Category Archives: Uncategorized

Creating Summer Memories and Rituals

Summer is finally here! It’s my absolute favorite time of year as I love having a more relaxed work schedule, longer days, warm nights, planned and spontaneous vacations and trips with my family, fun summer camps for my kids and so much more. My husband, kids and I love to make summer bucket lists to make sure we get the most out of our summers and create lasting memories. Here are some of the items on our list for this year:

* Go to the pool regularly at our health club we belong to called Bay Club

* Take evening walks after dinner

* Go on hikes in Rancho San Antonio Park

* Go to Capitola, our favorite beach town in Northern California

* Visit family in Southern California and possibly Wisconsin

* Set up sprinklers in our backyard and let our kids and neighborhood kids run through them

* Host brunches and BBQs at our house with our neighbors and friends

* Go for bike rides around our neighborhood and local area

* Go to the library, check out all the books on our summer reading lists and read at the park

* Go to the local zoo

* Go to our local amusement parks such as Great America and Gilroy Gardens

* Go to some outdoor summer music concerts at Shoreline Amphitheater

* Go out for frozen yogurt

* Go to the farmer’s market

* Go to Lake Tahoe since we’ve never been there during the summer and hear it’s amazing

* Fly kites at Chrissy Field in San Francisco (pictured in this blog post) and Shoreline Park

* Go to the movies (Disney with the kids and rom-coms and action films on date nights)

In addition, here are some healthy rituals we like to practice during the summer months for ourselves and our kids:

* Wear sunscreen every day

* Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

* Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in season

* Work out 5 times per week (this one is for my husband and me as the kids are already active)

* Get a good night’s sleep with the windows open and fresh summer air coming in our room

* Have weekend days where we don’t make any plans, stay in our PJs awhile and relax at home

I love having these bucket list items and rituals to help create wonderful memories and to give us all things to look forward to. It’s fun to see how our lists evolve and change each year as well as note which things seem to stay the same.

What are some of your and your family’s summer bucket list items and rituals? Feel free to share in the comment section below. I wish you and your family a fun and enjoyable summer and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

XOXO,
Reena

 

 

College Dreams

Last week, I was back in my college town at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for an alumni board meeting at the Business School. Every time I’m back in town, I naturally reflect on my time there, what my hopes and dreams were back then, where I’ve been since graduating and where I go from here. Therefore, I wanted to write today about my college dreams and how they carry a special place in my heart and why we should all keep our college or young adult dreams alive in order to inspire, motivate and guide us throughout our lives.

My college experience was everything I wanted it to be and more. Four of the greatest years of my life were my college years. This was a time in my life filled with hard work, learning and development, growth, self discovery, independence, building and maintaining friendships, having fun and determining what direction to take my life in order to have a successful and bright future. There were good times, tough times and everything in between. But in the end, I learned so much about myself and what I wanted for my life.

I pursued and graduated with a BBA and double-majored in marketing and management. My extra-curricular activities included being the marketing director of the Wisconsin Badger Yearbook, career development chairperson for the Chi Omega sorority, an active member of the WFAA (Wisconsin Future Alumni Association) and a fitness instructor on campus through the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department. I worked at the Campus Assistance Center and also had advertising and marketing internships with AT&T and McCann Erickson Worldwide (a large advertising agency). All of these affiliations and experiences have shaped me into who I am and what I’m doing with my career now. After 18 years in the digital media industry working in marketing, sales and business development roles for Fortune 500 companies and a start-up including Google, Yahoo, Reebok, CNET, GE and Grokker and obtaining an MS in advertising and communications from Boston University, I now am building my own health, wellness and fitness company and brand, Passion Fit. I’m also a WBA (Wisconsin Business Alumni) board member and newly appointed vice chair. I truly feel what I was doing back then was a blueprint and a set of building blocks for what I’m doing now and I’m so grateful to have been and continue to be on a path that supports the goals and dreams and I had then and still have today.

I’m also truly lucky to have met such amazing friends in college, who are still some of my closest friends today. We learned how to be adults together, were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, attended each other’s baby showers and/or have spent time with each other’s kids, spouses and families and still are there for each other during all the ups and downs of life. I also am always stunned by the fact that my husband (who I’ve now been married to for 14 years) was walking around the same college campus as me for four years, but I didn’t meet him until three years after graduation and thousands of miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area!

I have distinct memories of my college campus including going out on State Street to it’s many restaurants, bars and stores, hanging out at the Union Terrace on Lake Mendota (pictured in this blog post) and the fun outdoor music concerts, conversations and get togethers I had there with friends, living and spending time on Langdon Street, which is where my sorority and other sorority and fraternity houses were, where my brother also lived and where many of the fun parties and fundraisers I attended were, teaching fitness classes three days a week for all four years of college at the SERF and Natatorium workout facilities and of course, frequenting Grainger Hall, which is the Business School, where I spent many hours studying, attending classes, meeting with professors and TAs and working on group projects with fellow business students and friends.

My final memory I wanted to share is of a beautiful, sunny and warm spring day in May during my senior year. Everyone was out and about on campus because let’s face it, warm and sunny days in Wisconsin are never taken for granted. 😉 I was getting ready to graduate in a few short weeks and had proudly accepted my first job with General Electric (GE) in a leadership development rotational program that would take me to four different cities across the country on the West and East Coasts over the next two years. I distinctly remember walking in front of Bascom Hill, a famous area on campus, stopping and looking up at the bright blue sky and thinking that the world was my oyster and I could do and be absolutely anything I wanted. The level of ambition, optimism, hope and excitement I felt at that moment is something I’ll always remember. And even to this day, I think back to that spring day and what I felt and it’s a great reminder of how important it is to have hopes and dreams and to be fearless in your pursuit of them. I’m still that same person today, just with more life experiences, wisdom, successes and humbling failures under my belt. 😉 But no matter where I go and what I do, my college experiences and memories will always be my own and I’ll continue to let them guide and shape me in my life.

What were some of your college dreams and memories or memories from your young adult life in general? How have those experiences shaped you and who you are today? What have you learned from that time in your life and how did it impact what you’re doing now? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to comment and send your thoughts and/or reflect on them individually as well.

That’s it for today Passion Fit Crew. I’m signing off for now, but will be back with another blog post soon!

XOXO,

Reena

Why Are We So Overscheduled?

It seems being busy is the new black these days. Everyone is constantly talking about how busy they are and whether it’s considered a status symbol or a frustrating reality, I think we can all agree, being overscheduled isn’t exactly fun after a while, as it leaves most people feeling stressed out, tired and cranky.

My family and I are definitely overscheduled and it’s something we’re constantly evaluating to determine what we can do to free up our time and leave some room for enjoyment and relaxation. However, I’ll be honest, with my husband working full-time in Corporate America, myself being an entrepreneur and running my own company, us having two active, elementary school-aged boys with lots of academic and sports activities and having friends, neighbors and family whom we enjoy spending time with, we don’t have much room for down-time these days. Our weekends are often filled with soccer tournaments, baseball games, basketball clinics, birthday parties, baby showers, neighborhood get togethers or dinner with friends. Our weeks are usually filled with work, work dinners or networking events, periodic work travel, school, after-school activities and sports, volunteer work, workouts, homework, appointments, cooking meals, clean-up and prep for the next day.

At the end of the day, this is just life and life can inevitably get busy. However, being aware of how busy we all are and making a conscious effort to scale back on activities is a healthy exercise to do on a regular basis. It’s okay to turn down some social invitations and say no to projects at work or school sometimes. When we have some time and space to be at home to rest, relax and just be, it’s a nice change of pace. It will refresh and rejuvenate us and give us the energy we need to once again show up, be present and engage with all the events, activities and people in our life. It’s also healthy for the kids to be free of obligations and scheduled activities sometimes so they can be bored, creative and feel a sense of freedom to truly be kids.

Obviously, it’s not always easy to free up time, but below are some things I try to do for myself and my family to keep life in balance and ensure our calendar doesn’t get too out of control:

-Keep one weekend evening free if possible (though we do at times have plans on both Friday and Saturday evenings and I definitely feel the difference when we do)

-Try to get work, the kids’ homework, dinner, clean-up and prep for the next day completed by 7:30 p.m., so the whole family has a little bit of down time together before getting the kids ready for bed and my husband and I usually needing to get some more work done after that before we can usually relax a bit more or read before going to bed

-Schedule the kids in one major sport per season (i.e. soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring, etc.) since my kids also have karate and are in a reading/math program throughout the school-year

-Check in with myself and my family often to ensure stress levels are in control and if anyone is feeling overly stressed, ask why and figure out what things can be done or obligations can be removed from my and/or their plate to alleviate the stress

-Try to have some Saturday or Sunday mornings when we don’t have somewhere to be right away and hang out in our PJs, have a relaxing breakfast and watch movies

-Give everyone in the family an opportunity to have some time to themselves (the kids included), whether that means the kids can have some quiet time in their rooms to read, play legos or ride their bikes or scooters outside, my husband can veg out in front of the TV and watch sports, go to the gym or work in the garage or I can go get a massage, talk to a girlfriend on the phone or get a workout in

-Listen to meditation apps with the kids to wind down before bedtime

-Go for family walks or hikes on a Sunday afternoon or evening when the days are longer and the weather is nice

I hope these ideas help and you find your own ways to not be so overscheduled and to have some down-time. That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. I’ll be back with another post soon!

XOXO,

Reena

 

 

 

 

What Does Family Mean to You?

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been on vacation with my family for spring break, attended a family wedding and had my aunt and uncle visit us from out of town. Therefore, the concept of family, especially as it relates to wellness, has been on my mind and is something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately. Family can be defined as your family of origin, your family you create with your spouse or significant other, your extended family or relatives and/or dear friends of many years who have become like family. How do you define family for yourself and what does family mean to you? For me, family falls into all of the categories I mentioned above. They all play very important roles in my life, are people whom I love very much and all know who they are!

My family of origin, which consists of my parents, two brothers and sister, has been my foundation throughout my entire life and is extremely near and dear to my heart. My parents raised me to be who I am today and my brothers and sister also helped shape me through the experiences and friendship we’ve had growing up together.

My family I created with my husband, which includes our nine and six year-old sons and is pictured in this blog post, holds another treasured place in my heart. Marrying my husband and having our two sons are three of the greatest blessings of my life. They’re the people who are with me every single day and I’m so incredibly grateful for the life we have together.

My extended family of in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and late grandparents, has also played a big role in my life in helping me understand our family tree and where we came from. They’re also people I admire and value and I truly enjoy their company and the richness they bring to my life.

And last, but certainly not least, my dearest friends who have been in my life over the years during various stages, are definitely like family for me as well and we all treat each other as such. Whether they’re from high school, college, grad school, work, our neighborhood, our children’s schools or other affiliations, they mean the world to me.

Those who are family see us for who we really are. They know us inside and out and have seen us at our best and our worst. They know about our fears, hot buttons, strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures, quirks, hopes, dreams and other aspects of ourselves that make us uniquely who we are. Sometimes our relationships with our family members can be complex and that complexity can span across many levels. And sometimes they can disappoint us, annoy us, disagree with us, make us angry or make us sad. However, there isn’t a single family out there that’s perfect and no matter what life may bring, these are the people who will be there for us time and time again and we’ll be there for them as well. They’re the people we depend on in good times and bad and without them and their influence, our life wouldn’t be the same and we wouldn’t be the same.

So as we approach the weekend, I encourage you to reflect on your own family and think about the roles they play and the impact they have on your life. Try to understand them, respect them, cherish them, forgive them and most importantly, love them with all your heart.

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew! Until next time…

XOXO,

Reena

 

Be Your Authentic Self – No Excuses, Apologies or Regrets

In a world where there is so much pressure to achieve academically and professionally, be in great shape, look youthful, be the best spouse/significant other, be a perfect parent and raise perfect kids, cook amazing meals every day of the week, have a beautiful and spotless home and post pictures of your exotic vacations on Instagram, it’s no wonder why we can often feel less than up to par. However, today I want to encourage you to let go of those expectations, comparisons and insecurities and simply be your authentic self – no excuses, apologies or regrets.

I know this is easier said than done and we all have our fears. Therefore, in an effort to truly be authentic, I’ll share with you all some of my insecurities I’ve had during various stages of my life. I’m very small and just under five feet tall and always wanted to be taller. I grew up in the Midwest, where I was one of a few minorities and the only Indian-American in my school (aside from my brother) and wanted to be more similar to my peers. I did well in school overall, but math never came naturally for me and I often got frustrated as I worked so hard to understand complex formulas and equations. When I was a little girl, I was chubby (as you can see in this blog photo) and would get embarrassed when my relatives squeezed my chubby cheeks so hard every time they saw me. I can be really sensitive and get in my head, over-analyze and worry about things in life. When I became a teenager, my hair became naturally curly and frizzy and I’ve always wished it was straight again. And the list goes on and on…

While always a work in progress, I’ve learned to embrace or find solutions to many of these insecurities of mine and be comfortable in my own skin. I’ve learned to enjoy being petite and not let it define me or what I can achieve in life. And thankfully my husband, who is over six feet tall, has always liked petite girls and thinks it’s cute. 🙂 I also love wearing high heels, which always gives me a little boost! I now cherish being Indian-American and realize my friends in school always liked me for me and appreciated that I was unique. I’m lucky to now live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is very diverse and has resulted in me having friends from all over the world, including India as well. While I still don’t love math and it does come back to haunt me when I have to help my kids with their homework, I’m thankful for my math wizard husband, Excel and my online calculator on my phone. And despite my lack of aptitude for math, I’ve been able to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees and enjoy a successful career in the areas in which I have strengths – marketing, advertising, business development, sales, writing, speaking and teaching. Due to my lifelong passion for health, wellness and fitness, I was able to grow out of my chubby girl days and stay in shape and be healthy throughout my teenage and adult life. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m being sensitive or in my head and now know how to shift my focus and state of mind (meditation helps me with this as well). As for my hair? All I can say is thank goodness for Halo Blow Dry Bar and ORIBE deep conditioning hair masks! 😉

Now that I’ve shared some of my insecurities and how I’ve dealt with them over the years, I hope you guys can relate, not feel alone and feel comfortable in your own skin as well. As a final thought, I think it’s important to go back to the true essence of yourself when you were a little kid. What were your talents, strengths and interests then? What were your weaknesses? What was your personality like? Do you see any similarities or differences with yourself now? While we all have the capacity to make changes throughout life, embracing all aspects of what we were born with, including our strengths and weaknesses and who we really are, will allow each of us to feel whole and can open the door to truly being authentic.

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. You’re loved for exactly who you are, so let go of comparisons and expectations, acknowledge and share your own insecurities, connect with your true self from childhood into adulthood and be your authentic self – no excuses, apologies or regrets!

XOXO,
Reena

What’s in My Grocery Shopping Cart?

Whether you love it, hate it or are indifferent to it, grocery shopping is a fact of life for all of us. Therefore, I wanted to share some of my key tips and strategies for grocery shopping below to help you pick nutritious foods, while still enjoying some treats and get the most bang for your buck. Please keep in mind that individuals may have their own dietary restrictions, allergies and medical needs, so my tips are based on what works for my family and myself. That said, please consult with your doctor if you have any special considerations or questions. Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, are you ready? Here we go!

FIND THE TIME: When I was working full-time in the high tech/digital media industry, the only time I could go grocery shopping was on the weekends. However, now that I’m an entrepreneur and running my own business from home, I have more flexibility on when I can go and it’s usually during the weekdays in between work meetings, conference calls, writing sessions, networking events, teaching classes, volunteering and taking and picking up my kids from school and after school activities. Regardless of your schedule, check with your local grocery store and try to pick days of the week or times of the day when you know new shipments will be coming in, so you can get the most fresh foods possible.

STOCK YOUR CART WITH FRESH PRODUCE: I always start my shopping trips in the produce aisle. I try to fill my cart with as much fresh and high-quality produce as I can since it’s so important for your overall health and to help prevent chronic diseases. I start with organic fruits such as apples, bananas, tangerines, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, peaches, pears, plums, avocado and grapes. I then move into the organic vegetables section and choose broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, squash, edamame, brussels sprouts and asparagus. I love having lots of fruit options at home to serve with breakfast, lunch, snacks or dessert. I also like having a variety of vegetables that can be eaten raw with lunch, including salads, or cooked to make dinner healthier and more interesting.

LEAN PROTEINS ARE A MUST: Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat lover, it’s very important to include a variety of proteins in your shopping cart because they’re critical for your muscles, bones, skin and tissues. My husband and two boys are meat lovers and while I eat meat, I’m perfectly happy eating vegetarian meals as well. Therefore, I stock up on organic, lean ground turkey meat, turkey burgers, boneless and skinless chicken breasts and thighs, chicken sausage, fish such as salmon, tuna, mahi mahi and shrimp, tofu, beans such as black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans and eggs. Having different protein options helps to create a variety of non-vegetarian and vegetarian meals.

DAIRY IF YOU CHOOSE: While some people are lactose intolerant or choose not to eat dairy, our family loves it and I definitely buy a decent amount of dairy products such as low fat, organic cheese (my husband and I are originally from Wisconsin and live in California, so this is a must), milk and yogurt. With two growing boys, calcium is important in our house and I try to ensure they’re getting the recommended amount each day for healthy bones and growth. Also, as a woman, I know how important it is to get enough calcium for myself to prevent things like osteoporosis later in life.

WHOLE GRAINS ARE GOOD: While there has been much discussion and debate in the nutrition and medical fields over the years about gluten, wheat, grains and carbohydrates and whether or not they’re good or bad for you, in my opinion, balance is key. While I’ve cut out a considerable amount of carbohydrates from my diet over the years since diabetes runs in my family, I don’t eliminate them completely since I’m an active person and need energy. I try to eat complex carbohydrates and whole grains with breakfast and maybe a little bit at lunch, but then stick to proteins and vegetables for dinner as much as I can. My husband tries to do the same, but for our kids, we recognize how much they need carbohydrates since they’re growing, play a ton of sports and are really active. Therefore, I buy whole grain pasta, bread, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, granola bars and brown rice, especially for them.

TREATS, SWEETS AND INDULGENCES ARE ALLOWED: In the spirit of leading a balanced life, while I do opt for cooking and eating healthy most of the time for myself and my family, I make a conscious effort not to deprive any of us from indulging and enjoying treats as well. We definitely eat out at restaurants or order in during the weekends and/or towards the end of the week and that includes having pizza, burgers, tacos, sushi, ice cream, cookies, etc. And while I don’t regularly keep cookies, cakes, chips and other junk food at home, I do buy healthy versions of treats and snacks at the grocery store such as organic ice cream that’s lower in sugar, dark chocolate, nuts, veggie chips, organic fruit snacks, whole grain crackers, natural peanut butter and almond butter, organic jelly, etc.

So there you have it. The ins and outs of what’s in my grocery shopping cart and what my family and I eat. I hope this was helpful and I hope you all find (if you haven’t already) what foods, meals and nutrition tips work for you. And after all that talk about food…I’m hungry and am signing off for today, Passion Fit Crew! Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back with another blog post soon. 🙂

XOXO,
Reena

 

Connect With Your Community

A community can mean many things to many people. It can pertain to your neighborhood, your children’s school district of fellow parents, students, faculty and staff, your group of friends from high school, college or graduate school, your team or colleagues at work, your university alumni organization, your church or temple, your running group, your workout class or gym group, your sports teams, your parenting group or other personal or professional affiliations. Regardless of how you define it, for most people, the key benefit of having a community is having a sense of belonging and connection to others with similar interests, pursuits, values or life stages.

I feel very fortunate to have many strong communities in my life (from many of the affiliations mentioned above), which have resulted in really deep and strong friendships, for which I’m so incredibly grateful and truly cherish. I’m an extrovert and love connecting with people, so community is key for me. My husband and kids love connecting with people too, therefore, our family really values our communities we belong to.

I find when I put the time and energy into connecting with others, I feel really fulfilled. What a great felling it is to form a bond with others through listening, talking and helping and also allowing them to listen, talk and help you as well. I also find relating to and being there for others, in good times and challenging times, allows you to feel mutually understood and not alone. In many instances, someone has been where you are and can share their reactions, thoughts and advice based on their own experiences and often times, you can do the same for them. Everyone goes through tough times at one point or another when it comes to raising children, careers, marriages, health issues, family needs, financial needs and other life circumstances. Having the ability to rely on your community, can help get you through those tough times.

Whether you want to connect with two people or twenty two, the important thing is to find people you trust and with whom you feel a kinship and then keep building from there. I love the photo in this blog post. These women are some of my dearest girlfriends and are definitely a huge part of my community and life.

I encourage you all to find a community that resonates with you if you haven’t already and connect with the people within it on a regular basis. It will enrich your life and make it more meaningful and more fun! Finally, I welcome you all to our Passion Fit community (both online and locally), which is near and dear to my heart and one I think you’ll find fulfilling as well. 🙂

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. Have a wonderful weekend and remember to connect with your community!

XOXO,
Reena

Eleven Must-Have Health and Beauty Items for Your Workout Bag

Most of us have extremely busy lives these days and making exercise a priority requires organization and careful planning. Often times, fitting in a class at a studio or gym or going for a run might be in between, before or after appointments, work meetings, running errands or picking up your kids from school or other activities. Therefore, having some essential health and beauty products in your workout bag can make your life a lot easier. You may or may not have time to shower immediately after your workout, but even if you won’t be able to until later in the day or evening, having the following items can help you power on with the rest of your day and feel like a boss after you get that workout in. 😉 Here are some of my must-haves that I keep in my bag:

1. Sunblock – this one is essential for me because I live in California and it’s sunny out most months out of the year. I love to have it on-hand if I need it for an outdoor workout, when I’m on the go or when I’m outside on the soccer or baseball field, watching my kids’ sports. I wear sunblock on my face year-round, but I especially like to have a higher SPF version for my body during the warmer months of the year, which is basically March through October in California. It’s also nice to have sunblock in my workout bag so I can reapply it on my kids before their sports practices or swim lessons. I use Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 70.

2. Facial cleansing cloths – these are nice to have after sweating through a workout or class so my face feels fresh and clean before I reapply sunblock. Many times, I’m headed somewhere immediately after my workout, so I may not have the chance to wash my face with regular cleanser and water until later that day, so these cloths can hold me over until I can. They remove dirt, oil, make-up and sweat, which just makes me feel better overall. I like the Neutrogena fragrance-free make-up remover and cleansing cloths.

3. Wide-tooth comb – my hair gets very messy and tangled after working out, so I like to have a nice wide-tooth comb with me so I can get the tangles out and look somewhat presentable after teaching my classes or working out myself. They’re light and easy to just throw in a workout bag and I’m always glad when I have one with me.

4. Ponytail holders and headbands – I love having these in both my workout bag and purse. You never know when you might need to throw your hair into a ponytail or bun or put on a headband to keep your hair in place during a workout, windy day or just a bad hair day in general! These are lifesavers for me and I don’t go anywhere without them.

5. Dry shampoo – in my opinion, this is such a critical item to have in your bag until your next wash, especially after a sweaty workout or hot day when you want your hair to be as clean and fresh as possible in the moment. I love the Oribe Gold Lust brand, which I purchase at my blow dry bar I like to go to. It smells amazing and is part of a great hair product line in general.

6. Deodorant – I don’t think I even need to explain this one. 🙂 This is another item I have with me everywhere (I like Secret Powder Fresh) because let’s face it, no one likes body odor, especially after a long and sweaty workout!

7. Shower shoes – I keep these in my bag for times when I’m at the gym, have a change of clothes and have time to shower or absolutely must shower before my next appointment, meeting or event. I get really grossed out around bacteria in gyms and locker rooms, so I always make sure I have shower shoes with me so I don’t have to walk around barefoot.

8. Hand sanitizer – okay, I admit it…I’m kind of a germaphobe…and being a mom makes it worse! Like many moms, I keep hand sanitizer in my purse and I like to have it in my workout bag as well if I’m sweating, stretching on the gym floor or using public gym equipment. Purell or any brand will do. I like the alcohol-free ones and those that have aloe vera built in so they’re not too rough on my or my kids’ hands. Other times when I’m especially glad I have hand sanitizer, are when my kids have dirty hands after playing sports or playing outside and start touching everything around them, eating with their hands, or touching something in the grossest place of all…a public restroom…yuck! Enough said on that one. 😉

9. Lip gloss – I’m a girly-girl and I like to have lip gloss or lipstick on-hand at all times in my purse and workout bag. I think I look tired if I don’t have a little bit of color on my lips, so these are great items to have as a little pick-me-up…especially after a long and grueling workout. I like Clinique, MAC, Sephora or Revlon brands and my favorite colors are in the berry, plum or mauve categories.

10. Extra tank top – having an extra tank top after a workout is another great item I like to have in my workout bag. Sometimes, you just need to change clothes so you’ll feel better until you can take a shower. Also, if you’re doing an intense workout outside and you get grass or mud stains on your clothes, it really comes in handy.

11. Water – this is a really important one to have on-hand. Losing water through sweat and risking dehydration by not replenishing your body with water just isn’t worth it. I like to have a few water bottles in my car, workout bag and purse for myself, my kids and my husband if we’re out and about, especially on an active, hot and sunny day. It’s just good common sense.

So there you have it….my eleven must-have items. What do you guys like to keep in your workout bags? Feel free to share as I’d love to hear from you. That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

XOXO,
Reena

 

 

Five Life Lessons I’ve Learned As a Woman from My Mom

In honor of International Women’s Day today, I wanted to dedicate my latest blog post to one of the most important women in my life…my Mom. She’s a very strong, intelligent, elegant and unique woman and I have the utmost respect for her.

She immigrated to the U.S. from India with my Dad in 1971 and at the time, had two small children in tow (my older brother and sister). After my parents, older brother and sister had been living in the U.S. for a few years, my parents decided to expand the family and had my other older brother and then me. Growing up, my Dad was busy attending graduate school to obtain a second degree in engineering and progressing in his corporate career to provide for a family of six people. Therefore, my Mom was busy taking care of four young children and managing the home front, in a foreign country where English wasn’t her first language (though she majored in English in college back in India). It wasn’t easy, but she always found a way to be there for all of us (including my Dad) and made each of us feel like we were her top priority. She took care of us when we were sick, dropped off and picked us all up from school every day, drove us to our sports games, dance practices and other after school activities, managed our social schedules, helped us with our homework, cooked amazing Indian food for us and gave us so much love and emotional support. My Dad was of course involved in supporting and helping us as well, but my Mom was and still is the queen of our family. 🙂

She also made a huge sacrifice for us by not pursuing a career of her own (she always wanted to run her own import/export jewelry or clothing business) in order to raise my brothers, sister and me. And although she didn’t pursue her own career, she has always been a huge supporter and advocate of both my sister’s career and mine as well. She has consistently encouraged us over the years to find a way to be hands on mothers, while also having a career we love. To this day, she’s still the glue that holds our entire family together and I couldn’t be more proud and honored to be her daughter.

I’ve learned so much from my Mom and therefore, I wanted to share five life lessons she has taught me over the years, including some of her most profound quotes and philosophies.

1.”Always practice moderation.” This philosophy could pertain to what you eat or how you spend your time or what you prioritize in your life. From her perspective, if you eat too much, work too much, exercise too much, worry too much, etc., you’ll find yourself out of balance, unhealthy and unhappy. Therefore, she has always been someone in our family who reminds us to stay balanced and keep life in perspective.

2.”No matter where you go or what you do, no one will ever let you forget where you came from, so make sure you don’t ever forget that either.” Being a first generation-born Indian-American and growing up as a minority in Wisconsin, wasn’t always easy. My brothers and sister and I wanted so badly to assimilate into the American culture and sometimes, it was at the expense of our Indian culture and upbringing  that our parents cherished so much and tried so hard to preserve for our family. Thankfully, her profound words have stuck with me and to this day, I truly cherish both my Indian heritage and American citizenship and celebrate and honor both every day for myself and my family.

3.”Be humble.” My Mom and Dad have always been very loving, intelligent, hardworking and accomplished people who are adored by many. However, they are both some of the most down-to-earth and humble people you’ll ever meet. They make everyone around them feel so special by focusing on others instead of themselves. And therefore, my Mom has always told us to be humble and not self-absorbed and I really have appreciated that example and message throughout my life.

4.”Have faith and be positive.” Whenever I’ve faced difficult and challenging times in my life, my Mom has always said these words to me and it has helped me tremendously. Regardless of your religion, believing in a higher power that is bigger than yourself and remaining hopeful, even in the most difficult of times, will provide you the strength you need to get through those times and come out on the other side.

5.”If you set your mind to it, you can do it.” Ever since I was a little girl, my Mom has always believed in me and had faith in my abilities, even when I didn’t have it in myself. Everyone needs that cheerleader in their life to help instill a sense of inner strength and confidence and I definitely have that in my Mom. I can call her anytime, day or night and she will be there for me unconditionally (as will my Dad).  I feel so grateful for this level of support, which has allowed me to go after my dreams, take risks and face challenges head on.

I think the two most amazing impacts of these life lessons from my Mom are that I work hard to practice them every day and I also try to instill them in my own children (along with the support of my husband). I truly feel I’m the woman I am today because of my Mom and therefore, on this special and monumental day of recognizing women all over the world, I’d like to salute and recognize her, because I love her so much and am grateful for her influence in my life.

I also want to wish all the women in the world a very heartfelt and happy International Women’s Day!

XOXO,
Reena

 

Finding Your Flow

Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the concept of “flow” as it relates to productivity and wellness. For example, I read about it recently in a corporate wellness newsletter I subscribe to and then I heard about it in a children’s meditation app I was listening to with my kids at bedtime the other night. So I decided to do some more research and was so fascinated that I’ve been trying to incorporate it into my every day life. I wanted to share my learnings with you all so you can try it too.

Basically, flow is a state of mind and a state of being when you’re relaxed, focused and in the zone. It’s a place where you’re most productive because you aren’t stressed, anxious or scattered. These days, we’re all living in a technology-centric, multi-tasking, over-scheduled world and it can have a negative impact on our overall health and well-being. That’s why it’s important to find your flow in order to counteract the impacts of the current environment and global landscape we live in. When you’re able to find your flow, you’ll notice that you’re more:

– Creative

– Content

– Calm

– Capable

You’ll accomplish more and stress less. This outcome is great for you, your family and your career. What could be better? So how exactly can you find your flow? Here are some tips based on things I do:

– Exercise and practice yoga

– Meditate and breathe

– Come up with an organized plan and list of things to get done in a certain period of time

– Work in a quiet place or if it helps to have motivating or calming music to get in the zone, play it

– Take breaks every 90 minutes or so

– Be intentional with your work or project and check items off your list as you complete them

– Stay in the present moment

– Visualize a positive outcome and keep working until you get there

The more you practice these things, the more often you’ll find your flow. And the more often you find your flow, the more it’ll start to become your natural state of being. It takes time and practice and if you’re like me and are someone who’s ingrained to think you always have to work hard and long to accomplish things, it could take a little bit more time and practice. However, like me, you’ll realize over time, that it’s better to be efficient, strategic and smart with your work. It’s not about putting in more hours, but rather, how effective you can be in reaching your goals within the hours you do put in.

I hope these tips have been useful to you guys. My last tip is to find one of these beautiful stones as you see here in my blog image. It says “flow” and is something I keep with me so I can channel it as much as I can. That’s it for today, my Passion Fit friends. Here’s to all of you finding your flow!

XOXO,
Reena

 

Pursue Your Passions, Be Fit and the Rest Will Follow…

Hi Passion Fit Crew,

I hope you all have been enjoying the summer. My summer has been extremely busy and as a result, I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to my blog as I’d like. However, I’ve been craving the ability to sit down and write lately, so I’m back with some new ideas and thoughts to share as well as a personal story from my life.

The title of today’s post is actually the tag line for my personal brand, Passion Fit, which is, “Pursue your passions, be fit and the rest will follow….” I wanted to write about pursuing passions because I think it’s a concept we all could benefit from right now. At a time when there has been so much violence, hate, racism, crime, continued threat of war, political upheaval and other uncertainties around the world, I think encouraging us all to go back to the basics and figure out what really matters to us, what our purpose is in life and what our passions are, is a really healthy thing. We all come from different walks of life and backgrounds, but as humans, one thing that connects us is that we all have things in our lives that really move us, give us joy and make us want to be better for ourselves and others. Whether it’s our families, friends, pets, the geographic region in which we live, volunteering for specific causes, careers, jobs, health, hobbies, spirituality, music, art, sports, academics, etc., focusing on what matters most and taking care of ourselves and others will lead us down a positive and hopeful path.

I know this firsthand because I pursued my passions around health, wellness and fitness during a really challenging time in my life. When I launched Passion Fit two years ago in August, 2014, I was going through a lot. My grandfather and last living grandparent, who had always been a guiding force in my and my family’s life, was really sick and passed away that summer on my birthday, my husband was having health issues and had to go on medical leave, I was in the midst of a career transition from working for a large tech company to deciding to start my own company/personal brand and I was still very conflicted about how to effectively be a working mom of two little boys and have balance in my life for myself and my family. It was a time of darkness, change and uncertainty and the challenging times continued for awhile after that, but one of the key things that honestly got me through that tough period (aside from my faith and the support of my family and friends) was Passion Fit. It was and still is a bright, shining light in my life. I believe wholeheartedly in what Passion Fit stands for (hence the name) and the opportunity it provides me to communicate and share my personal, positive, uplifting, honest and caring messages with the world through my writing, speaking, teaching and producing content in the areas of health, wellness and fitness. In doing these things, I feel a sense of hope, happiness and joy in how I can positively impact others’ lives and it pushes me to be a better person, better in my career and current job, better for my family, friends, community and Passion Fit followers and better for myself.

So today, I encourage you to think long and hard about what you’re passionate about and start taking steps to pursue those things and make them a more significant part of your life. It can be something big or small. It’s really up to you to decide what will give your life more meaning and bring out the best in you and others around you. I’m here to encourage you, support you and cheer you on. I truly believe it can make a difference in your life and the lives of many others if you do it consistently and stay committed to it. So what are you waiting for? What is your passion? Start pursuing it today….

That’s it for today, my friends. I’ll be back with my next blog post soon!

XOXO,

Reena

 

Don’t Overthink It…Just Make It Happen

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you’re all doing well. It’s been a little while since my last blog post. Why, you ask? You know…work, marriage and family, parenting and household responsibilities, kid’s activities, exercise, appointments, volunteering, social plans and general life busyness, I guess. However, I really miss writing and connecting with you guys, so I prioritized some time this chilly and cloudy Sunday morning after breakfast, while my kids are snuggling in blankets and watching a movie and before I go out for a run. 🙂

My topic for today centers around not overthinking things and just making them happen in our lives. And me writing this blog post today is an effort to practice what I preach. Too often in life, we get so caught up in the daily grind that we stop doing the things we love or that bring us true joy, fulfillment, peace and happiness. When our to-do lists continue to grow and life responsibilities pile up at an overwhelming rate, it’s easy to cut out the things that are “nice to haves” and prioritize what we think are the “necessities.” However, what ends up happening is we spend the majority, if not all, of our time doing things we have to get done and end up feeling exhausted, burnt out, resentful, cranky and somehow cheated out of the good things in life. I admit to feeling this way on more occasions than I’d like. Can anyone else relate?

Well, Passion Fit Crew, we’re all going to do something about this and I’m here to help you guys! I recently wrote in my journal and made a list of healthy habits and things I’ve enjoyed doing throughout my life that I know make me happy, in an effort to get them back into my world in a more consistent way. My hope is by continuing to make a choice to do these things on a regular basis, they’ll become second nature to me. Then I won’t have to think so much about doing them because they’ll be automatically built into my days and weeks.

Often times we overthink things and think about all the reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t do them….too busy, too expensive, too much time, not enough time, spouse’s needs, kids’ needs, don’t want to be selfish, let others down, over-indulge…and the list goes on and on. However, there’s one extremely good reason to do the things we love….they’ll make us HAPPY. And by being truly happy, we’ll be healthier and better versions of ourselves in order to be better parents, significant others, sons, daughters, siblings and teammates, we’ll better at our jobs and volunteer work…we’ll be better at LIFE.

So in an effort to help you guys build healthy habits and things you love to do into your lives, I’m going to share my list with you. Here it is:

—Exercise at home in the mornings before work every weekday – this can be high intensity interval training, pilates, barre, sculpting or yoga (I often do my own Passion Fit workouts or workout videos, especially from my company, Grokker.com)

—On the weekends, go for runs, walks or hikes or head to the gym and take a dance or fitness class (note: I’ll soon be teaching my own classes again)

—Pray every morning

—Put away screens and read, meditate and breath every night before going to bed (I do this with my kids too)

—Get massages a few times a month

—Take bubble baths or sit in a hot tub a few times a month

—Light a scented candle at dinner time when cooking and eating with my family

—Write in my journal weekly and write out three things I’m grateful for every day

—Spend time each day connecting with my kids and husband – talking, walking, playing outside, eating together, watching a movie together, etc.

—Call/text/make plans/reach out to my extended family and friends weekly

—Listen to music in my car, while I cook, exercise or work

Now, am I perfect about doing all of these things every single day, week or month as I’d like to? No, certainly not all of them. But, I do most of these things on a very regular basis and the more I do them, the more built into my day, week or month they become. And when I don’t do most of these things, I definitely feel the difference in my energy, moods and outlook. So my advice is to not expect perfection or get down on yourself if you can’t do something you want on a particular day. We’re all human and life can get busy and complex sometimes. However, be self-aware, really make the effort and give yourself the gift of doing the things you love because you all deserve it and are worth it.

So with that…don’t overthink it….just make it happen!

I’m signing off for now, but I’ll be back soon with my next blog post.

XOXO,

Reena

Surviving and Thriving in Working Parenthood

Hi Passion Fit Crew!

I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the start of spring. Also, Happy Easter and Happy Holi to all those who celebrated last week!

Life has been extremely busy on my end as I recently started a new job as the Director of Enterprise Sales for a health, wellness and fitness video technology start-up in Silicon Valley called Grokker. I’m really loving and enjoying it, however, in trying to balance my new job, my personal health and fitness brand, Passion Fit and my family’s needs, I definitely have a lot on my plate these days. Therefore, for my blog post today, I wanted to share what I’ve been experiencing and learning with fellow parents out there, because it’s important for us all to stick together and remember we’re not alone in our efforts to make it all work.

It’s definitely not easy managing work and little ones. My husband, who’s an executive at Google, and I have two boys who are eight and five years old and are in third grade and pre-k respectively. While I’ve worked throughout my eight years so far as a mom, every stage in my children’s lives and my career has brought new opportunities and challenges. Since my kids were born, I worked for Google for about  six and a half years, then spent the last year and a half building and running Passion Fit, which I’m still continuing to do, and now I’m working full-time again for Grokker.

In addition to school, my boys are in basketball, soccer, baseball, karate, swimming, a reading and math program and piano at different times throughout the year. Yes, it’s a lot of activities, but it’s important to my husband and me that our kids are well-rounded and have a chance to try different activities, learn, grow and have fun. They also have a lot of energy and need to channel it in productive ways, otherwise they’ll be bouncing off the walls!

Some parents choose to have nannies, babysitters or family members watch their children after school, while others choose daycare or onsite after school programs. My husband and I chose the daycare/onsite after school program route for our kids and it works pretty well for us, though every family needs to do what works for them. I also work from home one day a week, which helps provide some balance. However, I think the biggest struggle is the fact that corporate working hours don’t coincide with school hours. Also, it can be very difficult when the kids get sick, have special days off school for teacher training or other holidays that companies aren’t closed for. Also, driving the kids to and from school, their sports and other activities requires a lot of careful planning and organization and sometimes carpooling with other parents. And did we talk about homework yet? Volunteering in the classroom? Occasional work travel? A social life? Play dates and birthday parties? Making school lunches? Cooking? Cleaning? Bath time? Bed time? Needing to get back online many nights to work after the kids go to bed? And what about exercise? That’s something I have to get up early in the morning to do, or it won’t get done. Yep, it’s a lot, yet so many of us do it every day.

On the flip side, I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be a hands on mom to my sons and also have a career that I love. I often say, “When you have kids, you don’t have to check your ambition at the door, but you do have to keep your ambition in check.” So that’s what I try to put into practice every day. I don’t always get it right and make plenty of mistakes along the way. But I keep trying my absolute best at home and at work and I try to be real and authentic through it all. That’s the best I can do. I used to feel really guilty about working while raising young kids and I still do at times. However, having the experiences of working for other companies and running my own business from home while trying to raise a family, I’ve been on both sides and each has it’s pros and cons. It will never be perfect, but I really like where I am now and I love the fact that my job entails helping other companies and people focus on their health, wellness and fitness in addition to their work. Therefore, my work inspires me to strive for as much balance as I can by trying to get enough sleep, managing my stress, exercising regularly, eating healthy, breathing and relaxing on the weekends. I know all too well that those things are critical to making it work and if they fall out of whack, everything else will too.

At the end of the day, I want to ensure I’m there for my kids and give them the security and confidence that they are deeply loved and cared for, while also being a productive and high-performing contributor at work. There’s always give and take, sharing responsibilities with my husband and days when things run smoothly in both areas, in one area and not in the other or in neither. But such is life. In my mind, it’s still a gift to be able to have both my family and career in my life and having both allows me to truly be ME. I like learning, growing, challenging myself and having something that’s my own. I also feel I’m setting a good example for my sons that both parents can work and be present at school and at home. It certainly isn’t easy, but for me, it’s always worth it.

How do other parents feel out there? What works for you and what doesn’t? What are your biggest challenges and opportunities? Do you feel it’s all worth it? Feel free to think about these questions and also share your thoughts in the comments section below if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you!

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew! I’ll be back soon with another blog post. Until next time…

XOXO,
Reena

 

Passion Fit Blog

Stay Present and Take Things One Day at a Time

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are enjoying the New Year so far and 2016 is off to a great start for all of you. It’s been a busy start to the year for me, so I haven’t had a chance to blog in a little while. Therefore, I wanted to write today about the concept of staying present and taking things one day at a time.

This concept certainly isn’t new and is something we’ve all probably been reminded about from family, friends, teachers, coaches, bosses and others at some point in our lives or another. However, staying present and taking things one day at a time isn’t always easy, especially if you’re someone like me, who’s always planning for the future.

For anyone who knows me, I’m a Type A personality to a tee and am notorious for pre-planning, planning, post-planning, worrying, anticipating, analyzing, re-iterating my plan, etc. If you think that sounds exhausting, I can tell you firsthand…IT IS! Why do I do this? I honestly don’t know. I don’t really like surprises and never have. I’ll be the first to peek at the end of a book to see what happens before I start reading it or will ask someone to tell me how a movie or show ends before I see it because the suspense is killing me. I’ve always had very specific plans and goals for my life such as what I wanted to major in college, which companies I wanted to work for in my career, what kind of wedding I wanted to have when I got married to my husband, that I wanted to finish graduate school before I turned 30, that I wanted to have kids with my husband before I turned 35 and so on.

And while I did accomplish all of the above goals, you know what? Life. Doesn’t. Always. Work. That. Way. The only certain thing about life is uncertainty and I’ve been learning this over the years through various challenges I’ve faced in my life. I’ve also learned it’s so important to stay present and take in all the beauty and joy life has to offer, even if you’re going through a challenging time. I’ve been trying my best to do this every day, especially with my family and kids, who are my greatest sources of joy in the world. Life is short and you don’t want to take things for granted, miss out or have any regrets because you were too busy worrying about the future. I also believe in having faith in something bigger than yourself and using that faith as your guiding force into unknown territory. It can help you navigate your life in a more calm and relaxed way. And who knows…maybe the uncertainty can lead to new opportunities, possibilities and hope.

Life isn’t always easy, but embracing the ups and downs, staying present and taking things one day at a time can certainly make life not only easier to handle, but actually pleasant and fun, even in the midst of uncertainty. So today, let’s all take a deep breath, relax and see where life takes us…

And with that, I’ll leave you all with this beautiful quote from Deepak Chopra:

“By opening ourselves to uncertainty, even if just a little bit at a time, we release our self-imposed limitations and allow our life and spiritual journey to unfold in ways more wondrous and fulfilling than we could have imagined.”

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. I’ll be back soon with my next blog post. Have a great weekend!

XOXO,

Reena

 

Passion Fit Blog

Amazing Workout Accessories for the Holidays

Happy Holidays, Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are celebrating and enjoying the season with friends and family and gearing up for an exciting New Year ahead. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been working your way through your holiday shopping list throughout this month and may be in the midst of finalizing your last few gifts for some key family members. If that’s the case or even if you want to shop for yourself, I wanted to let you know about some amazing new workout products to check out.

I was recently introduced, by a common professional contact, to Jessica Louw, the very talented founder of a San Diego-based retail company called aLign. As two entrepreneurs in the health, wellness and fitness space, we had a wonderful conversation over the phone about each of our efforts in helping people lead healthier, happier and less stressful lives and how we could possibly partner together to have an even bigger impact. Jessica recently sent me some sample products that I could experience for myself and then blog about and share with my students, blog readers and social media followers, while I directed her to my YouTube channel and website so she could share my workout videos, blog posts and teaching schedule with her network.

aLign is a fantastic brand of activewear and accessories products to allow the modern woman to stay active and healthy while tending to the other key areas in her life as well. aLign makes a beautifully multifaceted bag called the aLign Mesh, which can be used to fulfill the many roles a woman plays in her life as a working professional, mother, fitness enthusiast, wife, etc.  These bags are both stylish and functional and can be used to store laptops, cell phones, workout clothes, shoes, water bottles, diapers, baby bottles, etc. The bags are very thoughtfully designed with several compartments and strap options to make the transition from work to home to the gym to play dates seamless. Made of 100% genuine leather on the exterior and eco-friendly mesh on the interior, these bags are of exceptional quality and are priced affordably at $164.99. I love my new bag and will be using it often to support me in my busy and active lifestyle!

Another great aLign product is the aLign Sip 32 oz. water bottle. This is an extremely high-quality bottle that is BPA free, has a retractable straw and is priced at only $17.99. Another bonus is you can order it with motivational messages to keep you feeling inspired throughout the day. Finally, just like the aLign Mesh bag, it looks stylish and is also very functional for everyday use at the office, gym, home or on the go.

Feel free to check out these products at www.alignbags.com and reach out if you have any questions. Also, for those who are students in my classes, I’ll be bringing them to class in the coming weeks for you all to check out in person!

That’s it for today, guys. Sending lots of love and best wishes to you all to have a fantastic Holiday and New Year. I’ll be back with my next blog post next month and I’m looking forward to an incredible 2016 with all of you!

XOXO,
Reena

Passion Fit Blog

My Personal Vision and Mission Statement

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween and is gearing up for holiday season. My blog post for today is very special to me. I wanted to share my personal vision and mission statement I had written 20 years ago when I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I had taken Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” leadership course within the business school and was very inspired by both the course and the book at that time.

One of the things we discussed, was knowing your own values and writing about your own personal visions and mission statement for your life. I wrote mine in such a way that I could read it decades later and my deepest values, goals and aspirations would still hold true at any point in my life. I can honestly say that everything I wrote then is still completely true to the core for me now. I feel like I have experienced and accomplished many of the things I set out to in becoming a wife, mother, within my extended family, friendships, career, education, travel, volunteer work, etc., but yet I still have so much more to learn, experience and accomplish as well, which is a great feeling. I also know I am completely meant to be doing what I am doing with Passion Fit based on what I wrote. All that said, here is my personal vision and mission statement. I am both nervous and excited to share it with you all. I hope it inspires you to write your own personal vision and mission statement, which can be used as a compass or guide for you throughout your life as well!

“My mission in life is to experience genuine happiness. I want to experience this through the people I will cross paths with in this lifetime as well as the things I will learn from them, give to them, receive from them and experience with them. I would like to honestly be able to look into my own heart and know that I have used it, thought and made decisions with it, given it to others and followed it to the best of my ability. I want to be completely secure with my relationship with God and my spiritual being. I want to understand, respect and love my true self without any doubts or underestimation.

I would like to achieve my goals and make my dreams come true, but still live and learn along the way. I want to be able to appreciate mistakes, criticisms and misfortunes as “life’s little gifts” to help me become stronger and give me new insights and opportunities. I would like to be able to comfortably live with uncertainty to fully experience the adventure of possibility, hope and opportunity. I want to be open to new people, ideas and experiences. I want to find my “special talent” and my purpose on this earth and serve humanity to the best of my ability.

I would like to give, receive and experience love at it’s highest level. I would like to have the capability to live each present moment fully while anticipating and creating the future. I want to always remember and learn from the past, but not live in it. I want to fully discover the beauty of life and nature and help others discover this beauty. This is a journey I am so excited to be a part of…and I will travel along it using my heart, mind, body and soul!”

–Reena Prasad Vokoun

Passion Fit Blog

The Power of Music

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are doing well. For my latest blog post, I wanted to discuss the power of music and how it can serve a really great purpose in our lives, especially as it relates to our health and wellness. Music can positively impact us in the following ways:

 

  • It can energize us

 

  • It can lift our mood

 

  • It can make us happy and excited

 

  • It can touch our heart, soul and spirit

 

  • It can help us grieve and ease our sadness

 

  • It can help ease our pain

 

  • It can help release our frustration or anger

 

  • It can reduce our stress or anxiety

 

  • It can reduce our blood pressure

 

  • It can inspire us

 

  • It can empower and motivate us

 

  • It can improve our performance in various activities and pursuits

 

  • It can give us hope

 

  • It can make us move our bodies to dance or exercise

 

  • It can make us sing

 

  • It can create loving feelings and emotions within us

 

  • It can positively impact our memory

 

  • It can improve our brain functionality

 

  • It can help us fall asleep

 

  • And much, much more!

 

There are so many facets of music such as the lyrics, the melody and the beat that can really touch us in different ways. According to an article in Huffington Post, by Jill Suttie,  neuroscientists have found that listening to music can increase positive emotions via reward centers within our brains and more and more research is being done to determine how music can be used in healthcare to help patients before and after surgeries, if they’re suffering from various diseases, etc.

No matter what genres of music we prefer, it really is wonderful to know music is accessible to us in many different forms – via instruments, concerts, digital videos, TV, radio, online music services, electronic devices, or even through our own voices! So try to leverage music whenever you can to enhance your health and wellness.

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. I’ll be back next month with my next blog post. Have a great night and enjoy some music! And with that, I’ll leave you with this beautiful quote:

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

-Plato

Passion Fit Blog

Wellness Tips for Parents

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are doing well. Now that we’re into August and school will be back in session soon for those who are parents with kids (including myself), I wanted to blog today about some wellness tips for parents. Life is obviously extremely busy when you’re a parent and can often times be overwhelming. When you’re trying to juggle your own career, running a household, kids’ school activities, homework, sports practices, music lessons, birthday parties, volunteer projects and more, you need to remember to take some time out for yourself to keep your sanity and maintain balance in your life. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll end up burnt out, cranky and with little patience…all things most of us as parents have experienced at one point or another. You also won’t be able to fully enjoy your children and all the joys of being a parent.

Now, I’m just as guilty as the next person of often being over-scheduled, running late, putting my family’s needs before my own, even if I desperately need a break and pushing myself to try to get everything done on my work and personal to-do lists, keep my house clean and organized, ensure my boys are properly bathed, fed, have taken their vitamins, are wearing sunblock and have stopped arguing or fighting with each other before we get out the door. Whew – just typing this is making me stressed and exhausted! However, I’m very self-aware and that’s what I want to ask all the parents out there to do as the first step in prioritizing your own wellness. Also, below are some tips based on what’s worked for me as both a parent and a health, wellness and fitness professional. I still have to remind and push myself to do some of these things, which is why I want to share them with you guys. Maybe we can all commit to doing these things as often as necessary and hold each other accountable virtually. 🙂 Alright guys, here are some tips for you!

1. Clearly communicate to your kids and spouse when you need a break. My kids and husband are pretty supportive when I actually tell them I’m tired and need to sit down for a minute. My four and seven-year-old boys will often rub my head, bring me a blanket and say, “You should rest and relax, Mommy…you deserve it,” which is really sweet.

2. Carve out time to exercise as many days of the week as you can. Now, I know I’m biased as a fitness instructor, but this one is imperative for parents. It will provide you with the energy and stamina you need for your kids, will relieve you of your daily stress and will make you more cheerful to be around. I also think your family will really appreciate that last one. 😉

3. Listen to music that makes you happy. I do this all the time in my car or when I’m cooking dinner in the evenings. My kids love it, too and we’ll often have a dance party right in our kitchen before dinner. This one will really lighten things up, give you some perspective and change your mood.

4. Go to bed on time. I know we as parents often want to stay up late because that’s when we can get a little bit of “me” time in. However, plan your evening, including dinner, clean-up, packing lunches, homework, kids’ bath and bed times, etc. so you have your “me” time built in at a reasonable hour and you can still get to bed on time. My boys go to bed at 8:30 p.m. and I try to make sure I have all of the above chores done by 9:00 p.m. I then try to have my “me” time (which sometimes includes a little work in the first half) from 9:00 – 10:30 p.m., so I can be in bed by 10:30 p.m.

5. Try to cook in bulk a few times a week so you have left-overs that can be spread out over two (or more) days. Now, I’ll admit that my family doesn’t love left-overs, but I’ve trained them over the years to tolerate them and kind of like them. 😉 This will save you from the stress of having to cook every night. Also, if you want to eat out or order out once or twice a week (especially on the weekends), that’s okay. Just make sure the food you choose is as healthy as possible and includes lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This one is admittedly tough for me, as I like doing things myself. However, I’ve learned to lean on my girlfriends and neighbors if I need them to watch the kids after school here and there or carpool for sports tournaments or games. It’s amazing how willing people are to help if you just ask. Also, be willing to reciprocate and return the favor so everyone wins.

7. Breathe and don’t be hard on yourself if something doesn’t go according to plan or you mess up. We’ve all been there. I forgot to send my seven-year-old son dressed in his pajamas for “Pajama Day” at camp a few weeks ago and he was so mad at me. He looked at me like I was the meanest Mommy on earth and made me feel very guilty for forgetting. But then I looked around and there were plenty of other kids and camp counselors who also weren’t wearing their pajamas, so I took a deep breath, pointed out to my son that he wasn’t the only one, that I’d try to remember the next time and he should try to remember too. After that, I just let it go. By the time I picked him up from camp that afternoon, he’d forgotten all about it!

Well, that’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew! I hope these wellness tips are useful for all of you parents out there. Remember to take good care of yourselves. I’ll be back with another post soon! XOXO

Passion Fit Blog

What is Exercise?

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer. For my blog post today, I wanted to provide a list of 20 statements about what I think exercise is and isn’t in an effort to provide perspective, motivation and encouragement for all of you. I hope you enjoy this list and feel free to add to it, change it or make your own list. The most important thing is that you have the right mindset so you can make or continue to make exercise  a lifelong priority. Okay, here goes…enjoy!

1. Exercise isn’t just a choice, it’s a necessity like sleeping, eating, showering or brushing your teeth.

2. Exercise isn’t about how you look, it’s about how you feel…and if you look good too…added bonus. 🙂

3. Exercise isn’t just for recreation, it’s also for helping maintain or improve your health and wellbeing and can help prevent or fight diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.

4. Exercise should be hard work, but it shouldn’t be torturous.

5. Exercise is about each individual, but can also be about a larger community or team, which can make it even more fun and rewarding.

6. Exercise can include cardio, strength and flexibility training either all in one workout or in separate workouts…the most important thing is to do all three each week.

7. Exercise isn’t just about the body, it’s about the mind-body connection and can be just as much of a spiritual experience as it is physical.

8. Exercise may be a chore for some, but it’s a serious passion for others.

9. Exercise may not always feel good in the short term, but it will almost always make you feel good in the long term.

10. Exercise is most effective when it’s part of an overall healthy lifestyle, rather than a periodic activity.

11. Exercise coupled with good music can be euphoric….especially if the form of exercise is dancing.

12. Exercise is tangible because it can be measured in calories burned, time spent, steps taken, weight lost, miles run, reps performed, heart rate elevated, etc.

13. Exercise can be done anytime, anywhere.

14. Exercise can be customized for different ability levels to make it attainable in the present but also aspirational for the future.

15. Exercise in some form is something you can do throughout your life.

16. Exercise continuously provides new opportunities for growth and development.

17. Exercise can help clear your head, relieve you of stress, give you confidence, provide you with more energy and make you feel happy.

18. Exercise is universal.

19. Exercise is timeless.

20. Exercise is a gift.

That’s it for today! I hope this list inspires you and you’ll look at it often…especially on those days when you don’t feel like exercising. 😉 Have a great weekend and I’ll be back with another blog post soon! XOXO

 

Passion Fit Blog

Mindfulness Broken Down into Four Concepts

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are doing well and are enjoying the summer so far. It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, so I wanted to get another one out to you guys. Today, I wanted to discuss the topic of mindfulness and break it down for you into four concepts. It’s become a popular buzzword in the world of health and wellness these days, but I still think it’s an important topic to understand so you can incorporate it into your life if you’re interested and could help in becoming more centered, relaxed, peaceful, happy and in touch with your internal and spiritual self. I’ve been interested in mindfulness since I was in college and would often tell my best friends that one of my biggest life goals is to achieve inner peace. They would always laugh and say, “Reena, a goal like that will take you YEARS to achieve!” While that may be true, it’s still a personal quest of mine and therefore, I want to share what I’ve learned over the years in case it’s helpful to you.

I’ve read several books that cover the topic of mindfulness including, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, The Art of Happiness by the 14th Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I’ve also read some books on breathing and meditation, attended a meditation and yoga retreat, practice yoga regularly, started doing some training in yoga instruction, teach yoga to children and have attended the Widsom 2.0 conference in San Francisco to broaden my scope and understanding of mindfulness. In addition, my East Indian heritage has given me a lifetime of exposure to yoga, meditation and Hindu practices and traditions, which are all integrated into the topic of mindfulness in various ways.

Mindfulness is defined in the Merriam-Webster.com online dictionary as, “the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” While this is a fairly straight-forward way of defining it, here are four concepts that break down and best explain how to practice mindfulness in my opinion.

1. Focus on the present:  While it’s natural to remember and reflect on the past and anticipate the future, one thing we can do to try and live life more peacefully is to focus on the present and allow ourselves to enjoy the here and now and the simplicity of our own being. Our family and friends will certainly appreciate it if we’re present with them and we may be more relaxed if we aren’t preoccupied, stressed or anxious with thoughts of the past or the future. The present moment is the only sure thing we have in life and is a gift for us to embrace and use all of our senses to fully see, feel, smell and taste it.

2. Breathe:  Breathing is so natural and healthy for us. It fills our bodies with oxygen and allows us to be calm and relaxed. It centers us and actually helps us focus on the present. The best way to breath in my opinion, is to expand the belly when we inhale through the nose and pull the belly in when we exhale through the mouth. Belly breathing is not only something we can do in a yoga class, but it’s something we can do anytime and anywhere and is a great way to relieve ourselves of stress and stay focused on the things that matter most to us.

3. Free the mind:  Freeing our minds is about letting go of negative thoughts, feelings and fears that really don’t serve us well at all. While it’s human nature to to have negative thoughts, feelings and fears, the more we can acknowledge them and then release them, the better off we could be in the long run. Sometimes we create our own stress and anxiety by our thoughts, feelings and fears and often times, they aren’t even grounded in reality. Therefore, being self-aware and trying to nip this type of thinking in the bud when it happens could allow us to free up and open our minds to positive, motivating, loving and peaceful thoughts and feelings so we could be happier, more productive and more mindful in our lives.

4. Be kind to ourselves and others:  To be mindful is to be kind as well…kind to both ourselves and others. We can be kind by showing empathy, letting go of our egos and superficial thinking, being accepting, helpful and loving. Often times people aren’t kind to others because they aren’t kind to themselves. That’s why it’s so important to be kind to ourselves so we’ll have the capacity to be kind to others as well. We could have the ability to feel good if we practice kindness and it could help create a more peaceful and joyful environment around us within our families, friend circles, workplaces, schools and communities.

Well, that’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. I hope these concepts are helpful in understanding and practicing mindfulness and feel free to apply them if you feel they could help you. The more we do these things, the easier they’ll become and eventually they could become second nature to us. I’ll be back with another blog post soon. Until then…Namaste. 🙂

Passion Fit Blog

Nutrition and Workout Tips for Spring and Summer

Spring is here and summer is upon us, which means its time to get excited and ready by focusing on your nutrition and workouts so you can look and feel your best during this glorious time of year!

Nutrition:

Let’s start with nutrition. Eating natural foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, is an important part of healthy nutrition as these foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants and are low in calories. Luckily, there are many great choices of fruits and vegetables that are in season during the spring and summer months. Some vegetable examples include tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, mushrooms, spinach, green beans and eggplant. Some fruit examples include strawberries, raspberries, peaches, mangos, plums, watermelons and grapes. For a full list of fruits and vegetables available by season, check out this list from the United States Department of Agriculture and incorporate into your meals and snacks.

It’s also important to eat proteins, which could include lean meats such as chicken, fish and turkey and/or beans, nuts, eggs, tofu or other soy products. During the warmer months, you can even put your lean meats on the grill for a healthy and great taste. Consuming protein will benefit your hair, skin, nails, muscles and tissues.

Carbohydrates and dairy can also be beneficial to your nutrition plan and can give you energy and contribute to strong bones during a time of year when you might be outside more and even more active. Some complex carbohydrate options include whole grain breads, pastas and cereals, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice. Some dairy options include low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt.

Finally, during the warmer months, it’s important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water based on your body weight and activity levels. For more information and education on your nutrition sources, daily intake and portion size recommendations, visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s ChooseMyPlate.gov website.

Exercise:

In addition to nutrition, exercise is also a very important part of getting in shape for spring and summer. This time of year makes it easy to be active if you like outdoor activities such as running, walking, biking, hiking or swimming or outdoor sports such as tennis, baseball, softball or sand volleyball. For those who want to work out indoors, there are plenty of great classes and equipment at your local gym or fitness apps, online workout videos or DVDs you could do at home.

No matter what types of activities you’re interested in, it’s important to be active most days of the week if possible for both adults and children. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, adults between the ages of 18-64, need about 150 minutes of moderate, cardiovascular activity per week, which could be broken down into 30 minutes, five days a week and strength training activity using weights, equipment or your own body weight, at least twice a week. For more details and the specific breakdown of physical activity by age group, check out their website here. Remember to warm-up before your workouts and cool-down and stretch properly afterward.

Hopefully these tips and ideas are helpful as you get ready and healthy for spring and summer! As always, remember to consult your doctor prior to starting any new nutrition or exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

Passion Fit Blog

Going on Vacation? Don’t Forget to Pack Your Workout Gear!

Many people take vacations this time of year, therefore, vacation season is in full swing with Spring Break, Memorial Day, Summer Break and Fourth of July all taking their spots on the calendar in the coming months. When people are on vacation, two things that often go out the window are exercise and healthy eating. However, it’s possible to enjoy your vacation and all the treats that come with it and still maintain a healthy balance so you can feel good when you are on vacation and when you get back. I just took a wonderful vacation to Hawaii with my family and wanted to share some tips based on what I did to maintain my exercise regimen and healthy eating habits during our trip.

What to Pack:

– A few workout tops, bottoms and socks you can mix and match

NOTE: If you won’t have laundry options available where you’ll be staying, then pack a few more since you’ll likely be sweating through each workout outfit. 😉

– One pair of cross training or running shoes that can be used for any type of workout

– Your iPod or phone with your workout playlist uploaded (if applicable)

– Your Fitbit or other tracking device (if applicable)

– Sunscreen if you’ll be exercising outside

– Sunglasses if you’ll be exercising outside

– Water bottle since you’ll definitely need to hydrate before, during and after your workout

Since you’ll be occupying precious space in your suitcase for your workout gear, you’ll hopefully feel motivated to make use of it while you’re on your trip. Beautiful scenery and convenient exercise facilities will also help motivate you, so below are some logistics to consider for your vacation.

Where and How to Work Out:

– For tropical vacations, go for beach runs if you’re staying close to or on the beach

– You’ll likely choose a hotel with a pool to enjoy, but consider using it for swim workouts as well

– Pick a hotel with a gym if possible for convenient access to weights and workout equipment

– Ask your concierge/hotel guest services for good hiking or walking trail recommendations

– Ask your concierge/hotel guest services about yoga and other fitness classes offered

My favorite workouts to do while on vacation are going for runs along the gorgeous beaches, hiking along beautiful and mountainous trails and taking outdoor yoga classes. My husband and I also really enjoy exploring new cities and destinations on our feet so we can get exercise as well as take in our surroundings. Our kids also enjoy it and it’s something you have to train them to do early on, so they’ll grow up wanting to be active on vacations as well. You don’t have to work out every single day of your trip (unless you want to of course).  However, it’s good to set a goal that you’ll work out a few days or you’ll try to be active in some way every day or most days of your trip.

As far as eating and nutrition while on vacation? My philosophy is to keep things in moderation. I’m all for enjoying rich, local cuisine, fun cocktails and delicious desserts, however, I try to also balance that with eating healthy as well. While it may not always be convenient and easy to eat healthy when traveling and in new locations, just try to do the best you can and make sensible decisions.

What to Eat:

– Enjoy locally grown fruits and vegetables on your trip

NOTE: If you’re traveling overseas, just make sure ahead of time that it’s safe and there aren’t any contamination concerns with eating or drinking anything water-based that’s locally grown or irrigated, including fruits, vegetables and drinking water. You should be fine within big resorts, hotels and restaurants, but it doesn’t hurt to double check with your doctor and with the various locations. Bottled water, fruits with peels and cooked vegetables could also help alleviate any concerns, but again, just double check.

– Order seafood, lean meats and proteins wherever possible

– Ask for brown rice, whole grain pasta, bread and cereal and if they aren’t available, limit carbs

– Ask for skim milk, low fat cheese and yogurt and if they aren’t available, limit your dairy intake

– Consider ordering appetizers instead of full meals or sharing meals with family or friends

Well, I hope these tips are useful for the next time you go on vacation. If you have additional thoughts or ideas, please feel free to share them as I’d love to hear from you guys. How do you prioritize exercising while on vacation? What are your favorite workouts to do? What do you like to eat?

Have a wonderful weekend, Passion Fit Crew and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

XOXO

 

Passion Fit calendar

What a Difference a Year Can Make…

Just over a year ago, I took an important step in my life. This step was a precursor to all the things I’m doing now professionally and it’s amazing to look back on how it all began. On March 14, 2014, I published my very first blog post entitled:

Passion Fit is Finally Born!

I was happily working for Google in digital advertising sales at the time, but really wanted to start blogging and writing about health, wellness and fitness since I’ve always been passionate about those topics. I’ve also loved writing for as long as I can remember and especially enjoyed my writing classes in college and graduate school. As you’ll read in that first post, there was a lot of history and fear involved in getting started and it actually took me a while to publish my first post. However, once I finally did, I received such wonderful support and encouragement from my friends and family that I got the courage to leave my job and Corporate America a few months later (something I had been thinking about for some time but never had the guts to do previously) and transform myself into an entrepreneur and health, wellness and fitness professional.

Fast forward one year and I’m pursuing my dream by not only blogging, but developing workout videos and other digital content, teaching fitness classes and building and marketing my own brand through Passion Fit. It’s kind of surreal to me sometimes and while it has been an amazingly fun, creative and fulfilling experience so far, it hasn’t been without it’s ups and downs.

For starters, I’ve never taken a risk quite this big in my career or in my life before and I sometimes have days and nights filled with self-doubt, fear, worry and a sense of loss of my former career self and identity. Since being an entrepreneur can sometimes feel isolating, I do miss the camaraderie of working on a team with extremely driven, bright and accomplished people, many of whom continue to be friends near and dear to my heart. I also sometimes miss the rush of presenting to clients and closing major deals, the compensation, benefits and perks of working for a big, brand named company and the fast and exciting pace of the digital media industry. In addition, I have so many future ideas, plans and phases for Passion Fit, but I worry about whether or not I’ll be able to see it all through, whether or not it will be well received by my students, social media followers, subscribers, professional network, friends and family, if I’ll be successful in the end or if I’ll fail and this will all have been for nothing. Obviously most of these feelings are ego-driven and come and go. Also, I know I’m the one who chose to take my career in a different direction and I’m extremely fortunate and grateful that I was even in a position to make this choice in the first place. However, I’m human and I do sometimes question myself and the new path I’m on.

All that said, most days I feel so happy because I have more flexibility and time for my husband, kids, extended family and girlfriends, I’m able to be very involved with my kids’ school and sports activities and can really enjoy their childhood, which is already going by way too fast. I’m also finally doing what I know in my heart I was always meant to do. I’m being creative and leveraging my passions to educate and help people and make a healthy and positive impact in this world. I’m getting a chance to meet, network and learn from some of the most talented, inspiring and innovative people in the health, wellness, fitness and dance industries and work with so many people from all over the world and of different age groups including school-aged children, young adults, middle-aged adults and senior citizens. I’m also getting an opportunity to teach in different environments including lifestyle gyms/clubs, studios, corporate fitness centers and schools. The bright smiles I see on my students’ faces when they master a strength training move they couldn’t previously do in one of my fitness classes or when they tell me they love a song or my choreography in one of my dance classes is simply heart warming. When my blog readers or video subscribers tell me my posts or workout videos have really resonated or inspired them to make a healthy change in their own lives around their fitness regimen, nutrition, stress management or career, I feel like this is all worth it.

In addition, I’m still using my previous professional skills to work with my brilliant lawyer to negotiate contracts with business development partners, learn the ropes of video production with my talented videographers, write and publish content, develop and execute digital brand advertising strategies and manage the operations and financial planning for my company, which is all very exciting.

At the end of the day, I know there will be really good times and really hard times and that all comes with the territory of starting a new venture on my own. Therefore, I write this post today, not only for my own self-reflection, but more importantly, to encourage you guys to take risks, do what you love, trust your instincts, keep pushing through and believe in yourselves, even during the toughest of times. If we don’t believe in ourselves, who else will believe in us? The strength to be patient, keep going and stay motivated is something that can only come from within ourselves, so we have to look internally and nowhere else. With hard work, positive intentions, true perseverance and faith in something bigger than ourselves, I honestly and truly believe with all my heart that anything is possible…

That’s it for today my dearest Passion Fit Crew. Believe in yourselves and know that I believe in YOU! Until next time….

XOXO

Passion Fit Blog

Potential Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are doing well. Today I wanted to talk to you guys about chocolate. Even though I’m a health, wellness and fitness professional, I have to admit that I absolutely LOVE chocolate!!! So when more and more studies started coming out over the years about the potential health benefits of eating it, I was beyond excited. However, it’s important to note that while these studies may exist and I’ll reference some of the studies in this post, there is still more research needed on this topic to draw any definitive conclusions. Therefore, moderation is still very important when it comes to consuming chocolate and also checking with your doctor if you have any health concerns.

So what types of chocolate are considered “healthy?” Here is a list for you based on chocolate that is higher in antioxidants, fiber and minerals:

– Non-fat cocoa

– Unsweetened baking chocolate

– Dark chocolate

The important things to ensure here are that you’re minimizing the amount of sugar, saturated fat, caffeine and calories you’re consuming and that there is a high percentage of cacao in the chocolate (ideally between 70-85%), which is filled with healthy chemicals that can help prevent various diseases.

Many studies, including some from John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Harvard University School of Public Health, suggest that consuming cocoa, unsweetened and dark chocolate in moderation could reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and heart attacks, due to fewer blood clots, less inflammation and an increase in blood flow. These types of chocolates may also contribute to a lowered risk of diabetes, due to more control in insulin sensitivity. In addition, consuming chocolate could result in an enhancement in the action of neurotransmitters in the brain, which could reduce stress and fatigue and improve brain functioning, happiness, mood and sleep. Finally, consuming chocolate could help improve your skin because it contains flavanols, which can help protect skin from sun damage.

Here are some articles with more details on these studies and findings:

WebMD 

The Mayo Clinic

Women’s Health

I enjoy eating dark chocolate covered almonds as a snack or putting in some dark or unsweetened chocolate chips in whole wheat pancakes, low-fat, Greek yogurt, steel-cut oatmeal or whole grain cereal. I also enjoying drinking hot cocoa with skim milk. How do you like to eat or drink chocolate?

That is it for today! Thank you so much for reading my post and I’ll be back with another one soon. And with that, I think I’ll go indulge in a little bit of dark chocolate now… 🙂

Passion Fit Blog

Being Disciplined About Relaxation

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are doing well. Today I wanted to talk about a concept called being disciplined about relaxation. What does that mean, you ask? Well, while I know this concept sounds counterintuitive, in this crazy busy, tech-driven world we live in, many of us are living life at a pretty fast pace, over-scheduled, working long hours and constantly connected to our devices. Therefore, for many people, it does take discipline to actually stop and relax.

I know I’m just as guilty as the next person for having way too much on my plate as an entrepreneur of my own company, managing my kids’ school and sports activities, volunteering, managing a household and having a busy social schedule. I’m also a Type A personality, very active and ambitious, which can make it hard for me to take breaks and relax. My husband and two kids are the same way, so we are often hit with a quadruple whammy in our house. 🙂

However, I’m trying to make more of an effort for myself and my family to slow down and take some time to just be outside or relax at home and not schedule so many activities throughout the week and weekend, which often leaves us all exhausted. Also, when it comes to work, I’m trying to carve out a schedule that’s realistic for myself and my family and not stretch myself so thin by taking on each and every opportunity that comes my way. That is definitely hard for me to do, but I’m working on it.

Many research studies out there have shown that taking time out to relax increases productivity, reduces stress and leads to better health and happiness and a more balanced life. By taking some breaks and time away from work and other activities that pose a constant demand on your time, you could have the ability to boost your creativity, generate new perspectives and ideas, enjoy time with loved ones and actually appreciate the world around you, rather than just going through the motions of day to day life, feeling overwhelmed and not really taking it all in. You’ll also likely feel more calm and less anxious all the time, which you’ll not only appreciate, but the people around you will as well.

Some great ways to relax include:

– Turning off the TV

– Putting away devices such as your phone, tablet or laptop

– Listening to relaxing music

– Breathing or meditating

– Doing yoga

– Going outside for a walk, hike, run or bike ride

– Cooking

– Sitting in a hot tub or sauna

– Getting a massage

– Reading an enjoyable book or magazine

– Talking to family, friends or your significant other

– Watching a movie

– Laughing

– Taking a relaxing shower or bath

– Taking a nap

– Going to sleep earlier or waking up a little later if your schedule permits

– Taking vacations and weekend getaways more regularly

…and this list could go on and on. What are some of the ways you like to relax? What are the roadblocks in your day to day life that might be preventing you from relaxing more often if you aren’t already? When you do actually find time to relax, how does it make you feel? Tune into these questions and figure out ways you can incorporate relaxation more into your daily life. It might take some discipline, but it’s definitely worth it and will soon become more natural and important to you the more you make time to do it.

Well, that’s it for today guys. I’ll be back with another post soon. Now go ahead and give yourself permission to RELAX….you deserve it! 🙂

Passion Fit Blog

Training with Rubberbanditz Resistance Bands

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you guys are doing well and are off to a great start in 2015. I also hope you all are getting out there and staying fit and active. Today, I wanted to talk about training with resistance bands and with the Rubberbanditz resistance band in particular. Rubberbanditz recently reached out to me and sent me a complimentary resistance band to test out. Therefore, I wanted to write up a product review to share my findings with all of you and discuss what types training you can do with this cool product.

I was intrigued with Rubberbanditz because many major athletes and professional sports teams such as NBA stars, Lebron James and John Wall and several MLB players from the Kansas City Royals and NFL players from the Kansas City Chiefs are training with these bands. So I was eager to try them out as well!

Check out this article in PRWeb for more details on professional athletes using this product:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/10/prweb12279880.htm

When I first felt the band, it felt a lot thicker than any other resistance band I’ve tried in the past. I was both excited and intimidated by this as I knew it would provide for an effective, yet challenging workout. I think the thickness of the band really does speak to it’s high quality and in my opinion, not only makes it resistant to your own force, but resistant to breakage as well. It also allows you to get a nice, tight grip when you’re doing various exercises with it. Here are five of the exercises I tried with the band, which I not only plan to incorporate into my own training, but would consider doing with my Total Body Sculpt classes in the future as well. If you’d like to try any of these exercises, just be sure to check with your doctor first if you have any health concerns.

1. Split Squats with Bicep Curls: Step on the band with your right foot forward and circle it around your wrists once or twice to get the desired level of resistance. Then start performing a split squat to work your hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps and a bicep curl at the same time. Keep your core engaged, spine neutral and elbows tucked into your body. Also, flex your arms up to shoulder level on the way up and extend to thigh level on the way down. Keep a 90 degree angle with your front leg while dropping your back leg down towards the ground, knees behind your toes and work against the resistance of the band the entire time. Repeat this same set of exercises with your left foot forward.

2. Squats with Upright Rows:  Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and step on the band with each foot. Circle the band around your wrists once or twice for the desired level of resistance and hold the band with both hands in the middle. Then squat down to work your hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps, while pulling the band up towards your chin with your elbows pointing upward, to work your deltoids. Then come back up with your legs and bring your arms down in front of your thighs. Tuck in your core, keep your back straight and make sure your knees don’t come over your toes. Work against the resistance of the band the entire time.

3. Leg Lifts: Hold the band with each hand wider than shoulder-width apart and position the bottom of the band on your right heel with your right foot flexed and leg pointed behind you. The left standing leg maintains a slight bend in the knee. Then slowly lift your right leg up and down to work the glutes and hamstrings. Repeat this same exercise with your left leg as well. Keep your spine neutral, core tucked in and continue to work against the resistance of the band.

4. Jump Squats: Step on the bottom of the band with each foot and keep them shoulder-width apart. Hold the top part of the band with both hands shoulder-width apart and push the band out further with both elbows. Squat down to work your hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps, then pick both feet up off the ground and do a power jump and squat back down again. Make sure to land softly on the ground to protect your knees, keep your core engaged and work against the resistance of the band.

5. Tricep Rows: Hook the band on a piece of furniture, workout equipment, door knob or pole of some sort. I hooked my band on my elliptical machine at home. Step back to extend the band and place your hands on each side. They can be as high up or as low on the band as you want, depending on your desired level of resistance. Keep your your core tucked in, spine neutral, elbows close to your body, knees bent and chest up. Then, using your triceps, pull your elbows back behind your body and then extend your arms back out. Continue to work against the resistance of the band the entire time.

That’s it for today, guys. If you’re interested in getting your own Rubberbanditz band, check out:

www.rubberbanditz.com

for more product and purchase details. I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

Passion Fit Blog

Lessons on Entrepreneurship and Life from My Dad

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all have been enjoying the holidays and have had some time off to relax, reflect and rejuvenate. 🙂 Right now, I’m back in the Midwest with my immediate and extended family and have been really enjoying time with all of them. I also thought it would be fun, while home, to interview my sweet Dad, who’s a retired executive from Corporate America and currently an entrepreneur. He’s one of the wisest and most intelligent people I know and has been an amazing mentor to me as I’ve become an entrepreneur myself and launched Passion Fit. Therefore, I wanted to share his insights on entrepreneurship and life with all of you, live from his home office!

Passion Fit: Tell us about your academic and professional background:

Dad: I have two Bachelor’s degrees in both Engineering and Law from Ranchi University in India and a Master’s degree in Engineering from New York University (NYU). I’ve worked in the foundry and forging industry for six years, the brewing industry for 29 years and the insurance industry for 10 years. I’ve worked in industrial engineering, strategic planning, operations and sales functions for large, Fortune 500 companies such as Miller Brewing Company (previously owned by Philip Morris) and have started my own business, so I’ve had a wide variety of experiences in my career. Even though I’m now retired, I currently have my own business where I provide commercial insurance and consulting services for various clients in the hospitality, IT, healthcare, retail, home and auto industries.

Passion Fit: What are the most exciting things about being an entrepreneur?

Dad: I’m responsible for all aspects of my company such as sales, marketing, business development, consulting, relationship and account management, finance, operations, etc. The success and failure of my venture resides with me and that’s really exciting to me to have that kind of influence. I make my own decisions and enjoy creating the vision and direction for my company. I also enjoy assessing the needs of my customers and creating customized solutions for their businesses.

Passion Fit: What are the most challenging things about being an entrepreneur?

Dad: Sometimes my customers have extremely unique and complex needs, therefore, it can be challenging to develop solutions that are both cost-effective and fully meet their needs. It also can be tough when you lose customers to competitors, especially when it’s based on price. In addition, the insurance industry is very highly regulated, therefore, providing quality, up-to-date solutions requires a great deal of research, time and effort.

Passion Fit: What is your feeling on taking risks?

Dad: I believe in taking calculated risks, especially if you’re passionate and believe strongly in what you’re doing. I took the biggest risk of my life when your Mom and I immigrated our family from India to the U.S., 44 year ago in 1970. I left a very well-paying and secure engineering job in India and came to New York City with one suitcase and $400 in my pocket in search of the “American dream.” This was during a major recession with high unemployment rates and the first four years were extremely difficult to make ends meet. I worked two jobs to support our family while attending graduate school part-time. I had a lot on my plate and didn’t have as much time to spend with our family during those years as I would’ve liked. However, once I received my Master’s degree, a lot of doors opened up for me professionally and for our family personally, which made the risk worthwhile. Therefore, I wholeheartedly believe that America is the land of opportunity, but you have to pay a price by making sacrifices, working hard and pursuing a higher education in order to increase your competitiveness and sustainability in the marketplace.

Passion Fit: In your opinion, how long should you give a business or company to really take off and start generating revenue?

Dad: I think you should give it at least two years because it takes time to build a brand and customer base and determine what your core competencies are in order to differentiate yourself in the market. Therefore, it’s important to save for start up costs and those first few years when revenue won’t be coming in.

Passion Fit: What is your overall advice for anyone interested in starting their own business or company?

Dad: My advice would be to do a lot of research on the industry and marketplace you plan to enter. Understand what requirements there will be in terms of licenses, forming your company and meeting all the state, federal and regulatory guidelines. Create a solid business and financial plan and test your hypotheses and market assumptions before fully launching.

Passion Fit: What life lessons have you learned from being an entrepreneur?

Dad: I’ve learned that you should never get disheartened if things don’t go as planned. Put forth your best efforts and know you’ve done all you can because the end result is not always in your control. If you strive for something and you get it, that’s good. However, if you don’t get it, then that’s even better because there’s a higher power telling you that it wasn’t in your best interest in the first place and there’s something better coming along. Also, remember that small thinking and focusing only on your own self interests won’t allow you to accomplish big and grandiose things. You have to think much bigger than yourself and focus on the interests and needs of a much broader group of people. In addition, if your determination is fractured, you won’t be able to weather the storms that may come your way. Your determination has to be unwavering to get you through the tough times before becoming successful. Finally, never lose your cool or professionalism, even if the other party you’re dealing with is being difficult. Stay polite, positive and professional and try to remain on good terms because you never know when you might come into contact with them again in the future.

That’s it for today, Passion Fit Crew. Thanks so much to my Dad for his words of wisdom. 🙂 Have a Happy New Year and I’ll be back with another post soon!

Passion Fit Blog

Make Exercise a Lifelong Priority

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season with your family and friends. Today’s blog post is about making exercise a lifelong priority. Hopefully many of you are already doing this and even if you’re not or if you’ve had extended periods of your life when exercise hasn’t been a priority (which is completely understandable and can happen to all of us during different phases of our lives), it’s never too late to make a change.

I’ve been teaching fitness and dance classes for many years and in many different settings…large gyms, corporate fitness centers, boutique studios and on preschool, elementary school, high school and college campuses. In doing this, I’ve had the privilege of teaching to children as young as two years old, to adults as old as 75 years old and all ages in between. It truly is amazing to work with people of varying age groups and understand the differences and similarities in their capabilities.

For example, while most children have boundless energy and flexibility, they’re still developing an awareness of their bodies, gross motor skills, strength and balance and regular exercise can help with all of these things. Young adults and middle aged adults will reach or have reached some of their peak fitness capabilities such as strength, balance, stamina and endurance and can likely still maintain that level or a similar level of performance (although adults in middle age may be seeing a slow down in metabolism and may take more time to recover from soreness, especially if they’ve had injuries along the way). Older adults may be seeing a decline in muscle tissue and bone density and could also have less balance, strength or stamina than before, which means exercise takes on a different meaning of keeping these bodily changes at bay or trying to reverse them altogether.

All that said, the one underlying similarity is that exercise in some form is extremely important for your body at any age and therefore, should be something you prioritize throughout your life to help achieve overall happiness and good health. It may allow you to stay active, continue to enjoy your favorite activities throughout your life, help prevent various types of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. and increase your longevity.

There are many different ways to make exercise a lifelong priority such getting out and walking, running, biking, hiking, skiing and snowboarding, joining a gym and taking classes regularly such as yoga, cycling, cardio conditioning, strength/sculpt and dance, working out with a personal trainer, signing up for a race or event and joining a training team for that event, joining a sports league or exercising with home equipment.

However, it’s important to also have a committed mindset when it comes to exercise and you’ll likely have to work hard to make it a regular part of your day, week, month and life in general. The key is to find activities you really enjoy and mix up the activities to prevent burnout or boredom.

Bottom line, keep it simple, fresh, fun and consistent and remember to make exercise a lifelong priority. That’s it for today, friends. I wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays with your loved ones!

Reena's sons

Let’s Invest in Our Children’s Health Because They’re the Future

Greetings Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and are hopefully continuing to enjoy the weekend with loved ones.

Today’s post is about our children…your children, my children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors’ children, friends’ children, children in our schools and even children we don’t know. The health of all of these children is extremely important, not only for their wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of our society and our future as well. Every generation has the ability to promote positive messages, philosophies, habits and rituals, when it comes to health, wellness and fitness, to the next generation. And while there isn’t only one right way to do this because everyone is different and each individual has unique needs, if we’re able to focus our efforts on the big picture, with an approach that is healthy overall and has room for customization and proper advice from pediatricians where needed, we’ll be in good shape…no pun intended. 🙂

In my family, when it comes to nutrition, we’re very focused on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, lowfat dairy, nuts, whole grains and limited sweets (although we all admittedly love sweets and have to really make an effort on that last one :)). I like to show my kids what we have in the refrigerator and cupboards in our kitchen so they understand what types of foods we have and what are good choices of foods to eat at different times of the day. My younger son is three years old and is more of a snacker, which can be tough when it comes to getting him to eat full meals. However, this is very age-appropriate behavior according to our pediatrician and provides an opportunity to make sure the snack foods we have available are healthy ones, since a good portion of his nutrition right now is coming from snacks. My older son, who is seven years old, is a good eater and pretty much eats most things on his plate, which is nice. I’ve also been teaching my older son (and will eventually teach my younger son as well) to read food labels to understand how much sugar, sodium, trans fat, etc. are in certain foods and also to look for the good stuff like protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, whole grains and other complex carbohydrates, etc. I don’t focus too much on calories because my children are very active and need fuel for energy and solid growth. We also watch our portion sizes and try to eat clean foods vs. processed foods as much as possible, so cutting or counting calories isn’t as applicable to my boys during these growing years.

All that said, I’m also a big believer in doing things in moderation (which is a philosophy I’ve learned from my mom) and try to let my kids be kids so they can enjoy ice cream, especially in the summer, cake at birthday parties, a little bit of candy during Halloween and Easter, burgers, fries, pizza, etc. at BBQs, sporting events and parties, cookies during the holidays, etc. We all deserve to live a little and enjoy life, right? As long as kids understand what it means to eat healthy on a regular basis with moderate indulgences, especially during special occasions throughout the year, then I believe they have the potential to keep up with these healthy habits into adulthood.

What types of foods and eating habits work for your children? I know some children have food allergies and other health considerations, so this is obviously where customization comes into play and is important for each individual child.

As far as exercise, my children are naturally very active (sometimes a little too active…ha ha), which makes it easier to ensure they’re getting enough exercise each day. They love running, jumping, dancing, riding their bikes and scooters and playing on play structures in our backyard and at the park. They also each play soccer in the fall (as shown in the picture at the top of this blog post), basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and do swimming in the summer. My husband coaches many of their sports as well. They also play a wide variety of other sports during the summer including tennis, karate and horseback riding through summer camps. In addition, I’ve started a monthly yoga program at each of their schools and teach yoga to both of my boys and their classmates, which is a nice balance for all the active sports the kids do on a regular basis. I also recently taught a Bollywood/Hip Hop dance class for a local high school here in the Bay Area as part of Diabetes Awareness Month and it was really rewarding to see these teenagers having fun, dancing and getting some exercise in the middle of their school day.

These days, there’s a lot of information out there when it comes to nutrition and exercise for children and it’s good to pay attention to this information and decipher what works best for the children in your life. I also highly recommend reading this article by:

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

on some great guidelines, tips and ideas when it comes to nutrition and exercise for school-aged children.

At the end of the day, our children deserve to have the resources, tools and knowledge to lead healthy and active lives so they can grow, thrive in school, sports and other extra-curricular activities and go on to achieve their dreams and make a difference in this world when they’re adults. It starts with our generation to pay it forward as so many previous generations have done for us. And with each passing generation, we gain access to more research, data and findings when it comes to health, wellness and fitness, which provides us with more and more opportunities to be healthy ourselves and teach our children to be healthy. There’s also a tremendous opportunity for possible prevention when it comes to childhood obesity (which is skyrocketing these days), diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. It all starts now and we can all do our part at home, at school, etc…so let’s invest in our children’s health because they’re the future!

That’s it for today. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

Passion Fit in gym

Why Dancing is One of the Best Workouts Ever

Hi guys! Hope you all are doing well. Today’s blog post is all about dancing, my history with it and why in my opinion, it’s one of the best workouts ever. Even if you don’t dance or don’t like to dance, I hope this blog post inspires you to give it a try sometime or find a form of exercise you love as much as I love dancing!

Dancing is seriously one of my greatest passions. When I hear music, I just start doing choreography in my head. I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid and still do it today. Sometimes I come up with my best ideas when I hear a song in the car! Also, when I hear music, my body just wants to move to the beat. It’s innate in me and has been for a long time…

It all started when I was seven years old and started taking Ballet lessons every year as a kid. I was so focused on making beautiful, precise and perfect movements along with the music. I wanted to be a professional dancer someday. I also remember making up Jazz, Hip Hop and Pop dance routines in the basement of our house or out in the backyard with my friends in the neighborhood. We would bring out our boom boxes, wear our ’80’s leotards and leg warmers and would come up with dances to songs by Madonna, Paula Abdul or Janet Jackson. A few of us even did a dance performance in our sixth grade talent show at school. We had so much fun and had coordinated outfits, bought dried ice so we could make a smokey background on stage and really went all out with it! My parents also signed up my brother and myself for doing Indian/Bollywood dances in the Holiday Folk Fair in our town every year with several of our family friends growing up, which was a lot of fun.

By the time I was in middle school, I did a dance team clinic and was hooked! My older sister was on her high school dance team when I was in elementary school, so I had been watching her dance team’s performances at the football games and other competitions for years when I was younger and knew I also wanted to be on the dance team by the time I was in high school. Therefore, the clinic I did in middle school was so fun for me to experience first-hand what it would be like. When I was a freshman in high school, I did cheerleading for a year and then tried out for the dance team that spring. I was on the dance team my sophomore through senior years and was co-captain my senior year. It honestly was one of the best experiences of high school for me and I absolutely loved learning, choreographing and perfecting new routines, the thrill of performing during football games, basketball games and pep rallies and going to dance camps with my friends from the dance team every summer.

When I entered college, I spent the first summer after my freshman year as a dance instructor for the high school dance camp I used to attend when I was in high school. I also took several dance classes through the university such as Modern, Jazz and Ballet for extra, non-degree credits and danced in shows with my sorority my sophomore through senior years.

After college and while working, traveling and being in graduate school, I still continued to take Latin, Modern, Bollywood, Belly Dance and Hip Hop dance classes at studios in LA, Boulder, NYC, San Francisco and Boston and couldn’t get enough! Fast forward to today and I’m teaching Zumba Fitness and Cardio Dance (Bollywood, Latin and Hip Hop) classes and still can’t get enough!

Dancing is such an amazing workout because you have the ability to feel the music and move your body to the beat. While various styles of dance have their own techniques, if you just want to dance simply to work out, there really is no right or wrong way to do it. As I often tell my students, you can make it your own and just have fun with it. As long as you work up a sweat and keep moving your body, you’ll get a fantastic cardio workout. You can burn up to 1,000 calories in many dance workout classes and you’ll also tone your upper body, lower body and core because dancing involves your entire body. It’s also a great stress reliever because when you’re in a studio, on a dance floor at a club or just in your kitchen, you can put your worries aside and just focus on the music and your own movements.

For those of you who already dance, keep doing it. For those of you who want to give it a try, I highly encourage you to do it because I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it. And for those of you who don’t want to do it, that’s okay. Find a workout that works for you and makes you happy. If any of you want to take one of my dance classes locally in the Bay Area, let me know as I’d love to have you come and experience dance my way…and I’ll make sure you have fun! 🙂

That’s it for today, friends. Cheers to dancing! Have a wonderful day and I’ll be back with another blog post soon.

Passion Fit Blog

How to Get Motivated for Morning Workouts

Hi Passion Fit Crew! Hope you all are doing well and enjoying the fall and soon to be winter weather and holiday season. With the changing seasons and Daylight Savings Time in full effect, there is one important benefit you can take advantage of when it comes to your exercise schedule–getting up earlier to do morning workouts! Now that the sun is rising around 6:30 a.m., it will make it easier to wake up and get out of bed. I just experienced this today when I woke up and got ready to teach my 7 a.m. Total Body Sculpt class. It was so nice to drive over there in daylight instead of the dark!

Now, I know some of you are thinking that it is getting colder and the thought of getting out of a warm and cozy bed when it is cold outside will actually make it harder, not easier to get out of bed. I hear you guys and believe me, I am naturally not a get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn kind of girl myself. However, after being married for 11 years to my husband, who is an early riser (I am talking 5 a.m. daily) and having two kids who are also early risers like their Daddy, I have had to learn. 😉

That said, I do see the benefits of waking up early–quiet time, a chance to get your workout done and out of the way, a chance to get a jumpstart on your tasks for the day, less traffic on the way to the gym or work, fewer crowds at the gym (although many morning classes can often be packed with other early risers), more energy and productivity throughout the day, etc. Therefore, with all these great benefits in mind, I wanted to give you guys five ideas to help motivate you to work out in the morning. It does not have to be everyday, but maybe just a few days during the week.

1. Look to Passion Fit for inspiration: Come back and read this blog post whenever you need to be motivated and reminded of why it is great to work out in the morning, try my workout videos on YouTube, take one of my morning classes at Reach Fitness, Vivre or Bay Club (for my local friends) and/or follow me and write to me on social media (see all icons and links at the bottom of this page) and I will be happy to share more motivating thoughts and ideas with you guys and cheer you on! 🙂

2. Organize and pack your bag ahead of time: If you are going to work out at the gym or outside, pack your workout bag or organize your stuff the night before as it will make it so much easier in the morning. Do not forget to include your iPod, running or training shoes, workout clothes, a water bottle, your fitness tracking device or phone if needed, toiletries for showering after your workout at the gym if needed, a change of clothes and shoes for the day, a yoga mat, resistance bands, weights, balls or any other equipment you might need to take with you for your workout or class. If you are planning to work out at home, it is still a good idea to organize your stuff the night before, so you can pop out of bed, get ready, eat and go right to your workout area in your house, garage or yard.

3. Listen to your alarm clock: Find a motivating song that plays as your alarm goes off or place your alarm or the alarm on your phone far away from your bed so you will be required to get out of bed to turn it off. Then promise yourself you will NOT hit the snooze button and crawl back into your bed! Find ways to reward yourself for making the commitment and following through on getting up early. Maybe it is a massage once a month, some dark chocolate later that day, a new outfit or gadget you have been wanting to buy, etc.

4. Have a healthy, easy and possibly portable breakfast plan in place: Plan to have some options readily available such as whole grain cereal, oatmeal, fruit, hardboiled eggs, granola bars, trail mix, whole grain waffles or toast with peanut butter, etc. Make sure to give yourself the energy you need for your workout and also to help you refuel during and after your workout. Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day and will surely help motivate you for your morning workouts!

5. Work out with friends or a personal trainer to hold each other accountable: That snooze button will be much harder to hit if you know your best friend or neighbor will be waiting outside your door or saving a spot in class for you that morning. If you have a personal trainer, you will want to be sensitive to his or her time that is being taken out to train you and the money you are paying (or could be wasting if you do not go) for those training sessions. Hold yourself accountable to all of those great people in your life who are motivators for you and who are also depending on you to work out together as well. When the workout is not just about you and involves others, you will be more likely to adhere to your schedule and commitments. You will also be showing your respect to others and helping them in the process too.

Well, that is a wrap for today my friends. Cheers to morning workouts and I hope you guys are able to start incorporating them into your days/weeks if you are not already! Until next time…

Passion Fit shoes

Take a Chance and Try Because You Never Know What Might Happen…

Hi Passion Crew! I hope you all are doing well. I recently shared my exciting news on social media that I’m partnering with Reebok and just joined the ReebokONE network as a Global Fitness Pro, where I’ll part of an amazing global community of fitness professionals and enthusiasts. This partnership is near and dear to my heart because I used to work for Reebok at the corporate headquarters in Interactive Marketing, was a member of Reebok University and the former Reebok Alliance program for fitness instructors and taught Reebok Core Board classes at the corporate office. Therefore, it’s truly an honor to come full circle and partner with them as I’ve launched my own health, wellness and fitness company. 🙂

In light of this new development, I wanted to share my story of how I pursued my dream job of working at Reebok over 10 years ago and hopefully inspire you guys to take a chance on something you desire and give it a try, because you never know what might happen…

So here’s my story. It was the Spring of 2003 and my husband and I were engaged at the time, working on final plans for our wedding and getting ready to move across the country from San Francisco to Boston. My husband got accepted into MIT for his MBA and Master’s in Engineering, which was the main reason for our cross-country move after our wedding. I also was planning to apply to graduate schools in Boston once we got there (and ended up getting accepted into Boston University’s part-time evening program for Advertising and Communications) and also had an offer to transfer from the San Francisco office to the Cambridge office with my company, CNET, at that time. However, I knew Reebok was headquartered in the Boston area and I had always thought it would be so amazing to work there if I ever lived in that area because I was a long-time fan of the Reebok brand and products given my background in fitness and dance. So…here was my big chance!

Unfortunately, I didn’t know a single person who worked at Reebok at that time and didn’t know anyone in my professional or personal network who had any ties to the company either. So my choices were to apply through their website and have my resume buried under thousands of other resumes or get creative and find another way to apply. So I started doing some research and spent a lot of time looking through their website, reading press releases, industry articles, etc. to see if I could find a contact person. In one of the articles I was reading, I came across the name of the Chief Marketing Officer and also saw his corporate email address at the bottom of the article. So I took my chances and sent him an email explaining that I was a huge fan of the Reebok brand and products, had both a fitness and marketing background, was moving to the Boston area that summer and was planning to be in town in a few weeks with my fiance (now husband) on an apartment hunting trip. I asked if I could meet with him for an informational discussion about the company and future opportunities when I was in town. I had no idea if he would ever write me back since this was the Chief Marketing Officer of Reebok for crying out loud! But I took a chance and gave it a try by sending the email, along with my resume. What did I have to lose? The worst thing that could happen was that he’d never write me back, but at least I’d know I tried and I could always try another strategy or accept the wonderful CNET job offer I already had.

Well, guess what happened next? He emailed me back within ONE HOUR and told me he appreciated my strong interest in the company, he thought I had an impressive background and he’d be happy to meet with me when I was coming into town in a few weeks! Wait…what??? Was this really happening? It actually was and I had to pinch myself because I really couldn’t believe it! So I wrote him back right away and suggested some dates and times for the informational session. Now this time he didn’t write me back within an hour, a day, or even a week. At that point, I started to get nervous. I knew he was probably a very busy person, but if he said he was able to meet with me, why wouldn’t he respond? So once again, I took a chance and called the number that was in his auto signature in his email after a week of not hearing back from him. Unfortunately he didn’t answer, but thankfully his administrative assistant did. I asked if I could speak to him about an upcoming meeting I was trying to schedule, but she said he was out of the country traveling on business and wouldn’t be back for a few weeks. Given I was going to be headed to Boston in a few weeks for the apartment hunting trip and needed to get back to my company, CNET, on if I wanted to take their transfer offer or not, I didn’t have much time to wait for him to get back from his trip, respond to me and then figure out a time to meet. So I honestly told her my story and situation and that I really was hoping to get the meeting scheduled as soon as possible. She said, “Sure honey, how does 9:30 a.m. on the 10th sound?” I, of course, said, “Yes, that works!” I locked in that meeting as fast as I could and thanked her so much for helping me schedule it. A little side note and lesson learned here: always be nice to administrative assistants because they can be of more help than you know! 🙂

A few weeks went by and it was time for my husband and I to head to Boston for our apartment hunting trip and my meeting with the Chief Marketing Officer at Reebok. I prepared really hard for weeks for this meeting and was ready…extremely nervous…but ready nonetheless! When I first walked into his office and introduced myself, he looked a little confused and said, “I remember your email, but I don’t remember scheduling this meeting with you.” My stomach dropped for a second, but I quickly told him I had called to schedule the meeting and since he was traveling out of the country, his administrative assistant scheduled it for me. He said, “Oh right…okay…great!” Whew!

He ended up doing a formal interview with me that day and asked me some pretty tough questions. Thankfully I had prepared and knew my stuff so the interview went well enough that he said he wanted to schedule some additional interviews for me with some VPs and Directors in HR, Interactive Marketing and Women’s Marketing. I ended up interviewing with about six different people over the next few days and then had to wait a few more weeks and then…I RECEIVED AN OFFER for a Global Interactive Marketing Manager position about a week before my wedding!!!!! I was on top of the world as I was getting married to the love of my life, embarking on an exciting move to an amazing city and starting my dream job with a company I had always wanted to work for! What I loved most about working for Reebok was that it allowed me to combine my professional background in marketing with my personal passions of health, wellness and fitness (which is exactly the driving force behind me starting Passion Fit all these years later and partnering with Reebok once again). Anyway, it was the perfect fit for me and I went on to work at Reebok for two years and had such an incredible experience working with really talented people, learning, contributing and growing so much. The only reason I ended up leaving the company after two years was because my husband and I were finishing up graduate school and knew we wanted to move back to the San Francisco Bay Area after that to settle down and start a family. My husband also received a job offer with Bain, a management consulting firm, in their San Francisco office. Unfortunately, Reebok didn’t have any full-time marketing opportunities on the West Coast, so I had to make the very difficult decision to leave, which was heartbreaking for me at that time. Luckily I ended up bouncing back and getting a very cool job opportunity at Yahoo in the San Francisco Bay Area after that.

Anyway, I share this story to illustrate the fact that we all have it deep within us to take nothing and turn it into something if we work hard, believe in ourselves, take a chance and just try. It will take guts and tenacity, but if you want it badly enough, you can do it! So the next time you want to sign up for a marathon or triathlon, apply for a new job, start your own business, publish a book, take a new class, go back to school, travel around the world, go rock climbing or whatever it may be…take a chance and try because you never know what might happen!

That’s it for today my friends. I’ll be back with another blog post soon! Until next time…

Passion Fit Blog

Allow Life to Flow as it Should

Hi Passion Fit Crew! Once again, a few busy weeks have passed me by and I’ve realized I haven’t sat down and published a new blog post for you guys in a little while. So here I am…focused, at my computer and ready to connect with you guys and share some thoughts. 🙂

Today’s post is about allowing life to flow as it should. What does that mean exactly? Well, we all have a certain rhythm and flow to our lives filled with the usual stuff such as family commitments, work, school, sports activities, household chores, holidays, family gatherings, social outings with friends, errands, appointments, meals, exercise, sleep, etc. These are all components of our day-to-day lives. Then there are the deeper components of our lives, including our relationships, hopes, dreams, accomplishments, fears, feelings, emotions, regrets, longings, thoughts and ideas. Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we don’t make time to connect to the deeper components of our lives and other times we get so fixated on the deeper components of our lives that we aren’t focused or have a hard time tending to our day-to-day lives. Therefore, allowing life to flow as it should is about keeping a balance of these different components of our lives and ourselves and also having patience and faith that things will work out as they should if we stay focused on the things that matter and enjoy the present and process along the way.

I’m a perfectionist and definitely have a tendency to want things to work out a certain way, both personally and professionally and on the timelines I’ve set for myself. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way. There are many things we simply can’t control and we have to recognize that and be okay with that if we want to be truly fulfilled and not let life pass us by because we’re so attached to certain results or outcomes. If we put in all the effort and hard work we need to in our personal and professional lives, then we need to just accept that we’ve done everything we can and need to relax and allow things to take their course and course-correct along the way if needed.

This is all obviously easier said than done, but by trying to stay disciplined in following this type of approach, we’re more likely to enjoy the journey of our lives as much or even more so than the outcome. There are so many invaluable lessons and insights we can learn along the way, which often end up being more important in the end anyway. Our relationships will also benefit from this approach because we’ll have the ability to be more present and focused on our family and friends. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

So the next time you feel anxious about a certain result or outcome you want in your life…relax, take a deep breath, trust that you’ve done or are doing your part, enjoy yourself and let life flow as it should…and good things will certainly come your way!

That’s it for today, my friends. I’ll be back with another post soon!

Works Cited: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Passion Fit Launch Party and Zumba Class

Hi Passion Fit Crew!

Hope you all are doing well and into the swing of things this fall. This blog post is a fun recap and photo display of my Passion Fit Launch Party and Zumba Class that I taught at Athleta Town and Country in Palo Alto, CA on September 4, 2014. I had such a blast and really appreciated those who came out for the party, those who wanted to and all of those who showed their support in their own way. Special thanks to my husband for watching our little guys that evening, Athleta for co-hosting the event with me in their beautiful store and to my photographer (from Alex Johnson Photographer) for capturing all the little details as well as the highlights of the event!

The evening started off with a fun little photo shoot outside and inside the storefront. Next up were intros, a warm-up and the Zumba class! Everyone got their groove on and had fun dancing, enjoying the music and sweating with me. 🙂

After working hard and dancing our hearts out, we had cake and fruit. The guests were then given VIP access to shop the store after hours, entered a raffle to win an amazing Athleta workout bag and received their attendee gift bags with Athleta head bands and iPhone covers and a Passion Fit squeezable stress ball!

All in all, it was a wonderful event and everyone had a great time. It was also fun to partner with a local business, create a sense of community around the Passion Fit brand and allow people to make new friends and get out for a fun evening event!

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Live According to Your Own Values

Hi Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all are doing well. It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged and I’m so sorry for the hiatus. The last few weeks have been extremely busy with officially launching my new company, website, YouTube fitness videos, social media platforms and planning my launch party. Also, my kids just went back to school and are starting their fall sports (soccer), so I’ve been busy preparing for those things as well. 🙂 However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting these last few weeks and wanted to share my thoughts on the concept of living according to your own values. If you’re able to do this, I think this quote from author, Paulo Coelho, sums up perfectly what the end result could be, “What is success? It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”

The concept of living according to your own values is definitely easier said than done and for many people, it can take a while to actually make it a reality in their lives. I, personally, have had periods of my life where I’ve lived according to many of my own values and other periods where I’ve gotten a little off track on some of them. When it has come to my general values of taking care of my family, being giving and kind to others, living with honesty and integrity, having empathy for people, having a strong work ethic, continuously pushing myself to learn and grow, staying positive and optimistic, exercising, eating healthy most of the time, etc., I’ve worked hard to stay true to these values throughout my life. However, when it has come to some of my other values such as doing things that truly make me happy, spending enough time with my family and having work/life balance, following my heart and listening to my inner voice, being passionate about my career, managing stress, getting enough sleep, having some down time, being creative, overcoming fears, etc., this is where I’ve gotten off track. My hope is that through telling my story and challenging you all to reflect on your own stories and ask yourselves some important questions, I can help you find ways to live according to your own values if you aren’t already.

So here’s my story. I’ve always been a very driven and ambitious person, a perfectionist and a people pleaser at heart. When I was younger and I only had myself to worry about, I was able to get by with these characteristics, which sometimes have been strengths and other times have been weaknesses in my life. The period after getting married and having children is when things got tricky for me.

I had always worked in Corporate America, specifically in the fast-paced world of digital advertising and media. It was a great career, I worked hard, was successful at it and enjoyed it. However, once I had children, something inside of me changed. I still wanted to work hard and progress forward, but I worried about how I would manage having a busy, corporate career with two young children and I was often plagued with “working mommy guilt.” Now I’m lucky to have a wonderful husband, who is an amazing father, a great help around the house and has always been hugely supportive of my career. However, he also had and still has his own busy career as an executive in the high-tech industry and has had some pretty crazy years of heavy workloads and travel. So here we were, a very busy, dual-career couple with two young children, trying to make it all work like many people we know.

During these last several years since having children, my heart has hurt so much when I’ve dropped my boys off at daycare and they’ve cried so hard or when my older son started having to stay at the after school care when he started elementary school. He cried almost every day of kindergarten and often last year in first grade and would ask me why I couldn’t be a “mommy in the crowd” and pick him up right after school like the other mommies. As a result, I would spend hours crying myself, analyzing and talking about what to do with my husband, parents, sister, brothers and some of my closest girlfriends. I tried to work from home as much as I could, dropped down to 80% after my younger son was born, volunteered in both of my sons’ classrooms as much as possible and tried to minimize my travel for my job. I was determined to make this “corporate mommy” thing work and it became a huge part of my identity at that time!

So what was the result of all this? Well, I was extremely exhausted, stressed out, overwhelmed since I was overcommitted at work, my sons’ schools and home, working until midnight almost every night and falling asleep at the computer, traveling about once a month for work (even with trying to minimize travel), not cooking for my family as often as I wanted and often ordering out, exercising as much as I could, but not enough for my standards, rushing through my time with my kids and husband and not really enjoying it or being present, often lying awake at night worrying about missing out on my boys’ childhoods while also worrying about work deadlines and just feeling miserable. Also, during this time, I was often managing work, the kids and home front solo because my husband was traveling every other week and working about 100 hours a week for a period of about two and half years for his job. So, all in all, I wasn’t happy and certainly wasn’t living within my own values, especially when it came to my family, work/life balance, health, wellness and fitness, being passionate about my career, etc. My husband was also in the same boat as I was and experienced an even greater negative impact to his health, sleep, stress levels, etc.

It was only a matter of time before I, along with my husband, would hit a wall…and we certainly did. We were so tired and burnt out and I know our kids could feel that, which wasn’t fair to them. And for those who know me well, I’ve obviously had a lifelong passion for health, wellness and fitness, which was a big reason why I finally got the courage after almost seven years of being a “corporate mommy” to leave my corporate job and start Passion Fit in the first place. I also realize now that deep down in my heart, I really and truly wanted to be home for my kids and give them the childhood I had (I had a stay at home mom), while also having a flexible career that I was passionate about. My husband also took a sabbatical from work this summer, has been really focused on exercising and his overall health and wellness and is now going back to work for a boss and team he loves, which will also give him greater work/life balance for himself and our family.

So fast forward to today and this story has obviously taken a very positive turn! I’m absolutely LOVING having more time with my second grader, preschooler and husband, being a “mommy in the crowd” and picking up the kids right after school/nap time, taking them to their after school activities, scheduling more play dates, cooking healthy meals at home, planning to volunteer at their schools without feeling overly stressed, prioritizing getting eight hours of sleep per night, exercising five to six days a week (including teaching my fitness classes), creating and building my new company, Passion Fit, which has been such an AMAZING experience so far and just being more relaxed and present overall. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all roses and rainbows all the time…my kids can drive me nuts when they fight with each other and don’t listen and I do miss my friends from my old job and the perks of working for a big company sometimes, but overall, I couldn’t be happier and more at peace with my family and career. I think the picture above perfectly illustrates what my values are and what is truly ME….being a mommy and a health, wellness and fitness professional. 🙂

So what’s your story? What are your values? Do you feel you’re living according to those values? I understand not everyone can or wants to leave their current job, start a company, be at home more, etc. Those are just my circumstances and choices. However, my hope is that you all are able to really think about your own lives, circumstances, choices, loved ones, passions, etc. and spend more of your time being the person you want to be and doing the things that get you closer to what you value most in life. This could be in the form of picking up a new hobby, taking a class, signing up for an activity or event, changing jobs, changing your schedule, having a heart to heart conversation with the people you love, etc. You may find that things feel much more natural to you and you could be happier and more peaceful as a result of that. Ultimately you’ll be living a life that is true to YOU and honestly, what could be better than that?

That’s it for today my dear friends. If you haven’t already, I hope you’re able to set aside some time to think about and plan for how you can better live according to your own values! Until next time… 🙂

The Importance of Safety and Proper Form

Hi Passion Fit Crew! Hope you all are enjoying the weekend and final weeks of summer. I wanted to focus today’s blog post on the importance of safety and form when working out. 

There are many fitness trends out there that stress working out at an incredibly fast pace, using the heaviest weights possible and going at an all-out intensity level that could potentially be dangerous. While I definitely want to encourage you all to work out hard and give it your all to get the maximum benefit for your efforts, I also want to encourage you to work out in a smart, safe and effective way that prevents injury. Below are some of my thoughts within the following key areas:

Speed and Intensity:

While many workouts involve speed and intensity such as sprints, high intensity interval training or boot camp classes, it’s important to understand how fast YOUR body can move. People come in all different shapes and sizes and what might be considered a fast and intense pace for one person, may not be for the next person or vice versa. Since I’m a very small and petite person, my movements can sometimes be too fast for a person who’s taller and has longer limbs than I do. Therefore, I constantly have to think about this when I’m designing workouts and choreographing routines for my classes and it’s an ongoing effort to take multiple shapes and sizes into consideration. 

That said, the key is to fully warm up and then be able to move at a pace that allows you to get in a full range of motion without compromise. What does that mean exactly? It means you are able to complete the move with a full rotation, flexion or extension of your arm, leg or other part of your body – i.e. a full bicep curl, tricep dip, squat, lunge, push-up, jack, etc. without having to cut the movement short in order to move at a certain speed or intensity level. There are 2 benefits to doing this:

1. You’ll achieve better results because you’ll be working out your muscles the proper way, which maximizes the benefit of the exercise

2. You’ll prevent yourself from getting injured by pulling a muscle, tearing a ligament, etc.

From a cardiovascular standpoint, you also want to make sure you’re moving at a pace that gets your heart rate up and gets you to burn the most calories, but still allows you to be safe and not overexert yourself to the point of needing to stop or needing to receive medical attention. The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion has been around for years and is a subjective, yet effective way for individuals to rate themselves on a scale of 6-20 (6 being no exertion to 20 being the maximum exertion). It’s important to check in with yourself because only you know how you’re feeling during the exercise and if it’s too much for your body to handle or not. It’s a challenging balance for sure on determining if you should keep pushing forward in the name of really giving it your all or knowing when to pull back in the name of protecting yourself from getting hurt. Fitness instructors and personal trainers are certainly there to help guide you, but again, you know your body better than anyone, so use your own best judgement and also seek the help of a fitness professional if you need to. Also, be sure to fully cool down after a highly intense workout so you can bring your heart rate down gradually and not suddenly. 

Form:

Form goes hand in hand with the concept of getting in a full range of motion. I’m constantly discussing form with the students in my classes and often give them the following reminders:

1. Be sure to tuck in your core when exercising in order to protect your lower back and provide balance

2. Make sure your knees don’t come over your toes when lunging or squatting

3. Keep a flat back and a neutral spine when doing planks and push-ups

4. Remember not to lock your elbows or knees when doing many exercises and keep them soft

5. When doing kickboxing moves, remember to kick from your hips rather than snapping your knee caps

6. Keep your shoulders away from your ears in order to keep them relaxed and not in a tense position

7. When pivoting from side to side, make sure to fully rotate your body and turn your knees in the same direction your body is moving to avoid knee injuries

8. When doing any moves with power knees, be sure to tuck in your core and use your core muscles to bring your knees into your chest rather than using the momentum of your arms and legs or hurting your back

9. When stretching, stretch to the point of discomfort but NOT pain as you don’t want to pull muscles unnecessarily

10. When doing core exercises on a mat, protect your neck by tucking your chin into your chest and putting your hands behind your head where appropriate

11. Make the distinctions of keeping your feet shoulder width apart or feet together, toes and knees facing forward or facing out, feet flexed or pointed, etc. because each exercise may call for something different (your instructor will usually point these things out to you when taking a class)

12. Be intentional with every movement and placement of our arms, legs, hands and feet as it will help you with maximizing the movements in the workouts and in having proper form

13. When using weights, choose a weight that is challenging for you (but not at the expense of your back) yet comfortable enough to allow you to get in that full range of motion

Well, that’s it for today my friends. I merely scratched the surface here and will write more on this topic in future blog posts, however, I hope this was helpful. Remember to be safe and watch your form!

 

Works Cited: Borg. G.A. Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 198; 14:377-381. “The Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion.” Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/borg-scale/>.

Reena's mother

Eastern Perspectives on Health and Wellness From My Mom

My mom has always been a great role model for our entire family when it comes to health and wellness and a lot of my own interests in these areas come from her influence. She has a wonderfully unique perspective, which stems from our Indian heritage and therefore, I decided to interview her so we could share her perspective with all of you!

Passion Fit: How did you first become interested in health and wellness?

Mom: “I was always interested in health and wellness and became even more interested when your brothers, sister, you and all the grandchildren were born and I became a mother and grandmother. I was constantly considering all of your nutritional needs, especially during your growing years and have read many books on this subject over the years.”

Passion Fit: What are some of your philosophies when it comes to cooking?

Mom: “I love to use fresh and natural ingredients and spices. I also cook from scratch using things like fresh ginger, garlic, tomatoes, red onions, coriander leaves, mint leaves, cardamom cloves, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili powder, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and bay leaves. I enjoy cooking different types of vegetables for dinner every night such as eggplants, potatoes, spinach, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, okra and Indian squash. I pair these vegetables with proteins (such as chicken curry, tandoori chicken, lentils known as moong daal or baked fish with Indian spices), carbohydrates (such as brown rice or whole wheat tortillas, known as roti) and other sides, such as cucumber raita mixed with yogurt and fresh tomato chutney. This provides a balanced and tasty meal for our family.”

Passion Fit: What other healthy meals, drinks or snacks do you make?

Mom: “First thing in the morning, I make two glasses of hot water with lemon, cloves and honey for your dad and myself. This morning drink works similarly to echinacea because it helps prevent colds and coughs and keeps your digestive system in tact. I also like to make natural juices combining vegetables and fruits such as kale, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, apples, nectarines and grapes. Your dad and I love to eat roasted nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts because they contain a lot of protein and Vitamin E and are good for your brain. Finally, I like to make healthy snacks using raw, sprouted green lentils with chili, onions, salt and mustard oil.”

Passion Fit: What are your views on diets?

Mom: “I don’t believe in diets. I have always believed in eating natural foods and eating in moderation. That includes eating whole grain bread and brown rice (instead of eliminating carbohydrates altogether), cooking with ghee, canola oil, olive oil and mustard oil (instead of margarine), using brown sugar (instead of white sugar or sugar substitutes), drinking 2% milk with a little bit of fat (instead of skim milk) and eating normal eggs (instead of egg substitutes or only egg whites). In my opinion, these types of foods and ingredients have been around for centuries and therefore, are perfectly acceptable to eat in moderation.”

Passion Fit: What are your thoughts on medicine?

Mom: “I’m not a doctor, however, I don’t believe in taking prescribed medications and antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary. I, personally, prefer ayurvedic medicine, homeopathic medicine and homemade remedies. These types of medicines are proven from ancient times, have fewer side effects, if any and are made from natural ingredients. They have also worked well for our family throughout the years.”

Passion Fit: What is your exercise regimen and thoughts on exercise in general? 

Mom: “I exercise every day and my mother (your grandmother) always instilled this in me. I like to do yoga, breathing exercises called pranayam, walking and using at-home fitness equipment. This helps keep my knee and back problems in control. Your dad and I also always believed in keeping all the kids in the family, including you, involved in different types of sports such as basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, running, volleyball, cheerleading and dance. I didn’t mind driving all of you to your sporting events all of those years because I knew it would be good for you guys!”

Well that concludes our interview! I want to thank my dear mom for having such a positive and healthy influence on me as well as our entire family. I love you, Mom!

That’s it for today, Passion Fit crew. Please note: the ideas and tips mentioned above shouldn’t substitute the advice of a medical or health professional. Please remember to consult with your doctor if you have any health concerns or dietary restrictions. I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

Reena's family

Why Running is Awesome

I have a lot of friends who are amazing runners…they run in races frequently, have multiple marathons and impressive times under their belts and have qualified or are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, the oldest and one of the most elite marathons in the world. My husband is also an amazing runner and was my mentor through Team in Training when I ran my first marathon in Portland several years ago. Team in Training is an incredible organization that allows you to train for marathons, half marathons, triathlons, hikes or cycling events and most importantly, fund raise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for blood cancer research. I can’t say enough good things about my experience with Team in Training if you’re ever interested in participating in an event with them. Here are some pictures of my amazing Team in Training experience with my husband and fellow marathon runners:

I truly love running for pure enjoyment and exercise as well as competing in races. I recently ran the Los Gatos 10k Jungle Run and had a blast! Here is a picture from that race, including the one above with my sweet family who came out to cheer me on:

No matter what your background is, my goal for today’s blog post is to discuss why running is awesome and also try to entice people who don’t currently run to give it a try sometime! Here are my top 10 reasons for why I think running is such a wonderful form of exercise:

1. You can do it anytime and anywhere…all you need are your running shoes and the motivation to just get out there. My husband and I have always loved exploring new cities while on vacation through running!

2. It’s a great way to relieve stress, clear your mind, have some “you-time,” come up with new and creative ideas, problem solve or just enjoy the scenery around you. 

3. While it might be hard to get going sometimes and you might feel achy and uncomfortable when you first start, you just have to remember to put one foot in front of the other and once you get into a groove after several minutes, your body will start to embrace it and you may actually start to enjoy it!

4. It’s a chance to enjoy some music and listen to your favorite playlist on your iPod (note: remember to be safe and not turn your music up too loud where you can’t hear cars, traffic signals, etc.).

5. You’ll undoubtedly sweat and burn lots and lots of calories if you’re trying to lose weight or are just trying to stay in shape.

6. It’s one of the best forms of cardio out there and is something you can incorporate into almost any type of exercise regimen. For example, I love to run a few days a week, take classes at the gym (or teach my own) a few days a week and do weight/strength training a few days a week as well.

7. You have many choices of running workouts and races you can do depending on your goals and what you’re training for – tempo runs, speed workouts, long runs, trail runs, taper runs, etc. for sprints, 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, ultramarathons, etc. Some people enjoy long distance running while others enjoy shorter distances, sprints or nice, easy jogs. It’s really up to you and what you enjoy!

8. It’s very scientific in many ways and you can focus on different things such as improving your form by the length of your stride and your arm and upper body placements for higher energy efficiency, speed and per mile times by calculating your splits during practice runs and races, stamina for long races, short bursts of intense energy for sprints, etc. Running really engages you physically and mentally.

9. It’s something you can enjoy alone or with others by joining a running group or just setting up time informally to run with your significant other, friends or relatives.

10. It’s something you could theoretically do at any age and throughout your life (depending on your physical condition). You could also do run/walks because really the most important thing is that you keep moving!

When I run races, I of course have time goals I set for myself for the race overall and on a per mile basis. However, no matter what happens with my race times, as long as I meet these 5 requirements of mine, I’m happy:

1. Compete against no one else but myself

2. Keep running the whole time and never stop during a race

3. Power through hills by staying mentally tough and looking only at the ground in front of me and not up at the big, intimidating hill

4. Lengthen my stride, engage my core, lift my chest, pump my arms, breathe, smile and sprint toward the finish line when I start to hear bells ringing and people cheering at the end of a race

5. Have fun and give it everything I’ve got

What are your goals when you run in races, run casually or if you were to pick up running for the first time? Think about it and get out there if you want to! There are lots of great magazine publications and websites to give you more pointers and tips such as Runners World, Runner’s, Men’s Running, Women’s Running, Active.com, etc. Just remember to talk to your doctor first if you have any injuries or health concerns before starting a running program or training for a race.

That’s it for today my friends. I hope I’ve reiterated to existing runners and convinced non-runners of why running is awesome! 🙂

Have a great week and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

Passion Fit Blog

Quick, Easy and Healthy Meal Ideas for Fussy Kids

One of my friends asked me if I could write a blog post on meal ideas for kids who are fussy eaters and I was more than happy to oblige! As moms, I think we’ve all been there. We work so hard to put together meals with different combinations of foods that are healthy, nutritious and also meet our fussy kids’ needs around texture, taste and color…only to have them complain and reject the meals time and time again. It definitely can be frustrating and challenging, but here are some tips and meal ideas that have worked relatively well for my three and six year old boys, who are fussy eaters in their own right. That said, please take into consideration any food allergies or sensitivities to nuts, gluten, lactose, etc. that your own kids may have and be sure to check with your pediatrician first if you think there are any tips and ideas listed here that may not be suitable for your kids.

Tips:

1. Don’t be afraid to opt for raw, organic fruits and vegetables where appropriate because:

– In some cases, they can provide more nutrients than being cooked – disclaimer: it definitely varies by fruit and vegetable, but in the case of kids, anything is better than nothing, right?

– They’re easy to add to any meal (i.e. I usually add a wide variety of raw fruits to breakfast meals, fruits and/or vegetables to lunch meals and vegetables to dinner meals for my kids)

– The crunchy, raw texture is often more well received by kids than the mushy, cooked texture 

2. Make healthy versions of foods kids typically like (most standard grocery stores or healthy grocery stores like Whole Foods have good, organic brands to choose from such as Applegate Farms, Annie’s Homegrown, Organic Valley, Horizon, Earthbound Farm, Stoneyfield Farms, etc.):

– Organic chicken nuggets

– Organic turkey hot dogs or chicken sausages with whole grain buns

– Grilled cheese made with whole grain bread and low fat, organic cheese

– Organic turkey burgers with whole grain buns

– Organic sweet potato fries that are baked

– Organic macaroni and cheese

– Whole grain pasta made with lean, organic ground turkey meat and organic or homemade tomato sauce

– Cheese pizza made with whole wheat flour for the crust, low fat, organic cheese and organic or homemade tomato sauce

– Quesadillas made with whole grain tortillas and low fat, organic cheese

– Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (note: this is only for kids without nut allergies) made with natural (no sugar added) peanut butter and organic, natural (no sugar added) jelly or jam on whole grain bread

– Whole wheat pancakes or whole grain waffles made with dark chocolate chips or organic fruit

– Whole grain, low sugar cereals and steel cut oatmeal loaded with organic fruit so they taste sweet

– Omelets made with organic eggs (my boys prefer omelets over any other type of egg for some reason), whole grain toast, organic fruit and organic turkey bacon 

3. In cases when you’re traveling, on the go during the weekends or weekdays after school or your kids simply didn’t eat enough of their meal and are still hungry, make sure to have some essentials with you including easy, healthy and portable snack options such as:

– Organic carrot sticks

– Organic snap peas

– Edamame

– Organic string cheese

– Organic bananas

– Organic apples

– Organic grapes

– Organic nectarines

– Organic oranges

– Granola bars (we like Cliff Kid Z Bars since they are organic, have less sugar and are packed with vitamins and minerals)

– Whole grain crackers

– Trail mix including dried fruit and nuts (for kids without nut allergies)

– Organic greek yogurt

– Organic hard boiled eggs (I always make a batch and keep them in the refrigerator to grab and go)

Meal Ideas:

Here are two healthy meal ideas to consider trying that have been successful with my kids.

1. Healthy version of Asian fried rice made with:

– Brown rice

– Organic, scrambled eggs

– Organic broccoli, cauliflower and carrots

– Low sodium soy sauce

2. Healthy chicken nuggets, fruits and vegetables made with:

– Organic, baked chicken nuggets

– Organic, baked kale chips

– Organic strawberries

– Organic avocado

– Organic, low sugar ketchup

– Organic, 2% low fat milk

I hope this gives all the moms with fussy eating kids out there some healthy, new ideas! Also, feel free to add your thoughts and comments in the comment section of my blog if you have other ideas you’d like to share. Finally, let me know via the comment section if there are any other health, wellness and fitness topics you’d like me to cover in future blogs. I want to ensure I’m covering topics that are useful and meaningful to my readers!

That’s it for today my friends. Have a great day and I’ll be back again soon with another post! 

“I Have a Dream” –Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s been a little while since I last blogged…life has been really busy lately and I’m in the midst of a major career transition as I’ve left my 16 year corporate career and job at Google to become an entrepreneur and follow my lifelong passion and dream of launching my own health, wellness and fitness company called Passion Fit! Right now, I’m putting my nose to the grindstone and am working hard on all the preparations to officially launch my company within the next month. Therefore, my blog post today is about my dream, my story and my journey so far to get there. I hope it will inspire many of you to also follow your own dreams if you haven’t had a chance to do so already. If you get to the very end of this blog post, you’ll get to see the unveiling of my new Passion Fit company logo! I know you’re all on the edge of your seats waiting for that, so keep on reading…;)

It all began when I was 9 years old. I’d always been chubby as a baby and little girl, which everyone told me was “cute.” Maybe it was at the time, but after getting tired of having my cheeks pinched really hard by all of my parent’s friends and our relatives year after year, I distinctly remember declaring at the dinner table one evening that I was going to start eating healthier and exercising. Ha! Kind of a funny thing for a 9 year old to say, isn’t it? However, I was serious and from that day forward, I stuck to my vow and really have never looked back. Of course I’ve always loved dessert and carbs and still do, but I’ve found healthy ways to still enjoy these things over the years with options like fruit, dark chocolate, frozen and Greek yogurt, whole grain bread, cereal and pasta and brown rice. I’ve also stayed focused throughout my life on eating lean meats, good fats such as nuts and avocado, low fat dairy products and lots and lots of vegetables.

As for exercise, I was involved in many different school and summer team sports and types of dance as a child in elementary school, teenager in junior high and high school and student in college. I did tennis, cross country, track and field, basketball, softball, ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, Bollywood and salsa dance, cheerleading and was on the pom squad (which I absolutely loved and where I did a lot of choreography and dance instruction as co-caption in high school and as a Badgerette instructor in the summer during college). I also loved exercising to workout shows that I discovered on ESPN back in the ’80’s and ’90’s and did these classics religiously from the ages of 9 through 18…seriously! Does anyone remember these shows?

Bodies in Motion with Gilad Janklowicz 

OR 

Getting Fit with Denise Austin 

Since these shows aired during the day, I’d record them on VHS tapes on our VCR at home and do them after school. I also joined a gym for the first time when I was 18 years old at Bally Total Fitness with my sister. That’s when I really started getting into weight training, using workout equipment and taking aerobics classes…and I was hooked!

By the time I got to college, I decided to audition to be a fitness instructor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Centers and taught Kickboxing and High-Low Aerobics classes from my freshman through senior years. I also took dance and aerobics classes for extra college credits on top of my marketing and management classes in the Business School. 

After college and while working in corporate jobs at GE, CNET, Reebok, Yahoo and Google, on the side I trained, competed and placed in the ESPN National Aerobics Championships, trained and ran in a marathon, half marathon and several 5k and 10k races with my husband and took lots of dance classes. I also worked out at the gym 6 days a week, got licensed to teach Zumba and continued to keep up with my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) and CPR certifications in order to teach Kickboxing, Core Board, Zumba and Cardio Sculpt classes at Bally Total Fitness, Reebok’s corporate gym (where I worked in Interactive Marketing) and Google’s corporate gym (where I worked in Digital Advertising Sales). In addition, I became a member of Reebok University and IDEA for fitness instructors, where you receive lots of great choreography, fitness class format ideas and other continuing education credits.

When I was thinking about going to graduate school, I contemplated between getting an MBA, an MS in Advertising and Communications or an MS in Exercise, Health and Nutrition. Deep down, I wanted to get the MS in Exercise, Health and Nutrition, but my parents told me to choose a more “practical” degree, so I chose the MS in Advertising and Communications from Boston University. In the end, it ended up being the right decision, since I’ve still been able to learn and grow through my fitness certifications and continuing education credits around health, wellness, fitness, stress management and nutrition and my graduate degree has helped me in my corporate career and beyond.

By the time I became pregnant with each of my two sons, I was still committed to eating healthy, while occasionally indulging in my cravings and exercising regularly, where I did Prenatal Yoga and Pilates, workouts with light weights and a swiss ball and lots of walking. Staying strong and healthy through both pregnancies allowed me to successfully deliver my big 7 and almost 8 pound baby boys, even with my small frame. 🙂

Throughout all these years, I’ve experienced many changes with my educational and professional pursuits, getting married and having children, but the one thing that has always stayed with me is my dedication to and pure love for all things related to health, wellness and fitness. This love has also kept me physically, mentally and emotionally strong through good times and bad in my life. 

Therefore, in 2012, I almost left my job at Google to start my own health, wellness and fitness company, but it wasn’t the right time or the right circumstances. However, the idea never left my head or my heart and that voice inside of me continued to persist with such conviction that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. So here I am, building my company and vision one step at a time, from the ground up and taking one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken in my career and life! While I’m a little nervous, I’m also extremely thrilled and excited and there is a sense of calm within me because this is my dream and I know it’s the right path for me. I had written a personal mission statement when I was 19 years old and one of the things I had written, which I still believe today, was as follows, “I want to find my special talent and my purpose on this earth and serve humanity to the best of my ability.” My late grandfather also told me back in 1999 that he felt I would have a second career in my 30’s and had always encouraged me to continue to pursue my passions around fitness. I’ve truly been lucky to have amazingly supportive family and friends and these have all been signs for me to go for this!

Anyway, stay tuned for the launch in the next month of my new website, digital fitness videos, social media and digital advertising platforms, email newsletter sign-ups, more frequent blog posts and upcoming fitness class and wellness program teaching schedules at various locations. I can’t wait to get things started and share my knowledge with all of you!

That’s it for today my friends. I hope my story, my dream and the journey I’m taking will inspire you to think deeply about what you’re passionate about, what makes you happy and what your dreams are. And now that you’ve made it to the end of this post, drum roll please…

Here’s the debut of my official Passion Fit company logo:

I hope you like it and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!


Works Cited: 

Bodies in Motion with Gilad Janklowicz, ESPN. 1980’s.

Getting Fit with Denise Austin. ESPN. 1980’s.

“I have a dream” –Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)

Passion Fit Blog

Summer is Officially Here!

Today is June 21st, which marks the first official day of Summer, 2014 and the Summer Solstice…so exciting! That means fun in the sun, beach time, pool parties, summer camp for the kids, lazy days of vacation, warm summer nights, the smell of fresh flowers everywhere, the feel of a warm breeze on your skin and new memories to create with your family and friends that will last a lifetime. 🙂

It also means it’s time to kick your workouts into full gear so you can have the energy to enjoy this glorious time of year and look and feel your best while doing it! Here are some ideas to help you keep your fitness levels at their peak this summer.

Create the perfect playlist for your iPod:

Here are my Top 10 favorite “of the moment” summer workout songs (includes high energy cardio songs and slower songs that are good for core work, stretching, weights, biking or running):

1. Shakira – “La La La”

2. Ricky Martin – “Vida”

3. Ariana Grande – “Problem”

4. Nico & Vinz – “Am I Wrong”

5. MAGIC! – “Rude”

6. Becky G – “Shower”

7. Jennifer Lopez – “First Love”

8. Calvin Harris – “Summer”

9. Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

10.Justin Timberlake – “Not a Bad Thing”

Sign up for some races:

I’ve been a subscriber to Active.com for many, many years as they have great listings of races throughout the year – 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, marathons, triathlons, ironmans, fun runs…you name it! Here are some fun events I’ve been looking at doing this summer in my local area:

1. Foam Glow 5k in San Jose, CA

www.foamglow.com/

2. Jungle Run 10k and Half Marathon in Los Gatos, CA

www.firstwave-events.com/events/jungle-run/

3. USCG Station Golden Gate Heritage Run 5k and 12k in Sausalito, CA

www.runuscg.org/chapters/g3/g3-events/heritage-run

4. Race to the End of Summer 5k, 10k and Half Marathon in San Jose, CA

www.racetotheendofsummer.com/

Mix up your workouts with indoor and outdoor options: 

Summer makes it easy to get outdoors and go running, biking, hiking and swimming, so those are all great activities to fit into your schedule and if you have kids, you can bring them along! However, for those extremely hot or rainy summer days, there are always great classes you can take at the gym – Body Pump, Cardio Sculpt, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, TRX, Spinning, etc. Another option for those kinds of days is to get your workouts in at home. Here’s a picture of some of the workout equipment I have at my house including an elliptical machine, ballet bar, weights, playground ball, resistance band, yoga mat and medicine ball. Having this equipment around reminds me that there is no excuse not to workout! 😉

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Between hot weather and intense workouts, it will be critical to make sure you drink lots of water so you don’t get dehydrated. The rule of thumb is usually to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day and if you’re exercising, drink even more water. 

Workout with ME!

I’m busy working with my video production team to launch my first set of digital fitness videos this summer!!! Here we are, hard at work on the editing. I’m so excited to share my videos so you guys can workout with me from wherever you are this summer and beyond. Stay tuned for more details…

That’s it for today my friends. Enjoy the start of summer and I’ll be back again soon with another post!!!

Works Cited: Shakira. “La La La.” By Dr. Luke, Shakira, J2, Cirkut. Shakira. RCA. 2014; Ricky Martin, “Vida.” By Salaamremi.com, David Cabrera. One Love, One Rhythm. Sony. 2014; Arianna Grande. “Problem.” By Max Martin, Shellback, Ilya. Untitled Album. Republic, 2014; Nico & Vinz. “Am I Wrong.” By Cisse Methods. Black Star Elephant. 5 Star Entertainment, EMI Music, Norway, Warner Bros. Records. 2013; MAGIC! “Rude.” By Adam Messinger. Don’t Kill the Magic. SME. 2013; Becky G. “Shower.” By Lukasz Gottwald. TBA. Kemosabe Records. 2014; Jennifer Lopez. “First Love.” By Max Martin, Ilya, Peter Carlsson. A.K.A. Capitol. 2014; Calvin Harris. “Summer.” By Calvin Harris. Summer – Single. Deconstruction, Fly Eye, Columbia. 2014; Sam Smith. “Stay With Me.” By Jimmy Napes. In the Lonely Hour. Capitol. 2014; Justin Timberlake. “Not a Bad Thing.” By Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Jerome, “J-Roc” Harmon. The 20/20 Experience. RCA. 2014, “Activities near Mountain View, CA,” Active – www.active.com

Reena's sons

Lessons from a Six and Three Year Old

I’m constantly amazed by the level of energy and determination children can have. My husband and I have two little boys, ages six and three and they have more energy and determination than both they and we know what to do with sometimes! However, they’re blessed to be extremely athletic kids and really inspire me when it comes to their sports and fitness abilities.

Our older, six year old son, tried out for the MVLA private soccer club this past week. He’s been playing soccer since he was two years old, starting in Kidz Love Soccer for three years and then moving up to the AYSO league the last two years, where he was coached by my husband. Therefore, we thought the time was right for him to try out for a more competitive club. That said, we were nervous, given he’s one of the younger kids in his first grade class and is a little bit on the shorter side…he unfortunately has his petite, 4’11” mom, to thank for that! However, he practiced hard with us in our backyard during the weeks and days leading up to the tryouts and was extremely focused when it came to the actual two days of tryouts. He concentrated on the drills he was being asked to do and really got out there and gave it his all when he was scrimmaging against the other kids. He hustled on the field, dribbled beautifully towards the goal, passed the ball to his teammates, sprinted like no other, played both strong defense and offense and even scored a few goals! At one point during the tryout, I said what I always say to him and my younger son to motivate both of them in school and sports, which is, “Eye of the Tiger!” He smiled, nodded and ran off to do his thing and I just knew he had that fire in his belly to succeed. 🙂 I often play this famous, old song by Survivor from the Rocky movies and the kids just love it and it really pumps them up. Anyway, all that said, he made the team for the Fall 2014 season and most importantly, had FUN! We’re so incredibly proud of him.

Our younger, three year old son, has his own fire in his belly and is quickly following in his big brother’s footsteps on the sports front. He also plays soccer and started Kidz Love Soccer last year when he was two years old. He has always had such a natural confidence in himself, which is so exciting to see. Even as a baby and toddler, we could see his strong determination towards accomplishing a goal, especially a sports-related one, using his gross motor skills. His teachers at school have always told us he has this strong sense of internal validation, where he can celebrate his own successes and doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone else. If he accomplishes something, he’ll say to himself, “Yeah!” I just love and adore that about him and hope that inner confidence stays with him throughout his life. He was very intensely watching the MVLA tryouts last week and was studying his brother and the other “big kids.” He was working hard on his own dribbling skills, trying to do some tricks with the ball by kicking it up with his knee and foot and basically acting like a preschooler going straight into first grade! 😉 He’s very eager to play on the team someday himself and I just know he’ll also be successful when the time comes.

These two little boys give me so much strength and energy and really push me to be my best. If I’m ever feeling too tired to workout, they’ll motivate me and say, “Mommy, you can do it. Let’s go out in the garage and we can play music while you workout and we play sports!” How do you say no to that? They’ll even do push ups, squats, burpees and jumping jacks with me, which always makes my workouts more fun. Also, my older son had to write down his goals on one of his recent homework assignments and when I asked him what his goals were, he said without hesitation, “My goals are to be strong and healthy.” Wow…I couldn’t have said it any better myself!

So the next time you’re looking for some motivation when it comes to fitness, sports, competing in your next race or event, look to the children in your life…your own children, your friends’ children, your nieces or nephews, etc. They might inspire and motivate you more than you could have ever imagined!

With that, featured above is a picture of our boys, tuckered out in their soccer jerseys, after each playing his heart out at soccer earlier that morning!

That’s it for tonight all. Have a wonderful week and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

Works Cited: Survivor. “Eye of the Tiger.” By Frankie Sullivan. Rocky III Original Soundtrack. EMI, Scotti Brothers. 1982.

MLVA: http://www.mvlasc.org/

Kidz Love Soccer: https://www.kidzlovesoccer.com/

AYSO: http://www.ayso.org/

Finding Your Own Voice

I wanted to give you all something to think about when it comes to your emotional wellness…finding your own voice. This is a topic I’ve thought a lot about, especially as my own voice has been louder and softer at different stages of my life.

Growing up as the youngest of four children in my family and being a first generation born Indian-American, I’ve had my successes as well as struggles in finding my own voice throughout my life. Since I’m the baby of my family, I’ve always been the one who everyone wants to protect and take care of. While I love and appreciate that so much and am so thankful to have such an incredibly loving and supportive family, it also has made it challenging at times to figure out what I truly want in a situation because so many people have opinions of what they think I should or shouldn’t do because they want the best for me. I’ve always been someone who wants to please everyone and make them happy and proud of me, therefore, I sometimes push aside my own thoughts and ideas for fear of disappointing the people I love. 

Also, juggling the cultural differences and expectations of being Indian as well as American, has made it hard at times to find my own voice. Being born in the land of opportunity in the U.S., I’ve grown up in an environment that supports pursuing your dreams, working hard, achieving success academically and professionally, focusing on your own needs and making yourself happy. While the Indian upbringing I’ve had also very much supports many of these ideas, it also places a huge emphasis on putting the needs of your family ahead of your own. That core difference has sometimes made it difficult for me, personally, as I try to balance being a traditional wife and mother with being a modern-day working woman.

My own voice was softer in my early schooling years while growing up under the roof of my parents and siblings, got louder as I went to college, graduate school and when I was traveling, pursuing my career and living on my own in my 20’s and has fluctuated between loud and soft throughout my 30’s, after having my own family with my husband and children, continuing to pursue my career and trying to meet everyone’s needs, including my own.

These are some of my personal experiences with finding my own voice. What are some of your experiences? How have they fluctuated for you throughout the different stages of your life? 

As I’m now in my late 30’s, I’ve learned that balance is the key when it comes to finding your own voice and meeting the needs of others as well. In my opinion, here are some steps we can all take:

1. In any given situation, think about your gut reactions to things, including your true and honest opinions, ideas, thoughts and desires

2. Then really listen to and consider the needs of others in the situation, including what they might think or desire and determine what the similarities and differences are with your own opinions

3. In the end, make your own decisions based on your needs as well as the needs of others and trust yourself

4. Note that these steps won’t always be perfect and sometimes your needs may conflict with the needs of others, but try your best to do what you think is right, strive for as close to a win-win situation as possible, live with your decision and adjust in the future as necessary   

It won’t always be easy and sometimes you may have to put the needs of others ahead of your own for a period of time, especially if you’re a parent and/or married or in a relationship, but in order to be a truly fulfilled and whole person, you have to be able to at least find your own voice and know what you truly think and want in life. No else can do that for you…

That’s it for today, my friends. Enjoy the day, appreciate it’s symbolism and find your own voice! Until next time…

Conquer Your Fears

This week’s post isn’t about exercise, nutrition or stress management tips…but don’t worry, there will be plenty more of that to come in the future. 🙂 Rather, this week’s post is a little more raw and little more personal…it’s about conquering your fears. And I’m writing this post for all of you as much as I’m writing it for myself.

What is fear anyway? According to Merriam-Webster Online, fear is defined as follows, “to be afraid and worried or to expect or worry about something bad or unpleasant.” While we all have fears and worries in life, we have to be able to separate the things that really warrant them and the things that are really just us getting stuck in our own heads…and for anyone who knows me well, I’m notorious for getting stuck in my own head…just ask my husband! Why? Well, if you were to ask me what my biggest fears are in life, I would tell you I’m afraid of losing the people I love, disappointing the people I love and failing. Therefore, those fears often cause me to worry, not take risks and more often than not, take the “safe” route and sometimes miss out on some really amazing opportunities and experiences.

Everyone has fears, whether it’s a fear of heights, flying, drowning, public speaking, taking a new job, changing careers, starting your own business, competing in a triathlon, letting go when your child is growing up, going back to school, taking an exam, going to the doctor when you might have a health issue, confronting a family member or friend about something, etc. It’s completely natural and happens to the strongest and best of us because we’re all human. When my kids tell me they’re afraid of the dark or monsters or bad guys, I tell them it’s okay because there aren’t any monsters or bad guys in our house, that they’re strong within themselves and that Mommy and Daddy will also protect them and keep them safe. However, what do we tell ourselves as adults? Well, the best thing we can do to conquer our fears is to put them front and center and truly face them. Also, here are some questions we can ask ourselves:

1. What is this fear trying to tell me? Is there a deeper issue I should be addressing?

2. What is the worse thing that can happen?

3. What if I did fail? Would it be that bad? Do I have a Plan B?

4. What would I miss out on if I didn’t conquer my fear?

5. What could I gain and learn if I conquered my fear and took a risk?

6. How would I feel if I was able to finally conquer my fear?

7. How would I feel if I wasn’t able to conquer my fear and had to keep living with it? Would I have any regrets?

8. What do I truly desire and how can I achieve it without letting my fear get in the way?

By addressing these questions and others, we can get to the root causes of our fears and how they might be impacting us and prohibiting us from taking action so we can be happy and free from those fears. 

The other thing to think about is if our ego is somehow getting in the way of conquering our fears. Maybe our fears have something to do with how others will perceive us or other things such as rejection, appearance, money, prestige, fame, power, status, etc. If we strip away our egos, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and focus on our truest, deepest and most authentic selves, perhaps our fears would be washed away… 

This weekend, I challenge all of you to think about any fears you may have and what you can do to address them and conquer them. And with that, I leave you with an inspiring quote to motivate you to conquer your fears. Until next time…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

–Nelson Mandela

Works Cited: Merriam Webster Online, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear

GoodReads, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/fear

Reena - Passion Fit

Why Strength and Interval Training Are Just Important as Cardio

Everyone is extremely busy these days in this very technologically focused, interconnected world we all live in. Therefore, our time is limited, especially when it comes to working out. So how can you get the most bang for your buck in a short amount of time? In my opinion, the answer is a combination of interval training, strength training and cardio.

Now, many people feel cardio is king and effective workouts should be all about high intensity levels, burning the most calories possible and sweating like crazy. While all of that IS very important and should be a significant part of your workout regimen, it is also equally important to mix up high and low intensity levels in order to take your heart rates up and down and include strength training moves to increase your lean muscle mass. Why is this important? It will help balance your body’s ability to hit it’s peak performance, go into recovery mode and then hit it’s peak performance again. Also, adding in strength training and increasing lean muscle means your metabolic rates will increase, thereby allowing you to burn more calories around the clock, even when you’re sleeping! That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. 🙂

Here are some examples of interval training exercises you could do 1-2 times per week:

1. Running at an easy, steady pace for 3-5 minutes, sprinting at full speed for 1 minute, running at an easy, steady pace again for 3-5 minutes and sprinting at full speed again for 1 minute and so on

2. Doing a set of power jumps for 10 seconds, followed by standing squats for 30 seconds, followed by power jumps again for 10 seconds, followed by standing squats again for 30 seconds and so on

Here are some examples of strength training exercises you could do 1-2 times per week:

1. Tricep kickbacks with one arm at a time and/or both arms using dumbbells, keeping your elbow back and using it as a hinge as you push the weight in towards your chest and back

2. Bicep curls with dumbbells and your elbows tucked in towards your body while alternating standing 90 degree lunges on each leg to also work the quadriceps

3. Overhead presses with dumbbells at 90 degrees on the way down to work the deltoids

4. Upper body, lower body and core strength work through side planks with a raised leg and arm on each side

Anyway, these are just a few examples and ideas you could incorporate into your workouts to make them more effective and efficient. The most important things to remember are to consult your doctor before trying any new exercises if you have any health concerns, get your heart rates up and down and hit all the major muscle groups – triceps, biceps, deltoids, pectorals, trapezius, lower back, core and entire abdominal wall, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, etc. You’ll be challenging yourself and as a result, will feel stronger, leaner and fully toned throughout your entire body.

According to Jacque Ratliff from the American Council on Exercise in a recent article in Reuters, “Muscle strength, increased bone mineral density and increased strength in the connective tissues or tendons and ligaments are among the benefits of strength training.”

That’s it for tonight my friends. Enjoy your weekends and try to get in some interval and strength training! Talk to you next time. 🙂

Works Cited: Jaqcque Ratliff, “Strength Training Gets a Makeover From Yesteryear’s Bodybuilding”http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/21/us-fitness-strengthtraining-idUSBREA3K09N20140421.

Protect Yourself from Stress

Stress. It seems to be a topic of discussion everywhere these days and quite honestly, I feel like it is becoming an epidemic. Technology is causing us to be connected on our laptops, smartphones and tablets 24-7. Companies across many different industries ranging from high tech to management consulting to financial services and more, are requiring employees to produce and achieve faster and better results. Academic standards and testing for students are becoming harder and more competitive every year. Kids are getting over-scheduled with one too many after school and weekend activities. The expectations and standards for parents (or should I say the ones we place on ourselves and each other) are reaching an all-time high. On top of all this, with the economy, employment rates and real estate rates continuously rising and falling, it is no wonder our stress levels are so high!

The impact stress has on our health is astounding. Stress can negatively affect our:

1. Sleep

2. Mood

3. Organs

4. Appetite and weight

5. Skin, hair, nails and teeth

6. Immune system and ability to fight off illness

7. Blood pressure

8. Physical strength and wellness

9. Digestive system

10. Heart rate

11. Cognitive abilities including concentration and focus at work or school

12. Relationships with family and friends

13. Ability to cope with day to day to life

14. Overall sense of wellbeing and happiness

And much, much more…

According to WebMD:

– 43% of all adults suffer adverse health affects from stress

– 75-90% of all doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints

– Stress costs American industry $300 billion annually

We all have our experiences and struggles with stress and I am no exception. I, like many others, am constantly juggling a demanding job in digital advertising sales, taking care of two young children with my husband, managing a household, volunteer activities, homework and school activities, dealing with family health issues and other needs and much more. Also, I work and live in Silicon Valley, which is a wonderful place to be, but it is also a very high-stress environment for my family and myself. According to a recent article in Forbes, “Working marathon hours is part of Silicon Valley’s DNA.” 

Despite all the stress out there, there IS something we can do about it and there is a way to lead a happier and healthier life…there really is!

Here are my suggestions for natural ways to reduce and combat stress in your life…and believe me, I have to remind myself each and every day to do these things as well. 🙂

Exercise, exercise, exercise – it will give you energy, keep you physically and mentally fit, burn off stress and release endorphins to make you happy (for ideas, check out 3 of my earlier posts called, “Challenge Yourself and Mix it Up,” “How Do You Find the Time?” and “Engage Your Core”)

Practice mindfulness – meditate (there are lots of great meditation videos on YouTube and apps out there), do yoga (yoga classes are offered everywhere at gyms, studios and corporate fitness centers) and just breathe (check out my earlier post called “Remember to Breathe”)

Talk it out – whether you just want to confide in family or friends or talk to a professional, make sure you are talking through what it truly is that is causing you stress so you can take action and do something about it

Eat nutritious foods – nourishing yourself with healthy foods is critical to managing stress and staying healthy (check out my earlier post called “Nutrition Ideas: Consider Traveling to the Mediterranean”)

Say no more often – this one is very hard for me because I have always been a “yes” girl and want to make everyone happy, but it is okay to decline a project at work, an invitation to a birthday party, a play date or a volunteer opportunity…you will feel better when you have less on your plate and there will always be another opportunity to do those things in the future

Get enough sleep – make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night because it really is important to rest and recharge your batteries so you can tackle each day and take on whatever comes your way

Light a candle and take a bath – this is a great way to unwind at the end of the day, relax and give your body and mind a much needed break

Be grateful and give back to others – if you take the time to appreciate all you have in life and help others in need, you will realize that you are part of a much bigger world and purpose and your problems may not seem as big as you might think (and even if they are, you will still have a better perspective and appreciation for others who may also be struggling with something)

Read – whether you like fiction or non-fiction books, eBooks, magazines or newspapers, reading keeps your mind sharp, allows you to learn new things and can help take your mind off the very things that are causing you stress

Get outside – being outside in fresh air and nature allows you to peacefully slow down and enjoy your surroundings, spend time with your family and friends and take a break from the TV, your smartphone, laptop, tablet or other things that can over-stimulate you and cause more stress and anxiety

I know all of this is easier said than done sometimes, but in order to protect ourselves from stress, we have to remember to take a step back and do the things that make us happy and feel good. That is what living is truly all about. So this weekend, try to relax and protect yourself from stress. I know you can do it!

Have a great weekend and talk to you all next time!

Works Cited: Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD, “The Effects of Stress on Your Body,”http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

Joscelin Cooper, “Why Silicon Valley’s Work Culture is Killing Us,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/08/25/why-silicon-valleys-work-culture-is-killing-us/

Reena fitness

Engage Your Core

The core has become a very popular buzz word in the fitness world over the last decade and you’ll often hear fitness instructors (including myself) telling their classes to “engage your core!” What is the core and why is it such a big focus when exercising? 

The core basically consists of the entire mid-section of your body that spans from the muscles in your abdominal wall (including the internal and external obliques and rectus and transverse abdominis), to the muscles in your back and spine and everything in between. This is the section of your body that you tuck in and squeeze. It’s also often referred to as your “power house,” as it protects your lower back, centers you, gives you balance and allows you to unlock your full potential when working out. 

Dancers have been using their core muscles for centuries as it allows them to maintain their frame and posture throughout a dance. Runners, gymnasts and athletes of all kinds use their core muscles to maximize their performance in races, meets and games. Many popular classes at the gym place a heavy focus on core strength as well such as:

Pilates

Ballet Bar

Yoga

Cardio Sculpt

Kickboxing

Body Pump

Boot Camp

Kettlebell

CrossFit

TRX

Zumba

According to Michelle Olson, Ph.D. at Auburn University, who’s extensive research on the abdominal region was featured on Self.com, “The pelvic floor forms the base of your core, so you need to be able to tighten it to be able to work your abs from all angles.”

Here are a few core exercises that you can incorporate into your workouts.

1. The first move is called a mountain climber. You “climb” with your feet and quickly alternate bringing your knees in toward your chest while squeezing your core and maintaining a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart

2. The second move is a more traditional core exercise that involves sitting up at a 45 degree angle with your shoulder blades off the floor, holding your fists together at chest level, tucking in your core and slowly turning side to side to work your entire abdominal wall.

Try these exercises to challenge yourself and strengthen your core. 

Well, that’s a wrap for tonight my fitness friends! Remember to “engage your core” the next time you workout and you’ll certainly feel the difference in your balance, strength and power. Have a great weekend and talk to you soon!

Works Cited: Liz Miersch, “Activate Your Core,” Self, April 29, 2009.

Passion Fit breakfast

Nutrition Ideas: Consider Traveling to the Mediterranean

When it comes to nutrition, there are so many different and often conflicting statistics, research studies and fads out there, that it can be confusing to know which path is the most sensible one to take. Each individual ultimately needs to determine what makes the most sense for himself or herself based on taste preferences, weight management needs, lifestyle, food allergies and other health concerns or factors. 

When it comes to my nutrition preferences? I travel to the Mediterranean! What that means for me is lots of:

1. Fresh fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, oranges, grapes, apples, kiwi, pomegranates, watermelon, pineapples and avocados (yes, avocados are technically fruits…and the most perfect food on the planet in my opinion :)) 

2. Fresh vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and bell peppers 

3. Fish, eggs and lean meats such as chicken and turkey

4. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews and peanuts and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower

5. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain pasta, breads, cereals, waffles, pancakes and granola bars, steel-cut oatmeal and quinoa

6. Lowfat dairy such as cheese, milk, greek yogurt and in my book, frozen yogurt counts as well 🙂

7. Healthy indulgences such as dark chocolate and wine

8. Foods cooked in olive oil

As you can see, there are a wide variety of foods to choose from here, which means you don’t have to deprive yourself to be healthy. These foods offer you plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, healthy and unsaturated fats, limited sugar, antioxidants and the list goes on and on. As my Mom always says, “If you eat a little bit of everything in moderation, you’ll be healthy.” I wholeheartedly agree with her and moms do know best, don’t they?

I recently completed a nutrition study and exam for continuing education credits for my AFAA fitness instructor certification and according to the textbook, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, written by Walter C. Willett, M.D. with Patrick J. Skerrett, “The Mediterranean diet offers a good blueprint for healthy eating.”

Here’s the bottom line: Based on everything I’ve read, studied and experienced with nutrition over the years, sticking to natural, unprocessed foods in moderation, that offer a variety of colors, flavors, textures and health benefits could help you to live a healthier life. However, the ideas and tips mentioned above shouldn’t substitute the advice of a medical or health professional. Please remember to consult with your doctor if you have any health concerns or dietary restrictions or needs.

That’s it for tonight my friends. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy your food! Until next Friday…:)

Works Cited: Walter C. Willett, M.D. with Patrick J. Skerrett, Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating (New York: Free Press, 2001), 21

Reena with sons

How Do You Find the Time?

Whether you have a busy career, a family, pets, travel, volunteer commitments, a household to manage or a host of other responsibilities in your life, it’s tough to find the time to work out, isn’t it? It’s easy to want to hit the snooze button in the mornings, power through lunchtime at work instead of hitting the gym, or change into your sweats and relax when you get home in the evenings because you’re so incredibly tired. And the weekends? Don’t even talk about the weekends! I get it…I’ve been there many, many times. 

However, exercising for as little as 20-30 minutes each day, still has major health benefits and can often seem less daunting to fit into a busy schedule. According to a research study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and featured in ScienceDaily, “Moderately strenuous exercise, about 30 minutes a day, can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight and the ability to lead an independent and fulfilling life.” Some specific health benefits mentioned in this Mayo Clinic research study include:

1. Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes
2. Lower blood pressure
3. Manageable weight
4. Improved cholesterol
5. Prevention of osteoporosis
6. Prevention of cancer
7. Improved mental health and well being
8. Increased stamina and alertness

These are some pretty compelling reasons to exercise regularly if you ask me! It’s all about your mindset and priorities and if you want to make it happen, you will! Here are some ideas for squeezing in quick, efficient and effective workouts in your day, especially if you don’t have time to hit the gym regularly…and if you can do even more than this, great!

Consider home workouts: This is especially helpful for busy parents. If you want to invest in a treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike, that’s great and you should go for it if you can. If you don’t want to spend too much money, buy some dumb bells, a medicine ball, a swiss ball, a yoga mat, resistance bands and home workout DVDs. These are great options to have around your house so you can be more flexible in deciding when and how you want to workout each day and still be around for your family. We have many of the above mentioned options in our house and they work really well.

Add a little walking into your day: Go for a walk during lunchtime at work or better yet, turn a 30 minute meeting in a stuffy conference room into a walking meeting outside instead (many people do this at my company and love it). Another idea is to put the younger kids in a jogging stroller and take an after-dinner walk with your family in the evenings so everyone gets some exercise and fresh air.

Play sports with your kids: My husband and I do this often and I did it recently when I played soccer for about 30 minutes with our boys in the backyard after work…they both gave me quite a workout!

Use YouTube: This is a great option for those who travel or are always on the go. There are so many free and amazing workouts and fitness channels available on YouTube, that you could pull one up on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop, wherever you are. I did this recently in my hotel room when I was on a business trip to NYC and it was an easy and fun way to fit in a quick workout before my meetings. Something is better than nothing, right?

Bring them along: Whether you’re signed up to do a race or simply want to go for a run, hike or bike ride, bring your kids or pets along!

Featured above is a picture my husband took of my boys with me after running a 5k race in Northern CA a few years ago. They had fun and I loved having them cheer me on!

Well…that’s a wrap for tonight…talk to you all next Friday. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend and think about getting in your 30 minutes a day so your friends and family will start to ask you, “How do YOU find the time?” 

Works Cited: Mayo Clinic. “Moderate Exercise Yields Big Benefits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080104123421.htm>.

Passion Fit Blog

Challenge Yourself and Mix it Up

When I was in college, I started teaching kickboxing and high-low aerobics classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’ll date myself by saying this, but it was in the mid to late ’90’s. 😉 Anyway, I taught 3 classes per week during all 4 years and absolutely loved it. My classes were in the athletic centers on campus in a huge gym with about 250 people per class. The energy of my students in the gym each week was incredible and it felt great to be a part of that and set a positive and healthy example for so many students!

When I was a senior, I saw the ESPN National Aerobics Championships on TV and was so fascinated with it, I decided I would someday compete. Fast forward a few years and in addition to my day job in marketing at GE, I started working with coaches, choreographers and trainers in NYC, San Francisco and LA. I was so excited to compete and worked hard, training 6 days a week, 2-3 hours a day, in the mornings or the evenings after work. The competition consisted of a 2-minute dance aerobics routine set to music, showcasing strength, flexibility, cardiovascular stamina and artistic ability. I trained and competed on both a regional and national level from 1999-2002. In 2001, I placed 9th and in 2002, I placed 2nd and won the silver medal in the Women’s Class II division at nationals in South Beach, Miami! 

Featured above is a picture of me (on the far left) placing in the top 3 and about to receive my silver medal. The competition was televised on ESPN and to this day, is one of the most memorable experiences and accomplishments of my life!

I tell this story to share a little bit more about my fitness background, but more importantly, to encourage people to challenge themselves when it comes to fitness and mix it up by trying different things. Some people may want to do fitness competitions, triathlons, marathons or other events, so they can achieve specific goals they’ve set for themselves. However, it definitely does NOT have to be anything extreme. It could be trying a new class at the gym, going for a walk or hike a few days a week after work, riding your bike, playing in a tennis league, learning how to ski, swimming in the mornings, going dancing on the weekends, etc.  

The key is to find things that YOU truly enjoy and that challenge you and your body. Doing these things will make you happy, give you confidence and more energy, help you avoid boredom and burnout, allow you to grow in your fitness abilities and motivate you to keep working out and coming back for more!

Now that spring and summer are upon us, it’s the perfect time to think about your fitness goals and desires and doing things that are fun. What will you do to challenge yourself and mix it up? 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I’ll be back next Friday with my next post!

Passion Fit Blog

Remember to Breathe…

Whenever I teach my fitness classes, I always tell my class, “remember to breathe!” If my 3 and 6 year-old boys are fighting over a toy and testing my patience or my husband and I are feeling stressed about our busy schedules, I always tell them and myself, “remember to breathe!”

Breathing is such a natural part of our existence, yet, sometimes it’s one of the hardest things to remember to do when our bodies need it the most. Donna Farhi, an internationally renowned yoga instructor and breathing expert says in her book entitled, The Breathing Book, “breathing affects your respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychic systems and also has a general effect on your sleep, your memory, your energy level and your concentration.” In a nutshell, breathing helps transport oxygen to our bodies, which is critical for our survival. Pretty amazing to think about, isn’t it?  

Sometimes it can be really helpful to go outside to get some fresh air and focus on your breathing or even just to have beautiful scenery to look at or picture in your mind. Maybe something like the picture above…

I took that picture on our recent family vacation to Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Seeing the ocean first-hand or at least picturing it, always puts my mind at ease and allows me to remember to breath more easily.

There are different breathing techniques out there for different situations…when you’re exercising, when you’re in a resting state, when you’re feeling stressed out and need to feel calm, when you’re managing back or neck pain, etc. However, one of the most effective ways to breathe is through your nose and your belly, which is part of a technique called diaphragmatic breathing or more simply, belly breathing. Belly breathing is often used in yoga, ballet bar and pilates workouts. This is how it works:

1. Inhale through your nose while expanding your belly (rather than your chest) outward as far as you can go (you can put your hand on your belly to feel it’s expansion)

2. Exhale slowly through your mouth and pull your belly back in

3. Repeat as many times as necessary

Feel free to give this technique a try the next time you need an energy boost, to calm a stressed or anxious mind, if you’re having trouble sleeping or if you’re in a yoga, ballet bar, pilates or other fitness class during the stretch section. I’ve also recently started to use this technique to better control my seasonal allergy-induced asthma and it definitely is making a difference!

I’m going to sign off for now, but I’ll be back next Friday with a new post. Have a wonderful weekend, my friends and happy breathing! 🙂

Works Cited: Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996) 1.

Reena Vokoun - Passion Fit

Passion Fit is Finally Born!

Hello friends!

I’m thrilled to introduce you all to my new blog called…Passion Fit! What exactly does Passion Fit mean, you ask? Well…to me, it means many things….pursuing your passions, nurturing all the important relationships in your life (including your relationship with yourself), giving back, being spiritual in your own way, continuously challenging yourself to learn and grow, being grateful, having perspective, being engaged in the world, focusing on your health and wellness and being “fit” in life through things such as good nutrition, exercise, sleep, drinking lots of water, managing stress and deep breathing. These are all topics I will be covering in my blog and I look forward to sharing ideas and stories and connecting with readers with similar interests.

So let’s talk about how my Passion Fit blog was born. It originally started as a tiny idea I created in my head one night before going to bed in December, 2012 and has grown into a concept that has become near and dear to my heart. I’ve been passionate about health, wellness and fitness for as long as I can remember (seriously, since about the age of 9) and have always made it a priority for myself and my family. In future blogs, I’ll share many of the things I’ve done throughout my life in these areas. I’ve also known, since the age of 22, that someday I wanted to share my thoughts and ideas on these very topics with the rest of the world including my extended family, friends, community and professional network through writing, speaking and teaching.  

Obviously life is busy for all of us, and it certainly has been and continues to be for me. However, I’ve realized that you have to make the time to do the things you love and not let busyness, fear of failure or any other roadblock get in your way. Only then can you realize your full potential, truly fulfill your life’s dreams, feel complete and never have to wonder, “what if?” So now, at the age of 37, that is exactly what I’m doing in starting to write this blog, among a few other pursuits.

I hope you’ll join me on this new and exciting adventure I’m about to take on. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and connecting with you!

And with that, I leave you with this picture of me in action, getting my Passion Fit on! 😉