better for the environment is not necessarily true.
Look for a mat that is super grippy, wide enough for your shoulders, thick and firm enough to support joints, and sweat wicking so you don't slip (i.e. your sweat doesn't pool up on top of it).
Here are my favorites:
The Practice Mat shop.practiceeverywhere.com
3. Yoga Blocks
Similarly to yoga mats, blocks are often sold with soft foamy material. And honestly, those just don't hold up long term. But what is my larger concern with yoga blocks found at the discount stores is that they are often not solid enough to become the platform they need to be in many propped yoga pose usage. When it comes to yoga blocks look for firm-foam or solid well-pressed cork. Cork is a great option when it coms to yoga blocks because blocks don't endure the foot traffic of yoga mats, so they will hold up well for the long run.
Eco-strength is one of my favorite brands. Find them here.
4. Resistance Bands
This versatile piece of equipment is also the least expensive on this list! Resistance bands or loops are a fantastic add to your home mindful movement space. Why I love them is because they are a great way to amp up some of your favorite moves like squats, planks and leg lifts, and more! The resistance they offer challenges deep stabilizing muscles. So something as simple as a basic squat or chair pose is transformed into a more comprehensive hip stability and strength move. Perhaps maybe the best part of resistance bands is their price tag. Check them out here:
5. Light & Heavy Dumbbells
A lot of trainers will tell you to reach for kettlebells. And I'm not opposed to kettlebells. I like them and use them a lot in my own workouts. But I knew that for this blog I had to make some edits. So if I had to choose an weight item, dumbbells are it. Grab a pair that is lighter 5 - 10lbs, and a pair that is heavier 10 - 20lbs. A heavy dumbbell can actually help you achieve many of the same moves you would do with a kettle bell because the bell on the dumbbell on larger weights is large enough for grip. Yes the orientation of weight on a kettle bell v a dumbbell is optimize for things like squats and swings, you can still get a very similar experience with a dumbbell - plus so much more. They are hard to find during the holidays so if you can find a pair at the weight that you want, snag them quickly!
Say hello to your core, your booty, your shoulders and you inner and outer inner thighs! Sliders create opportunities to pull, push, and stabilize with the lower body and upper body in a way you often can't find without expensive equipment. This is because the slippery sliding material forces your body to stabilize through out the entire range of motion meaning the time under tension is increased.
Building this level of control isn't just something that makes us feel strong, it help us stay safe! And conscientious exercise is a must for any mindful movement experience. Plus this piece of equipment can tuck away into any bag or piece of luggage so you can have a portable workout anywhere you go. Find one here.
7. Fitness Step
Fitness isn't just about sculpted muscles, it's primarily about functional and positive maintenance to support healthy living and aging. One of the things that every person should consider, at any age but especially when we get older, is balance and stability when moving between different surfaces. Building confidence and skill changing elevation by stepping up and down (and side to side) helps develop coordination which can prevent slips and falls, and minimize the damage when falls do happen
But that's not all. Fitness steps have so many uses, from substituting as a bench, and allowing for a greater range of motion for hips and shoulder moves. Many fitness steps also have storage hidden inside making it a great investment for small spaces! This step/bench/storage combo is my absolute fav!
8. Yoga Bolster
What I love about a yoga bolster is that it doesn't just offer soft support, it offers education! When you use a bolster to sit for meditation you begin to understand the relationship between your hip flexors and low back. When you use it for cushion under your knees in savasana you begin to understand the relationship between your hamstrings and low back. When you use a bolster behind your back for supported fish or queens chair, you begin to understand the relationship between your chest, arms, neck, and upper back. This piece of equipment is similar to a mattress. Some like cushy. Some like very firm. Either way you want one that retains its shape over a long period of time and provides the support you need. A removable washable cover is also a great bonus feature to ensure a clean practice. Here are a few of my favorites.
I am a big fan of keeping a journal of your activity. Traditionally in the gym a notebook was used for tracking and counting. But I understand that for some people that can become obsessive. I have put together a FREE meditation journal guide for anyone that wants to get into the habit of wellness journalling and divorce themselves form boring number counting. The idea is not just to see 'improvement' but rather to allow your journal to hold space for your thoughts, feelings, and emotions along the entire spectrum of your experience to have a place to be expressed.
And a beautiful journal to go with it makes the process so much more enjoyable. I love these artfully crafted journals by The Rainbow Vision.
10. Bluetooth enabled sports headphones
Ok you might have earbuds for your iPhone already, but I highly invest in having a pair that you dedicate to your movement space. Look for a pair that has silicon fittings so that they won't fall out of your ears. And if you have a pair dedicated to your work you can leave them to charge while you aren't moving or meditating ensuring that they are ready when you need them.
Having bluetooth enable headphones also helps you tap into your favorite fitness channel, or listen to your motivating playlist without having to turn down the noise in shared space or disrupting the rest of the household. Win-win!
I'm a sucker for Bose. I think their sound quality is superior and I like the ear fitting design. They are comfortable and don't fall out. Bose has a lot of options and colors to choose from.
Now I would love to hear from you. Tell me in the comments, what is YOUR source of motivation to keep mindful movement a part of your daily life. Write your response in the comments for everyone to read, reply, and enjoy!
Julia Lopez is a yoga teacher, personal trainer, and Founder of Practice Everywhere.