Benefits of Foam Rolling

Hello beauty!

Today, I want to talk about foam rolling! This is a pretty hot topic in the fitness realm right now. What are the benefits of regular myofascial release…and what exactly is myofascial release? I will also break down a couple of my favorite foam roller exercises.

The goal of myofascial release work is to break up the adhesions in our connective tissue, allowing our muscles to lengthen further, increasing range of motion. Our connective tissue, commonly called fascia is integrated throughout the body. There is connective tissue in between every muscle cell in our body. If you were able to look at the body without any muscles, bones, organs, or blood vessels, we would look like a large spider web. This is connective tissue, also known as fascia. Crazy, right?! Imagine an orange with each little compartment containing a little bit of orange juice. Connective tissue is kind of like that, surrounding each muscle cell.

There are also thicker bands of connective tissue throughout the body. A great example of this is the IT (iliotibial band). This band of connective tissue is connected to the TFL (tensor fascia latae) which is a small muscle on the outside of your upper leg. It is responsible for abduction (levering the leg away from the bodies’ mid-line) as well as stabilizing the knee. It then attaches just below the knee on the tibia.

To release the IT band, you could lie on your side with your left elbow planted on the ground. Place the roller under your left side just below the hip. You can plant your right foot down on the ground in front of your left leg if you are just beginning to foam roll. As you are able to adjust to the sensation of myofascial release, you can stack your legs on top of one another. I’ve pasted both options below. You will then roll the roller down towards the knee and back up to the hip. As an extra challenge, if you find a couple of points along the IT band that feel like knots, you can pause and bend your left knee at those points. This will encourage that portion of the IT band to lengthen further.

 Iliotibial band roll-out Iliotibial band Roll-out stacked legs

Another release technique that I love is for the intercostal muscles. These are little muscles that run in between each of our ribs, connecting them together. I like to roll out the intercostals by lying on my left side with the roller underneath the middle of my rib cage and a little pillow between my head and my arm. I will then find a space between the ribs and start to roll my torso forward and backwards allowing the roller to press into the intercostal. If this is tender or ‘tight’ feeling, I will pause and think of using my breath to expand the left lung, allowing the intercostal to lengthen under the roller. I will repeat this a few more times, scooting the roller up one rib each time until the roller is almost in the underarm. Before I move to the other side, I like to sit up and take a few breaths. If I took my time on the first side, I am able to feel like my left lung is able to expand more than the right as the ribs are more mobile and able to move when air fills the left lung. How cool is that???

 Intercostal roll-out Intercostal rolling forward

There are many other forms of myofascial release work in the body. These are just my top two faves. Please comment below if you would like to learn about some other techniques! Thanks, beauties!

xo Lara

Love Letter To a Green Smoothie

This is a love letter to green smoothies. 🙂 I got married in July of this year and received the greatest gift....a vitamix blender! I have used it literally every day since. I know that the vitamix can be a hefty investment. There are other blenders that still do a pretty good job that don't carry the price tag that the vitamix does. I haven't used it, but I have heard that the Ninja Professional is a good alternative. I used to use a Cuisinart blender and it did the job as well. 🙂

Each morning, I make a green shake with a base of dark leafy greens.  I usually use kale because I like the flavor and it is easy to find organic kale in most grocery stores. Organic swiss chard, rainbow chard, or spinach are great alternatives. Then I will add any assortment of fruit that I have around the house. Today, I used banana, orange, frozen organic pineapple, and frozen organic mango. I like to add about a 1/2 cup of full-fat greek yogurt for protein. As a side-note, I don't believe in using any product that is labeled as reduced fat, or fat free. Just think of what they have to replace the fat with. Usually a concoction of chemicals. Double gross! Also, the fat and protein help keep me full throughout the morning. After I throw in all of the fruit and greens, I add about 2 cups of water and blend it until it is smooth! So easy, so quick, and packed with nutrition. I am always running out the door in the morning, so I will throw it into a large glass jar and drink the shake throughout the morning until lunch time. 

This is one of the easiest ways to eat extra greens. I am a huge fan of a chopped kale salad, but let's talk about how time consuming that is to eat! I know that we all live busy lifestyles. Like many of you, I am often eating lunch on the go and simply don't have time to chew a big salad! 😉 Drinking your vitamins sounds like a great alternative to me!

Speaking of vitamins, kale is full of essential vitamins A, C and K as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. All things that we need in our daily diet. Pineapple contains dietary fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6 and copper, vitamin C and manganese, plus it's delicious and adds a tropical twist to my morning. Mango contains vitamin c and folate. In addition to potassium, bananas are also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. All great things! I believe so strongly that the most direct path to good health is to take care of our bodies from the inside out. Put good foods in the body---body feels better. 🙂 Plus, it is less expensive, and far tastier to eat your vitamins instead of needing to add a supplement to fill in nutritional gaps. 

I am always looking for new variations on the green shake. Share your recipes below, and eat up, Buttercup!

xo Lara

Be Kind To Yourself

Be Kind To Yourself

When is the last time that you looked in the mirror and gave yourself a compliment? When was the last time that you looked in the mirror and said something critical about yourself? I bet that for many of you, it is much easier to think about the critical moment...even if you didn’t didn’t place any weight on that self-comment at the time. Why is that? I will be with myself for every second of every day for the rest of my life. Shouldn’t I be kind to myself? Would I ever want to hang out with a friend who told me that I look ugly, or that butt looks saggy and fat today? NOPE! So why on earth would I ever say that to myself? And yet, we all do it sometimes multiple times a day. Crazy!

I propose a challenge...the 5-day, 5 compliment challenge. First thing in the morning for the next 5 days, look yourself in the mirror and give yourself 5 compliments. Try to have 5 new compliments for yourself each day. They can be physical compliments, but please don’t neglect your inner beauty as well (FAR more important)! Do speak outloud to yourself while looking in the mirror. I promise that it makes a difference. The effect just isn’t the same if you just think to yourself. If you want to take it a step further, write them down and read them to yourself later in the day. Reinforce those thoughts. Don’t hold back or justify your statements. Live out loud! As women, we are taught to compliment others and to remain humble ourselves. I completely agree that being humble is incredibly important and an important quality in all the people that I surround myself with. However, in my opinion, this is about bravery! The antithesis of bravery is not humility, it’s timidness. Live boldly with respect for yourself and others. 🙂

Be bold! Post your self compliments below...yay bravery!