Health

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga

As most of you know, I took quite the hiatus from yoga. Despite repeated efforts to get back into the practice regularly, my busy schedule and constant soreness after my weekly kickboxing class left me with little energy for an additional workout.

But over the last couple of weeks, I have pushed myself to give yoga another go. While I might step onto my mat reluctantly after a long day of work, I always feel much better by the time the class concludes.

Here are a few ways yoga has helped me:

It gives me something to look forward to
Let’s face it. Mondays can be hard. But knowing that I am starting the week with an evening yoga class makes getting out of bed when my alarm goes off a little easier. Add to that dinner with a good friend before the class and company during, and I’m not sure my Monday could get better than that.

My muscles thank me
I am always sore after kickboxing—for days. But since I started going to yoga, I’ve noticed that the soreness dissipates faster than it used to.

I’m more flexible
Each week I can do or hold a pose longer. Yoga is a nice complement to my kickboxing class, too. I’ve found that my roundhouse kicks have improved significantly as a result of my increased flexibility.

My mental clarity is sharper
I often say that I have thyroid brain fog…and I do. Since having thyroid cancer, my memory is not as good as it once was. The good thing is that I never have to worry about repeating something I shouldn’t because nine times out of ten, I won’t remember it anyway. But it can be frustrating when I really need to concentrate and am unable to do so. Yoga has given me the ability to clear my mind and focus on a task, which has improved my memory overall.

I feel calmer
The best part about yoga is that I feel a sense of calm long after the class has ended. I love that the class is on a Monday and that I can stretch that feeling well into mid-week.

Instagram Moments

My wait for the weekend is almost over. In just a few hours now, I will be catching up on sleep, reading the new book I checked out from the library, and enjoying two whole days of relaxation.

The last few weeks have been stressful, as I’ve waited for test results and answers. It may seem like I am always waiting for results. That’s because I am. In the upcoming weeks I will be going for a radioactive iodine uptake scan to see what might be causing my antithyroglobulin levels to rise. Should you hear the Imagine Dragons song, “Radioactive” playing on the radio, please think of me!

In the meantime, cheers to the (much needed) weekend!

Adulting

{Story of my life//Image via @sweatpantsandcoffee}

Starbucks

{Exhibit: A}

Spring

{First sign of spring on Long Island}

Weekend Workout

{Gearing up for another weekend workout}

Flowers

{Bold blooms to brighten the work week}

The February Agenda

Winter Storm Niko

As I write this post, I have been cooped up in the house for a full 24 hours. But I am not complaining. I enjoyed a lovely (and very productive) snow day yesterday—which was a much-needed respite from my usual weekly routine. So, now that Winter Storm Niko has headed up the coast and left Long Island with more than a foot of snow in some places, it’s time to get back to the agenda…while we dig ourselves out.

Here’s what’s happening this month:

Go: As every good fashionista knows, Winter Storm Niko wasn’t the only thing making a debut in New York this week. Thursday also marked the start of New York Fashion Week. While I give major props to those who braved yesterday’s weather to see their favorite designers, not even New York Fashion Week could get me out of my cozy couture. With that said, I will be heading in to the City over the weekend to see a couple of NYFW shows—weather permitting, of course.

Try: Ever since attending the event with Fern Olivia and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon at The Ash Center, I have been taking small strides towards eating better. I started by making sure to eat three meals per day, and I have been going grocery shopping more frequently so that there is always something healthy to snack on in the house. Last night, I made avocado Fettuccine Alfredo—which is a major accomplishment considering that I not only cooked dinner, but I also used an ingredient that I despise (that would be you, avocado!). FYI – avocado in an Alfredo cream sauce is relatively innocuous. I’ll share the recipe on the blog soon.

Do: Working out more than once a week is definitely on my agenda moving forward, but going to a strenuous kickboxing class after a long day of work is not my idea of fun. So, I’ve been looking for other ways to stay in shape—and supplement my cardio kickboxing. While scrolling through Instagram one day, I came across a pilates studio that offers classes in New York City and the Hamptons. I’ve wanted to try pilates for a while, and now seems like as good a time as any.

Visit: I am happy to report that I am in receipt of my recent thyroid blood work (after more than a few days of waiting for results), and as I suspected, my antithyroglobulin levels are still trending upwards. After speaking with my surgeon’s office, I will go to New York City next week for a second neck ultrasound and a follow-up consultation with my surgeon to discuss a potential treatment plan. I appreciate all of the prayers and well wishes that you’ve offered me and I will certainly keep you apprised of any new developments.

What’s on your agenda this month?

The Weekend Recap: Wellness Edition

I hope you all had a restful weekend! I had a great day in New York City on Saturday—the weather was ideal for walking around, and I learned a ton from my time at The Ash Center. Overall, the Thyroid Yoga Functional Nutrition Intensive was a game-changer for me. I will share a full review with you on the blog soon.

Here’s a quick weekend recap:

Gym & Tonic Water Bottle

{When your new Nordstrom Rack water bottle matches your yoga mat}

Work Hard Get it Done Pens

{Office supplies from Home Goods}

The Ash Center, New York City

{A beautiful view at The Ash Center}

Juice Press

{My first Juice Press smoothie}

Times Square, New York City

{A stroll through Times Square on the way to Penn Station}

Monday Mantra: Take Care

Long Island Sunset

The last few weeks have felt endless. Despite being busy at work—my looming thyroid testing next month has been weighing heavily on me. Since my antithyroglobulin levels began rising in November, the last three months of “watchful waiting” have been especially difficult. It has taken all of my energy to prevent my mind from wandering to worst-case scenario situations. But I finally built up the courage to schedule the appointments for the neck ultrasound and blood work. So now I have to endure these next two weeks before learning my fate.

I’ve tried my best to keep my mind occupied with writing and my body active with kickboxing. But I’ve also felt myself craving more down time—to relax, rest, and recharge. I find myself feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day for “me”. By the time I get home from work, eat something, peruse social media, and take a shower, it’s usually about midnight. But those late nights have caught up with me in the form of a nasty caffeine dependency (caffeine withdrawal is no joke, ya’ll) and just overall exhaustion—irrespective of how much I try to catch up on sleep over the weekend.

While I may not know what the future holds for my health, I do know that I need to slow down in the present. That might mean declining offers I would normally say yes to or skipping a workout here and there. But just like we make schedules for the things we need to get done in our lives, we also need to schedule timeouts for our lives.

How do you take time out of your busy week for yourself?

A Sweet Pre-Birthday Surprise…

Birthday Cupcakes

By now you know how much I love my birthday (t-minus three days…and counting). Today I’ll be getting my hair done — something I rarely ever treat myself to. But I’m excited to change it up a bit. Make sure to follow along on Snapchat and Instagram (@livinginsteil) to see my new ‘do.

Today I wanted to talk about the kindness of strangers (or in this case, new co-workers). I was inspired to write this post after I went in to work the other day and saw a little white box with the words “happy almost birthday” accompanied by a card on my desk.

If you saw my post on Monday, you may recall that my recent blood work came back with high thyroid numbers. This immediately sent me into a panic and I had to wait until yesterday to go for a neck ultrasound. The saga continues, as my endocrinologist is sending me for more blood work.

In the meantime, I’ve been frantically calling doctors all week (unable to concentrate for any span longer than three minutes), having results sent to all of them, and counting the seconds until I saw my endocrinologist. I now have more days to get through as I await the next set of blood work and results.

But during one of those hard days I stopped and chatted with a co-worker. I’ve only been at my job for two months and it has been hard to make friends. I talked to her about where I’ve worked before, and how I was finding my current position. I mentioned to her about my current health situation and how upset I was over it. In those moments I stopped thinking about myself. As my attention shifted to my new friend and her life, I was reminded that other people have their own battles, which can put yours in perspective.

I took comfort that day in the kindness of a relative stranger — and how similar we both were — despite being at very different points in our lives.

Her generosity truly touched me when I saw the sweet surprise she had left for me (cupcakes, yum!). The fact that she went out of her way to make my birthday a little more special brought tears to my eyes. And her beautiful card and handwritten note solidified the fact that this is a card I will treasure for a long time to come.

The events that unfolded this past week again reminded me of my favorite quote, “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.” So as we head into the weekend, let’s try to smile even when we may not feel like it, say hello to people we pass when we are going about our day, and stop for a moment to brighten someone else’s day. You never know when one kind act may be just what someone needs.

I’ll be back on Monday to share a very special post with lots of life lessons from my twenties. See you then!

Monday Mantra: Patience and Fortitude

New York Public Library Lions

This weekend was trying. Despite my best efforts to remain calm after receiving alarming results on my most recent blood work (of course, on a Saturday), my plans of resting and relaxing after my weekly kickboxing class quickly went out the window.

After pacing around the house for a couple of hours trying to interpret the results, I was reminded of the lion statues in front of the New York Public Library. I actually didn’t know that they had names until yesterday. But when I learned they were named Patience and Fortitude, I knew those were strengths that I would need to get me through the week: patience while waiting for my upcoming appointment with my endocrinologist on Thursday and fortitude as I continue on my health journey.

If you have never been to the New York Public Library, two majestic lion statues at the entrance greet you upon your arrival. Although the lions have gone by a few names, in the 1930’s Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude to embody the values that New Yorkers needed during the Great Depression. If you visit the library during the holidays, you might catch these beautiful statues adorned with a wreath.

So as I prepare for a week that will be filled with anxiety and worry, I know that Patience and Fortitude have my back — even if they are only marble lion statues!

The March Agenda

The March Agenda

The new month feels a little shorter when you sleep through the first week of it. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again after losing the battle to cold-maggedon (thank you Sudafed and Robitussin!). Today will be the first time I get dressed and leave the house for longer than a trip to CVS for tissues (sad, I know). I heard something about having two gorgeous days this week that were in the 60’s and 70’s, but it was hard to enjoy them in bed.

Here’s what I have on tap for the remainder of the month:

Try: Something about coming down with a cold has made me want to cook (or maybe it was that it was the only thing I could do without leaving the house?). Whatever the reason, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make my beloved Fettuccine Alfredo healthier. And I think I found it. I’m not a huge fan of avocados (something about their mushy consistency turns me off), but I can’t deny the health benefits that their green goodness offers. With that in mind, I’d like to make an avocado cream sauce for my fettuccine. And in case you think all the Sudafed has affected my head, check out these recipes here and here.

See: The appointment I made many months back with a new endocrinologist is almost here. I’m looking forward to meeting this doctor who has come highly recommended, and I’m hopeful she will be able to help me feel more energetic.

Go: I’m really excited to be going to Philadelphia this month. It’s going to be a quick trip, but it will be nice to get away and explore a new City. I’m planning on touring the Eastern State Penitentiary, a 186-year old abandoned prison that I first learned about on this blog. Apologies if that doesn’t sound like your version of a good time, but this political science/criminology major always enjoys learning about correctional institutions — especially abandoned ones (remember my post about Alcatraz?). But I’m open to suggestions on other things to see and do while I’m in town. Feel free to leave your favorite places in the comments below!

Do: There’s always something fun to do in New York City, and thanks to Elana at Elana Lyn, I’ve added a visit to The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History and the Sex and the City Tavern Tour to my itinerary this month.

What’s on your agenda this month?

Five Tips to Stay Sane When You’re Home Sick

Tips to Stay Sane When You're Sick

I wish I could say I was feeling much better by now. But I can’t. This cold, which I have dubbed, cold-maggedon, seems to get worse by the minute. And in the interest of full disclosure, trying to use my brain has been quite a challenge. As someone who is chronically fatigued, I thought a week in bed, with no pressing priorities, would be exciting. I could catch up on my shows (thank you Bravo and ABC). I could go through my crowded inbox. Heck, I could just sit and catch up on the news. But when you can’t breathe, sleep, or hold your head up for more than an hour at a time, none of that is possible.

So here’s what’s been keeping me sane while I am stuck on house arrest/bed rest/quarantine:

1. Bravo and ABC Apps for IPad: I no longer feel guilty about missing a show, because I know it will be waiting for me on my iPad thanks to apps from Bravo and ABC. I’ve now caught up with Scandal, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and learned a lot about entrepreneurship from Shark Tank. See, who says watching television can’t be productive?

2. Bolthouse Farms Fruit Smoothies: I may have had to search high-and-low for these babies, but it was worth it. There’s just so much tea and water I can drink before I go mad. These smoothies have 29 grams of sugar (a tad high), but it’s not added sugar, so I’ll make an allowance. They come in tons of favors, including a breakfast smoothie for those of you who like to eat and run, and a fruit and vegetable blend (perfect for people like me who would rather drink their veggies).

3. Old T-shirts: You wouldn’t think being sick would make you take a walk down memory lane. But it has for me. I went through some of my old t-shirts that had long been forgotten. And I stumbled upon a few of my favorites from my college days. I’m currently rocking my “Beware of Female Spies” shirt, which is from my visit to the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. If you’re planning a trip to Washington, you should check it out.

4. Snapchat: Although I dragged my feet at first when it came to joining the platform, it has become a major source of entertainment — especially when I haven’t seen the light of day in a while. Of course, I’m slightly jealous watching people enjoy the nice spring-like weather while I’m stuck in bed. But it makes me hopeful that I will be able to rejoin the living soon.

5. Fresh Air: I haven’t been outside for much more than five minutes at a time. But this beautiful weather makes it even harder to stay cooped up inside. It’s been a welcome relief to take a few short breaths of fresh spring air. Here’s hoping it’s still around by the time I get better.

What keeps you sane when you’re sick? Help a girl out, please!

The Allure of Larimar

Larimar Earrings

When I was first approached about a collaboration, I was intrigued by the Larimar meaning and the beauty of the stone. Larimar Jewelry uses a stone found in the waters of the Dominican Republic and is often referred to as the Atlantis Stone due to its distinctive blue coloring. Even better, the stone is thought to be a throat chakra — a healing crystal that can provide energy to parts of the body. I’ll take all of the healing powers I can get after thyroid cancer!

Larimar Earrings

Once I visited their website and saw the intricate jewelry that Larimar creates, which is all handmade by local craftsmen, I was impressed. Every piece is crafted with quality in mind. And the rich blue and green tones of the stone come through in each design.

A pair of earrings is de rigueur for me when I leave the house. The round cut Larimar earrings were the perfect option for both everyday wear and more formal occasions. I love how the blue stone stands out and comes alive when paired with other colors. Even if you normally resist wearing jewelry, Larimar will induce you to make exceptions. These are earrings you will want to wear.

Larimar Earrings

Larimar Earrings

I chose to pair the earrings with an emerald green dress, which complemented the stones nicely. Although it was 30 degrees out on the day these photos were taken, the alluring green and blue combination took me to the tropics.

Larimar Earrings

If you are looking for unique jewelry with a meaning behind it, then check out Larimar. You will find a wide range of pendants, necklaces, rings, and earrings and you can be sure that no two stones will be the same.

Check them out at http://www.larimar.com/

*Earrings courtesy of Larimar Jewelry