Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pay it forward

Hi guys!
It has almost been a year since I fought and won my battle with Cancer. 
(Cancer free since August 6th 2013!) 
Over this past year I have grown leaps and bounds and really given a lot of thought to my life and what my purpose is. I have decided it is to help others as much as possible with their fight with cancer, health, and nutrition. My career will always be writing and cooking, but I also want to donate 40 hours of my time each month to helping those with cancer, or recovering from cancer. The problem is, I need your help!

Please share with others who want to pay it forward. You can see my full bio here: 

Hi! My name is Christi and I am a cancer survivor. I have been cancer free since August 6th of 2013. Having a softball sized malignant tumor removed from my uterus, and living with that tumor for so long, caused me to lose my muscle mass, my drive, my passion. But I am a fighter! I told my doctor I wanted my life back and he recommended yoga. 

I remember the day I walked a half a mile to a little studio I had heard positive things about. I was so nervous. I had never done an official yoga pose in my life. I was self proclaimed: "NOT FLEXIBLE" I went anyway. I wanted my life back. 

That first class was not an "aha" moment. Turns out I accidentally went to an advanced class. I barely made it out alive. I thought: "What am I thinking? I am not strong enough". I went back anyway. It took 2 weeks for me to fall in love with yoga. It changed every aspect of my life. I grew in my relationship with my savior, and I learned so much about myself. Yoga is now a permanent part of me. I can fast forward to now, where my cancer weight is gone, I am healthy, cancer free, and much more flexible than I ever thought. But what I really want to do, is get down to why I want to now teach. 

Actually, I do not want to just go to a traditional studio and teach. I want to offer my services to cancer patients, and cancer survivors for free. I want to donate my time, I just need the certificate to do so. 

Folks let me tell you a little something about cancer patients. They have no money, no life, and very little hope. I am a fully insured patient. Meaning my husband has great health insurance. However after all was said and done, my 90% coverage still left me with a $32,000 bill to pay. I am still paying. The cost of living is very high once you have the cancer mark on you. It leaves very little for a survivor to do. All your money is gone and you are left wanting to live, but not knowing how to get back to life. Once your pathology is clear, the doctors say: "see you for your next test in 3 months!", you will have to pay for that test too. Yes, every 3 months for the rest of your life, you will have the test, and hope that everything comes back ok. 

I want to start recovery yoga that is free to any cancer patient, or cancer survivor. The trouble is, I need to get fully certified. I am still paying my $32,000 bill to the hospital in payments, and yoga training is expensive. Most range from $2,500 to $3,500. The program I am looking at is an excelerated teaching plan, and this will just cover tuition. 

So what I am asking for are people who want to pay it forward. Do you know that by the year 2050 they estimate one in four people will have cancer? I want to be there for those people FOR FREE! I don't want a money making teaching career. I want to donate my time to help others that are lost from their cancer battle like I was. 

I can't offer you reward levels or great prizes for donating. I am simply asking for your help to get trained so I can help others. I believe this is my calling. So I am leaving it up to God. They say you never know if you don't ask, and asking is way way way out of my comfort zone. If this is meant to be, it will happen. 

Thank you in advance for even reading this. If you can share it maybe with others that have the same vision I do, that would be tremendous. 

I have a book called "NOURISH - The beginners guide to eating healthy and staying fit" coming out next April. I would like to be certified by then so that I can travel and give free workshops to those who struggle with cancer. I want to teach both the nutritional and physical aspect of staying healthy. It begins with what you eat and movement of the body. 

Thank you for any help. Even $1 helps!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

10 things I think everyone starting yoga should know.

leggings by Fractal 9 Top by Kira Grace

10 things I think everyone starting yoga should know. 

1. Yoga is not a religion. Somewhere along the lines of where yoga came from and who practices it, people started to think that it is a religion. While I am sure in some cultures they mix it with their religion, the fact remains that yoga is a way of life, a type of exercise, but not a religion.  Yoga is all about moving your body, finding out who you are, not who the world says you should be. Period. 

2. Yoga is not a push til you drop practice. Child's pose is there for a reason. Use it. If you cannot keep your oujjai breath steady and on point, it is time to drop to child's pose and regain your breathing and composure. If you are not breathing correctly, the yoga is not going to do what you need it to. It is okay to drop and meditate and get back on track.

3. I did not lose weight the first month. I was so frustrated. Thankfully I did not join to just lose weight. I started to get my life back from cancer, as a recovery, so I kept going. The second month I lost barely anything, but the third month I dropped 15 lbs. My theory is that those first two months I was developing so much muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. It is working, keep going! After 6 months of yoga practice I lost 30lbs. Remember the first 2 months, almost nothing... but look at me now! Don't stop. Get rid of the scale for the first few months. 

4. Get a good mat. I used to roll my eyes at this, thinking that surely there is not much difference in the mats. I was dead wrong. It completely changes your practice to have a mat that is thick and comfortable but most of all grips well. I am partial to Manduka mats. You may think they are spendy, but they have a lifetime warranty and I personally can't find another mat that compares to my EKO mat. I can be dripping with sweat and I still don't budge. Get the mat. Pay the money. You won't be sorry.

5. No one is watching you. Seriously, I used to be so paranoid about how I looked, my gut hanging out, etc... Once you really get involved in yoga you realize it is just you and your mat. Say hi to your neighbor when you get there, and then forget about them until the practice is over. Everyone else is in the same position. Do you have time to watch others? Not really. Close your eyes and dive in. It is just you and your mat. Stop worrying about others. The same goes in life. Everyone else is just a reflection of us anyway, don't you want to find out who YOU are? This is all about you and no one else. 

6. When you wake up and are "too sore" to go to yoga.. GO ANYWAY. One of the best things you can do for your soreness is stretch it out. You will learn to crave that soreness. The more you stretch the faster it goes away. 

7. Always practice on an empty stomach. It used to be that a good light snack was good before cardio. This is not the case in yoga. You are bending and activating the core so much, it is highly recommended by most that you come to class with an empty stomach and an open mind. There is plenty of time for an amazing post workout meal. You don't want your breakfast to end up on your mat. Bring water, that is all you need. 

8. Take pictures. I know a lot of you will never post any, and that is totally fine. I have found that when I am down on my practice or get discouraged, I look at old pictures and compare with current ones. It will shock you how far you come so quickly. Getting involved in yoga challenges is great because you take pictures of the poses and meet other yogis. Even if you are not a social bee, take the pictures, you will be glad you did. I love laughing at old failures and celebrating new victories.
leggings by Fractal 9 Top by Kira Grace

9. That moment when you are stretching, it is painful, and you want to give up and get out of the pose, give it one more full oujjai breath, breathing into where the pain is. Try to surrender. If you can get past this and just surrender, the pain stops. It is a mind over matter game. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but if you can push past that initial panic and use your breath to calm you down, magic happens and that is where you truly progress. That pain is just you fighting. Surrender.

10. Have fun. This is your journey. It is never over. How exciting that each day it is like we are born again. We get to try all over again with some victories and some failures that we learn from. Treasure your yoga. It is a gift. 


Vegan Strawberry Citrus Blitz Smoothie

I recently was fortunate to review the book: 365 Vegan Smoothies by Kathy Patalsky of  While I was sent a copy of the book, I was not paid to write this and all opinions are my own.

With 100,000 Twitter followers and a blog that receives half a million unique visitors a month, food writer Kathy Patalsky loves sharing her passion for healthy, vegan cuisine. With 365 Vegan Smoothies, she makes it possible for everyone to enjoy this daily diet enhancement that is free of animal products (even honey) and the saturated fats, chemicals, and hormones that often accompany them.

With my busy life, I find smoothies are a quick easy way to get wholesome nutrition into the body. I tend to prefer to eat the whole food version, rather than blending it up, but my daughter is a smoothie fanatic. I have to admit, since getting this book, I am consuming a lot more smoothies. They take one or two minutes to throw together and are full of so many nutrients. 

This book is full of all the information you need to know to start throwing together your own smoothies. With a recipe for every day of the year, what are you waiting for? Her book can be found at amazon here: 

I decided to share with you a smoothie from the book, that I of course tweaked a bit. It is summer and that means all things citrus and strawberry around these parts (I live in Southern California). Since I have an abundance of both ingredients. I set out to make the Citrus Blitz that is on page 98 of the book. I added Maca Root and Chia seeds for added nutritional benefit. 

This is now my go to smoothie prior to a workout. With the natural vitamins and minerals and the naturally occurring sugars, it gives me the boost I need for my 75 minute Vinyasa Yoga classes.

Vegan Strawberry Citrus Blitz Smoothie
adapted from 365 Vegan Smoothies 

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 frozen banana
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup ice
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp maca root powder (optional)

Add all ingredients to a blender. 
Blend until it makes a frosty consistency. Enjoy!

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