Rid Yourself of Pre-Race Nerves with these 5 Thoughts

Today is race day! Woot! Woot! There’s such a difference between being in a live race verses training on the treadmill or even running outside solo. It’s invigorating. It’s waiting at the starting line anxiously to be let free! With all that said I totally get nervous before every race but let’s be real, what reasons do I really have to be nervous?

  1. Nobody else is paying attention to you. They’re all focused on their own running.
  2. Everyone else is pumped up too. We’re all there for the same main reason (to run! and many times for charity). Soak up that energy from around you!
  3. You really probably are not going to fall…and if you do, heck you have a story to tell now.
  4. Everyone is going to be sweaty and stinky during and after the race…we all look like hell. We just ran in the blazing sun.
  5. Pride. The pride and the sense of accomplishment you have after you get to the finish line…it’s so worth it, every time.

Not up for a live race yet? No worries, check out some of my favorite spots to sign up for virtual races. Virtual races can be done solo, on your own time, and anywhere – Like on a treadmill at the gym when there’s snow on the ground or throw one in on your training schedule to keep it fun.

www.virtualstrides.com

www.virtualpaceseries.com 

www.medalmiles.com

14 Reasons to Eat the Superfood Snack Blueberries

Berry-picking season has begun. I love berries! I’m more of a raspberry and blackberry kind of girl but my son especially loves blueberries. Blueberries are an amazing and tasty Superfood!  They are the perfect low-calorie snack for hot, Summer days.

  1. They help detox the body.
  2. Blueberries contain vitamins, nutrients and minerals that help improve brain function.
  3. They promote digestion and helps prevent constipation.
  4. Blueberries contain compounds that help prevent and fight cancer.
  5. They’re good for the heart and help keep blood pressure under control.
  6. Blueberries are a snack that uplift your spirits. They can act as a natural anti-depressant.
  7. They boost your immune system.
  8. Blueberries are high in fiber and help you stay full and aid in weight loss.
  9. The minerals and vitamins in blueberries help improve and maintain bone health.
  10. Blueberries assist in the promotion of good eye health.
  11. They have been shown to help prevent wrinkles, age spots and acne.
  12. Blueberries are rich in anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  13. They are great to snack on after a workout because they help reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.
  14. Blueberries also help promote healthy hair and hair growth.
* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research.

How I’m Tackling My Fitness Roadblocks This Month

I kicked off my morning with some strength training and a good heart to heart about nutrition with my trainer. I needed to get real about my challenges and why I’m feeling stuck. I am feeling stuck because I’m getting in my own way but I needed to be real too – what are the realistic solutions to my challenges, my roadblocks? 

  1. I’m not eating enough clean and nutrient packed calories. I’m not getting enough protein.
  2. I am not eating breakfast.
  3. I’m not drinking enough water.
  4. I’m strength training but I’ve been slacking on cardio.
  5. I wasn’t clear about what my daily caloric intake should be.

  1. I’m not eating a lot of junk food.
  2. I’m doing something active every day even if it’s just crunches in the evening.
  3. I’m going to personal training for strength training weekly.
  4. I’ve cut back on sugar in my tea.
  5. I’m getting better sleep.

  1. Add cardio to my week, at least 3 times. – Get up and go for a walk/run in the mornings before work.
  2. Start drinking water right after my morning cup of coffee – replace some cups of tea with water – continue to drink it through the day by always having a bottle of water with me.
  3. Track my food in my Fitbit app – focus on getting set amount of calories that my trainer set for me each day – more nutrient dense foods. If I plan ahead I’ll be able to manage this better.
  4. Have a protein shake or protein/granola bar in the morning. – I’m not a big eater in the morning so choosing light foods but protein packed I think will be key for me here.
  5. Plan out a more balanced exercise routine for the week that includes yoga, upper body workouts and cardio in addition to my personal training appointments.

My biggest roadblock right now is time. I feel like I never have enough time to get it all in one day but with some planning ahead, boundaries and time management I can tackle this! 

 

Why Horseradish is a Powerful Remedy & Healthy Condiment

So I’m sitting at the kitchen table snacking on some pretzel sticks and a new delicious dip I picked up yesterday while out running errands with my Ma, an Onion Horseradish Dip. It wasn’t spicy to taste but after a few bites I noticed my sinuses started to get a burning sensation. I thought geez, this would be a perfect thing to have around if I’ve caught myself a cold and was a bit stuffy, should clear me right up! I started thinking how else can and does horseradish benefit our health, what other remedies could this food serve? It’s funny how our thought processes can come about isn’t it?

My love for root vegetables continues to grow and I’m excited to be adding this one to my list as well.

My curiosity led me to discover that horseradish has been used for many years in old traditional folk medicine to treat several ailments. Among being used to treat respiratory illnesses and sinus congestion, it was once also used as a topical application to treat inflammation and help ease pain. What we typically think as just a tangy or spicy condiment can actually be a wonderful addition to our diets to add some healthy boosts to our systems. 

  1. It boosts immunity. There are two main reasons this helps improve our immunity systems – Horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable which are known for containing glucosinolates. These help prevent cancer and help fight off illness and disease. Horseradish root also contains allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil) which has shown to have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial capabilities also helping to fight off infection.
  2. It is high in antioxidants.
  3. Horseradish contains enzymes that stimulate digestion and it helps regulate bowel movements. This is beneficial in an overall healthy digestive system.
  4. It is high in fiber and protein which helps you stay fuller and it has been shown to boost metabolism.
  5. Horseradish contains potassium which aids in lowering blood pressure.
  6. It is a natural diuretic.
  7. The scent of horseradish has shown to increase awareness and focus, making it wonderful for improving concentration.

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research.

10 Awesome Things I Do for Health, Happiness & Balance

It’s Day 7 of the #loveblog2018! Today’s prompt is ‘Wellness’ and this is a topic that has become a huge focus in my life so I’ve very excited to be sharing my thoughts about it today. Make sure to check out my post about Guilty Pleasures’ from earlier in the season and all the other prompts from the series too at www.bellebrita.com. One of the reasons I love participating in the #loveblog so much is because it gives me (or pushes me more) to share my story in a more personal way. 

I grew up with a mom in the medical field and a dad in safety management so I guess wellness has always been a part of my life in some way or another but it didn’t really become such a main focus for me until I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia in my twenties. At that time my mindset around wellness wasn’t very well at all though. I felt like true wellness was going to be something that would always be out of my reach after being diagnosed. I thought I’m always going to feel crappy, achy, tired, and everything that comes with that. I felt saddened that I was in my twenties and couldn’t keep up with my friends. I was taking nine pills a day and a bi-weekly injection just to ‘survive’, just to escape the pain. I felt like a zombie most days and if I wasn’t at work I was on the couch or in bed. It wasn’t how I dreamed of spending a good part of my twenties. I carried on like this, having ups and downs, good days and bad days, some weeks better than others…side note – *this is a general overview, I still had good trips and happy days but overall it wasn’t what I dreamed of for myself. The energy I dreamed of having I couldn’t sustain. Everything was in spurts. I craved consistency. I craved to be able to express the energy that filled my mind in physical expressions and actions. 

The year I turned thirty, I lost my job. I found myself home and on the search…it turned out to be a huge blessing for me, it turned out to be an opportunity to change my life. The job I was working I had very long hours and it was emotionally and physically stressful on a daily basis (which I laugh because my first Rheumatologist had told me that the best thing for me was to stay away from stress – ummm, right.) With losing my job I also lost my Healthcare benefits and that left me unable to afford my medications (it sounds awful, but really it was a blessing in disguise). So I went off my pills and off the injections. I started working towards a complete lifestyle change. I started practicing yoga twice a day. I gave up fast food and junk food and I started studying my disease. I started reading how to manage it organically. I taught myself how to eat better. I started using essential oil therapies. I meditated, and I learned my limits and how to schedule resting and recoup time into my weeks.

It took me about a year and a half to find a new job but fast forward and now I’m working at a job that even though can be stressful and have long hours (that seems to be a common thing in today’s world), I have the flexibility to work from home, I have a management team that understands I may burnout sometimes and need some downtime, and I have co-workers that get the idea of how important wellness is to me and they motivate and inspire me to stick with it. I’m naturally a Type A Personality so I always have a lot on my plate (i just don’t know what to do with myself if I don’t have a whole bunch of projects going on at one time) but I’m getting better each day at managing them realistically and being more forgiving of myself when I need to shift things or when I slip and I keep the focus on if I want to feel good then I need to continuously take care of myself. Today some of the words used to describe me is ‘energetic’ and ‘positive’ and ‘motivated’ and that feels good, they describe more of who I aspire to be. I owe so much of that to the idea of wellness, to the changes I made to bring wellness to be a reality in my world.

All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payments for leads/sales. For more information please reference my disclosure page

 

  1. Daily vitamins – Women’s Multivitamin (currently loving SmartyPants for Women), Vitamin D supplements, and a Vitamin C supplement
  2. 30 crunches daily and participating in a 30 days plank challenge – I co-manage a local healthy lifestyles/fitness group at work called No Sweat York and we’ve committed to doing a 30 day challenge this month – check out our No Sweat York Instagram Page for photos and thoughts from our challenge
  3. A Greek Yogurt daily during the week at the office – Yogurt was something I just couldn’t get myself to eat except for one – I love the Fage Greek Yogurts with fruit <3
  4. Gave up eating out so much and am cooking healthier meals at home – helps keep my sodium intake down which helps with decreasing inflammation
  5. Personal Training at my gym for strength training – Legs one day, Arms another
  6. Making sure I schedule down time each week for lazy days, just to mellow out and recoup
  7. Washing my face every night with Alba Organic Make-up Wipes
  8. Scheduling my tasks out throughout the week so I’m balancing out my time better
  9. Journaling ‘one sentence a day’ to help keep my mind clear
  10. Participating in my #FebruaryArtChallenge for some daily/weekly art therapy to release stress

Wellness is about being well rounded to me, it’s about being real and honest, rolling with the punches sometimes and having balance in my life. That’s what keeps me feeling good, keeps me happier. Wellness is something that I am continuously working towards and adapting to fit into what’s going on in my life. It is not only about health and fitness physically but also keeping our minds and our hearts healthy. What does wellness mean to you? 

This week’s giveaway is brought to you by Callie Richards, LuLaRoe Fashion Retailer. One lucky winner will receive a fabulous LuLaRoe outfit in the size(s) of their choice. The giveaway ends on February 14th. US residents only. While Callie will consider your style preferences, she cannot guarantee any patterns or colors in your outfit. Enter to win here: http://bellebrita.com/2018/02/winter-date-night-outfits/ Brita Long of Belle Brita will verify the winning entry before emailing the winner during the third week of February. If the winner doesn’t respond, she will start the process over again. Good luck!

Meet Your Hosts

Brita from bellabrita.comBrita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.

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Amritha from joinmeintransit.com. Amritha is a travel and food blogger offering travel, dining and healthy recipe guides for vegetarians who love to vacation. Her mission is to guide others in creating meaningful life experiences with friends and family through mindful travel, vegetarian food, and an active lifestyle.

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Laura from dofivethingsaday.com. Laura is a big dreamer, full time marketing manager, blogger, and part-time artist. She aspires to inspire people in their everyday lives and help them to live towards their dreams and making the most out of every day by sharing her own experiences and stories.

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5 Delicious, Simple & Healthy Recipes to Make This Week

So I put in place some stricter routines for my eating to get myself back on track with healthier (and super tasty!) eating and to save some money! I spent a Saturday planning out meals, cleaning out the cupboards and fridge, and stocking up with the ingredients I needed for the week. I was tired of feeling bloated and ready to fuel my body with what it needed to be at full speed! Not only am I feeling better but I’ve really found some amazing recipes which helped add some variety to the Lean Cuisines I also picked up for quick lunches throughout the week.

5 EAsy & Delicious Recipes to Try This Week

Day 1 – Dinner: ‘Pan-Seared Salmon with Creamy Avocado Sauce’ from kitchenswagger.com

The sauce on top of the salmon was divine! It was easy to make too with the help of my little food processor. Paired with some steamed vegetables, this was a great dinner to enjoy after a busy day. 

Day 2 – Lunch: a colorful salad to take to the office

I’m getting better at blending tastes and building more creative salads and I’m loving the results! This salad has a spring mix salad mix and butter lettuce base with chopped red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, blackberries, and tomatoes. Top off with some fresh italian cheese blend and poppy-seed dressing.

Day 3 – Dinner: ‘One Pan Healthy Italian Sausage & Veggies’ from chelseasmessyapron.com

I loved the flavor of this dish. It was so easy to make too. Just chop everything up, toss with the seasonings, throw on the pan and cook. Wah-lah dinner is ready! 

Day 4 – Dinner: ‘One Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas’ from number-2-pencil.com

I let loose a little for Thursday, indulging in a healthier version of fajitas (I love fajitas!). These had such awesome flavor! I loved being able to make it all on one pan for a quick after-work dinner.

Day 5 – Lunch: ‘Sun-dried Tomato Spinach Grilled Cheese Sandwich’ from eatgood4life.com

I worked from home so I was able to cook up a warm lunch. This sandwich had the perfect blend of flavors!

As I find myself getting back to cooking more, I am getting more and more creative and am enjoying my meals so much more. I am also finding coming home and cooking after a long, busy day has been very relaxing too! 

 

Why It’s So Important to Get Your Vitamin D

About a month and a half ago I was feeling like I hit a brick wall. I felt so drained, physically, mentally and emotionally. It was so bad that one Sunday morning I got up and started my chores…I got the toilet scrubbed and had to go back to bed. Just cleaning the bathroom completely exhausted me, took all the energy I had. The few weeks prior to that I had been feeling so tired, and each day it got worse. I heard from a friend at work that she might have Mono…could I have picked it up from her? Did we sip each other’s drinks the night we were all out? Why was I so so tired?  So tired that I struggled to think and process things happening in my day. So tired that I was having weird moments of sadness. So tired that it was a daunting task just to walk from my bedroom to the kitchen. So finally I gave in and headed to the doctor’s. Initially the thought was that maybe I was having some kind of weird flare-up of my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. But what was unusual is that I wasn’t in pain which is usually the first sign of a flare-up for me. I had no pain, no cough, no stuffy nose, no stomach ache, I was just completely exhausted. So we did blood tests…for everything she could think of, let’s just knock out the possibilities. Check thyroid, check white blood count…check vitamin levels…

We all know that we are supposed to have our daily vitamins but I have to admit I spent most of my life not putting as much thought into it as maybe I should have. I eat pretty healthy, lots of vegetables and fruit. I know I have to push myself to eat red meat and leafy vegetables from time to time to make sure I’m getting enough iron but other than that I wasn’t as responsible as I could have been about taking daily vitamins…I had them in my cabinet, which apparently doesn’t really count unless you take them. (Yeah I know, here I am a Wellness and Healthy Lifestyle Blogger admitting she wasn’t taking her vitamins…I never said I was perfect). 

I spent a few days working from home and taking naps in between meetings and office work to help keep my energy up while I waited for the test results. I found that the mini naps helped give me bursts of energy so that I could get more done throughout the day – it just turned into a weird work schedule, in a way I guess my days were sort of longer those three days because I scattered work out. My doctor’s office called with my results that Wednesday: Good news, no Mono and no other virus. Bad News: it wasn’t going to go away on its own…turns out deficiency in just one vitamin can shake your whole world up. The typical range for a healthy level of Vitamin D is 50-100…my level was 10. Whew, what?!  Vitamin D deficiency is pretty common in the NorthEast Region because of our winters but I hadn’t realized I could feel this awful and it could get that low. I started taking 5000 units of Vitamin D a day, instructed to do so for a month to get my level boosted back up. These things take some time to build up though so this was going to be a little bit of a journey to feeling better again. Three weeks later I started feeling like my spunky self again. I added in a daily vitamin…let’s stop and note just for a moment that I really hate taking pills (thank goodness that 5000 Units Vitamin D supplement was a little guy) and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to taste (hey, we all have stubborn quirks!). I totally saw these vitamins for kids called ‘Smarty Pants’  that I was teasing saying I should get them for my son because he can be a smart butt. Well they have them for Women too – ‘Smarty Pants Women’s Complete Gummy Vitamin’ – so I picked them up. They are actually super tasty and the levels are good in them for me. (*Always check with your physician to see what’s best for you) . I feel like such a better version of me, well I feel like me again. My moral of the story: Vitamins do matter, like really, really matter! 

According to www.medicalnewstoday.com, Vitamin D is also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. Typically, we absorb Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, however this time of year our time outside is greatly reduced.

  1. For energy – from my experience if you are deficient in Vitamin D you can end up feeling super drained and exhausted.
  2. It is important for healthy bones. Vitamin D helps with the regulation of calcium and in maintaining healthy levels of phosphorus in the blood.
  3. It helps reduce the risk of catching the flu – which is super helpful during flu season!
  4. Good levels of Vitamin D help reduce muscle and bone pain.
  5. A deficiency can put you in a funk. You may be feeling kind of depressed or sad if you are low in Vitamin D.
  6. It promotes stronger, healthier teeth.
  7.  It increases your mental clarity and sharpness.
  8. Some studies show reduced amount of abdominal fat in people that were sufficient in Vitamin D. That sounds like a good perk to me!

So where do we get Vitamin D when we can’t get in the sunshine? I found this one a bit challenging to solve with changing my diet. Vitamin D is a tricky one to find in a lot of foods. My best advice is to talk to your doctor and pick up a supplement that is suited for you. Here are some foods that will also help (sorry, the list is a bit short).

  • Look for fortified dairy foods such as Vitamin D fortified yogurt, cheese, milk, cereal, etc.

  • Cod Liver Oil, if you dare…this one isn’t for me.

  • Egg Yolks

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna

  • Beef liver…another one that I don’t think is going to make it to my plate.

This week, I’ll down my dose some. Down to one 5000 Unit Vitamin D supplement a week and two (chewable, yay!) 400 units of Vitamin D a day. This little ‘adventure’ was eye-opening for me. We all know what we should be doing but putting it into action sometimes takes a little push, I got mine! 

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payments for leads/sales. For more information please reference my disclosure page.  
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13 Healthy Reasons To Eat Peaches

Why not celebrate this fuzzy, sweet fruit this month?

August is National Peach Month and for good reason with all the farmers markets bringing them to the table. This sweet fruit is more than just yummy to eat, it is packed with vitamins and nutrients to help you get going each day!

1.) High in fiber which aids in digestion and helps you stay full longer.

2.) Filled with antioxidants.

3.) High in phenolic and carotenoid compounds which help prevent cancer.

4.) High in vitamin C which helps maintain healthy skin.

5.) Also high in beta-carotene which helps improve eye health.

6.) Useful in pregnancy because they are packed with many essential vitamins and minerals.

7.) Contain magnesium which can help in managing stress and anxiety.

8.) Studies have shown that peaches have some anti-inflammatory properties.

9.) Peaches boost your immune system.

10.) Are a great source of zinc, which has anti-aging properties.

11.) Contain phosphorous which aids in strengthening bones and teeth.

12.) Peaches are great at detoxifying the body.

13. Are a good source of iron.

 

* Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional. These are healthy suggestions based solely on personal experiences, personal opinions, and light research. 

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Winning With Rheumatoid Arthritis – Overcoming My Fear Of Failure

Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I started my Fitbit too soon, I had to stop it. I was nervous. I was anxious. I was excited. One by one, clouds of emotions rolled over me. Here I was standing under an over cast sky on an early Saturday morning in June waiting for the announcer to yell, “Go!”. I stood still, holding my balance strong while being bumped around by runners rearing to take off just as much as I was. I was at the starting line of The Baltimore 10 Miler. Thoughts of doubt, thoughts of disbelief, and thoughts of pride circulated through my mind.

Twelve years ago I couldn’t have foreseen this race on my calendar. I wouldn’t have even entertained the idea of running a ten mile race. I had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age twenty. I cried when I learned of my diagnosis. All I could imagine in that moment was myself crippled and helpless by thirties. I found myself taking nine pills a day and a bi-weekly injection just to relieve the pain from the disease, spending my twenties in a mostly zombie state from the medications. I passed on activities with my friends and spent many of my days on the couch or in bed, too tired to even play with my son. I felt lifeless.

Four years ago, my life was shaken when I was let go from a very stressful and long job. I lost my healthcare benefits and was left unable to afford my medications. Though I didn’t realize it then, this was one of the best things that happened to me. This was an opportunity for a transformation. It was in those moments after that I woke up and realized it was now or never for a lifestyle change or I would wither away, drowned by the pain and the frustration of the disease.  I started practicing yoga twice a day. I gave up fast food and junk food and I started studying my disease. I started reading how to manage it organically. I taught myself how to eat better. I started using essential oil therapies. I meditated, and I learned my limits and how to schedule resting and recoup time into my weeks.

At the end of April of this year I committed to The Baltimore 10 Mile Race. I only had a few weeks to train. My mind was reminding me how tough this was going to be but in my heart I knew this was something I needed to do. I started running about two years ago but not consistently. I hadn’t run more than three miles prior to this. My training was slack and race day came upon me fast. I set a goal for myself to finish the race in two hours.

Standing at the start line I shook, this was really happening. The first mile was awesome. I knocked it out in ten minutes. I felt absolutely liberated. By mile five, I was hurting. This was a challenge, but I refused to give up. I was determined to finish. I told myself to let the fear and doubts go. I told myself that pain was temporary but conquering this was going to change me forever. I continued to push on, through mile six, seven and eight. I made it to mile nine and tears rolled down my cheeks. It all hit me at once. I was beating my disease, and I was beating my fear. Almost every muscle and joint ached. My knees and hips were stiff. Yet I pushed on still. This was it, one more mile…uphill.

The moment I crossed the finish line was so much more than I thought it would be. In all of my life, I had never pushed myself that hard physically. The thoughts racing through my mind were chaotic. I was so proud, so happy, so relieved. I finished in two hours, 10 minutes, and thirty-six seconds. This event was truly a life changer. In that last moment crossing the finish line was the moment I knew from the bottom of my soul that I had made the decision to not let anything stand in my way of the life I wanted.

 

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How Yoga Changed My Life

I awoke that morning filled with energy. I climbed out of bed without the aches and pains I had felt so many mornings before. I could stretch my arms above my head without feeling sharpness in my neck, standing tall without the soreness in my knees. I stood in front of my closet that morning trying to find something to wear, none of my clothes fit……they were too big.

Two years ago, I would wake up in pure pain all through out my body. Each day I started exhausted and filled with anxiety about the day ahead. Then I found myself without a job. The main stress driver in my life had been lifted off my shoulders. Without all of that in front of me I saw what I had become. I was 50 pounds heavier, worn out and my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia had stripped me of some many things in my life. That’s when I knew it was time. I had the chance to reinvent my life, my body and how I chose to feel every day.

I had bought a yoga mat a several years back and it sat stored on the top shelf in my closet, still in the wrapping. I started doing yoga at home twice a day, in the morning and in the evening before bed. I started with just 10 minutes a day using a Yoga app I found and downloaded to my phone. A month later I attended my first class at a yoga studio. I was amazed I could do tree pose without completely falling over, though I still wobbled (and still do today). Six months later, I was down 40 pounds and off the pills and injections for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I found myself filled with more energy and happier. I had a thirst for life and adventure again.

Today I’m two and a half years into Yoga, still learning, still growing, still consider myself a newer yogi. I have fallen in and out of daily routine and each time I tell myself the story of how Yoga changed my life to remind myself why I practice.

Photo Credit: Anthony Machcinski. Check out more of his work here – Photos by Anthony Machcinski. His work is beautiful and each photo has a story behind it.