Monthly Archives: April 2015

Are You Diving In or Drowning?


Hi, My name is Yolanda and I don’t like doing things “a little bit”.  I prefer to do them A LOT.  I know I’m not alone with my intense desire to dive into something head first.  While this attribute has served me well in some instances, it can often have the opposite affect you want it to.  When it comes to attainable and sustainable fitness; balance and consistency is far more important than intensity.  There is a place for all of these elements in your fitness plan, but let me tell you where many of us go wrong:

1) We are Elmiras:



(image source)

We often dive into a new program with such intensity that we wear ourselves out.  While Elmira never seems to tire, think of Elmira and her surrounding furry friends as one unit.  The exhaustion that her pets experience represents the systems in your body and how they will burn out within days when you go beyond the guidelines of a balanced program with the gusto of this cartoon character.

I have advised many on what to eat and how often to workout.  I’ve seen the wheels turn in their minds as they proclaim excitedly that they are going to eat half as much as I recommend and exercise twice as much as advised (sigh).  Seeming like a recipe for success on day one, expect your adrenaline to run out quickly as you crash and revert back old habits or worse.

2) We Predict Self-Sabotage:



(image source)


Tommy Boy assumed defeat before his journey to save the family business even began.  While he predicted that history would continue to repeat itself, he continued to have doors slammed in his face.

People have sat with me and admitted defeat before they’ve even started their plan.  They want to succeed.  They want to be healthy.  But, they assume because they’ve quit programs they’ve started in the past that they are destined to bail on their healthy lifestyle for the rest of their lives.

Tommy Boy decided to turn it around.  He figured out what special qualities he possessed that brought value to the table.  You can do that do.  You can turn it around.  You don’t have to repeat old habits.  If you consistently practice your commitment to your program, it will become more natural each day.  You may experience setbacks, but creating healthy habits over the long term will allow you to cushion your falls so that they are a little less devastating each time.

3) We Make Excuses:



Kristen Wiig’s character (Annie Walker) in Bridesmaids was down in the dumps.  She was feeling defeated and letting life’s obstacles get the best of her.  She finally realized the friend she had in  Megan (Melissa McCarthy’s character), when she gave her a wake up call and told her to suck it up and be her own solution.

I’m not unsympathetic to life’s troubles.  I’ve been a victim of my own excuses, that’s for sure.  However, I can assure one thing:  There is always going to be a reason “not to”.  If you are waiting for the stars to align just right, you’ll never take control of your health.  I’ve had people tell me they’ll start eating right and exercising after the following:

I start my new job.

I go to my friends baby shower.

I get back from vacation.

I finish school.

I move into my new house.

I pay off my debt.

The list goes on and on.  Start today.  Start right now.  Make your next choice a healthy one.  Take the stairs.  Skip the cocktail.  Finish a bottle of water.  Workout instead of watching T.V.  Pick up enough groceries to prepare the next 3 days worth of food…then prepare it…then eat it.  But don’t find a reason not to.

Where to Start


If you don’t know where to begin, no worries.  When you sign up for’s online fitness program, you’ll receive complete instructions on what to eat and how to workout. You can customize the program by arranging the workouts to best compliment your goals.  You can personalize the meal plan by choosing the options in The Perfect Diet that are most appealing to you.  The program is specific enough to take the guessing and stressing off of your plate, but flexible enough to offer you variety and fresh options regularly.

Are You Already a Member?

Congratulations and thank you for embarking on this journey with me as we strive to find balance, good health and happiness.  Don’t forget to invite your friends to find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.




Good Morning, Sunshine :)

Guest Post!

I’m excited to share this guest post with you today.  I’ve always been an early riser.  It’s taken me years of practice to get my routine down just right (not that I’m done yet).  Whether you’re a morning person naturally or you’re required to be one for work or other responsibilities, these tips will help you set yourself up for a more pleasant and productive morning.

How to Become a Morning Person

How to Become a Morning Person

Check out these advantages to waking up early, and discover some simple steps to make it just a little bit easier.

In a perfect world, we would all wake up naturally with the sun, and be refreshed, awake, and ready to tackle the day. But if you aren’t one, becoming a morning person is a struggle, no matter what ringtone the alarm is set to. Many of us intend to wake up early to check items off the to-do list, but end up hitting the snooze button until we’re running late.

Becoming a morning person has its advantages. If you want to enjoy a complete breakfast, read the newspaper, or just take in the early morning, follow these steps to change your daily routine.

Take Advantage of the A.M.

Do morning people lead better lives than the rest of us? Possibly. How you start the day sets the tone for your waking hours; research suggests that morning people are happier and healthier. Hit that snooze button continuously? You may procrastinate for the rest of day, just as you did with your alarm.

Waking up earlier allows us to enjoy more sunlight, which is especially important in the winter when the days are shorter and the workdays end well after dark. Research shows sunlight can boost mood, and the extra sun provides an added dose of vitamin D, which many of us lack during the cold seasons.

Have trouble sticking to a workout routine? It’s easier to maintain it when you’re an early riser and knock it out in the morning. That way, if plans come up during the day, there’s no need to skip the gym for happy hour. Plus, bumping up the heart rate in the morning preps you for the day ahead.

For those with a family, loud neighbors, or other distractions, becoming an early riser provides more time to get things done while the house is still quiet. Imagine having the time to read that novel that’s been sitting on the nightstand, clean the house so it’s spotless after work, or prep a healthy meal. Those that wake up earlier are proven to be more proactive than those who consider themselves night owls. Plus, for wishful thinkers out there, many wealthy, successful people (think Bill Gates) have stated they wake up three or more hours before work.

And while it’s not everything, a polished appearance can boost self-esteem and help make the right impression at work. Getting up earlier allows time to find an outfit and put yourself together so you’re not rushing out the door with wrinkled pants or fussing with your hair during your commute.

Early Birds vs. Night Owls

Step 1: Start with small changes

Setting your alarm clock for 6 a.m. when you normally wake up at 8 a.m. may be too aggressive to maintain. Set the clock 15 minutes earlier and go to bed 15 minutes earlier each week until you meet your desired rise time. The gradual difference will allow your body to get used to the schedule change and the small difference won’t feel like a byproduct of jetlag. Just make sure to stick to the routine—even on weekends—or else you’ll jeopardize your internal clock and waking up during the week will continue to be a challenge.

Step 2: Get ready for the morning at night

This routine starts with what you do before you close your eyes. Staring at a computer screen right before bed will hinder your sleep, since light exposuresuppresses melatonin, a hormone known to promote sleep. Shut off all TVs and smart devices one hour before bed, and instead reach for a novel that will calm your mind. And if you do have to use a phone, like to set the alarm, make sure to dim the brightness.

Having a routine before bedtime will let your body know it’s time to sleep. Start a relaxing nightly pattern, like sipping on decaffeinated tea and reading a book or taking a warm bath. Make the morning process easier by laying out the next day’s outfit the night before. If you have trouble making time for a good meal in the morning, try prepping breakfast in advance—think hard-boiled eggs and egg muffins.

Step 3: Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary

It’s tempting, but try not to watch TV in bed. Keep movies, TVs, and computers in the living room and consider the bedroom a haven for relaxation and sleep. It should be calm, dark, and cool to allow comfortable sleep. The ideal temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. (Set the thermostat a few notches higher if you like it warmer during the day.) The cooler temps will tell your brain it’s time for bed and research shows that could be good for your metabolism. Have clutter laying around? It could be stressing you out. A clean, organized room provides a better sleeping space than a messy one.

Step 4: Place your alarm clock across the room

Placing the alarm clock across the room (and not in arm’s distance from the bed) means you have to get up to turn it off—but just make sure you don’t climb back under the covers. The movement may help energize you to get started with the day. Leave your bedroom soon after waking. Since you’ve made it a sleep sanctuary, it’s important to walk to another area of the house as soon as possible, like the kitchen or bathroom.

Step 5: Wake with the sun

Our bodies were designed to be awake with the sun and sleep when it’s dark outside, but the artificial light in the office and curtained-off windows in your bedroom can alter this. Exposing yourself to sunlight, which is known as light therapy, tells your brain it’s morning and time to get going. Open up your curtains to let natural light in. If sunlight is limited, invest in a sun lamp that mimics natural sunlight, which research shows can also improve seasonal depression. Try this technique the next time you experience jet lag, since it’ll help reset your biological clock.

Step 6: Work out in the morning 

Not only will hitting the gym early in the day help you stick to a workout routine, but a morning sweat session can increase metabolism and energythroughout the day, and you may be prompted to reach for healthier food options. Research also shows that exercising before breakfast burns more fat than doing so after breakfast or in the evening. But if you’re a serious athlete, eat a light meal with carbs to improve performance. Can’t spare an hour at the gym? Take a 10-minute brisk walk outside to get some fresh air and sunlight.

Step 7: Drink a glass of water

After getting a full night’s rest (hopefully seven to eight hours) your body will be dehydrated from lack of water, causing fatigue. Quickly replenish hydration levels first thing in the morning with a full glass of water. While you’re at it, splash some cool water on your face for an added refresher.

Step 8: Start with a healthy breakfast 

Rushing out the door with a coffee and bagel in hand may not fill you up and can leave you with cravings later on. A person’s metabolism and blood sugarare at their lowest in the morning after sleeping all night, so reenergize with a balanced breakfast that includes protein and whole grains. Rotate meals, find new ones, and eat foods you enjoy so breakfast becomes a moment to look forward to. Greek yogurt with berries or rolled oats with a side of coffee and splash of milk will help rev you up for the day ahead.

Step 9: Have something to look forward to

Remember when you were a little kid and you jumped out of bed on Christmas morning or when you left for vacation? Plan at least one exciting date, happy hour with friends, or a fun night in each week so you’ll have something to look forward to each passing day. Getting up can be a struggle if the only agenda for the day is going to a stressful or boring job when you’d rather stay in bed. Whether it’s a hobby like yoga, a cooking class, or a date, focus on what excites you rather than things that make you dread getting up.

Step 10: Avoid grogginess

If, even after eight hours of sleep, you wake up feeling groggy, it could be because you’re interrupting your sleep cycle. REM, or rapid eye movement, stimulates the brain to learn. It’s a deep stage of sleep where dreams typically happen, and if abruptly woken up during this stage, you will feel disoriented and groggy. Sleep inertia, a physiological state caused by waking up suddenly and too early, can affect people from two to four hours. Research shows that even if you feel awake, sleep inertia can affect cognitive skills, challenging productivity levels at work. Try a smartphone app for help: Using a smartphone set under your pillow, the app tracks sleep cycles and wakes you when you’re in your lightest sleep phase. Hitting the snooze button will also disrupt this cycle. It takes about one hour to reach a deep sleep, and the fragmented dozing can actually leave you more tired.

Even though alcohol may make us pass out at the end of the night, it inhibits the deep sleep needed to wake up feeling refreshed. Avoid booze before bed, and if you do enjoy a few cocktails during happy hour, make sure to drink plenty of water before sleeping to counter the effects.

Skip the Snooze

10 Things Successful People Do Before 8AM


Waking up isn’t easy, so reward yourself for doing so. Make it a point to use your morning to your advantage and get a jumpstart on a productive day.

How to Become a Morning Person

Danielle Emig

Danielle Emig is a freelance writer and lipstick lover living in New York City. Originally from Portland, she moved to the big city with only a suitcase full of shoes and a mind bursting with dreams. It was her desire for adventure that led her to NYC, and even working unpaid internships and odd jobs to make ends meet — like cocktail waitressing at a pirate-themed bar — wouldn’t deter her from making it as a writer and editor. Two years later, she landed at InStyle Magazine and hasn’t looked back since. When she’s not sipping out of a lipstick-stained wineglass, Danielle loves to cook, make jewelry, and hang out on her fire escape.

When going “gluten free” doesn’t change your life

But it’s gluten free?

I’m sure you’ve heard the hype about going Gluten Free.  Perhaps you’ve read about success stories or heard testimonials from your friends.  They cut out gluten and magically drop 10 lbs in a week.  Did you you try eliminating gluten from your diet and suddenly you feel…the same?  Did you actually gain a few pounds after eliminating gluten?  Let me explain why some people should just eat the darn wheat:



First off, gluten is a protein found in wheat and closely related grains like rye and barley.  It’s composed of 2 different types of protein: gliadin (a prolamin protein) and glutenin (a glutelin protein).

Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine and hinders the absorption of nutrients) is the most common disorder known for causing gluten sensitivity.  It is predicted to affect up to 30% of the world’s population, although many (up to 20-25%) people are undiagnosed (per  While going “gluten free” has been shown to improve symptoms in those with Celiac Disease, it has also been proven to be beneficial in helping some (without Celiac Disease) manage other symptoms like chronic headaches, joint pain/inflammation, acne, ADHD, depression and more.  If you’ve gone gluten free and experienced relief from what ails you, then carry on!  It’s working.  If you’ve tried it and symptoms haven’t improved (or maybe they’ve worsened) here is why:

Aside from the fact that you may not be gluten sensitive, perhaps you’ve replaced your wheat products for something worse.


People who tend to get the best results when eliminating gluten, instead eat plant based whole foods (not processed from a box “gluten free” products) and lean protein, healthy fats and other “good-for-you foods”.

It all falls apart when you continue to consume a diet that was similar to what you were having before, but instead replace wheat with it’s gluten free counterpart, i.e.: gluten free bagels, gluten free muffins, gluten free cereal, gluten free pizza, etc.  These gluten replacements often contain a longer list of ingredients and irritants that can wreak more havoc than a simple, single ingredient pasta.  Furthermore, if you remove gluten from your meal plan and still avoid the packaged gluten free counterpart but are constantly looking for a starchy carb fix, you mind find yourself upping your corn intake and increasing your daily serving of potatoes, rice or sugary snacks.


Lastly, even if you avoid the packaged foods and do all of your own baking, many go to alternative flours like almond meal, coconut flour, quinoa flour, chickpea flour etc.  Much like their higher price tag, their calorie count is higher than an equal serving of wheat flour.  It’s coarser, more fibrous texture may leaving you feeling bloated and gassy.

The bottom line:  If you have a disease or sensitivity that renders you gluten-intolerant, there are countless options available for you to succeed with a gluten free lifestyle.  But, if you’ve no medical reason to cut the villainized grain from your diet, you may be doing yourself more harm than good.  Just keep it simple.

You may notice that I rarely include recipes on the meal plan that contain gluten.  The reason behind this is that most recipes that include it are considered “treats”.  A wheat based recipe is rarely going to be a nutritional powerhouse.  I make an effort to include meals in the Strong Calm Sexy meal plan that will offer you incredible benefits.  While grains have a moderate place in a balanced plan, there are so many other foods that outrank them on the nutritional scale.

With that being said, here is a bonus recipe that is a delicious treat.  You can include this in your plan on your more relaxed day.  For me, I follow my plan diligently Mon-Sat and Sunday is my relaxed, treat day.  I eat healthily but have 1 decadent treat and then just have whatever else I want “within reason”.  This is a “within reason” recipe…so decadent treat is still on the table!

Inspired by Jeni’s Frozen Yo w/ Blueberries and adapted from a recipe on

Sweet-Tart Anytime Muffins





Dry Ingredients:

2 1/4 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 large eggs, whisked

1 cup organic, grass fed plain whole milk yogurt yogurt (I prefer Maple Hill Creamery)

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

The juice and zest of 2 medium lemons

Add last:

1 Cup frozen, wild blueberries

Use coconut oil to line the muffin tins.

Directions:  Combine dry ingredients, whisk together wet ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients into the wet until combined.  Last, stir in the blueberries.  Fill oiled muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with the mixture.  Bake for 18-20 minutes at 375°.



So delicious! Enjoy!

P.S. If you’re gluten free, swap for brown rice four 😉


The Survey You Won’t Find in Cosmo

Who likes surveys?

I’m a sucker for a mindless survey.  I love reading them.  I love filling them out.  Humor me with this one and take my survey:

1) What shoes are you wearing today (be specific-pics welcome)?


2) What is the last song that you listened to?

For me it was this one:

This was a free Starbucks download.  The music hoarder in me cannot resist a free song download from Starbucks.  I need help.

3) What is your favorite lip color (brand included)?

My favorite color WAS Chic from MAC, but they discontinued it!! **Sigh**.  No worries!  I intend to find a new favorite from my Friend, Cindi, who sells a line of lip stains from Younique.



Now, let’s get real:

4) In the past 12 months, has anyone told you that you are fat?

5) In the past 12 months, has anyone said that you are disgusting?

6) In the past 12 months has anyone told you that you are not good enough?

Regarding questions 4-6, I sincerely hope that no one has said any of those things to you.  If they have…I’m taking names and kicking some booty!  But, think about those last 3 questions.  While I hope that no one has said those words to you: Have you made those comments or even thought them about yourself?  We are likely all guilty of looking at ourselves in the mirror and shifting our focus to what we dislike.  I promise you that what you see as your biggest flaw, is barely/rarely noticed by anyone else.  We see your beauty and I want you to see it too.

I challenge you to stop the self bullying today and look in the mirror and say something you LOVE about what you see.


You have striking features. You have qualities specific to you that are simply stunning.

Did you know that when you take care of yourself, your self worth actually increases?  Giving yourself the gift of exercise, eating well and other forms of self care are simple and immediate ways to feel valued.  Something as simple as holding a plank, flossing your teeth or preparing a nourishing meal sends a signal to your brain that says “I’m worth this”.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the scientific “trick” that smiling can improve your mood.  If this concept is new to you, click here for an article from Forbe’s that explains the how and why behind it, then come back and read on (while smiling).


 (Actually, we are totally going to do that!)

Well, improving your body image and increasing your self esteem doesn’t just “trick” your brain into thinking you’re prettier, smarter, healthier…it actually uncovers your finest qualities, embellishes them and continues to nurture them.  You actually become what you focus on. Each day we wake up with the ability to create a feeling, attitude and reality.  What reality are you creating?

This should be very exciting news!  Each day you get to pick something grand or simple to do for yourself.  You get to choose new ways to nurture yourself.  You get to tell that face in the mirror what you love about it.  You get to challenge your capable body in new ways.  Watch yourself transform.  Experience your goals being reached.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Each day, take another step.  Push a little harder.  Empower yourself through your own encouragement.

Here are a few easy ways to show yourself you are valued

Make this “Spring Scrub”!

This was a happy accident.  I spilled some coffee grounds on the counter.  Being the cheapskate frugal gal that I am, I wasn’t going to scoop them up to drink, but I did make an invigorating skin scrub.  I call it a Spring Scrub because it’s perfect for your feet and shins just in time for sandal weather.


Spillage=Happy Accident

Mix the coffee grounds (about 1/4 cup) with 1/4 cup coconut oil.  Add a dash of cinnamon.  This helps with circulation (as does the coffee).  The cinnamon gently plumps the skin by bringing blood to the surface giving you smoother skin.  It has been shown to help treat eczema and acne as well.  The coconut oil will act as a moisturizer.  It is also antibacterial (so is cinnamon) and anti-fungal, so it works well on the feet and may even help treat athletes foot.  The coffee beans are full of antioxidants (as are the other ingredients) and it acts as an exfoliant, leaving the skin smooth after you;ve rinsed it off.  This also makes an amazing lip plumper/smoother!!!  If you have sensitive skin, be careful with the cinnamon.  Start small and add more once you determine you tolerance.


Workout or Work-in!

Do a workout that makes you feel good.  If you’re really looking for encouragement, pick something that challenges you, but that you’re somewhat familiar with so that you soon feel a level of comfort from it.  Try something new or stick to a classic favorite.  Whether it’s yoga, barre or a high intensity workout like SwanFit, just get started.  A few minutes into it, you’ll feel your mood change as your body temperature rises.  Give yourself a pat on the back once you’ve completed it.  And don’t forget to down some water when you’re done!  Hydration is your friend 🙂



Make an Empowering Playlist

Put together a list of songs that make you feel strong, proud, motivated and loved.  Sing along.  Dance like you invented it.  Imagine yourself rocking it out on stage.  Pretend as though those lyrics were written for you!  Here is a short list that get me going every time…don’t judge 😉  I have shouted sang these songs until I was hoarse.  I hope you have a list that gives you the same urge:

empowered playlist


Take a Selfie and Give it a Caption

Take a new picture of yourself.  You don’t have to show it to anyone, but you totally can if you want to!  Don’t over think it and don’t even try to make it “perfect”.  Just take one!  Print it or PicMonkey it and put a caption on it that says something positive about the photo’s subject: YOU!   I’ll even go first.  I took a selfie as soon as I woke up this morning.  No shower, no makeup, so filter.  I didn’t have to be at the gym as early as I usually do, so I got to relax for a few minutes before I started the day.

My hair is growing fast and feels healthy. I woke up with my eyes feeling and looking clear. I’m well rested and full of energy today.

Now it’s your turn!  I’d love to see your captioned selfie.  Remember, don’t over think it.  Just snap it and say something positive about what you see!  If you’re willing to share it, you can post it on the Strong Calm Sexy Facebook page, on Instagram @omnoshedidnt or Twitter @omnoshedidnt.  Make sure you #StrongCalmSelfie and challenge a friend to share a Strong Calm Selfie too!  Let’s start a movement to get people feeling good and sharing love!