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Ditch the Take-Out, Dine In


Ditch the Take-Out, Dine In

Calling all novice chefs out there! Your time is here! It is time for you to shine! Creating a healthy relationship with food and developing simple cooking skills can have so many benefits for you! I know we can all get into the habit of ordering too much Postmates, or participating in one too many happy hours and we can see the effects in our wallets and our pants, but look no further, I’ll let you in on some of my best at home eating secrets to pump you up for your next home cooked meal!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

1. Invest in a good couple of knives, or maybe just get some honing steel.

You really only need 3 knives: a chef’s knife, paring knife, serrated knife. A chef’s knife is a definite kitchen essential, you can do everything with it- chop veggies, cut meat, etc. The paring knife is for smaller scale things like mincing garlic and slicing strawberries. A serrated knife, also known as a bread knife, can be used to slice bread, but also handle waxy fruits and veggies like tomatoes and pineapple. Now once you have your knifes, please make sure you keep them sharp! A dull knife is never a fun thing, for you or your food. Invest in some honing steel, or you can always take your knives to get sharpened.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

2. Buy fresh ingredients.

There is such a difference buying fresh than frozen. If it is not feasible for you to buy all our your ingredients fresh, just choose a couple! If you are worried about not being able to eat all of your produce in time, choose the essentials to buy fresh. For example, I typically have frozen green beans in my freezer at all times in case all my fresh produce ran out, but once you buy fresh, it’s really hard to go back to frozen.

Photo Credit: Tookapic

Photo Credit: Tookapic

3. Follow a recipe!

There’s a reason why most people enjoy going out to dinner, it takes the work out of cooking. But there is something really satisfying about eating the food that you worked hard to make and knowing exactly what went into it. If you’re not the best cook, there are a ton of recipes online as well as food bloggers who show you step by step instructions on how to make a meal. Another benefit of eating at home rather than in a restaurant is that you are in control over how the ingredients are prepped and put into your meal. Another plus is that you can post a picture to social media and show off your skills!

Photo Credit: Kaboompics / Karolina

Photo Credit: Kaboompics / Karolina

4. Have a dinner party!

San Francisco is blessed with such great food, it is really hard to turn down dinner invitations. But one way to get out of dinner ( if you can) is to throw a dinner party. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to put something together, think of the rule of 3- an entree and two sides. Don’t get me wrong, it does take a little planning, but assign your friends to bring a side dish and all you have to worry about is the main course!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

5. Focus on one thing at a time.

The last and final tip to make home cooking fun and exciting is to focus on one thing at a time. If you cannot be bothered with revamping your eating habits just yet, get good at one meal. Focus on cooking at home for one meal- if breakfast is your thing, try recreating your favorite brunch meal! Who doesn’t love a good homemade eggs bennie? If brunch isn’t your thing, try pizza! Premade dough is sold at most grocery stores so now all you need to focus on is the toppings- here’s your chance to channel your inner Chopped winner and make some kooky combinations!

As you can see, eating at home does not have to be a chore. It can be fun! I challenge you on your next date night, or night out with friends- surprise them with dinner, and who knows, maybe a new tradition will be made!

Happy eating.


Put Thirst First


Put Thirst First

Optimal performance is not achieved on just training alone. A nutrition plan designed by an expert, proper hydration and rest all work as one to ensure the body runs as effectively as possible. Often times hydration is undervalued and overlooked as an important factor in a good training program. Here are some important ways hydration helps with performance.

Body temperature is regulated by fluids.

  • Stress is placed on the body due to high core temperatures which in turn negatively affects the body's energy systems causing problems with performing and recovering.

Blood pressure is regulated.

  • During both training and recovery, stress placed on the body can cause high heart rates. Effectively hydrating can regulate blood pressure by normalizing the heart rate.  Having excessive stress placed on the body might cause inflammation or other factors that might interfere with performing and recovering.

Helps in transporting and moving essential energy nutrients

  • Essential macronutrients, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other supporting nutrients that the body uses for energy are transported by the fluid that is in the body. Also during intense exercising metabolic waste is produced and is removed by the fluids in the body.

When hydration is overlooked the risk of dehydration increases. Being dehydrated increases the chances of being injured, heat illnesses, and having an imbalance of electrolytes and also losing an excessive amount of sodium.

Being dehydrated increases strain on the body and can cause exercising to become more difficult.

American Council on Exercise (ACE) Hydration Recommendations

  • Pre-workout
  • Drink 17 to 20 fl oz of water two to three hours before exercise
  • Drink 8 fl oz of fluid 20 to 30 minutes before exercise
  • During workout
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Post-workout
  • Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid 30 minutes after exercise
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise

As with proper nutrition plans, having an hydration protocol that is consistently followed will help achieve best results.


Learn more about Coach Charles here


Saying Yes to Your Happiness


Saying Yes to Your Happiness

I can remember last year, rushing to work in Uber while catching up on emails, ordering my dinner from Munchery, and scheduling my laundry pick up with Rinse. San Francisco is full of services designed to make our lives more convenient and believe me, I was taking full advantage of the available options under the guise of saving myself time. The time I was saving quickly got allotted to my career instead of working out, cooking, journaling, getting enough sleep or seeing my friends. I slowly lost sight of putting myself first.

Halfway through this year, I knew I needed to make a change, but I was scared and didn’t know how or where to start. Admittedly, deep down I had always thought that suddenly something would switch in my life where everything would slow down allowing me to take care of myself. The realization hit me that it was me that needed to make it happen- I had to shift my priorities and change my behaviors and it wasn’t going to be easy or happen overnight.

Over the past few months, I’ve been able to implement big changes in my life which have come along with renewed excitement and feeling energized for what I’ve planned to do for myself that day. Especially in SF, we can get caught up in life and lose sight on our own happiness, health and wellness but with the new year approaching it’s time to reflect on this year and decide what you want your life to look like in 2017.

Here’s a road map to help you navigate your journey to saying yes to your happiness.

Getting Started

  • Identify what aspects of your life bring you happiness

  • Identify what aspects of your life bring you the most stress

  • Map out what you want your life to look like in 6 months

  • Decide on what changes you need to make to achieve your 6 month goals

  • Find your cheerleaders

    • hare your journey with your close group of friends. These friends should be there to push you to follow your passions, provide your encouragement on the hard days, but also be ready to give you the hard truth when you need to hear it.


Re-Shaping Your Priorities

  • Set aside time each day for yourself at least 30 mins
    • Unplug from technology and turn off thoughts about work. Don’t compromise this part of your day.
  • Use the time you saved with convenience services on your own self-care
    • Examples: working out, train for an event, meditate or journal
  • Go to events that support your passions and growth
    • Examples:  cooking classes, workshops at General Assembly, join a book club or volunteer
  • Identify obstacles that can hold you back from the habits you’re trying to create and prepare with solutions for those times
    •  For example: meal prepping for the week on Sundays seemed daunting for me to do, but creating a menu of simple recipes for the week was manageable


Books To Read For Inspiration

  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Year of Yes : How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes




Learn more about Kathleen here


Would YOU Be Your Own Friend?


Would YOU Be Your Own Friend?

We hear the word compassion thrown around a lot in New Age health circles, but what exactly do we mean by compassion, and why is it important?

Compassion is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it."  The Latin and Greek basis of the word is “to suffer with.”  Compassion is suffering with another and it is through this suffering we are able to alleviate that suffering.

This sounds like a heavy chore, but I promise it is worth the effort.  The first person you will need to develop compassion for is… YOU!

Before we delve too deeply into compassion, we should first take a look at the motivational systems that shape our human experience: fight or flight; achievement and goal-seeking system; and the tend-and-befriend system.

Fight-or-Flight system is designed for survival.  It’s a great system!  Chances are your DNA wouldn’t be around today without it.  It helped primordial humans react to threats and fight or flee, depending on the situation.  But in our modern world, with constant sirens, buzzing, dings, notifications, loud music, annoying emails etc. this system can get a little too revved up and become counter-productive.

The achievement and goal seeking system is also great!  It’s is why I am passionate about my job and what drives you to achieve!  A beautiful system that fills us with feelings of interest and excitement.

The third is the tend-and-befriend system.  It is an affiliative system that promotes feelings and safety, contentment and connection.

These three systems – which are present in all mammals – interact with each in a hierarchical manner.  Fight-or-flight has the biggest say in how and what we feel.  The is next in line achievement/goal seeking for priority and unfortunately the lowest priority is typically given to the tend and befriend system.  However, there are cases in which the tend-and-befriend system can over-ride the other two systems.  We see it all the time with parents and their children, as well as with lovers (especially early in the relationship!).

Now let us look at a case where we suffer, fail or feel inadequate.  I am sure you can think of a time not so recently that this has happened!  In this case, we see three things: self-criticism, self-isolation and self-absorption.  These three things correspond with the fight-or-flight system.  Self-criticism is the anger you feel over your failure directed at yourself.  The self-isolation is our flight response – we want to get away!  And the self-absorption is a sort of paralysis that is analogous to freezing in the face of danger.  These three negative responses tend to have a cyclical effect, each feeding another.  It is manifested as the self-loathing feeling you get when you make a mistake: I can’t believe I did that!  Ugh that was so stupid!  What is wrong with me?  Some of us are better than others at hiding this internal dialogue, but it is as natural as breathing to think these thoughts and feel this way.  Ah the modern condition!

So when we get these feelings it is important to break this cycle.

Self-compassion helps break this cycle.  Self-criticism can be met with self-kindness.  Self-isolation can be conquered by cultivating a conscious sense of common humanity.  And self-absorption is conquered by developing mindfulness that breaks the cycle of enveloping yourself in the me-me-me narrative and draws our attention moment-to-moment.

This seems like a lot to handle but worry not!  There is low hanging fruit!  Self-kindness is a surprisingly easy and fun skill to develop.  It requires a bit of role playing at the beginning.  Next timeyou are having a hard time and feeling discouraged, rejected, etc. do this exercise:

  1. Think of a good friend – someone you really love and want more than anything else to succeed.
  2. Then pretend that your perceived shortcoming, dilemma, or failure is theirs.
  3. Now pretend they just told you about “their” problem.  How would you react?

Let’s take me, Michael.

I had a long day at work the other day!  So so so long!  I was on my feet for 14 hours between massage school, seeing a full load of clients, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning my cat's litterbox, and to make things even more hectic I was having significant back pain.  So it’s 10:30 p.m. and I am walking home from work.  And boy, am I cranky!  I hurt.  I’m tired.  I’m frustrated.  Why am I even walking?  I should have gotten a taxi.  Why is this guy asking me for a dollar?  Go away, I just want to go home.  Just clear the sidewalks and don’t look at me.  I was really having a great time being miserable. 

Typically when confronted with this situation I either stew in my anger or having a variation of the following internal dialogue:

Oh woe is me… TOUGHEN UP!  People deal with way worse than you.  You’re back isn’t that bad is it?  I mean you are walking.  Quit your bitching and get to bed.

Now I feel guilty for being frustrated, and all the feeling I had are still bubbling inside.  Instead I went through the drill above.  I pretended that my brother had called me and explained to me about his long day of training, massaging, and cat poop.  It sounded like a quite a day!  And came to the following conclusion:

Yes, that was a hard long day.  I’m sorry your back is hurting.  That is a miserable experience.  I understand that this situation is frustrating, but you are almost home and being upset is just going to make you more stressed out and crappy feeling.  You’ll be fine.  You’re almost there.  Just take a few deep breaths and calm yourself.  One foot in front of the other and you will be in bed before you know it.

This very simple drill in self-kindness has had rippling effects throughout my life.  Don’t beat yourself up over little things.  Forgive yourself for your mistakes.  You will find the vast majority of the time your perceived shortcomings and failures, when viewed from the eyes of a compassionate other, are really nothing of concern.

This is just one small facet of self-compassion that I have been implementing in my life, but there is so much more.  Those of you in San Francisco are lucky to have many great resources to help cultivate your self-compassion and your mindfulness practice.  The San Francisco Zen Center is a great resource.  They have weekly talks on many interesting topics related to mindfulness.  Those of you located abroad have a myriad of online resources at your disposal.  I would recommend to all readers the course: The Science of Mindfulness – A research based path to well-being.  It can be found through and also on




Learn more about Coach Michael here




#HowIPerformForLife : Kathleen


#HowIPerformForLife : Kathleen

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

I wake up at 5 am every day for a commute to work in Mountain View. It's hard to get up so early every morning, but I make sure that I make the most of my early morning commute to get things done. In my life, I'm motivated by success. Whether that is at the gym (lifting heavier weights, doing one more push up, or noticing that my clothes are a little bit looser) or at work (clearing out my inbox, launching or finishing a project, or seeing my team meet their goals).

When did you start "performing for life," and what are some milestones since then? 

Since I left university, I feel I have been working towards having the best and most successful life. When it comes to my health and fitness, I've been a Cardio Queen for years. While hours on a spin bike helped with the stress levels in my life (I have a pretty demanding job), it didn't really do anything for my weight loss!

Since coming to P4L I've changed up the way I workout and think about fitness and health. Even though I still have a pretty demanding job, working about 10 hours a day, making time for exercise is a priority for me. I'm at P4L 5-6 times a week and have really re-evaluated my relationship for food (I think of it as fuel, instead of a reward) and alcohol (still love a good gin & tonic, but I don't drink much these days) to ensure I'm as healthy and happy as I can be! 

What is your go-to work-out song, and what does it say about you?

Work, Britney Spears. Don't judge, I'll always be a Britney fan. I love it because it applies to fitness and health, your job and life in general - "you better work!"

Do you have any advice for someone trying to get fit?

I feel the advice I'd give someone, is also the advice I should take myself! We live in this society, where everything is on demand; you can get an Uber in 3 minutes, groceries can be delivered in an hour, so much can be done at minimal effort and quickly! I'm the kind of person who wants to see results, and see them quickly, but I'm starting to learn that you shouldn't stress out if you don’t see results overnight. When I first came to P4L, I had a very clear goal, I wanted to lose 20 pounds, but I've realized I am more than the number on the scale. Now, I don’t weigh myself anymore; It’s more about how I feel and how I look. I’m a healthier person, I’m a happier person. While my goal is still to trim down, I don’t think about a number anymore. The biggest advice I could give to someone is that it’s going to take a long time, and it’s a long term commitment.




Learn more about Justine here