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How To Rock Head To Toe Leopard

 Photos by:  Elena Eshleman

Photos by: Elena Eshleman

How to rock head to toe leopard is easy, you need one essential accessory that is not sold in stores: fierceness. Bring your absolute fiercest attitude with you when rocking an outfit like this. You need nothing else, I promise you. I love a good animal print especially when it's tastefully done in the right palette, one encompassed of neutrals. These Live the Process pants could be worn with a million other sweaters or even a denim shirt like this FRAME DENIM Le Military denim shirt that I am obsessed with...I threw on an old Helmut Lang shearling jacket that I have had for an extra touch of animal (please say "animal" in a French accent in your head, the spelling is unfortunately the same as English but that is the effect I was going for).

So bad news, these are sold out BUT I am sharing with you some other amazing animal prints that I love. First, I have to say that I am totally digging Live the Process. The material is so, so, so yummy and the V in the back of the pants accentuates your derriere like a Kardashian. Lastly, the sports bra is a little longer than the average and the pants a little higher at the waist so I felt comfortable rocking a set like this sans shirt.  They have another awesome spring set (leggings and matching bra) in the same cuts currently available on NET-A-PORTER . I am really into these ALALA (I love typing their name out) leopard leggings in a greyscale. It's a creative twist on leopard and another amazing neutral you can wear the heck out of. The matching sports bra that crosses in the front gives me something else I can't buy in a traditional store: cleavage. This set is beyond sexy and will require you to stand on fire hydrants in case you set your self en fuego. These Pretty Little Things multi-color leopard pants are a fun twist on the concept and won't break the bank. You can also mix and match an array of sports bras for fun.

Did you think leopard could be this FUN?!

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Monday Mantra

Stop acting like you will get 100 do-overs because you won’t. You are not on an audition, this isn’t the practice exam; it’s the real thing. What am I talking about you ask? Life that is! We keep thinking we need to get it “right” or “perfect” it. There is no such thing as either of those things. What you need to do is just be in your life, BE IN IT. Get out of your head, get out of the past because if that didn’t help you then why is it going to help you now and get the heck out of the future. I remember day- dreaming in school when I was younger and it was usually when I didn’t want to “be” in a particular class. Day dreaming about all sorts of stuff and the future took me out of the present and “elsewhere”. That was fine for my pubescent self who did not understand the value of the present moment but what about now? Should we be dreaming and willing ourselves out of our current lives? That actually relinquishes your ability to get anything marvelous and great accomplished if you are literally out of your body and the present moment. Get back in there. Get in the game; it’s the only freaking way to find happiness. Be. Life is short, it is fleeting and in the end you will be that much more fulfilled knowing you were an active and conscious participant.

 

Go live a little. xo

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How To Rock High Waisted Leggings

A high waisted pant shows off way more of your waist than you think. It's not all about sports bras to show off the fruits of your labor. A high waisted pant highlights the trimmest part of your waist which is your actual waist line. In this case, showing less is in fact more. The frontal support you get in the tummy area provides more comfort which always leads to more confidence. No need to play tug of war in these pants while coming into a squat position. I am a super big fan of this cut and I couldn't love this wild print done in muted colors more. I like that Onzie leggings are reasonably priced in the grand scheme of "premium leggings". The fabric they use is light weight and dries fairly quickly after a sweaty sesh.  I decided to pair these Onzie bamboo high rise leggings (which are on sale) with an old school Onzie high neck crop top , it's a staple in my closet. The high neck keeps this top super balanced because it compensates for the little belly skin on the bottom! I have had it for about a year now and I wear it to death. I layered on a Blue Fit Life mesh sweatshirt that I also had in my closet, a classic leather moto jacket and some mesh cut off gloves for extra edge. My Illesteva sunglasses matched perfectly and Isabel Marant wedges completed this look. 

Voila! Rock away! Enjoy these cool backdrops found in none other than Williamsburg, Brooklyn. xo

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Monday Mantra

Lots of weird things are happening. First of all, it's leap year. There is this one extra day every 4 years as a corrective means to account for the sun not orbiting around the earth in exactly 365 days. This comes from the source that I trust above all other sources; wikipedia

Also, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar last night in case you are still living under a rock this morning. You may stop reading now and never read my blog again when I say, I am not a big fan of Leo. Sorry, I just never have been. I've pegged him as smug since Growing Pains. I know, it is totally unfair to judge someone you do not know. I kind of act like a snubbed Victoria's Secret model and I have no explanation for it. Although, I am not about to start a fan club for him, I am happy the poor guy finally won an Oscar after 6 nominations. If I were him, I would retire if I didn't win this time around. Another thing I will reluctantly admit is that I really liked his speech. He said "I do not take tonight for granted". I love that! Okay, maybe I'll start to appreciate him more. To openly admit not taking something for granted when you are a millionaire and can do pretty much whatever you want and have people still love you is so humble and spiritually impressive. Shows he's a man living in the present and showing gratitude for all of life's blessings.

I went to a hot yoga class this morning taught by a friend and I took Leo's advice (we are definitely on a first name basis now). I took nothing for granted. I enjoyed the birds chirping at 6:30 am, the farmers setting up for the market and the warm sun on my face. In my humble opinion, the sun is orbiting just fine. 

My mantra for this week: don't take TODAY for granted. Another symbolic gesture being that it is a leap year and all, course correct here and now! Even the glorious sun, doesn't get it perfectly right. Take a moment to forgive some of the "mistakes" you have made recently, let them go and begin a new path to orbit on starting TODAY.

Wishing you love, light and a smooth orbit around the most precious thing you have...life! xo

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5 Luxurious Products That Are Good For Your Skin & Your Health

 Photos by  Elena Eshleman

Photos by Elena Eshleman

So I can be a bit fussy, about what I eat, where I work out, etc. Please note, I said fussy and not high maintenance. Essentially, I am not embarrassed to make 3 modifications to a menu item even at the risk of the waiter rolling his eyes at me (and embarrassing who I'm with). I am cautious and contentious about the kind of exercise that I do because I know this bod needs to last me another 55 years. That is, unless they figure out a way to turn us into robots by then (I'd like to be a hot robot if I'm given the option to choose). So where does this leave the biggest organ on my body...my skin? Wow! Turns out my skin has been neglected and given the short end of the stick. I actually feel like I owe my skin an apology for slathering on tons of stuff over the past few decades (yep that's how old I am and how young I started) without even questioning its origin and affects. Shame. On. Me. Not too long ago, I watched a documentary called the Human Experiment. It was around the time I became obsessed with documentaries that would put the fear of god into me. After I watched all of the food ones that would make me want to eat grass for the rest of my days, I figured...eh what the heck. Let's see what else I should not be consuming. That was the beginning of what I'd like to call my "awakening". Before I knew it, I threw out endless products that I clean with, switched to aluminum free deodorant and I started to really question "what is better beauty".  In a nutshell, the US has not passes a law to regulate the safety of personal care products since 1938. Imagine a current world where no laws have been passed since 1938 to cause any reform or improvement. What kind of world would we live in today? I can think of hundreds of things that would be wrong with today's society if that were the case. So why is the personal care industry stuck in the past when we have evolved significantly since? That would mean we have learned nothing since 1938, imagine that? Also, only 10% of chemicals in personal care products have safety data attached to them. Imagine someone told you that about the food you eat or feed your children? This makes it no different. Last thought I'll leave you with, the EU has restricted 1,300 ingredients and we have restricted 11. I am not a mathematician but that seems pretty off to me. Overall, as I mentioned, I care to know more about what I use and what I do and how that affects me. I am by no means perfect and I understand I can't live in a bubble but I can in fact make small and informed changes in my life. I will work on controlling the variables that I can. Full disclosure, I became a Beautycounter Consultant so I can enrich my life and help others make better beauty decisions. If there is anything you'd like to try from the below, you can find my page (and badass picture) here. This is also a mission super close to my heart, Beautycounter is fighting for reform and going straight to Congress for those changes. We all need to play our role to empower ourselves, one decision and one product at a time.

On the flip side, I am a taurus to the T. I love luxury and I will not compromise that even while I aim to be more contentious of what I consume. I want to share with you a few products that are luxury approved by me that will be kind to your skin, appealing to your senses and mindful of your health. You can totes have a spa day at home with these products. I just tried Zeel for the first time and I am obsessed. If you have never used them, you can use promo code: RELAX and save $25 off your first massage like I did! For an at home spa day, I would recommend, starting with a Zeel massage and then using some or all of these products for the finishing touches. Have a robe handy, some soothing music, light a few candles and grab a delicious read. 

1. Start with a nice and clean canvas. I love the Counter Time Nourishing Cleansing Balm. It feels like a spa day every day when I use this product. I like to compare the consistency to coconut oil. You apply this on to dry skin and massage it in. You then use the wash cloth it comes with and remove it with warm water and then rinse it off with cold water. I am falling asleep from being so relaxed as I type this. If you have oily skin, I would not recommend this product.

2. Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask this product does in fact provide an instant glow. I use it before my shoots and you need only 10 to 30 minutes to see amazing results. You can apply it and multi-task around the house or indulge in a trashy gossip magazine like I would. I love how this brand grows its own ingredients and manufactures the products. They also give back to the planet with their renewable mission.

3. I have pretty dry skin so I love a face oil like no one else. A massage, daily environmental stressors or even a kick ass work out will dry you up. A face oil will restore all of that. These come in three scents and from what I have seen, I can't really recommend one specifically as scent is so personal. I would check these out and see which generally appeals to you most. They come in Calendula (sensitive skin), Jasmine (dry or mature skin) and Ylang, Ylang and Wild Chamomile.

4. Scrub it off. I love peeling off the layers. A good scrub gets rid of the old and let's in the new. Full disclosure, I accidentally ate some of this and it was pretty tasty but I don't recommend that. It's a sugar scrub and I am in fact a sugar junkie (I know, sugar isn't great for you but I need to conquer the world in baby steps).

5. Lastly, top it off with an oil party. If you just had a massage, you are no stranger to oil by now. After a scrub, oil will seep in to your skin and hydrate you very, very well. I would apply this generously on to the body and put that robe back on. If you are putting on some clothes, give it a few minutes to sink into your skin. No clothes, no problem. Get on the couch with a book or Downton Abby (my current poison) but for goodness sakes, at least wear a robe.

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THEORY+ FUNCTIONAL AND CHIC

 Photos by  Elena Eshleman

Photos by Elena Eshleman

I've been very curious to take Theory+ for a test drive again so where better than on a Citi Bike. My first encounter was with a cool pair of white pique track pants that I bought last summer. They were great and kept me mindful of my squat game.

Since, I have been wanting to try their performance tops or fitted pants. Theory is know for its clean lines and classic silhouettes and it's a brand that I have always considered reliable. You know you can lean on Theory for elevated basics so I was happy for these items to deliver.  The fabrics provide a sense of luxury, the lines are clean yet embracing of curves. The crop top still needed a sports bra under it as it wasn't fully lined. The pants concelend just a tad bit more but any tighter and I would have overshared. I thought that a red top and bottom would have been excessive but the color red was just right and the silver stripe made it extra sleek. I'm pretty sure you can stop traffic in this outfit. For fun, I layered on some Norma Kamali silver shorts, this silver foil boyfriend sweatshirt can be an equally cool addition. The silver Veja sneakers took this look next level. 

So now, things start to get weird. I have no idea what is happing with this line. I got these pieces on Net-A-Porter and now I no longer see the brand there. I see them on sister site the Outnet which makes me think maybe they have some of their last pieces. Theory's website draws a blank and google has given me no investigative leads. If it's not coming up on Google, I simply don't think it exists any longer!?  I am not sure about this brand's future, I'll update you shall it resurface on my next hunt. You can grab similar crop tops and some other pieces on the Outnet. Don't sweat in them too much in case they become a relic. Heck if you learn anything, kindly let me know as I'd like to put this big mystery to bed now. It will be sad to see this activewear line forced to sit out by the sidelines should that be the case.

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Monday Mantra

I'll be honest and say that this Monday Mantra is to help give me more strength on my current journey and I hope I to empower you by sharing my own vulnerabilities. Change is hard. It doesn't matter how adventurous you are or how "ready" you are for it, it's always challenging especially once it starts to happen. I think we all desperately want change and then when it happens we freak out and start to back pedal because maybe somewhere deep down inside, we didn't think it was actually ever going to happen. Or maybe we just like to complain all the time and blame external forces for the situations we become complacent in.

In any event, I have surprised myself. Quite honestly, I never cease to which keeps my relationship with myself very interesting. I am in the midst of a cross-country move. In three weeks, this native New Yorker moves to San Francisco. I absolutely love change. I know that I have one life to live and I want to maximize every minute of it. I love the idea of an unknown journey and all of the possibilities that it may lend. Nevertheless, I have spent two weeks being irritable, stressed, emotional and resistant to this change. I am sure there are lots of underlying reasons causing this. The primary driver and constant reason would be fear. Of course there is fear that comes with the unknown, what we can't control and the sense of no longer belonging. The truth is that even if I stand still, I can find 1,000 things to be fearful of right here and now. There is nothing we can per say "control" in life nor should we truly want to. As a result, I will be following this mantra this week. I plan on jumping in head first and dancing versus standing still. I will put on some dancing shoes and simply float with it.

Wishing you immense love and light this week xo

 

 

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WHERE TO EAT: LITTLE CHOC APOTHECARY; WILLIAMSBURG

This post, text and all accompanying images were created by Photographer and Contributor Elena Eshleman

Recently, I visited NYC’s first fully vegan creperie. As a non-vegan and lover of crepes, you can say I was a little skeptical. How can they make fluffy, delicious crepes without animal products? And what exactly are they going to fill it with? I might have been a skeptic walking into Little Choc Apothecary, but I walked out as a very happy customer.  

Let me start by saying Little Choc Apothecary in Williamsburg is one of the cutest, most relaxing places I had the pleasure of visiting. With it’s downstairs area flaunting welcoming window seating and friendly workers, it is clear why non-vegans and vegans alike are drawn to this place.

After a quick glance at the menu I knew I needed to try a crepe with their homemade “Newtella” and bananas. I paired that with some Assam tea (their tea selection was extensive) and found seating upstairs, which was decorated beautifully. Small plants sat at the windows and the walls were lined with jars of loose tea. They even promote local artists with a blackboard that rotates between different artwork every month.  

You could say I was starting to like this place. When I received my food, I was so happy with the presentation, I almost didn’t want to eat it (but I managed). Along with my crepe and teapot, they gave me a timer to help know how long to brew my tea. I thought this was a great idea, especially for us tea addicts, who simply don’t get the same attention that coffee addicts do!  

After shamelessly snapping a few pictures of the spread, I dug in. This crepe, which was not only vegan, but gluten free, using homemade and organic ingredients, was one of the best I have ever had. It was delicious, especially Little Choc’s homemade Newtella.

And what made the food taste even better? The fact that it was made from many locally sourced foods, free of chemicals, artificial flavors, and processed sugars.

The owner of the cozy apothecary comments on their website, “My goal is to make healthy, cruelty-free food delicious, and more readily available to an ever-growing community of conscious eaters, and anything-goes foodies alike.”  

Did this delicious crepe turn me into a vegan? Well, not exactly. However, I am happy to know I ate somewhere where the ingredients are local, organic, and cruelty-free. The combination of the wonderful food and cozy atmosphere made me thankful I choose NYC’s first fully vegan creperie.  

I guess you can have your crepe and eat it too!

Visit Little Choc Apothecary:

141 Havemeyer Street

Brooklyn, NY 11211

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Diaries of an Exercise Virgin: Y-7 Part 2

 Photo y7studio.tumblr.com/

Photo y7studio.tumblr.com/

This post was written by Contributor Gabriela Del Valle

 

As part of this series, I’ve been trying a different fitness class every week. First it was SoulCycle, then Y-7. Logic would dictate that the third post would be about a third fitness class, but since I chose to sign up for Y-7’s two-week unlimited membership, I’m going to dedicate this week’s post to my second week of Y-7.

Like I mentioned before, I love Y-7. I love that I can listen to Drake and Fetty Wap while doing yoga. I love that the instructors don’t hesitate to correct your form if it looks like you need help, but also understand that everyone in the room is at a different level. Most importantly, I love the feeling of accomplishment that I’ve gotten from slowly but surely improving my practice, from becoming incrementally stronger and more flexible.

I notice a drastic change in my mood on the days I’m able to attend a Y-7 class; I feel more relaxed, more energized, and far less tense. Lately, I’ve also become aware of any tension I’m carrying in my body, especially on the days I can’t go to class. In order to combat this, I’ve started to do sun salutations in my living room on days where my work or school schedule prevents me from attending classes.

This week’s tips for other exercise virgins:

·       Take the lessons you learn in your fitness classes (be it SoulCycle, Y-7, or any other class you enjoy) and try to apply them to a daily routine.

·       If your schedule prevents you from doing a full workout on a particular day, work out at home instead. Even a little bit of activity makes a huge difference.

·       The changes you notice in your flexibility, strength, or resistance levels will be incremental—be proud of them! 

 

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Feeling Sluggish? Boost Your Energy & Mood With These Delicious & Easy Snack Recipes!

This post has been contributed by: 

Caroline Verrone – Food Blogger, New York City

yolo-sole.com

you only live once… so let’s eat!

You set a New Year’s resolution to get healthy in 2016.  You have made it through January, stuck to your goal to eat well and exercise, and are feeling good!  Reward yourself – take a day off from the gym or have that cookie you’ve been eyeing – but just don’t make it the norm.  From personal experience, this is now about the time when resolutions start to slip away... remember how great you feel and keep pushing forward! 

One of the biggest resolution downfalls for many is that sluggish feeling around 3pm.  The time when your eyes begin to get heavy and your stomach starts to grumble.  All you want is a satisfying treat to get you through the day, so you go to the vending machine or the closest deli to grab a bag of pretzels or a cookie.  It’s time to stop giving in to the temptations and give your body what it really needs to get over that afternoon slump and power you through the end of the day!  Read on for some of my favorite snacks that will energize you and boost your mood – most importantly, they are all delicious and nutritious.  All it takes is a little bit of planning ahead.

Grapefruit Chia Seed Pudding

Make this snack the night before or even make a few of them at the beginning of the week.  It comes together in a minute and is packed with healthy protein, omega 3, fiber, and vitamin C.

Servings: 1; Prep time: 5 minutes; Total time (including chilling): 4 hours

Ingredients:

·      ¼ cup greek yogurt

·      2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

·      3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice

·      1 teaspoon honey

·      2 tablespoons chia seeds

·      2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit slices, cubed

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine greek yogurt, almond milk, grapefruit juice, and honey.  Add the chia seeds and stir.  Pour into a small container, cover, and place in the refrigerator to sit for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  Top with grapefruit slices.

Peanut Butter Oat & Coconut Balls

These oat balls are absolutely delicious, come together in a matter of minutes, and the ingredients can be easily tweaked based on what you have in your pantry.  One ball provides a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, and Vitamin E.

Servings: 6-7 balls; Prep time: 5 minutes; Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

·      ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats

·      ¼ cup sunflower seeds

·      ¼ cup organic, unsweetened coconut flakes

·      5 tablespoons creamy all-natural peanut butter

·      2 teaspoons honey

·      Pinch of salt

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients.  Use a spoon or a small ice cream scoop to form balls about 1 tablespoon in size.  Use your hands to shape and smooth them.  Eat right away or place in the refrigerator to set further.

Spicy Greens Energy Smoothie

Raw ginger and a pinch of cayenne are sure to wake you up!  You can make this ahead and refrigerate at work.  Just be sure to shake it up before you drink it after it has been sitting.  This smoothie is full of all the best vitamins and minerals, along with omega 3’s and fiber to curb your hunger. 

Servings: 1; Prep time: 5 minutes; Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

·      1 cup spinach, chopped

·      ¼ of an avocado

·      ¼ cup cucumber, peeled and chopped (about 2 inch piece)

·      2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped (about ½ inch piece)

·      ¼ cup almond milk

·      ½ lime, juiced

·      Pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions:

In a blender, place all the ingredients with ½ cup of ice.  Blend until smooth. Squeeze more lime juice on top, if desired. 

Whole Wheat Trail Mix Cookies

This cookie is a healthy snack made up of whole grains and oats, but it will also cure your sweet tooth with pieces of dark chocolate, dried currants and natural coconut sugar.  Best of all, it tastes great! 

Servings: 20-24 cookies; Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 13-14 minutes; Total: 50 minutes (includes resting the dough)

Ingredients:

·      1 cup whole wheat flour

·      1 teaspoon baking powder

·      ½ teaspoon salt

·      1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

·      ¾ cup coconut sugar

·      1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

·      1 teaspoon vanilla

·      ½ cup rolled oats

·      ¼ cup sunflower seeds

·      ¼ cup pistachios, chopped

·      ¼ cup dried currants or dried cranberries

·      ¼ cup semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped (add more for additional sweetness)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat together the butter and coconut sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down edges of bowl if needed.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated, then add the egg yolk and beat fully.  Add the vanilla and combine.  With speed on low, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.  Pour in the oats, sunflower seeds, pistachios, currants or dried cranberries, and the chocolate. Mix just until everything is combined, but don’t over mix. Place dough in the refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes.  Use a small scoop to form cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 13-14 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Steel Cut Oat Granola Parfait

The steel cut oats make this granola stand out from other versions because of its texture and flavor.  It also has a lot less sugar than a number of other store-bought brands.  It is great as a snack by itself or as a parfait with pineapple and ginger puree and pomegranate greek yogurt.

Servings: 2; Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour; Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes (includes chilling)

Ingredients:

Granola:

·      1/2 cup steel cut oats

·      1/4 cup mixed nuts and seeds (I use almonds, sunflower seeds and pecans)

·      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

·      Pinch of salt

·      1 tablespoon organic honey

·      1 tablespoon organic maple syrup

·      2 tablespoons mild-flavored oil (such as vegetable or coconut)

·      1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

·      2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Pineapple & Ginger Puree:

·      2 cups fresh pineapple, cubed

·      1 teaspoon lemon zest

·      Juice of 1/2 lemon

·      1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or very finely minced

·      1 teaspoon organic honey

Pomegranate Greek Yogurt

·      1 (7 ounce) container greek yogurt

·      2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds + more for garnish

Instructions:

Granola: Preheat oven to 300. On a baking sheet, toss together the oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together honey, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour honey mixture all over oat mixture. Use a rubber spatula to combine the honey mixture and oats mixture so that all the dry ingredients are equally coated. Spread into a single layer on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes then remove and toss around so that all sides get golden brown. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for at least 20 minutes before breaking up and transferring to a bowl.  Toss with dried cranberries once cooled.

Puree: In a small saucepan, add pineapple, lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, and honey. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 - 60 mins until the pineapple is completely softened. Stir every 8-10 minutes.

Place pineapple mixture in a food processor fitted with a metal blade (or a blender) and purée until smooth. Place into a container and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours. Serve with oats and yogurt.

Yogurt: Place yogurt and pomegranate in a food processor. Pulse until just combined. Garnish with whole pomegranate seeds.

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Diaries of an Exercise Virgin: Y7

Y7 .jpg

 

Signing up: Y7’s website is fairly straightforward. From the homepage, you can access a master class schedule that lists all the classes available for the week. They also have an iPhone app where you can check schedules and book classes, which further streamlines the process. In order to sign up for a class, you have to create an account, which takes pretty much no time. Unlike SoulCycle’s website, there isn’t a page for each studio, so you have to make sure to filter by location so you don’t accidentally book a class in West Hollywood when you live in Williamsburg. Not that it happened to me, but it almost happened to me.

When signing up for a class, you have the option to either make a single reservation or make a recurring reservation, which will automatically book a class for you on a regular schedule. While the recurring reservation option is great for people who know they’re into the classes, I suggest starting out with one class and seeing if you enjoy it.

A single class costs $25; a two week unlimited pass for new students is $45. Take the plunge and buy the two week pass. If you live in New York, you’ll be able to try out different instructors and studios around the city and find the one that works best for you. It’s worth the extra $20, and it’s an endless amount of classes for less than the cost of two.


Preparing for class: After signing up for a class, you’ll receive an email confirmation with the location, time, and instructor name. Make sure to get to class at least 15 minutes early; depending on your location and what time you go to class, it can take a while to get changed into your yoga attire. And definitely wear clothing you don’t mind sweating in. Upon checking in, you can choose to rent a mat ($2) and/or a skidless towel ($3). Since I don’t own a yoga mat (yet) I rented one, but chose to opt for a regular towel (free) instead of the skidless option.

Each studio comes equipped with deodorant, hand sanitizer, makeup wipes, q-tips, whatever you need to get prepped for class. There are large cubbies where you can store your belongings, but space is limited so again, make sure to show up early. After showing up to a SoulCycle class after the lights had already dimmed and the class had begun, I cannot stress how important it is to show up on time. Also bring a water bottle. Bring. A. Water. Bottle. I can’t stress that enough, either.
 

The class: I noticed two very distinct things upon walking into the yoga studio: it was super hot in there, and one of my favorite Drake songs was playing ("Right Hand," in case you were wondering). The pre-class email mentioned it would be hot inside (80 – 90°F, to be exact), but the whole winter-in-New-York thing made me forget what warmth even felt like. The lights were off and the only light came from various candles scattered across the room. Don’t worry, it’s totally fire-proof.

I laid out my mat in the middle row – despite having arrived early, I didn’t get there early enough to get a spot in the back corner where no one could see me fall over. The class started out with breathing exercises and affirmations led by Kate, the instructor – “You are not here to compete with others. You are here to engage in your own practice, to strengthen yourself, to push yourself. If you find yourself losing breath, repeat this mantra: I belong. I belong here.”

Yoga instructors often tell you to let go of all your anxieties, tensions, and stressors during your practice. Or, more specifically, to use your practice to let go of all your anxieties, tensions, and stressors. As a chronically stressed-out and anxious person, this is something I wish I could do, but I’m not great at it. As Kate told us to clear our minds and release our tensions, I tried harder than ever before to do it. And it worked. 

We did a variety of stretches that tested my ability to control my muscles. I found myself being able to go a bit further than I thought I could, but also kept my physical limits in mind. That is, I pushed my limits but also knew when to stop. At one point during free flow – while a Lil Kim song was playing – I found myself retreating back into Child’s Pose for a minute in order to catch my breath while the people around me did complex headstands, but I learned to be okay with that.

I’m not great at yoga. I’m not flexible enough to touch my toes and I fell over four different times while in Warior III. But I left the class feeling energized and completely, if temporarily, relieved of stress. The tension I had been carrying in my back earlier that day was gone.
 

The aftermath: I liked the class so much I immediately booked one for the next day, and will continue to attend classes for the next two weeks. I was a little sore afterwards, but completely relieved of all mental and bodily tension.
 

Would I return? See above. Yes yes yes yes yes.

Tips for other Y7 virgins:

·       Show up early! This is proving to be a tip for all classes, but with reason. Plus, you won’t be let in after class starts.

·       Bring water. Drink water.

·       Wear breathable clothing because you will sweat a lot.

·       If you feel overwhelmed, take a minute to gather yourself, then get back to work.

·       Don’t focus on anyone else’s practice. Focus on your own body and your own breath, even if the people around you are contorting their bodies in ways you didn’t know were possible and you fall over a thousand times in an hour.

 

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Less Is More

When I pack for a vacation, I get super stressed. I don't love packing because there are just way too many decisions to be made all at once. I have also evolved into a different kind of packer, I went from packing six million emergency scenario outfits to the bare minimum. You know what I mean about the emergency scenario stuff "what if we get invited to have dinner on a yacht by Beyonce and Jay-Z? I should really pack that evening gown". As if. Those scenarios never happen and you get annoyed you brought that bulky thing which means you have no room to bring anything new back.

Instead, I now pack within specific color schemes i.e. all neutrals. An array of colors that will warrant many shoes = baggage. I try to pack as efficiently as possible. I want to eventually be declared the "carry-on queen". Although I have become ruthless with what comes with me and what gets left behind, I do not get cheap on space when it comes to packing work-out wear. Unfortunately, I have recently found that it takes up too much space, because I need just about one outfit per day. This brings me to my newest obsession, reversible pants by WITH. WITH stands for: Wear It To Heart...how sweet! I found these bad boys at Bandier and they have two different prints to choose from that offer the same awesome reversible benefit. Essentially, you could get away with packing 1 pair of pants, 2 sports bras (including a matching one) and find yourself with 4 options! Sadly that took me a while to figure out.

While styling these options, I also had so much fun pairing each print differently where I made one option look sweet and the other slightly sultry. Two of my favorite neutrals are in the print: black and white. Converse sneakers made one look more relaxed and Isabel Marant wedges took the other look up a few notches. I liked the effortless vibe of this Urban Outfitters denim anorak jacket which I promise you, I might make you sick of. Start planning a vacation so you can make an excuse to buy these. Love you, mean it xo

Photos by: Elena Eshleman

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Monday Mantra

The mind is such a powerful instrument. It has the ability to manifest feelings and emotions within you and it also has the ability to manifest creations outside of you. Everything that you feel, believe or think becomes manifested in some way, shape or form. We are the creators of our universe which means you actually have endless potential to create good, to shift your current and future predicament. All you have to do is actually believe that you can and start taking note of what thoughts fuel what in your life. This week every time "can't" pops into your mind replace it with "can" and watch the endless opportunities unfold. 

xo

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Aerie Keeps It Real At The Studio

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Photos by Elena Eshleman 

So, I walked by American Eagle and I was compelled to go in when I saw the most darling wrap and matching leggings. I love rocking feminine pieces while getting strong. I knew I had to pick up a few pieces and take them for a test drive. I have put together my favorite picks, these items have been selling out like hot cakes so if you want to unleash your inner dancer, go get them!

1. Aerie Luxe Wrap Bralette  I love this item with the matching leggings but I would also rock it with looser fitting sweats or plain black tights. It comes in pink too but that shade of pink totally washes me out. It would however look nice on someone with a darker complexion. 

2. Aerie Luxe Leggings I decided to go with the matching grey. I love this with a plain white tee or your man's wife beater....sexy!

3. Aerie Cross Back Crew Sweater since I teach a lot, I am always looking for pieces I can layer. I normally start out cold when teaching and end up warm. I love this sweater as a basic staple. It even has those great little snaps to set your sports bra or regular bra in place. I love this piece. I would wear it to the gym and beyond. 

4. Aerie Pretty Back Tank  well this name seems to be a dead giveaway. This is like the polar opposite of the way they name nail polishes. Essentially this tank has a pretty back. I like it as a layering piece. I used it over a classic black body suit in order to tone it down.

Aerie makes a lot of great pieces at affordable prices, I love the idea of mixing this into my sweat-sesh. Hope you enjoyed xo

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How To Strengthen Your Yoga Game

It's a popular misconception to think that yoga is all about stretching. It's not. There is actual muscular work taking place, if and only if you are doing your poses correctly. One of the ways you can begin to strengthen your yoga game is by understanding what muscles need to work when so you can activate them. Essentially hollar at your hamstring in Warrior II and say, "hey buddy, can you help me out here"? Activating your muscles in a variety of poses, especially standing poses will help you strengthen your entire body while doing yoga. I am sharing with you a few exercise that you can do in order to build strength that you will need to call upon during your yoga postures.

STRENGTHEN YOUR UPPER BODY AND CORE:

What you'll need: a yoga block, a yoga mat and your fine self

Step 1: Grab a comfortable seat where you can have a straight spine and stack your shoulders over your hips. Take a block and hold it in-between your forearms. Your fingers should be spread out and finger tips pointing towards the ceiling. Your elbows should be parallel with your shoulders. Once you are in this position, begin squeezing the block. It won't move but you will begin to activate your upper arm, back and chest muscles. Perform 20-30 of these. This will improve your chaturangas and arm balances.

Step 2: Get your chaturanga and plank form on fleek. Take the block horizontally and make an "L" shape with your hands and place it at the corners of the block as a place holder. Come into a straight arm plank stacking shoulders, elbows and wrists. Push back through your heels and fortify your quadriceps. Feel the hips gathering and firming and bring the naval to the spine.  Initial activation of the muscles begins here! Look in front of you about 6 inches and HOLD.

Step 3: Come down slowly, hugging the upper arms by the rib cage. Elbows should be pointing back. Come down 90 degrees and HOLD.

Step 4: Once you hit 90 degrees, press firmly into your hands, push back through the heels, fortify the legs and come back up to a straight arm plank. Do this movement in a very slow and controlled fashion. 

STRENGTHEN YOUR HAMSTRINGS & GLUTES:

What you'll need: a yoga block, a yoga mat and your fine booty

 

Step 1: Place a block horizontally in-between your ankles and squeeze the block. It will be harder than you think to keep the block in place. Press the pubic bone into the mat. The upper body is in a sphinx like position, forearms in the ground, elbows stacked under shoulders and finger tips pointing forward. With control and activating the hamstrings and glutes, bring the block slowly towards the glutes.

Step 2: Once you reach the glutes, drive the block towards the ground with control slowly releasing the contracted hamstrings.

Step 3: Repeat this movement about 5-10 times. Hamstrings are needed in a variety of standing poses. This will help you strengthen your legs in standing poses versus relying on sheer flexibility which sometimes causes hyper extension in the bones, ligaments, etc. You get it...what I am telling you to do is WORK IT!

 

  

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Monday Mantra

It's a new month. It is also the second month in this new year. A perfect time to check-in and see where you are. I love the beginning of a new week, hour, month, year, you name it. Although I strongly believe in making changes in the present and not waiting for the "perfect" moment, a little moment never killed anyone. I love the idea of a fresh start propelling us to vibrate at a higher frequency. With this new week and new month upon us, ask yourself the three simple questions:

1. Am I going after what I want?

2. Am I even asking for what I want? Maybe that refers to asking someone or even asking the universe for what you want. Maybe you need to check in and ask yourself, "what do I want"?!

3. Am I stepping forward or standing still?

The only way to have answers is by simply asking questions. Sometimes, that is all that it takes...the willingness to inquire, explore and check in. This week, I encourage you to have a sit down with your self and ask these simple questions. Be open and receptive to the answers, you may just blow yourself away.

xo

 

 

 

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KORAL Keeps It Hot!

 

So when your amazing friend who is a talented photographer says, "hey let's do a shoot in the middle of the snowstorm", you of course say yes. I mean, there was nothing to think about. I thought to myself two things: how epic will this experience be and how amazing will these pictures look?

A fashion challenge had been presented. I had to source an outfit quickly. I knew if I ran into Bandier it would be a home run. It is generally impossible for me not to like something in that store. I had already been eyeing this outfit from KORAL Activewear.  It is olive green and I absolutely love that color. I couldn't help but think how perfect this color was going to look with my Sorel boots. I'm crazy but I'm not crazy enough not to wear warm shoes in the middle of a snowstorm. Sorel's are worth every penny. By the end of this shoot, I was pretty sure I was frostbitten everywhere except for my sweaty feet. 

The vision started to come to life. These lustrous leggings were exactly that, the shine added an extra element to the snowy backdrop. If I was going to do this, I was really going to do this so the matching sports bra had to be part of the equation. I needed a matching jacket for this look. I ran over to Athleta and I found this Derek Lam 10C Athleta Collaboration jacket on sale (man that was a mouthful). It also has shine to it! I love the high neck and detachable hood. This is definitely a post work out transition piece. It is a very sharp looking jacket.  Since this jacket has sleeves that fall at the wrists, I enjoyed pairing some extra long black leather gloves for extra glam.  A fur vest would make me feel like a true model in the midst of the storm. 

We froze, we laughed, we chased guys who skied down the middle of the street in the East Village. The sanitation workers were grateful for our show and we were grateful for their clean up efforts so it was a win-win.  In the end, you only live once....I enjoyed hot cocoa and Downton Abby upon returning home. Life couldn't be any sweeter.

Hope you enjoy these photos, bundle up! xo



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Diaries Of A Fitness Virgin: SoulCycle

Last week, I explained how one of the most important things I need to remember is that there’s no reason to be intimidated by fitness classes, since everyone was a beginner once. I decided to tackle my intimidation problem head-on by attending what I personally think is the most intimidating of all NYC fitness classes: SoulCycle. Why am I so intimidated by it? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it’s all the locations. Maybe it’s the branded gear. Maybe it’s the massive following. I went to an evening class taught by Lori A. at the West 77th Street location. Here’s how it went down.

 

Signing up: Signing up for SoulCycle is incredibly easy. You go to their website, select your location, choose your bike, and check out. If it’s your first class, you have to call the studio directly and make your reservation by phone instead of online, and the class is $20 as opposed to the usual $34, and your cycling shoes are free. When you sign up, the person reminds you to eat a light snack about 30 minutes before class and show up early so the employees can help you get settled. I did neither.

 

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I entirely forgot about the snack, but I did show up ten minutes before the class was supposed to start. Unfortunately, ten minutes wasn’t early enough. I had enough time to sign up for the class, strap in to my very confusing cycling shoes, put my clothes in a locker, and get in line for the bathroom. I looked around at all the fit, beautiful people in the room, all decked out in SoulCycle attire. I was intimidated, but it was too late to back out; class was starting soon. The bathroom line was so long that by the time I was finished, the class had already started. I walked into a dim, loud room and prepared myself for what would be the most strenuous workout experience of my young life.

 

The class: As I mentioned earlier, you have to rent cycling shoes (unless you already have your own), because you have to clip your feet on to the pedals. I assume that part of the reason they tell newcomers to arrive early is so someone can show them how to clip their feet in. Too bad I showed up after the class had already started, because it took me a full five minutes to figure out how to clip both my feet in. Another important thing I missed: instruction on how to adjust your seat height. I was frantically pedaling away while also trying to adjust my seat height to no avail for about ten minutes. Luckily, the instructor (a wonderful woman named Lori) noticed something was wrong, came over to me, and helped me get fully adjusted.

 

I’d like to say it was smooth sailing after that, but that would be a blatant lie. It was hard. Like, really hard. We alternated between cycling while sitting on the bike seats and cycling while standing on the pedals, often leaning forward. There were times when we had to do push-up-esque exercises while continuing to cycle. At one point, we had to do arm exercises with small, five pound weights. It seemed easy at first, but by the end of it I felt like my arms were going to fall off. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I don't know how to work out.

 

During the first half of the class, all I wanted was for it to be over so I could go home and collapse onto my bed. My legs were sore, I was tired and sweaty, and I felt like I was the only person in the room who had no idea what they were doing. After a certain point – aka when a song I really like, “Justify My Thug” by Jay Z came on – I started to get more into it. It was hard, but I was sure I wasn’t the only person who was struggling to keep up. I began to notice Lori walking around the room, going up to people when it seemed like they were struggling or needed some help or extra motivation.

 

The last five minutes of the class consisted of a yoga-like cooldown period that can only be described as very zen. Lori turned the music down and talked us through a series of stretches, peppering her instruction with affirmations and encouragement. “It’s not about numbers,” she said. “Not about speed or resistance numbers, not about number of calories burned, not about fitbit or weight numbers.”

 

When the fluorescent lights came on and everyone got off their bikes, I felt great. Exhausted and sweaty, but also relaxed and proud of myself for having gone to a class I was so intimidated by. While everyone else gracefully unclipped themselves from their bikes, I realized I had no idea how to release my shoes from the pedals. So I did what anyone in my position would’ve done: I took my shoes off, then removed them from the bike with my hands. I felt pretty dumb for not knowing what to do, but the job was done.

 

The aftermath: After class, Lori congratulated me for attending my first class and doing well despite my initial struggles. I left the class sore, sweaty, and starving – all signs of a good workout. My inner thighs were sore from the bike seat, but that was to be expected.

 

Would I return? In a heartbeat. Lori was an awesome instructor and provided a great experience.

 

Tips for other SoulCycle virgins:

  • Browse through the instructor profiles to get a feel for what kind of music they’re into. It’s a good idea to choose an instructor with similar music tastes to yours; the soundtrack is a huge part of the experience.
  • Show up early! They tell you fifteen minutes, but I would suggest twenty just in case the bathroom lines are long.
  • Eat a snack beforehand so you aren’t starving in the middle of class.

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Monday Mantra

Okay, this is a tough one but after a long snowstorm, I think we all need a kick in the ass. I like this quote because it pretty much applies to anything in your life. That body, job, man, etc. that you want isn't going to magically happen appear into your life. You need to put energy and effort into it in order to materialize it. Yes, I wish someone gave me a magic "Get J. Lo's ass" pill but that's never going to happen. What I can rely on is the immense power to execute that lies within me and lies within each and everyone of us. You have the power to change endless things in your life if and only if you choose to harness it. Let's all get off the "couch" and seize what we really want rather than day dreaming about it while sitting there.

Still love you, mean it xo

 

 

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Mix And Match Affordable Pieces From Forever 21

Today I want to share with you a Forever 21 Haul. Spicing up your work-out wardrobe can get expensive but I found some really great layering pieces that you can rock at the gym or when sprucing up your outfit post sweat session! Hope this video provides you with some inspiration on how to mix and match different pieces. 

Tag me on instagram with any of your amazing finds @KOREbyKelly, I’m nosy….share with me!

Have an awesome weekend! Make sure to grab a resistance band and keep it moving in spite of the snow xoxo


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