Kristy, Au Naturale: Massage is not a Luxury

Show of hands on who is stressed about something right now? Literally, anything. Laundry, money, marriage, kids, work, blah blah blah blah.

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Close your eyes and feel your body. Feel where it is tense. Is it your shoulders? Your jaw? Your glutes? Is your brow furrowed or your posture slouched?

Now stop reading. Feel it. Take this time.

Now actively release those muscles and become aware that whenever we think about the simplest thing that causes us stress, our bodies produce this physiological response called tension. It is only the most practiced of us (aka, the Buddha) that can be fully aware of these muscular stresses, and actively manage them without the help or guidance of others.

This is exactly why I do not believe that we can call Massage Therapy a “luxury” any longer. We, as the human collective, are just too seemingly stressed out about our lives and the state of the world to recognize how it is affecting our bodes.

What we end up following, is a cycle of tension, and pain, then anxiety and decreased ability to cope with the pain.

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This has a dire effect on us as a whole being. The way our body responds to stress is three fold. It is physiological, emotional, and psychosocial. Most of us turn to medicine to manage the symptoms. Which has its benefits as well, but what if it were more simple than that?

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The Body is Smart

There are over 50 physiological responses to stress. Overwhelmingly and alarmingly, these responses effect our body systems’ ability to function properly. Below are descriptions of different bodily systems as they respond to stressors placed in our lives.

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The Answer is Antique

The power of touch and “healing” touch has been around for 5000 YEARS. Five freaking thousand years people have been using Massage Therapy and healing therapies to ease the symptoms of stress and illness, be it mental, emotional, or physiological. I say, if it ain’t broke……

Massage Therapy is the perfect antidote to most of the stressful situations in which we find ourselves on our daily grind. With frequent (at least once a month, if not every 6 weeks) Massage Therapy, one can benefit GREATLY.  Pictured below are just some of those benefits outlined.

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But what about our psychological health? It is no surprise that stress creates emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, family tension, short temperament, coping problems, and increase use of improper coping mechanisms. Massage therapy can help by increasing self worth, decreasing blood pressure (aka anxiety), boosting energy levels (aka helping with depression) improving sleep (hello resting awesome sleep face) and increasing ones awareness of their bodily tensions. This latter benefit is important so that we can understand our body’s response to stress, and address is as it presents itself before it becomes a reason to create a problem.

The fact is, no matter what you believe, that we are primitively designed to live in the moment. Most of the animal kingdom, when not hunting, do not spend their time worrying about taxes, relationships, promotions, etc.

They spend their leisurely time sleeping, cuddling, BEING.

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I’ve got $5 that she’s not thinking about TPS reports

Massage Therapy is THIS. Not a luxury, but a primitive and necessary reminder that our bodies, brains, and souls need a time out. We need to allow ourselves an hour (or more) every once in a while to tune out from the world and unplug, and tune INTO ourselves.

As mothers, so often when we experience touch in our lives, someone wants something from us. The new baby needs to nurse. The toddler needs comfort. Our spouse needs…. another kind of comfort. Having someone touch you in a healing way is not a regular occurrence for most moms. For other women, whether you’re single or an empty-nester without the kids hanging off of you, touch might be nearly absent. That hour of nourishing touch is even more important in these stages of life.

So, whether you’ve never had a professional massage or it’s just been too long, now is the time to sit down with your budget and find $50-150 per month for this. We are talking about one Target run for a lot of us here. Only, instead of a few bags of (admittedly cute) stuff you were convinced you need, you now have invested in healing every aspect of your life.

You can’t pour from an empty bucket, people. Replenish your needs so you are better able to share yourself with those who matter to you.

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_n Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia.

At Home with Christiana: Best Fitness Apps

Fitness is something that has always been a part of my life. From junior athletics to marathon running to postpartum recovery, fitness is a major source of stress relief, confidence, and balance in my life. So while a day in the life of home renovating and chasing little people is almost always a workout in some form, my personal fitness is something I work very hard to prioritize. For me.giphy4

We all know by now the countless benefits of exercise (if not, read up!) but sometimes LIFE HAPPENS and getting to the gym just doesn’t. Parent or not, sometimes just adulting feels like sabotage to your fitness routine. Then add the schedules of 1, 2, or 3 little people that have little no regard for your agenda, and well, you get the picture. Client meeting runs late and you miss your spin class. Baby changes her nap schedule and you miss yoga by 5 f&*ing minutes. Ugh. “Namaste!”  Luckily, for days like these, technology is here to literally save our asses. Praise to the Fitness Apps.

Fitness apps have been a game changer for me because they allow me to get a serious workout in whenever and wherever I choose. No gym, no trainer, nobody else’s schedule but mine. Even multiple little people can’t sabotage these – there is a pause button for diaper changes, (because sh*t happens) and frankly, babies make great kettle bell substitutes for those walking lunges.  Also, no one is around to judge me for drinking coffee during my morning yoga session. #mommasrules

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In sum, fitness apps are totally awesome! With one caveat. Apps are definitely a realm where not all are created equal, but don’t despair if you’ve struck out in the past.  I have included my three favorite, time-tested apps below.  They won’t let you down.

Best Strength/Cross Training App: Nike Training Club

Nike Training Club (NTC) is my go-to app for at-home cross-training. NTC features a wide variety of workouts designed by pro athletes and celebrity trainers (oh heeeey Ronaldo, I see you). Ranging in intensity and activity level, these workouts can get straight up hardcore.  I love that this app allows you to select a workout based on a number of criteria. Only got 15 minutes? There are workouts for that. No equipment on hand? There are workouts for that, too. Want to target a certain stubborn body part or muscle group? There are PLENTY of workouts for that.

Another great feature is you can play your own music without interfering with the app’s audio cues. Because NO ONE likes doing burpees in silence. No one. New workouts are uploaded pretty regularly so I have yet to get bored. You can also set up 4-8 week personalized plans via the app that provide you with workouts in the order and frequency you should do them based on your personal inputs. This app really gives you everything you need to get a serious sweat on. So get after it!

Cost: Free

Great for: Strength training, beginners to serious athletes

Best Yoga App: Yoga Studio by Gaiam

Anyone who spends the majority of their week surrounded by little people who have yet to develop the concept of ‘personal space’ can use a little zen. But sometimes a lot of the time your yoga studio’s schedule won’t jive with yours, your kids stay home sick, or you just plain sleep in. Fear not. Gaiam’s Yoga Studio is a great app that can bring the Om at home, on vacation, in the backyard… anywhere. Time to get those yoga pants doing some actual yoga, y’all.

I will be the first to say that I am picky about yoga, and I think this app does a great job of channeling the calming vibe of a studio class via your wireless device.  You can download a wide variety of pre-made classes and meditations (more of our thoughts on meditation here if you missed it) ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour that target specific muscle groups or problem areas (such as lower back pain, yoga for runners),  or a particular mood (strength, Relaxation, AM/PM). Or you can create your own custom classes too. The one-hour Relaxation class is a personal favorite in our household. After the kids go to bed, light a candle, roll out your mat, (maybe pour that glass of wine, because why not? You’re at home!) Annnnd enjoy some well-earned savasana.  You won’t regret it.

Cost: $1.99/month or $19.99 annually

Great for: All levels of  yoga 

Best Running App: Map my Run by Under Armor

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Running for me currently goes one of two ways…  either the stars align and I get a glorious solo run while someone else watches the kiddos OR I’ve loaded up the jogging stroller with kids, snacks, blankets, water bottles and goodness knows what else. Either way, I just want to GO before something goes wrong. I don’t want to worry about creating a route, monitoring my pace or distance, or fidget with a bunch of settings on my devices.

Enter: Map my Run. I can load saved routes with a touch of one button or simply “start workout” and go. All while my distance and pace and calories are reliably monitored and saved to track progress. You can add notes to your run once it’s completed (like perhaps “double stroller into the wind” or “goldfish spilled”) so you can track your training performance without trying to remember why you had a couple really off pace days.

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You can also connect with your running buddies/family members that use the app to encourage each other along the way, which is especially fun if you’re training for an event together, even long distance, or just for added support.  That “NICE RUN, BUDDY!!!” text from your partner never, ever gets old.

Cost: Free

Great for: Running/walking/biking, tracking outdoor routes, race training

I hope these apps are as helpful for some of you to maintain or even begin your fitness regimen as they have been for me.  Shout out with your favorites if you have some to add!  Now go get you some Om. Cheers!

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Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

Momday Feels: Kristy & Annie

Just because some parts of our region fall victim to the whims of a picky groundhog’s opinion on what is considered a shadow, doesn’t mean we can’t make spring bloom
whenever we (damn well) want inside our homes
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Go home March, you’re drunk!
Some fun indoor spring projects can boost the mind into happier places.  For instance, if you love summer gardening, starting seeds in February-March can get you a head start with those ripe summer tomatoes, squash and zucchini. Plus – seeds offer more variety (I see you heirlooms) and are wayyyy cheaper than buying started plants later on  (so more money for wine to go with that Caprese).
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Starting an indoor herb garden from potted herbs found at your local grocery store can not only provide you with some beautiful greenery indoors, but can also inspire delicious meals and teas for entertaining or relaxing. Or sometimes, you might just need to smash a sage leaf or lavender flower in your palm and snort sniff it when your kids won’t stop whining that they’re borrrrrrrrrred, when is it gonna be summmmmmerrrrrrr?!
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It doesn’t have to be plants either. Finding a way to do sometime just for YOU can turn your whole day around. Imagine if instead of getting addicted to cigarettes, or drugs or even your iPhone you were addicted to self care. It’s all well and good when you have those special times to really get away and treat yourself, but what about the days you’re stuck at home or at work?? Where could you sneak off to “get your fix”.
Maybe you take an extra minute hiding in the bathroom to swipe on your favorite lipstick.  Perhaps you hide in the pantry and just fully savor a bite of expensive dark chocolate. Maybe when the kids are (finally) good and distracted, you leave the laundry unfolded and dishes undone and just do 5 minutes of yoga, or dancing to your fave song, or put on a face mask or masturbate (lock the bedroom door for that one) or paint your nails… whatEVER makes you feel more present and joyful in YOUR body.
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I know keeping fresh flowers around my home helped me out of a rough bout of seasonal affective disorder. (Thanks to the suggestion of a certain DIY badass renaissance mama—love you Christiana) Seeing the fullness and brightness of the blooms, helped inspire the productivity of purging my kitchen of all the useless junk (tupperware tops with no bottoms and visa versa…why are there never matching sets??) which made more space for organization!  I also had the benefit and joy of picking out my favorite blooms and buying them for ME. Don’t wait around for someone to buy them for you. Treat YO-self!
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So try it sometime..buy yourself some of your favorite flowers, stop and smell them, and smile. I dare you to make yourself smile today…. Kindness to yourself is the ultimate gangster.
IMG_9104Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, Crossfitter, homesteader and massage therapist in Virginia. Annie, doctor mama of 2 in California co-wrote this with her.