Saturday, January 23, 2010

namaskaara (Good Morning!)

This morning I decided to look into the language of yoga - sanskrit - to learn more about the beautiful words that are used to describe some of my favorite poses, like Virabhadrasana (Warrior), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), and Vrksasana (Tree Pose). Anyway, sometimes just saying the words immediately calms me to that yogi-state.

Could you tell I took an ACTUAL yoga class this week? I finally took advantage of Harvard's super cheapie gym membership rates and met some ladies for a Friday afternoon power yoga session. Our instructor was quite wonderful and my previous public mat-posing fears were finally overcome. Friday afternoons will soon become my restorative, happy-place time, especially as skool starts up again and I find myself holed up in a dark corner of Gutman library, gettin' my
Hackman on.

So this morning, as I faced the ginormous mess that is my dining room (thanx 2 a newly renovated back room, all of our doodads and trinkets are now dispersed ever so non-carefully around the dining room table), I took a deep breath, a sip of coffee, and listened to the chanting (kirtan) of
Krishna Das. The combination of a little tiny bit of organizing your personal space (like making your bed? I SWEAR I will do that more this year), a good cup of coffee, and really, really good music is sometimes just the best way to start your day. My newest happy-place music happens to be chanting (it's not as goofy as you think, check out "Hara Hara Mahadev"), but yours could be whatever gets your blood flowing.

Tapping into the simple power of music is one of my absolute fave ways to be well, simply! What are YOUR favorite tunes to invigorate with, drive to, run to, or start/end your day with?

Be Well,


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Supa Soup! (Snoop a Loop?)

Happy Tuesday!

I'm finally just starting to get back into the swing of things for the second semester, which means no more AM yoga at 11am, Today Show marathons (so long, Ann Curry), or borrowing my friend's treadmill for a 2pm run on a Wednesday. It feels nice to have more of an actual schedule, though - hopefully that means fitting in an actual training plan for this 1/2 marathon I'm supposedly running in April. Ohhh, goals. So easy to set, yet so hard to fulfill when you can watch EVERY SINGLE episode of LOST online.

But I'm excited!! New running shoes coming in the mail soon, and warmer weather on its way *fingers crossed*. Until then, New England will probably be graced with pretty fat white snowflakes that quickly turn to slippery slush, that then require a "galoshes only" rule for outdoor adventures. What a great opportunity to cook up some hot, healthy, and hearty homemade soup! Today I had a few hours between class shopping to come home and cook Ross & I an early lunch. The soup I made was SO easy and really quite divine. And I have to admit, I've had soup on the brain ever since! If you think about it, the options are literally quite limitless: vegan, spicy, chock-full-of-vegetablesy, proteiny, you name it. And... you can bring it to work/school in a cute thermos the next day! Hooray!

So I will make it my end-of-winter quest to come up with some adventurous, delicious, and SIMPLE Supa Soup Snoop a Loop recipes to share. Get at me if you have a fave of your own. And bring your green hat!

Chicken Apple Sausage Soup
adapted from

Pasta of your choice (preferably whole-wheat)
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
Veggies of your choice, frozen or fresh (try lima beans, carrots, peas, spinach...)
6 ounces of organic low-fat chicken-apple sausage (about 2 links), cut up
2 handfuls of chopped fresh basil
Freshly baked cornbread (optional)*

Drop It Like Its Hot (Soup)
Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions
Drain pasta and let sit in colander
In the same saucepan you used to cook the pasta, simmer the broth over medium heat
Add veggies - if frozen, cook for 5 minutes
Add sausage and pasta, cook until heated through
Remove from heat, stir in basil

Serve immediately or transfer to an adorable thermos for lunch that day! Try some grated Parmesan on top after you've re-heated.

*I love cornbread, so I baked up some muffins by totally cheating and using a mix. But finding a great from scratch recipe would be totally worth it! Like this healthy version.

Bon Appetit!

And please please PLEEZ share your fave soup du jour...
à bientôt!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


So now I have an irrational fear that I am allergic to any of the following: quinoa, spinach, feta cheese (see previous post). I think it might actually have a lot more to do with my failure to follow my brand-new, strict rule for 2010: Never allow bagged spinach to sit in your fridge for more than three days, and do not mix it into the medly of "Empty Fridge Dins" ever, ever again. When in doubt, throw it out! (And be sure your fridge stays below 40 degrees at all times. Another trick learned from my Today Show addiction). Needless to say, I was bed-bound for a bit there, but no fear - she's back!

And by "back", I mean slowly sipping tea in the back room, curled up in the one little splash of sunlight that's made it's way onto my futon, warming my vitamin-D deficient body. As an aside, I have finally bought into the fact that as Northerners, we need to supplement vitamin-D into our bods since our exposure to sunlight is so limited. Future post for sure!

Speaking of rebounds, came up with some interesting (and allegedly simple) tips to get yourself in gear for the new year. A few stood out as NYAJ's faves...

...Like shaking out the 2009 dust bunnies in da house:
"2. A CHANGE OF SCENERY: One of the easiest and most inexpensive projects for reinvigorating your surroundings is rearranging the furniture. David Bromstad of HGTV’s “Color Splash’’ says to take another crack at your living room or bedroom with a different setup. The rule of thumb is that the biggest pieces of furniture should sit along the largest walls. If your inner Todd Oldham needs expressing, try floating the sofa away from the wall.

...Or find yourself giving complete strangers high-fives on the street. (Or a little smile. Can't hurt. And it gives warm fuzzies):
"5. INSTANT STRESS REDUCTION: G Spa tailors its services around busy people who only have a few minutes (and dollars) for a spot of quick indulgence. Its menu of massages are cheaper than a couple of cocktails at the W, and you can target your trouble spots of choice. Options include Head Rush (scalp/neck/shoulders) and the Shopaholic (feet/ankles/calves). The massage is $25. 35 Newbury St., 617-267-4772,

13. GET AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT. If you want to make yourself a more valuable employee, start by being more positive. “Complainers and naysayers are tiring,’’ says Varelas, of Keystone Associates. Better yet, think about ways to improve your company, instead of pointing out flaws. “When you see a problem, present a solution - or a number of solutions.’’

...And then (if more than 12 minutes of fresh air brings risk of frostbite), get all endorphined-up while catching up on LOST!
"15. GYM-LESS WORKOUT: Instead of lounging in the TV room, local trainer and Beantown Bootcamp owner John Wayman suggests a few simple exercises to keep yourself active while watching “Beautician and the Beast.’’ He offers a series of eight exercises - four cardiovascular and four strength-building. Do each exercise for one minute, then proceed to the next. (See next four items.)

See all 20 tips here, thanks to

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Empty Fridge Dins

So after my revitalizing Exercise TV Pilates workout tonight, I was sta-haaarving. For realz. Of course, I managed to do everything BUT grocery shop this weekend. Luckily, I was ready to try my hand at the infamous "Empty Fridge Dins": finding just a few, random ingredients I still had kickin' around to somehow create a fulfilling, healthy yumfest.

Luckily, I had some pretty good-for-me stuffs to work with, which gave me lesson #1: stocking up on veggies, whole grains, and proteins like beans or veggie burgers when you DO have time to shop is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, I live in New England, which means zero access to fresh produce via farmers markets in January, but this is what I DID have to work with:

From the fridge:
Bag of spinach

Kickin' around in the cupboard:
Leftover Great Northern Beans (from some AMAZING Quinoa Burgers I made last week)

Whole-wheat pita bread (toasted, for a little sustenance on the side)
Greek dressing* (see note below)

And I pretty much just threw it together in bowl. I rinsed and "quick soaked" the beans while I got my pilates on and prepared the other ingredients (it takes a little less than an hour - just boil them in some water, then cover and let sit). Now that the salad is sitting my belly, I kind of wish I had replaced the beans with chickpeas - but let's be honest. This chick(pea) hasn't purchased an actual chickpea in her life. Not yet, at least... it's only my third post!

The quinoa (which is actually a seed, who knew?) is just SO good for you and is really easy to prepare. I've just started learning all the fun uses for it - it did taste a little "eh" plopped on top of a salad though, so stay tuned for other ways to incorporate this wonder food into your mealsies.

*Ooohh and the dressing. Sigh. I bought a bottle of Ken's Greek Dressing eons ago and felt just shameful putting it to waste... otherwise, I would have cheerily made a homemade, simple dressing for this salad: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, and maybe a little mustard. Yum! And you just need a teensy bit to coat your greens.

Yumfest indeed.


PS- Ok I confess. I usually have a hard time having ONLY salad, no matter how big & tasty, for a meal. So I grilled up an Amy's Texas Veggie Burger (wicked awesome if you throw some red onion in the pan with it and top with cheddar and some bbq sauce) to get that "yes I am full" feeling. Ohh and it worked.

PPS- I also completely burned the bottom layer of quinoa while getting sucked into The Biggest Loser, which made the house smell like... well, really burnt quinoa. And I didn't even get Jillian Michaels' "answer after the break" health quiz correct: "Does snacking in between meals inhibit weight loss?" (Hint: It does. Darn!)

2010 Y'all

Illustration by Jim Stoten (

I once shunned NYE rezzies, a bit appalled by the commercialization of wellness "tips" that cost mucho benjamins but usually fizzle out by Valentine’s Day. I should probably mention here how much I despise those Bally’s commercials featuring swimsuit models and tanned, buff (sometimes headless!?) bods with those little fake beads of sweat pumping iron in unison in little leotards. But I digress.

But it is a new decade, after all, and I think it’s time for Not Your Average Jane to jump on that oh-ten happiness train. This actual blog was inspired by one run on a friend’s treadmill; so I’m all for some simple action steps to feel WELL – Simply! Personally, one of these simple steps is (admittedly) plugged into my cable box. I’m one of those Janes who loves to slip on some super comf yoga pants but never really feels like opening my front door to the frigid New England air in order for my little muscles to shake (even in down-dog) in front of a class of buff Harvard ladeez. So, enter Exercise TV Fitness On-Demand. This is not a joke. Meghan Townsend’s “AM Yoga” is literally 15(!) minutes of stretching, breathing, a little sweating, and oodles and oodles of happiness. My favorite part is Meghan’s cheerful “Good Morning!” as my kitties purr around my feet in my own living room. If you’re beach-bod training already (yowza), Jillian Michael’s “trouble zone” work-out is. really. hard. And amazing. I love her. More on my girl-crush on JM in later posts, I’m sure.

But if you were like me this morning and skipped the On-Demand button (for a pj kitten cuddle party, perhaps?) to get your daily Today Show/Ann Curry fix, then you've probably heard of the NY Mag feature, “50 Simple Steps to Happiness”. Even if you’re not an NYC lady, some of these tips are just SO exhilaratingly basic that I just could not help but share. A few of my favorites… (read all 50 ways here)

2. “Make your bed. Go figure, but outer order contributes to inner calm. Especially if you’re living in a small space—but even if you’re living in a gigantic loft. Start each day with a concrete, albeit tiny (and therefore manageable!), accomplishment.” —Gretchen Rubin, Author, The Happiness Project

4. “Leave your mouth in that slightly upturned position it takes after saying ‘Cheez Whiz.’ It’s a relaxed, confident look that will convince other people you know what you’re doing.” —Debra Benton, Executive Coach

8. “Never show up for drinks on an empty stomach, or for that matter let yourself get so hungry you’ll eat street meat.” —Kristin Mcgee, Pilates and Yoga Instructor

33.“Start an old-fashioned correspondence with a friend. Handwriting a letter forces you to express yourself in a totally different way.” —Jonathan Arnold,General Manager, Dempsey & Carroll Stationery Engravers

44. “Think like a shark, act like a 5-year-old. Our bodies are meant to be in motion. Don’t stay in the same position for more than 30 minutes at a time.” —Dr. Jeffrey Gross, Rehabilitation Medicine, NYU School Of Medicine

49. “Pause. Allow your neck to relax, your nose to slowly lower, and the crown of your head to rise. Release your whole spine into length. Notice extra tension and release it. Breathe fully and slowly; smile. Begin your morning with this, end with it, use it as many times during the day as possible.” —Mark Josefsberg, Alexander Technique Teacher

Read more: 50 Steps to Simple Happiness -- New York Magazine


Not Your Average Jane

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Simple girl, simple wish – to Be Well. Simply.

Welcome to 2010, and the first installment of Be Well. Simply.

I'm Not Your Average Jane. I’m a full-time person: Student, professional, girlfriend, roommate, friend, sister. My day is filled with 24 hours of competing identities, challenges, triumphs, with hardly any time to commit to any regimented exercise program, carefully planned diets, or even a gym membership. I’m no expert on wellness, exercise, or nutrition by any means, but I think an awful lot about what works for me on my silly, hectic schedule. I learn something new every day about just being well, simply. Fifteen minutes of yoga to stretch and wake up in the morning. A good green tea when I need a reboot. An impromptu dance party with good friends. And most importantly – community. The sharing between fellow women adds a whole other dimension to “wellness”: expanding a network of recipe-finding, 10k-training, adventure-seeking, yoga pant-loving, green, friendly fellow women who find ways every day to be well. Simply.

So, here we are.