6 Yoga Bag Essentials

Recently I've been getting back to practicing yoga. I've tried many fitness routines along the years and yoga has always been the workout I gravitate and come back to. 

The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body. Yoga’s focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good, too.

Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates.

Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Miami Beach Yoga

Whenever I get the chance, I love to wake up early and head to the beach to practice my hour long yoga and meditation session. Not only do I get to take in a breathtaking sunrise, but the weather is absolutely perfect. Not too hot with a light refreshing breeze.

Miami Beach
Miami Beach Yoga

I make sure my yogi bag is minimalistic and simple, with just a few essentials to make my practice as mindful as possible.

Miami Beach Yoga
Yoga Bag Essentials

My 6 Yoga Bag Essentials:

1) Water: Proper hydration is key! I prefer to take a cold small bottle of water but coconut water is also a nice option. Whichever beverage you prefer, make sure you have plenty of fluids available during and after your workout.

2) Hair Ties: This is a necessity! I sometimes see girls working out with their long flowy hair and they always look like a fitness ad model. I'm not one of those girls! I never wear makeup and my hair is always up in a ponytail or braid. The last thing I want is my hair in my face when working out. I carry at least 2 hair ties with me- just in case I lose one.

3) Small Towel: If you're anything like me, you tend to sweat during yoga. I like to keep a small towel beside me to keep dry. You can also use the towel for extra head cushion when you're laying down on your yoga mat.

4) Dry Shampoo: I only wash my hair twice a week in order to keep it shiny and healthy. Dry shampoo has been my go-to beauty essential in keeping my hair fresh during the day. No need to wash your hair and strip it from it's natural oils if you don't have to.

5) Healthy Snack: A snack is always a must when I workout (or whenever I step foot outside my house). I prefer something light but that will fuel my body after my yoga session, such as a heathy organic power bar but a granola bar, almonds or popcorn are also great choices. 

6) Cleansing Cloths: The Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture cleansing cloths are perfect when I'm on the move and want to feel fresh. They are designed to clean better, so you’re clean & confident enough to go commando! The small package is the perfect size to carry in my yoga bag and the innovation on all Cottonelle® toilet paper and flushable cleansing cloths are designed to keep you clean so you can feel confident enough to achieve your fitness goals!

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.Thank you Cottonelle® for sponsoring this post.


Lunch with Chipotle at Lake Meadows Naturals Farm

I was recenlty invited by Chipotle to have lunch with their marketing and management team at Lake Meadows Naturals Farm located in Ocoee, Florida.

Even though I live only 20 minutes away from the farm, I didn't know of its existence. Thankfully, after having the opportunity of touring their facility, I'll definitely be paying them a visit from now on.

Lake Meadows Naturals is a local farm that sells cage free chicken and duck eggs, grass fed beef and goat, Berkshire pork, honey, and fresh herbs. Everything is clean and organic, which is the main reason Chipotle gets most of their fresh ingredients for their Florida locations from there.

Lake Meadows Natural's mission is to supply the area with great tasting and high quality food, while at the same time educating their customers along the way.

Their mission is perfectly aligned with Chipotle's "Food with Integrity" motto.

Did you know that Chipotle is the first and only fast food chain to ban GMOs from their menu?

"This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle, told the New York Times. “Just because food is served fast doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors.”

It's always nice to discover new places, especially a great find like Lake Meadow Naturals, that supports Chipotle's movement.

The owner of the farm, Dale, gave us a private tour around his property and explained to us in great detail everything that goes on in the farm.

We started off the tour by getting up close and personal with these little guys.

How cute is that face??

After falling in love with the baby chicks, we went inside the incubator room to see the baby turkeys.

A little baby turkey hatched while we were there!

After they're born, Farmer Dale puts them in the incubator to keep them warm.

We later entered the quality control/packaging room.

The eggs are placed on a conveyer belt that is lit up in order to see if the eggs have any imperfections. If they pass the test, they are washed and ready to be packaged. You can purchase these eggs in their farm market store.

Now came the fun part.

Picking our own eggs!

Mission accomplished!

It was harder than it looked but I successfully picked my dozen eggs.

If you're up for the challenge, you can pick your own every Saturday.

Before leaving the coop, I had to take a picture with my new friends.

Now onto the rest of the tour.

First time trying a mulberry.

Look at that smile!

Farmer Dale offered us fresh green beans straight from his garden.

How gorgeous is his house!!

Gorgeous views of his land from every angle.

Farmer Dale was nice enough to have us in his home for our delicious lunch sponsored by Chipotle.

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Chef Tonda Corrente from La Femme Du Fromage prepared our meal.

The peach cobbler was pure perfection!

A perfect ending to the day.

Make sure when you visit Lake Meadows Naturals, you stop by their farm market store. It's filled with fresh produce, assortment of cheeses and plenty more!

After attending two events sponsored by Chipotle, I think it's safe to say I'm BFF's with them.

Well, the official term is "brand ambassador" but same thing right?

Huge thank you to Chipotle for including me in this lunch event and a special thank you to Farmer Dale for his generous hospitality.

Can't wait to whip up something delicious with the eggs I picked out!


Buddha Teas

Buddha Teas Home Page

As an avid tea drinker, I always love experimenting and trying out new flavors. My preference always seems to go with the light soothing teas.

I particularly enjoy green tea the most. It's my favorite! 

When possible, I try to swap out drinking cold drinks during lunch, for warm green tea instead. Drinking something warm after your meal helps with digestion and has many great health benefits.

I recently discovered Buddha Teas when they sent a couple of their teas to sample.

I love how they pride themselves on presenting their customers with a wide variety of pure herbal teas and tea blends that are packaged in bleach free tea bags with no extra ingredients, so that you'll be getting the most out of every cup of tea. 

With Buddha Teas you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised by the pure quality of tea you'll be receiving.

I received their Saffron & Green Tea and Solar Plexus Chakra blend.

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Saffron & Green Tea: The combination of saffron and green tea provides more than a sensational tea blend. Put together, these two natural ingredients provide an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Saffron is a natural source of riboflavin and folic acid, along with protein, essential fatty acids and crude fiber. Green tea is well known for offering countless nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron and manganese. It is also a natural source of alkaloids, amino acids, flavonoids, and its primary catechin, EGCG. Naturally, this tea also offers a variety of antioxidants.

Solar Plexus Chakra: The solar plexus chakra, known as manipura, is the center of our emotional being. This chakra affects the will, self-control and perception of one’s self. It is located above the navel, and is represented by the color yellow. When balanced, the solar plexus chakra helps to ease frustration and tension, calm feelings of anger and improve natural intuition. Meditation on this chakra focuses upon the phrase “I do”.

I actually combined both teas together for an infusion blend and loved it! I found that it added another dimension to the flavor.

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting back and enjoying a nice cup of tea.

Buddha Teas has a good variety selection, such as green, black, herbal, speciality, premium, and chakras teas.

The newest addition to their product line, is the Chakra Tea blends- which infuses herbs with Crystal Energy to balance the 7 chakras.

Not only did I enjoy the teas, but I loved their website as well. It's filled with useful information about their products, as well as tips and advice for living a healthier and mindful lifestyle.

The Comparison Game On Social Media

The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is to reach for my cellphone. (Don't we all?)

Facebook and Instagram gets checked even before getting out of bed. You would think checking the time, weather or email would be better choices, but no, social media trumps them all. At this point, it has become an automatic unconscious routine for me (I know, I'm working on this, don't worry).

Where else can you catch up on the most current events, get the latest celebrity news, find new recipes or fashion ideas, read motivational quotes or see what your friends are up to, all at once?

Social media has revolutionized our way of living and is a great outlet for people to express themselves and find inspiration. Whether you treat it like a hobby, an obsession (for many), or even how you do business, social media has many great benefits.

However, it can also have the total opposite effect and can often lead to jealousy and comparing yourself to others- which are the two quickest ways to kill your ambition, motivation, and make yourself feel bad about yourself.

comparison

You know that feeling you get when someone posts about the new project they're launching, that exotic trip they're taking or that trendy new restaurant they're eating in? That feeling of, "They're doing something really cool and I'm not!" That worry of not being as far along as you want to be or the notion that everyone else is ahead of you in that imaginary race that only exist in your mind. All these comparisons strip away from your happiness and only feeds into this social media fantasyland.

Because that's what social media really is. Fantasy.

People filter what they choose to show. For the most part, it's the end result, never the means on how it was achieved, that gets shown.

highlightreel

Even the most confident person falls into the comparison game every once in a while. I do it too. It's natural for us to want and lust over the things we don't have.

So how do we stop these feelings from occurring?

1) Don't Compare Your Beginning to Someone Else's Middle: I have to constantly keep reminding myself of this. I'm in my own journey and at my own pace. An area where I struggle with, is with this whole blogging world. It's easy to get caught up with other bloggers and compare myself with them. They're prettier than me, have better content, a nice fancy camera, have connections, etc. I have to stop and realize that all these successful bloggers have been doing this for years. I just started eight months ago. There's no way I could even begin to put myself in that same category. To be successful takes time and hard work- it's not going to happen overnight. All I can do is keep focusing on myself and the rest will come.

2) Look In The Mirror, That's Your Competition: You know that saying, "The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday"- well, it couldn't be anymore truer. We often waste our time obsessing on what other people are doing that we lose focus on bettering ourselves and achieving our goals. We need to stay focused on what's in front of us instead of checking on everyone else. They're not looking at you and worrying about what you're doing, they're moving ahead. You don't gain anything from comparing yourself and you might even throw yourself off track by doing so. It's self-sabotage and not worth it. Remember, "Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners".

3) Enjoy Your Own Life Without Comparing It With That Of Another: In order to achieve more in life, you have to appreciate what is in front of you. One of my favorite Oprah quotes is, "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough". Give yourself the credit you deserve and keep moving forward. Instead of viewing other people as competition and being envious of their life, view them as motivation. If this person could do it, so can you! The fact that they accomplished or attained something that you want, just means it's possible. No one is born with super hero powers or a bigger brain. It all just comes down to how bad you want it. That's it.

4) The Better You Feel About Yourself, The Less You Feel The Need To Show Off: One of the greatest things about social media is that you get the chance to post the fun and exciting things happening in your life. But sometimes the portrayal is not accurate. I used to have a friend that was all about her social media appearance. We couldn't even enjoy a nice simple girl's night in without having to worry about posing for a picture so she could share it on Facebook. She had to constantly post and stage her every move. Very misleading- I know for a fact that her life is not as exciting as she paints it out to be. But I guess that's the whole point? Trying to portray this perfect life- which we all know doesn't exist. We all go through our own struggles, insecurities and not so great days, but remember, those pictures will hardly ever get posted.

The quality of your life is determined by how much you enjoy and appreciate the people and things around you, not by how many followers or likes you receive. And to compare yourself with others that think so, is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

"Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside."

Vesak Day: Buddha's Birthday Celebration

Traditionally, Buddha's birthday is known as Vesak Day (Buddha's Birthday Celebration). It is the major Buddhist festival of the year, as it commemorates the birth, the enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), all in one day. It is usually observed  in the month of May, on the day of the full moon. This is when Buddha's mother is said to have given birth to him in a garden in the Himalayan foothills. This year it fell on May 13th- although it sometimes varies in different Asian countries.

I was fortunate enough to have been invited to this year's ceremony at the Guang Ming Temple, located in Orlando.

Guang Ming Temple
Guang Ming Temple
Temple
Temple

I'd never been to an event like this before, so I was curious and excited to see how Buddhist celebrated Buddha's life.

Buddha
Buddha

I was first introduced to Buddhism last year, while researching about meditation. The more I read about it, the more it resonated with my personal beliefs. Since it sparked my interest, I decided to take Buddhism 101 classes at the temple, in order to learn and comprehend more about this practice.

It quickly opened my eyes and heart to a new way of thinking and observing my surroundings.

Buddhism is not necessarily a religion, but more a way of life. It's a practice and spiritual development that  leads you to a path of happiness through the awareness of your actions towards yourself and others.

The great thing about Buddhism, is that anybody can practice it.

Vesak Ceremony
Vesak Ceremony

The ceremony starts off by devout Buddhists and followers alike congregating at the temple before the procession begins. The day is filled with rituals and offerings.

Devotees bring simple gifts of flowers, joss sticks (incense) and candles, to lay at the feet of the spiritual teacher. This is done to remind us that, just as flowers wither and die, and joss sticks and candles burn away, so does life- its temporary.

"Everything in life is temporary. So if things are going good, enjoy it because it won't last forever. If things are going bad, don't worry, it can't last forever either."- Buddha

Offerings
Offerings
Buddha Offerings
Buddha Offerings

A display of a small image of the baby Prince Siddhartha in a small basin filled with water and decorated with flowers is used for the bathing offering.

Buddha Bath
Buddha Bath
Baby Buddha Bath
Baby Buddha Bath

The "Bathing of the Buddha" is an important part of the celebration. It is where water is poured over the shoulders of the Buddha and serves to remind fellow Buddhists to purify the mind from greed, lead noble lives and practice morality and kindness.

BathBuddha
BathBuddha
bathing

After the ceremony, everybody gathered outside to feast on vegetarian meals and to watch the live musical performance.

photo 4 - Copy (2)
photo 5 - Copy (2)
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What a nice way to end the day. But before leaving, you know I just had to sneak in a little meditation session.

Meditation
Meditation
photo 2

I had a great time discovering new traditions and experiencing first hand the celebration of Buddha's life. I look forward to attending next year as well.

The Life of Buddha
The Life of Buddha

Although there are about two Buddhist temples that are closer to my house, I prefer making the drive to this one. Everybody is always so welcoming and friendly. That is one of the many reasons why I love coming to the Guang Ming Temple- there is always an event or a class going on for the community.

If you're interested in learning how to implement Buddhism in your daily routine, click here to view an excerpt from the book, The Path to Happiness by Thubten Chodron. It provides a great guide on practicing Buddhism in your everyday life.

I love exploring and discovering new ways to bring happiness and peace into my life.

And I hope to always continue to do so.

"When you come upon a path that brings benefit and happiness to all, follow this course as the moon journeys through the stars."- Buddha.

I'm Back!!

As some of you may have noticed, I've been absent from Metanoia Living. No, I didn't grow tired of blogging or suddenly decide that it wasn't for me anymore- I just took some time off; a little break. Time to center my thoughts and get myself focused again.

The whole purpose of Metanoia Living is for me to share with you my journey of changing my mind, heart, self or way of life- which is what metanoia means. Pursuing my goal of self improvement. But the past few weeks, I felt as though I was stuck in a rut. For the lack of a better term, I was feeling blah!

How could I possibly write a Motivational Monday post, if I myself wasn't feeling motivated? What words of wisdom could I possibly share if I didn't believe in them? I lost motivation and interest for everything- school, nutrition, exercise, blogging... everything. Don't worry, I wasn't depressed. Far from it actually. Like I've mentioned before, I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'm normally a very optimistic person and rarely get down on myself, so it was out of the norm for me to feel this way.

I think a contributing factor was attending one of our friend's funeral a few weeks ago. Funerals always have a way of making me think about my life and what kind of legacy I'm leaving behind. If I were to die tomorrow, who would attend my funeral, what would be said about me, what would I be remembered for?

I know they're ridiculous questions, but you can't help but ponder about the answers.

So on top of being in that state of funk, I added the "does my life matter?" question to the equation- to make things worse (of course).

I let negative thoughts consume my mind. I was focusing on the wrong things and not giving myself the credit I deserved. Feeling unmotivated and wondering if your life has "meaning" is not a good combination. It's not healthy and it strips away from the validation that you are making a difference.

Luckily, yesterday I kind of just "snapped" and realized that it was silly and unnecessary for me to feel that way. Nothing productive or positive was going to come out of me being stuck in that state of mind.

So no more feeling BLAH!!

Time to get my life back on track and in order. Back to my daily routine, writing, and being my motivated self.

break
break

Little breaks (or maybe even mini break downs) can be a blessing in disguise. It could be a way for you to start over- to push the "reset button", and to reinforce the belief system in yourself.

So stay tuned- I'm back better than ever!

-Fiorella

The Most Precious Gift You Could Give To Someone

I've come to the realization that life is too short to be worrying about trivial things. There is so much beauty in being alive. In being able to appreciate the things around you. In the ability to create new memories. But above all, in the opportunity to spend time with the ones we love. "The trouble is, you think you have time"- Buddha

We are all on borrowed time. What you make of it defines you and the type of impact you'll have in a person's life. The most precious gift we could give to anyone is our love and attention. Being fully present in someone's life is absolutely priceless. Nothing compares to being there for someone and showing them how much you really care. We live in a world where we don't say it enough. Where we don't show it enough.

Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone, so always make sure you take the time to express your love and appreciation to the people close to you. Call your parents and tell them how much you value them. Take your significant other out for a romantic evening. Set up a lunch date with your girlfriends. Tell your friends how much they mean to you. Even the smallest of gestures can have a profound effect on someone.

feel
feel

Continue to cultivate and nurture the meaningful relationships you have in your life, for in the end, they truly are what matter.

6 Week Weight Loss Challenge: Week #4

When I started this challenge four weeks ago, I was extremely excited to have people join me in this weight loss journey. I figured it would be a good way to keep me motivated, while at the same time, helping people. I have to confess though, I kind of regret starting this challenge- but purely for selfish reasons though. Every time I want to excessively eat, I always have Tuesday's results post in the back of my mind. Oh, the stress!

I guess the whole accountability factor does really work. Which reinforces the notion that if you want to lose weight, you should consider having someone help you. I know it's difficult sharing your weight or your struggles, but trust me, making my journey public has been the best thing I could've done. I'm not saying you should go out and blog about it, but confiding in a friend does work. You need that encouragement and sense of pressure. Having a partner along the way will make a huge difference.

Like I said on my first challenge post, everything I write is based on my own experience and opinion. I share it, so it can possibly help you as well. My method is not the only or correct way to lose weight. But hopefully you find some value from these posts.

Ok, so after that mini novel, let's finally begin this week's results.

week 4
week 4
week4
week4

I'm torn with the results. On one hand, I'm extremely proud of myself for reaching 112 lbs. Around this time last year, I was weighing 112.2lbs, so finally surpassing that weight makes me very happy. On the other hand, I'm a bit disappointed in my body fat % increase and my muscle mass decrease. Not what I had hoped for, but there's really no point in getting down about it. Next week I'll just have to step up my working out regime and watch what I eat a bit more. Done!

Here are this week's tips:

heartrate
heartrate
heart rate monitor
heart rate monitor
  1. Use a heart rate monitor: I decided to take my heart rate monitor out of retirement. I bought it last year and probably used it for a month straight then stopped. But now it's back in business! This little bad boy is a great tool to view the calories burned and to monitor that you're staying within your fat burning zone. To calculate your zone/max heart rate, use the following formula: Based on those calculations, my range falls between 118-168. Last workout, I averaged a heart rate of 145, which is right in the middle. I use the Polar FT4 model. I can't rave enough about it. If you're in the market for a heart rate monitor, I highly recommend this one.
  2. portion-distortion
  3. Trick your mind: It's no surprise that we typically eat more than one single serving. The problem is that we eat with our eyes. To avoid overeating, I normally eat in smaller plates. That way my plate appears to be filled with more food than there really is. If you only have big plates, another great way to cut back on your portions, is to spread your food out. The picture below cleverly illustrates how our minds can trick us into eating more than we should. Remember, it's all about portion control, portion control, portion control! I can't stress this enough. You can kill yourself at the gym 7 days a week, but if you're not eating healthy and watching your portion size, you'll find it difficult to lose weight.
  4. workouts
  5. Sneak in quick work outs: We all get busy with work, family, school, and life in general, that sometimes it's hard to find the time (or motivation) to work out. But by making small adjustments to your everyday routine, it can, in the long run, yield positive results. I used to be the type of person that would only park in the first two spots of my destination. I didn't care if I had to wait 10 mins for it, I refused to park far away. Now, I intentionally park father away just to sneak in a few extra steps. I also opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. You'll be surprised on how much these minor changes can help with your weight loss.

This week I only have three tips to share. I didn't change my diet too much and the workouts pretty much stayed the same. I'm losing weight at a healthy and consistent rate, which I'm pleased about. Even though I've only lost 3 lbs and 3.5% body fat, I am starting to see and feel the results. Since I'm short (5'1), every little pound gained or lost, immediately shows.

jeans
jeans

I'm nowhere near my goal weight, but I've already seen an improvement in my tummy -which is my problem area- and in how my jeans fit. They don't feel as snug as before. A great indication that I'm actually losing weight.

These final two weeks, I'm going to push myself and really stay focused and dedicated. Hopefully by next Tuesday, I'll break the 110 mark.

It seems as though I've lost most of you during the second week of the challenge. (Don't worry, I'd be right there with you if it wasn't for having to post each week) But don't think you can't join or start back up again. You can always go back and read the previous challenge posts to get some tips and motivation. Remember, it's never too late!

year
year

Let's end these last couple of weeks strong and show ourselves that we can do it!