Archives for posts with tag: health

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Happy New Year! It has obviously been quite some time since I have written a post. In fact, I have been contemplating giving it up all together. It isn’t that I don’t absolutely love to write – because I do – but that I was putting pressure on myself to post more and the pressure was actually what was keeping me from writing. That and doing the best I can to be an awesome mom and wife (among many other things). So I have been debating writing a post to let you know that I need a time out.

But then I began reading Gluten-Free Girl’s blog again recently and was inspired to post. (Whether you eat gluten-free or not, she is a fabulous writer with amazing recipe ideas!) Similarly, she has made some changes on her blog recently and has decided to write about her passions and tell more stories instead of feeling limited to writing certain recipes because her readers are requesting them. Though nobody is demanding posts from me, I felt I could only post when I had the time to write a long, well thought out and edited post.  With this new year I am making the choice to post the only way I can these days – when something inspires me; when I have something I just can’t wait to share or some health secret that I feel the world has to know (or at least my nice little world of readers). So forgive me if my posts may be few and far between here and there (and perhaps not always well put together) but as I continue to work toward balance in my life, I will post when I just can’t help myself. And I am hoping that means more often but I can’t make any promises.

So in the spirit of the new year and the motivation that generally follows for people to get in better physical shape, I wanted to post this video that absolutely inspires me. It was created and shot by five, beautiful, strong, intelligent colleagues of mine and I love it for so many reasons. Not only is it incredibly sexy, but it also demonstrates just how amazing Pilates is and what you can accomplish when you commit to learning. Pilates truly is an art on top of being the perfect way to get in fantastic shape, a way to prevent future injuries as well as being great for those with chronic weaknesses including bad knees, back, shoulders, etc… In the same way I am working toward balance in my life, Pilates restores balance in the body. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do each time I watch it and become re-inspired.

Wishing you all an inspired start to 2013.

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates


With the election just around the corner, I thought it very important to address one bill on the California ballot – Proposition 37 – the bill that will determine whether or not genetically modified foods must be labeled as such.

If you are unfamiliar with GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), I wrote a post about what they are and why they can be harmful to us back in 2011. To summarize very simply, genetically modifying food began when farmers were trying to find a way to keep insects from spreading disease across their crops.  As insects were increasingly able to tolerate the pesticides that were intended to keep them away, farmers decided to start genetically modifying food. These farmers also realized that by genetically modifying crops, they could grow things more quickly.

Before even addressing Prop 37, it is worth noting that there are two issues at play – one being that our food is sprayed with poison (which is now fairly common knowledge) and two, that our already sprayed food is also being genetically tampered with, taking it even further from its natural state. Prop 37 will not put an end to GMOs but it will at least give us our most basic right to know what is being done to our food by requiring companies to label whether or not there are genetically modified ingredients.

Do you know which foods you eat contain GMOs? Did you know canola and soybean oil are typically genetically modified? When was the last time you looked at a food label of something that comes in a box or a bag? There is a very good chance one or both of these genetically modified oils are in there. How about corn or corn oil? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Take a look at who is campaigning against Prop 37– the big corporations that produce gmos. Below is a pie chart that shows who is funding each campaign.  (For a better view of the charts click here). The number one financial contributor against Prop 37 is Monsanto – the nation’s leading GMO producer. It’s no wonder they don’t want us pushing this bill through…it will negatively affect their company (along with companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi)! Conversely, check out who some of the major companies funding YES – companies like Mercola, a vitamin and alternative wellness company and awesome companies like Organic Consumer’s fund and Nature’s Path.

Because producers of organic food and foods sold for immediate consumption (such as restaurant food) are exempt from labeling, opponents of 37 claim the proposition serves certain special interests. Why should organic food need labeling if it has already been through the rigorous process required to earn an “organic” label, which by definition means that there are no gmos in it? In response to the opponents’ ridiculous claim that restaurants  are “special interest” groups because they’re not required to label foods – rarely is anything labeled when we go out to eat so why would this standard be any different? I don’t go to Houston’s and order a steak knowing exactly the calorie count and ingredients used. That’s the choice I make when dining out. Until restaurants are required to label the nutrition and ingredients in their food, they should not have to label whether or not their food is genetically modified (though I am hopeful that some day all labeling will be required in restaurants should the consumer want this information).

Yes, it will cost us money if the bill passes; there will be lawsuits when companies don’t comply and food costs may go up if companies opt to produce food that isn’t genetically modified. Companies will also have to be monitored which will also cost money. Wouldn’t you rather pay a little more for your food if it means you won’t be eating genetically modified food?  GMOs have only been used in our food since the mid-nineties so the long-term effects on our health are still not known. While claims have been made that GMOs are not dangerous to our health, how can we possibly know when they haven’t been around long enough to be sure? By tampering with the natural state of our food, there may be consequences to our health and I’d like to know just what those are before I decide whether or not to consume them. In the very least, I’d like the freedom to decide whether or not to buy foods containing GMOs. Right now companies have the ability to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients as “natural”; it is dishonest and by passing Prop 37 this will no longer be allowed.

If you are a California voter, I hope you will vote yes on 37.  If you are still on the fence about it, below are some great places to read why you should consider changing your mind. It should be our right to decide when we want to eat something that has been genetically modified and this bill is a step in the right direction. Thank you!

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates

After having a fairly easy, uneventful pregnancy, I just assumed breastfeeding would be the same way. I had heard it could be difficult but I had mentally committed myself to the process, no matter what. I had a very rough start to my breastfeeding experience and even though I had taken breastfeeding classes and learned so much about it, there was little mention of how difficult it can be at the start. Fortunately, over time, and with proper instruction, breastfeeding has become fairly simple and something I really love.

Throughout my breastfeeding adventure, I learned that approximately 70% of women struggle with breastfeeding while only 30% succeed without any issues. I wanted to share my breastfeeding struggles to help other women be prepared for the parts of the process nobody warned me about – latching, and waiting for the milk to come in.

In my birth plan I had made a point of asking my doctor to bring the baby to my chest immediately after birth so I could bond and breastfeed. I had learned that those first minutes were crucial in making that connection with my child and beginning the breastfeeding bond. My son, Beckett, was not in the mood to make this connection just yet so though he was bright-eyed and ready to take on the world, he didn’t want to breastfeed. I tried not to stress out about it and was relieved when he finally did come to the breast within the first hour of his life. He latched right away so I thought we were off to a great start!

It wasn’t until later that night that we started having problems. All of a sudden, he didn’t want to latch anymore and began screaming at the top of his lungs, most likely due to his frustration and hunger. Thank goodness (or so I thought) the hospital provided a lactation consultant to come help us. I wish I could say she was amazing and did the trick, but far from it. She convinced me that Becks was having trouble latching due to the shape of my nipples and handed me a “nipple shield” and wished me luck. I was a bit perplexed. We hadn’t had an issue with my so-called inverted nipples earlier so why now had my nipples decided they need this stupid plastic thing to get my baby to eat? Regardless, I was happy to feed him and put a stop to the screaming so I took the shield and got the job done.

The next day I requested another lactation consultant to come and give me her opinion. Just like the last one, she gave me very little of her time and saw that I had a screaming frustrated baby so she essentially gave up on me and said to keep using the shield for now. I felt so confused! Upon leaving the hospital, I had met one final consultant very briefly who got the baby to latch immediately and sent me on my way. When we got home, he wouldn’t latch the same way again. I used the shield and did the best I could to just make sure he was getting the food he needed and that was all.

Because of using the nipple shield, my milk was taking longer to come in than it normally would. On that first night home from the hospital, Beckett became hysterical with hunger but as a new mom, I couldn’t calm him down enough to get him to eat more. I assumed he must have just been overly tired, as he had slept very little compared to most newborns in the hospital. He spent the entire first night at home alternating between sleeping and screaming, and ashamedly, I admit he went almost seven hours without eating. I kept trying and trying but to no avail.

At around 5:30 the next morning when Beckett woke up after a good long sleep, I prayed to every spiritual being known to man that he would take the boob and get the food that he needed. Thank goodness he did but my milk still wasn’t in! I called a lactation consultant that my pediatrician had referred me to, and though she was completely booked for the day, she made time for us knowing this was a baby who was starving and not yet getting milk.

Linda, the lactation consultant  (known as “My Nursing Coach”), was a godsend! She showed up in her hippie van known as her “mobile breastfeeding center”, fully stocked with everything one could need for breastfeeding, and Linda was full of incredibly helpful knowledge. With her help, Beckett immediately latched on, without the shield, and by the end of our two hours together my milk had come in with a vengeance! Finally he was getting the nutrition he needed and gained back the significant amount of weight he lost within the first week. Phew!

After nine weeks, I can finally say we have breastfeeding down but the issues didn’t stop after that first week. I barely dodged a breast infection twice, have had to deal with overactive letdown (too much milk) causing gas pains for the little guy, had engorged breasts that caused bleeding (that I didn’t even know about until it showed up in Beckett’s spit-up – scary!) and sore nipples. It really took me a solid two months to get in the groove completely, and I wanted to share my story so any new or expectant mothers know that they aren’t alone if they have a similar battle with breastfeeding. I have heard many other stories of women struggling with lack of milk, bleeding nipples, babies refusing the breast, etc…so just know it may not be the dream situation you hoped for at the beginning.

Becoming a mother is overwhelming as it is. Then add on the fact that this tiny person’s entire being is relying on you and your milk to survive and the whole situation can become very intense quickly. Supplementing with formula was not something I wanted to do, so if you’re like me, the pressure is 100% on you to feed this new little life. To this day, I still feel a little pang in my heart when I think about that first night home with Beckett, when I didn’t know any better and essentially let him starve for several hours. If I could do it over again, the one change I would make would be having the lactation consultant come see us that first day we were home, when the baby still wasn’t latching properly. Doing so, would have saved us a very stressful first night home and odds are, my milk would have shown up sooner.

I feel incredibly fortunate that we’re past our breastfeeding issues (for now anyway) and that I can share this incredible bond with Beckett. I hope you don’t have such a dramatic battle with breastfeeding and if you do, you have the access to help. Our insurance paid for our first visit with Linda’s mobile breastfeeding van (my husband calls it the “Boob-mobile”), so it is definitely worth looking into if you don’t get the help you need at the hospital.

Please share your stories to help educate women for their journey so they feel more confident and ready once their little bundle of joy joins us in the world.

Thank you for reading my story. Below are some tips I have learned for a better breastfeeding experience.

Written by Lana House

Studio owner, House Pilates


  • Make sure you drink tons of water while breastfeeding. It is the most important thing for a great milk supply
  • Don’t go hours without eating and make sure you eat lots of healthy fats. Remember that baby is still eating what you are eating just like during pregnancy so eat plenty of healthy foods and eat often. You are burning a lot of calories!
  • Motherlove Nipple cream is AWESOME for sore and cracked nipples. Made only of organic ingredients such as olive oil and shea butter, it is completely safe for baby to eat should there still be some left on your nipple come next feeding
  • More Milk Plus by Motherlove is a fantastic herbal product to help increase your milk supply if yours is low and works almost immediately. Also works later if your milk supply seems to slow down. (They also make More Milk teas as well).
  • There are plenty of other great tips on Linda, the lactation consultant’s, website which include dealing with a breast infection, how to pump and save milk, etc…

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been one of the lucky people who have truly loved veggies. Perhaps part of it was that I knew they were good for me so I wanted to like them but regardless, it has never been a chore to get my fill of vegetables.  About two weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I was not so lucky to discover that nausea was taking over my days and I began to have major food aversions I had never experienced before. My love affair with vegetables had quickly turned into a nasty relationship where I could barely even look them in the eye. No matter how the veggies were prepared (raw, sautéed, steamed, etc…) my body just really did not want anything to do with them. Being well aware of the importance of eating plenty of vegetables daily, especially while pregnant, I quickly learned that I would have to find creative ways to get them into my meals.

Most of us are aware by now how important it is to eat plenty of vegetables daily. The USDA’s new food plate suggests that we eat at least five servings a day. Fruits and veggies make up half the plate! Take a look:

More and more studies are being done to prove that eating vegetables daily helps to reduce the risk of various cancers, stroke, heart disease and other chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Plus, if you notice almost any diet being marketed will limit consumption of most foods – including fruit – with the exception of veggies. Not only are veggies incredibly beneficial for our health, most are also low in calories and sugar, making them a great food to eat often.

So if you are anything like me these past eight months and don’t like eating veggies, or have family members that won’t eat enough of them, here are some of the ways I have incorporated them into my diet without feeling like I want to gag every time I eat them. If you have some of your own clever ideas, please share them here so we have more ways to get the vital nutrients that come with eating our veggies.  Thank you!

  • Veggie powders: I have tried a few of the veggie powders out there and the one that I really like is Macro Greens. Macro Greens tastes really great (sweet and not like veggies at all) especially when you follow their suggested way of drinking it: mix the powder with ice, half water and half apple juice. This was my savior when I really couldn’t stomach eating vegetables the first trimester and it tasted more like apple juice than anything. There are so many other kinds out there so find the one that tastes the best to you and again. It shouldn’t replace eating veggies, but is a great way to add some more!
  • Veggie pills:  A dear friend of mine, Lindsay Hall, turned me on to this great product called, Juice Plus+ last spring. Juice Plus+ is 17 different fruits and vegetables that are juiced, dehydrated, and then encapsulated so that you can boost your veggie and fruit intake simply by popping a pill. It is well researched and proven to be bio-available (absorbed by the blood stream), to reduce oxidative stress, to help protect DNA, to aid cardiovascular wellness, and to support the immune system.  By no means should it replace eating vegetables but it is a great way to supplement when you know you aren’t taking enough in daily as is. Visit the site to learn more by clicking here.
  • Fresh veggie juices with a little fruit: I’d say for the past three months one of my major pregnancy cravings has been raw veggie juice with just a bit of apple and/or orange to hide the bitterness of the greens. If the thought of a veggie juice sounds terrible to you, try one with a little fruit and see if that helps. Many health food grocers have juice bars and more and more places that make fresh juices are popping up everywhere. My favorites are a combo of any or all of the following: kale, spinach, parsley, lemon or lime, cucumber, celery, apple and/or orange. Carrot and beet juice are other ones you may like to include, too!
  • Veggie sandwiches: During the second trimester, I was able to take down more veggies as the nausea subsided, but eating salads regularly was still not appealing. So I came up with the perfect solution – vegetable sandwiches.  Something about sticking a bunch of veggies between two pieces of yummy bread makes it so much easier – especially when dressed with sauces such as humus, mayo or Vegenaise, mustard, olive tapenade, or whatever other sauce tickles your fancy.  Get creative and change-up what veggies you put in! I love any and all of the following in mine and usually just have one made at the Whole Foods deli: carrots, cucumbers, tomato, avocado, sprouts, red onions, roasted red peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, mixed greens and lettuce. Add some deli meat and/or cheese and you have yourself a healthy and delicious veggie-filled meal!
  • Raw veggies and dressing for snacks: Usually on Sundays I go to the farmer’s market and buy a bunch of raw vegetables that I cut up to eat as snacks during the week. Since munching on them plain has been a challenge during pregnancy, I have found that dipping them in my favorite dressing has made them so much more enjoyable. My favorite at the moment is blue cheese but you can dip them in whatever will get you to eat them! My favorite ones to munch on are red, yellow and orange peppers, celery, cucumbers, jicama, radishes and carrots. Another tasty snack is slices of tomato with sea salt.
  • Veggies undercover: If you are a parent you may have already mastered this but one of the things I have learned to do these past eight months is sneak more veggies into my meals. When making a spaghetti sauce that is otherwise mostly meat and tomatoes, I will cut up small pieces of broccoli and stir that in, too. Cheese is a big craving for me right now so if I can put cheese or some sort of cream sauce on cooked veggies, they go down a whole lot easier. Try it! See where you can add vegetables to your recipes whether in soups, sauces, poultry or pastas and up the nutrition without feeling like it’s a chore to get those extra veggies.

Good luck!

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates

As clichéd as it may sound, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. We literally “break” the “fast” of the night when we eat in the morning. Whether you eat dinner at 6 or 9 pm and breakfast at 6 or 9 am, your body goes a very long period of time without eating anything. This is why our blood glucose levels (what gives us energy) are low first thing in the morning and will only continue to stay low until we give our body some nourishment.  The longer you wait to eat, the slower your whole body will be to get moving for the day. This also includes your metabolism; the longer the body starves the more likely your next meal will store as fat because of the slow down of your metabolism, while your energy levels will remain low. (Click here to read a great article Livestrong published on the positive effects on the body of eating breakfast).

Back before I realized how important breakfast is I used to wake up and drink a few cups of coffee on an empty stomach and not have breakfast for a couple of hours. I never felt hungry before then so I wouldn’t eat. I now understand that not only was my energy a lot lower than it could be throughout the day but that my metabolism wasn’t working up to its full potential, allowing me to burn more fuel (aka fat) all day long.

Now that I have changed my breakfast habits and eat a protein rich breakfast within an hour of waking up, I have realized just how much more energy I gain because of it. If you are like I used to be and your number one complaint about breakfast is that you just don’t feel hungry or ready to eat, I can tell you that once you start making yourself eat right away, your body will start demanding it. So, in this New Year give your body better health in the morning by waking up and eating a full, protein-rich breakfast. You will be amazed how it will change your energy levels and jump-start each day; your metabolism will work with you and not against you.

To help get you started here are some of my breakfast favorites that I make each day depending on how much time I have to prepare it and what I am in the mood for.  I hope you find some of my ideas helpful and even inspire some of your own! Please share your favorites with us all so we have even more variety in the morning.


Fast and easy to prepare:

Protein Shake

There are a lot of not so good for you protein mixes out there with a lot of added sugar among other things and some of the healthy ones are really chalky and hard to drink. I love Jay Robb’s Whey protein in both chocolate and vanilla. Add any of the following to it:

  • Any frozen or fresh fruit you like – berries, mangos, bananas, etc…
  • Almond butter or the nut butter of your choice
  • Flax oil for some added omega 3’s
  • Ice

Bowl of Greek yogurt with any or all of the following:

  • Granola (my husband and I love Udi’s gluten-free granola not only because it’s gluten-free but also because it  is sweetened with honey instead of sugar. My local farmer’s market sells GF as well that is sweetened with agave so check to see if yours might have it, too!)
  • Slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, raisins or other chopped dried fruits.
  • Any fresh berries or pomegranate seeds are a favorite at our house
  • Raw cacao nibs if you’re looking for additional fiber
  • Sweeten with a touch of agave, coconut palm sugar or honey

Cottage Cheese with any of the following (or all by itself if that’s the way you like it!):

  • Chopped strawberries or pomegranate seeds, pineapple, or whatever fruit sounds good to you
  • I like it with a little strawberry jam on rice cakes or toast

 Instant hot cereal or oatmeal

  • I have recently fallen in love with EcoPlanet’s Gluten-free Instant Hot Cereal as it contains no sugar and all kinds of healthy grains such as quinoa, buckwheat flour, and flax seeds. Also great is Cream of Buckwheat, Quinoa or Brown Rice and I add the following to any of them:
  • A splash or two of whole milk or goat’s milk (or you can fully sub the water for milk for even creamier cereal with more protein)
  • Slivered almonds and/or walnuts
  • Dried fruits or fresh berries
  • Sweetened with agave, coconut palm sugar or honey

 Toast or instant waffles*

  • Spread on some almond, cashew, sunflower seed, peanut or any nut butter that tickles your fancy!
  • I love organic Nuttzo which is a combo of most nuts and flax seeds and has a great, salty taste! Add a little jam, agave, coconut palm sugar or honey to sweeten.

*(Make a batch of healthy waffles on a weekend and pop them in a freezer. They taste so much better than buying the pre-made ones and are better for you).

Breakfast sausages or patties

Sausages or patties are an easy and fast way to add protein in the morning and only take of minutes on the stove or even faster in the microwave if time is an issue (use the stove if you can!) We love Applegate naturals frozen ones at our house.

Smoked salmon on a bagel – probably the most favorite breakfast in our house!

  • Bagel of your choice (My favorite GF kind is Udis)
  • Wild smoked salmon – Coho or Alaskan
  • Red onions, cream cheese and capers
  • Can add more veggies to get even more nutrition in the morning such as tomato slices, cucumber slices or sprouts. So yummy!

Rice Cakes or Toast with Avocado and sea salt

  • To get the protein we need I add sausage on the side, melt cheese on top or add deli meat on top. Can also add more veggies.

A bit more of a time commitment:

Fried egg with or without avocado on Toast (I like to eat two eggs with two pieces of toast)

Soft-boiled eggs on buttered toast

  • Put eggs in boiling water for 5-6 minutes max and remove quickly.  Cool down in cold water, peel and place on the toast. Depending on your stove top and the way you like it to taste, you may have to figure out exactly what amount of time cooks the egg to your liking as a little too long will over cook them and too short will leave them a little too runny and raw.

Scrambled eggs or omelette with anything you like

  • Veggies such as peppers, onions, or spinach and cheese, ham, sausage etc…

Create a healthy breakfast burrito by using the scrambled eggs above and adding black beans and a touch of sour cream (Greek yogurt works great as a sub for sour cream, too!)

Add a side of nitrate-free bacon (turkey or pork) with any of these breakfasts for even a little extra protein.

If you really have absolutely ZERO time to prepare breakfast, buy individual Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or string cheese to take on the go with a piece of fruit. Stash healthy protein bars and nuts and seeds in your car or purse for days when you don’t have a quick breakfast to go (Check out a list of the protein bars I like the best and that are the healthiest by clicking here).

I hope your mornings this year are filled with a healthy breakfast and lots of energy!

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates

In honor of the new year, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you some of my House of Health tips that were posted in 2011.

I wish you and your loved ones a fun, safe, and happy New Year and all the best for 2012!

Tip #1     From my adventure abroad in Australia last January, I learned that most women in Australia love their bodies no matter their shape and size and it was a great reminder how hard we women are on ourselves to look a certain way in this country. As we enter 2012, please give yourself a break – try to remember that Hollywood’s picture of the perfect body is not only NOT perfect, but also not necessarily even healthy.  Please, please, please find ways to love the body you have and to let go of impractical ideas of what it should look like and this year I promise to do the same. (For more, please look back at An Australian Perspective)

Tip #2    Commit yourself to drinking water more regularly in 2012 if it was a challenge for you. Buy yourself a fancy water bottle that you love and take it everywhere you go just as you carry your wallet and car keys with you. Cut back on the plastic bottles to help your health and the health of the planet and make it a point to get hydrated as it is key to optimal health. See my post, Get Your Camel Back, for more info on the importance of drinking water regularly and tips on how to get more daily.

Tip #3    When it comes time for a sweet treat, challenge yourself to find a healthier alternative in 2012. It is becoming more and more clear that refined sugars could have a terrible impact on our health and there are plenty of yummy sweets that will still satisfy your sweet tooth without it. (Click here to read an excellent NY Times article about the impact of sugar on our health). For some great dessert ideas, check out my Valentine’s Day post, Sweet-Aholics Anonymous.

Tip #4    Find an exercise program that you love and can commit yourself to. As I explained in my guest post on Fitness Motivation Today, it’s really important to take the “work” out of your workout. Explore different classes that you enjoy and change up what you do weekly to keep it interesting and fun. Pilates is an amazing way to not only get physical and mental exercise but it also will help you prevent future injuries and age more gracefully. For more info on Pilates, see my post, Why I’m Addicted to Pilates.  Yoga is another excellent form of exercise worth trying and there are so many styles of classes to choose from that you are sure to find the right one for you. For more info, please click on my post, Finding the Perfect Yoga for You. Whatever you decide you love, commit yourself to exercising regularly in 2012 and your body will really thank you.

Tip #5    If you’ve never tried a juice cleanse before, this next year is the time to do it! Juice cleanses have become the biggest craze as of late and for good reason. A quick three to five-day cleanse is a fabulous way to get your body back on track with healthy eating after the indulgence of the holidays. There are so many great cleanses out there to try and more info can be found on my post, Spring Cleansing. A dear friend of mine just graduated with her masters in nutrition, and has created an amazing juice business that is the perfect way to try a program for the first time if you live in Southern California. Her company, Vibrant Earth Juices, will deliver fresh juices to you and you will feel full and satisfied throughout the cleanse. You will LOVE the results and your tummy will never look and feel better after!

Tip #6    Have you noticed this bizarre weather we’ve had around the world this year? There’s no denying that global warming continues to threaten our planet and it is our job individually to do what we can to help the planet. In 2012, commit to doing your part, simply by changing some of your daily habits that impact Mother Earth. In my post, Easy Peasy Ways to Help Mother Earth, I listed all kinds of small things you can do that will have a large impact on the planet. Let’s all do our part to save our beautiful world for generations to come.

Tip #7    Another simple way to help the planet and your health would be to cut out meat one day a week. Check out my post, Meatless Mondays, to learn more about why it’s a great idea to cut back on the meat you eat, even just for one day of the week.

Tip #8    While cutting back on the meat you eat in 2012, challenge yourself to cut back on the amount of time you spend on your technology devices. As explained in my post, Wireless Wednesdays, stress is detrimental to our health and the amount of time we spend on our computers, iPhones, iPads, internet, etc…puts our bodies and minds into overdrive. See if you can make the effort to cut back on time spent with technology and replace it with quality time spent with friends, family and on your health and wellness.

Tip #9    It’s a lot easier to focus on health when we aren’t working or busy running around getting things done, but how do you take care of yourself when you are at the office? In my post, Health, Fitness and Fun in the Office I explain some easy changes you can make to improve your health while working. Whether it be to take the stairs instead of the elevator or always have healthy snacks and water available at your desk, there are so many small ways to take better care of yourself even when you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Don’t let your job keep you from feeling your best!

Tip #10    Recently I posted about the importance of eating plenty of good fats in your diet. This is just a reminder that good fats are necessary  whether you add more avocados, fish, oils, nuts or seeds to your daily snacks and meals. Don’t be afraid of fat because as the title says, Fat Won’t Make You Fat!

Tip # 11    When I shared my pregnancy journey with you back in September (From No Period to Pregnant: My All Natural Journey) the most important thing I wanted you to take away from it is to listen to your gut when it comes to your health. If something doesn’t seem to jive with you that your doctor or some other healthcare professional is prescribing or telling you to do, get a second opinion. Do some research on your own and find a way to feel confident in the decisions you make with your body. After all, nobody cares about your health more than you and you owe it to yourself to take charge and feel great every step of the way.

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an amazing yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico. I went with a group of 60 others and spent the week in a gorgeous tropical place, silently walking the beaches, practicing both aggressive and therapeutic yoga, eating fresh local food, sunbathing and relaxing the days away. One thing that I loved so much about the trip was meeting fantastic people from around the world that all practice yoga. We discussed the different types of yoga they practice, why they love their classes, and how yoga has changed their lives for the better.

These conversations were a wonderful reminder that yoga can be done by anyone and that there is a class out there that is perfect for each one of us; there are enough studios, dvds and classes offered everywhere so that you can find the one that feels the best for you. However, starting a yoga practice can be totally overwhelming when there are so many to choose from, so I thought it might be helpful to give a little info on the different types out there. I have three different studios I like to go to with completely different experiences, so that I can enjoy whichever class feels right for me that day. For example, if I want a really hard workout but don’t have a lot of time, I go to the yoga class at my gym that is only an hour fifteen. If I am going with a friend at the end of the day and know my concentration might be shot by then, I love to go to the class where we can rock out to loud hip hop music, we can chat if we feel like it and leave early without anyone caring; all while still getting a sweaty hard workout. And if I have a couple of hours for my workout and need a more mentally and physically challenging experience, I go to a different class. Each has its benefits and I love them all for different reasons.

So, here is a breakdown of the many kinds of yoga out there (feel free to add more in the comment section if any were not included!) and a little summary about each one*.

And for those of you completely new to the world of yoga, the benefits are incredible. Besides the typical workout benefits of building strength and mobility in your body, countering stress and tension, etc…yoga has a major focus on the breath. Proper breathing provides sufficient oxygen for the correct and efficient functioning of every body cell. It nourishes the muscles and organs with oxygen and it dispels fatigue and anxiety. So learning to breath deeply in yoga can do wonders for your body and help you learn to stay relaxed in stressful situations. (Check out a full list of benefits here).

Yoga is truly a gift to us all and I hope you are inspired to find the perfect yoga class for you.


Types of Yoga

Ananda Yoga: Ananda Yoga classes focus on gentle postures designed to move the energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.

Anusara Yoga is a relatively new form of yoga (1997), which pairs strict principles of alignment with a playful spirit. Postures can be challenging, but the real message of Anusara is to open your heart and strive to connect with the divine in yourself and others.

Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga is the name given to the system of yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This style of yoga is physically demanding as it involves synchronizing breathing with progressive and continuous series of postures-a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, flexibility, stamina, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. Ashtanga is an athletic yoga practice and is not for beginners.

Bikram Yoga is the method of yoga that is a comprehensive workout that includes all the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss. The founder, Bikram Choudhury, was a gold medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963 and is a disciple of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, (Autobiography of a Yogi). One of the unusual but most beneficial aspects of Bikram’s yoga practice is the 95-105 degree temperature which promotes more flexibility, detoxification, and prevention of injuries. This is the only yoga style that specializes in using the heated environment.

Hatha is an easy-to-learn basic form of yoga that has become very popular in the United States. Hatha Yoga is the foundation of all Yoga styles. It incorporates Asanas (postures), Pranayama (regulated breathing), meditation (Dharana & Dhyana) and kundalini (Laya Yoga) into a complete system that can be used to achieve enlightenment or self-realization. It has become very popular in America as source of exercise and stress management. The ideal way to practice the Hatha Yoga poses (asanas) is to approach the practice session in a calm, meditative mood. Sit quietly for a few moments, then begin the series, slowly, with control and grace, being inwardly aware as the body performs the various poses selected for the practice session. Do not overdo the asanas or try to compete with others. Take it easy and enjoy.

Integral Yoga: This traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing exercises, selfless service, meditation, chanting, prayer, and self-inquiry.

ISHTA: Developed by South African teacher Mani Finger and popularized in the States by his son Alan, ISHTA (Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts) focuses on opening energy channels throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation.

Iyengar Yoga, developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than 60 years ago, promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through coordinated breathing and poses that require precise body alignment. The poses are generally held longer than in other styles of yoga. In Iyengar, you slowly move into a pose, hold it for a minute or so, and then rest for a few breaths before stretching into another. Equipment like cushions, blankets, straps, and blocks to help the less flexible also distinguishes Iyengar from other types of yoga. Although Iyengar incorporates the traditional postures, or asanas, that make up the broader category of hatha yoga, the cushions and other props revolutionized yoga by enabling everyone — even the elderly, sick, and disabled — to practice. Because of its slow pace, attention to detail, and use of props, Iyengar yoga can be especially good if you’re recovering from an injury. Iyengar is still one of the most popular types of yoga taught today.  

Jivamukti Yoga:Developed in 1986 by Sharon Gannon and David Life, the Jivamukti Yoga method expresses the spiritual and ethical aspects of the practice of yoga that have been disregarded or devalued in contemporary times. It is a vigorous and challenging asana form with an emphasis on scriptural study, Sanskrit chanting, vegetarianism, non-violence, meditation, devotion to God and the role that music and listening play in the practice of yoga. Life and Gannon currently operate a popular yoga studio in New York City.

Kali Ray TriYoga:A series of flowing, dancelike movements was developed by Kali Ray in 1980. The practice also incorporates pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Kali Ray runs the TriYoga Center in Santa Cruz, California.

Kripalu is called the yoga of consciousness. This gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages. Goal-oriented striving is discouraged and precise alignment is not as important as in some other traditions. There are three stages in Kripalu yoga. Stage One focuses on learning the postures and exploring your bodies abilities. Stage Two involves holding the postures for an extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness. Stage Three is like a meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously.

Kundalini practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises.

Power Yoga is essentially yoga with brawn. It’s the American interpretation of ashtanga yoga, a discipline that combines stretching, strength training, and meditative breathing. But power yoga takes ashtanga one step further. Many of the poses (also called postures or their Sanskrit name, asanas) resemble basic calisthenics — push-ups and handstands, toe touches and side bends — but the key to power yoga’s sweat-producing, muscle-building power is the pace. Instead of pausing between poses as you would in traditional yoga, each move flows into the next, making it an intense aerobic workout.

Restorative Yoga: In a restorative yoga class you’ll spend long periods of time lying on blocks, blankets and yoga bolsters – passively allowing muscles to relax.

Sivananda Yoga:Like Integral Yoga, this traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation. The popular TV yoga teacher Lilias got her start practicing Sivananda Yoga.

Svaroopa Yoga: New students find this a very approachable style, often beginning in chair poses that are comfortable. Promotes healing and transformation.

Viniyoga: This is commonly used as a therapeutic practice for people who have suffered injuries or are recovering from surgery. It is a gentle, healing practice that is tailored to each person’s body type and needs as they grow and change.

Vinyasa: Focuses on coordination of breath and movement and it is a very physically active form of yoga. It began with Krishnamacharya who later passed it on to Pattabhi Jois.

White Lotus Yoga: A modified Ashtanga practice developed by Ganga White which is combined with breathwork and meditation.

* This list came straight from the website and was not written by me

Written by Lana House of House Pilates

A little over a week ago I had the opportunity to do an awesome seminar on health and Pilates in the office for a branding company here in LA. I was excited and intrigued by the challenge of how to get people to move more at work and it was a great success.

As many of you know, working in an office today takes quite a toll on the body. I have been fortunate that for most of my life beyond high school, I have escaped the sitting-for-hours world. I did take a job a few years back in an office for a short period of time and couldn’t believe how achy and tired I felt at the end of each day – and I was running around a lot of the time and never even at the job for more than six hours at a time! I can only imagine what you nine-to-fivers must deal with daily!

When my husband, Karl, had a surf accident last summer and injured his lower back, he had a very hard time sitting in his chair at the office anymore. He then began working while standing, moving around, and immediately his back began feeling better. Though the accident was incredibly unfortunate, it did lead him to take better care of his body at the office.

We aren’t meant to sit down all day long. Here is an excellent article Karl recently sent to me which will give you some stats on people who move in the office versus people who do not, as well as tips on staying active at work. It’s worth the quick read:

Sitting Is Bad for You: What Can You Do About it at Work?

So, as inspired by my recent seminar, here are a couple easy things to do beyond what is mentioned in the article above to take care of your body at work*:

  • HYDRATE ALL DAY LONG – So easy to forget to drink water. For more information about, the importance of drinking water all day long, check out info and tips on my previous blog:  And if you still won’t drink water, try doing half water and half coconut water which has so many great health benefits; Super hydrating, coconut water is great for your hair and skin, low in sugar, filled with electrolytes, just to name a few.
  • DON’T SUCCOMB TO THE 4 O’CLOCK CRASH – Avoid that really-tired-I- desperately-need-sugar-NOW feeling that kicks in around “tea time” by choosing natural sugars such as fruit, and adding a little protein, such as a nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut…) so as to not spike your blood sugar. How about crackers and cheese or veggies and hummus?  Yogurt with granola or a natural protein bar (for ideas on the best protein bars, check out my recent post,  Finding the Perfect Protein Bar) These snacks are great for everyone in the afternoon, whether you are in an office or not!
  • CHOSE TEA OVER COFFEE – Go for tea over coffee to stay alert and avoid the crash later (or even worse, end up hyped up on caffeine until 3 am). Green tea is an excellent option and recently discovered there are so many great ones out there such as Kukicha, Genmaicha, Hojicha – all with so many health benefits and less caffeine and acidity. (More info on tea and the benefits on my previous post, Sipping Tea for Japan). Or how about a Kombucha? It is my favorite afternoon pick-me-up with so many health benefits! Try the GT’s Synergy brand, it’s the best! Or how about iced tea? There are so many flavors to choose from so you have plenty of coffee alternatives.
  • TAKE YOUR BREAK OUTSIDE IN THE FRESH AIR – Why not have a pair of walking shoes under your desk to put on for your break and take a nice walk outside in the fresh air? Being cooped up all day isn’t so great for the body but not so great for the mind either. Give yourself a chance to step away from the stress and breathe some nice clean air.
  • TRY A MEDICINE BALL FOR YOUR CHAIR – I recently began sitting on mine at the breakfast table where I eat and write emails, blog posts, etc….and I LOVE it! It is a wonderful break for your back and won’t break the bank. You can find them at your local sports store and these days a lot of the discount stores carry them, too! (TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, etc…) Or if that just really turns you off and you are willing to invest more, these days they make office chairs that are meant to be more supportive for your back. Karl has one from Herman Miller that he absolutely loves! Maybe you can even get our company to pay for it!
  • TAKE THAT PHONE OFF YOUR EAR! – Chances are you have been hearing this for years but it’s an important one! I get so many clients who come in with one shoulder much higher than the other due to the hours of balancing or holding the phone up to one ear. Choose the speakerphone if it’s available to you, get some earphones or one of those fabulous Britney Spears headsets and get that thing away from your ear! Aside from how it affects your back, neck and shoulders, who knows just what the effects will be on your brain? Cell phones are still such a new technology that we really have no idea what it will do to us in the long run so better to be safe than sorry.
  • TAKE STAIRS AND WALK MORE AT WORK –  Stop using the elevator, especially if it’s your only opportunity for exercise that day. Park a little farther to get a little extra walk. Ride your bike. Walk a little further for lunch. Take stairs to your meetings when out and about. Just take advantage of every opportunity to move more.
  • TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LAUGH AT WORK – Life gets too serious, especially at the office!  At my husband’s company, they have a 4 o’clock dance party everyday to keep everyone’s spirits up and to keep the afternoon from dragging. They also have a ping pong table for the same purpose. Give yourself the chance to relieve a little stress with laughter and a good chat with a co-worker for a couple of minutes every day. It will help keep things in perspective.

* If you are interested in learning the Pilates exercises that can be done while at the office, feel free to contact me for more info: