Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Going Gluten-Free and a New Recipe

Usually my Saturday post-run ritual includes a scrumptious quinoa cookie from SoNo Baking Company. During that last mile I start to daydream and it’s the thought of that cookie that gets me up that final hill on South Maple Ave. Today however, that changed. It dawned on me that a gluten-free diet does NOT include my most favorite cookie.

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Allow me to back-track just a little: two weeks ago I had another debilitating migraine that lasted over 48 hours and almost kept me from missing a very important family event. I was left feeling defeated and disappointed: I missed time with family visiting town, canceled several yoga sessions, and had to sub out my Saturday morning class.

Here’s where gluten-free enters the picture: by chance I had several conversations at this family gathering with family members and long-time family friends about their experiences with a gluten-free diet. One in particular about how it transformed someone’s experiences with … debilitating migraines. It was then and there that I decided I would give it a try (after of course I indulged in a mini goat cheese tart) for one month.

Today is Day 11. I can’t say there are any noticeable effects on my migraines, it is too soon to tell. But I am willing to give this a shot, I am up for the challenge. And while I cannot indulge in my beloved quinoa cookies, there is plenty that I still CAN eat – like this easy and delicious roasted chicken legs recipe I found on foodandwine.com. Bonus: it also has kale!

Now to find a quinoa cookie gluten-free substitute. Any suggestions?

Roasted Chicken Legs with Potatoes and Kale

  • 1 1/2 pounds tender, young kale, stems and inner ribs removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 whole chicken legs (about 10 ounces each)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
    1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a very large roasting pan, toss the kale, potatoes and onion with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer.
    2. Set the chicken on a cutting board, skin side down. Slice halfway through the joint between the drumsticks and thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the paprika and set on top of the vegetables.
    3. Cover the pan with foil. Roast the chicken in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the vegetables alongside. Serve with lemon wedges.
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Because none of us are perfect …

I’m going to share with you EXACTLY how I’m feeling today.

I have been bogged down with the overwhelming feeling of being … overwhelmed. Add to that a healthy dose of anxiety.

I feel like I am spread so thin. I don’t know if it’s because I actually AM spread thin, or if I need to work on getting even MORE organized. But I feel like I have a long list of to-do’s, a long list of people to catch up with and visit, and a relationship that I also want to make sure I devote enough attention to.

The funny thing is … I also want to work more. I want to teach and coach more and have more projects that are a labor of love.

I wrote down a to-do list of only the day’s tasks but what is heavily weighing on me is that I keep missing time with friends and family – whether it’s because of work or a migraine (this happened recently), I just feel like I am not doing enough and not being in enough places at once. I am overwhelmed with guilt. And I find myself in a place where I do not know how to create balance.

This drives me up the wall because I want to help others create balance. But let’s face it, I can’t always walk the talk, hard as I may try. One thing I am doing is taking action and doing something purely for myself to help manage the stress that I create.

Action Step One: I made an appointment for acu-pressure this afternoon because I know that always helps me calm down and see the world through clear eyes and a clearer mind.

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How to Like Your Body … a FREE workshop

Body Image is a hot topic today. It would be wonderful if we could wave a magic wand and love everything about ourselves, but even just starting to LIKE ourselves is a huge challenge. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process.

Yoga was a huge catalyst that allowed me to shift the way I looked at my body. I struggled with bulimia for several years in college and it was diving deep into a yoga practice that finally allowed for that shift to happen:

I remember looking at my thighs in one class. Those thighs I hated for so long — I used to look at my thighs when I would sit in a chair and feel so horrible about myself because of the way they splayed out and almost tripled (or so I thought) in size.  I forever wanted to transform them into tiny sticks and for the first time ever I said “WOW. Those are my amazing thighs! They do so much for me!”

It was at this point where I started to finally accept myself, little by little, and respect myself so much so that I opened doors for even more change to happen.

I want to share some of my story, some of my experience, and help you begin to like your body from the inside out. I hope you will consider joining me for this free workshop on June 30th from 5:00-6:30pm. We will meet at M3Yoga Studio, 44 Main St., Westport, CT.

Please RSVP for your free tickets by clicking here. For those who cannot attend but are interested in learning more about the work that I do, please email me at maggie.converse@gmail.com

With Love,
Maggie

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Apparently I haven’t made myself clear … Yoga Saved Me

I was at dinner a few weeks ago with Brett and some friends. We were having a great time, laughing and joking around about … eating disorders. To be absolutely specific, it was about making yourself throw up and that transitioned to eating disorders.

I guess, thank god, I am finally at a point in my life where sometimes, SOMETIMES, I can step back and poke fun of my former self and the way that I used to operate. The harsh reality is that when you are dealing with an eating disorder, the disorder itself is not so funny, and life becomes less funny because you are constantly criticizing yourself.

treestluciaBut I digress … as the conversation started to get a little more personal, my friend paused and then asked me, “Maggie how did you get over all your stuff?” In this case “stuff” was keyword for “bulimia.”

“Yoga,” I replied.

“What? Brett?” my friend asked, misunderstanding my mumbled answer amidst the chaotic restaurant.

“No, I got over all my stuff because of my yoga practice,” I replied, a little bit louder now.

Thinking to myself, isn’t it obvious? Doesn’t everybody know that? But clearly that is not the case because I have never truly shared my full story, except for with a select few.

I’m still building up the confidence to really let it all out but even saying it at the dinner table that night, where two people who were not privy to my triumph over an eating disorder with yoga, made me flush with pride.

So this is me starting to open myself up and share my story with you. Finally.

 

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Work/Life/Play Balance: The never-ending saga

I love this quote so much and wish we could all (myself included) really take these words to heart and remember to PLAY more.

The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression. Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job. Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.
- Dr. Stuart Brown featured in Brené Brown‘s The Gifts of Imperfection

I’m going to make a conscious effort this summer to PLAY more. Who’s with me? How will you play?

Vacation with a dear friend means Play!

Vacation with a dear friend means Play!

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Treat YoSelf! Night at NY Running Co.

Ladies … whether you are running the Brooklyn Half this weekend or not, I hope you will come join me for a special event at NY Running Company East. This is especially exciting because it will be my first official event as a Lole Women Ambassador!

 

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Migraines, Congruency, and When to Say No

congruencyEver since I was little I remember getting migraines. My first memories of them include lying on the Middle School auditorium floor, covering my eyes with my sweater, or my mother squeezing the tender spot on my right hand.

Fast forward to being 30 and I still get migraines. They go in waves of severity but currently they seem to be terrible, awful, and no good. Without going into too much detail, they leave me lying in bed (or on the couch) holding my head to try to manage the pain, making frequent trips to the bathroom because I cannot keep anything down.

I had a migraine just a few days ago. It came on Thursday night and finally started to subside Saturday evening. From the moment I woke up on Friday I knew exactly what was in store. I collected my pillow, most cozy blanket, and put on my most comforting yoga pants and headed to the couch where I would lie for hours in and out of sleep, switching ice packs every hour or so.

As the migraine worsened I started canceling obligations: work and social. I started thinking of what I was missing out on – the professional opportunities, the date I had planned with my boyfriend, the haircut, a day spent in sunshine. As Saturday approached, I started thinking about my time and the way that I spend it.

For all I know migraines are not life threatening. They are however very debilitating and affect my quality of life. They also reaffirm the idea of congruency, what is important, and what it is that gets me out of bed in the morning. Or, when suffering from a migraine, what is it that I miss doing the most?

And finally, these migraines are starting to shed light on the fact that I, like so many people today, have the tendency to say yes far too often and spread myself way too thin.

So why write about it in a blog post? I want to be completely transparent and use this as a commitment to my intention to say no with the confidence that I will not be missing out, especially when it is congruent with what I want. I’m starting to see that when we honor what it is that we truly want, we also start to learn more about the meaning of self-love.

“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small.  My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” 
- Kim McMillen

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Don’t just “treat yoself” … Love yoself!

It’s #TreatYourselfTuesday and in honor of that I wanted to reflect on this whole idea of “loving ourselves.”

What does it really mean to you? I feel like I definitely get off the “I love myself” track sometimes, and so often because I start to care too much about the approval of others.

But when I start to let that go, things really start to shift.

I think Melody Beattie says it beautifully…

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I’ll take my abs just as they are thank you

I started taking a new exercise class lately to add some variety to my routine. I want to start by saying that I have loved how strong these classes make me feel – they focus on small isolated movements to strengthen various muscle groups throughout the body. I feel the difference in my yoga practice, when I run, and even when I’m sitting at my desk and writing.

ImageIt has come to my attention however that these classes focus a great deal on the physical “end result” – or the way that your body will look upon completion of an exercise. Do you get my drift? I’m probably far more sensitive to these verbal cues in class because this is something I base my work on (body image, and a healthy one at that) but I can’t help but wonder if these cues are actually helpful to the other women in the class, or further causing them to only dislike their bodies. Causing more self criticism. I’m usually able to just block out these little cues throughout class.

And then last week something pretty darn cool happened.

During the abdominal series the instructor cued us to visualize the way we want our abs to look when we are done. Here’s what happened …

I laughed to myself, feeling totally full of certainty that I like, no, I LOVE my abs just the way they are. I was filled with this warm fuzzy feeling (yup, warm and fuzzy) and excitement that I had arrived. I had arrived at a place of starting to truly love the things about my body that I had once hated and punished myself for. And as the music blasted and we kept crunching our abs, it felt like I had the most wonderful secret sitting deep within me.

So what does this mean?

Well, allow me to preface this with the fact that my “abs” have, for as long as I can remember (or since I was age six), been a “problem area” for me. My stomach has, and probably never will be, flat, defined, akin to a washboard – you get the picture. There never will be a six-pack but my stomach is soft and it is strong. It helps me get into handstands, sit up straight, hold my torso up straight while running, and breath deeply.Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 1.26.40 PM

I’m almost certain this “ah-ha moment” is a clear indication of moving a step in the right direction. It is proof that the work of training myself out of the negative self-talk actually works. I wasn’t even trying to think positively during this class and I’m certain I will still have those low “my body isn’t good enough!”, moments. But the consistent effort of redirecting my attention AWAY from those thoughts is finally starting to work so that I am able to see my imperfections as part of a beautifully imperfect whole.

I leave you with this: I encourage you to start by simply giving yourself the opportunity to see your imperfections in a new light — even if it feels silly. Slowly start to accept them as part of what makes you beautifully imperfect.

 

 

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Moving Away from Negative Self-Talk (and toward LOVE)

How often are we judgmental toward ourselves? We can be hard on ourselves about a great number of things. One thing we are particularly consistent at being judgmental about is our appearance. I think most everyone can relate in some capacity and what I’d like to share is how I move away from the negative self-talk.benice

The self-loathing includes but is not limited to hating our skin, hating the size of our feet, the fat around our belly, or the cellulite in our thighs. This applies to everyone – all shapes and sizes. To some degree, we are all familiar with negative body image, and verbally beating ourselves up.

The thing that gets me the most is that while getting lost in this verbal attack on myself, I start to feel physically ill.  My body temperature rises, nausea sets in, maybe even a headache. And how often do we try to fix this with a bowl of cereal, a hershey kiss, or an extra diet soda? How often do we turn to food for comfort, as if any of this will magically make all of our imperfections disappear? Or at the very least we try to distract ourselves for the 30 seconds it takes to devour that chocolate kiss.

I have battled with this for years. However, after years of practice, I’m much better at putting my internal bullies to rest. Trust me, I know what it feels like – when your mind really goes for a ride, telling yourself things you wouldn’t DREAM of saying to anyone else. So, how do we stop it?

Let’s compare the obsessive negative self-talk result of feeling physically low to when I get a migraine. Neither one feels good and yet I am very familiar with both. With migraines I know that there are things I need to avoid such as eating tomato sauce and doing too many chatturangas in yoga. I choose to avoid these things because I know the ramifications are just terrible. The same thing happens with this negative self-talk. I will start to go down the road of putting myself down, whether it be in the swimming pool, in front of a mirror, or even out to dinner. However I know that if I stay on this road and keep bashing myself, I’m going to feel terrible both mentally AND physically. I want to avoid this result so I have trained myself to turn around and run away from the negativity.  In order to do this I picture I am stopping myself in my tracks, IMMEDIATELY. Imagine you are running to catch a bus, and all of a sudden you realize you forgot your wallet at home and have to stop short immediately. What do you do? You turn around … and run in the other direction!

Run in the other direction

Run in the other direction

I remind myself of how horrible it feels to go down that path of self-criticism. In order to “turn in the other direction”, I will say positive affirmations to myself. This can feel corny and really challenging at first but, the more I do it (ex: “You are strong and stunning!” or “I am enough”) the easier it becomes. It is like training a muscle: everything shakes and hurts at first but the more you strengthen it, the more work it can do.

This may sound simple, so much so that you are thinking “it’ll never work.” And trust me, there are multiple practices I use to combat these internal bullies. But give it a try and start to train yourself out of that path of self-doubt and run toward love.

How do YOU deal with negative self-talk? Do you have any strategies you call upon? If so, I’d love to hear them! Please email, leave a comment on FB, or my blog.

 

 

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