#12DaysOfChristmas : 12 Days. 12 Brands. 12 Winners!

Happy December 1st and the start of my #12DaysOfChristmas GIVEAWAYS on Instagram!

12 days.

12 brands.

12 giveaways.

12 lucky winners. 


HOW IT WILL WORK:
Each day, for the next 12 days, at 8AM PST, I’ll post a daily prize from one of my favorite brands.

To be in the running to win that daily prize, you’ll need to comment on the post, tagging ONE  person you’d like to share the prize with. To be eligible, you must be following @valeriefidan (me!) + the brand of the day [or, all the brands, if you enter every day!]

Entries are unlimited. You can enter once, or one hundred times each day, tagging all of your friends, one by one. But only tag one person per entry.

Some prizes will be open to international entries, while some will be restricted to United States-based entries. This will be clearly specified in each day’s giveaway. FULL competition terms will be posted on the blog tomorrow morning.

We can’t WAIT to play Santa!🎄

See you at 8AM on the 'gram!
  
 

5 Ways To Practicing Gratitude on the Daily

Each one of us is in the pursuit of happiness. We aren’t on Earth just to exist. We want a full life. We want to make the most of our days. For many of us, happiness is a mercurial and elusive concept. But it's not. Boost your happiness by practicing gratitude daily.

5 WAYS TO PRACTICING GRATITUDE ON THE DAILY

Studies suggest that writing in a gratitude journal three times a week might actually have a greater impact on our happiness than journaling.

Practicing gratitude is something that I’ve made a personal goal of this past year. Since keeping a gratitude journal, I've noticed that it's helped me be more appreciative, more aware, and more observant. It's helped me feel more grounded and much happier. 

Instead of focusing on the things that I don't have or haven't experienced, keeping a gratitude journal helps me focus on the things that I do have and experiences I've had.

Ready to start a gratitude journal? Here are some of my tips for getting started:

Pick a journal. You could choose one small enough to slip in your purse or a bigger one to keep on your nightstand.

Keep tabs on the happy moments. When something good happens to you, take a moment to write it down. How did it make you feel? By jotting down the good, happy moments, you're making it a habit to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

Set an intention. Before you start your day, take a moment to set an intention for the day. It can be something that you are grateful for or an affirmation for the day. Don't know where to start? When I first started journaling I used to take the daily quote from my yogi tea. It helped a lot! As I got the hang of things, my daily affirmation and intentions just started to come naturally. 

Nightly gratitude. Before you go to bed at night, take time to capture your favorite moment of the day. What made you smile today? This will help you to appreciate things in your life. You’ll be amazed how much you were missing when you do. 

Ask yourself this... What are you grateful for today? What is one thing that made you smile today? Let me know in the comments on Instagram! Find me on Instagramtwitter and facebook

HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST PURE BARRE CLASS

I'm going to keep it real with you; I'm anything but graceful and coordinated. I could walk a flat surface, and still manage to trip and fall. Clumsy is my middle name. Dancing? Don't even get me started! I was born with two left feet. While everyone is going right, I'm going left. Even in boxing class, I can't seem to get my combos right, even after two years of practice.

When it comes to barre classes, I'm always slightly nervous to try them out. So, when Pure Barre Pearl District invited myself and the Fit Life PDX crew to come try out their class and check out their studio, I was excited yet nervous!

If you've never taken a barre class, I know it can feel slightly intimidating with not knowing what to expect or what to wear. Sound familiar? Keep reading, girlfriend!

HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST PURE BARRE CLASS
HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST PURE BARRE CLASS
HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST PURE BARRE CLASS

What is Pure Barre exactly? Like most barre classes, it integrates a fat-burning format of interval training with the elongating and shaping techniques of dance conditioning for a full-body workout. Through a series of one-inch movements, you’ll work muscles you never knew existed. With all small movements that focus on toning and tightening your body, you are sure to feel the burn. And the best part of this workout is that it will help you to build lean muscle, making your body a fat burning machine.

What to wear. Yoga or pilates wear is recommended. Something that you'll be comfortable in moving around. There isn’t any high impact jumping around, so a heavy duty sports bra isn’t necessary. During class, participants wear grip socks or studio wraps.

Arrive early. Like with any other new class you take, arrive 10-15 minutes before it begins. Once you fill out a short waiver, the teacher will show you where you can leave your belongings and help you get set up with any equipment You might be using in class. This is typically a set of light weights, a ball, and a resistance band tube. Once you’ve got everything you need, you'll find a spot in the studio where you feel comfortable, facing the front mirror.

The equipment. A pair of lightweights (very light weights - 3-2 lbs) were provided, along with a resistance cord, ball, and mat. I got a little cocky when I saw the light weights. I shouldn’t have.

The moves. I’m not sure what I expected. Well, yes I did. I expected ballet class, and because I had taken numerous BarMethod classes nearly seven years ago, I thought it'd be the same. It’s nothing like ballet class. It's similar but nothing like Bar Method. The entire class centers around small, repetitive movements with little to no weights. That description makes it sound easy, but let me tell you, it isn’t. We started with a "warm up" that felt like the workout. And after 5 minutes I feared I wouldn’t make it through the class. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it was that made it so challenging, but I imagine the isolated movements, the number of reps and the focus on squeezing individual muscles made it, unlike any workout I’ve ever done. 

Embrace the tremble. Squatting and flexing and ‘tucking’ my way through class made my muscles tremble. By the end, I couldn’t keep my legs from vibrating when trying to straighten them.

There's a Tucking learning curve. There is a learning curve. The famous tucking that Pure Barre is known for takes some time to learn. It took some real focus and positioning trial and error for me to do moves correctly so I could feel my muscles working. 

I won’t pretend I didn’t love it; I did. Leaving class, my muscles felt fatigued. The next day I could feel it in my thighs and my lower butt. You know, the part of the butt that connects to the leg. Who doesn’t want to tighten and tone that area? 

Pure Barre Pearl District1124 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209; (503) 894-8623; purebarre.com/or-pearldistrict/. Want to try Pure Barre? Join me on ClassPass  and you'll get $30 off your first month on a 5-class or 10-class plan!

Thanks, Pure Barre-Pearl District for hosting! As always, all opinions are my own. 

Finding Quietude: Meditation 101

Finding Quietude Meditation 101

Meditation: Shhhhh… it feels good.

Meditation was something I found endlessly daunting at first, but soon became the quietude and calmness that rocked my world. I can't put my finger on the why or the how, but I will tell you this much, for me... I am just happier and much more collected.

I urge you to give it a shot. The worst thing that can happen is that you gave yourself ten minutes of quiet in an endlessly loud world.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

A post shared by VALERIE FIDAN (@valeriefidan) on

 "This is how I meditate on the left, and this is how I wish I could meditate." @taralaferrara

Get Comfortable

Sit against your headboard while in bed, on a chair, on a couch, in your car, or anywhere with comfortable back support. It’s best not to lie down, but it’s not necessary to sit up completely straight.

Calculate Your Finish Time

Check the time and add ten minutes on top of your start time. This will be your finish time. So, if you begin at 7:30am, your finish time will be 7:40am. Repeat your finish time to yourself once or twice. It’s best not to set an alarm or you may end up shocking yourself out of your meditation. Close your eyes.

Notice Your Breathing

Without speeding up or slowing down your breathing, just notice it. Expect your mind to wander away from noticing your breath. Do not fight this; it’s a natural occurrence.

Embrace Your Thoughts

It’s okay to get lost in your thoughts. And whenever you realize you’re meditating, just passively begin to notice your breathing again. For now, let the act of meditating become synonymous with both noticing your breathing and getting lost in your thoughts. Let all of the thoughts come and go—as you forget and become aware that you are meditating, it’s best not to resist any thoughts, including ideas, songs, conversations, images, feelings, or sensations. Embrace all mental experiences without concern, remorse, or regret.

In a typical meditation, you’ll begin by noticing your breathing for a minute or two, then you’ll get lost in thoughts for a minute or two, then you’ll remember you’re meditating, and slowly return to noticing your breath for a little while, then you’ll get lost again.

Come Out Slowly

Check your timing device periodically, and after ten minutes, slowly open your eyes and bring yourself out.

Use Guidance

If the above tips are still a bit daunting, try using an app Headspace or Calm to help you with a guided meditation. I have found these apps to be very helpful, especially when you are first getting started.

#LETSCHAT: Meet Tina Chow of @FitChicksCook

Last Fall I introduced a series of interviews called #LETSCHAT with the amazing women that inspire me. This weekly series is based on incredible, strong and empowering individuals that inspire me through health and wellness. They are people that have made an impact on my life, big and small, that motivates me to be a better version of me, and I hope they can inspire you as well.

This week I'm introducing you to Tina Chow of @FitChicksCook. I first connected with Tina last year through Instagram and was quickly drawn to her beautiful meal preps--they are works of food art! Tina shares her fitness journey and gives her followers an inside peek how she makes her meals within her Instagram stories. She is someone who is equal parts inspiring and forgiving (hey, we’re all human – we’re not striving for perfect here) – well, that’s someone I can get behind.

After scrolling through her IG, you'll be drooling over her meals, wishing you had exactly that for your lunch. But, don't worry, you'll be able to recreate them at home with her new cookbook, The Everything Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, which you can pre-order now!

So, let’s get started!

letschat interview Tina Chow of FitChicksCook


VF: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHAT DO YOU DO, LOCATION, HOBBIES...

TC: I work for the largest Canadian bank as a Regional Sales Coach. So I basically coach bank managers and their sales team on sales effectiveness and on delivering sound financial advice and excellent client experience. Yes, it's very different from health and fitness blogging. I’m from Toronto, Ontario and a proud Canadian. Other than work, working out, and cooking, I also enjoy hiking and traveling a lot. 


VF: WHAT GOT YOU INTO HEALTH + FITNESS?

TC: Actually, I only started my health and fitness journey about 5 years ago. I had recently left a long term relationship and on my own for the first time in many years. I signed up for a “fun and easy” 10km run with a group of friends and that's when I realized just how out of shape I was. So much so out that I was nearly crippled for 3 days post race. I was only 28 at the time but probably had the cardio endurance of an 80-year-old!

VF: WHAT GOT YOU INTO MEAL PREPPING?

TC: I was training about 4-5 times a week when I began my fitness journey, but after a few months I rarely saw any difference in my physical appearance. At the time, I was eating out all the time, enjoying buffets and really unhealthy meals post workout thinking it was ok because I’ve worked out, right? After a conversation with my instructor and also some researching, I’ve concluded that you cannot outwork a bad diet (duh!). During this time I was also completing my master's degree part-time while also working full time, and maintaining a busy training schedule, so there was absolutely no way I could also cook fresh meals each day. And this was how I started meal prepping. Since then, I’ve turned it into my lifestyle and still meal prep weekly as a way of life. 

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VF: “MY FOOD PHILOSOPHY:”

TC: Eat unprocessed whole foods as much as possible as well as cook most of your meals at home. 

VF: YOUR MEAL PREPS ARE GOALS! YOU’VE INSPIRED ME TO TAKE TIME TO PLAN AND PREP MY MEALS FOR THE WEEK. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS EMBARKING ON A MEAL PREP JOURNEY?

TC: Start small so you don't overwhelm yourself. Start with maybe just a couple of days prep then as you get more comfortable, expand to more meals and days. Another tip is to keep your meals simple. Don't make fancy extravagant meals as preps, keep those for your weekend meals. 

VF: TELL US YOUR MOST PERFECT DAY. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT? WHAT WOULD YOU YOU DO?

TC: I love spending the morning doing a long hike, then break for lunch and end our day laying on a beach! Both active and relaxing. 

VF: OK, NOW, WHAT IS YOUR DAY REALLY LIKE?

TC: On a regular workday, I’m up at 5:30 am and at the gym by 6 am for an hour CrossFit workout. Then shower and start my work day. After work, I'll likely work on a blog post (editing photos or writing blog posts). Then when Rob gets home, we’ll have dinner and end our day with a walk around our neighborhood. We’re in bed by 10:30 pm. 

VF: WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE FOR A HAPPY, HEALTHY LIFE?

TC: Do what makes you happy. Stop worrying about what people think of you because those that care about you won’t judge and those that judge won’t really matter to you anyway. 

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VF: FINISH THESE STATEMENTS: 

Sushi takeout. 

BEST FAST FOOD OPTION:


BEST HEALTHY RESTAURANT TIP:

Ask for all sauces on the side. You can save a lot of calories this way!


WHAT IS YOUR MANTRA/WORDS TO LIVE BY?

Make time, not excuses. 


AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK I COOK…

I love ground turkey. I make it in one form or another. Usually just sautéed ground turkey is so simple but also filling and delicious! 


EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER WITH A LITTLE…

Coconut cream 


THE ONE THING THAT I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IS…

Rob. Cheesy but true. 


MY GUILTY PLEASURE IS…

Ice cream


MY FAVORITE GO-TO FOOD IS…

Sushi


VF: WHERE CAN WE FOLLOW YOU?

TC: Instagram @fitchickscook
 

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