Wedded Wellness

wellness for the wedding wedded wellness thank you notes prenatal vitamins healthy habits for marriage

So you did it! You tied the knot! You’re back from the honeymoon. Now what? Time to settle into your “new” life as a wifey!  The wedding itself may be over (and it was absolutely the #bestdayever!) and it can be sad! You spent months (sometimes years!) planning your day. You had all of your favorite people in one place. You married the love of your life! It can feel sad that it’s over. But the good news is that you have so much to be excited about! You are entering the next phase of your life. And it’s going to be AHmazing. Beat the wedding blues by focusing on getting your new married life set up for success! I’ve compiled some of the best tips to help you get started!

Change things up

If you lived together before you were married- a good way to make it feel different (because it absolutely IS different) is to rearrange your furniture. If you can do this in your bedroom - fantastic! You want to start creating memories that feel different than before you were married. It helps signify that things are different now! It should feel awesome! 

If you didn’t live together before you were married- you are going to have so many new things in your life! Either a new home or a serious change up to your previous space. New routine. New set up. Not to mention all of the new tools in the kitchen! Things absolutely are going to feel different! Which leads to the next section…

Healthy habits start here

Try to get into a good ritual with your spouse. Try to eat dinner, phones away, no TV, etc. Go for a walk together after work. Make smoothies for two in the morning! Maybe you already do all of these things- but it’s important to get these habits ingrained quickly into your routine. It’s really easy to get into a takeout and Netflix routine. Try to connect every day and keep up your healthy habits from #sheddingforthewedding! 

Get your thank you notes finished ASAP

Thank you notes–they will hang over every moment of spare time until they are completed. Finish them. Quickly. No I’m serious, stop reading this article and go do them. JK, don’t. But really the sooner you get them done, the happier you will be. Related to this, do not send out a mass thank you note. They should all be personal. People don’t understand if you received the gift they sent if you don’t. Besides that- its just polite manners. 

Schedule you time

You may want to spend all of your time with your new hubz/wifey! Who can blame you?! But it’s really important to spend good quality time with yourself. Read a new book. Go for a run. Meditate. Alone time is super good for you. 

Be good to your friends

Now is the time to love up on your friends (away from your boo!)! Your #bridetribe just spent your entire engagement “season” loving up on you! Schedule some exclusive girl time to return the love and spend time knowing what is going on in their world. 

If babes are in the near future…

Start taking a prenatal vitamin! I’m not a huge fan of vitamins (most of the time you are just peeing them out!) - but taking a prenatal vitamin is super important! It can prevent preterm births. AND the CDC recommends anyone within child bearing years take a supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily - so if you are even vaguely thinking about adding a kiddo into your world- now is the time to start taking one. 

Schedule your date nights

Pull out that planner and actually schedule actual date nights out right now. It’s so easy to stay in and hibernate together (WINTER IS COMING) - but you are young, and fun, and doing new things together keeps things fresh! 


What was your fave idea? How do you plan on spending your time now that wedding planning isn’t taking all of your time? Let me know on Instagram or Facebook! -AHS

Pollo Italiano - Shed Program Preview Recipe!

pollo italiano shed for the wed cookbook shedding for the wedding nutrition plan

It’s Friday night. Cue the mood lighting, pour a couple glasses of red, Alt-J is jamming through your stereo. Candles are lit. It’s cozy AF right now. Time for a little date night at home with your boo and this meal from the Shed Program, Pollo Italiano!

I love this recipe because 1) tomatoes, 2) basil, and 3) garlic. I mean there isn’t a better combo than that! The chicken breast is never dry in this recipe AND it also has a subtle sweetness that brings it all together! I think its pretty much perfect in all seasons too! Obvi, cherry tomatoes are best in the summer buttttt let’s be honest, I buy them all year round.

This recipe is one of the many recipes from the Shed Nutrition Program! And today is the last day to get the launch discount of 20% off the Silver plan! Use code: TWOSHEA20. It expires at 11:59 CST tonight!

Leave me a note if you try the recipe! <3 Xo, AHS


italian style chicken in tomatoes and basil shredding for the wedding recipes whole 30 approved paleo approved

Pollo Italiano

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided 

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3) 

  • Sea salt 

  • Cayenne pepper 

  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced 

  • 1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, whole 

  • ¼ cup chicken broth 

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 

  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, divided 

Instructions

In a large skillet (preferably, nonstick), heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season them generously on both sides with salt and cayenne. Add the chicken to the pan and cook, lowering the heat to medium if your pan starts to smoke, until nicely browned on both sides and just pink in the middle, about 5 minutes per side. Move chicken to a plate and tent with foil. 

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, along with the garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes begin to burst, stirring occasionally and scraping up any bits of chicken from the bottom, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and balsamic and using the back of your spoon, gently crush the tomatoes so they release all their juices. Simmer the sauce for another 3 minutes until it’s thickened and the acidity has mellowed. Stir in the ½ tbsp basil and taste for seasoning, adding more salt as necessary. Add the chicken back to the pan and simmer until it’s cooked through. Remove from the heat, garnish with remaining basil. 

It's here... LAUNCH DAY

shed for the wed program launch buy now

Heeeello, friends! Today is a BIG day. First and foremost, it is my fourth wedding anniversary! (Some may say it’s our “golden” anniversary since we were married on the fourth!) Second and also very important–we are now LIVE! Meaning you can finally buy and download the Shed for the Wed Nutrition Program on our website! YAY!

My goodness, this has been a labor of love. And I am beyond excited to be able to share it with you. I have been working on this program for the past 4 years. While I’ve had many brides go through different iterations of the program - it is now here and packaged up neat and tidy and easily accessible for all of you! I’m not going to lie I feel like I birthed a child. Feeling a bit emosh right now.

To thank you for following me on this journey I have a special 20% discount on the Silver plan just for blog readers! Use code: TWOSHEA20 at checkout. Code expires 10/11/18!


Curious about the plan?

SHED stands for Soulful Healthy Eating Decisions. It’s what the program is all about. This plan makes you feel good from the inside out! When you eat this way you will find your way to the healthiest version of yourself, slimmed down for the gown, if you will!

The Shed Nutrition Plan has 3 components:

The Handbook

This is your comprehensive guide for healthy living during your Shed journey. 

With this helpful handbook you’ll set your goals to achieve while gaining essential nutritional education as well as 

  • Portion control

  • Dining out guide

  • Detox guide

The Cookbook

The life essence of the Shed program. 

The cookbook is comprised of original recipes that help you lose weight and taste great. All were created with three main goals in mind:

  • Anti inflammatory - zen for the body

  • Low glycemic load - low sugar

  • Nutritarian - phytonutrient dense

The Meal Plans

The 8 weeks of Shed for the Wed meal plans are the suggested sequence of meals for the 8 week duration of the program. 

Each unique plan is flexible so that your eating habits fit with your schedule.

The premium programs (Gold and Platinum) have one-on-one coaching sessions with yours truly!

To learn more about the plans check them out here:

Questions? Read this first!

Have more questions? Send me a note - alexandra@shedforthewed.com! Or slide into my DMs on Insta ;).


 Cheers to many more adventures to come!

Cheers to many more adventures to come!

FREEBIE Alert! I'm giving away one of my favorite coaching tools for free!

free food and wellness tracker health coaching experience

A lot of times when I tell people I’m a health coach, they don’t know what exactly it is what I do. They say, “Like a nutritionist?” or “so you’re a personal trainer.” I respond, “Kinda!”

Yes, I focus on foundational nutrition and activity but there is a large part of the title that people seem to miss– “coach”.

When I work with clients one on one, I coach them, first and foremost. Some of my job is sharing resources and education, but really it is about YOUR life and meeting you where you’re at. Everyone is different and each person has their own challenges in meeting their health goals. Coaching is a personalized tailored experience to you- so we base it around where you are at in your life right now.

The first thing I do when coaching clients is I have them fill out one week of this food and wellness tracker–100% accurately and judgement free. That means writing down every single thing you put in your mouth. It is an incredible tool. After one week of using it - it becomes super clear to me, and to most of my clients, where they need to clean up their routine. You would be surprised how many people walk into it thinking they know the positive and negatives of their routines, but a week later have completely different findings. If you are just getting started on your health journey this is the perfect place to start. Good news for you: if you sign up to be on my email newsletter- I’m giving it to you for free!!

how to use the journal:

I fold up the journal and tuck it in my planner (which comes everywhere with me!). The key is to keep it on you- whatever is convenient for you. If you prefer to be paperless, it’s an interactive pdf- so you can type in each box.

After you eat or drink anything, write it down. It’s important to also document your water intake (it’s programed for your standard 8 glasses a day), work outs and self care too. There is a box dedicated to gratitude- and I like to set a gratitude mantra for the week, such as, “I am grateful that my body supports me in all that I do.”

When you do this exercise for the first time, don’t let the fact that you have to write it down deter you from your current habits. It just skews your data. For example, a coworker has Starbursts on their desk to share. You normally would grab one, but the thought of writing down one Starburst is just annoying so you choose not to have it. That’s a missed opportunity to see how often this happens throughout your day and week!

At the end of the week, go through the journal, day by day, and see what stands out to you. Are you having a lot of carbs at lunch? Are there more snacks than you realized? Do you not do any self care? Were you nowhere close to hitting 8 glasses of water a day? Are you skipping breakfast?

Pick one thing to focus on during the next week and set a goal for yourself. Bonus points if you tell someone else the goal so you have an accountability buddy! If you hit the goal, see if you can do it again the next week, and maybe add one more item to your goals for the week. See how quickly you begin to reform your habits!

You can continue to use the tracker as you make progress towards your goals, but try not to get too reliant on tracking. It isn’t sustainable forever, and sometimes can lead to obsessive behavior.


Are you going to try the wellness planner out? Have questions? Want to tell me your new goals? Slide into my DMs on the gram or shoot me an email alexandra@shedforthewed.com. XX -AHS

To change your name or not, that is the question.

should you change your name when you get married

You’re getting married! YAY! You now have to make a million decisions in prep for the big day. Band or DJ? Buffet or seated dinner? Cake or doughnuts? Are you going to keep your name or change it?

That last one can be a doozy. An easy question for some, and a more challenging question for others. For me, I fell in the latter group. I’m an over-thinker at heart. :) I tell my story below- but before that- have a read of the list of questions I compiled to help you get clear on what decision is right for you!


Questions for reflection

I believe there is not a right or wrong answer on whether changing your name is a good decision, it’s different for every person. If you are struggling with making the decision here are some questions to help you get clear on your feelings on the matter.

  1. Do you like your current surname?

  2. Do you like your spouse's surname?

  3. Do you like your middle name?

  4. Does your name have meaning to you?

  5. Do you feel your identity is tied to your name?

  6. Does having the same surname as your spouse matter to you?

  7. Does having the same surname as your children (if that is in your plan) matter to you?

  8. Would you be open to hyphenating? Would your spouse?

  9. Would you like your childrens’ surname's to be hyphenated?

  10. Would your spouse be open to taking your name?

  11. Are you open to taking their’s?

  12. What will you accomplish by changing your name?

  13. Do you or your spouse have surnames that are difficult to pronounce? Do you care?

  14. Have you always thought you would take your spouse's name?

  15. Do you feel politically motivated by changing your name or lack thereof?

  16. If you don’t change your name are you ready to be inconvenienced at times because your name differs from the rest of your family?

  17. Imagine how it would feel to have any iteration of names you are considering. What feels right or wrong about them?

Again, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these questions. In the end, it's YOUR name, YOUR life, and you are the one who will live with it. Make sure it's a name that feels like you! 


My story

Changing my name was a tough decision for me: 1) because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to change it and 2) because if I did, I wasn’t sure what to change it to! My name, as it was, was a pretty badass, strong name. I was (and still am) attached to it. Here are some of the reasons I liked it: 

  1. It just has good flow! [Alexandra Marie Hayden - in case you were wondering!]

  2. I'm my dad's only child, so “Hayden” is at the end of the road with me.

  3. Marie was my grandmother's name, and I was very close with her.

On the alternative side of things, I grew up in a household where we all operated with different names. My brother has a different last name than I do. My mom went back to her maiden name professionally after she remarried, and has different names on all of her IDs/ credit cards (side note: I still don't know what her legal name is).  She did this for me, so I wouldn't be the only one in the family with a different name (shouts to my Ma- appreciate ya). But regardless, it was confusing when we traveled, and it was confusing for my friends. They never knew what to call her. It was always nice to be with my dad and stepmom and to just be, "The Haydens." 

Beyond that, the concept of just taking your husband's name is antiquated. It stems from a time when women were treated as property: originally owned by our fathers then ownership transferred to our husbands. And TBH, I'm not into it. While that is not the case today, it still just annoys me that we perpetuate the tradition without question. My name is very much a part of what I consider to be my identity and I did not take the decision of changing it lightly. 

That being said, I love my husband a whole lot, and I wanted to feel apart of his "clan," if you will. For me getting married was not a loss of my current self but gaining a new aspect of my identity as wife, and (hopefully, eventually[!]) as a mother. I also have the coolest in-laws ever (yes, I know I'm very lucky!) and I did not have any pressure to change my name. 

Conor (my hubs lol) and I could've hyphenated our names, but that wasn't something either of us was really into for the whole (future) family. Mostly because I know from my own experience how confusing and annoying long names like that can be for kids (side note: you have no idea, to this day how many people are incapable of saying or spelling my FIRST name correctly). Conor also could have taken my name, but if I didn't want to lose my name for loss of identity, I did not want him to have to do that either. 

I eventually decided I wanted to add "Shea" into the mix. So when it came time to finally make the change, (and yes I actually waited 3 years to do it!), I got to the social security office, and I didn't know how to fill out the form. Would I be Alexandra Marie Shea? Alexandra Hayden Shea? Alexandra Marie Hayden-Shea? 

When my name was called, I had the sweetest Mexican-American (this detail is important for one reason, coming below) woman helping me. She saw the confusion in my eyes, and asked me what I was struggling with, and I told her the story above. She looked at me and she said, "You cannot lose your grandmother's name. And you cannot lose your father's name either. Why not keep them all?" And then I started crying. Yep. I started crying. In the social security office. But I was crying because she was right. It was so obvious, why had I not come to that conclusion on my own? It felt so right. I was not losing any aspect of my identity, I was just adding to it.

I'm so lucky that I was called to her booth, because in Mexican culture (so said the woman), you just add on a name, not replace it. It makes sense because in the villages people would know who your family was on both sides. If she hadn't helped me, I hope I would've come to the same decision, but I don't know if I would have realized it was an option.  

In the end, my name is now Alexandra Marie Hayden Shea, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It is reflective of who I've been and who I choose to be. And at the end of the day it feels like me. Just don’t ask me what my monogram is– I have no idea! What can I say I like to have my cake and eat it too. In the end I’m glad I took my time to figure out what was right for me. I hope sharing my story helps you figure out what is right for you, too! - AHS


Resources

I used this service to help me with to file all of my documents (I left forms blank with what my name would be since I wasn’t sure) but it was very helpful to know where to start.

Miss Now Mrs.


Still struggling? Want to talk about it? Send me a DM on Instagram or Messenger me from Facebook. I’m always happy to go deep with you on these things! <3

Mason Jar Spinach Salad

In honor of back to school, I decided to share a lunch recipe. Gasp, I know. I never share lunch recipes. I'm not exactly sure why, but lunch is not very inspiring to me. I am all about breakfast- it's all about starting the day out strong. You are fueling your body to tackle the day. Or spending a cozy mornings at home with some yummy pancakes. Dinner, you can have a nice long drawn out dinner with loved ones. Your food can set the tone for your evening. But lunch? I struggle to find inspiration here. It's probably just the Americanness in me, but I feel like most people are hard pressed for time and any excuse to be out of the office is a good one. I used to be so annoyed when I brought my lunch to work because it meant I had no reason to go outside for a walk. But that was the wrong attitude- bringing your lunch to work means you can eat and then enjoy the rest of your lunch hour to do what you please. Not to mention, finding #shedapproved lunch options are not always easy to find on your lunch break. 

Whether you are in school or just taking your lunch to work- this salad doesn't disappoint. Just throw the lid on your salad and it's ready to travel with you! No sogginess. And then when it's lunch time, you shake it up, and boom your lunch is ready to go! You can also make these in bulk on a Sunday to be prepared for the whole week- they keep really well because the dressing lives at the bottom! Enjoy! - AHS


mason jar spinach salad shed for the wed recipes shedding for the wedding

Mason Jar Spinach Salad 

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 oz cooked chicken breast (or tender) or 1-2 hard-boiled eggs

  • 1⁄2 cup cherry tomatoes, whole

  • 1⁄4 cup cucumber, halved and sliced

  • Salt and pepper

  • Optional: sprinkle unsweetened dried cranberries (treat yo’ self—month 1 only)

  • Optional: sprinkle goat cheese (treat yo’ self—month 1 only)

  • 2 cups spinach

Instructions

Layer ingredients in 32 oz. Mason jar. Start with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Then layer ingredients as listed. Shake jar before eating.

Note: If you don’t have a Mason jar, never fear! Any Tupperware will do—just separate the dressing in a side container.

It's okay to not feel amazing when you get engaged

anxiety about wedding

I have something to talk about that is not often discussed in the wedding industry. In fact, it's very rare to read or hear about it at all. I'm bringing it up, because I think it is important for brides to be to hear and I want to be a voice to help you stay grounded during your engagement. You ready?

It's okay to not feel absolutely wonderful every day of your engagement. In fact, it's even okay to feel sad! 

I've talked to enough women to know that while we want our engagement periods to be one of sheer bliss - there are moments that are harder to deal with. And I'm not just talking about wedding planning stress, although that doesn't make it any easier!

I think there is this stigma about talking about other emotions when you are getting married. Like somehow if you are not swooning with affection for your fiancé/e every day, you love them less, or even worse, that you shouldn't be getting married.

I need to debunk this. There are so so so many reasons that you could be feeling anything but happy during your wedding "season". 

You could feel sad about not being your parents little girl any longer. You could feel weird because everyone says "you just know" and you didn't know. Or maybe your nervous because your parents were divorced and you know you don't want that fate for yourself. Or maybe you are overwhelmed because there are a lot of life changes happening at once. Maybe you're sad about the loss of your single life. Maybe you're sad about having to split holidays. Maybe you're sad that your life as you knew it is changing forever. Maybe it's that you have been dreaming of your wedding your whole life and you aren't ready for the dream to be over. Maybe it's every one of those things or none of them. 

It is possible to feel joy, love, and excitement–and also sadness, loss, and anxiety during your engagement.

Getting married is one of the biggest life events you will experience. Sometimes it's a huge adjustment, sometimes it's just a formality. What I want you to walk away with, is that it is okay to feel any of these emotions during this time. Make space for yourself to process your emotions. Feel how you feel, and don't be ashamed or scared about feeling more than just joy during this time in your life.


Have you felt like this at all during your engagement? If you feel this way it can be incredibly isolating. I know this is a sensitive topic, but I want you to know I am here for you if you need to talk about this with someone. If you want to talk about it, please, send me a message on social media or drop me an email in the form below and I will get back to you shortly. This is not an email sign up, just an opportunity to chat with an unbiased party. :)

If talking isn't up your alley. Be sure to check out some of the other posts to help keep you "Zen for the Wed." Xx - AHS

Rainbow Buddha Bowl

rainbow buddha bowl recipe shed for the wed nutrition meal plans cookbook teaser

Coming 'atcha today is another teaser for the Shed cookbook!! Guys, seriously, I'm too excited to share it with you soon! Another tasty #plantbased veggie, fiber-heavy, meal. All of those things don't typically mean delicious, but I swear guys, this buddha bowl is LIT. I'll let the recipe and photo speak for itself! Xx - AHS


Rainbow Buddha Bowl

Serves 3 

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced (for some color!)

  • 1 (12 oz) bag broccoli florets (steam-able in bag preferable)

  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp liquid aminos

  • 2 tbsp organic almond butter

  • Pepper

Instructions

Place quinoa and water in a small pan over high heat. Once it boils, turn heat down and simmer until water is absorbed, approximately 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a wok (or large frying pan) heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and optional bell peppers. Stir frequently until onion
is translucent, 3-5 minutes. Steam broccoli in microwave for about 3 minutes.*

Add broccoli and quinoa to wok, stir. Add liquid aminos and almond butter, mixing thoroughly so everything is coated. You can add a little bit more liquid aminos, if necessary. Pepper to taste. Serve warm.

*Alternatively, you can steam the broccoli in the pan, but takes longer. Add broccoli to the pan with the other vegetables, and place a lid on top. Check frequently until broccoli is bright green. The texture may be a bit different, but equally yummy.

The #1 tool to keep you Zen for the Wed: Meditation

 You don't even need to be on the edge of a cliff looking at mountains to meditate! You can do it from home!

You don't even need to be on the edge of a cliff looking at mountains to meditate! You can do it from home!

I had this realization lately that I keep bringing up meditation as a solution to every problem I encounter. Talking to friends and clients alike, my recos are always including adding mediation to their routine. I was becoming an obsessed, broken record. But why?

I typically wouldn't refer to myself as a particularly grounded person. I'm one of those people who is always spinning in circles doing THE most. And like most people these days, when I do have down time, I get lost in the mindlessness of the never-ending scroll on social media. 

When I was forced to take my 10-15 minute occasional meditation practice to 30 minutes daily during my yoga teacher training, it really had an impact on my life. It changed the way I process small and large interactions in my life (not to mention time management skills!). When you are planning a wedding, life can be absolutely chaotic. It is a time you should cherish, and sometimes you just want it to be over. Meditation is an amazing tool to have in your stress management toolkit to keep you #zenforthewed! In this post I'll share the benefits I've seen in myself as well as some instructions on how to get started for yourself!


 

Benefits I've seen

  1. I have control freak tendencies (and I'm also surrounded control freaks- love you all!), and we live in a world where we actually have very little control. That is not to say that we are not in charge of our own fates, but we cannot live our lives in fear of what could happen. Meditation has honestly helped me to accept things that are out of my control. I know to focus on the things in my power to change and don't sweat the rest. This is maybe the number one benefit whilst wedding planning, IMO!!

  2. It helps me to process my emotions. One of the hardest things during my meditation is to let really painful emotions come up and to not suppress them. But by just sitting with the emotions, most times I just sit there, feel them fully, and quite often they pass. If for instance I am really nervous about something I have to do, the emotion will come back, but in a more manageable way. (Side note: getting married can bring up so many emotions, its okay to not feel absolutely ecstatic every day you are engaged. Feel the emotions, sit with them, and it will help you feel great in the long run!)

  3. There is no outright goal for meditating, and a "bad session" is just as important to sit through as a "good session". This aspect of meditation has helped me to detach from the outcomes of all my endeavors. I am not my successes or my failures, and it helps me to remind myself of that. And related to that...

  4. I used to feel like I needed to have a reason to do something. Sometimes it is okay to do something for no particular reason. It is okay to do things just for the sake of doing. Not everything has to be an achievement. I have been working on a very difficult puzzle for 4 months. I don't have any reason why I am doing the puzzle, and that is okay. It is worthy of my time too.

  5. When you meditate (at least in the style I was taught in), you are training your mind to come back to focus on the breath. While often that doesn't happen, if you are reliving your 4th grade trauma for the tenth time and then you remember to come back to the breath–it's still a success. That focus has extended beyond my practice and often helps me with my work! It's amazing when I can focus for any period longer than 5 minutes (YEP - my A.D.D. diagnosis is realllll).

  6. Meditation has helped me to become less reactionary. I'm always working to curb my natural lean towards defensiveness, and I've noticed that meditation has helped me to pause before I react. My husband will say something that will trigger me (love you, honey!) and I will actually pause and think before I respond. I will try to see things from his perspective before answering. So I guess I'm saying meditation has made me a better wife?! Just to be clear, I am not a master of this, but I have made a lot of progress in this area.

  7. It's crazy to think about how rarely I truly experience the moment I am in. Through my meditation practice, I have become more in tune with myself, and I am able to pull myself out of my technology and day dreams and actually be present in the moment. Life is so precious, I need to try to be there for it!

  8. Lastly, I am much more comfortable just being. I can just sit by myself and I don't feel the need to distract myself. It's wild that I didn't feel that way before, but I was always using things to distract me: social media, talking on the phone, Candy Crush, etc. It's like I'm comfortable being truly alone with myself. I notice that if I take a few days off meditating, I come back to the distractions more easily too!


How to Meditate

Did I sell you on it? Are you ready to try meditating for yourself? My instructions to get started follow: 

  1. Get comfortable in a seated upright position. You can be cross legged on a mat or pillow, sitting in a chair, or just sitting on the bed propped up with your legs out.

  2. Set a timer on your phone (you can use one of the apps below or just the normal timer). I recommend 10 minutes to start. If that seems like too much, 5 minutes is still beneficial.

  3. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. I sometimes like to focus on sounds, but that is challenging if there are none! You can keep your eyes open if you visualize too much with your eyes. I find that too distracting most of the time though.

  4. When your mind begins to wander off, bring your concentration back to your breath. You can call yourself out and say "thinking" to help bring your thoughts back to the breath.

  5. Don't check your phone to make sure the timer is set. It is. :)

Before you start read this: 

I want to debunk the myth that meditation is peaceful or enjoyable. It can be, but it can also be downright torturous. Sometimes I would come out of my meditation sessions more frustrated than when I started. And that is okay. When you sit with yourself, all of your anxiety and embarrassing moments will come to haunt you. That will help you to return to the breath, but it will bring up lots of feelings. The key thing is to truly feel the emotions and to not push them down. This is also why I don't advocate using guided meditations. While I love Headspace (a guided meditation app), and that's how I got started meditating, I didn't really feel like I was diving deep until I was sitting in silence. 


Resources: 

An amazing book, "How to Meditate" by Pema Chodron, is a great resource to help you get started. 

Apps: 

Headspace - this man's voice is truly the most soothing sound in the world. Guided meditation is a great place to ease you into meditating. 

Stop, Breathe, and Think - Has a great timer function as well guided functionality. I like the stickers it gives as achievements. 

Insight Timer - A huge variety of meditations available on this app. In addition to it's timer, it's great if you want to explore the vast realm of guided meditation.


Are you ready to try meditating? Or is it already in your routine? Let me know what you think of this self care tool! -AHS

Mini Guide to Cape Town

cape town mini healthy guide

I have been blessed to have been to glorious Cape Town on two occasions, the first time to visit my BFF when she lived there back in 2012, and the second time I tacked on a visit after her wedding (May 2018) in Durban, South Africa. Both times I wanted to move there. I am a sucker for the combination of mountains and ocean in one location. But besides the absolutely jar dropping landscape; it has an enthralling history, a rich culture, and friendly people.  Photos featured are all my own. Attraction titles link (when available) to website resource. 

 

The great outdoors

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

 The magical Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.

The magical Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.

This may be my favorite place in all of Cape Town. For a small entrance fee you can wander the gorgeous botanic gardens. It was the perfect place to journal and reflect. Can't you feel the good juju even in the one photo above? There is an abundance of flora, fauna, and animals. One of my favorite things I stumbled upon was a tree canopy walk, which was super cool. Maybe the best part? They have free concerts and you can picnic there! 


Table Mountain

There are various routes to hike your way up Table Mountain. Back in 2012 I did it with the girls and almost died (not really, but it was hard) and my camera actually did die, and I got no pics from the top. It was very sad! However, if you aren't into the hiking route, there are gondolas that take you to the top! All of the view, none of the work! Also, the best part of the gondola IMO is that if you hike to the top you can gondola down. 


Lion's Head

 Me at the top of Lions Head! Very proud moment indeed.&nbsp;

Me at the top of Lions Head! Very proud moment indeed. 

This hike is not as intensive as Table Mountain and relatively quick, but if you miss the sign you could end up climbing vertically with random ladders and chains built into the side of a mountain, ahem, like me and apparently this guy. That being said I have a fear of falling from great heights, and I was able to push through and hike this by myself. It was definitely scary at times, but I think if you were with another person it would be a-ok. The views are absolutely unreal, and not to miss. 


 Boulders Beach... where my penguins at?&nbsp;

Boulders Beach... where my penguins at? 

 This look brought to you by 2012.&nbsp;

This look brought to you by 2012. 

A gorgeous beach laden with, big shocker, boulders and also where the penguins call home. It's a perfect place for a chill afternoon, get some sun and spend some time with our feathered pals. I took hundred of penguins pics. All of the cuteness. Honestly, I don't have anything to add. Could you imagine anything better? 


 Groot Constantia, you beaut.&nbsp;

Groot Constantia, you beaut. 

 Baboon friends who attacked our picnic. Don't worry, official "baboon security" came to our rescue!&nbsp;

Baboon friends who attacked our picnic. Don't worry, official "baboon security" came to our rescue! 

This winery is gorgeous and the oldest wine producing farm in the country. It's a great option if you want to include wine tastings in your trip but don't want to head all the way to Stellenbosch (the major wine region). Groot Constantia is easily accessible from the city tour buses. If you're lucky, you will get to see some baboons like we did! 


Cape of Good Hope

 Views from the Cape of Good Hope

Views from the Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope Cape Town South Africa

Known for its stunning scenery, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Our guy, Bartolomeu Dias, was the first modern explorer to round the cape in 1488. It used to be thought of as the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, however, modern cartography tells us that isn't quite right. 🤔🤔🤔 Go there for some stunning views and a feeling like you are on the edge of the world. 


Camps Bay

 Oooo Table Mountain, your backside looking good, girl.&nbsp;

Oooo Table Mountain, your backside looking good, girl. 

camps bay beach view cape town

Beautiful beaches. Great dining options. No brainer. It's probably one of the more accessible beaches if you are staying in the city. It feels like you've stumbled upon a beach town in the midst of the city.


History

The stunning landscape makes it easy to forget some of the heartbreaking history in this beautiful place. I recommend you read up on apartheid before you travel there, because while it ended in the 90s, it has shaped a lot of what exists today in South Africa. 

District Six Museum

JPEG image-24209C8B2C98-3.jpeg
District Six Museum Cape Town South Africa

Robben Island

robben island freedom
"We want Robben Island to reflect the triumph of freedom and human dignity over oppression and humiliation." -Ahmed Kathrada, Prisoner

Robben Island was home to a maximum security prison that held Nobel Laureate and former president of SA, Nelson Mandela, for 18 of his 27 years in exile. Two other political inmates held there, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, also went on to become president of South Africa. 

It is definitely a somber experience visiting the island, but being there to learn and feel the history are the makings of a life changing trip. 

This article is a great read for further information.

 View of the mainland from Robben Island.&nbsp;

View of the mainland from Robben Island. 


Wellness Finds

Mojo Market

Mojo Market Sea Point Cape Town

Mojo market is an indoor market with beach views. Amazing food and drink (see below) vendors and some really cool unique boutique retailers. There was also a yoga studio down the street, but I was sick so I wasn't up to it that day. That being said, the Sea Point area seems like the go to for all your wellness finds! You can even go for a run on their beachfront running path. 

Beetbox RX

 High Vibe juices, crystal bowls, and sourced 95% from local farms- ya can't beet it! (pun intended)

High Vibe juices, crystal bowls, and sourced 95% from local farms- ya can't beet it! (pun intended)

 Yep poke made it all the way to SA. This bowl hit the spot after a long day of touristing.&nbsp;

Yep poke made it all the way to SA. This bowl hit the spot after a long day of touristing. 

There is no shortage of spas or yoga studios around, but as I didn't have a chance to experience them, I won't elaborate on my findings. If you want more- this article from Well + Good was very helpful! 


More Touristy goodness

V&A Waterfront

cape town V&A waterfront harbour
Cape Town V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is probably the tourist Mecca, but it truly is beautiful. There are lots of great dining options and awesome shopping. There are actually a lot of really cool local artisans around, but you have to look for them in the sea of mass retailers.  And yeah, you can find an almond milk matcha there. #winning


Greenmarket Square

Located in the heart of the city, there are some super cool markets. It definitely is targeted at tourists, but you can find a lot of really cool local artisan finds there too. You can definitely barter, but try to do it ethically. If you are coming from the US you can probably afford to pay their mark up. It's a safe area, but people with ask you for money or to buy them food. The architecture surrounding the square is gorgeous and makes for a scenic shopping trip. 


Accomodations

The Tree House Boutique Hotel

I only have stayed at one hotel in Cape Town, but I couldn't recommend it more. The Tree House Boutique Hotel was amazing and the staff were beyond helpful. My stay came with complimentary breakfast, which was incredible. It had a transitional fresh tree house vibe with hints of balinese. Basically, made for me. It was walking distance to the V&A Waterfront, the boojiest Woolies (Woolworth's) I've ever been in and some great restaurants and gelato! 


Things that I still haven't done but think you should do

Bo-Kaap - Beautiful, cultural rich neigborhood

Company's Gardens - lovely gardens in the city center

Muizenberg beach - colorful shacks on the beach? Yep, that's Muizenberg. Great for surfing or beach yoga!

Stellenbosch - incredible wines come from Stellenbosch. Wine tasting sounds like a pretty romantic way to spend your honeymoon!


A note on water conservation in Cape Town

Cape Town is running out of fresh water. To prevent this, they have enacted lots of water conservation efforts in order to preserve water. This has deterred lots of tourism from the city and country. I can tell you, this did not negatively affect my stay in any capacity. If anything, it helped me to realize just how much water I waste on a daily basis. Please do not overlook this glorious place for that reason- the lack of tourists has had a huge impact on the people and the economy. 

 

Has this inspired you to head to Cape Town for your honeymoon? Let me know if you have any questions on this glorious place, I would love to give you any pointers from my experiences there! Happy travels! -AHS