Yoga 101: Beginner Poses

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day! For those of you who do not know, I have been on my fitness journey for over 5 years now, and I have been practicing yoga for 15-30 minutes every day for over a year! I truly believe in the power of moving your body and taking care of your overall wellbeing. What I love about exercise is that it is my time to simply focus on doing something for myself. It is a time for me to get focused and strong, and I always feel so empowered after a workout. Not only does my body feel strong afterward, but so does my mind. When it comes to yoga, I love the balance of challenge and relaxation. I am able to work hard (during more difficult flows) while focusing on my mind at the same time. I can let go of any stress or worry, and focus on my health, and I love the way working out makes me feel.

Due to the benefits that I have seen in my own wellbeing, I always recommend yoga to everyone! I feel that there is no excuse to not do at least 5-10 minutes of yoga every day! I understand that everyone has different lifestyles and schedules, but yoga has so many benefits, and we all deserve to feel our best. Today, I am beginning a new series on my blog: Yoga 101. I will be sharing a few different yoga poses in each one, and I will give tips, advice, and discuss how to properly do said poses. Please keep in mind that I am not an expert or a professional yogi, but after practicing daily for over a year, I feel that I have learned so much from the different instructors that I have watched (though I always appreciate feedback and advice for myself as well). I am still perfecting some yoga poses myself, so keep that in mind throughout this series.

Today we will be going over three of the classic yoga poses that every beginner should know. You may look at these and think to yourself “That’s so easy, I already know how to do that”, however there are little tips and techniques that can help you, and I would like to share those today.

Downward facing dog

This is a classic yoga pose and you may have seen other people do this frequently. This is something that I like to do during all of my practices. There is something about being in poses where my head is upside down that helps to relieve my headaches! This pose is great for stretching out the hamstrings too!

When getting into this pose, you can start off on your hands and knees. You want your hands to be out in front of you and facing slightly outward. Your feet should be hips distance apart and facing forward. Try to keep your pelvis tilted back so that your back is straight. You should keep your gaze between your thighs as well. Overall, you should like a triangle from the side. It won’t be possible to have your heels touching the mat at first; it’s going to take a lot of practice (this is something I am still working on). To help with this, you can pedal your feet by bending one knee and lengthening the other, causing a deeper hamstring stretch as your heels press toward the mat. This pose is going to feel challenging for a beginner, however over time it can become a resting pose. It is also a great pose to use during different flows!

Chair pose

This pose is admittedly one of my least favorites, however it is still important to do. By doing this posture, you are working your full body, but you will definitely feel it mostly in your legs!

For this pose, you want to start off standing with your feet a few inches apart (though you can have them right next to each other. This may make it a big more challenging). Then you will simply bend your knees and get low in the position (for any beginners out there, you don’t have to get extremely low). You will then lift your arms straight into the air. Make sure that you are putting most of the weight in your heels. You can test to see if you’re doing this right by lifting your toes off the mat, then placing them down again. Be sure to drop your shoulders rather than hunching them up to your ears. While this pose may be difficult, you want to try to stay as relaxed as you can. This position definitely takes some getting used to, so be kind to your body and modify where you need to. Like all yoga poses, you don’t want your gut to sag, so you should hold in your core while maintaining your breathing (in through the nose and out through the mouth). This took me a long time to learn, but by holding in your core, you’re going to feel your body working more. Remember this throughout your practice.

Plank position

This is a pose that many people have done before, however not everyone knows how to get into it properly. You’re going to start on your knees, placing your hands out in front of you facing forward. Your toes will be curled under and you will slowly straighten one leg, then the other. Again, you want to hold in your core and breathe. Make sure that your bottom is not too far in the air or too low to the ground; your body should be lined up with your spine. Be sure that your wrists are right under your shoulders (lining things up is very important to prevent any injuries). Keep your head down with your eyes on the mat below you.

There are modifications for this pose for those of you who find planking to be a bit too challenging. You still start off the same way, on your hands and knees, however you’re going to bring your knees back a few inches so they are not directly under your hips anymore. This is still a challenging position, but it is better for those who need to modify and take it easy. With time, patience, and practice, you will be able to do some of the more challenging poses, so keep going!

I am really excited for this new series on my blog, and I have so much more to share with you! Yoga has been a daily practice for myself as well as a couple of my family members who join me every evening. I highly encourage anyone out there to spend some time trying it out! You do not need to be athletic or flexible to do yoga; that comes with practice. You have to start in order to get to that point, and it doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50, anyone can do yoga. Believe in yourself and prioritize yourself. Thank you so much for reading! If there are any yoga poses that you would like me to discuss in this series, please leave me a comment below! Until next time!

(If you would like to see videos of me getting into each of these poses, you can check out my Instagram, @sacchere14.)

My 5 Year Fitness Anniversary

Today makes exactly 5 years since I first began weight training! I truly can’t believe that so much time has passed, when it feels like just yesterday my dad took me to the gym for the first time and taught me how to lift weights. I was 16 years old, and now I am 21. Last year, I titled my anniversary post, “4 Years of Weight Training”, however in my 5th year of my fitness journey, I began exploring other physical activities that have become a part of my daily/weekly routine. While my 5th year was a bit unconventional (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), I still wanted to share what changes occurred, how I felt, and any progress I noticed throughout the year. If you have read any of my fitness posts over this past year, you may already know some of the things I will be discussing today, so I’ll try to keep it (somewhat) brief.

The last time I worked out in a gym was in early March of 2020. Since then, at-home workouts became the new norm, which was difficult to adjust to at first. Once I got into a routine that worked for me, I really enjoyed my workouts. I would say that I lifted weights around 3-4 times a week and did HIIT 3 times a week. I was on top of my workouts for the most part, however, toward the middle of the year, I started to become a bit bored with my usual workout routines. This has been a common pattern for me over the past 5 years. After doing the same thing for so long, I easily get bored, thus, leading to a lack of motivation and less excitement when it comes to fitness. So, I did my best to change things up. While I never quit weight lifting, I did enjoy experimenting with new forms of exercise.

In April of 2020, I began doing yoga daily. A couple of my family members have been doing it with me, which makes it even more enjoyable. I made it a goal of mine to never skip a day, and I am proud to say that I’ve stuck to it. Even when I went away to the beach and to the mountains with my family, I still did yoga every evening. Even on days when I wasn’t feeling too great, or I had a lot on my plate, I still completed my practice. I like to do 10-30 minutes of yoga a day. I wasn’t sure that I would ever enjoy yoga, but honestly, it is so beneficial for so many different reasons. I wrote an entire blog post on the benefits of yoga (click here to read). Not only does it give me a chance to unwind and relax, but it is also a great way to work out and challenge myself. Despite what many people think, yoga is not always relaxing and easy. You can definitely work up a sweat and gain strength in your entire body. Yoga is not just about the core. I have noticed incredible improvements with my balance, my strength, and even my mindset. I also noticed that I was toning up a lot! I reached my goal of finding a new form of exercise, while still sticking with weight training, and I am very proud of this. I am also very interested in boxing! Although I’ve never really tried it, I think I would really enjoy it! Maybe sometime soon, when things are safer, I can try to find a place to box! I know this is something my dad would enjoy too, so maybe we can do it together!

Also, since January of 2019, I have been going on monthly hikes with my uncle (and sometimes my brother). I made it a goal of mine to go hiking at least once a month, and this is something I’ve really been enjoying! Some hikes are more moderate whereas others are more intense. It is so nice to get outside and exercise, especially since COVID hit. It is peaceful, and we are often rewarded with gorgeous views during or at the end of our hikes!

I also wanted to briefly discuss food, because this is an important part of staying healthy as well. As some of you may know, eating healthy has always been the most difficult part of living a healthy life for me, and I think many people can relate to this. In 2018, I did really well by changing up my diet and drinking more water. In 2019, I struggled with my motivation a bit more, and I wasn’t as focused on eating healthy. At this point, I am honestly still struggling with food, but I am trying to stick to healthy foods that I enjoy, while limiting some of the sweets that I tend to enjoy just a bit too often. It’s going to take some time and patience, as well as some serious dedication, but I am not someone who gives up easily on things that I want, so I am going to continue pushing myself. While I have never struggled with an eating disorder or an unhealthy relationship with food, I still think it is important to remind people that food is not the enemy. You have the control, and you can stop from giving in to temptations. Life is all about balance, and food should be enjoyed. So, it is completely ok to indulge in some of the foods that aren’t necessarily healthy once in a while. Just remember to limit the amount of these foods. While it can be very challenging to change up your diet, it is such an incredible feeling once you start to put healthy and nutritious foods into your body, and this is something I need to remind myself of more often. The way that working out and eating healthy makes me feel is the most powerful form of motivation. We all want to feel our best, and when I am taking care of my overall health, that is when I do.

My current workout split is not very strict. I’ve been listening to my body and what it needs a lot. Right now, I am weight training and doing HIIT 3 times a week, I am doing yoga daily, and some days, I will go for walks around my neighborhood. I am eager to get back in the gym, but for now, I am thankful that I have some of the equipment that I need at home. I have been looking to the internet and social media to get inspiration and motivation (which I recommend), and this has also helped me find new workouts to do to keep things exciting.

I always like to thank my dad for introducing me to the world of fitness. I was never very athletic and I felt that working out just wasn’t for me. Things changed when he taught me how to lift weights because I found not only a new hobby, but a new passion. I made goals to strive for, and I pushed myself during every single workout. Without his guidance and support, I probably would not have fallen in love with fitness, at least not at that time. I am very grateful for him and for our bond. Fitness brought us even closer, and even though I stopped going to the gym with him after my first couple years, I still think of all that he’s taught me, and how proud he is of me. I am also so glad that I recognized the importance of taking care of myself at such a young age. While there is no age limit to starting your fitness journey, it’s always amazing to get a head start.

I am very proud of how far I’ve come in these past 5 years. While I did not make a ton of progress this year, I am looking forward to working harder and disciplining myself even more for my 6th year (and hopefully getting back in the gym soon too). I wanted to remind anyone reading that your health matters. You have the power do incredible things, and taking care of your body should always be a top priority. Even when it is difficult and all motivation seems lost, keep going. Trust me, you’re going to be so glad you did! At this point, I can’t even imagine giving up, so I never will. I am going to continue on my fitness journey, and work toward reaching new goals! I always say that people should find some form of exercise that works for them; something they enjoy. For me, that happens to be weight lifting and yoga, but everyone is different. Find what works for you, and stick with it. In time, you will reap the benefits which are so incredibly rewarding! Not only will your body start to change, but your mindset will too!

Thank you so much for reading! I plan to continue sharing updates, tips, and changes throughout my 6th year, so I hope that you will follow along and join me! Check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to see a video I put together using clips/photos from the past five years!

Until next time!

Tips for Beginner Yogis

I have been on my fitness journey for almost 5 years now, and yoga is something I began to incorporate in April of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was getting really bad at that point, and we were all stuck in our homes. One day, a family member introduced us to a program that had a variety of fitness videos to try, including yoga. After seeing this, I thought that maybe I could give it a try. I mentioned it to a couple of my family members, and we have been doing 20-30 minutes of yoga every day since. We have not skipped any days whatsoever, and that is something I am very proud of!

Yoga is both challenging and relaxing, and I have seen and felt the many benefits from very early on. I think it is important to let people know that you do not have to be flexible or into fitness to get started! Literally anyone can do yoga because there are ways to modify almost every pose, and this allows you to grow throughout your practice. We all start somewhere, so please don’t let the idea of being a “beginner” scare you off or make you nervous. I never thought that I would be interested in doing yoga because I have always enjoyed lifting weights, but I have come to love it! I definitely recommend experimenting with different forms of exercise until you find what works for best for you! If you want to get started with yoga, remember to start slow!

I have realized that there are certain things that yoga instructors in the program I use have been encouraging me to do, but I never really understood how. After months of practicing, I’ve noticed significant changes and improvements, which has been very exciting and motivating! I have gotten much better at balancing and activating my core, and I am starting to do a few more advanced poses!

Please keep in mind that I am in no way a professional or qualified to teach yoga, however I feel that due to my own experience with the practice, I can share some valuable tips with those of you who are just getting started! It took me some time to learn these things, and I am continuing to learn as I go! I am sharing this in hopes that you can start practicing these skills even sooner!

Here are my tips for beginner yogis:

  • Go into your practice with an open mind

Sometimes, when you are trying something new, you may have preconceived ideas on what you will be doing. When it comes to yoga, you may think it’s simple and easy, or that it doesn’t do anything for the body. It’s also common to simply say “I can’t do that” or “I’m not good at this” when starting out. You have to remember that in order to see progress and gain strength, you need to get started. It’s ok to lose your balance, to fall over, and to get frustrated when you can’t do a certain pose, but as long as you keep at it and practice frequently, you will get better! It’s important to have an open mind and to think positively all the time, but especially when trying something new or challenging. You are most likely starting yoga to be active, to get healthy, or to try something different, so honor that and honor yourself by getting out of your comfort zone!

  • Get centered and let negative thoughts go

When you go into your practice, you may not always feel your best. Maybe you’re stressed about work or your feeling down about a personal situation. Whatever it may be, when you get to your mat, it’s time to let it all go! It can be really difficult to let these thoughts go and to simple be, but you have to try. Some days, I am just a bit more distracted or I have a lot on my plate, and that’s ok. But you have to remember that you’re allowed to take a few moments out of your day to focus on you and your overall well-being. Working out can really give you that time, and you will also reap the benefits as time goes on! Try to think about your breathing and how you’re moving your body rather than bringing all of that negative energy to the mat. Working out has always been a time for me to focus on my mental and emotional health, it’s definitely not just about the physical.

  • Focus on the breath

This may seem like such a simple tip because of course, we’re always breathing, and you would think that you would be breathing even better during a workout. This can actually be a challenge. When I first started weight lifting, it took me a bit of time to realize that breathing will actually help you perform better, and you will be able to do more reps. The same is true for yoga. Keep in mind that whenever you are exerting the most energy, that is when you should breathe out. For example, if you are in three legged dog, and you want to bring your knee in toward your nose, you breathe in as you lift your leg up, and breathe out as you pull that leg in. Really think about your breathing when working out, and you truly will notice a big difference! Never hold your breath, even when your practice is getting difficult.

  • It’s all about lifting and lengthening

When practicing yoga, one should never focus too much on height, but rather focus on lengthening and lifting your body. For example, if you are in warrior three, you should be lifting your chest and leg, however you don’t need to be doing a standing split. The height of your leg really isn’t as important as how you’re lengthening your body. Another example would be when you are in sphinx pose or upward facing dog. It’s not about bending back as far as possible; it’s about lifting up out of your lower back and feeling a stretch across your chest. While it is impressive to see advanced yogis lifting their legs super high in the air, it isn’t necessary in order to feel the benefits and to gain strength. Length over height, always!

  • Relax the shoulders and don’t collapse

This next tip goes along with the previous one. It can be very easy to lose focus and forget the point of certain poses. There are many poses which require you to use some upper body strength. For example, when you are in a side plank, you have to remember to lift up out of that bottom shoulder. The same is true for triangle pose. It all goes back to lengthening the body! You want to rise up and reach for the sky, rather than collapsing back down into your shoulder (this could cause injuries or discomfort over time).

  • Keep a slight bend in the knees

There are going to be quite a few poses where you are meant to straighten your legs such as downward facing dog, triangle pose, and any kind of forward folds. When your instructor tells you to straighten your legs, please remember not to lock out your knees; keep a slight bend in them instead. You should do this to avoid any injuries or discomfort. It is not going to hinder your growth at all, and it’s always better to be safe and to listen to your body. During any form of exercise, if you feel any discomfort or pain, you should stop and modify or skip that pose/exercise for a little bit.

  • Square off the hips

Again, it is so easy to forget what you are doing, and your body may naturally want to move a certain way when doing some poses. For the most part, when you are in three legged dog, any of the warrior poses, or any twisting pose, it is important to square off your hips. This means that whatever way your core is facing, that’s where your hips should face too. When facing your left in warrior two, you only want your head to move and look over the hand in front of you, however your hips should stay in place, facing the left. When you are lifting a leg in downward facing dog, your hip may want to open up, but you have to do your best to keep it from doing so (there will be times when your instructor may want you to open up your hip in this pose, but unless they say so, keep the hips still). When twisting, make sure that you twist from your core; your hips shouldn’t be twisting with you.

  • Activate your core

It took me a long time to figure out exactly how to do this. This is something that you will need to practice, and it can take time, but you’ll know you’re doing it right because you’ll be able to really feel your core working. Yoga truly is a full body workout, however the core is a very important part of it. Throughout each and every practice, you should be holding in your stomach (while breathing properly). You don’t want your gut to sag as you are doing these movements and getting into different poses. If you suck in your stomach and at the same time, continue to breathe properly, you will feel your core working the entire time.

  • Challenge yourself

I understand that some days, you just aren’t going to feel very motivated, and you may want more of a relaxing practice. These days are needed, so of course, I encourage you to have a couple of these practices throughout your week. However, you shouldn’t get too comfortable relaxing, because if you want to improve and see results, you’re going to have to put in the work. You can do this by staying in poses longer than you normally would, or as you progress, you can try to do more advanced versions of different poses. For example, instead of planking on your knees, you should eventually try to lift them up, or try to get off of your tippy toes and lift up a foot or leg when balancing. You won’t get better at something by staying comfortable.

And lastly…

  • Enjoy the practice

Yoga is meant to be enjoyed. Whether your practice was all about the core or it was a relax day, by the end of your workout, you should feel strong, confident, and even relaxed in the end. Make sure to throw in some resting poses in the middle and at the end of your session such as child’s pose or savasana. This will give your body a chance to cool down, and you can take a moment to appreciate all of the work that you just did. Use this time to better yourself, and trust me, your body will thank you!

I hope that my beginner yogis out there found this blog post helpful! Like I said, I never thought I would enjoy doing yoga, but I think it was because I didn’t understand it, and I just didn’t see it as a real workout. Well, sometimes you can surprise yourself, and all it takes it one step outside of your comfort zone! Thank you so much for reading!

The Benefits of Taking a Rest Day

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a beautiful day, wherever you may be! For today’s blog post, I really wanted to chat about a topic that is very important to me personally. From a young age, I recognized the importance of loving myself and taking care of myself, however I really started to take it seriously a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back. It takes a lot of time and effort to get to a place of self-love, and a major part of that is taking care of your overall well-being. So, today I am going to share the benefits of taking a rest day.

I am very outspoken when it comes to self-care, and this is because I have directly seen the benefits in my own life. This does not just mean only taking care of your appearance, but also taking care of your heart, mind, body, and soul. It doesn’t really matter how much effort you put into making your outsides look great if you aren’t feeling great on the inside. Even though it may be difficult at times, you should really try to find some time to rest each and every day.

Everyone is different, and we all have different responsibilities and daily tasks to handle, whether they relate to work, family, or school. While of course these things need to be prioritized, we can’t forget about ourselves. These things can take up a lot of our time and energy, but even if you take 20 minutes or an hour out of each day, this can be extremely beneficial!

I find that balance in everything is super important in life. As we all know, too much of anything isn’t a good thing. Too much rest can quickly turn into laziness, and too much work can turn into burnout. There is a way to balance each of these things, and in turn, you will feel much happier overall

My boyfriend has collaborated with me on this blog post, and I really wanted to include some of his own writing! I always find his words to be so encouraging and uplifting, and I think that you will too. Here is what he had to say on the topic:

To recognise the importance of self-care throughout life, it’s necessary to look at the difference between maintaining outward appearance and continuing nourishment on the inside.

It is wonderful and true that we are all beautiful both on the outside and on the inside. From day one, our looks have been mastered and completed. However, inwardly we are renewed each and every day. How exciting is that!? For every one of us to have the capacity and opportunity to be our best selves, to be more of who we are intended to be! It’s beneficial to understand that inner self-care is as much about relaxation and preparation as it is about staying occupied and task completion. Balancing and prioritising is absolutely key. Remember that whatever you concentrate on most becomes an idol. Please don’t drive yourself towards constant action, letting exhaustion creep in (mental or physical). Inner self-care is about consciously choosing to prevent the build-up of stress, worry and tiredness. Happiness, peace and long-lasting energy are conquering antidotes.

Resting may be a departure from existing routine but it will become an adventure all of itself when practiced out of love rather than duty. Rest is gentle and kind but also receptive and restorative, facilitating the space to be present, for today and tomorrow.

– Tom Patch

As I mentioned previously, I have seen the ways that taking some time for myself has benefitted me and my health, so I wanted to share some of those benefits with you today!

First of all, when you prioritize and take care of yourself, you become the best version of yourself. Not only will you eventually recognize this, but those around you will too! When you make that time for you, all of your relationships can flourish, especially the one with yourself! We all want to be at our best, and it’s ok to have bad moments or even bad days, but you have to make self-care and self-love daily habits.

When taking a rest day, you have the time to do the things that you want to do. You can delve into your hobbies, spend time with family and friends, or just sit back and watch your favorite movie or TV show! There are no rules to your rest day, and you should do what makes you feel happy and at peace.

If you would like, you can use your rest day to think about what’s upcoming. It may not be very fun to think about the working days ahead, or how you’re going to complete everything you have to do, but planning can be really helpful. I strongly recommend owning a planner because this has allowed me to stay on track and get things done efficiently. Also, make sure to include time to rest. Ideally you should try to find time for this every single day, but if this is near to impossible for you, then plan for a rest day or two on the weekend!

Rest can shift your mood and remind you of what’s most important in life. When we are busy and constantly thinking about each and every little thing we have to do before the day is done, it can get really overwhelming. Try to take a breather, and remember that your well-being should come first. You deserve to feel happy and have peace of mind often too. There is something so nice about taking a day to simply focus on you. Remember that self-care is not selfish. As long as you are taking care of your responsibilities, you deserve some time for yourself. I think that one day, we may look back and realize that self-care really is one of the most important things in life.

You can use rest days as a time to check in with your mental, emotional, and physical health. Are you moving your body every day? Are you thinking positive thoughts? Are you allowing yourself to really feel your emotions rather than suppressing them? You should be asking yourself similar questions daily. It’s always good to check in. I happen to be someone who is very self-aware and this helps me to recognize when and why I may be feeling a certain way. If you take a moment to think about it, you may be able to understand yourself more. Writing can actually help with this a lot. A close friend of mine was upset recently, and she had trouble explaining why. She decided to write down why she thought she was feeling that way, and it allowed her to recognize why she got upset in the first place.

This time is essential in all of our lives, and you can use it to form new habits. No matter how busy we may be, we can all spare at least a few minutes out of each day.

I wanted to conclude this blog post with a few tips as well:

  • Don’t be afraid to say no

When it comes to work, it is important to take on your own responsibilities. Keep in mind that it’s ok to (respectfully) say no when you’re asked to do things beyond your requirements. Also, outside of work, you should be able to freely say no to things that you simply don’t want to do. For example, if a friend asks you to go out with them one night, it’s ok to say that you’re not feeling it. If you feel like you can use that time to take care of yourself and relax, then do that. You know what’s best for you, so trust that.

  • List out your priorities

Writing down your priorities can help you see what’s most important to you. It could be priorities for the day ahead, or daily priorities that you have. Whatever they may be, it will allow you to focus on your goals. I wrote an entire blog post on “How to Recognize and Balance Your Priorities” so you can check that out as well!

  • Make realistic goals for yourself

Sometimes we get so into productivity that once the time comes to do every single task that we planned out, it can just become too much. Take a step back and think realistically. It’s good to space things out over the course of a week or month. You don’t have to do it all in one day. Take it one step at a time.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

Another daily practice! I am still learning to be kind to myself, especially on the difficult days. If you skipped a workout or didn’t make that phone call, it’s ok! We are all human, and we will not have it together all the time. Motivation comes and goes, and we all experiences challenging times. The important part is that you power through and always take care of yourself; nurturing your heart and reminding yourself that you matter, and you always will.

Thank you so much for reading this blog post! I hope that you found it helpful, and that you will share it with those you love! Until next time!

Thank you to my love, and happy six-month anniversary!

Winter Blues Getting You Down? Here’s How to Cope

Photo by my talented love: @notapatchontom on Instagram!

Hey everyone! Today wanted to chat about a topic that I think many people can relate to right now. I am sure that I am not alone in saying this, but sometimes the weather really does have an effect on my mood. I feel like I thrive when it’s sunny and warm, but when it’s dark, cold, rainy, or all three, I tend to struggle just a bit more. There are certain things that I enjoy during each season, and I find them all beautiful, however winter would probably be my least favorite. Luckily for me, where I live it doesn’t get too cold. Still, I have noticed that the cold weather can sometimes bring me down, so I wanted to share this post in the hopes of tackling the winter blues together!

This topic is actually something that has been studied over time, and there is actually a disorder attached to it called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (or SAD). Now, I do want to say that just because you may not feel as happy or as motivated during a certain season or time of year, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have this disorder. I just wanted to mention it because it is actually something that people can have. I recommend looking into it further or speaking to a healthcare professional if you truly believe that you have this. Read more about SAD here and here.

Part of what has been helping me is the fact that it is a new year! I’ve slowly been getting my motivation back, and I’ve been completing daily tasks, which feels great! While my mood has been pretty good overall, and I have been feeling more motivated, this is not the case every single day. The changing of seasons can affect us all differently, and it is very common for people to oversleep, have low energy, a lack of motivation, and feelings of depression or loneliness once fall and winter come around. It can be hard to get out of bed or feel productive on these days, but there are ways to combat these feelings!

First things first: it is completely ok to have a day (or a few days) when you simply allow yourself to relax and take a breather. Remember that rest is productive, and you deserve to take some time for yourself, whether that means taking an hour at the end of every day to unwind, or even taking a full day to do whatever you want. Balance is important though, so just make sure that you don’t spend day after day sitting around because this can very quickly turn into a habit, making work, school, or other important tasks much more difficult.

I wanted to share a few tips with you all on how to stop the winter blues in its tracks!

  • Wake up with the sun

Since it gets dark early these days, it can make the days feel shorter, and you may feel like you don’t have a lot of time to get things done. While we can’t control this, we can control our mindsets and our actions. It is important to have a sleeping schedule that allows you to feel refreshed and alive in the mornings! It is not at all fun to wake up and feel like a zombie for half of the day. I know it can be challenging, but if possible, you should try to get about 8 hours of sleep. I’ve noticed that when I sleep too little or I sleep too much, I never feel very great. It is an amazing feeling to wake up and feel ready to take on the day, so if you can, create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. It may take time, as it does to form any habit, but this is so beneficial for so many reasons! This is something I am still working on myself!

  • Get outside

I know what some of you may be thinking: why on earth would I go outside when it’s freezing?! Trust me, I understand!  I don’t always love to be outside when it’s dark or rainy, and especially not if it’s super cold! However, I think it is still very important. We need our vitamin D and it’s always good to get some exercise too! If it’s not extremely cold where you are, I think it would be great to bundle up and get outdoors. Whether you go for a walk or run, or play some kind of sport, this can be a really great way to get over the winter blues!

  • Exercise

I know I just mentioned this, but exercise can make such a difference in your mood! Even if you aren’t a fan of working out, you can’t deny the amazing feeling after a great sweat sesh! If it’s just too cold, or you can’t really do your workout outdoors, you can roll out a yoga mat or grab some dumbbells and get your fitness on inside! This will not only wake up the body and keep you strong and healthy, but it will also warm you up on a cold winter day! It doesn’t matter if you do a 10 minute yoga session, a 30 minute cardio burn, or an hour long weight training session! As long as you get up and get moving, you’ll be sure to feel the benefits!

  • Keep a planner

This is something that I absolutely love to do! This year, I made it a resolution to write down everything I would like to do in a day or week, no matter how small. It could be working out, it could be cleaning, or it could be school/work related! I’ve been doing this a little over a week now, and I have already recognized how helpful it is! I used to only write down school related tasks in my planners, but writing down everything really helps me to manage my time better, and I feel accomplished at the end of the day when I am able to cross off each item! So, even on days when the weather isn’t ideal, I can still feel good when my head hits the pillow at night!

  • Cook some comfort food

It is so nice to sit back and enjoy your favorite warm comfort foods! It can be a hot bowl of your favorite winter soup, a traditional family recipe, or even some cake! Of course, I always recommend eating healthy foods, but it’s also important to listen to your body, and on a day when you may not be feeling your absolute best, it is ok to indulge a little bit! For me personally, a healthy diet is a balanced diet. I am doing my best to incorporate healthier foods into my meals, while also enjoying something small and sweet (pretty much daily). Don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember that you are allowed to enjoy your favorite meals. I mentioned this previously, but as long as you do not start any negative eating habits, then you’ll be alright! Try not to make any drastic changes to your diet overnight, and remember that food should be enjoyed!

  • Express gratitude daily

This is such a simple thing to do, yet so many people forget to do it. I know that right now, the days may seem so similar, and maybe the winter blues are really getting you down. I understand completely!  But even if you don’t do any of the things I listed here today, please do this. Every morning when you wake up, or every night before you go to bed (or both), try to think about or speak about the things that you are grateful for. This truly is such an amazing habit to form because once you start, you’ll notice that you will soon express your gratitude without even thinking about it! I’ve been doing this a lot more often lately, and I have to say, I have directly seen how it can change your life! I strongly believe that what you put out into the world will somehow make its way back to you. So, when you have a positive mindset and you speak, write, or think about your gratefulness, you will attract even more to be grateful for!

I really hope that you found this post helpful, and if you know someone who can benefit from reading this, please share this with them too! It is so important to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health, and to encourage others to do the same! Know that your mind is a very powerful thing, and you do have the ability to control your thoughts and your actions. While it is easier said than done, you have to do your absolute best to get out of bed in the morning, think positive thoughts about the day ahead, and try to find that healthy balance of productivity and relaxation. It can take time, but you don’t have to let the weather affect you negatively. Try to find the beauty in it, because even if you don’t see it right away, it’s always there.

Thank you so much for reading! Until next time!

Fitness Update: November 2020

This year, my fitness journey took a turn. It was an unexpected turn, to say the least. We have all had to adapt to a new way of living, and the gym was no longer an option, at least for me. I’m not going to lie, I did not make a ton of progress this year, and that was to be expected once COVID-19 became widespread. However, I did my best to maintain my physique. Today, I’ll be sharing a brief update on my fitness journey. My last update was posted back in June, so I felt that it was time to share another!

Back in March of this year, I was just returning from my trip to France. I was on a high because I had just experienced one of my biggest dreams. As soon as I got back, I realized just how serious COVID-19 was getting in the United States. Not long after that, things began shutting down, and since then, we have pretty much spent the year at home. Of course, my gym closed down, which I think was the right decision to make. A gym is probably one of the worst places to go during a global pandemic.

I really had to get used to at-home workouts, and this was a bit of a challenge for me. I find that being at home means I tend to get a bit more distracted, and I am not as motivated as I am in the gym. It took a few weeks for me to get a little routine down, but once I did, I was feeling good! I don’t exactly remember how many times a week I was weight training, but I would say maybe three. I was doing cardio around two or three times a week as well. I began to enjoy at-home workouts, though I did miss the environment of my gym.

Earlier in the year, I said that I wanted to try a new form of exercise. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but in April, a couple of my family members and I decided to try yoga. We have now been doing yoga every single day for seven months! We typically practice yoga for 10-30 minutes daily. This is something that I am really proud of. I honestly did not expect to enjoy yoga, and I originally had my doubts, but I have seen and felt the many benefits of the practice. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of yoga and mindfulness, I wrote a blog post about my experience recently (click here)!

As the year went on, I felt that I was losing my motivation to lift weights. Yoga became my daily workout, and weight training was something I did once or twice a week. I tried to keep up with cardio, but I would say that I did it once a week.  There haven’t been very many changes in my workout split since. I am doing my best to stay on track, and to not be too hard on myself. While I may not have made a ton of progress this year, I have remained active, and that is very important to me.

When it comes to healthy eating, I have to say, it was also quite difficult. For me, this has always been the hardest part of living a healthy life. I’ve noticed that when I’m weight training, doing cardio, and staying very active, my appetite is bigger. This year, I don’t think that I’ve been eating as much as I used to, or drinking enough water. My meals haven’t been very unhealthy, but they definitely could be better, so I am trying to work on this.

I recently discovered a very small issue with my health, so after speaking to my doctor, I now know what I have to do to keep myself healthy. This has actually sparked some motivation in me, and I am feeling more excited to lift weights, do cardio, and continue with yoga. I am also going to do my best with eating more and eating healthy, as well as drinking enough water.

I know that this year has been challenging for many people across the globe, and we have all been much more aware of our health now more than ever. Some people may have gained motivation and killed their at-home workouts, whereas other people may have struggled a bit more. Wherever you are on your fitness journey, take a moment to say thank you to your body. It has carried you through another year, and (hopefully) you are healthy and safe. It’s ok if working out or eating healthy was difficult this year (it was for me too). As long as you did your best this year, then that is enough. Be proud of how far you’ve come, and continue to live an active and healthy life. I know that for me personally, one of the biggest reasons I stuck with weight training is because of the way it makes me feel afterward. Even when I struggle to take out my weights and put on my workout gear, I always feel my best after a workout. Take a look back and remember why you started in the first place. This is how you will get your motivation back, and this is how you will continue on.

The holidays are right around the corner, making healthy eating and working out even more of a challenge. So please remember to do what you can to stay healthy (physically, mentally, and emotionally), but also spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy the holiday season! Take care of yourself, love yourself, and even through the challenges, continue on your fitness journey!

I hope you enjoyed reading this fitness update. I wanted to be honest and discuss the fact that I was not heavily motivated this year, however I am looking forward to my five year anniversary in February, and beginning my sixth year of weight training! Thank you for checking out today’s blog post! Until next time!

The Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness

Hey everyone! If you have been keeping up with the “Fitness and Self-Care” section of my blog, you may remember my post about doing yoga every day for one month. Well, I have continued to incorporate yoga into each and every day since April! Earlier this year, I told myself that I would try to find a new form of exercise, and I am happy to say that I did just that!

As many of you may be aware, I have been weight training for almost five years now. That journey has taken a bit of a turn this year due to COVID-19. My gym closed down sometime in March, and it opened back up in September. I have not gone back because I do not think that I would feel safe to do so just yet. Plus, a gym is probably one of the worst places to be during a pandemic, so I have chosen to continue with my at-home workouts for now. This year, I would say that yoga has become my go-to form of exercise. Though I have continued with weight training, I have not been doing this as frequently.

Initially, I was not incredibly interested in trying out yoga. I remember doing it once quite a few years back but I never stuck with it because I felt that it was “boring”. Things have definitely changed since then. I have been using a program that includes a variety of workout videos, ranging from strength training to yoga. Although I haven’t tried any of the other workouts besides yoga, I plan to do so one day.

I originally thought that only flexible people could do yoga. I did not think that yoga would be considered a workout either. I thought it would be very relaxing 100% of the time (I was definitely wrong about that). I was also not aware of the many benefits that yoga can have on the mind, body, and soul.

I believe that when some people think of yoga, they think of a very hippie-ish way of living, and they even write it off as silly. I think that these people have most likely never tried yoga. In reality, yoga can be intense, challenging, and rewarding in more ways than one. Not only can yoga change your body and appearance, but it can change your entire mindset too.

Some of the physical benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, weight reduction, improved respiration, and increased muscle strength. Some of the emotional/mental benefits include: an increase in body awareness, relieves stress, sharpens attention, and calms the nervous system. For me, working out has always been an escape from everyday stress. As someone who tends to be very anxious and a bit of a worrier at times, working out has always allowed me to simply focus on me and my body, and it has given me a goal to work toward. Time for yourself is so important, and if using that time involves staying healthy and active, that is even better!

I also wanted to discuss the benefits that I have noticed personally from doing yoga for six months. First, I realized that yoga was helping me to relax and de-stress. This was exactly what I needed, and still do! I tend to hold tension in my shoulders and in my jaw, but now, I can more easily recognize when I am doing this. I can relax my jaw and drop my shoulders and simply focus on my breathing. Also, I am much more aware of my posture. I feel that I’ve always had pretty good posture, but yoga has made this even better. When I am sitting down to do my schoolwork or if I find that I am tilting my neck downward a lot, I try to use books or something tall for my laptop to sit on so that it is more eye-level, and I am not hunching over.

I feel that I am a much more relaxed person. I do not get stressed as easily anymore, and I am much more aware of negative thoughts. If I notice that I am starting to worry or stress about something, I can recognize this and turn those thoughts off rather than letting them take over. I feel that I am much more aware of my thought processes, and I know what is going to help me and what is going to hurt me. I have been practicing mindfulness a lot lately, and it has changed everything. I feel that I have much more control over my mind, and I can lead a happier and more positive life because of it.

I have also noticed that my body is much more toned. Yoga is a full-body workout, and I was not really aware of this in the beginning. It is not just about working your core, it is about working your entire body. I guess I didn’t think I would see changes to my body unless I was using weights or doing cardio, but yoga has changed my appearance. When weight training was what my workouts truly consisted of, my body did look different. I had more muscle and although I did tone up from weight training (and cardio), I feel that I have noticed it a bit more with yoga. Granted, my appetite is different when I am weight training 5-6 times a week vs doing yoga every day. The human body is truly incredible, and it has the ability to change very often throughout life. The choices we make matter, and the food that we put into our bodies as well as the way that we stay active matters. All of it can affect the way that we look and feel.  Working out was never really about looking good for me (that is a bonus that comes from it). The way that it makes me feel is why I truly continue to do it.

Lastly, I feel that I have gained flexibility. I have surprised myself many times during my yoga practices. In poses such as downward dog, I can straighten my legs quite a bit, and when I do wide legged folds, or just folding in general, I can get pretty low and deep. When I first started yoga, I was not the most flexible, so it has been exciting to notice my growth! In the beginning, I struggled to keep my balance as well. Eagle pose and warrior III were especially frustrating. Now, I can stay in these poses a little bit longer without toppling over (of course, this does still happen some days). I am able to keep up with practices that are faster paced, and for the most part, I do not have to modify the poses. I never really took much time to stretch before or after workouts and even in general, so this is something I have been doing a lot more of now. Yoga has allowed me to focus on stretching, flexibility, strength, and endurance.

It is so crazy to think that I began doing yoga six months ago, and I have never skipped one day. I have always been very determined, but I honestly didn’t think that I would enjoy yoga. Once something becomes a part of your daily routine, it is so much easier to do. Even on the days when I am very busy or I simply don’t feel like doing it, I get it done because I know how it will benefit me overall.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s post! What are your thoughts on yoga or mindfulness? Have you ever tried yoga before? I would love to know! Thank you so much for reading!

The Problem with Overthinking

I always want my blog to be a safe space where I can openly share what is going on in my life. While I love sharing all of the positive moments I experience, I am human and I struggle a lot as well. I always talk about the importance and beauty of vulnerability, and today I am going to be opening up a bit more about my personal life and some struggles that I frequently face.

I have always been an overthinker; to the point where it has stopped me from doing certain things that I have really wanted to do. I wasn’t always so aware of the fact that I was an overthinker, but I would say that in the past few years, it is something I have become more aware of. It can be really difficult to control your thoughts, but eventually you may get to a point when you’ve had enough.

Most of the time, I am a very happy and positive person, however, I feel my emotions very deeply. This means that when I am happy, I am really happy. And when I’m upset, I am really upset. Many would describe me as “emotional”, but I’ve come to accept this as a strength rather than a weakness. As long as you have control over your thoughts and emotions, there is nothing wrong with allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. When something is bothering me, I let myself get sad, angry, or frustrated. But I try to move on from these negative feelings sooner rather than later, because I don’t want to stay stuck in that mindset.

When it comes to overthinking, I’ve realized I do have a problem. Even when I am happy, I will sometimes start to overthink. This is when it can be most detrimental. If you are overthinking or worrying when you should be enjoying life’s highs, you could be (consciously or subconsciously) sabotaging some of the greatest things you will experience in life.

It is really challenging to turn off those negative thoughts sometimes, but I am doing much better than I used to. I think that recognizing the fact that there is a problem is a really great first step. Every time I begin overthinking or worrying about something a little too much, I try my best to shut down those thoughts. I don’t necessarily feel that overthinking is always a bad thing though. I would say that it’s better to overthink things a little bit than to not think at all. Overall, you should never let negative thoughts take over your life. You will never allow yourself to be happy if you do. Whether it is a relationship, a job, or a once in a lifetime opportunity, I never want to be the person who ruins something good by worrying about it.

Sadly, there is no off switch to overthinking, but there are things you can do to stop these thoughts in their tracks. I think that many people can relate to this, but when I have a little too much time on my hands, that’s when my mind starts racing. I like to keep myself busy when these thoughts come up. For myself, I enjoy writing, dancing, working out, listening to music, spending time with loved ones, and going on walks or hikes. These are activities that I participate in pretty much daily. Not only are these things good for me, but they really do help me get my mind off of anything negative, even if it is just for a little while. School is another thing that keeps me busy. I am in my final year of college and school work does take up quite a bit of my time. You should look for the things that make you happy. Focus on your passions, your goals, and what brings you the most joy, and follow that.

Any time I struggle with these thoughts and feelings, I try to remind myself that I am still growing, and I am human. I am doing my best, and that is all that matters. I don’t believe in suppressing my emotions. Whether they are good or bad, I allow myself to feel, and I think that this is something to be proud of. If you are anything like me and you overthink and worry about even the smallest things, know that you are not alone in what you are going through, and these things do not and never will define you. Just remember that you have control over your thoughts. If you notice that your thoughts are not helping you progress, you need to learn to recognize when you need to back away and focus on the positives. It isn’t always easy, and I have my great days and my not so great days. What matters is how you bounce back and that you are actively working to become your best self. Growth in every form is so important to me, and I want to continue to flourish and become the woman I know I am capable of being. The woman I am becoming does not let negativity cloud her mind, and she does not allow anxiety to rule her life. While these things may still affect me in the future, they will never affect me to this degree ever again, and that is because I am growing and evolving every single day. And I refuse to let stress, worry, or anxiety win.

This has been on my heart for a little while now, and I am really grateful that I have this space to share my thoughts and feelings. I hope that you found this post helpful, and I hope that you will pass along this message to someone who you believe needs to hear it. Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post!

Fabletics Review

Hey everyone! It’s no secret that I enjoy working out, and I love fashion. I love looking put together, even in the gym! Something about new workout gear can bring a lot of motivation, and today, I will be talking about and reviewing the brand Fabletics.

Since starting my fitness journey, I have discovered a few fitness brands that I love. Fabletics is definitely one of them, and today I will explain why. This brand was created in 2013, but I became a member in 2018. Keep in mind that I will simply share my opinion of the brand. The items that I own by this brand are not very new, but I will include a link to the Fabletics website so you can check out the site and the workout gear for yourself!

When you first sign up to become a VIP member, you will take a short quiz that asks questions such as “What’s your favorite way to get fit?” “What colors best match your style?” and “Which best mirrors your body type?” You will also be asked to put in your size preferences. By answering all of these questions, you will get more of a personalized selection!

When I subscribed to Fabletics, there was a 2 for $24 deal on leggings. This is what made me want to try the brand because fitness gear can be pretty expensive sometimes. Plus, I had heard great things about the brand. Subscribing is free, however, you can choose whether or not you want to skip the month or shop and pay $49.95 a month. (Remember, you only have until the 5th of every month to skip.) If you decide you want to shop, the charge becomes a VIP Member Credit you can redeem on purchases of $49.95 or more. You can also cancel your membership at any time.

I absolutely love the personalized and stylish gear that this brand offers, and every month, there are new items to check out! While I love all of the fun patterns and bright colors, I typically like to go for a more subtle look with my workout gear. I do own a few colorful and patterned pieces, but when it comes to my leggings, I like them to be a neutral color and I prefer a high-waisted style as well. I love that Fabletics focuses on the smaller details just as much as the larger ones. Little things like pockets and mesh detailing can make even the simplest leggings so much cuter. I have compared the prices to other fitness brands, and I would say that they fall into the average price range. Some of the items can be a bit pricey for me, but as someone who loves to shop, I have found ways to purchase clothing in more affordable ways. I always look for coupons, deals, and I shop sale items as well.

When it comes to sizing, I have struggled to find what works for me. In most leggings, I would say that I am a size small. With Fabletics, I do not believe this is the case. The three pairs of Fabletics leggings I own are all a size small, and they are just a bit too tight around my thighs. The problem is, they fit perfectly around my waist. I truly do love my legs, and they have gotten a bit bigger and stronger since I began weight training. This means that certain pairs of bottoms, whether they are jeans or leggings, can feel a bit tighter around my thighs. Their leggings do not have much give, so I am going to purchase a pair in a medium to see if this is a better fit for me. Of course, this is better than leggings that are too stretchy, because these often wouldn’t last. I’ve had the same problem with the sports bras. I ordered mediums, when I think smalls would have been just fine. I feel that the quality of Fabletics gear is pretty great, and the leggings seem to be long-lasting. Knowing your body size and taking measurements may be helpful to finding your perfect fit.

The leggings are adorable and trendy, and the ones that I own are squat proof (meaning that they are not see-through when squatting.) I have realized that my favorite pairs are seamless. I think that they are more flattering and comfortable. I am also a fan of full length or 7/8 leggings, and I would often choose these over capris or shorts.

I have styled all of my Fabletics items for you today. These are a few of my favorite looks to workout in. Again, these items are not new, but I wanted to show them anyway.

This first outfit is probably the most comfortable. I love the black seamless leggings and the simple details on the sports bra. The bright orange top is perfect for the warmer months, and I reach for tank tops the most when changing for a workout.

This next outfit is a bit more fun! I just love the floral pattern and the cutouts on this sports bra! Once again, I have a loose fitting tank that I will sometimes tie in a knot to make it more stylish. It has a very subtle pattern on it as well. These leggings are navy blue, and they are cropped. These are a bit too tight on me, but I still like to wear them on upper body days!

These are my most recent Fabletics pieces. I received this as a set for Christmas last year. I love matching sets, and these colors go together beautifully! The sports bra is bright pink with a high neckline and almost a fishnet/mesh detailing. It could even be worn as a crop top. I normally do not like long sleeved tops when I work out, but this one would be perfect for hikes in the colder months. I love the cutout detailing all over this top as well! The leggings are burgundy, and the cutouts match the top perfectly. Once again, these leggings are a bit too tight on me, but I still wear them from time to time.

Overall, I would recommenced trying out Fabletics. Their pieces are trendy and fun, yet subtly stylish at the same time. There really is something for everyone! They not only sell clothing, but shoes and accessories as well. Whether you are into weight training, yoga, or running, I feel that Fabletics is worth a try!

If you would like to see a little try on video that I created, check out my Instagram @sacchere14!

Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post! If you would like to sign up for Fabletics or check out their website, click here!