Veterans helping Veterans find solid ground and acceptance: Mindful Warrior Retreats recap

On Saturdays January 6th and 13th, Emanuel (“Manny”) Salazar and I led our second and third Mindful Warrior Retreats for over 25 Veterans. The experience was incredible; the open-mindedness, whole heartedness, and dedication of the Vets was astounding; and the ripple effects of this program? Unknown.

On both days, Veterans came in unsure of what they had gotten themselves into. We began with breakfast, conversation, and a whole lot of laughs. Turns out a lot of Veterans have quite the trucker mouth! I was smiling from ear to ear almost the entire time.

After breakfast, I led a Nutrition Lecture. In both cases, it was supposed to last an hour but stretch for nearly 2 1/2! There we so many good questions, SO much misinformation to clear up, and such a hunger (pun intended) for healthy change. Ama girl, if you’re reading this, you were such an inspiration to me with all of your vulnerability and readiness girl. I need you to know that!

Following the lecture and lunch, we got down to the real business. Informed by Suzanne Manafort’s empirically-proven Mindful Yoga Therapy Program, I led participants in a trauma-informed yoga class featuring meditation, pranayama, movement, and relaxation. As you can see, by the end these Vets were all in on the savasana!

Toward the end of the day, Manny led everyone in the most insanely calming Yoga Nidra I have ever taken. I was deep into my semi-conscious state, straight chilling, in 90 seconds flat. Many of our Vets were snoring – getting some much needed sleep given that insomnia is a very common side effect of PTSD.

After Nidra, it was time for our Peace Circle and ritual closing ceremony. The stories our Veterans shared, the wounds they offered up to be let go…well it broke your heart and made it soar all at the same time. Everyone seemed palpably lighter as they got up to go.

Every day more than 22 veterans take their own lives in large part because they are not receiving the support they need to heal the scars from their service to our country. Take that in for a moment. Twenty-two human beings – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, community leaders, and more. The Mindful Warrior Retreat Program was founded, by veterans for veterans, in order to fill this support void through trauma-informed retreats. Utilizing a variety of holistic wellness modalities, the MWR program aims to bring hope and health back to thousands of veterans, their caregivers, and Gold Star Families with regular retreats that address mind, body, and spirit. We’ve got a strong start. Now we just need to keep going.


To learn more about what you can do to participate and/or help please email me at

BIG Announcement: Coming Fall of 2017 to Takoma….Yoga Heights #2!

Yoga Heights Hero
As Co-Owner of Yoga Heights, I just had to share!! We are so excited for this next big step and can’t wait to bring our community-oriented yoga and fitness classes to a new neighborhood in the District. Stay tuned for photos of the build-out and details on our grand opening slated for this fall.

Yoga Heights Takom

April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yoga Heights, a yoga studio at 3506 Georgia Ave. NW., announced today that they are opening their second location this fall in the Takoma Central Apartment building at 235 Carroll Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.  Yoga Heights is a community oriented studio that offers classes for every body, at every level and every budget.


“The love and support of the Yoga Heights community has been overwhelming for the past three years,” said Jess Pierno, owner. “Our students’ enthusiasm for the studio, our teachers, events and community, has made Yoga Heights an incredibly special yoga studio. It was never in the plans to open additional locations, but due to repeated requests to offer more classes, community events and YHDC good vibes, we were inspired to expand our studio!”


Yoga Heights will continue to offer all levels vinyasa and power yoga, beginners classes, Rocket yoga, restorative and Yin yoga, prenatal yoga, bootcamps, Pilates, yoga teacher training and community events at both locations.  


Yoga Heights Takoma is just steps from the Takoma metro station on the red line and is on bus lines 52, 53, 54, 62, 63, F1, F2 and K2.

Yoga Heights Half Moon

To ensure that their classes work with all budgets, Yoga Heights offers half price “happy hour” classes five days per week, work-study in trade for classes, as well as “Karma Passes” which allows students to pay just $8 per class up to four times per month.Through these programs, Yoga Heights has helped more than 4,000 people afford yoga classes in the three years they have been open.  


“We look forward to continuing to be an affordable and community oriented yoga studio for people who are brand new to yoga, as well as regularly practicing yogis,” Pierno continued.


More information on class offerings, pricing and events is available at


Studio owners Jess Pierno and Amy Rizzotto, and their talented team of instructors remain steadfastly committed to working with Yoga Heights’ students to ensure that health and wellness are accessible to all.


Yoga Heights is currently offering pre-opening sales on unlimited memberships through its website at Visit to sign up and save today!


For questions or comments please contact:
Amy Rizzotto, Yoga Heights


Whole Wheat Sourdough Scones with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Whole Wheat Sourdough Scones with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

I am a superfan of Paisley Fig‘s scones at Room 11 (soon to have its own storefront in Mt. Pleasant DC as well). I’ve sampled scones far and wide but no pastry elsewhere holds a candle to these shaggy pillows of flour and butter. While I am no Paisley Fig, I do love baking bread and recently got back into the rhythm with a sourdough starter from Cultures for Health. After lovingly feeding and growing my starter for a week and building it up for use over the course of another few days, I now have a robust living culture for all my sour baking dreams. Rejoice!

I baked my first loaf last week only to realize I needed to knead it more. Edible, but not ideal. This week, I attempted their gluten-free sourdough oat and buckwheat scones – only I made it not gluten-free, probiotic and savory 🙂 Check out my adaptation below – they are delicious!


Whole Wheat Sourdough Scones with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Whole Wheat Sourdough Scones with Goat Cheese and Rosemary


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 6 Tbs cold butter
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup plain kefir (low-fat or whole milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Tbs rosemary leaves, minced


  1. In a large bowl, combine oats and flour. Cut in cold butter, cubed, until flour texture becomes crumbly (note: you can use two forks, a dough blender, or pinch the butter into the flour with your fingertips). Pour in sourdough starter and kefir and mix with your hand or cutting utensils until the dough begins to come together. Knead a few times in the bowl to ensure that everything is well-mixed.
  2. Cover with a dry cloth and let sour 8 to 12 hours at room temperature (ideally 68-85°F).
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425°F.
  4. In a small bowl, beat eggs. In a separate small bowl combine baking soda, salt, and baking powder with a fork until well combined.
  5. Add the eggs and dry mixture to the soured dough and mix together, using a utensil or your hands – I like to use my hands personally. Fold in the goat cheese and rosemary until  the ingredients come together well and the goodies look evenly distributed.
  6. Line a baking sheet. Use your hands or a large soup spoon to make shaggy triangles of dough on the prepared baking sheet. Leave at least 1 inch of space between scones. I did one baking sheet with 12 scones from this recipe, but you could definitely make them smaller and do two batches.
  7. Once pan is full, transfer scones to preheated oven and bake 14-16 minutes or until set on top and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving or transferring to cooling rack.

How to Deal: 3 Healthy Coping Strategies

As a yoga teacher, you’re taught to show up for class no matter what happens in your personal life and hold the space – sacred and safe – for your students. There are days where this is much harder than others. Today is a tough one. Really tough.

Like many of you out there, I am shocked, disappointed and admittedly a little scared of what the future holds for this amazing country I call home. While I am devastated on many levels, I am proud of that Nasty Woman I admire for handling the outcome with such grace, humility and strength. In light of her calm and peaceful processing of this momentous and painful turn of events, I too am inspired to cope with the fallout in the best way I know how. Time to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps (or shoelaces)!


Here are my 3 Healthy Coping Strategies for Shock, Disappointment and Fear:


1. Move your body. Not surprising this is my number one, but exercising is a powerful way to redirect your energy in a positive way, increase dopamine (feel good hormone) in the brain, and do something immediately good for yourself. It can be as simple as a brisk walk or run (no equipment required!), or your favorite yoga, HIIT or spin class. Get your mind off it for a while and come back to your reality with a more level-headed and peaceful disposition.



2. Read something that inspires you. Now is not the time to watch CNN, Fox News or whatever media outlet you prefer running 24/7 post-election coverage at nauseam. We have to move forward, one foot in front of the other, and must try to do so with an eye toward the change we can affect and the gratitude we can experience. My sweet mama reminded me of two such readings – one a quote, one a poem – that helped me immensely as I woke up to the news this morning:

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
~Desmond Tutu


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks


Remember to remain open, loving, accepting and hopeful. We cannot control what others do – though we can certainly do our part to try and influence them for the better – so we must turn the focus onto our individual roles in affecting a greater good.


3. Do something of service. Whether that be putting together a basket of food for a thanksgiving meal drive; offering to watch your friend’s dog or babysit their children so they can have some time for self-care; volunteering for an organization like Girls on the Run; or any other compassionate act you can dedicate to someone in your community, near and/or far.


We all have something to give – time, money, talents – so put yourself out there. As Gandhi once said, we can make the world a better place one small, kind act at a time, and those small acts combine to radiate waves of love and acceptance far and wide.

The Practice and Benefits of Belly Breath (Diaphragmatic Breathing)

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your stress level? Chances are it’s higher than you’d like. The body’s response to stressful situations – “fight, flight or freeze” – is an important part of our ability to cope with dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, the way we live our lives these days – constantly on the go, striving to do and accomplish so much, not wanting to disappoint people and thus saying yes when maybe we ought to say no – is peaking our stress levels way more than is healthy.

Chronic stress is no joke. It can lead to high blood pressure (a major risk factor for heart disease), anxiety and depression, immune system suppression (aka more colds and flus), skin conditions, GERD (acid reflux), and countless other health issues.

I am no stranger to stress. Why do you think I became a yoga teacher? Prior to my yoga practice – both taking and teaching – my anxiety was consuming at times. I still have to work to stay on top of it and, for me, the most tried and true way to combat the physical manifestations of my anxiety is through pranayama, or breathing techniques. My favorite form of pranayamadeep belly breathing – is straightforward and discreet. You can do it anywhere, at any time, and all you need is one minute.

We all have one minute to take care of ourselves. No excuses.


According to a recent publication from Harvard Medical School, “deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide.” As a result, deep belly breathing has been proven to  slow one’s heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure. Plus, it just makes you feel most at ease.



The Practice



  1. Come to a comfortable position either lying down or sitting upright on a pillow block of blanket. If you choose to sit, make sure you are comfortable and that it feels somewhat effortless.
  2. Bring your right hand on top of your heart and your left hand on top of your belly.
  3. Close the enjoys and start to pay attention to your natural breath, without trying to change anything at all at first.
  4. Begin to deepen your breath, inhaling through the nose to fill your belly. You will feel your in-breath pass beneath your right hand first, then the diaphragm will press down and your abdominal wall will swell outward beneath your left hand. Pause.
  5. Exhale just as slowly as you inhaled, first emptying the belly and feeling your left hand draw back toward your spine; then, feeling the out-breath rise up beneath your right hand, clearing the chest cavity and exiting through the nasal passages. Pause.
  6. Repeat for nine more cycles, or a total of 10 belly breaths.


This simple practice will take anywhere from 45-90 seconds to complete. Pepper this practice through your day five to 10 times by setting reminders on your phone or work calendar to keep you honest. You will be amazed how quickly your stress levels drop and a sense of ease washes over you.


Make this practice a ritual before any predictably stressful situation – a presentation at work, tough conversation with a partner, or big competition, to name a few. Not only will you feel better going in, but you’ll be less likely to react negatively throughout.

mindful ptsd

Be Still to Be Strong: Awakening the Body from Within

As I lay there on my back, sweat drying on the back of my neck, gently cradled by the give of my mat, five simple words washed over me, triggering a moment of ineffable release…

“Awaken yourself from within first.”

I’m no stranger to a few tears in savasana. Moving muscles, honing mental focus, and getting lost in the rise and fall of breath have an uncanny ability to remove blockages, both physical and emotional. From time to time this release opens the flood gates, others it simply lets drips seep out one by one. Today was more of the latter for me, but my goodness did it feel good to crack.

No one ever told me I had to be strong while healing from my accident, but I resolved to stay positive, look at the glass half full, and find the proverbial silver lining. I’m not saying it was wrong to push myself in this way, but it was at times exhausting. I knew at some visceral level that if I let myself crumble emotionally while my body was broken against its will, I might slip down a darker path than if I steeled myself in certain ways. Fear of falling kept me from facing the true trauma of my experience. Part of me knew I would have to face the more emotional impact of the accident once my body started to mend, but it still surprised me when it began to surface.

For the past few weeks I’ve been tiptoeing back into my yoga practice: I’ve used more props than ever before (see below); I’ve gotten creative with hand placement and foot positions to allow for better balance; I’ve come to child’s pose when others have come into handstand; and I’ve even worked up the courage to leave my splint at home despite the fear that others won’t know I’m still healing and think I’m just being lazy (hello, ego!).

Every week that goes by I am physically stronger, but at times more mentally and emotionally frustrated. An agitation shakes and stirs inside me fueled by impatience and expectation. Why am I not yet back to where I was before? When will this pose or that pose be within reach? Where did my stamina go? While all the answers to these questions are clear to my most rational self, in the moment these questions gnaw and nag at my inner fabric.

Here’s the thing—that inner struggle is the exact reason why I love yoga so much, so much that I became a teacher. Yoga illuminates the limits, boundaries, and blockages we all wrestle with. It sheds light on them and allows you the time and space to truly see, acknowledge, and slowly and steadily ease through them. It’s not an fast process, and you cannot rush it. The more you force yourself towards resolution or change, the harder it becomes to achieve.

When that single tear found its way through the crack in the walls I’d thrown up, rolled its way down into the well of my ear, and drew a smile across my face I knew my struggle with this trauma had begun in earnest. My gratitude for this beginning is unbounded. I know that as I start to reconnect with my inner self, awakening from within first, I will have the unique and rare opportunity to reignite my spark with yoga. I get to rediscover the magic of connecting breath to movement. I get to realize anew that stillness creates inner and outer strength. And I get to watch as my body invites me back in, little by little as it becomes ready.

As I lay there on my back, in tranquility and stillness, only then could I notice that when you are still there are no boundaries and no limits to what is possible, only potential.

How to FUEL your body for optimal athletic performance: Part 1

Training for a half marathon, full marathon, ultra marathon, century ride, tournament, duathlon or triathlon? In this three part series, you’ll learn how to fuel your body for optimal athletic performance. As a certified sports nutrition and performance coach, I’ll share advice on how to fuel before, during and after your workout or endurance event. Experiment with different options before race day to find what foods work best for you. Keep in mind, fuel should be a balance of nutrients, energy (calories), taste, digestion, budget and convenience. There is no one size fits all, so play around, do your research, try it out and be open to change.

Nutrition for Athletes MOARfit Amy Rizzotto

How to FUEL your body for optimal athletic performance: Part 1 – Pre-Workout Nutrition

(Adapted from The Thrive Diet, by Brendan Frazier)

1. Consume carbohydrates and protein in a 3:1 ratio; and include a little healthy fat. Depending on how quickly you digest, try eating 30 grams of healthy, complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables and fruits) and 10 grams of protein 2-3 hours before a workout or competition.  If you’ve only got an hour, try half that amount.  If you’re timed crunched, try blending 1 tablespoon hemp protein powder, 1 medjool date (pitted) and 8-oz of unsweetened almond milk. Adding 1 teaspoon of a healthy oil, such as flaxseed or coconut oil, helps slow digestion so your body can absorb fat soluble vitamins and deliver nutrients where they need to go. Coconut oil is ideal for workouts because the liver treats it like glucose (a carbohydrate and your body’s go-to for fast fuel).

2. Include high GI carbs for energy now and complex, non-starchy carbs for later. As noted before, glucose is your body’s go-to for fast-acting fuel. In your favorite pre-workout drink try using one or two dates (glucose) as the high-GI (glycemic index) carb for instant-energy and a couple teaspoons of agave nectar (fructose) for slower energy release. Avoiding high starch foods like bagels is important pre-workout. To convert starch into quick-working fuel your body has to work, and during a workout you want all available energy directed toward movement, not digestion.

3. If you’ll sweat during a workout lasting over an hour, you need lots of electrolytes. Lack of electrolytes can lead to “bonking”—or hitting a wall—and, in rare occurrences, can be fatal for endurance athletes. Hyponatremia is the condition of having too much water and not enough sodium (an electrolyte) in your system. Lots of sodium is lost through sweat so you should take in electrolytes during any high-intensity workout lasting more than an hour. Coconut water contains electrolytes as do most sports drinks and gels, however these often contain a lot of added sugar and preservatives. You can proactively replace electrolytes by adding a little salt or dulse powder to your pre-workout drink – just make sure you experiment first. If it tastes gross to you and you won’t drink it, it’s not the right option for you.

4. Consider caffeinating for improved performance. Caffeine is one of the only ergogenic aids that has been proven to significantly improve performance in endurance events and workouts.  It’s not for everyone and is not something you should rely on for every workout because doing so will result in increased adrenal fatigue and slower recovery. You can, however, experiment with adding caffeine to a pre-workout smoothie/drink by replacing the liquid component with brewed yerba mate or tea.  For the coffee lovers, you can drink a cup of black coffee (dairy is hard to digest so try to avoid it), but that can be tough on both your intestines and adrenal glands so be sure to test it out well before race or competition day.

5. Add health-boosting superfoods to go the extra mile. While the above guidelines should be enough to give your workout a serious jumpstart, you can make your pre-workout drinks even better with the addition of a few superfoods. Chia seeds contain omega-3s which reduce inflammation and improve cognitive function, and your body will absorb them in either whole or ground form. Chia seeds have a very high fiber content, so be careful not to overdo it and give your body proper time to digest. Maca powder is loaded with energy metabolism-enhancing B vitamins and is great for helping the adrenal glands recover from the stress of a workout. Other options to explore are acai, goji berries, spirulina, chlorella, ground flaxseed, etc.

Check back next week for what to eat during a long training workout or endurance event.

Recent Events: Fueling Amazing with Athleta and Nutrition for Athletes with Off Road Cycling

The first official weekend of summer was jam-packed with fun. Not only was I at the studio (Yoga Heights) more than usual with my business partner getting some well-deserved R&R, but I had one MOARfit event each day to make it extra special.

First up – Fueling Amazing with Athleta Georgetown:

I had such an awesome group of yogis Saturday, June 21 for the Athleta Summer Solstice celebration down on The Labyrinth at Georgetown Waterfront Park.

Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta 2

More than 25 people braved the temperamental weather and didn’t let a few rain drops during our sun salutations dampen the fun. Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta

A great big THANK YOU to everyone that came out for the event and to Athleta for including me as their teacher for this powerful group!
Amy Rizzotto MOARfit Athleta 3

Stay in the know on future FREE Athleta Georgetown events by following them on Twitter @Athleta_DC. And while you’re at it, follow me @MOARfit! #fuelingamazing

To cap off the weekend – Nutrition for Athletes at Off Road:

Nutrition for Athletes MOARfit Amy Rizzotto

A fit-fabulous group of 15 runners (and some cyclists) came out to Off Road Indoor Cycling Sunday, June 22 for my Nutrition for Athletes Workshop. We covered pre-, during and post-race nutrition, all the while sampling delicious granola from my girl Alicia at Greenheart Wellness and smoothies concocted by yours truly.

Greenheart Wellness

Keep checking the blog for a little fit-focused nutrition knowledge coming your way in July!

Sports Injuries: How to Treat the Mind and Body

For athletes and fitness seekers, sports injuries are par for the course. The fact that they’re commonplace if not somewhat inevitable does not make them any easier to cope with. The best way to address sports injuries is to avoid them in the first place by properly warming up before exercise, cooling down and stretching afterwards, and most importantly, listening to your body when it’s telling you to pull off the throttle. Unfortunately, most of us don’t learn (and apply) this good sense until we’ve experienced a sports injury that sidelines us long enough to feel beyond frustrated to the point of resolve—I’m going to treat my body better from this point onward.

photo (1)

So, what do you do when you find yourself injured? Do you go with tried and true techniques like RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation)? Or more high-tech therapy methods like ultrasound? And what about the all too often neglected mental aspect of recovering from sports injuries? The answer: all of the above.

The Tried and True: RICE

Most athletes are familiar with the term RICE. RICE is a crucial first step in post-injury triage. Rest, ice, compression and elevation are particularly important in the first 24-48 hours following sports injuries. Rest means exactly what it sounds like—significantly pulling back on your normal activity levels immediately following an injury and continue to moderate for a period of time after that agreed upon by you and your doctor. Step one of this tried and true method is often the hardest part for active individuals and can have the most challenging psychological effects—less endorphins means lower energy and more frustration. While difficult, stepping on the brakes then modifying for days, weeks or hopefully not week, is absolutely essential to proper, lasting recovery.

Ice, compression and elevation are all about reducing inflammation localized at the site of damage, not only providing comfort but also speeding your body’s healing time. All three are important immediately after injury but can also be used as you starting gearing back up and exercising again. If you’ve never given compression tape a try, next time you’re heading out to train wrap your injured area snuggly (without cutting off your circulation) and see how you feel. You might be surprised what a little targeted pressure and passive support can do.

Scientific Therapy

So you’ve gotten through the first two days post-incident using RICE, but you’re still in pain. Now what? Time to see a doctor, or if your healthcare doesn’t require a primary care physician’s reference, maybe go straight to a trusted physical therapist (PT). Whether seeing a doctor or PT, a medical professional will help determine your action plan for getting back in the game.  Quite often they can also provide a timeline for when you can expect to start feeling “normal” again, which is most people’s top concern when it comes to sports injuries.

A doctor or PT will likely suggest a multi-faceted course of action including light stretching, modified exercises (both assisted and unassisted), and possibly some more high-tech options like ultrasound therapy. Ultrasound therapy may help accelerate the healing and repair process of soft tissues (think hamstrings, gluteal muscles, lower back, etc). Ultrasound, a.k.a. sound waves of a high frequency, causes tissues to vibrate, which ultimately produces heat within ligaments, tendons, scar tissue and fibrous joint capsules. This heat is thought to reduce inflammation by attracting protective mast cells and increasing blood flow to the site of injury. It may also increase collagen production, an essential process for tissue repair because it is the primary protein component in soft tissues. Though studies are mixed, ultrasound is a worthwhile therapeutic option to explore with your physical therapist as a part of your overall strategy for pain reduction and the healing process for sports injuries.

The Mind-Body Connection

It is no secret that athletes (and all humans) have ego. It can be really hard to admit to yourself, let alone others, that sports injuries range from frustrating to utterly devastating. Apart from the diminished endorphins experienced in the wake of injury, the affected individual may grapple with something akin to the Kübler-Ross model, more commonly referred to as the “five stages of grief.” You may laugh but sports injuries have serious psychological impacts and you’re wise to give them the attention they deserve or they will undoubtedly hinder your path to recovery.

This series of five emotional stages starts with denial and leads to anger, bargaining and depression before reaching the ultimate stage of acceptance. When it comes to sports injuries, not everyone will experience every stage in this model. Denial usually sounds something like, “I’ll be back at it in no time” or “it’s probably nothing. I’ll just ice it and be good to go tomorrow.” Nobody wants to deal with the realization that they might be out of commission for an unknown stretch of time, thus we often move into the anger phase. Anger may rise up and fall away pretty quickly, but a majority of the time it rears its feisty head in one way or another—hopefully you surround yourself with compassionate and empathic people when you go on the woe-is-me war path. Once the anger subsides, the “if onlys” arrive—a.k.a. bargaining. If only I had pulled back when I felt that first tweak of pain; if only I hadn’t run those extra 5 miles; If only, well, you get the idea. We all do it, but those questions get you nowhere other than mad at yourself and exhausted by all that mental circling. Perhaps it is that fatigue that makes way for depression. When depression settles in post-injury, it is a weight that can be hard to shake. It’s important to surround yourself with good friends, good doctors, and a good outlook at this stage in the process in order to move into the world of acceptance ASAP. Acceptance should be called forward motion. It’s all about putting one foot in front of the other and taking concrete, positive steps toward healing your body and spirit.

Some of us get from stage one to stage five in a matter of days. For others it may take longer. The quickest way to get from denial to acceptance and avoid dwelling in the trenches of the less productive emotions is to learn about your injuries and ask questions. The better you understand your injury, the recovery time, the reasoning behind your treatment plan, alternative exercises you can safely do, the big no-nos, and how to know if you’ve gotten worse in some way, the easier it will be to move forward. By understanding your injury and knowing what to expect during the recovery process you will experience much less anxiety and feel a sense of control over the outcome.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. If your self-talk is self-defeating you’re going to get in your own way. A positive outlook is arguably the most important factor influencing your path to recovery. Healing can’t happen if you don’t listen to what your body and mind need and attend to those needs compassionately and with conviction. Remember, the body is an amazing machine. You will be amazed at how quickly it remembers how strong, fast and enduring it was prior to your injury.

View the STACK Media version of my article here.

Cherry-Goji Overnight Oats

With all the buzz overnight oats have been getting these days, I felt obliged to give them a whirl. I also wanted to use this as an opportunity to test out how my gut would react to a little Greek yogurt. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve had any dairy but the health benefits of Greek yogurt in particular have left me constantly lusting for its low-cal, high-protein, calcium-and-B Vitamins-packed goodness. I’m happy to report that it did not upset my stomach in the least–must be all those gut-friendly probiotics in there, which not only help regulate digestion but also strengthen your immune system.


While Greek yogurt was the most exciting ingredient for me, the real spotlight ought to be shined on the oats. According to the FDA, all that soluble fiber found in oats lowers LDL cholesterol (aka the bad kind). The antioxidants found in the goji berries, dried cherries and oats themselves have anti-inflammatory properties, making them an excellent choice for athletic, active folks like you and me. Muscle soreness, see ya later! 

When you add nutritional rockstar chia seeds into the mix you’re getting a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Omega-3s have been linked to health benefits related to conditions including cancer, IBS, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. One tablespoon contains 18% of your RDA for calcium, tons of fiber and potassium and 4 g of protein. What can I say? Good things come in small packages.

Finally, I can’t let you get to the recipe without a quick reminder of how great maca powder is. If you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon yet, it’s time. Maca is rich in B-vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc and iron, all of which are essential to proper muscle and energy metabolism function. Ladies suffering from PMS or menopause, this should be your go-to for holistic health. And let’s not leave out the men. Maca powder is said to increase testosterone, boosting your libido and endurance…The list of benefits goes on and on. For more ways to incorporate this Peruvian delight, check out my Top Five Greenies post for some go-to smoothies that’ll jumpstart your morning.

Cherry-Goji Overnight Oats

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 6 oz nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz unsweetened vanilla hemp milk
  • 2 tbs raw honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp maca powder
  • 3 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 1/4 cup tart dried cherries (unsulphured)

How to Make Them:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Enjoy with your tea or coffee the next morning!

Makes 4 servings and will keep in the fridge for up to a week.