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She Told Me to Take a Hike

She Told Me to Take a Hike

Depending on how long we’ve known each other…

You may already know that I love being outdoors. And, being active. And, being with friends who inspire me to do more and be better.

This weekend I had the opportunity to experience all three, at the same time. Thank the sweet goodness of glowing green juice, that day has come.

The spark of inspiration was lit when Darren, my better half, and I talked about how to spend more time with friends, with the small amount of free time that we (momentarily) have.

We came up with the idea of Outdoor Adventures with Darren & Rachel. A series of outdoor activities that promote fitness and friendship.

When I spoke to Jackie, my cousin (pictured above, to the left of me), about our Outdoor Adventures she told me to TAKE A HIKE! Literally. Jackie is a hiking enthusiast and I was thrilled to bring her on board as our Hiking Guide.

This past weekend, we took our first hike at the Niagara Falls Gorge. It was absolutely stunning. The crisp smell of fall leaves and rushing sound of powerful water was energizing and invigorating!

If you’re from the Buffalo/Niagara Region then I would love to extend a special invitation to you…

Join us for our next Niagara Falls Gorge Hike on Saturday, October 17th from 12-3pm. 

Click here for details.

RSVP: Email [email protected] to confirm your attendance.

If you’re not from the Buffalo/Niagara Region, don’t fret! Join me LIVE on Periscope TV from the Niagara Falls Gorge, Saturday, October 17th at 1:30pm. I’ll be sharing the amazing view as we make our way down to the Whirlpool Rapids.

In-person or LIVE from Periscope, I hope to see you there!

Much Love,

 

What To Do When You’re Craving Pasta (Recipe Inside!)

What To Do When You’re Craving Pasta (Recipe Inside!)

Have you fallen for the low-carb or no-carb diet craze? Are you riding the gluten-free train?

Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and actually can’t have gluten. Or maybe you’re someone like me who does not have Celiac Disease but simply can’t tolerate/digest wheat.

For months or even years, you’ve avoided all types of pasta. White pasta, wheat pasta, lasagna, manicotti, and more. (oh the glorious days when we were young and could eat anything!)

And every once in a while, you CRAVE pasta. The craving gets so intense that you just say screw it! You indulge in a big bowl of pasta and suffer the agonizing aftermath (bloating, gas, constipation, stress from feeling and looking 9 months pregnant) for days.

If you can relate to anything (or everything) I just said, then I have a solution for you!

The next time you’re craving pasta, make Spaghetti Squash! (you know that weird looking yellow cylinder shaped squash you have no idea how to prepare?)  

Spaghetti Squash (after being baked) looks like Spaghetti, tastes like spaghetti, and it’s super simple to prepare. You can top it with red sauce, create a lasagna bowl, or simply add olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, and spices). I encourage you to get creative!

Tip: Cook once, eat three times. Make an extra spaghetti squash and save the rest for lunch during the week. Add a simple side salad and you got yourself a delicious and nutritious lunch/dinner!

Simple Spaghetti Squash
 
Author:
Yield: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Wash the outside of the squash thoroughly. Halve the squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds from the middle of each half.
  3. Arrange squash in a 9x13-inch baking dish, face down.
  4. Pour ½ cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Rake a fork back and forth across the squash to remove its flesh in strands…just like spaghetti!
  6. Top with your favorite sauce, toppings, and seasonings.
Notes
Please choose organic ingredients when possible.

 

Don’t forget to tweet it before you eat it! Tag me at @RachelSunley on Instagram & Twitter with your photos. I will regram the pics that make my mouth water!

Much Love,

5 Tips For Breaking The Detox-Retox Cycle

5 Tips For Breaking The Detox-Retox Cycle

Do you find yourself feeling incredible on Fridays, but hating your body by Monday? Are you someone who follows the common Detox-Retox Cycle?

Not sure what the Detox-Retox Cycle is? Let me explain…

For years, I’ve suffered from this vicious cycle. I’d eat clean, drink my green juice, complete my workouts, and sleep 7-8 hours every night to get me through my busy work week. By Friday, I felt amazing! My skin was glowing, my belly was flat, and I couldn’t wait to enjoy the weekend with my main squeeze, Darren.

Then the weekend would come…

I always devoted Saturdays to Darren and friends. If Darren and I didn’t have any events to attend, it would become our date night. Regardless, it always began with a powerful workout at the gym or my favorite yoga studio. After all, “I behaved all week” and my energy was through the roof! By noon, I would be washed up and ready to P-A-R-T-Y!

We’d typically go out for cocktails, dinner, and a movie. I’d enjoy a couple glasses of wine and indulge in my weekly “cheat meal”.  By the end of the evening, I felt stuffed and guilty.

On Sunday, I’d wake up extra early for a detoxifying yoga class before going to my mother’s house for the day. Darren and my family would come over to talk, laugh, play cards, and EAT. There was always wine, beer, chips, salsa, salted peanuts, and other junk foods around. Sometimes I’d indulge, other times I’d rather starve. Thankfully, dinners were mostly healthy. My mother would grill chicken, roast vegetables, and prepare a beautiful salad.

By Sunday night, I always felt disappointed in myself. I drank too much, I ate too much, and I ate foods that I wouldn’t normally eat in the first place.

Every Monday, I’d wake up feeling exhausted. I was bloated, my pants felt tight, and my skin looked dull and lifeless. After only two days of unhealthy eating, I felt like garbage!

Have you ever felt that way? 

I won’t even get into the emotional stress this vicious cycle brings when you work so hard all week just to blow it on the weekends. I found myself asking WHY? Why did I just sabotage all of the hard work I put in?

One day, I decided it was time to change. I wanted to break this vicious cycle once and for all. I wanted to get into the best shape of my life and I wouldn’t let ANYTHING stop me. I made a commitment to me, my body, and my better health and happiness. 

I’m proud to report that I’ve overcome this vicious cycle! By following a few simple disciplines, I no longer wake up every Monday feeling disappointed, guilty, and heavy. I still enjoy my date nights, family dinners, and celebrations with friends. And I know you can, too!

After a long, holiday weekend (if you’re here in the States), you may be feeling like I did. Between the summer barbecues, booze, and endless food, you may be feeling it’s time to make a change. It’s time to break this vicious cycle that has kept you from achieving your health goals for years.

That is why I’m so excited to share my “5 Tips for Breaking the Detox-Retox Cycle” with you. These 5 simple disciplines have completely changed my health and body for the better and I know they’ll work for you, too!

5 TIPS FOR BREAKING THE DETOX-RETOX CYCLE

1. Prepare

prepare

 

If you know you have a barbecue on Saturday and your family dinner on Sunday, prepare healthy appetizers/snacks ahead of time. If you’re the host of the party or dinner, that’s great! YOU get to control what food is being served. If you’re not the host, ask what’s on the menu and what you can bring to contribute. Bring a healthy dip, a vegetable tray, or a fruit bowl to keep things simple. You can also get creative and WOW the crowd by bringing healthy, colorful dishes that look amazing. Before the party, eat a healthy and fulfilling breakfast (and possibly a snack or lunch) so that you don’t go to the event hungry. When you’re at the party, fill up on the good stuff first so that you’re less likely to eat the junk foods.

2. Set Morning Intentions

set-morning-intentions

 

Set an intention for your day as soon as you wake up. Sit quietly, pray or meditate. Think about your health goals, what you’re trying to achieve, and why you want to achieve them. Remind yourself of how you felt every Monday in the past from indulging too much. Tell yourself that you can have an amazing fun-filled day without eating or drinking too much. Then, decide what you’re going to eat and drink ahead of time. For example, if you’re going to a new restaurant for dinner, look at the menu online before you go. Try to pick a lean and green option. If you want to splurge a little and get something else, decide that you’ll order the dish and only eat ¼ to ½ of the serving. When it comes to cocktails, dry red wine is the best choice. Plan to drink one glass during or after dinner, if needed. By setting an intention ahead of time, you’re preparing your mind to make better decisions throughout the day.

3. Move More

move-more

 

Try to move more on the weekends to keep your metabolism and natural detoxification processes going. On Saturdays, engage in high-intensity, circuit-style resistance training (weight lifting) to kick your fat-burning furnace into high gear for the weekend ahead. You’ll burn more calories in 20 minutes than you would in an entire hour on the elliptical reading a magazine. Plus, the after-burn effect will have you burning calories for up to 48 hours after your workout ends! During the Spring & Summer months, pick restaurants in the city, on the waterfront, or near parks so that you can go for a long walk before and/or after dinner. On Sundays, restore and revitalize your body with a hot and sweaty detoxifying power yoga class. Moving your body in a heated room can help detoxify the body so functions, systems, and organs operate more efficiently. When you sweat, toxins and impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin. Not to mention it always feels good to get your sweat on!

Tip: One of my favorite yoga teachers says, “wine interferes with my yoga and yoga interferes with my wine”. This is so funny and true. When I schedule a 7am yoga class on Sunday morning, I’m in bed by 10:30pm Saturday night. I ask Darren to make an earlier dinner reservation (5:30pm vs. 7:30pm) so that we’re home earlier. So – book and pay for fitness classes ahead of time so that you stay disciplined, go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early for your workout. And don’t forget to pay ahead of time! If you pay ahead of time, you’ll be much more likely to attend the class instead of clicking the snooze button and saying, “I tried, but maybe next week”.

4. Don’t Skip Meals 

don't-skip-meals

 

This is so important! You need to keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout your day to control cravings and prevent overeating. We’ve all made the mistake of eating a quick breakfast, rushing out the door to get errands done, skipping lunch, and showering quickly so that we’re ready for the 2pm party. Then, we go to the party and eat EVERYTHING in sight because we’re starving. The best way to prevent this is by eating on schedule (the times you would normally eat, Monday – Friday). It’s easy to get off track when you’re not punched in at work and don’t have a specific schedule to follow. Our schedules change weekend to weekend so it’s important to plan your meals ahead of time. If you normally work 9am-5pm and eat at 8am, 12pm, 4pm, and 7pm, try your best to stick to this schedule on the weekends. Pack on-the-go snacks like fruit, green juices or smoothies, almonds or other nuts, or protein shakes to keep your metabolism going and blood sugar stable.

5. Ask for Support

get-support

 

If you’re trying to lose weight, tone up, gain energy, or simply live a healthier lifestyle, let your family and friends know. First tell them what your health goal is and why you’re doing it. It’s extremely important for you to share WHY you want to achieve your health goal because people connect better on an emotional level. For example, if I told my mother I wanted to eat healthier and lose weight, she would tell me I’m crazy, I’m perfect the way that I am, and I should just relax and have a cocktail! However, if I told my mother I wanted to eat healthier and lose weight to heal my digestive issues and finally feel comfortable in my own skin, her response would be quite different. For you, it may be telling your family and friends that you’re trying to lose weight because you need to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Let them know that you went to the doctor and you’re at risk for a heart attack. Tell your spouse and family that you need to get healthy for yourself and for them. By connecting on an emotional level, your family and friends will be much more likely to support you.

After sharing what your health goals are and why you want to achieve them, ask for their support. Ask for their support and share ways that they can support you. For example, you may ask your family and friends to support you in your weight loss journey by cooking healthier options or allowing you to bring healthier options to the party. If you plan to eat small portions and no dessert, let them know. The more information you can give them, the more likely they will support you and encourage you throughout your journey. Plus, you may even inspire those around you to join in on the fun!

I hope you’ll find these 5 tips helpful and break the vicious Detox-Retox Cycle for good!

Much Love,

 

 

P.S. I would love to hear your story! Leave a comment below with your insights or join the conversation on Facebook. Let me know if you have been impacted by the Detox-Retox Cycle and how you plan to overcome this vicious cycle.

The Final Boot Camp

The Final Boot Camp

My Final Boot Camp is a 4-week fitness program designed to help you get fit and feel fabulous FOR LIFE!
 
This Boot Camp is for beginners, avid exercise enthusiasts or anyone who is just tired of the same workout routine.
 
Expect 45-minutes of high-intensity military style training designed to challenge, strengthen and redefine your body and mind. Each class combines body weight resistance exercises and muscle burning plyometrics to sculpt your body head to toe.
 
Every class will be challenging and no two classes will be the same. So if you’re serious about getting into shape, making new friends, and having fun while you’re at it, then this is the Boot Camp for you!
 
Dates: October 3 – October 31
 
Times: Monday & Wednesday Nights 6:30-7:30pm
 
Location: Pure Essence Fitness & Wellness Inc., 3135 Niagara Falls Blvd, Amherst, NY 14228 (located inside Anytime Fitness)
 
Program Includes:
  • Kick Off Party (review fitness plan, meet fellow boot campers, complete initial fitness assessments)
  • The Final Fitness Plan (featuring nutritional guidance and exercise recommendations)
  • Two PURE Boot Camp classes per week
  • Fitness Assessments
  • Before and After Photos (optional)
  • Access to my private Facebook group
  • Accountability and support to reach your fitness goals
  • Prize for best results!
  • The Final Celebration Party to celebrate all of your hard work and successes! There will be awards, healthy snacks and giveaways!
Prize: A Beauty Box filled with my favorite beauty products from Tony Walker Body + Beauty ($99 value)
Note: Winner will be chosen based on class attendance and final results (% weight lost, % body fat lost, total inches lost)
 
8 spots available, reserve your spot today!
 
Investment: $99
 
Register online at www.pureessencefitness.com or email [email protected] 
 
Hope to see you there! 
Rachel Signature
Easy Tomato Basil Soup

Easy Tomato Basil Soup

I have a confession. I despise raw tomatoes. I know, it’s sad. It’s the texture and the taste that I just don’t like. Every year, I try a variety of tomatoes, hoping that I’ll develop new taste buds and actually enjoy them. Heirloom tomatoes, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, campari tomatoes, green tomatoes, you name it, I’ve tried it.

I was hoping this year was going to be the year that I fall in love with these nutrient-packed beauties. I turned 30, my mother started growing her own tomatoes, and I joined my first CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) where I get fresh, organic produce delivered straight from the farm every Tuesday.

Last week I received a juicy, ripe, and colorful mix of yellow, orange, and red tomatoes fresh from the farm. My lovely mother, Linda, told me to try the organic tomatoes since they’re “so much better” than store bought tomatoes.

Epic fail. I still dislike raw tomatoes. 

The good news is, I LOVE cooked tomatoes. Weird, I know. Grilled tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato sauce, you name it, I love it! What a beautiful thing. Eating lots of tomatoes, any way you can, is great for your health. This fruit that acts like a vegetable is loaded with health properties that I want to take advantage of (and you should too).

Which brings me to this week’s recipe, homemade tomato basil soup. This recipe was super simple to make, it took less than 5 minutes to prepare (thanks to my Vitamix), and it was surprisingly delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!

 

Easy Tomato Basil Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Ingredients
  • 6-7 tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash all produce well.
  2. Prepare produce by cutting tomatoes in half and chopping onion into small chunks.
  3. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil leaves, pepper and sea salt into the Vitamix container and secure lid.
  4. Select Hot Soup program (or switch machine to Start and slowly increase speed to Variable 2).
  5. Switch machine to Start and allow to complete programmed cycle (or continue blending for 30 seconds).
  6. Season soup with additional pepper, as needed.
  7. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight glass container for up to 3 days.
Notes
If you don't have a Vitamix, don't worry! Any high-speed blender will do! Just follow these directions instead:
1. Wash all produce well.
2. Prepare produce by cutting tomatoes in half and chopping onion into small chunks.
3. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil leaves, pepper and sea salt into the blender container and secure lid.
4. Start blender on Low and blend for 30 seconds.
5. Switch machine to High and continue blending for 30 seconds.
6. Transfer blended mix to pot and simmer on the stove for 30 minutes to 1 hour (the longer it simmers, the greater the flavor).
7. Season soup with additional pepper, as needed.
8. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight glass container for up to 3 days.

Please choose organic ingredients when possible.

 

Don’t forget to tweet it before you eat it! Tag me at @RachelSunley on Instagram & Twitter with your photos.