Yoga for Neck & Back Injuries

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As a runner, I’ve learned the hard way that stretching & recovery play just as important as a role in training as the actual runs. What we do after & between each run is equally as curcial (if not more) than the days we hit the road, trail, or treadmill.

Thanks to running, I’ve fallen in love with yoga. I actually look forward to it now on my days off and later in the day on my long runs – it stretches me out and eases the pain that takes over if I don’t sprawl out on my mat. Especially since I surf, too, which is far from easy on my back, most of my aches and pains are in the neck/back/oblique area.

These are my three favorite, easy-peasy, go-to videos for stretching out my neck & back. They alleviate the tension & pressure that build up from all my activities and help me start the day feeling energized, refreshed, & zenned out.

I usually do them in this order (the last one’s the most difficult) and they take around 45 minutes all together.

What are your favorite yoga routines for post-run recovery?

5 Keys to Happy, Healthy Travel

Whether your flight is early, late, short or long, it takes a lot out of us. Every time i see a plane land at the airport, it unleashes a hoard of tired, hungry, cranky, and dehydrated zombie-like humans that look effing miserable. If you’re trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle, flying can be even more daunting.

I’ve done my fair share of travel, and standby travel at that – so I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. These 5 steps are easy, cheap, and help you stay happy and healthy no matter where you’re headed to.

1. BYOB

I know this one seems obvious, but it’s sooo easy to forget to byob when it’s 5am and you’re headed to the airport. Plus, airlines seem to barely even hand out water these days. I bring a full water and chug it on the way through security, then fill it back up and sip on that sizzard throughout the flight.

2. Bring Electrolytes

Not only do I bring a water bottle, I also bring an empty shaker bottle with an electrolyte packet to drink. Depending on how long the flight is, you might want to bring more than one. My personal rule is one packet per 5 hours of flight.

3. Snacks on SNACKS

Back in the good ole days, the airlines used to feed you. While they’re forced to feed you on international flights, you’re lucky if you get more than a packet of five mini-pretzels and 4 oz of water flying domestic. So, I keep myself stacked with items that won’t get taken away at security. My faves are fruits, veggies, hummus packs, Lara bars, protein packets, and nuts. I would not recommend bringing any nut butter – mine always gets taken away. Sad.

4. Melatonin is LIFE

I used to have the hardest time sleeping on planes, but was scared to take any sleep aid because most of them give me terrifying nightmares. Which, naturally, I don’t want to experience in the air.

However, personally, melatonin is my bestie during times of travel. On a 12-hour flight to china, I spaced them out so nicely that I slept for eight beautiful hours straight. For long flights, I like to take two 3-5mg tablets at first, and then take 1 every 4 or 5 hours as the flight goes on.

5. Bring a Book/Journal/Planner

I’m not sure why, but traveling – even en route – brings about a lot of clarity. There’s been many, many times when my electronics die or I’ve exhausted my playlists or the movie selection is lame (or not free) and I’ve wished I brought a damn book. Flights are a great place to plan out your day/week/trip/life, or catch up on a great book. BRING IT ALL.

The Body Positive Athlete

A friend asked me how you can be body positive and an athlete at the same time. It’s a great question, because I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can go hand in hand, if that’s what you’re about! All you need are these key points:

✨all bodies are worthy or respect & love

✨athletic ability & health can’t be judged by appearance

✨athleticism and health doesn’t make anyone superior to another

✨movement should come from a place of joy, not punishment or sacrament

✨bodies are beautiful and capable of so much!

That’s literally it! Shifting to a body positive mindset allowed me to actually enjoy the activities I love – soccer, running, hiking, swimming. It disconnected me from the ingrained need to “work off” my food/weight and brought me back to a place of fun.

You Don’t Need a Makeover: Food Freedom Friday


You don’t need a makeover.
Yep, you read that right – no matter your weight, size, shape, gender or age, you DON’T need a makeover. The fitness/diet industry does. 


Imagine if you had a store that sold a single size of clothing – or offered a single, specified entree – or if Jamba Juice offered ONE smoothie?

It’s illogical to sell one specific item because we all know people are different. Some people like berries, some people like citrus fruits. Some people are short, others are tall. 

Yet, the diet and fitness industry gets away with selling us a single ideal per gender – a tall, muscular, chiseled and well portioned man, coupled with a slender, yet muscular, yet still distinctly feminine woman. And they make billions of dollars a year on the mere fact that the majority of the population is physically incapable of achieving the image they’re selling.


If you sell an unreachable image, customers will never stop buying. If we all looked perfect, why would we buy powders and pills and capsules and workout programs? There’s no money in the achievement; there’s money in the chase. 

So no, you don’t need a makeover. Healthy eating and exercise do yield a wonderful breadth of benefits, like increased energy, deeper sleep, higher dopamine and serotonin levels, better focus and cognitive function, improved digestive health, and the list continues. But being healthy looks different on every. single. person. Be you, and be healthy if you choose – but don’t let clever marketing and photoshop make the choice for you.

Motivation Monday: Do what feels right.

The other day I woke up at 4 a.m. for a 15-mile long run before work. I was sore, tired, under slept, achy, grouchy, hungry, and cranky the day before. I was positive I wouldn’t wake up for my run and subconsciously sleep through the alarm as an avoidance tactic. Begrudgingly, I set my clothes, shoes and water out the night before. Just in case.

When the alarm rang at 4 a.m., I popped right out of bed and laced up my shoes. I didn’t feel any of the cranky feels of the previous day or even tired or mildly annoyed at such an early wake up time. It just felt right.

As I took off on my run, it felt even more right to be winding through dark, empty streets and cool air before the heat kicked in and the rest of the world woke up. I watched the city I so dearly love awaken, as the light gently began to creep in as the darkness faded away. Honolulu slowly rubbed its eyes and awoke and unfolded its morning and I was there, with each and every step and breath, to see it.

The key with a healthy lifestyle – just like every other aspect of life – is to find something you truly enjoy. Even something you love. If I had to cycle, or lift, or swim for over two hours I would have been ready to throw a temper tantrum – in fact, I probably wouldn’t have even made it out of bed.

Find something you dig. Discover what works for you, and then run with it – literally 🙂

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Wednesday Wisdom: Life Happens for You


In the darker times of our lives, we all ask ourselves the same question: Why me? When everything falls apart, when tragedy strikes, we ask the Universe: “Why is this happening to ME?”

Somehow, in the best times of our lives, when we’re faced with love and abundance and the opportunity to achieve our dreams, we ask the same thing: “Why would this happen to ME?”

Light or dark, abundance or despair, why things happen TO us. But things don’t happen to us at all: they happen FOR us. Tragedy gives way to growth, challenge inspires breakthroughs, and even the deepest cracks allow the light to shine in and through.

When awful things happen, we grow through them and become stronger, smarter, and ironically, more open and honest versions of ourselves. When we’re just  so.over.it., we become more authentic and loving and are able to live true.

The reason bad things happen to good people is to make them even better. To prepare them for what’s next, and create a soul capable of giving more of themselves to the world and encouraging those around them to do the same. There’s a reason the most beautiful, open, loving, and courageous leaders were bred from hardship, hatred and turmoil; it made them better.

Whatever is going on in your life, embrace it; you are growing. Your are being prepared for what’s next, and becoming who you’re meant to be.

Travel Tuesday: Mt. Olympus Hike


I expected to be writing a super cool post about my awesome travels around Europe with my family, which I would be getting back from just about now. Instead, I didn’t go anywhere – the Europe trip I’d been looking forward to all year became the Europe trip that wasn’t. My mom tore her Achilles tendon, my sister had knee surgery, and my dad injured his kneecap – all within a week. Apparently, this trip just was NOT meant to be.


Seriously, that really did happen. Don’t believe me? My sister sent me this of all of their boots chilling at home together in collective injured non-travelness.


Since I can’t travel, I decided to cram some extra adventure into my life on the island – in the form of beach time, hikes, and  a spontaneous trip up to North Shore. My favorite adventure, though, was a wet, cold, slippery hike up Waahila Ridge Trail to Oahu’s Mt. Olympus peak.


It was one of those hikes were everything went wrong; we left too late, picked the worst possible weather, and struggled to slip and slide up muddy slopes. Mt. Olympus usually offers stunning, panoramic views of Oahu’s south and east shorelines, but it was so cloudy we couldn’t see a damn thing. In fact, it felt as if we were walking on mist itself, the ridge breaking out just above the crown of the clouds.


It was freezing cold and we drudged through mud and sideways, slightly torrential rain. We got to almost the top and the rain picked up so much that we were climbing up a river and were forced to turn back. It was nearly impossible to grab onto the ropes, since they were slick with rain and wet and mud.


We left so late in the day that we walked back the last third of the ridge in the dark. I slipped and fell on my ass half a dozen times on slick tree roots that I couldn’t see because the sun had set and were out of light and luck.


Yet, somehow, it was insanely fun and memorable. How is it that the worst times are often remembered as the best?
  

Motivation Monday: Reaching Goals

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Every Monday is a gift. A fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to start the week with an open mind, positive vibes and a grateful heart.

We all have goals. Whether it’s to eat better, or run farther, to train for a race or show or just to see some definition in our arms or abs, we all work towards something. Goals are the ultimate motivation, because our efforts are moving us forward. With that momentum, we’re pretty much unstoppable.

Here’s some goal-oriented motivation for your goal-oriented selves and a kick off towards a great week!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Personal Growth


I  know I tend to preach a lot about self-love, positive vibes, inner peace, happiness, and all that soulful woo-woo stuff that not everyone is comfortable with. To be honest, my life has radically changed so much since I’ve embraced myself fully – mind, body, and spirit – that I can’t help but want to share that with everyone around me. I’ll preach it from the rooftops, cause that self-love shit is straight up contagious.

Whether you’re on the self-love train or not, the idea of personal growth is a lot easier to contemplate. It’s visible, tangible, and real; personal growth is so contagious that, no matter its roots, it affects your life in its entirety. If you have tremendous growth with health or weight loss, it’s pretty much impossible for you to not cultivate a calmer mind, open heart and greater love towards the self along with your new body. If you grow tremendously  on the mental or spiritual side, you likely find yourself making better choices for your physical self; sleeping more, eating better, and paying attention to your body’s internal cues.

A friend of mine posted this posts’ image and I completely fell in love. When you meet someone truly at peace with themselves, they exhibit patience, health, happiness, and love. The positive, quiet, and calm characteristics that comprise a loving, beautiful soul.

Just like positivity shines through, negativity can’t seem to contain itself either. Anger, spitefulness, jealousy, cruelty, aggression; they’re the negative, chaotic, and loud. We’ve all had a customer or coworker flip the f out on us for no apparent reason and go off on some rage-fueled tangent that makes zero sense. And we all recognize the fact that this has nothing to do with me. That anger or hate or rage are clearly coming from a deep, dark place within themselves.

I’m sending you all good vibes and the strength to deal with the negativity that is inherent to this life and this world.

Bless,

Nikki

Bob’s Red Mill Review Giveaway!


Aloha all! Apologies for my absence lately – life has been crazy-full of adventures, injuries, soccer games and marathon training. Between training and work, it’s hard for me to carve out time for my blog, which is a bummer because I absolutely adore writing and seriously miss meeting and engaging with badass women bloggers around the world.

I officially promise to make this blogging stuff more of a regular thing 🙂

Anyways, I just got done doing a super fun Instagram challenge for Bob’s Red Mill with my #sweatpink sisters! I’ve been using BRM products for ages, from their flaxseed meal to almond flour to gluten-free baking products. When they came out with a plant-based, chia-seed-and-probiotic-infused protein powder, I kinda nearly lost my damn mind. So much radness, right?!
Oh, and they also sent it in a gigantic, loud red box that was lovingly waiting at my doorstep after work one day. It was so big, in fact, that my roommate silently came over from the couch for moral support as I cautiously opened this beauty and surveyed its glorious contents.


Let me just say – Bob’s Red Mill, you the real MVP. Y’all hooked it UP. I got four full-size flavors – Chocolate, Protein & Fiber, Vanilla, and, my very favorite, Chai – along with some recipes, sample/travel packs, and a super cute shaker bottle.


THANKS Y’ALL!

While I liked all the flavors, my one true love was the chai. I blended it with coconut milk, bananas and dates for a milk-shake-like smoothie of vegan goodness. Aside from taste, the nutrient content on these totally make the geek in me freak the f out. A vegan powder that has amino acids, probiotics, and chia seeds? Yes, please. Gluten free and sweetened with monk fruit, these babies are some freaking gems in the very rough world of plant-based powders.
I’m so excited, in fact, that I’m gonna host a giveaway for the Protein & Fiber flavor! Check out the link below and follow instructions to enter – the winner will be announced next Monday 🙂

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7402e5bb5/?

Love, happiness, and plant-based protein,

Nikki ❤