Tag Archives: health

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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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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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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Ironman vs. The Bulge (spoiler alert: Ironman wins)

How Ironman got me to move beyond some of my body image issues and start to see the bigger picture…

I don’t know how we got on the topic of body image but toward the end of a typical Monday night dinner at home, Brett and I started getting into a fairly emotional conversation about positive versus negative body image and having a healthy approach to fitness versus an unhealthy, shame-driven approach. I can’t blame him at all for not seeing my perspective from the beginning — I had not fully explained myself, nor had I provided any hard wired examples. Add to that the fact that Brett is a man who deals with completely different issues pertaining to physical appearance.

I had initially given him the example of a student in my class who expressed to me she hates the way her thighs look in downward dog – a story that was all too familiar both from my own experience and from those who have shared similar sentiments with me! I told Brett how it broke my heart to hear that because ultimately my goal as a yoga teacher is to help people see their bodies in a more positive light. I felt like I was not doing my job.

It wasn’t until he asked me in earnest “what’s wrong with not liking your thighs and doing something to change them?” I knew full well what he meant, and that he meant well. But I could no longer keep my cool, nor could I contain myself.

And out it came…

I launched into a small section of my own story, a fairly recent incident that occurred during the last months of training for Ironman Lake Placid. On several occasions while preparing to head out for long runs I would stop and stare at myself in the mirror, I would lift up my shirt to uncover “the bulge” and force myself to see this imperfection and then take myself into a downward spiral of self-hatred. No longer did I feel motivated to run. What was the point if I looked like this? All I could focus on was the bulge that my run shorts created around my hips and that I had no way of covering this up, and how on earth will I cover this up on race day when I will be wearing tiny tri shorts and a tiny tri singlet that barely covers my belly button?

As I was telling Brett this story my chin started to quiver and my eyes welled up with tears. Not only was I providing a concrete example of negative body image and body dismorphia, but I was reliving the experience and all the emotions that came with it.

Brett was at the same time shocked that I could see myself in this way but, more importantly, appreciative that I could share this with him as it gave him a deeper understanding of who I am. And I in turn didn’t feel like I was harboring a deep dark secret.

Eventually I was able to move beyond the thought process and  my attention shifted away from obsessing over what was wrong with me. I was able to throw on my run clothes and just get out there because I had a much larger goal, something far more important to focus on; that goal was Ironman.

It surprises me that I am able to unveil this story as I rarely talk about my own issues with body image, much less such isolated, specific incidents like this one. I normally keep these stories to myself because they make me feel shameful and embarrassed. At the moment I am working on putting all of this together into one big Maggie Story and this is really just a small snippet. But it’s an important one.

This one incident shed light on what Ironman and endurance means to me. In the end, none of it matters. When I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid I loved my body and my spirit for all that it was capable of. I had forgotten about how I looked in my tri kit – “the bulge” was but a memory by this point. My body morphed into this superwoman creature that carried me 140.6 miles – and that rocked my world.

I guess sometimes you have to transport yourself to another superhuman-like planet to start to see yourself in a new light.

 

 

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Kale+Shitake+Avocado = LOVE

I am kicking myself right now for not taking a photo of today’s lunch: Sautéed Kale, Shitake, and Shallots Salad with Avocado, and Hard-boiled egg. Using ingredients I had on hand, I created what I would consider an incredibly delicious and quite healthy (and easy!!!) meal.

It’s great for winter because it’s warm. It also took me less than 20 minutes to put together so it works well when you’re in a time crunch!

Here’s what you need (serves one):

1/2 head of kale, roughly chopped or torn into pieces (the stems: you can take them or leave them)
1 shitake mushroom, chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

1 egg
1/2 avocado

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare egg (or eggs) in water to hard-boil. For instructions on how to do this, click here. I would definitely recommend doing this and THEN chop the shallots and shitake since it takes about 15-18 min to hard boil.

Pour olive oil into pan and sauté shallot and shitake with cumin and turmeric for 3-4 minutes. Add kale until it starts to soften. Add fresh lemon juice, stir, and remove from heat. Transfer to your favorite bowl or dish and top with avocado, egg, and season with salt and pepper and extra olive oil if needed.

Please accept this in place of an actual image of my food.

Please accept this in place of an actual image of my food.

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The Wellness Make-over

My dear friend and colleague, Sophie Herbert Slater, and I went on a hike in Trout Brook Preserve about a month ago where she pitched to me this brilliant idea she had been brewing for months: a Life Balance Jumpstart program that would allow clients to work with one-on-one with us as yoga teachers and wellness coaches.

We are beyond excited that we are finally ready to launch Life Balance Jumpstart and invite you to sign up with us. (For the moment this is limited to those residing in the Fairfield County area.)

What does this entail? You can visit our website for the full details but to get an idea…

Life Balance Jumpstart is an intensive 5-week program designed to help YOU feel and be your best.  Our mission as experienced wellness coaches and yoga teachers is to share invaluable tools that will not only help you establish greater life balance now and in the future, but also assist you in navigating life with more grace, confidence, curiosity, and resilience.  Our passion is helping our clients feel balanced, nurtured, and connected with their sense of purpose. From here, so much is possible.

Sign up before January 15 and save 10%! Email lifejumpstart@gmail.com with questions and to get started on your wellness make-over.

Life Balance Jumpstart

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8:18, croissants, 90 miles, and 2 months

Or what I learned from my weekend of training:

  • Maintaining an average pace of 8:18 for 3.1 miles of running is possible!
  • 50 miles into a ride, coffee and a chocolate croissant is heaven and will render me speechless
  • I have decided that I would really like to have croissants in my special needs bag for Ironman Lake Placid
  • I am quite chipper after 90 miles on the bike and once I reach 90 miles, I might shed a tear of joy/disbelief/shock and awe
  • Quassy Rev3 70.3 is in 5 days and Ironman Lake Placid is 2 months away and it’s starting to feel real. This weekend’s long ride got me really really excited for the first time — and I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s donations and support! You can support my fundraising campaign for CTF by clicking here.

 

Coffee. Croissant. Can't talk.

Coffee. Croissant. Can’t talk.

Weston Memorial Day 5K - running in the rain!

Weston Memorial Day 5K – running in the rain!

90 MILES!

90 MILES!

 

 

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Show Your Teeth!

Today was my 2nd indoor ride at Asphalt Green: a 75 min Strength and Cadence ride with Coach Neil. And I just have to say that despite the aching quads and beads of sweat dripping down my face, I loved every second of it.

A few reasons why today’s workout rocked my socks:

  • Coach Neil presented each and every one of us with a detailed print out of the workout. I thought this was absolutely adorable. (The poor guy sitting next to me forgot to pick up a towel so by the end of the workout, his sheet was a sweaty mess.)
  • Coach Neil never stopped smiling. Not once. And through the entire workout kept reminding us to “Show your teeth!” – or, smile!
  • After about 4 indoor riding/spinning sessions, I feel like I’m quickly getting back into cycling shape and am even more looking forward to the day when I can get on Nancy (my bike) and ride outside!
Gear

preparing the essentials

IndoorRide

Show Your Teeth!

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And now, training begins

It’s been a LONG time since this puppy has seen the light of day but I dug it out for this morning’s Strength Spin workout at Asphalt Green. My first official 4:30am wake-up of the year. And now, Ironman Lake Placid training begins. Woot!

AG Tri Club ID

AG Tri Club ID

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Yoga & Chia Power Event – to benefit Sandy relief in Staten Island

On Tuesday, December 18 I will be teaming up with Pop Up Yoga NYC, Chia Star, Pushcart Coffee (Peter’s Field loc.), SandyBaggers, and fellow health coach Steph Miller (www.hecticandhealthy.com) to provide an evening of yoga, wellness, and fundraising to support a local business in Staten Island – Not Just Bagels.

I will lead a 40 minute calming vinyasa flow class which will be followed by an informal discussion and Q&A of our featured product – Chia Star. Steph and I will explain why we love chia and it’s amazing health benefits! Chia seeds have been dubbed “the running food”, “a miracle”, and “the ultimate super food” by athletes and advocates alike.

In keeping with the grassroots culture of SandyBaggers, we are donating the proceeds from the event to a small, independent fundraiser.  “Not Just Bagels” in Staten Island was one of many family-owned businesses obliterated by the storm;  in addition to having their homes ruined, their only source of income was wiped out too. Many people cut their losses and abandoned the properties, but this family is rebuilding because they have no other option. The government and FEMA have not been helpful. A few SandyBaggers met them on-site last month, helped them clear the debris, and now it’s time to rebuild. The fundraiser link is here, to learn more about their story: http://www.indiegogo.com/NotJustBagels

SandyBaggers at Not Just Bagels

SandyBaggers at Not Just Bagels

Details:

Dec. 18,  8:30-10:00pm
Pushcart Coffee @ Peter’s Field - 301 East 21st Street New York, NY 10010

Cost: $15 admission or $5 admission + donated item (all proceeds go toward Not Just Bagels fundraiser)

Suggested donated items: Bottled water, blankets, Non-perishable food, Contractor garbage bags, Cleaning supplies (Sponges, Laundry soap, Dish soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Mold-X), Tyvek worksuits, Rubber work gloves, P100 particle respirator masks.

Email me (maggieconverse@me.com) with questions or to RSVP. You can also RSVP by clicking here.

We hope to see you on the 18th!

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