Win A Buddha's Herbs Goodie Bag


Win A Buddha's Herbs Goodie Bag

My friends at Buddha's Herbs - makers of high quality, high purity, well-priced supplements and teas, are sponsoring an Independence Day Giveaway here at

One of you lovely readers will win a Buddha's Herbs Goodie Bag, consisting of a Buddha's Herbs tote bag, mug, and a collection of their finest products. I love their products, and am confident that you will too.

Win A Buddha's Herbs Goodie Bag

Contest starts today - US Independence Day, 4 July 2014 at 7pm and will end at 7pm on Friday 11 July 2014. I will announce the winner on Monday 7 July 2014!

This is the first of several awesome giveaways that will happening here over the next few months, so please stay in touch!

Enter the giveaway below. Good luck!

Win A Buddha's Herb Goodie Bag

Review: SinuOrega Nasal Spray


SinuOrega Nasal Spray works extremely well, if you can handle it.

3/5 stars

Ever since we moved back to NYC I have struggled with my sinuses. After having only one sinus infection in six years while living in the Caribbean, I have had at least four in the past few years.

My physician prescribed generic Flonase, but now that Nasacort is over the counter, United Healthcare has informed me that they are upping my co-pay to $30 from $10 (for the exact same generic drug). Because the people who receive over $300 per week out of my pre-tax income would rather not pay for anything.

So I have become a huge fan of saline nasal sprays, with Ocean being my favorite.

Back in April, at the start of spring allergy season, I received an email from Naturally Savvy offering me a chance to sample and review North American Herb and Spice's SinuOrega.

I received a full size (2 oz.) nasal spray and a general spray, suitable for odor elimination and cleaning.

sinuoregaBasically, you are inhaling the emulsified oils of wild oregano (here as NAHS's Oregano p73), bay leaf, sage, and clove in a sea salt (saline) base. Oregano is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so it actually clears out your sinuses on many levels.

If only I could handle the burn and the smell/taste!

NAHS warns on the package that there can be some mild burning sensations just after spraying, but for me the burning wasn't minor and lasted for a bit. And then there was the intense oregano and clove taste in the back of my throat. Worse than the odd rosewater aftertaste of Flonase.

I - just - can't!

Now, I can handle the smell when it's not in my own body, so the cleaning spray is fabulous for me.

And look, North American Herb and Spice's SinuOrega has 4.5 stars on Amazon, so clearly it works well for most people. The few negative reviews focus on the inability to handle the burn and smell, not the efficacy of the nasal spray.

My sinuses felt great on the days that I used the spray, but not great enough to withstand the burn.

Have you tried a natural nasal spray? Has it worked?

Review - The Firm Zip Trainer


My Review of The Firm Zip Trainer

The Firm Zip Trainer is a good exercise tool. I wish the videos were better.

3/5 Stars

I am not quite sure how the Firm videos have been so popular for so long. This is the second firm equipment/video set I have received, and both had really badly done videos.

The workouts are quick and the instructors are way too perky. The instructors are good, and I suppose motivating for some people, but I don't do well with people who are way too happy and perky.

The Firm Zip Trainer is a ball made of high density foam that unzips to act as a "Step" and balance trainer, and holds a weighted ball in the center. The Zip Trainer alone weighs around 5 pounds, and it comes with a 3 pound ball that can be used separately, or placed in the center of the Zip trainer to add more weight (a 7 pound ball is sold separately).

The Zip trainer can be used like a large medicine ball, held, pressed, stretched on, stepped on, and balanced on.

the firm zip trainer

I love the Zip trainer itself, and have actually incorporated it into my Pilates mat workouts, like a weighted magic circle. I use it to add challenge to my bridging, planking, and ab exercises.

Regarding the videos, you do get a decent number of workouts, but I find the Firm workouts to be too fast and friendly for me.

If you exercise at home and are looking for an inexpensive tool to give you a bit more variety and resistance, this a great tool. If you already love the Firm workouts, you will also love these.

Pilates Plank on Real Alignment Mat


Pilates plank on Real Alignment Mat is a fabulous, full-body, core strengthening exercise.

I posted a little while ago about Pilates being a full body system that includes all of the usual exercise suspects, including lots of planks.

My colleague Alycea Ungaro has developed a mat that is beautiful and shows where to place your body parts for optimal alignment when doing any exercises.

Now, you can do this pilates plank anywhere, but it is interesting to see how Tori is able to maintain such good alignment due to the layout of the mat.

Try it!


Review: 21-Day Tummy by Liz Vaccariello


21-Day Tummy is an anti-inflammation program for those with sensitive stomachs who need to lose weight.

Liz Vaccariello, currently with Reader's Digest and formerly with Prevention, has created some of the most effective diet and exercise programs. This 21-Day Tummy diet is no different. I took place in a trial for her Flat Belly Diet several years ago, and managed to jump start a year of weight loss with those steps alone.

This book focuses on calming our digestive systems and nervous systems, thus getting rid of excess acid, bloat, and inflammation. If you are overweight and tend to have heartburn, either diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloat, and/or stomach pain, this book is for you.

While there are some obvious offenders - sugar, HFCS, and trans-fats, there are also some surprises. Did you know that cashews and pistachios cause inflammation for sensitive people? How about artichokes and onions? Soybeans and nectarines? How many people have replaced dairy with soy in the hopes of reducing inflammation without any change? This is why.

The good food list in 21-Day Tummy is similar to both the Flat Belly and Digest diets, and includes high-fiber vegetables, lower-fructose fruits, high-protein grains, most nuts and nut butters, seeds, healthy fats, and lean protein. Dark chocolate also makes an appearance, helping to enrich several of the dessert recipes.

As you can see, the foods that cause inflammation and digestive problems are the very foods that also cause us to gain weight - sweets, animal fats, fattier proteins, dairy, wheat, barley, and rye, beans and legumes, and artificial sweeteners. By limiting them, we lose weight and calm our bellies down. It's a win-win!

There are suggested menus and recipes for each of the 21 days, along with shopping lists and substitutes. There are also several simple tests to show which foods you are sensitive to, which will help you decide what to limit.

For exercise, Vaccariello recommends an easy-to-follow program of walking, core strengthening exercises, and gentle yoga. Again, the goal is to calm stress as much as burn calories.

If you are concerned about your diet and your digestive system, and need to lose a few pounds while calming your belly, this book is for you. Devote three weeks to the 21-Day Tummy program and you will lose weight and feel better.

Fitness Marketing - Compassion or Judgement?


Fitness Marketing as it stands is based on judgement. What would Fitness Marketing based on compassion look like?

Like many fitness professionals, I am a member of many groups on Facebook. The most useful this far has been Dax Moy's Fitness Marketing Made Simple.

Recently Dax has been putting out challenges for the members of the group. I haven't really been active lately after dealing with both parents dying in a five week span, as well a major injury, but today I was completely inspired by one of Dax's posts.

At some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future, this industry of ours has to grow up and start looking at people through the eyes of compassion rather than judgement.

At some point, this industry has to stop vilifying people who carry fat and making their lives ABOUT becoming thin and instead help people to become happy.

We would all like to think that thin = happy. But in reality, happiness has little to do with your size. I have been a miserable anorexic thin person, and a happier bigger person. My size tends to have little impact on how I feel, except when others judge me because of my size.

I have gained 20 pounds in the last four months. Some days, the only food I can stomach is comfort food. My parents always struggled with weight, so my comfort food is distinctly not healthy. But sometimes my psychological comfort is primary.

It seems ridiculous to me that in the 21st century we can't see that fat gain only makes people unhappy because of the judgement of others. Because of the stories we tell ourselves (because we've heard them from others) are those that say that because someone has more fat than someone else, they are somehow less worthy of happiness in their lives.

Even at my smallest, I am a curvy woman. As a personal trainer and pilates teacher, I have had people judge me immediately. Seriously, one troll on YouTube commented, "Why the fuck would I want to workout with a fat person?" And that is on a video where I am pretty slim!

At some point this industry of ours needs to remember that people aren't fat, they HAVE fat and that fat, just like muscle or bone, can be built up or broken down.

At some point, we need to make the goal of exercise, activity and eating clean about helping people to remember that regardless of weight, size, circumference or bodyfat percentage, their lives have meaning and value.

Of course, part of the problem is/was that I still feel/felt compelled to market based on ability to produce weight loss, fat loss, and tone in my clients. And in general, I am quite good at doing that for other people.

But in reality, my client focus is always on making my clients feel great. If you look at my client testimonials, most of them are about how my clients feel when they work with me. Better, stronger, less pain.

One thing's for sure...

That way we're doing it now isn't working for many.

So at some point we need to stop congratulating ourselves on perpetuating the myth of fatloss and start helping people remember their own value.

And that's all I got to say about that (in my best Forrest Gump Voice).

Moving forward, I will be compassionate with myself. I will love my body as it is, and appreciate how much better it feels and moves as I do more with my body and get stronger.

More importantly, I will approach my clients, readers, and everyone with the same compassion.

Let's get healthy, people! Let's feel better.

Looking better ain't all there is.

Review: Marika Tek Venus Tee and Sanded Dry-Wik Pant


My wear test of Marika. Let's see how the Marika Tek Venus Tee and Sanded Dry-Wik Pant perform in the Pilates studio!

(And see how much Pilates you can actually do in a Cam Walker boot ;).)
3 (out of 5) Stars

Last week the lovely people over at Marika asked me if I would review a top and bottom of my choice from their line of women's fitness clothing. How could I say no?

Marika Clothing Arrives

I chose two basics, the Marika Tek Summer Delight Venus V-Neck Tee in Heather Hawaiian Ocean ($28), and the Sanded Dry-Wik Pant in Black ($55). According to their sizing charts I am a Large, so that's what I requested. They showed up via FedEx one day later (really!).

My initial impression was that the fabric of both items was lovely - soft, silky, stretchy, and light. The shirt has a small Marika logo on the front. The pants are flat front, with a washed suede texture. Like a kid with a new present, I had to try them on immediately.

Note how shirt bunches in back.

And stretches in front :(

How Does Marika Fit?

My concern with most T-shirts is that if they are not cut for DD cup and above women with an allowance for boobs in the front and side, the shirt overstretches in the front and bunches up loosely in the back, like you see here. Not the most attractive look, and so easily avoidable with a few styling details.

And while you can't quite see it in the photo, the pants need to be cut a bit higher or fuller (or both) in the back to allow for a curvy butt. I found that through the course of my teaching day the pants started to slip down my rear.

Wearing Marika for Pilates Teaching and Workout

That said, these were still suitable for work, so I wore them over to Real Pilates the next morning for a few hours of teaching and some self-Pilates. Aside from the above mentioned pant slippage, the Marika clothing was comfortable and dried quickly.

Here I am doing some Pilates (thanks to Liz Torres for taking the photos).

Always good to start with the Hundred. Note the ankle weight to balance the boot!

I crave extension right now. Yay for the high barrel!

The tree is a fave. Great ab work, hip, back extension.

No gaps, no strange pulling or creasing, and I am able to work through a full torso range of motion in this outfit, no problem!

We washed and dried both, and they did well in the laundry except for the the Marika logo on the Tee, which started peeling off after the first wash.

My Two Cents

Had I purchased these items, I would most likely keep the pants and return the shirt with this note.

Dear Marika,

Assuming that Marika wants to include us curvier ladies in their expanding customer base, you need to address the cut of your clothing. T-shirts need boob room without leaving us over stretched in the front and accordion-folded in the back. A longer shirt with some Lycra is not enough! Pants need a wee bit more room in the rear to avoid slipping and gapping.

And enough with the logos. I know whose clothing I bought, and the logo peels off anyway.

Your fabrics and colors are so wonderful that if you simply addressed this styling issue, I know your customer base would increase!

And no, not all of us curvy girls care to wear compression pants, which may or may not be cut different. I don't know as I like to be able to breathe when I'm out.



Get a Free Yoga Mat with every $100 purchase + get 20% off your entire purchase with code MAT20 at Marika