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Reebok

At Home Workout Ideas for Your Next Snow Day

Posted by: Danielle Rines on February 14, 2017
Global Newsroom

There’s nothing like a snow day. You’re stuck in your house drinking hot chocolate, watching movies and if it’s a weekday, you’re working from your couch. Not a bad deal. But what about your workout?

It’s frozen solid. 

“Just because there’s some snow outside doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and make sure that you’re keeping up with your fitness,” says Boston-based CrossFit Seminar Staff Coach Joe Masley

And we agree. 

Reebok has made sure you no longer have the weather to blame for not sweating it out! 

“Some of the hardest workouts that I’ve ever done involve no equipment and just your own body weight,” says HIIT instructor and personal trainer, Jenn Ogonowsky.

With that in mind (and no equipment handy), we asked Masley, Ogonowsky and yoga instructor, Lena Rakijian, to design three programs specifically adapted for your living room.

“Think outside the box and use whatever you have at your disposal to improve your fitness,” says Masley. “Pretend that there’s somebody else next to you and just work as hard as you can in the space that you’re given.” 

Whether you’re into functional training, HIIT or yoga—these at-home workouts will cover all the bases.

And if you’re still struggling to kick that lazy, snowed-in feeling, Ogonowsky suggests some good tunes.

“If you make a good playlist and you have music that pumps you up and gets you in the zone, you can do a workout in your room and feel just as pumped up as you would in the gym,” she says.

Time to sweat it out with these three at-home workouts. 

Yoga Flow

3 Legged Downward Dog: Inhale reach right leg up towards the sky. Firmly press both hands into the mat with equal sensation so the shoulders are square with your mat. Root down through your left heel and reach up through the heel of the right foot. Roll the right inner thigh skyward and hug the outer hips in.

Low Lunge: Inhale as you step your right foot in between your hands, drop your back knee down and untuck your back toes. Reach both arms up towards the sky, lift the low ribs up away from your pelvis. Lunge forward so your right knee tracks over your right ankle. Draw your right hip slightly back and your left hip slightly forward.

Pyramid pose: On an exhale, lift the back knee off the mat and straighten the front leg as you fold your upper body over the front leg. Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward to square the hips and create sensation in your right hamstring. Relax the head and the neck.

Revolved lunge: On an inhale re-bend your right knee, place your left hand on the met and sweep the right arm open towards the sky for a simple twist. Back leg is long and strong, firm the quad to lift the knee cap up. Feel your left ribs rotate towards your right inner thigh. On your inhale, lengthen  your spine. On exhale, revolve your heart skyward and gaze up towards your right hand.

Prasarita: (wide legged forward fold) Walk your hands down the left side of your mat and find a wide legged fold with your heels slightly out and your toes slightly in. Relax your head and neck, shift your weight slightly forward so your hips align with your ankles.

Warrior II: Step your right foot forward into your runner’s lunge, spin your left heel down to the mat, reach your left arm forward raise your torso with both arms parallel to the mat, palms facing down. Align the arch of your back foot with the heel of your front foot. Turn the back toes slightly inward and make sure the front knee tracks over the ankle.

Reverse Warrior: From Warrior II, reach the right arm up and over by your right ear. Feel your side body lengthen.

Side Angle:Reach the right forearm to the right thigh and reach the left arm and over by your left ear.

Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips; lengthen the left side body. Turn your head to gaze up at your left arm. Release your right shoulder away from your ear. Spiral the left pinky finger inward to feel for the external rotation of the left shoulder.

Sweep the left arm up over by your left year. Bring both hands to the front of the mat, step back for downward dog. Repeat on the left side of the body.

Read the full article at Reebok.com!

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Rate Your Burn

Lena Rakijian, Master Instructor @ The Handle Bar

HANDLE BAR 45 WITH LENA RAKIJIAN @ THE HANDLE BAR

THE PERFECT SPIN 

by WhyAreWeRunning?  March 18, 2015

Lena's classes should be recorded and then studied because her class is absolute perfection! She's a rare breed because she's an expert on the bike and yet makes riding really easy to pick up if...

Read the full review

HANDLE BAR 45 WITH LENA RAKIJIAN @ THE HANDLE BAR

LENA ROCKS! 

by Burner8808  December 16, 2013

Lena brings an unmatched energy and enthusiasm to every class that is contagious!  Her class is a dance party, and when you leave you can honestly said that not only did you have a killer workout,...

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1 HOUR SPIN WITH LENA RAKIJIAN @ THE HANDLE BAR

GREAT CLASS! 

by Burner8810  December 12, 2013

Lena's class was amazing! I am not even a huge spin person (more of a runner) and I will definitely come back for more! She was excellent!

Read the full review

THE HANDLE BAR 45 WITH LENA RAKIJIAN @ THE HANDLE BAR

ONE OF THE BEST CLASSES I HAVE BEEN TO IN BOSTON 

by spinning123  October 11, 2013

The Thursday 6:00 PM with Lena is great!

Read the full review

View Lena Rakijian's full profile here!

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The Sweat Concierge

LENA RAKIJIAN

 

SPIN INSTRUCTOR THE HANDLE BAR
by TORI SCOTT, MARCH 27, 2016

WHY DID YOU BECOME A FITNESS INSTRUCTOR?

Being a fitness instructor is one of the greatest gifts I have received in life. I feel honored that people trust me to coach them through 45 minutes of their day – every day. As a young child, I was either on the basketball court or on stage singing in musical theatre/show choir. Being an athlete and a performer were two things I could not live without. I never knew I could combine my love for athletics and love for performance/dance until I took my first indoor cycling class. I walked out of that bike room thinking, “I want to do this…I can do this”. I started riding consistently and taking classes 5-6 days a week. I was a rider for about 3 years before I made the jump to becoming an instructor. In those 3 years, riding made me discover my strongest self.

FAVORITE GO-TO PUMP UP SONG?

Beyonce – Drunk in Love (JayKode Remix). My friend Joey aka “JayKode” is an amazing young DJ who is making serious waves in the electronic music scene. This song gets me EVERY TIME. Check him out on Soundcloud! Everything he touches is GOLD.

FIRST GROUP FITNESS CLASS?

Beginner Hip Hop with Tamar Paul in Santa Barbara, CA. One hour of hip hop dance, sick beats, dripping sweat. Class says “beginner”, but I felt like I was in a room full of ladies who can werk it like J-Lo. It was amazing. I was so in awe of his energy and love for hip hop dance.

FAVORITE MOVIE?

Good Will Hunting.

FIRST JOB?

I sold parking tickets at Legoland, California when I was 15 years old. I had to rock an oversized red polo and baggy navy work pants because they ran out of my size when I first got hired. I’m pretty sure I still have my name tag somewhere in my junk drawer at home solely because it was made out of Legos.

HOMETOWN?

Carlsbad, California! Home of the best beaches and most delicious Mexican food ever.

FAVORITE JUNK FOOD?

Pizza then ice cream. Match made in heaven. If you haven’t tried jalapeño pineapple pizza, you haven’t lived.

FAVORITE RESTAURANT?

Toro South End. Can we please talk about that corn on the cob!?!? Also, I love The Abbey in Brookline since it’s my neighborhood bar, always great food and even better company.

GO-TO WEEKDAY MEAL?

I am a huge fan of anything you can eat out of one bowl. I usually toss a grain, leafy greens, whatever veggies I have leftover in my fridge, sprinkle with cheese and add dressing. My go-to is quinoa, spinach, kale, roasted veggies, tofu, feta cheese, avocado, with tahini dressing. BOOM.

FAVORITE WORKOUT GEAR?

On the bike: lululemon Free to be Wild Bra w/ high waisted lululemon Crops. I also love rocking my Nike Sky Hi’s!

WON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT?

My Macbook Air and an extra workout outfit. I keep both in my backpack every day just in case!

GUILTY PLEASURE?

Karaoke. I’m all about it. I shred emotional pop ballads and just make everyone cry, it’s totally fine. I impromptu karaoke battled a girl at Osaka Sushi Bar one night with Adele’s “Hello”. Let’s just say everyone picked up their cell phones and called their exes after that one. Hello? It’s me?

FAVORITE PLACE TO SWEAT WHEN YOU AREN’T TEACHING?

Equinox Back Bay for strength training. Coolidge Corner Yoga for Vinyasa.

IN TEN YEARS I WILL BE _____?

Doing what I love. Being around people I love. And living life with someone I love.

HAVE TOO MUCH OF?

Workout crops – I counted once and I think I have over 40 pairs. I swear though you can never have enough!

MORE ESSENTIAL: WATER OR COFFEE?

You are asking a Registered Dietitian this question so obviously I’m going to say water! It’s one of the 6 classes of nutrients!

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua was probably one of the best trips I ever took in my life. I stayed at an amazing boutique hotel on the cliffs overlooking Maderas Beach. I woke up every morning, did yoga in the treehouse, ate a fruit bowl, went down to the beach all day, ate dinner with the community cooked w/ local whole food from Ometepe Island, and stayed up laughing and conversing with the guests over vino tinto, then falling asleep in my adorable casita. I have never felt so at peace.

GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?

My riders waiting for me at the The Handle Bar for 6:00am class! I teach at 6:00am Tues-Fri so those roosters get me fired up!

IF YOU COULD BE ANYONE IN THE WORLD, WHO WOULD IT BE?

My grandmother, Mary. She is the most selfless woman I know. She sacrificed her own wants and needs for the betterment of her family. Without her, I doubt I would even be living in Boston and in my dream career as a dietitian and fitness instructor.

CELEBRITY YOU’D MOST LIKE TO MEET?

Celine Dion. Hands down. She is the REASON I picked up my first hair brush and started singing.

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

Jess Bashelor, owner of The Handle Bar Indoor Cycling Studios. She does it all. And does it extremely well. I’m inspired by her ability to tackle everything she puts her mind to and how she is not afraid to think forward.

Read the original article on The Sweat Concierge!

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Boston.com

An expert guide to ordering at juice bars

Courtesy of a Mother Juice cofounder and a local dietitian.

–Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

–Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

By Cassie Shortsleeve September 26, 2016

Despite the fact that juice bars are all over Boston—JUGOS outside the Back Bay Station, Liquiteria in the heart of Harvard Square, Juice Press inside Equinox—it’s easy to assume the drink is for someone else: as in, health nuts, yogis, or dietitians.

But on Friday, after success in both Kendall Square and the Boston Public Market, Mother Juice opened at 291 Newbury St., bringing juice front and center to one of the city’s most stroll-able streets. Perhaps it’s time you gave juicing a shot?

We’ve got your guide to the perfect juice order, too, courtesy of Laura Baldini, cofounder of Mother Juice, and Lena Rakijian, R.D., founder of Boston-based [Backbeet Nutrition].

Start easy

New to juicing? Baldini said that pineapple can make jumping into the trend a bit easier—and make the juice a little more palatable. “It softens it up,” she said. Try Mother Juice’s Unicorn Blood: beet, carrot, celery, watermelon, and pineapple.

Then go green

Juices often get a bad rep of being super sugary. If you’re worried about the sweet stuff, use this rule of thumb when ordering: “Vegetable-based juices tend to be lower in sugar than fruit-based juices,” Rakijian said. Think kale, spinach, parsley, chard, or cucumber. Another perk of the vegetable variety: “I find, personally, the green ones give me the most energy and work to keep me full,” Baldini said.

Consider vitamin C-rich add-ons

If your juice is packed with green, think about tossing in some lemon, Rakijian said. “Leafy greens contain iron; however, plant-based, or ‘non-heme,’ iron sources are not as easily absorbed,” she said. “Vitamin C-rich foods, like lemon, boost flavor and increase iron absorption when consumed with non-heme iron sources like leafy greens.”

Don’t write off seemingly strange ingredients

See something like sweet potatoes in a juice-in-question? Don’t be so quick to skip over it. “It always confuses me that sweet potato in juices is actually good,” Baldini said, “but it is!” Try it in Mother Juice’s Sweet Chard ‘O’ Mine, which is packed with sweet potato, green apple, chard, spinach, ginger, and cinnamon.

If you go cold-pressed, read the expiration label

To make a cold-pressed juice, fruits and vegetables are ground into a pulp and the water is squeezed out; you avoid the heat and oxygen that other techniques like fast-moving blades create. Studies suggest this can result in a product with more vitamins and minerals. The jury is still out on whether or not that translates to a healthier you. After all, everyone absorbs nutrients differently, and compounds from different fruits and vegetables all interact with your body differently. Either way, fans of the cold-style beverage say that its taste reigns over drinks made with heat.

That said, because cold-pressed juices aren’t pasteurized (or made with heat), they have a short shelf life of three days, Rakijian said. So before you buy, double-check the label—and when in doubt, choose the most recently pressed juice, she said.

Skip the detoxes

Juice is an easy, on-the-go snack to keep you fueled in between meals or before a workout, Rakijian said. The point here: It shouldn’t be your whole day, every day. Instead, incorporate your favorite blends into a diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and plant-based fats. Juice cleanses don’t contain nearly enough macronutrients to sustain your energy levels—especially if you’re working out, Rakijian said. “Your liver and kidneys are your detoxifying organs,” she said. They’ll do that work for you.

Read the full article on Boston.com!

 

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Crane & Lion

By Lena Rakijian, originally posted on March 9, 2016

When we think of winter season, comfy cozy sweaters, snow flurries, & hot lattes come to mind, but fresh produce is usually not on that list. Eating fresh, local produce can present a big challenge during the cold months. But with a dash of creativity and pinch of skill, you can master cooking in winter with nutritionally powerful fruits and vegetables!

Mighty greens

  • kale
  • collards
  • radicchio
  • endive
  • chard

Nutritional power: Loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and iron. Leafy greens boosts the immune system, promotes healthy cells, and promotes bone health.

How to eat: Chop greens. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in coarsely chopped greens. Reduce heat to medium-low, add 1/2 cup water, and steam, covered, until greens are just tender and water evaporates about 10 minutes. Squeeze lemon onto greens before serving! Lemon is rich in vitamin C which increases iron absorption!

Citrus Fruits

  • grapefruit
  • lemon

Nutritional power: Rich in Vitamin C, these fruits will help boost immunity during the cold winter months.

How to eat: Squeeze lemon onto sauteed greens or use in salad dressing. Eat ½ grapefruit drizzled w/ 1-2 tsp real maple syrup or honey w/ ½ cup cottage cheese or greek yogurt on the side for a balanced snack.

Roots & Tubers

  • sweet potatoes and yams
  • beets
  • carrots
  • turnips

Nutritional power: Turnips and beets are an excellent source for vitamin C to promote immune health. Sweet potatoes and carrots are high sources of vitamin A which maintains healthy teeth, bones, and skin. Carrots are a great source for vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes healthy teeth, bones, skin, and vision. Also prevents free radical damage and helps with aging. Sweet potato is also rich in vitamin B-6 (aids in protein metabolism) and magnesium (promotes normal nerve and muscle function as well as bone health).

How to eat: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel, trim, and cut vegetables into 1 inch thick slices. Season with rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with hands to coat vegetables evenly. Put in a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes until tender and golden brown, then serve!

Read the article on Crane & Lion!

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Shape

Indoor Cycling Instructors Reveal Their Go-To Tricks for Powering Through Class

Get the most out of your 45 minutes with pro tips that will take your ride to a whole new level

Cassie Shortsleeve | Jan 18, 2016

Crush Your Next Spin Class

It's no secret that we all love indoor cycling. In fact, end-of-year data from fitness class booking app ClassPass suggests that on the East Coast, it's one of the hottest ways to move. That makes sense: Sweating up a storm to carefully curated playlists almost always beats the stormy weather that usually comes with Northeast winters, right?

But spinning isn't easy—and just gliding along to the beat won't change your body. So we tapped spin instructors around the country to find out how to power through every time, keep your mind in the game, and finish class with no regrets (and a solid workout in the books). Steal their tips to up your game on the bike this winter. (And check out 30 Thoughts You Have In An Indoor Cycling Class.)

Get In the Zone Beforehand

"'Getting in the zone' for me doesn't start when I clip into the pedals or press play on my first track. It's in the walk I take from my apartment to the studio. The moment I strap on my sneakers and plug in my headphones, I've totally committed to making the most of the 45-minute spin class. You're a lot less likely to optimize the physical and mental benefits of your workout when you're running through your To Do list or stressing over something that happened in work. Taking 10 to 20 minutes for yourself to clear your head before your sweat sesh can pay off tremendously." —Elyse Winer, Recycle Studio in Boston, MA

Fuel Right

 

"I teach four 6 a.m. classes a week, so in the morning on my way to the studio, I usually drink a cold pressed juice. It's quick and easy energy to fuel my movement." —Lena Rakijian, R.D., The Handle Bar in Boston, MA

 

Sit In the Front Row

 

"Sitting in the front row of class automatically makes you more committed to the workout. When you're tired, you are way more likely to push through when you're visible to the instructor and the class than when you're hiding in the back." —Sydney Miller, SoulCycle in New York, NY

Read the full article on Shape.com!

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Glamour

27 Healthy Choices at Fast Food Restaurants

Fast food restaurants used to have a rep for being the nutritional equivalent of hell. Although they’re still no angels (one poorly-chosen meal could set you back nearly a day’s worth of calories), these days there are healthier (emphasis on -ier) choices to be found at most of the major chains—and here are the best.

By Cassie Shortsleeve

Domino’s

Eat this: Medium Thin Crust Pacific Veggie Pizza (135 calories, 9 grams fat for 1/8 of pizza). It comes with fresh baby spinach, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and black olives (plus a smaller portion of cheese than other versions). “The calories, saturated fat, and sodium content are below most other pizzas on the menu,” says Rakijian. Bonus: The veggies add vitamin C, E, and K, along with calcium, iron, and potassium.

Or this: The Chicken Apple Pecan Salad with Ken’s Lite Balsamic (280 calories, 13.5 grams fat) also has 13 grams of muscle-building protein and 4 grams of fiber, which will keep you feeling nice and full for hours afterward.

Sonic

Eat this: A Veggie Burger with mustard (450 calories, 14 grams fat), the healthiest burger on the menu. This is not the place to satisfy a beef craving; most of Sonic’s burgers clock in

 with 600 to 1,200 calories and up to 85 grams of fat, says Lena Rakijian, R.D., founder of Boston-based Backbeet Nutrition. “They are also loaded with sodium, as much as 1,700 mg.” The American Heart Association says ideally you shouldn’t have more than 1,500 mg a day.

Or this: The Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich (450 calories, 17 grams fat), topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and light mayo, and served on a whole grain ciabatta bun. “Chicken breast is a lean protein and is low in saturated fat,” notes Rakijian. To cut back on carbs, request a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.

KFC

Eat this: Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast (180 calories, 6 grams fat). It’s lean meat sans the carbs, plus tons of protein. Most of the other items on KFC’s menu clock in at up to 20 grams of fat.

And this: “Pair your meal with veggie sides—corn on the cob, a house salad, or green beans,” says Rakijian. “Ask for less butter and no added salt if possible.”

Read the full article on Glamour.com!

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Martha Stewart

February 11, 2015

In Pursuit of Healthiness: A Day in the Life of a Dietitian (and Spin Instructor!)

As a dietitian, nutritionist, and indoor cycling instructor in Boston, Massachusetts, Lena Rakijian, MS, RD, LDN, believes that the key to staying energized is planning, planning, and more planning. Some days, she’ll work as many as 10 hours at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before hustling to the studio to teach back-to-back classes. We sat down with Lena to talk about her disciplined daily regimen, mindful eating practices, and inspiringly positive outlook on both the body and mind.

By Rebekah Lowin of Martha Stewart Living

Lucie Wicker Photography

Lucie Wicker Photography

5:07 A.M.

Lena’s iPhone alarm goes off. By 5:13 a.m., she’s out of bed, and by 5:20 a.m., she's out the door. She pops in her headphones, grabs a coffee on her walk to the train station, and heads to The Handle Bar, where she's going to be teaching a double class -- one at 6 a.m. and one an hour later at 7 a.m. Before riding, she drinks 16 ounces of water and has a banana.

Her secret to getting outside before most people have even woken up: a nightly do-ahead routine. “I prep most of my meals the night before, as well as my exercise clothes for the day: two pairs of leggings, two tank tops, two sports bras, and a hoodie.” 

6:50 A.M.

In between classes, Lena snacks on two homemade date-chia-coconut bites (“I always have a stash in my fridge for quick energy,” she divulges) and after she's done teaching for the morning, she drinks another 16 to 24 ounces of water.

8:30 A.M.

Time for breakfast! Lena refuels with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats. Her go-to meal is what she likes to call a “power bowl,” which regularly includes rolled oats with banana, blueberries, and two tablespoons of peanut butter. 

8:45 A.M.

Coffee break. Lena will usually brew her own at home, adding a touch of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or she’ll pop over to her favorite local coffee shop on the corner for a creamy soy latte. After that? “I plop on the couch, sip on my coffee, and start creating some epic Handle Bar playlists,” she laughs.

10:30 A.M.

Hungry for a snack, Lena grabs a cup of 2% plain Greek yogurt, throws a handful of blackberries on top, and sprinkles on some sliced almonds. “This is an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and gut-healthy bacteria, known as probiotics,” she explains. “Plus, it’s pretty filling. And delicious!”

12:30 P.M.

“I’m a huge fan of any meal that can be made and eaten in one bowl. I call it ‘kitchen-sink eating,’ and it makes everything so much easier.” Lena’s kitchen-sink meal of choice incorporates leftovers and lean proteins. “You throw in all the veggies in your fridge, add a protein of your choosing, add 1/2 cup of whole grains like quinoa, couscous, or brown rice, and lightly dress with a heart-healthy oil-based dressing. I also usually have roasted vegetables in containers in my fridge, so I throw those on as well.”

2 P.M.

Namaste! Lena hits the mat to restore, lengthen, and stretch her muscles both to increase her flexibility and improve her balance, noting that yoga class is the perfect complement to indoor cycling. “It’s definitely helped me stay present and create moments of peace even within a stressful or hectic day.”

 

In fact, Lena recommends planning one activity for your mind and one for your body every day. Whether that mental activity is journaling, meditation, yoga, a puzzle, a book, a new CD, or simply an at-home face mask, “you deserve time to yourself, for reflection, healing, and energizing,” she says. “Create positive energy that comes from you and no one else. Give yourself that gift.”

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: BRYAN GARDNER   Above, the Green Machine Smoothie from our latest cookbook, Clean Slate.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: BRYAN GARDNER

Above, the Green Machine Smoothie from our latest cookbook, Clean Slate.

4 P.M.

Time to whip up a smoothie snack. “I usually blend juice with some fruit, greens, citrus, herbs, and filtered water. I’ll drink that and munch on a handful of raw cashews or almonds." Like the Green Machine Smoothie from Martha Stewart's latest cookbook, Clean Slate, which combines the subtle sweetness of mango with nutrient-rich leafy greens, Lena believes that "eating clean" doesn't have to be a struggle. Rather, it's a creative -- and delicious! -- challenge. "I think that most of the time, when we think of being 'healthy,' we begin by making a long list of foods we cannot eat. But that only creates more of a negative relationship with food,” she says. Instead, Lena focuses on the foods she can eat, finding ways to prepare them that are at once nourishing and enjoyable. After all, she’s quick to point out that it’s not the food we eat, but our relationship with that food that needs to change. “Cooking, tasting, eating, dining … these are all part of life’s adventures. We should cherish our food and the experiences that surround it.”

5:30 P.M.

Lena teaches another 45-minute class at The Handle Bar. Whew!

7 P.M.

The way Lena sees it, dinner for two is just more fun. “Try cooking with a roommate, friend, or family member, and split up the meal preparation,” recommends Lena. “And be sure to make double what you need so that you have leftovers for the next day (or week). My go-to meal is a honey-Dijon baked salmon with roasted vegetables like eggplant, cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini, and beets, plus anything seasonal and delicious.”

8 P.M.

After dinner, Lena indulges in a warm cup of chocolate chai tea and a few dark-chocolate squares. Occasionally, if she's been baking and has it on hand, she'll enjoy a small portion of a health-ified bakery treat -- like the gluten-free chocolate-walnut brownies, above. (Almond flour and dark chocolate make this version so delicious, you'll never go back to your old recipe.) And if it's been a particularly wonderful day, she’ll head out on the town for a small scoop of her favorite ice cream from J.P. Licks in Boston. Her flavor of choice: “Coffee ice cream forever and always,” she declares. Or, as J.P. Licks calls it, Cappuccino Crunch.

“Life is too short and wonderful to eliminate or restrict foods that we love. And besides, sometimes you just need something sweet to top off a beautiful day. So, of course you should eat dessert,” she says. “But eat it slowly, and savor every bite. Better yet, split it with a friend.”

Read the full article on Martha Stewart!

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Blisstree

Sun, Dec 11 2011

Healthy Holidays: 7 Ways To Cope With The Holiday Blues

5 years ago by Lena Rakijian

This time of year is all about cheer, but for some, the holidays bring about feelings of loneliness and stress. When depression starts knocking on your holiday-wreathed door, it’s important to have a few coping strategies to get you through the season.

According to a 2005-2006 survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 6% of Americans above the age of 12 are living with depression. If holiday shopping, social gatherings, and cocktail parties invokes apprehension and melancholy versus excitement and joy–you are not alone. The increasing demands brought about by shopping, parties, and gifts may cause feelings of tension. During the holidays, depression may be heightened due to stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, and financial constraints.

If the holidays typically take an emotional toll on your well being, here are some prevention and coping tips to get you through the new year:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If you are dealing with grief or sadness from loss or any other form, acknowledge those feelings. It is absolutely okay to feel sadness and take time for yourself to come to terms with those feelings. Happiness is not created overnight.
  2. Reach out. If you feel isolated, seek out forms of companionship. Whether that means getting help, joining a community organization, or volunteering. Connect yourselves with others in a positive way.
  3. Appreciate your uniqueness. Identify your strengths. Write down what you love about yourself and celebrate the unique individual you are.
  4. Get busy. Get involved this holiday season. Planned activities help cope with holiday depression and give you something positive to focus on. Join a holiday sport league, take a knitting class and make holiday scarves, or volunteer. With scheduled activities, meetings, events – you have something to look forward to.
  5. Give back from the heart. The holidays are a wonderful time to give back to those who are less fortunate and are in need. Feeling a sense of accomplishment from giving a hand to others is a great feeling. Research philanthropic organizations in your community and volunteer your time.
  6. Surround yourself with people you love. Don’t isolate yourself from your family and friends. Allow them to be there for you and share the joy of the season. Choose to spend your time with the people who make you feel good, those who make you laugh, and the people you can be yourself around.
  7. Be realistic and fulfill a realistic goal. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. This is a time to gather with those you love to celebrate and appreciate life and the people in it. Keep it simple and prevent added stress.

This holiday season I challenge you to commit to being your own best friend and advocate. Accept yourself, block out negative self-criticisms, and create realistic attainable goals. Shake the holiday blues by providing support and comfort to yourself through engaging in positive activities and finding a community, organization, or family and friends to create a happy holiday environment.

See Lena Rakijian's archive on Blisstree.com!

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