105 posts categorized " Sayeh's Living Lithe! "

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE TIPS! {CONT'D} 16 Apr 2014

Sayeh

Last week, I shared 5 of my tips for getting the most out of my classes and staying motivated through the Earned in Winter challenge. This week, a few more. 

1. Front and Center: Yesterday, I fought the rain and a mangled umbrella to walk into class late, right as the stretching started. There were no mats left, except for in the very front of the room, right in front of the instructor and everyone else. I grumbled to myself. I usually like to stay off to the side, not too far away, but far enough from the spotlight so I was loath to take my position. But, it was SUCH a boost to my motivation. I didn't feel like I could slack with so many people behind me. It gave me a little kick in the pants to get my knees up, my butt down and to take less breaks. (Don't be scared to try this. The reality is that no one is really paying attention, unless they are looking for a leader. I rarely see the girl at the front, since there are so many people between her and me and I'm concentrating on myself.) Even still though, you feel the pressure anyway, and it helps.

2. Schedule Smart: If you're like me, you already spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what classes you're going to take--which instructors, on which days, in which studios. (Can I get an amen??) But, somehow, despite this, I often don't take my whole scheduling picture--social life and habits--into consideration when I get on MindBody. I tend to focus more on getting on the schedule at all, rather than scheduling smart. This leads me to forget about a meeting or dinner plans, which has me realizing--way too late--that I should have scheduled a morning class that day, instead of an afternoon one. So, I've begun keeping my smart phone calendar out in front of me when scheduling so I can't forget about the commitments I can't move. Taking it a step further, I'm also trying to gauge patterns in my energy. When am I up-beat? When am I dragging? If I know that Monday afternoons are a low-energy time for me, I don't schedule myself for a high cardio class for that slot. Instead, I pre-plan for a low-impact, sculpting class that day so I'll be more likely to follow through with it.

3. You're So Vain: On last week's post, someone shared their tip of looking in the mirror, and it's a really good one. Getting yourself in a place where you can get a clear look at yourself in the mirror is a good habit. I know most of us feel uncomfortable gazing at ourselves for 60 minutes. (I personally find it challenging not to focus on the parts of my body that I'm unhappy with, or the rogue hairs sprouting all over my face), but it's actually proven good practice for me in multiple ways. Not least of which is to encourage myself to look beyond my insecurities to my form. When I can SEE what I'm doing, then I can make adjustments. When an instructor yells FLAT BACK, I can check and see if I'm flat and adjust. When she asks me to make sure my knee isn't going over my ankle during lunges, I can double check from the side reflection. Keeping tabs on form through the mirror has helped me vastly improve. 

4. Stretch Armstrong: I hate stretching. I'm using the word HATE about stretching. I know how crucial it is, but still I hate it. It hurts. I'm inflexible and I suck at it. It's one of the reasons I hate being in class early, because I feel forced to stretch on my own--like others around me--and I just don't wanna. BUT, I do commit to the stretching IN class. I know it's not much, but that makes it all the more important. Before and AFTER the class. We've all been there, when we are lithing at lunch and need to hurry back to work, or we have a ride waiting on us downstairs, so we skip the stretching at the end, step over some people, and get a towel and rush back to our mats and out of class before everyone else. I certainly have. But, there are some folks that make this the rule rather than the exception just to beat the locker room rush, and I can't help but feel like I'm getting cheated out of my much needed stretch when girls are stepping over me or spraying me with mat cleaner while I'm down in a straddle. We all need a stretch, even if it's just a few moves, and let's be honest, hitting the elevators two minutes before everyone else isn't worth skipping out on it. A few stretches a few times a week, really does add up to increased flexibility. So stay to the end of class (if you actually have the time), I and your neighbors, and your body, will thank you for it. 

See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE TIPS! 9 Apr 2014

Sayeh

Whether you're in the midst of the second phase of your Earned in Winter challenge, or some variation of your own challenge, I think we are all feeling the sudden urgency of beach weekends, and the swimsuits that go with them, fast approaching. (This is crazy since 5 minutes ago it was snowing, and I felt like we were never going to see temps rise over 25, and summer felt so so far away). 

As we all rev it up a bit, I'm feeling the need for motivation more than ever. And as I've completed my nine days, and ramped up to 5 or 6 days a week since, I've been paying attention to the things that keep me going and thought I would share 5 of those things with you in hopes that they may be helpful to you too.

  1. FOCUS: We all know that being mindful in class is important. Zoning out means form gets sloppy, and we don't get the most out of our workout (story of my life). So, I've been taking that concept a bit further to make sure I stay present by focusing on some THING every class. Lately, it's been my breath. Expanding my rib cage and then contracting and knitting it back together on every single inhale/exhale is quite the challenge and quite the workout. In other classes, I focus on things like completely straightening my leg and pulling up on my knee caps at the barre. Choosing one thing to work on helps me to not only stay present, but  also helps me to push myself to really perfect my form.
  2. GET COMFORTABLE: Nothing ruins my life more than wearing my oldest, most ill-fitting sports bra to a high cardio class. I've been finding that paying attention to class descriptions, and wearing the appropriate clothes and having the appropriate gear (gloves, sweat bands) makes a world of difference in my ability to work out effectively. When the bands are chafing my wrists because I've forgotten my wrist bands, or hurting my ankles because I didn't wear long pants, I focus more on my discomfort than anything else. If I don't take the time to strap into my bands correctly at the beginning of class, I'm battling with rogue velcro for 60 minutes rather than getting lower, jumping higher and squatting longer. Having everything you need--from your water to the right wunder unders is key. 
  3. THINK BODY PARTS: When instructors say: You should feel this in your BLANK, I realize where I should be feeling it and it helps me big time. I adjust my body to feel it there--wherever there is--and all of a sudden I'm doing it--whatever it is--correctly. I learned long ago if you're not feeling IT during a Lithe move, you're not doing it right. Recently, in Tight End, after realizing my inner thighs were the focus, I took all my focus to them--literally thinking INNER THIGHS, INNER THIGHS over and over again with every deep lunge, and it helped me to push through the impossible (for me) box series in that class. Connecting the move with the body part it should be sculpting, helped me to stay motivated to stick with it. 
  4. GET DOWN WITH THE GET DOWN: Listen. I'm not gonna lie. There's nothing I hate more than when an instructor tells me to smile and have fun. Literally nothing. I'm pouring sweat, my thighs are burning, my hair is stuck to my head, my muscles are quaking, the room is so hot, I feel like I'm in bikram Lithe and it's all I can do to focus on my inner thighs and my breath and not keel over onto the girl directly behind me. I DON'T WANT TO SMILE. I DON'T WANT TO HAVE FUN. I just want to GET THROUGH IT. Must I LOVE the torture?? Isn't it enough that I'm here? Have you no SOULS?? But then, some times, some days (if the music is right and I'l slightly less curmudgeonly than usual), I do smile and I do get down, and put a little fun and attitude into my CCS, and I have to admit it really does help. So even though I'm shaking my fist on the inside, Lithing with abandon really is...fun...and does make me smile. Eek. I hate myself. 
  5. FOLLOW A LEADER: Every class has a veteran lither in it, with incredible form. When I'm struggling, I lock my eyes on her and strive to match her drive and form. She shows me how to do the hip swivel thing right, keep in rhythm during complicated CCS, and generally stick to it. There's inspiration all around us in our classes. 

Keep on keepin on ladies. I'm inspired by all the hard work I see around me, and by the pictures for the #earnedinwinter series on the blog. If you have your own tips, feel free to share! I can use as many as I can get!

See you in class!

SAYEH'S LIVING ENDVY! 2 Apr 2014

Sayeh

Endvy! aka Are you SERIOUS? aka What the f#*^! aka Can I LEAVE?

What you need: Sweat Bands! 
Props: Thinny Bands (the ones with velcro), Heavy Weights, Blue Ball
Clothing Considerations: Long pants--you velcro the bands around your ankles, and they will help to prevent chafing
Sweat Factor: This is one of those classes where you don't jump, but the moves are so intense that your body gets immediately hot, and the sweat shows up on the back of your neck 2 minutes in. You won't be soaked, but you'll be shiny for certain. 

I've been wanting to review Endvy for some time, and now that I've finally been able to take the class, I have a feeling that my relationship with it is going to be a fraught one. Endvy was like, Oh hey. You've been feeling good about your strength and stamina lately? Don't make me laugh, Sandy. Heh heh heh. Then it smacked me down to size in the first 30 seconds (I'm not exaggerating) and had me feeling like a little tiny baby in her first Lithe class.

You begin by standing at the barre, with your right knee raised in a liberty position, but with a twist. You place the blue ball, under your knee and keep it secure by squeezing it between your calf and ham strings. This extra effort on your raised leg, coupled with the normal excruciating pain on your standing leg is a passport to an entirely new world of muscle exhaustion. After hover lunges, static tuck and squeezes, pulses and round of chair sits, where you SLOWLY squeeze the ball between your legs, I actually considered lying down in the adjacent room for a couple minutes. 

Moves that you're accustomed to only doing 10 times--you know the really tough ones--you do 30 times in this class. Then you do fold overwork, incorporating a heavy weight with your upper body, in coordination with the moves on your lower. If we were new to the class, Elizabeth recommended that we focus on our balance and form before we incorporated the weights, so that we could do the moves correctly and avoid injury. I happily obliged. 

You then take it down to the mat, and this is where the Thinny bands come in. Once you strap your legs in, you begin an intense full body sculpting session that includes a move called the Pretzel. All I can say is, it's a doozy, and my rendition was what is referred to in the biz as a 'hot mess'. There's lots of balancing core, where you while on all fours, you extend one arm and do ab and leg work (full body really). After that, you head back to the bar to do it all over again on the left side and then back down on the mat to round out the banded series on that side too.

I really liked how this class was broken up. Super intense barre series sandwiched between sculpting mat work. I felt like despite how exhausted I was, the class went by really quickly. For those of you that want a break from CCS, but stress that you won't burn as many calories in a sculpting class--fear not, Endvy will make you eat your words. (In my experience, it's the sculpting classes that help me see the most difference in my body's shape anyway.) I am going to keep going to Endvy, although I will probably cuss through the whole thing. At least for a while, but I look forward to working on my pretzel, incorporating the heavy weights and getting a little better. As always, Lithe pushes you out of your comfort zone, and if you're game, Endvy can't be beat. 

See you in class!

25 THINGS! {BY SAYEH} 26 Mar 2014

1
Been frequenting the Rittenhouse studio? Then you've seen Meghan Lechette, this week's author of 25 Things . She's a hard woman to pin down, and it's easy to see why! With her myriad talents, I'd be a busy lady too. Read on for fun facts and great tips on her favorite products!

  1. Even though I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, family definitely comes first on my list! My parents are divorced and have both remarried. Between the 4 families, we’re clocking 102 people (I counted over the holidays for crafts/cookies – it’s an overwhelming time of year!).
  2. Contrary to the seemingly French spelling of my last name, it is actually Italian (pronounced like machete).  The Lechettes make up a majority of my family unit with 51 people in our immediate family. Despite the large number, we are incredibly close and try to meet for donuts and coffee every Sunday morning.
  3. I am 10 & 12 years older than my 3 brothers, and words cannot express how grateful I am for them (and for our age gap)! My father’s eldest son and my mother’s son were born 8 days apart - talk about weird. I also have an older stepbrother. Yep, I’m the only gal. “Me & the dog”, as my brothers would say.
  4. I’m a Philadelphia native and grew up split between Northeast Philadelphia and Drexel Hill (yes, Delco).  “Wooder”, Schuykill, Wawa, and scrapple are all part of my standard vernacular.
  5. I went to Catholic school for 11 years, including an all-girls Catholic high school. It was an incredible experience, and I would choose all-girls over coed any day! (Prendie! LYLS!) No, I am not a practicing Catholic.
  6. Maine is a very special, sentimental place for me. My grandmother grew up outside of Augusta, and we’ve vacationed there almost every summer since I was born. My great-grandmother was the original host of “Sunday donuts” (see #2) and just like the Lechette fam, the Maine-iacs still observe this tradition weekly.
  7. Along with my brothers and Maine, music is my heart. I discovered my singing voice when I was 8, played the flute in grade school, participated in as many musical theatre productions as I could (when I wasn’t grounded), and I FINALLY started teaching myself to play guitar last Spring. I do a wicked Lana Del Rey. 
  8. I lived in New York from April 2004 through September 2008. I moved back to Philly just in time to experience the Phillies’ World Series win! GO PHILS!!! The following season, I ended up working for them as a “Phanstomer” – double win!
  9. As Ashton once told me, “I’ve lived 5 lives.” (see #8). I’ve worked in freelance TV/film production since 2005 with an eclectic range of gigs before and between: TV Guide “scheduling reporter”, music industry admin, brand ambassador, personal assistant, ballroom dance studio manager, producer of “live TV’’ for preschoolers, floral assistant, etc. It’s been a colorful 12 years!
  10. I was first inspired to become a Lither after reading the 2010 “Heavenly Bodies” feature in Philly Mag. I conquered my laziness and fear of regular exercise with Immersion in April 2011 to prepare my body for an intense film gig, and I’ve never looked back (though I have fallen off the wagon a few times).
  11. After an intense bought of depression in 2009, I started to explore “The Secret” (or not so secret)/Law of Attraction/”A New Earth”/TUT. Whatever you call it, it has changed my life. Frequent challenges make an “attitude of gratitude” difficult to maintain, and Lithe gives me the added inspiration and extra push in the right direction when I face a downward spiral.  Lighthearted “Notes from The Universe” are also a huge help!
  12.  I start EVERY morning with my “Home Colombe” French press coffee.  Freshly ground Phocea beans in a boiling Bodum topped off with almond milk and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar – cue Sinead O’Conner’s “Nothing Compares.” For me, there is no other bean or brew.
  13. I have a voracious appetite. Always have. My 1st grade teacher actually asked my mother if she fed me enough at home, since I “ate like I had a wooden leg.” Thankfully, my mom made sure that I loved fruits, veggies, and wheat germ as much as a King-size pack of Reese’s.
  14.  My lifelong love affair with food evolved into a passion for baking and recipe experimentation. Since my metabolism can’t hang like it could at 21, I now focus my recipes on nutrition.  I once attempted a “recipe a day” from my fave Gwenyth cookbook. I got through 24 of them before I tired of it and started adapting them to better suit my lifestyle.
  15.  I started a recipe blog during a stint of unemployment to occupy my time and support the efforts of #14. It trailed off after I booked a few consecutive film gigs, though I continue to tweak and log recipes by hand. One of my goals for 2014 is to renew the blog this Spring! http://sop-upthegravy.blogspot.com/
  16. I have a wicked sweet tooth, and yet, I have never had a cavity. My dentist told me recently that it’s due to a great mouth pH. I absolutely hate going to the dentist, so this was great news!
  17. I don’t drink soda (though I’ll occasionally enjoy a rum & Coke w/ lime). Lemon water has been my beverage staple since I was a kid, and I can’t rave enough about its benefits! You can even utilize the “used” wedges to scrub pots & pans and freshen the garbage disposal! 
  18. I try to take a spa-style soak at least 2-3 times a week. I add kettles of boiling water to the running bath, along with Epsom salts, coconut oil, lavender bubbles, and whatever detoxifying, indulgent additions I have on hand (French green clay is a treat!). It’s therapy for my skin and my soul.
  19. I am a product junkie. Working on TV & film sets with actors & their amazing HMU teams definitely encouraged this addiction. I’ve tried many items and trust few. Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, Moroccan Hair Oil, Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, Comodynes Makeup Remover wipes, and Kai Perfume Oil are a few set-worthy staples.
  20. Due to #18 and working as an uber-prepared P.A., I am never without Clear Eyes/Visine, Kiehl’s Eye Alert (undisputed fave since 2007), Jack Black lip balm, hand lotion, bobby pins, and mini Altoids – all stashed in my purse.
  21. I have never dyed my hair.  Highlights happened many moons ago, but I’ve never colored my whole head. Also, I will NEVER tan. Ever. Never-ever, and not for lack of trying. My sunburns fade back to lily-white within a few days. I’ve grown to like this about myself, though it was a loathsome trait as a teenager. My friends still joke that they could lose me in a blizzard.
  22. I buy myself flowers at least once a month. I find it therapeutic to prep and arrange them, and I keep a bud vase on my bedside table to greet me with a smile when I wake up! J
  23.  One of my favorite hobbies is gardening (both indoor and out, weather permitting). Like cooking and floral design, I find it therapeutic and incredibly gratifying. It is so rewarding to cook and enjoy the fresh herbs and veggies I’ve nurtured since seedlings!
  24. I’ve unintentionally started an unofficial Phalaenopsis orchid rescue at my apartment. Orchids are one of my fave plants, and I can’t bear to pass by a suffering bloom. Resuscitating their delicate, temperamental blossoms is inspirational and heartwarming!
  25.  Lastly, my random fear: emetophobia. The fear of vomit. It’s very real, and VERY scary for people like me, Cameron Diaz, and Matt Lauer (so I’ve read). It’s also my family and friends’ ultimate prank. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve thrown up since I was 5 years old, and I’m knocking on wood as I write this… How long was that hummus stashed in the fridge…. ??!! Yikes!

SAYEH'S LIVING NINE DAYS! 19 Mar 2014

Sayeh 

As promised, I'm ready to dish about my 9 day Lithe reboot since I'm officially complete (cue the chorus of angels). Motivated by Kristin and Chrissy's mission, I started my own. A mission to get back into a Lithe rhythm that I enjoy (4-5 times per week), back to feeling a bit more svelte and just back to feeling better about myself. 

The thing is, I have a total roller coaster relationship with how I feel about my body and health. Some days I feel fabulous! (Stomp-walking to Beyonce). And some days I feel like no matter what I do, my outfit is hideous, my belly is bloated, and I'm just generally overwhelmed. It's on those days that instead of subjecting the world to my awfulness, I feel like I should hide out in a clock tower and grunt at all the girls that are prettier than me, as I creepily stalk them from my isolated perch. Of course these peaks and valleys often correspond with monthly fluctuations in hormone levels and other lady issues that are beyond my immediate control, but over the past 3 years of Lithing consistently (for the most part), I've found that it's much more than that too.

I've found that I feel much better about the way I look...everything, when I am DOING something to take care of myself. In other words, if you were to ask me how I feel about myself and life on a day when I've worked out and eaten well, you will likely get a pretty positive answer. Ask me that same question on a day when I've lost the battle with the work donut, and canceled Lithe, you will get a drastically different answer. Even if you were to walk me to a scale and show me that nothing has actually changed, I just wouldn't feel great. 

It's TOTALLY mental. For me.

The boost that comes from setting a goal, sticking to it, feeling myself getting stronger, and accomplishing it sends ripples through my life far beyond that of my measurements and weight. Although, don't get me wrong, those results keep me going and are not any less impactful. Lithing consistently over the past nine days has indeed done wonders for my body. The reboot is completely real. My legs look longer and leaner, my tummy flatter, and my arms more sculpted. My clothes feel better on my body, and my husband has even noticed. In class, it was completely shocking how quickly I felt stronger and my stamina increased. Reminding me that yes, sometimes it feels like I have to start over at square 1 when I miss a few classes, but I can get it all back, and then some, in under 10 classes. Not a bad deal. 

But beyond all of that, the nine day reboot reminded me of the confidence and control that comes with Lithing regularly. The reason why feeling stronger in my body somehow makes me feel less overwhelmed at work. How proving to myself that I can accomplish a workout goal, makes me realize that the rubbery donut in the office kitchen isn't actually worth it and that I want to eat something clean instead. For me, when I feel like less of a slave to the whims of my own body, I feel like I can take control of all other things in my life. The pile of laundry in the corner of my room, the grocery shopping that I need to do, and the rude woman in front of me on the bus are all much more manageable.

I've seen women take up Lithe, and before long, make drastic changes in their lives beyond diet and exercise. Quiting a job they hate, ending a relationship that was making them unhappy, getting their finances in order, being kinder to themselves and stop taking any more $h*t in general. For my part, that's my favorite Lithe side effect. When I'm lithing consistently...it feels like I step off the emotional, life and body image roller coaster and onto solid ground where I'm in control of myself and my choices. 

And while I know that before long a set of circumstances will have be back in line for another jerky ride to the top of that clock tower where I'll be hunched over a bowl of chicken fingers and ranch dressing, I hope I'll remember the nine day reboot, what I'm capable of, and start over again. 

See you in class!

 

 

SAYEH'S LIVING NINE DAYS! {SNEAK PEEK} 12 Mar 2014

Sayeh

Today, while running an errand at lunch, I realized I was walking down the street like it was my own personal runway. I was swinging my hips and stomp-walking like Naomi Campbell after a temper tantrum. Maybe it was the Beyonce blaring in my headphones (turn the lights on!), maybe it was the two giant Marshalls bags I was carrying flapping in the non-arctic wind, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was because today will be my 7th day lithing out of the 9 in a row I'm going for. 

At the end of last week, a couple of classes in, I saw Chrissy and Kristin's Mission: Lithe post and something clicked. I've been chronicling my post-wedding, winter struggle here for a few months--my battles with the elusive work donut alternating with brief stints of motivation and back again. So when I saw that two of my favorite Lithe staffers were embarking on a 9 day reset, I realized that was exactly what I needed too. A full-on, non-half-assed reset. It didn't hurt that in that post, Lauren reminded me that I've done it before, so I could believe it was in me to do it again. 

And of course, as with all things Lithe...THIIIIIINGS ARE HAPPENIIIIING!

Just a few things I've noticed so far:

  • I'm tossing my hair a little more aggressively
  • I'm awake!
  • I hate a few less people than usual. 
  • My legs are...well let's just say I feel like putting on a gold outfit covered in fridge and dancing around like Tina Turner. 

I didn't take my measurements or weigh myself, but stay tuned to the blog for the full report next Wednesday after my 9 days are complete! 

See you in class! (No, for real this time. I'm serious.)

25 THINGS! {BY SAYEH} 5 Mar 2014

Katie-1

Continuing our series of 25 Things! featuring the bright shining faces of the studio staff that greet us, help us with scheduling issues, make sure our studios are set up and that we have everything we need is Manager, Katie Kempf. If you frequent the Rittenhouse Studio, you have seen her tall, long-haired, gentle self standing behind the desk smiling kindly at you. But don't be fooled. Under that seemingly quiet exterior, is a girl who goes HARD. Read her 25 Things to find out that if you mess with her, she may jack you with an elbow, among many other fascinating things!

  1. I have two younger sisters named Chrissy and Kelly.  Apparently, my parents really love names that start with the C/K sound.
  2. My mom is the best.  She is one of the kindest and most caring people I know.  I can count on her for anything and everything.  I’m also amazed that she survived raising me and my sisters.  We were a handful!    
  3. For some strange reason my parents named me Catherine (w/ a C) but nicknamed me Katie (w/ a K).  When I was growing up I was always confused if my initials should be CMK or KMK.
  4. My roommate and I were matched as random roommates our freshman year of college.  Her name is also Katie, and she’s been one of my best friends and main partners in crime ever since.  
  5. A lot of my friends call me KK, and my roommate KO, in order to distinguish us.  However, if we are both around and someone calls our name, we almost always know which one of us they are actually talking to.   
  6. I spent 2012 and most of 2013 living in Thailand and traveling throughout SE Asia with three of my best friends.  In Thailand I taught English to kindergartners and 1st graders.  They were so freaking cute, I wanted to adopt all of them!
  7. My favorite festival in the world is Songkran.  It’s a Thai festival celebrating the Buddhist New Year.  During Songkran, Thai cities shut down for 3-5 days to celebrate with a giant city wide water fight.  EVERYONE (from babies to police officers to little old ladies) participates.  It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.  I felt like I was 10 years old again!   
  8. I love all animals, but I generally consider myself a dog person. I’ve always had dogs growing up and I plan to always have them in the future.   My roommate and I looked into fostering dogs this weekend so hopefully I will have one soon!
  9. The most interesting pet I’ve had besides a dog was a baby duck.  We found a duckling abandoned in our front yard when I was in 4th grade.  We kept it for a couple of months, then we had to give it to a nature center so that it could be released into the wild.  
  10. I love to travel.  For me, nothing beats having a new adventure, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people and trying new food.  I don’t even mind long journeys because it builds my anticipation and makes me more excited for the adventure ahead.  
  11. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to over 20 countries.  However, that has not even begun to satisfy my travel itch.  The list of places I want to see is always growing (which is bad since it already seems endless). A few places on the top of my list are:  Machu Picchu, the Galapagos and the Philippines (mostly for diving), and Norway/Finland/Iceland to see the Northern Lights.
  12. I am lucky because I can sleep almost everywhere.  I think this is probably part of the reason I don’t mind long trips.  When I was backpacking, my friends were always bitter that I could sleep through our worst journeys, while they were usually awake, miserable, and fearing for their lives.  
  13. I love pizza.  I wish I could eat it every day of the week.  I have been known to easily crush half a pizza by myself.  
  14. I used to have an irrational fear of scuba diving.  I was terrified that I would be attacked by a shark because I couldn’t see it coming from behind me.  Last year I overcame that fear and I am now obsessed with diving.  It’s a completely different world under the water!
  15. The coolest place I dove was in Komodo National Park, Indonesia.  I spent 3 days on a live aboard with two of my best friends. We dove three times a day in crystal clear water with sea turtles, manta rays, sharks, and lots of other cool fish!  I loved it so much that I almost decided to stay and get my dive masters instead of coming back to the states.  
  16. One of my scariest dives was a night dive on the Tulamben Shipwreck in Bali.  The dive itself was great. The water was full of bioluminescent algae that lit up every time you flailed around.  It felt like you were floating in the stars.  I was a so distracted by all of the awesome things around me, that I got lost and began to follow a different dive group.  I was terrified when I realized I was alone at night on a shipwreck.  Luckily my best friend/dive buddy found me almost immediately.  
  17. Last year I was in a motor bike accident in Thailand.  I had to break suddenly and a pickup truck hit me from behind.  I flipped off of my bike and landed on my head.  My helmet completely saved my life.  I walked away from the accident with a few cuts and scrapes and a $3.00 hospital bill. (That $3.00  bill also included my antibiotics!)   
  18. I love to snowboard.  My sister lives in Colorado and I usually visit her a few times each season.  
  19. I hate cold weather unless I’m snowboarding.  I always prefer 100 degree weather over anything that’s below 50 degrees.  
  20. I had severe arachnophobia growing up.  Anytime I saw a spider I had to make a family member kill it or take it outside.  I got over this fear when I studied abroad in Belize.  We stayed on a jungle reserve and there were tarantulas in our outhouses.  It was terrifying, but I’m glad it made me face my fear!
  21. I have a terrible habit of twirling my hair whenever I’m deep in thought.  I’m pretty sure it’s genetic because my dad and sister both do it.
  22. I never watch TV shows on a weekly basis.  When I do have time to watch TV, I usually binge watch a TV show, and it’s usually Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  
  23. I love the excitement of being in a city, but I need to escape to nature on a regular basis.  Camping, hiking, and kayaking are my go to activities if I don’t have a lof of free time.  However, there is nothing I love more than being on a boat!
  24. In Thailand I took Muay Thai classes to make up for not having Lithe.  I now have a pretty deadly spin elbow.
  25. I have never found a workout that I love as much as Lithe.  In my opinion, it’s perfect.  I never get bored, and I always walk out of class feeling amazing!  Some of my favorite classes are Rock Steady, Sleeveless 2.0, Twiggy, and Waspie.  

SAYEH'S LIVING MORNING SMOOTHIES! 26 Feb 2014

Sayeh

It's no secret that I've been struggling with motivation lately. Bursts of it are easily quelled by howling winds and polar vortexes. And while clean eating has always been something that I have to make a real effort to maintain, I've been trying to be more conscious about it since I'm not sweating it out in the gym like I normally do. Part of that has been making myself a smoothie in the mornings when I can. I love smoothies for a million reasons, but most of all because they are quick, tasty and because they always seem to hold me over until lunch time. One smoothie that I've been loving is this quick banana almond smoothie that I play around with depending on what I have on hand. 

Ingredients

1 ripe banana (add a couple of teaspoons of agave nectar or raw honey if it's on the less ripe side)

1 handful of good spinach* or your another favorite green like kale

1 small palmful of almonds (you can do a tablespoon of almond butter here instead)

1 cup of your milk of choice (rice, almond, hemp, soy, etc) or water

1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil or a scant palmful of flax seeds (I also do chia seeds or hemp seeds here or a combination)

a teensy pinch of cayenne (I love the kick and it get things moving in the metabolism department)

a teensy pinch of turmeric (Start with a TEENSY pinch, and see how you like the flavor. It's strong and too much can overwhelm your smoothie. But if you can deal with it, go for it, because turmeric can do wonders to fight inflammation in the body.)

1/2 cup of ice (you can also freeze your banana and skip the ice)

Throw all the ingredients into the blender with the ice (if using) going last, on top of everything else. Pour. Drink. Enjoy. 

*I was watching some show on television where a food expert said that he wouldn't use boxed supermarket lettuce or spinach to feed his rabbit, because he didn't consider it food. I was shocked by this statement. I bought boxed lettuce and spinach all the time. (I later found out boxed greens are the source of much controversy.) So a while ago, I went to the Fair Food Farm Stand in Reading Terminal and on a whim bought a box of their mixed greens and a box of their spinach. Although I balked at the price at first (way more expensive than Whole Foods, or Whole Paycheck, as my girlfriend refers to it), my mind was COMPLETELY blown. The greens themselves were so substantial and had so much of their own flavor. LETTUCE. With flavor! I barely needed to dress it. And it all lasted SO SO long before it even thought about wilting. They are much more expensive than the supermarket boxes, but I have to say I'll never go back when it's available. Obviously, I'm not hating on anyone buying supermarket boxes. I still do it especially when the weather has made the local greens scarce, but if you have the chance to get the local stuff, I highly recommend it!

Image of Sayeh wearing Lithe via Dom

25 THINGS! {BY SAYEH} 19 Feb 2014

Jonathan Cedrone

When Lauren reached out to me to ask that I do my next 25 Things profile on Jonathan, she told me how fun and great he was, and how she was eager for Lithers to get to know him better. Now, I have yet had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but if text messages and emails are any indication of someone's personality (and I think they totally are, as I am not of the school that one cannot communicate tone with the written word because...well that's crazy), then Jonathan and I need to become friends. He was so friendly and flexible and just seemed...NICE. And I really LOVE nice. I feel like it might be one of the best things a human can be. So simple, yet kinda rare...especially among strangers. Suffice it to say, I'm not surprised at all to find out what his favorite color is or at many of his other 25 things. Jonathan, the next time you and Krissy engage in #24, invite me! I'm not a trained dancer, but I WILL get down with the get down. Sounds so fun!

  1. My full name is Jonathan Cedrone - My parents never gave me a middle name. :(
  2. My birthday is October 3rd, and I’m the textbook definition of a Libra.
  3. My favorite color is yellow! :D Pretty indicative of my overall personality…
  4. When I'm not spending my time smiling at you lovely Lithers from behind the front desk, I'm a full-time undergraduate at Drexel University. I am currently studying International Area Studies, with a concentration in International Business and Economics.
  5. I’m 100% Italian and proud of my heritage! My Dad was actually born in a small town outside of Rome and came here at 9 years old, but my Mom’s family immigrated to the US about 4 generations ago. To put things into perspective, when my Mom’s family came to PA, they owned a farm in what is now West Philly! Times have definitely changed…
  6. My Dad’s name is Massimo and my Mom’s maiden name is Quagliariello (pronounced kwah-ya-ree-ello). Basically, with cousins who have names like Fabrizio and Paola, I’m still bitter I didn’t get an awesome Italian name.
  7. I am the younger of 2 boys. My brother, Julian (also without a middle or awesome Italian name), is 25 years old and currently stationed in Portsmouth, VA with the US Coast Guard. We get along extremely well, although we couldn’t be more different. He has thin blond hair, fair skin, blue eyes, and enjoys cars, sports, and women. Ha!
  8. Oddly enough, the majority of my family is left-handed, including my grandmother, aunt, uncle, both little cousins, and myself.
  9. My favorite family member is definitely my 2-year-old puppy, Dino Spumoni! He’s a Morkie (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier mix) with more personality than his size could possibly contain. He might be a bigger diva than me...but that’s debatable.
  10. I definitely pride myself on my sense of fashion, and often feel out of place if not properly dressed. However, my favorite feature about myself is definitely my hair! If male pattern baldness takes hold I don’t even know what I’ll do.
  11. For all of you doctors, nurses, etc., when I was born I had a rare heart complication called “coarctation of the aortic valve”. That basically means that my aorta, the major artery coming from the heart, is narrower than it should be, which forces my heart to work harder to pump blood through the smaller opening. I was one of the first cases to receive a surgery called “subclavian flap aortoplasty” at the University of Penn, where a flap is used to expand the narrow section of the aorta. My parents were told I wouldn’t be able to do much strenuous physical activity to avoid over-exerting my heart.
  12. Due to my heart condition and inability to play sports, I devoted a lot of my childhood to the performing arts. I started piano lessons at 7 years old and was a member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir!
  13. But, dance is most certainly my passion. I started with ballet in middle school, and soon after, began taking jazz, tap, contemporary, and a bit of hip hop (EXTRA stress on “bit”). I did the whole “Dance Moms” competition scene throughout high school, and now I am currently on scholarship at Drexel as a member of the Drexel Dance Ensemble, where we perform mostly modern repertoire. Ask me if you’re interested in seeing a performance sometime!
  14. In addition to dance, I have a ton of experience in theater. I performed in every one of the musicals in high school and have participated in a summer theater camp called Summerstage at Upper Darby High School every year since 6th grade (this is the same camp that Tina Fey came from!). Of all the roles I’ve played, my favorites were Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, Jojo in Seussical the Musical, and Chino in West Side Story! But my dream is to one day perform as Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats. With that said, I’m a total theater geek.
  15. Although my heart condition kept me away from sports, I am honestly not upset about it. I actually really do not enjoy them in any shape or form (minus figure skating?). Ask any of my friends, my signature phrase in this respect is to yell, “Go, Sports!” whenever there’s anything athletic on the television.
  16. To date, I have been to 16 foreign countries, including Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.
  17. Of all the places I have been, my favorite is definitely France. Specifically, it would be an even toss up between Paris and Marseilles. For this reason, I started taking French classes in high school, and have continued through college. I am almost fluent, I just need more practice speaking it all of the time!
  18. In addition to the tons of show tunes you can find on my iPhone, I enjoy a lot of different music styles. Some of my favorite artists are Ingrid Michaelson, Whitney Houston, Olafur Arnalds, and Ellie Goulding. But in all honesty, I’m actually obsessed with Sara Bareilles. I own every album she’s ever released, sat in the front row of every concert she’s had in Philadelphia, and have cried through all of them.
  19. Although I don’t have much time to watch tv, my favorite shows include: RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Real Housewives of Miami, Will & Grace, Project Runway, American Horror Story, and anything HGTV.
  20. Most of you may know my bearded, baby blue-eyed boyfriend, Fran Gress. He’s the reason I’m here at Lithe. Check out his 25 things on the blog! (I’m featured in his #23 and #24!)
  21. Fran is actually an amazing cook, so my favorite thing in the world is just spending the night in and making dinner with him! Fran usually cooks and I’ll bake - my French macaron is deadly.
  22. I have over 2 years of experience in the residential leasing market, and hope to build a career in commercial real estate and international relocations! Maybe you’ll see me on House Hunters International in the future. :P
  23. I might actually be addicted to Burt’s Bees. But like, only the original peppermint. The pomegranate stuff is for newbies.
  24. Here’s a little secret I’ll let you know about me at work: When you all leave and I’m here cleaning up at the end of the night, I usually crank up the tunes, sing at the top of my lungs, and practice my jumps/turns/sass in the studio. (This usually occurs with my main girl, Kristin.)
  25. I actually started working at Lithe before taking my first class! But I’m now hooked, and have taken classes with many of you ladies. Yes, men can do this stuff too! If all goes as planned, I should be working with Lauren on becoming the first male Lithe-structor this summer! Clearly my heart condition is no longer an issue. :)

SAYEH'S LIVING PERSIAN LENTILS AND RICE! 12 Feb 2014

LL

This kind of frigid weather we've been having always makes me miss home. And not just for the warmer temperatures, but for some home cooked Persian food. One of my favorite dishes is called Dal Addas, a creamy, spicy lentil stew served over fluffy basmati rice. It's completely vegetarian, but meat lovers don't worry, it is incredibly satisfying and stick-to-your-ribs perfect for the season. Although I say this dish is Iranian, I should say that I've never had it anywhere else but at my family's table. The town where I was born in Iran is called Ahvaz, and it's close to Iraq and the Persian Gulf. As such, it was a place where many people from all over the world lived and worked. When my parents were growing up, British and Americans were there with oil companies (how my mother practiced the English she learned in school), Arab immigrants from an array of the surrounding Arab countries lived there, as well as a large Indian and Pakistani population. And it was from them that my grandmother explains that this dish evolved. Dal is an Indian and Urdu word and this dish is her riff/Persian twist on a common lentil dish she had when invited to dine with her foreign neighbors. If you give it a shot*, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

*Do this on a snow day or a weekend when you have a bit of time. This is the antithesis of a one-pot meal. 

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

2 cups of red lentils (they look bright orange)

1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 6-8 smaller uniform chunks

5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided 

1 large WHITE onion or two small WHITE onions, minced (as finely chopped as you can)

1 head of garlic, peeled and grated

1 tablespoon of turmeric

6-8 large, ripe tomatoes (you can probably use 1 and a half, 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes here)

1 tsp of chili pepper flakes

1 lime

Directions

Wash the lentils in a fine mesh sieve or colander. Rinse them about 4 times or until they no longer produce a foam when you run the water through them. 

In a wide, but deep saute pan, add the rinsed lentils and potato chunks and cover with 1-2 inches of water and add 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low. (While you move onto other steps, keep an eye on your lentils, if you notice a foam at the surface, gently skim it off. This is not crucial, but doesn't result in a cleaner taste.)

While you wait for the potatoes and lentils to cook (about 20 minutes), pulse your tomatoes in a food processor until they are liquidy with some chunkiness left.  Heat an additional saute pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is gently rippling, add your tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium after the first 2-3 minutes and let simmer for 20 minutes total. You will start to see the tomatoes thicken and reduce. If your tomatoes are still very watery after 20 minutes, keep simmering until they are thick and less liquidy. 

For the onions and garlic, get an additional saute pan nice and hot and BEFORE you add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil (my mother says this is key). So to the dry, hot pan: add your onions and give them a quick couple of stirs. About a minute. (She says this gets a bit of excess moisture out of the onions and helps them to cook faster and more evenly once you add the oil.) 

Then add the 4 tablespoons of olive oil (seems like a lot, but this is for the whole dish) and continue to cook the onions (stirring frequently) until they start to turn golden (DON'T LET THEM BROWN OR BURN).

Add the turmeric.

Once the onions are evenly coated and mixed with the spice, add the grated garlic. Stir constantly until fragrant and turning golden (lower heat to medium to avoid browning or burning the garlic, if necessary.) 

Return to your pot of tomatoes. Once they are reduced and thick, add them entirely to the pan with garlic and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate evenly.

Add 1 tsp of red chili flakes (more if you like it spicier). 

Meanwhile, check your lentils and potatoes. Are they cooked? They should be yellow now, instead of orange. (Take out a lentil and press it between your fingers. If it flattens, it's ready). If the potatoes are nice and soft (no chalky, starchiness left) and the lentils are ready, turn off the flame and use the back of a large wooden spoon to mash the mixture together. You don't want to pulverize the beans and potatoes so they become gummy, but you do want the potatoes to disintegrate into the beans. (The final product will be more of a puree than the picture above suggests.)

Add the mashed lentil and potato mixture to your simmering tomato, garlic and onion base. Mix together to incorporate. Salt is key here. It can really make or break the dish. Taste and season as necessary. (No pepper!)

At this point the dish can simmer on low for as long as you need before it's ready to eat, but 5 minutes before you serve it, add the juice of an entire lime and mix. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

I prefer this over a bed of fluffy persian rice and on top of tahdig--the golden, crispy rice that forms on the bottom of the pot when you make it. Others love dipping crusty bread into it instead. All Persian food is typically served with a basket of fresh herbs like basil, tarragon and mint along with radishes and a raw, white onion quartered. In this case, you would take a bite of lentil topped rice, then while you're chewing, take a bite of onion or radish, and a bite of raw herbs and chew altogether. It's incredibly delicious (and healthy) this way, but can certainly be enjoyed without this part. 

If you'd like to take a stab at Persian rice and tahdig (the golden crust at the bottom of the pot), try this recipe at a wonderful Persian food blog I often reference called Turmeric and Saffron

Stay warm and safe and I'll see you in class!

Images via Google and Image of Sayeh wearing Lithe via Dom

 

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