Squat Workshop 101: The How and Why of the Squat

The How and What of the Squat

The squat is a basic, primal movement pattern that humans and our ancestors have been performing for millions of years through activities such as hunting, gathering, harvesting, cooking and eating.

Squats are the number one compound movement you can do to improve strength, athletic performance, reduce instances of injury, burn fat, increase flexibility and improve core strength. Phew. So let me get this straight, this one exercise does everything I’m looking for at the gym?! Yes!  

Squats are hard. Doing hard things, even when you don’t feel like it, trains the muscle between your ears: your mind. This builds discipline and mental fortitude which is crucial to get results in the gym. It also build discipline that transfers in other areas of your life. It helps you sticking to good nutrition habits, doing the work, and so on.

Lifting weights, in general, lowers cholesterol, improves glucose metabolism, improves insulin response and stimulates muscle-building hormones like human growth hormone (HGH). Squats are the best weight training exercise you can do because they work more muscles, over a longer range of motion and with more weight than any other exercise. It’s therefore the best exercise you can do in the gym. It’s the only one you should do if you only have time for one.

squat images
Left: Backsquat positioning Right: Front Squat positioning

Benefits of Squatting

  • Enhanced Core Strength
  • Typical squats are loaded from top to bottom, your core has to work double-time to prevent injury
  • Front Squats target midsection core strength
  • Increase Full Range of Motion and Flexibility
  • Deep squatting moves your body through a full range of motion which boosts flexibility
  • Deep squatting increases your range of motion in the entire hip complex which results in reduced back pain. Translation: squatting helps you get down on the floor and pick up the laundry basket, over and over, without straining your back.
  • Squatting reduces your chance of injury
  • By building the muscles surrounding your knees and hips, you’re less likely to sustain an injury in daily activity like climbing stairs, picking up the laundry basket, or running after a child or grandchild at the park.
  • Muscle strength and development
  • Squatting builds your glutes, hamstrings, and quad muscles – which are primary stabilizing muscles for movement.
  • Why is squatting better than using a leg curl or press machine?
  • Squatting uses every muscle, in unison, in your lower body. This helps build real world strength by using a functional movement to develop functional strength.
  • Still need more convincing?: A leg press or extension locks you into a fixed position, which takes away your body’s natural urge to stabilize itself. This can lead to imbalances between the right and left side of your body.
  • Squats are a full body workout
    • Workout programs that regularly include squats will result in stronger, leaner, toned legs including the glutes, hamstrings and quads.
  • Squats help you Burn Fat
  • You lose fat when your body burns more energy than you eat. Your muscles burn energy to lift weight. Squats burn more energy than any other exercise because they work more muscles and with heavier weights. Heavy Squats also increase your metabolism for hours post workout (EPOC). When you combine this with proper nutrition, Squats will help you burn fat.

But what about my knees, you ask..?

If you’re concerned about your knees, you’d be well-advised to refrain from other leg exercises, such as leg extensions and hack squats. Properly done squats impart far less knee strain than they do.

Leg extensions produce an intense shearing effect on the knees that breaks down knee cartilage. That’s particularly true if you flex your lower legs past the 90 degree angle at the start of the exercise or if you use too heavy a poundage. Leg extensions are an isolation exercise, also known as an “open-chain kinetic” exercise. Because of their biomechanics, they place more stress directly on the knee joints. In contrast, when you do squats, the weight is distributed among several strong muscle groups, including the thighs, hips and glutes, and not being imposed directly on the vulnerable knee joints. This is with the assumption that you do the exercise in good form. That includes not rounding your back; descending in a slow, controlled fashion and not just dropping down; and not bouncing at the bottom. Some trainers advise looking either straight ahead or up, since looking down tends to encourage your body to bend forward, which is tough on the lower back.

As for depth, that is perhaps the greatest controversy about the squat. Early squatting dissidents advised squatting only halfway down, to the point where the thighs are parallel to the floor. The idea was that parallel squats preserved the knees. On the other hand, only full squats fully activate the powerful gluteus maximus, or buttocks muscle, which greatly aids squatting power.

Types of Squats:

  • Front Squat, Back Squat
  • Advanced: Overhead squat
  • Modified Squatting: Goblet Squats, Goblet Squats to a box/bench, Bulgarian split squat, etc.

The front squat primarily develops the muscles of the low body including the; quadriceps, gastrocnemius, and the gluteus maximus. The front squat is by nature a more quadriceps dominant exercise than the back squat and requires more mid-line stabilization, and muscle activity in the hips, and spinal erectors.

USA Olympic Weightlifting Team, Kendrick Farris, front squat
USA Olympic Weightlifting Team, Kendrick Farris, front squat


Front Squat Basic Skill Review

  • Take time to find your starting position.
  • Find your natural foot stance with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your toes slightly out so your toes can follow the path of your knees.
  • Find your grip on the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Receive the bar from the rack on the front of the shoulders and step back onto the platform.
  • Keep chest up and raise the elbows high.
  • Stabilize the midline taking in a deep breath.
  • Keep the feet flat on the ground pushing down through the heels.
  • Squat down until the thighs are below parallel.
  • Keep the chest up, back tight, and the elbows high when coming out the squat aggressively drive the elbows up to come out of the bottom pocket.

How To BackSquat

Setup: Bar is level with the shoulder, or just below. Face the bar. Grab it tight with a medium grip shoulder width apart. Put it on the shelf created on your upper back by dipping under the bar.

Raise your chest – open up to the wall in front of you.

Place your feet under your knees – under your shoulders—to lift, straighten your legs.

Step back one stride with your right foot and then your left. Keep feet shoulder width apart, toes facing forward with the potential for you to rotate them outwards no more than 30 degrees.

Take a big breath into your diaphragm. Brace your belly.

Squat: hinge at the hip – imagine spreading the floor in the area between your knees while moving your hips back – like sitting in a chair.

Keep your lower back neutral.

Squat Up. Then Squat back up. 

Keep your knees out and chest up. Lock your hips and knees at the top. Feel the contraction in your glutes. Then break at the hips, push your butt back to the wall behind you, spread the floor (push the area between your knees apart), and squat.

Breathe. Repeat.

Backsquat
Backsquat

Form Tips and Pointers:

How to Squat: Squat in the Power Rack for maximum safety. Set the horizontal safety pins so they can catch the bar if you fail to Squat it.

Happy Squatting!

The Best Chopped Kale Salad, Ever.

 

Chopped Kale Salad

Get your motors running. This Chopped Kale Salad is the best salad to date.

A while back, a trip to Mad Greens introduced me to the wonders of a well-made chopped kale salad. I asked the staff how they made this delicious salad every morning and he listed off a handful of simple, healthy ingredients but I still didn’t know the portions. Enter the internet. I researched the salad online. Went to do some in the field research at True Food Kitchen, a restaurant rumored to carry another pleasing chopped Kale salad.

What I have for you here is a blended recipe of both the Mad Greens Chopped Kale Salad and the True Food Kitchen version.

This simple chopped Kale salad can be modified several ways. You can use Parmesan cheese or opt for the nutrient packed nutritional yeast (which surprisingly tastes like cheese and packs a mighty 7 grams of protein per serving). The original recipe calls for pecan halves, although I’ve always used shredded almonds because it was what I had in the house. So, what I’m saying is start with this recipe then as you get comfortable with the interchangeable parts, switch em out!

The Best Chopped/Shredded Kale Salad, Ever. 

They key to this salad is the finely shopped or shredded Kale. I like to put destemmed bunches of Kale into my blender or food processor and pulse it until it’s nice and small, tiny shreds. It’s important to have dry Kale when doing this to avoid a gross mixture mess. The salad is perfectly paired with a lemon-garlic dressing and for me, an almond “Parmesan” topping. As I mentioned, to make this diary free, I substitute the Parmesan for nutritional yeast.

This salad keeps in the fridge for a few days, and that’s only if I can actually KEEP it in the fridge. Regardless of how much I make, this salad disappears within a day or two. This salad will take about 20-30 minutes to prep and depending on how large your servings are, can serve as few as 4 people, or 2 people for 5 servings.

Ingredients:

kale

FOR THE SALAD AND DRESSING:
  • 2 medium bunches destemmed kale, finely chopped (8 to 9 cups chopped). Use a high-powered blender to cut back on chop time. It took a lot of trial and error for me to realize the blender worked as good as my hands chopping, and reduced prep time by half.
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
FOR THE ALMOND “PARMESAN”:
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Few dashes of fine sea salt

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems from the kale and discard. Finely chop the kale leaves.
  2. For the Almond “Parmesan: In the food processor, add the almonds and process until the almonds are the size of crumbly peas. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it has a coarse crumb texture. Be sure not to over process
  3. For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until joined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the salad and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons.
  4. Sprinkle the Almond Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on the dried cranberries to taste ( I like a lot of cranberries so I add around a cup when I double this recipe. You can always add more once you’ve sampled the finished product). Place the salad, covered, in the fridge to cool and allow the flavors to mix together. You can eat it after about 30 minutes, or if you’re against waiting, eating it right away is perfectly fine, too! As I mentioned, this salad doesn’t last in my house. I leave it in the large mixing bowl, cover it, and place it in the fridge. It’s eaten at almost every meal for the 2 days that is lasts. After a few days you can start to see the salad losing some of its freshness. Thus all the more incentive to eat it up quickly.

last kale

 

Blackberry Lavender Scones

Blackberry Lavender Scones

As I type, I’m bubbling with excitement over the delicious scones that bake in the other room. The unmistakable scent of lavender wafting through the house.

I’ve been on a cut, or “diet” for several weeks. I hate the word diet. Why? Because of the feelings almost everyone feels when they hear the work, including me. It promises restriction, restraint, and a sense that you’re missing out on certain foods. That in order to lose weight and look good, you have to kick to the curb anything aside from chicken breast and cous cous. My intentions are to swing in the opposite direction of how I’ve been eating as of late, as I’ve been pretty indulgent (chips, candy, cookies, wine and lots of it). In swinging hard the opposite way, I’ll see the results I want: to lean out while still retaining muscle and strength. In the fitness world, we call this cutting up.  Somewhere during the process, I’ll find my middle ground – neither restrictive or over indulgent.

So after several weeks of very tight food management and reawakening my awareness around food and what I’m putting into my body and how it impacts my body, moods and athletic performance, I decided it was time to reward myself with some (HEALTHY) baked goods. BlackBerry Lavender Walnut Scones.

Let’s get to it. Grab your aprons and turn on some tunes, you’re in for a treat with these delectable delights.

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line cooking sheet with parchment or foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugars and salt. Cut the oil into the flour using your hands until it all looks a little grainy and there are no large chunks left. Stir in the delightful lavender.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the almond milk and vanilla. Mix it together until it is almost all the way combined but stop just before you overkill it and make it a perfectly joined mixture. Good! Fold in berries and walnuts. Again, don’t over mix.
  4. Scoop out dough into 1/3 cup measurements and drop ’em onto the baking sheet. Brush with almond milk, and if you really want to tickle your fancy, a pinch of white sugar on top (I opt out of the extra sugar). Bake until a little golden around the bottom, about 12 minutes with a max of 15.
  5. Remove from oven and experience some self-control, damn it, and only eat a few. Or say fuck it and eat em’ all. Makes about 12-15 depending on how you measure out your servings.

You’ll need: 

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup refine coconut oil

2 teaspoons dried lavender

1 1/4 cups plain almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup fresh berries (black berries, blue berries, whatever berry your heart delights)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Macros (based on 14 servings)

What makes these healthy, in my opinion, is the source of your carbohydrates, fats, and calories. The major sources of fat are coconut oil and walnuts. Walnuts have omega-3s, powerful free-radical fighting antioxidants, and for some men, a healthy diet of walnuts can enhance prostate health (Who knew?). A majority of the calories from carbohydrates in the scones are from the whole wheat flour. Whole wheat has a bit of an edge because it has the outer layer of the wheat, or bran, and that’s where all the good stuff is: dietary fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Not to mention minerals such as zinc, iron, and magnesium (which helps relieve muscle soreness!)

So, without further ado, here are the macros based on 14 servings

140 Calories

5 g Fat

6 g Sugar

21 g Carbs

3 g Fiber

4 g Protein

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie – Soothe Your Sore Muscles

inflam smoothie

Workout out hard today? Sore muscles? Sip yourself into relief. The ingredients in this smoothie help reduce inflammation and relieve the discomfort of sore muscles.

1 cup (155 g) pitted cherries

1 cup (155g) frozen blueberries

1 tbsp (15 g) GINGER

2 oranges

1 cup (237mL) water (coconut water to further tickle your fancy)

  • Toss all ingredients into a high-powered blender
  • Blend until creamy
  • Pour into your favorite mason jar or mug and enjoy!

On Loss: A Letter To My Mother, My Beloved

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Dear Mum,

The moment I heard my sister’s voice on a call placed from your phone, I knew something had happened. A car accident, or a problem at work, maybe. I never expected to hear the words she uttered next “mum is dead, she died.” The minutes and days that followed were a blur. Amidst the roller coaster ride full of grief and the waves of emotion that followed, you have remained close to me, never going far.

I’ve been ripped open. I have never experienced love like this. I hear and feel you everywhere. I have spent years searching for a way to live from my heart; practicing yoga, studying religions and philosophies, all in hopes of achieving balance in my life – of feeling and living the way I now feel and live. I’m living with my heart, which is where you live and from where you guide me. It’s the most pleasurable pain I have ever experienced. Leaning into the loss of you has brought me closer to grace. You’ve given me everything I have searched for but I wish this lesson on no one. Although the grace that emerges from me through this tragic, untimely death, is beyond beautiful, I wish there was another way for me to learn this. When I’m scared, I hear you asking me “why are you scared” and then I talk to you, and you say everything I need to hear – everything I know – “just breathe,” you say, and that you are always here with me, that you will always be here when I need to talk to you – that I already know all the answers to the questions I want to ask you. You have spent your entire life preparing me to be who I am – your life’s work is complete and I know you are finally resting.

You inspire me, mum. You changed your life and your perspective on it. Our daily calls no longer were about the negative, they were all about the positive. When I vented about petty things in my life, you patiently listened to me and then said exactly what I needed to hear “life’s too short, shake it off, don’t let it affect you.” I watched you transform your feelings of anger, pain and grief into forgiveness in the letters you wrote and therapeutically burned; you released all the feelings that were holding you down. I listened to you remind me that “life goes by so fast, Sara, enjoy it, everyday.” You and I are kindred spirits…best friends.. meant to be in each others lives for this short time, for you to leave all your lessons and footprints on my heart, and then to leave this physical world.

I honor you, mum. Every second of this life I live in honor of you for I am my mother’s daughter. Your intuitive wisdom lies deep within me and guides me through everything. In our last exchanges, I was honoring you and this precious life. After hiking to the top of a mountain, I was greeted by solitude and warm sunshine; not a single soul aside from my hiking companion was there to disrupt the pristine nature. I knew what I had to do. I shed my clothing and with hundreds of miles of the valley floor below as my backdrop, we snapped pictures of me and my bare backside. All throughout I said “I’ve got to send this to my mum, she’s going to love this” and that’s just what I did – we’re best friends like that. You and I shared our appreciation of the beauty that surrounded me, I showed you every moment of my wondrous life that weekend, reaffirming to you that I was perfectly alright and living just the way you’d taught me – thoroughly, whole-heartedly and with the eyes of a child.

In mourning, myself and others have asked why? There are brief moments in which I don’t understand why you left so prematurely, but there is deep peace in my knowing you left because it was your time. You left only when you knew Amanda and I would be okay on our own. You left after having given us all the lessons and love we would ever need from our mother. You left because your work here in the physical world was complete. In your passing, you’ve passed on your life to Amanda and I, and we will live our lives in honor of you. You dedicated your life to overcoming hardships and obstacles and taught us how to do the same. The only reassurance I have is knowing that you knew we are taken care of, that we’re okay, and that we have every thing inside of us. I feel safe and secure with this because I trust you and you trusted your work was finished. It’s a blessing to see you everywhere. And to feel your love wrapped around me like a blanket.

I love you. I’ll talk with you soon,
Sara Ann

How to stop living with your head and start leading with your heart

When my mother died, I couldn’t think. And that lasted, and is still lasting, for days and a week at a time now. what happened as a result amazed me. All the yoga classes I’d taken had given me that presence, that full hearted feeling, but I rarely carried that with me 24/7, it got lost in the hustle and bustle of life.

The days immediately following my mother’s death left me feeling like I was in another plane of existence. I had crystalline presence: birds chirped louder, water bubbled over rocky streams, every single sensation and sense in my body was hyper present because I COULDN’T  think. It was the silver lining of her death.

I learned that oftentimes, thinking overruled my heart. When I’m living in my heart, I lead with love and feel her there and closer than ever.

A light switched.

THIS is where I want to stay. But how? How can I stay out of my own head, practice non attachement, and live from my heart?

return to the breath
Like a map guiding you home, pranama breathing will redirect sensations from your head to your heart.

cultivate the power of presence
Slow down, look up, listen. Focus on specifics: the blooming rosebud tree outside your window. Spend 5 minutes examining it’s every detail.

gratitude
when you take inventory of all that you’re grateful for you come back to you heart and the beauty of the present moment.

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Intermittent Fasting For The Female Athlete

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is all the rage in the fitness and health worlds.

For women, there are some extra considerations to account for before deciding if IF is right for you. From my experience, the ideal fasting window for women is 14 hours, max, leaving a 10 hour eating window. Research here findings state women need to consider hormonal balance while fasting and that can safely occur within a 10 hour eating window. Personally, I’ve never felt comfortable or deemed it necessary to extend my fast beyond 14 hours.

IF gets a lot of flack from knowledgeable health professionals, as well as the opposite. IF is an additional stressor on your body and hormones so if you’re battling sleepless nights, chronic stress at work and home, binge eating tendencies, and overloading your body by consistently heavy workouts, IF may not be for you and perhaps the best thing you could do to manage your weight and health is to address all the stressors I’ve just listed – get your shit together and then and only then do I suggest implementing IF.

I believe a person’s mental well-being is also one of the biggest factors when considering beginning IF. If you have esthetic or performance goals and frequently have to cut weight, track your weight, and closely monitor your macros, IF may add to someone’s obsession with their appearance and eating habits. Trust me, I know. I know the benefits of measuring out your portions and penciling down everything you’ve eaten for the day, weighting yourself every morning and tracking your cuts or gainz, and if this is something that stresses you out or triggers control issues, IF may not work for you. I read stories about Fitpro’s who went crazy (think mental clarity overload, as if there’s such a thing), interrupted their hormonal balances, experienced massive weight gains or losses only to have the changes quickly reverse due to binge / under eating. In most cases, this is NOT the result of Intermittent Fasting, it’s the result of years of stress and abuse on one’s body. With or without IF, our bodies and health will have adverse reactions to prolonged periods of stress and abuse; chronic dieting, stress, overtraining, mental well-being, under or over eating all contribute.  People have said they’ve developed eating disorders from IF and I think that’s a bunch of bullshit. If you have obsessive tendencies towards food (and life), sure, the lifestyle requirements that IF places on you will encourage a easting disorder, but IF does not cause a completely healthy, well-balanced, mindful human being to develop an eating disorder out of the blue.

Another common topic of discussion with Intermittent Fasting is the quantity and quality of your food. Ask yourself what are your goals. Why are you starting IF? Is it for weight loss goals or a lifestyle modification. Whatever it is be clear with your end result and allow it to shape your day-to-day fasting decisions. If you have aesthetic goals, managing your calories and macros is essential, and so is the quality of your food. As a weightlifter, I can’t tell you how often I used to eat donuts, desserts, massive meals, all in the name of gainz and refueling calories I’d expend during grueling training sessions. I wasn’t focused on the quality of my food, I was only focused on the quantity. Both matter, don’t forget that.

For me, I chose to start doing Intermittent Fasting for several reasons: increased mental clarity and creativity; as a graduate student I had a many early mornings spent researching and writing my thesis and I found that being fasted enhanced my mental clarity and thus, productive writing time.

Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

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When is the last time you felt completely out of your comfort zone? When is the last time you broke free of your daily routine? When is the last time you ventured far from everything you know and immersed yourself in something other than what you know? Live today, and everyday, that way. All we have is this moment.

To be in relation

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To be in relationship is to help one another grow and heal the parts of yourselves that can could never access alone.

Love can be painful. To be in love with yourself, or another, is to be vulnerable and courageous. Opening yourself up to life and love, letting go of knowing and controlling it all, I believe, is the purpose of love. To shake us open and the awaken sleeping giants within.

Mint Chip Superfood Green Smoothie

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I bring to you via Blissful Basil, a green smoothie sure to delight the sense and make you feel a little shamrock love!

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Yield: 1 serving

  • 2-3 frozen bananas
  • 1-2 tablespoons hemp milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 2 drops peppermint oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs, divided
  1. Add the frozen bananas, hemp seeds and hemp milk to a food processor. Process until smooth.

  2. Add in the spirulina and peppermint oil and process another 15 seconds.

  3. Add in 1 tablespoon chocolate chips or cacao nibs and pulse to chop.

  4. Scoop the smoothie into a glass and top with the additional chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

 

Chai Power-Packed Green Smooth

 

greens2

Pack your shopping cart full of greens this weekend and blend up this super smoothie. This recipe features Chai seeds which deliver a powerful punch of antioxidants and protein.

What you need
2 cups organic kale
10 ounces almond milk / coconut water / liquid of choice
Handful of fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp Chia seeds
1 cup frozen mango
1 organic cucumber, with skin

Soak your chai seeds in 1/2 cup water for at least 10 minutes and no more than overnight. The chai seeds will take a gel mold consistency after absorbing the water and will blend into the other smoothie ingredients.

Put all the ingredients in the blender, blend on high until smooth, pour into a mason jar and enjoy!

Rebuild Your Body with Complexes

After months of doing variations of the same workouts with similar exercises, I was ready for something new.

I remembered a time last year when I was training more often. The hard work showed in my lean, strong physique.  I wondered: what part of my training regimen could I attribute my strength and esthetic gains to?

Complexes.

If I could recommend a workout that cuts fat and builds muscle at the same time, it would be barbell complexes.

Dan John’s definition of a complex is simple: they are a series of lifts back to back where you finish the reps of one lift before moving on to the next life. The barbell doesn’t leave your hands or touch the floor until all the lifts are completed.

Bingo. Last year, deep in weightlifting training, I was in love with barbell complexes. They were fun, explosive, and physically demanding.

One key part to training with complexes: rest. Make your rest periods longer than what you originally think you’ll need.

Let your goals determine your rep range. For a fat burning main dish with a side of serious conditioning, try doing sets of 8.

Complex A for Eights

Row x 8
Clean x 8
Front squat x 8
Military press x 8
Back squat x 3
Good mornings (I do RDL’s) x 8

Set the bar down and set your ass in a chair. I like 2 to 3 minutes of rest between sets.

Do you have a goal of adding mass? Dan John suggests using sets of three.

Why are complexes so great at conditioning, building mass, and enhancing your athletic performance? Well, the more time the body is under the bar, the more the body adapts by getting bigger. It’s the SAID principle – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In other words, the more demand you place on the body (IE staying under the bar for longer periods of time), the more the body will adapt to said demand. In the end you develop muscular endurance, put on mass and enhance your athletic performance.

Complex B

Dead lift
Clean – grip high pull
Clean – grip snatch
Back squat
Good mornings
Row

Complex C

Hang snatch
Overhead squat
Back squat
Good mornings
Row
Dead lift

Gracious Greens: Smoothies for Energy

Happy Friday to everyone! Recently, one of my clients told me they wanted more energy and were clueless on how to get there without the aid of coffee and red bull. The first thing that I wanted to ask her was “Do you drink greens?”

Here’s my recipe for an energizing smoothie packed full of plant proteins and essential vitamins and minerals.

Gracious Green Goddess
2 cups organic spinach
8 ounces almond milk/coconut water or similar liquid
4-6 fresh mint leaves
Handful of frozen mixed berries
1 organic cucumber,  with skin

Place all your ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Add these items to your shopping list this weekend and set yourself up for a healthy, feel-good energy week!

14 Delicious, Nutritious, Slow Cooker Meal Ideas

fail to plan

 

Greetings to you all! On this wonderful Tuesday morning, I’m taking pen to paper to create a shopping list. I underestimated my time commitments this week, and under-shopped at the store over the weekend. I know I’m not the only one who’s done this! Alas, the internet came to my rescue this morning with a wonderful list of 14 slow cooker meals. This link provides you with a variety of great meal options and not only that, it provides you with macro-nutrient information for each meal! Not only can I save myself time with one of these slow-cooker meals, but the macros are already done for me! Here’s to a successful, productive week to you all. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Satya: How To Show Up With Truthfulness

When we run from life, try to manage life, or leave our energy scattered here and there, we feel differently than when our whole self shows up with our thoughts, words, and actions congruent and unified. When we center in the moment, we can fully meet the ordinariness of life as well as the challenges of life. Dishes are met with the same contact as are arguments as are hugs

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In The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, Deborah Adele focuses on the second yama of Satya or Truthfulness. When we SHOW UP for our lives, in each and every moment, we are being true to ourselves and those around us. This week, pay attention and go slow enough that you show up for everything in your life, and do things “right the first time;” never too rushed, hurried or lacking mindfulness so that you have to backtrack, apologize, or correct mistakes. Don’t run from hard tasks that present themselves. Face each moment of your life with clarity and courage.

The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele is a must read for anyone and everyone, not just yogi’s and yogini’s. Viewed as a value system for mindful living off the mat, Adele teaches the yogic principles of nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess, and nonpossessiveness. She sheds light on how we do these things to ourselves and others. Each Yama and Niyama is broken into short, readable sections followed by Questions For Exploration. The contemplative exercises at the end of each chapter are intended to be a way readers live with the questions. By taking time for reflection, it allows the insights to come into your life.

Science Says What We Already Know:Meditation Is Good For Your Brain

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12491/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-frequency.html

Science is showing the health benefits of mindfulness. What is everyone waiting for, now is the time to incorporate meditation into your life!

Here’s an article explaining the activity of our brainwaves and how they benefit from mindful stillness, or meditation.

Want even more? Incorporate this simple but powerful breathing technique into your daily pre-meditation ritual, or do it anytime throughout your day to welcome in a deeper sense of presence and wellbeing.

Stay connected to your breath, stay connected to your truth.

Living the life that cries to be lived from the depth of our being frees up our energy and vitality. We benefit and everyone around us benefits.

Namaste

29 Life Lessons

nice-quotes-thoughts-past-is-the-best-teacher-life-quotes-best-quotesToday marks my 29th birthday. The better part of my 20’s have been witness to my spiritual growth, but this past year marks monumental growth, and this post sums up 29 of my favorite and rewarding day-to-day habits if you want to cultivate a happier, healthier, you.

1. Be Kind With Yourself

Cut out the negative self talk and doubt. When you find it sneaking up on you, recognize it, find the source, apologize for the thoughts, and surrender it.

2. Have A Morning Ritual

Make tea while meditating on your intentions for the day. Do a 20 minute meditation first thing in the morning. Read an inspirational passage from a spiritual text. Spend 10 minutes in child’s pose and 10 minutes deep breathing. Whatever grounds you in peace, start your day this way, and set a clear intention for the day. And do it habitually

3. Journal

If you don’t journal, start. Reflect on your day: Were you kind and sincere in your interactions? Where there things that triggered you throughout the day that you want to do better with? How was your day? Free writing about things that are following you around and sticking in your head is extremely healthy and therapeutic. Some of the most amazing memories of my life are documented in my journals and reflecting on them years later has shown me my spiritual and personal growth, and encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.

4. Dance

Dancing is one of the most pure ways to reconnect with our child-hood self and tap into infinite sources of love, laughter, and happiness. Do it often. Too embarrassed to dance in public? Don’t worry, dancing has the same effect when shared with noone but yourself in the privacy of your own home or fitness studio

5. Practice Yoga

It has transformed my spiritual journey and the relationship I have with myself and my ability to love and connect with others. It has changed my life, and I believe can to transform others lives as well.

6. Have An Evening Ritual

Just how we start the day with intention and ritual, so should we end. In the evening you can do the similar ritual you do in the morning; yoga poses, meditation, journal reflection on your day. In addition, in the evening before bed time, visualize and set an intention for yourself for the next day. Work hard to visualize how that day looks to you: abundant with productivity or full of peace and love, etc. Doing this at night increases the likelihood your next day will flourish into what you’ve visualized.

7. Anything Negative You Think Or Say About Another Person Is A Reflection Of Thoughts Towards Yourself

Recognize them. Work on them. Learn and release once you’ve learned.

8. Do Something You love Everyday

Better yet, make it into a career and turn your passions into your life purpose.

9. Be A Good Friend

Most of us are lucky to have one or two people in our lives who will be there through the nitty gritty, as well as the birthdays and fun. Nourish those friendships, we are oh-so-lucky to have people like this in our lives.

10. Manage Your Finances

This year I set up a monthly spending, savings, and expenses budget and managed it diligently. It resulted in increased savings, more awareness of where my  money was going, conscious spending, and I lost the fear and anxiety I have always held on to about money and scarcity. It doesn’t have to be fancy; I keep three running tabs in an envelope in my desk, Food, Gas, Personal- I know my budget for each per month and stick with it. My monthly expenses are factored into another set up. DO what works for you, but what matters is taking responsibility for your finances.

11. Say I Love You More

To those you love, and most importantly, to yourself. And mean it.

12. Do Cardio At Least 3 Times A Week

I love working out; yoga, weightlifting, basketball, rock climbing, hiking anything. But with my variety of activities, I sometimes forget to make time for cardio. I’ve promised to schedule it into my fitness routine at least 3 times a week for 20 minutes. Cardio is the best activity for cardiovascular health, combating Cardiovascular disease, obesity, and much more. Not to mention the heightened production of endorphins will make you happier.

13. Travel

On whatever budget you have, find a way to explore new places locally and not so local.

14. Get OutSide

For me, going for a long way in the morning or evening helps me to connect with myself on a deeper level. They say nature helps us connect with our original selves, so get outside more.

15. Drink Lemon Water Every Morning

Before you drink tea or coffee or whatever, have a glass of fresh lemon water. It kick starts digestive enzymes.

16. Eat Healthier

Make a goal to cut processed sugars and foods, go big and drop gluten and dairy, tpp. I’ve spent most of the year cleaning up my diet and surprise surprise, the cleaner it gets, the better I feel.

17. Watch Less TV

18. Hand Write Letters To Friends/Loved Ones

In the days of emails, texts, and disconnected communication, sometimes the best way to communicate is through your own written words. The person who receives your letters will feel your presence and connection!

19. Volunteer

Anywhere that interests you. Once a week or once a month. Giving back is priceless.

20. Stop And Smell The Flowers

Stop throughout your busy day to practice presence and appreciate the life that is happening in this very second. And if flowers are near by, give em a smell.

21. Listen To Audio Books

No time to read? That’s no longer an excuse. Pick up an app on your phone or tablet from your local public library and check out audio books. For Free.

22.  Connect With Your Child Self

I’ve always remained a kid at heart: Reconnect with yours. No matter how much we’ve grown-up or the level of our professional careers, reconnect with the youthful, playful child within. Researchers have reported on the benefits of “playfulness” in romantic relationships for ages. Do it with your loved ones, or on your own. Just play.

23. Set Specific Goals And Hold Yourself Accountable

What to start your own business? Lay out the steps to get your there; set specific-deadline driven goals and hold yourself accountable to meeting those deadlines. This can help you carry out fitness habits, developing a blog, etc.

24. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Do something that scares/exhilarates you.  And do it often. If you aren’t making mistakes/taking risks, you aren’t living. (Just try not to make ones that leave you layin on your face, though those are sure to happen at some point in your life, trust me)

25. Declutter Your Space

Clearing your space has a huge impact on your mental health. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Look around you; are your dishes overflowing? Stacks of old mail, books and magazines laying about?  Get rid of it. Clear out your space and increase the energy flow throughout your living space. If you haven’t used it in a year, throw it away or donate it.

26. Keep A Gratitude Journal

Researchers have discovered that people living a whole-hearted life experience joy by cultivating gratitude. I  keep a gratitude journal on my nightstand and write down 3 things a day which I’m grateful for.

27. Laugh

Laughter really is the best medicine. Fill your life with it, do it often.

28. Love

Fall in love with yourself. Fall in love again with your partner. Life is too short to not be loving yourself and someone else, so give it all you got!

29. Life Is Short. Live It Up

The things you’ve always said you wanted to do, the places you’ve said you’ve always wanted to travel, do it. Life is too short to not do what you want.

Ditch Breakfast: The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12515/do-you-really-need-to-eat-breakfast.html

A recent article on Mind. Body. Green. discussed the often debated topic “Breakfast: The Most Important Meal Of The Day??” Whoever came up with this was lying, and that is something hard for the public to stomach. In this article, the advantages of fasting, specifically Intermittent Fasting are briefly examined. As an athlete who uses Intermittent Fasting, this article provided me with a little more information then I already had, simply reassuring the often mixed debate on the eating window I should use post workout when I’ve trained fasted. Training fasted takes quiet some time getting used to, and I always have to train first thing in the morning, or very early after waking up, allowing me to break my fast post workout around 11 (as a woman, I leave my fasting window open for 10 hours to help stabilize hormone regulation). If I can’t get to the gym first thing in the morning, I’ll break my fast before I lift with something very light, such as a banana (for the carbs and sugar) with a greek yogurt (14 grams of protein and around 15 grams of carbs). Training fasted also encourages adequate coffee consumption; caffeine directly stimulates the muscles. But coffee is a fine line, of course, as you need to keep your muscles hydrated. Caffeine simply helps some of the hunger cravings which may arise, nothing any other stimulate doesn’t do, just practice moderation.

Other benefits I’ve experienced from Intermittent Fasting include higher and sustained natural energy levels, increased mental clarity and creativity, increased fat burning, and a greater exploration of my body-mind-food connection, among many other things. So if you’ve thought about IF, maybe now is the time to try it out! There are some more resources on IF on this blog to help you get started!

The debate on bcaa’s while training fasted is still out. Research shows you can get enough bcaa’s from protein. Read about it here. Where and what are some acceptable forms of bcaa rich protein? Here’s one source.

Naked Summer Bean Salad

What You’ll Need

  • 1 can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 can Black Beans (Crave extra Zest: Try Cuban Style Black beans)
  • 1 can Sweet  Corn
  • 4-6 Garlic Cloves (minced, to taste)
  • A bunch of basil leaves (chopped, to taste, I use 1-2 full bunches of leaves)
  • A splash of Red Wine Vinegar (to taste, light coating over entire salad)
  • A splash of Olive Oil (to taste, same as the Red Wine Vinegar)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Trader Joe’s Smoked African Spices (optional, to taste)

How TO

  • Put the beans and (warmed/microwaved) corn into a strainer and rinse, allowing all liquid to drain
  • Put beans, corn, minced garlic, chopped basil leaves into a large bowl
  • Add red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt+pepper (any favorite seasoning toppings)
  • Mix, and mix well as you add each ingredient
  • EAT
  • *Chef’s remarks, I like this salad cold, right out of the fridge. And it makes a great side to my paleo big-o bacon burgers, (scroll down mid page for recipe)
  • Additional add in: tomatoes, serve over a bed of kale, quinoa, or couscous.

images

Nom Nom Paleo: Prosciutto Wrapped Mini Egg Frittatas

This simple recipe Via Rachel Ray and Nom Nom Paleo, will leave you with a dozen delicious, ready on the run, egg frittatas.

Mini egg frittatas wrapped in a crispy prosciutto shell, you can’t go wrong!

20 minutes hands on, 10-12 minutes in the oven. Boom

How to: Prosciutto wrapped mini frittatas

My Spirituality Backpack: Take 2

I get so many questions about what I’m reading, who I’m listening to and what other spiritual goodies I’ve discovered. My spirituality backpack has developed into my bag of inspiration and guidance for my life.

My spirituality backpack contains resources offered up to me by those near and dear, or simply ones that speak to me at specific moments of my life.

I believe it of the up most importance to change the material we put into our heads and hearts. So often we are bombarded with TV Advertisements, billboards, and radio all advertising a product and potentially influencing and challenging us, most of the time without us realizing it. Just like the TV programs people watch, the audio books I listen to and books I read provide me with guidance and insight to deepen my spirituality and personal growth. Be it the life-long-learner in me, but I love to read, learn and grow and I love sharing my sources with others!

Resources:

Caroline Myss The Power of Prayer:

Madly In Love With Me, Christine Arylo, That endless tape of critical self-talk played on repeat stands no chance against the loving tools, techniques, and tips offered forth in this book. From soaking in a love bath, to leaving yourself loving inspirational messages, this book gives practicing self love a whole new look. Super girly, but more than worth it.

The Divine Law Of Compensation; On Work, Money, And Miracles, Marianne Williamson

Seven Spiritual Laws of SuccessDeepak Chopra

A Course In Miracles

Wild; From Lost to Found On The Pacific Crest TrailCheryl Strayed,  At some point in our lives we are alone. Utterly, totally, alone and isolated. Sometimes we intentionally isolate ourselves by going somewhere or doing something, like hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) solo. This book will at the least inspire you to do the things you’ve told yourself you can’t do for whatever reason; it isn’t safe, you can’t afford it, and so on. This book spoke to me in many ways about things I want to do, but have been told it simply isn’t safe to do alone, and as a woman. After the sudden loss of her mother to cancer, the unraveling of her marriage, and her personal struggles overtaking her life, the author journeys outward which becomes her journey inward.

The Gifts Of Imperfection, Brene Brown,

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, This fiction read takes you on the personal journey of a boy.

A Return To Love; Reflections On The Principles Of A Course In Miracles, Marianne Williamson

David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell, A great research based story of the rise of the underdog. Great, inspirational read (audio listen).

This draft has been sitting forever, a constant work in progress. Instead, I’ve decided simply to publish, as is, now.

How To Be A Part Of The Love Club

Be a part of the love club

Lyrics by the young songstress Lorde remind me to be a part of the love club.

When we center our lives from a place within our hearts, we live our lives from love. Sometimes straying, but always returning.

Many of us get consumed by fear. When we let fear lead us in life it leads us off our divine path.

In this clip, Gabrielle Bernstein gives her approach to recognizing when we are driven by fear over love, and how to reverse it!

Deepak and Oprah on Desire and Destiny: Day 14

grateful

Gratitude is my prayer. 

What are you thankful for?

My daily gratitude journal finds entries like this:

I am thankful for my heart that beats and keeps me alive. I am grateful for my healthy and active body, soul, and spirit. 

And range to things about my career, education, family, friends, house, material possessions, etc.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, people stop and give thanks, after all it is the theme of the holiday. What better time than now to call attention to the act of gratitude in daily living, regardless of holidays.

Deepak and Oprah guide us to giving thanks and living a life of gratitude daily.

On another note, Oprah has Super Soul Sunday; a show full of inspiring spiritual people, guidance, and living. A particularly AH-HA inspiring video with Dr. Brene Brown on cultivating gratitude and joy here.

The Best Meatball Recipe In The World

How to: The best meatball recipe in the world

I’m Sicilian. Making meatballs, pasta, anything Italian is in my blood. I take great care and pride in the Sicilian creations that come out of my kitchen. Authentic.

One day I came across this recipe for sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. I made some adjustments and changes to it the first few times I cooked it, and every time since then, but the product keeps getting better.

It’s somewhat time intensive, but well worth it! Often, I double the recipe to ensure meatballs for meals for the better part of a week. Once, last year, I made these meatballs on a Friday nite. I’d invited a guy friend to stop by and since they had just finished, offered up some warm, pesto covered meatballs. Long story short, my meatballs impressed him. We ended up dating and everytime I made the meatballs, we joked that they had been the way I’d made it to his heart, through his belly.

So ladies, make these for your favorite men. Make them for yourself, like the boss you are. (as I did last nite, as I stood over the kitchen island devouring them precious bite by bite, completely consumed in the savory divine goodness I’d created.)

I feel like I’m giving away a golden ticket…for real. Do yourself a favor and add these to your holiday menu!

Dr. Wayne Dyer on Attracting Love (Hint:It Starts With You)

How To Attract A Loving Relationship
attract love through intention-

You must be that which you desire. There’s no point whatsoever in an unloving man or woman bemoaning their inability to find a partner. They’re doomed to endless frustration because they don’t recognize the perfect match when it appears. That loving person could be right there, now, and their resistance doesn’t allow them to see it. The unloving person continues to blame bad luck or a series of external factors for their not having a loving relationship.

How To Attract Love To Your Life

Love can only be attracted by and returned by love. The best advice I can give for attracting and maintaining spiritual partnerships, is to be what it is that you are seeking. Most relationships that fail to sustain themselves are based on one or both of the partners feeling as if their freedom has been compromised in some way. Spiritual partnerships, however, are never about making another person feel inferior or ignored in any way. The term spiritual partnership simply means that the energy holding the two of you together is in close harmony with the Source energy of intention.

Using Intention To Attract The Relationship You Want

This means that an allowing philosophy flows through the partnership, and you need never fear that your freedom to fulfill your own inner knowing about your purpose is questioned. It’s as if each person has whispered silently to the other, You are Source energy in a physical body, and the better you feel, the more of this loving, kind, beautiful, receptive, abundant, expanding, and creative energy is flowing through you. I respect this Source energy, and I share it with you as well. When either of us feels downhearted, there’s less of this energy of intention flowing. We must always remember that nothing is disallowed by the universal mind. Whatever is not allowing us to be happy is being disallowed by us. I’m committed to staying in this energy field of intention and watching myself whenever I slip. It’s that very Source that brought us together, and I’ll work to stay in harmony with it.

Affirm That Love is On Its Way

Mystically speaking, there’s no difference between you and another person. A weird concept, perhaps, but valid. This explains why you can’t hurt another person without hurting yourself, nor can you help another person without helping yourself. You share the same Source energy with everyone, and consequently, you must begin to think and act in a way that reflects your awareness of this principle. When you feel the need to have the right person show up, begin to change your inner dialogue to reflect this awareness. Rather than saying, “I wish this person would show up because I need to get out of this rut” activate a thought that reflects your connection, such as: I know the right person will be arriving in divine order at precisely the perfect time.

Loving Yourself First

If a friendship or partnership requires the submission of your higher original nature and dignity, it’s simply wrong. When you truly know what it is to love, as you’re loved by your Source, you won’t experience the kind of pain you did in the past when your love was unnoticed or rejected. It will, instead, be similar to how a friend described her experience of choosing to leave a relationship: “My heart was broken, but it felt like it was stuck in the open position. I felt love flowing toward this person who couldn’t love me the way I wanted to be loved, even as I left that relationship to seek the love I felt inside of me. It was strange to feel the pain of my broken heart. And at the same time feel its openness. I kept thinking, My heart’s broken, but it’s broken open. I shifted to an entirely new level of loving and being loved. The relationship I’d dreamed of having manifested 18 months later!”

You are love. You emanated from pure love. You’re connected to this Source of love at all times. Think this way, feel this way, and you’ll soon act this way. And all that you think, feel, and do will be reciprocated in exactly the same fashion. Believe it or not, this principle of the right person showing up has been in place forever. It’s only your ego that’s kept you from seeing it clearly.

BElieve it. BE it. Achieve it. 

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Related articles

Deepak and Oprah: Desire and Destiny: Day 2

Whoa. Deepak and Oprah are at it again. I don’t know about you, but I AM drinking up the journey I’ve embarked on, guided by the wisdom and insightful words of these two extremely present, aligned, loving people.

Who wants to talk about how awesome the meditation and words from Deepak and Oprah were today?

Deepak says

Sometimes it feels we are passengers along a ride in life, simply reacting to situations, unrecognizing that we are able to choose our actions in situations to further align ourselves with positive, everflowing abundance in our lives. 

Karma. Actions generate energy that are returned to us. What we give we receive. We are what we attract.

When we choose actions that are happy and bringing success to others, is that we bring it to ourselves. To use the law of Karma, we must be aware of the choices we make, in each moment. By being more present, we can make these decisions with a softer, clearer heart.

I have faith that I will make hard decisions with a soft heart. 

When making decisions, what is going to bring you happiness and fulfillment, because that is what you will be bringing other people in your life.

By shifting your cosmic presence, we welcome equanimity into our lives. When we live in this place, we are balanced and at peace, and able to focus on the WHOLE picture, instead of the comparing game. It is here, where we release and allow ourselves to absorb deep tranquility, and acceptance of the present moment. By cultivating it through your meditation practice, we wash away our trail of past choices, cleansing our karmic trail. Creating a new level in which we vibrate, and attracting more of that energy into our lives.

Releasing the past is essential to awakening to the present and creating the future we desire. Perhaps we have limiting beliefs keeping us from our true selves and passions?

It is the awareness that we are the master’s of our own destinies.

I AM a powerful creator

I AM my deepest desire

What are the things you are clearing away to make karmic room for equanimity and the building of your future? What ARE your deepest desires?

 

Endings as Beginnings: A Shift in Perspective

I recently sat in class during the last seminar discussion of my educational career, only being made aware of the fact a few minutes earlier.

I’ve been mixed with melancholy for the past week knowing I was enrolled in the last course of my graduate career, but I still had till December, right?

Wrong, all that’s left is a presentation and a paper.

I was sitting in a room, full of people I’d been exchanging brilliant information with, some for years, and I was sitting there as a student for the last time.

As discussion started, I continued to sit and simply look around the room at everyone as they contributed their ideas and interpretations of the search for Authentication in non western art, and silently I thanked each and every one of those people for allowing me to have this experience with them. I drank it in.

Sitting in these rooms year after year, with some of the most respected scholars in the field of art history, I’ve learned more about the history of art that I could ever explain. But more than that, I’ve learned about life and the world around me.

Such as my dear fellow colleague, whom I’ve also worked alongside for several years as a graduate teaching assistant. Not only is this person an  amazing scholar, full of passion and intelligence for her field, she’s also a yogi, and she’s taught me so much about being unattached to outcomes of situations, about taking care of your person no matter how busy we get, and about being present among a sea of chaos which we all exist in at times.

Or the professors I’ve studied under. For years these distinguished scholars have taken my overeager personality under their wings and they’ve guided me deeper into the things I love about art, the world, and life. They have given me so much of their time and knowledge, and have helped shape me into the scholar I am.

I have experienced a serious love/hate relationship with my education. Who hasn’t experienced this with something they love so deeply? Relationships, jobs, careers, everything. The path I had decided to embark upon was sucking the life out of all other areas of my life. I found myself underwater in school work and never-ending piles of deadlines. It required me to sacrifice. alot. I barely even had time to volunteer, something I was deeply passionate about having in my life. Grad school demanded ALL of me.

Due to the financial commitment to my education I felt obligated to finish my degree even though I was experiencing some SERIOUS dislike. I questioned, what am I DOING? WHY am I even doing this anymore? Is this REALLY what I want to be doing now? Do I REALLY love this with all my soul?!

The rocky cliffs of Étretat by Monet.jpg

Yikes! I’m thinking I’m deep into my education, and now I’m not even sure if this is what I want?! SHIT!

Then I met someone who shed some light and perspective on my situation. I began to approach my job, my education, the papers, the readings, all the grad work differently…I only saw it for its good. I focused on everything that I was experiencing with nothing but positive energy.

*Pay attention to the people closest to you in life, for they are all here to teach us. Remember, relationships are assignments. 

Low and behold, more positive things started coming into this area of my life. Sounds simple, but how many times a day do you catch yourself saying something either under your breath or in your mind that sounds like this:

I don’t like my boss.

I don’t like my co-worker. I hate this place sometimes. Ugh, I hate my job today. 

I’m so tired of doing her work. I don’t want to be here today. I’m so tired, I don’t want to work, I want___instead.

The list can go on…

And the more you say it, the more you SEE it. Then, before you know it toxic negative thoughts and behaviors are going for a joyride in your life.

So,

on with the positives…

I just graduated and essentially I was working in my field, and being funded to further my education. I was doing something I loved (even though there were ALOT of times I hated it, this was the hardest thing for me to comprehend that I could love AND really dislike something, and sometimes at the SAME time), that I had only a little time left as a student and even under all the papers and work required of being a student, I still LOVED sitting in these class rooms with these brilliant people, talking and learning and exchanging ideas about the world. I mean, COME ON. This. is. amazing.

So my perspective shifted.

And with it, positive things rushed in.

Stone and Barbell bro-training day

 

Ladies ladies, (and gentlemen)

Deadlift RDL complexes should be worked into your leg training if you’re looking to tighten, tone, define everything from the waist down. These make a great addition for any leg program, targeting gluts and hammy’s.

4 sets of 5 @ 3 times a week.

These are great full body lifts while focusing on the gluts, hammys, and a bit of the lower back.

It’s a great complex for Olympic lifters to work on their setup and the transference of weight from the balls of your feet to the heels during the first pull.
Stopping my lifts to have some ‘bro’ time meant nothing went up afterwards..Some days it’s good to go off the routine, off the ‘schedule’ of your training simply to have some fun with your friends in the adult playground.
What is bro time? Bro time at Stone is when we take some time to do vanity training, like bicep curls. My bro time was working on my ass.
What are you training today?

 

 

The Olympian and The Artist

An inspiring video for any artist or athlete.

When my world of weightlifting collides with my work as an art historian. And when my life collides with my work as a weightlifter.

Weightlifting is art.
Writing is art.
Creating is art.

Life is art.

Rules for Change: Gandhi

What are you doing to be the best you can be today?

Thinking of all the beings in the world as individuals.. alone on solo journeys.. only separates us when what is true, is that we are all inter-connected.

When we are being the best we can be and giving that greatness out to others, our energy affects them and in return it comes back to us. Creating this on-going, continuous cycle of energy exchange.

Gandhi was right. When we are stuck in something, we remove ourselves from our natural instinct to more towards love, and giving to others. With IN ACTION, we clog our own growth.

Lately, I have engaged in alot of discussion surrounding action, and inaction. A friend said “Sometimes a bad decision is better than in-decision.

I pause to let this settle.

How can making a bad decision ever turn into something other than a bad decision? Well, what is bad and what is good? Aren’t those simply labels we put on things? Once we make our decision and say, it just doesn’t turn out the way we expected it to, that’s doesn’t denote it as having been a bad choice persay, it just is.

Now, this doesn’t mean I believe one can do no wrong. There are plenty of bad decisions a person can make. To intentionally harm another, to do wrong to others, so forth. . . We are all too aware of the injustices in the world, and this isn’t the place to open em up, at least for now. .

Life is about constantly moving. deciding. growing. flowing. glowing. Pausing to be silent and attune oneself to their individual truths, but then keep moving.

To live is to learn, and to learn is to grow.

Keep going. Keep growing. Tune in often, and decide on things you know and believe in, and don’t worry, the universe has your back.

Katy Perry – Love Me: What Happens When Pop Cultures Promotes Self Love

Katy Perry is pretty much blowing me away with her new album. We can judge a book by its sugar-coated, pop-star cover, or we can take a longer look.

Prism, an album about self love, personal strength and development, and femme fatale independence, is a must listen for all.

Plus, it’ll make you wanna dance, and that’s always a win!

How Art Can Change Your Life.

What does Art mean to you? Do you see paintings as moments in time, captured with radiant pigment and raking beams of light? Pretty pictures, exotic sculptures, whatever the reason we are all drawn to art.

As an Art Historian, I spend my days analyzing the context surrounding a work of art, I analyze the specific choice of colors within a painting, the meaning behind the gazing eyes in Michelangelo’s David and compare the classical proportions of sculpture in Bernini’s David. I over think and over analyze every single part of a work of art, and dive deep into the social, religious, political, economical, and every other contextual element occurring or influencing the works’ creation.

Why?

The first time I remember going to a museum was when I was 12 years old. My mother had just had serious surgery and the family was trying to get the girls (my sister and I) out of the house.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is one of the top  10 museums in the United States for its collections which include an incredible collection of Chinese Art, European Painting and Sculpture, American Art, Indian and Southwestern Asian Art, and it’s Modern and Contemporary galleries.

paisaje-de-van-gogh

Staring at the Impressionist paintings by van Gogh, Monet, Pissaro, and losing every single thought in my head changed my life. I see now that each painting brought me into a meditative state, a clear minded peaceful no attachment to any thoughts, feelings, clear headed good kind of state.

Fast forward almost 12 years when I returned to college for my undergrad, I took an Art History course just to have a fun class to enjoy.

Fast forward 6 years to now. I have spent the past 5 years diving deeper into this love of art. I am writing my Master’s Thesis on the Buddhist Imagery and Philosophy in Paul Gauguin‘s paintings. This is a topic very few Art Historians have devoted much attention to, because Gauguin was a preeeeeettty crazed man. I’m also starting to teach young undergraduate minds in Art History, I take these young bucks on tours at the Nelson-Atkins now, and show them all the works of art I grew up loving, and in this I hope to give to them above all knowledge, but an appreciation and love for art for what it is.

I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) earlier this year for the first time and they have one of the largest Impressionists exhibits I’ve seen. I walked around, room to room, in a daze among the hundreds of other visitors, which I didn’t even see. I saw the room of Edgar Degas‘s dancers, with tears in my eyes, at the beauty of it all, and that I was there, witnessing it with such appreciation and awe.

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The Impressionists were Buddhists. They captured the fleeting moments of time in and around Paris during the late 1800’s when the world around them was inflicted with disease, war, and poverty. In their paintings, I believe they sought a way out of the world of pain and suffering which surrounded them.  To me, this desire echoes in modern society: a way out. But more so for me, a way to help others. In helping others, we help ourselves. And vice versa, we are all connected, we are all one.

Art has completely changed my life. It has changed the way I look at life, the way I look at nature, joy, tragedy, miracles, and love. Life is art. Art is life. Learn to look at life as though it were a painting, beautiful, fleeting, and all the more deserving of present minded acceptance, and gratitude. Everything should be seen with an appreciation for its fleeting beauty and impermanence.

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Living 101: Positive thinking

I woke, planted some positive seeds, and watered the ones flowering from all the days which have come before.

I flowed into my deeper space, my pure state. As I raised my hands above my head, lowering them and stopping at the mind’s eye, gently reminding myself to have kind thoughts towards myself and others, my hands stop at my mouth, emphasizing my words towards myself and others need be kind and loving, and lastly, stopping at my heart’s center and bowing my head gently down, taking the time to recognize myself for giving myself this sacred time, and to remind myself to carry my loving heart for others throughout my day.

This is how I start my day. And this is how I end it. Everyday. Sometimes there’s an evening here or there when I am unable to meditate and give this practice to myself, but there is normally another time during the day where I can supplement it. Rituals like this are also incorporated into most yoga practices.

I read an article recently and it stated – statistics showed that 80% of your thoughts carry over from the day before. So, some people say they have fallen into a funk, or they have had bad  DAYS  which have turned into weeks, months. years. which has turned into a bad LIFE. This is simply the carrying over of negative thoughts from one day to the next. It is the internal story.

When you are in the thick of negative thinking, if you can simply pull yourself up a little, plant some positive seeds, and then nourish them the next day, they will grow. they will spread. Positive thinking is a habit, it is a daily watering ritual, and if you pay attention to your garden, nourish and tend to it, you can cultivate a garden of abundance.

My daily spiritual practice has developed into such a special thing for me.  My intentions of positive thoughts – Beginning my day with such a sacred spiritual practice really sets my mood, thoughts, feelings, tone – VIBRATION, and energy for the day.

People ask “How do you start your day?”

I reply, I start my day thinking and feeling the way I want to feel for the entire day. It’s that simple.

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How to Manifest Anything You Want

Intention + Attention = Manifestation

Manifesting. What is it really? Is it believing in something and then willing it to come true? Is it some wishy-washy talk about mystical powers or something unbelievable or something too abstract to be understood?

Are you only getting a small amount of success in your business? Are you waiting for things to come your way? Do you have life, career, relationship goals?

Let me break it down for you.

Manifesting is an awesome way to really TAKE your life into your hands. Even if you are a super go getting person, if you can open your mind a little, you acquire the experience of what you want to feel then- being, living, and believing in that experience, and then allowing that experience to come into form.

I’ve found myself on an impromptu trip to Las Vegas, thank you manifesting 101. In addition, many great things have recently come into my life.

Manifesting is creative. Using your presence and your higher power energy, and using that energy to co-create. The energy of believing is one of the keys to manifesting. We are co-creating with the UNI-Verse. There are no things as coincidences. You play an active role and yet a passive role in helping things come into your life.

“Miracles occur naturally, and when they are not occurring, something has gone wrong.” A Course in Miracles

The effortless action, that you were thinking about something, and then it just shows up, that is how life is supposed to be. Our negative thoughts, our anxieties, our future projecting, we get in the way of the flow of our own lives. All our projecting of negative energy affects our energy and prevents those things from coming our way.

Here are the keys to manifesting.

1- Clarity. First step is to get very, very clear. Be clear on what you desire (I want/am a successful yoga student and becoming a successful yoga teacher, I desire to get ___ Job promotion, etc) otherwise you can call in some FUNKY and super confusing stuff. You have to have clarity. You get clear in what you want, then release the blocks and disbelief which are holding you back.

2- Be clear of Limiting Beliefs. Become clear as to what you don’t believe, and the limiting beliefs which may be blocking you from BELIEVING what you want. By becoming clear in step 1, it allows you to see the limiting beliefs holding you back from obtaining your desires. (IE- I am not a good writer, I will never be a published author, I will never be a successful yoga teacher, I will never experience a loving partnership, etc.) Recognizing the self-limiting beliefs and then CLEANING THEM UP. (I AM a great writer. I am a successful yoga student learning how to be a successful yoga teacher, I am a loving partner and desire a loving partnership with X specific qualities.) I would start telling myself and believing these things WAY before it was ‘real’ in the sense of it taking actual form in my physical life.

**Recognize it is a story you are telling yourself* Those limiting beliefs are holding you back. When you RECOGNIZE that the internal story you have told yourself isn’t true, you can forgive yourself and release the false beliefs, which sometimes may be the simple step in allowing yourself to open up for the manifestation to take form in your life.

3- Be in the presence, the energy, in the knowing that you are ready to receive your manifestation. You have healed limiting beliefs, you are active, engaged and aware. Getting into the know. KNOW THE UNIVERSE HAS YOUR BACK.

When you are in the zone, the know, you have released the disbelief and you start to acquire what it feels like to be in that manifestation. I FELT like a successful yoga student and teacher, (even when I wasn’t there yet). I FELT and believed I was a successful and great writer (even before I was close to having anything publishable).

What can you do on a daily basis if you have a lack of money, resources,etc.?

You can not let your OUTSIDE world dictate your internal world. If you have low income and can not afford to do the teacher training right now (real life situations/scenarios) you can not let the OUTSIDE world dictate what is going on internally. You are not allowing yourself to co-create.  It will be a manifestation mishap “I’m having this experience “I want to be a successful yoga teacher/student, I want to be a published author” and then allowing outside shit to affect your thoughts “I’m never going to be published, I don’t have that money and can’t do it. I don’t have enough”

Your internal condition will support the external. You, in you, have to support yourself. You have to believe in your abundance and self worth in order to really allow that manifestation to come into your life.

Hold the energy and let the outside world meet the energy inside you.

4- Patience! Stay in the know.

You can be in the knowing, you can be trying this and thinking “it isn’t coming”

Most important step is patience

“Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety” Gabrielle Bernstein

Presence of certainty “That man is on the way. I am abundant and loving and know I am love. ” If you can allow, be patient, and be in the know. When you are not patient, you control, manipulate, and block the natural energy from flowing toward you, which is the energy you use to ATTRACT those things into your life. So if you are putting out some funky energy, you get funk back.

Manifesting is possible. I learned a TON about this from Gabrielle Bernstein who uses A Course in Miracles as her spiritual text and her guide in manifesting.

Hey, go co-create your lives.

HodgeTwins:Increase your Energy through Intermittent Fasting

One of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting is a ridiculous increase in your energy levels. I am talking, go from having mediocre energy to boss status energy levels within a very short period of time.

When I started fasting, my first meal of the day would bring my energy levels down for a few hours (approx. 1000-1200 cals consumed) but now, I may experience a slight drop in overall energy after eating, but 90% of the time, my energy is through. the. roof. It is actually quite hard to reign in sometimes, and I bounce off the walls. Like. Literally. Specifically for women, experts claim there is an increase in nighttime energy levels (I can vouch for this, especially during the first few weeks of fasting).

In addition to a very noticeable gain in my energy levels is a super level of mental clarity all throughout the day. Instead of my body and brain being bogged down processing and digesting my 6-7 (extremely healthy) small meals I used to eat throughout the day, my body and brain can focus on staying alert, productive, and clear.

Here, the HodgeTwins explain what happens to your energy levels while on IF.

Related articles

 

We Learn To Reap What We Sow

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This is a lovely post I saw on a great friend’s site this morning, you can check out all her Kundalini Spiritual Healing work and posts here.

After a while, we learn subtle differences. subtle shifts. After all, we are always learning.

My dark twisted weightlifting platform

Weightlifting.

I haven’t written about you in a while. Please forgive me. While I have kept up my training, I’ve been too busy to give you the platform on here equivalent to the platform you have given me.

Somedays I cannot see you. You ask so much of me that when I am feeling dark with despair, I will avoid you, in avoiding you, I avoid the darkness boiling within me.

You pull out the darkest secrets I keep buried in my soul. You slam them in my face like you slam into the crease of my hips, over, and over, and over again. You throw yourself up against me, pushing me to force myself up against you. I win. Sometimes you overpower me and I succumb to your monstrous strength.

Still I can not leave you for long, 2 consecutive days, max. I hate you and then I leave you and realize how much I love you. I come back to you, and you welcome me with your familiar touch. familiar sounds. I love you and you love me back. When I am in this place of love with you, we are working together, effortlessly bringing more and more weight up, faster and faster. But you haven’t given me this recently. I have been bashing my weight against you, and you are showing me your strength, your anger at me for not having given you my fullest heart, my deepest attention.

Welcome, to my twisted dark fantasy.

Want to be supremely Happy? 27 effective habits of insanely happy people

Want to be supremely Happy? 27 effective habits of insanely happy people

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Humans are creatures of habit. This can be great for developing ourselves, but it can also led to us routinely doing things without thinking, without being mindful.

Insanely happy people, and insanely present people practice and devote their daily lives to establishing healthy habits.

Do you find yourself relating to each and every one of the habits listed in the article? Are there some which you practice more than others? Think about what we could all accomplish if we devoted our days to these kinds of thoughts, habits and interactions.

A big one is they make a point to listen. Ah. yes, when you are interacting with people on the day to day, do you give them your full attention or are you thinking in your head of the response you want to give? People can FEEL your presence, and are endlessly grateful for the platform in which they have been given.

They devote their time to giving. Are you giving back in anyway? Much of my limited ‘free time’ is spend giving back; this blog, volunteering, teaching, etc. It FUELS me. It is my purpose, to serve, in whatever capacity I can. And it is one reason why I am endlessly THANKFUL for this blog, and for everyone who tunes in. It makes me happy.

Right now, one of the most important things I believe in and do is They TRY to be happy. Yes, I TRY to be happy. All the time. I TRY to see the good in everything. I TRY even when I don’t necessarily FEEL it, why? Because it is the HABIT of happiness which needs to be instilled, and I believe it is in the moments when happiness may seem far away or way out of reach, that it is imperative we keep reaching, because it will come. It is here. It is now, our ego’s just hide it from us from time to time. For me, I will FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT.

Namaste

Sara

P.S. No editing was done in the creation of this blog. Free.

Find your purpose by following your passion(s)

Find your purpose by following your passion(s)

Wondering what the HELL you are going to do with your life? Or are you doing something (career, school, relationships, etc) which you just don’t feel is working for you? Are you finding that you drag yourself out of bed every morning instead of LEAPING up excited at another day of meaningful life adventure?

No matter what we choose to do with our lives, there will be times when shit sucks. But we can choose to view it as a small pothole on the VERY windy, adventurous road of life.

In case you are experiencing doubt about your current life and are toying with other options but can’t quite put your finger on anything concrete, I MAY have something to help you, just a bit.

Check out the link, and the infographics below!

Rock out!

Step One—> Honing yo purpose AKA Passions!

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Step TWO- Map your passions out! Make it happen with this visual aid to GUIDE you to your passionate lifestyle AKA job/career/LIFE of your dreams

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Are you living in your bliss?

Live Like You Want

“…Like it or not, we live like we fish and we fish like we live…” Who you are on and off the water is who you are in “real” life. You can’t be a stressed out- over worked spaz in “real” life and expect to be any different once you hit the water. And vice versa. . . Think about it..

 

Photograph by: Caleb MooneyDSC00308

How Hiking Can Teach You About Intuitive Eating

How to keep moving forward when the wind, or world (or scale), is pushing against you.

Today I woke up early, loaded all my gear into my car and headed to the mountains. I piled layers upon layers of clothing to protect my skin from the blustery, gail-force winds. I spent the better part of an hour layering up, preparing my gear, and then of course, undressing for a restroom break.

It’d been almost 2 months since I’d ventured deep into the mountains and I was feigning for a fix.

I craved the intoxicating, luscious wilderness like a newborn craves its mother’s milk.

What I didn’t crave were the 50 plus mile an hour winds that managed to make airborne every ounce of snow on the ground and blast it viciously at my face.

I trudged along and attempted to find my rhythm; foot, foot, pole, pole. 3 strides in and I’m bent over, head perpendicular to the ground in an attempt to protect my face from the windy assault. 
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My friend was in a hurry but not me. I continued this pattern of walking a few steps and then bracing for the windy assault; never gaining rhythm and slowly making ground.
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What I’ve just described is an example of my struggle in the wild, but it also mimics a common struggle people face; a struggle with eating and weight loss.

When someone is trying to lose weight and they’re eating healthy foods, exercising, stepping on the scale regularly, yet not seeing the results they want, the uphill struggle is real.

Just like it was with my hike, the keys to successfully accomplishing your weight loss or training goals are patience, listening to your body, KNOWING your body, and giving your body what it needs. This is why I eat (and train) intuitively.

What’s intuitive eating? For me it means eating when I’m hungry, not eating out of emotion, convenience, or when my enviroment exposes me to food.

I eat what feels right and when it feels right.

Just like on my hike, I kept pushing when it felt right, I took a break to eat when my body was empty, and I adjusted my pace to fit my body’s abilities.

Does your diet support your lifestyle?

Cinnamon Apple Scones Curteosy of Nom Nom Paleo

Cinnamon Apple Scones Curteosy of Nom Nom Paleo

Since I’ve adopted a cleaner eating lifestyle, I’ve missed and craved certain foods. Pastries and baked goods, mostly.

Here is an EXCELLENT recipe for Dark Chocolate Cherry Scones from Nom Nom Paleo.

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To make Apple Cinnamon Scones,  I modified it the following way .

  • Instead of mixing in cherries, take one skinned, cubed organic granny smith apple. Mix into the batter in the same step as you’d mix in the cherries.
  • Before adding the liquid mix to the dry, add in a teaspoon of cinnamon (honestly, I add ALOT of extra cinnamon)
  • Lastly, I add more than 2 table spoons of honey (maybe an extra half a table spoon?)

Tips-

Make sure the butter really is as cold as possible

Add a bit of extra honey.

I didn’t do these last 2 things the first batch I made and my scones were dry and crumbly. The frozen butter and extra bit of liquid helps hold them together.

These are to die. Enjoy. Try not to eat them all within 36 hours and if you make it, let me know….

Strength And Development Phase Week 2 Training Highlights

Umurbek Bazarbayev - Snatch - 135kg
Umurbek Bazarbayev – Snatch – 135kg (Photo credit: Peter J Dean)

Back on the platform after nearly  a month of winter sickness which turned into a necessary break from olympic training. Training breaks can have their psychological perks as well as restorative physical benefits, but it also comes with a decrease in physical strength and fitness. I maintained a regular bodybuilding/HIIT training program for the month I took off, but I’ve still noticed a huge decrease in strength. All the better reason to hit the ground training hard now.

Fuel for your training: Try this Naked Summer Bean Salad full of fiber, protein, and carbs or this egg frittata recipe with prosciutto shells.

Week 2 Programming Strength and Power Development Phase

Monday

  • Power snatch + 2 Snatch- 70% x 2 sets, 75% x 3 sets
  • Jerk off blocks- 75% x 3 x 5
  • Clean pull- 93% x 5 x 5
  • Back squat- 65% x 6, 70% x 6, 75% x 6, 80% x 5 x 2
  • Core

Tuesday

  • Power clean + 2 clean -70% x 2 sets, 75% x 3 sets
  • Snatch hi-pull- 73% x 5 x 3, 78 % x 5 x 2
  • Snatch balance- 65% x 3 x 2, 70 % x 3, 75% x 3 x 2
  • Push press- 78% x 5 x 5
  • Core

Wednesday

  • Muscle snatch- 65% x 5, 70% x 4, 75% x 3 x 2
  • 3-position clean (floor, knee, mid-thigh)- 70% x 2 sets, 75% x 3 sets
  • Snatch DL- 100% x 7 x 2, 100% x 5 x 3
  • Front Squat- 65% x 6, 70% x 5, 75% x 5, 80% x 3 x 2

Thursday

  • Rest- Optional light cardio day
  • Stretching/Soft Tissue

Friday

  • 3 position snatch (floor, knee, and mid-thigh)- 70% x 3 x 2, 75% x 3 x 3
  • Snatch pull- 93% x 5 x 5
  • Snatch push press- 75% x 5 x 5
  • Back squat- 65% x 5, 70% x 5, 75% x 4, 80% x 3 x 2

Saturday

  • Snatch- 70% x 3, 75% x 2, 80% x 1, 85% x 1, 80% x 1, 75% x 1
  • Clean and Jerk-70% x 3, 75% x 2, 80% x 1, 85% x 1, 80% x 1, 75% x 1
  • Clean Shrug- 110% x 6 x 5
  • RDL- 68% (of clean) x 8 x 5

Stone and Barbell Training Facility. Family, it is so good to be back.

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