REVIEW: My 3-Day…er…72-Hour Juice Cleanse

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I’ve only successfully cleansed once in my life. It was the end of my freshman year of college, and I was feeling overall, disgusting. I went from being a tall and lanky gymnast, to a Division 1 butch lacrosse player. Between the muscle I had gained, and the “Freshman 15” I had gained, it wasn’t good.

My fellow lacrosse team member (hi Lauren!) and I went to the extreme. We did the Master Cleanse, which, if you haven’t heard of it, consists of consuming nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and water for 10 straight days.

The good news was, it worked. I lost close to 10 pounds and jump-started a new, lighter diet. The bad news—it was no way to live, and of course, most of the weight eventually came back.

But it did successfully allow me to hit “reset,” and go cold turkey on the bad habits I had formed.

After that, I pretty much gave up on extreme dieting. Once I quit lacrosse and stopped eating late-night bacon grilled cheese, I fell back to my natural weight. And since finding workouts that I love (right now it’s a combination of yoga and Orange Theory), I’ve never had to overthink maintaining my weight. Everything in moderation, is my mantra.

But recently, a company named Tasty6 offered me the opportunity to try their 3-day Organic Juice *and* Food Cleanse. (It usually costs $179, but they offered it to me for free.) Although I thought I had sworn off extreme dieting, I was intrigued for 2 reasons:

(1) The diet consists of lots of nutrient-rich juices that I knew would be good for my body, (and a light breakfast and lunch). I don’t like a lot of green vegetables (I basically have the diet of a 5-year-old), so the opportunity to try a bunch of nutritious juices all at once sounded appealing.

(2) I’ve had a busy summer traveling for both work and pleasure, and have been eating out way more than usual. I’m not necessarily trying to lose weight (but I’m also not going to lie—who wouldn’t love to lose 5 pounds), but I felt the urge to hit “reset” so that I would stop craving so many fatty foods. (Read: Burgers and French fries).

So I signed up. The good news? I made it a full 72 hours. The bad news? I didn’t make it a full three days.

Allow me to explain.

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The cleanse was set to start on Wednesday, so I officially stopped eating around 8pm Tuesday night. Day 1 was a breeze. Sure, I wished I could get a big sandwich for lunch, but I was actually enjoying the juices and not hungry at all. Day 2 got more difficult, but the power protein bar snacks came in handy. By Day 3, it wasn’t that I was hungry…I was getting sick of some of the flavors. While I genuinely enjoyed all the juices on Day 1 (ok, except the beet one because I hate beets!), by Day 3, my taste buds were getting tired of them.

I still wasn’t starving. I just missed food. But more importantly, I missed my normal life.

What happened next, I take full responsibility for.

It was Friday night around 8pm, and I had cleansed for a full 72 hours. That’s 3 days, right?! So I ate a steak.

I know I fudged it a bit, but in a weird, technical way, I made it 3 days. I didn’t give in because I had to, but because I wanted to. Quite honestly, I’d been traveling for work the week before, and was ready for a nice date night with my boyfriend, who selflessly signed up to suffer with me through the cleanse. (He even paid for it, too!)

We were both proud of ourselves, and ready to eat and have a good time.

And you can bet we did.

Nearly a week later, I’m still feeling great. I’m eating lighter, I feel lighter, and and looking lighter. (I swear, the cleanse was good for my skin!) I probably won’t sign up for another one of these for a while unless I have a BIG event to plan for, but it was worth it. I have no regrets—steak, included.

Free Community Classes in DC!

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I’m very excited to share that I’ve teamed up with a group of yoga instructors that I recently got certified with to offer *free* community classes in Washington, D.C., this summer! Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend—particularly those who are new to the practice of yoga.

If you’re intimidated to step onto a mat for the first time, hath no fear! We’re a group of newbie instructors, so I promise we can all work through our anxieties together. There will be no judgement here, just self-care, community, and love.

Below is the schedule with more information (my class is Thursday mornings 7-8am). I hope to see some of you there!

Where:
Capital Corners Recreation Center
1000 5th St SE
Washington, D.C

When:
June 19-July 31 

MONDAYS

9:30am-10:30am – Morning Flow with Danielle Davidowitz
As our former First Lady so eloquently put it, “Let’s Move” together!

6pm-7pm – Whole You Yoga
This will be a special class each week taught by a diverse, rotating group of neighborhood yogis. Each instructor will use the class time to share the variety of everyday ways that yoga can strengthen the body, mind, and spirit through breathing, movement, and meditation exercises.

TUESDAYS

6pm-7pm Beginner Yoga with John Sullivan
New to Yoga? New to regular practice? Join John in creating a solid foundation for your practice in a calm and caring environment.

THURSDAYS

7am-8am – Power Yoga with Kelsey Harkness (aka Capital Yoga Girl!)
Wake up the body as you wake up the mind, synchronizing the breath with the movements of the body through an energizing power flow class.

6:30pm-7:30pm Move and Breathe with Alisha Lineswala
Come flow with Alisha to move, breathe, and be. Whether you’re new to yoga or a regular, start your weekend with Alisha in a nurturing environment that meets the needs of every individual.

*If you have a yoga mat I would encourage you to bring it, but we will have free mats available to borrow!

xo,
CapitalYogaGirl

Capital Yoga Girl’s Favorite New Summer Cocktail!

I have a friend who really likes lychee martinis.

After taking me out to dinner at Duangrats, she got me hooked, too.

If you don’t know what lychees are, they’re a pink fruit native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. (Idk, I just Googled it.)

Whatever they are, they’re amazing—and look like this in their raw form.

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I recently was having a dinner party for this friend, and decided to surprise her with some sort of lychee drink. I didn’t have raw lychees, but at World Market, I came across cans of lychee juice. So I decided to get a little creative, and add some raw grapefruit in the mix.

Here’s a picture of all the ingredients I used.

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The pineapple punch bowl isn’t a necessity, but for $24.99, I highly recommend it.

The result was truly magical—something different that your friends probably have never tried, and perfectly refreshing for the start of the summer. Here’s a picture of the final result, with the full ingredient list and recipe below. Cheers!

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Pink Grapefruit and Lychee Cocktail
Serving size is 12, because it tastes best when consumed with friends. 👭

Ingredients:
2 grapefruits, freshly squeezed
1 liter bottle of sparkling water (no flavor)
3 cans of lychee drink (I found mine at World Market, but you may also find it at an Asian or Indian market)
Vodka to taste (I may or may not have used most of this bottle 💁)
2 fresh limes or mint for taste and decoration

Directions:
…you mix everything together. 😆

Namaste,
Capital Yoga Girl

 

 

It’s Official! I’m a Yoga Instructor.

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I can’t believe I am actually writing this, but I am officially a certified yoga instructor! I graduated a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program today with this incredible group of people pictured above.

“Graduating” this training program feels like coming full circle. When I first moved to D.C. three years ago, I was in a really difficult place in my life. I had just gotten out of a terrible relationship (after being cheated on), I lost a job (although it was one that I never really liked to begin with), I was moving to a brand new city to start a new job, and was living on my own for the first time in my life.

The apartment I moved into was located in NoMa, an up-and-coming area in D.C. Just by chance, there was a little yoga studio opening up on my block called Yoga NoMa, so I signed up.

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I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was my practice at Yoga NoMa that got me through this difficult time. The founder of that studio, Julia Romano, was one of the regular instructors. At first, I thought Julia’s style was a little too hippy-dippy for me. We did our Vinyasas and backbends—once in awhile, maybe she’d throw in a headstand—but Julia didn’t care much for the advanced stuff. She cared about what was happening within.

If you can’t tell from my Instagram page, I clearly have an infatuation with handstands. I just love going upside-down! But handstands weren’t going to get me through this difficult time in my life. Julia’s wisdom—and that of the other instructors at Yoga NoMa (shout out Rob Belifus!)—was what would, and what ultimately did.

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Flash forward two and a half years later, and I’m happy to say that I’m happy as a clam. My career is growing, I met my wonderful boyfriend Luke, we bought a dog, and moved into an apartment together in Navy Yard, our favorite neighborhood in D.C.

When Luke and I moved in together, one of the first things I had to do was find a new yoga studio. Enter: Chris Parkison. Or Chris “P,” as he calls himself. Chris is the group program manager at Vida’s Yards location, and one of the most knowledgeable yoga instructors I’ve ever met.

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For years, I had wanted to become certified yoga instructor. But for one reason or another, it never felt right. Then, last fall as fate will have it, Chris told me he was starting a Yoga Teacher Training Program…with Julia.

To be clear, I didn’t know Julia and Chris knew each other, let alone that they knew each other well enough to lead a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program together. So obviously, I hopped on board. From there, the rest is history.

Chris and Julia are two of the most talented yoga instructors in all of D.C., and I feel so lucky and grateful to have learned from them. While I’m excited to finally be able to call myself a yoga instructor and share this practice with others, I can’t help but feel a bit sad that this journey has come to an end.

Chris, Julia, and my all fellow YTT-200 trainees have had an incredible impact on my life, and my weekends won’t be the same without them. And while Chris and Julia left us with no shortage of material to build on, there’s a magic that happened when we all came together as one that can’t ever be replicated or replaced. So thank you to Chris, Julia, and the rest of our class for making this experience such a magical one. It really was life-changing, and I can’t imagine going through it with anyone else.

Namaste ❤️

Celebratory cake made personally by Kelly Moyers! Follow her on Insta @itrainwithmoyers. She knows everything fitness.
Celebratory homemade cake complements of Kelly Moyers! Follow her on Insta @itrainwithmoyers. She knows everything fitness…and cakes.

How I Solved My Back Pain for Under $100

(Photo: Amir Lowery/AmirLowery.com)
(Photo: Amir Lowery/AmirLowery.com)
(Photo: Amir Lowery/AmirLowery.com)

As I sit here writing this, I have two sticky pads sending electrical pulses through my lower back (read: upper ass). It’s magical—the kind of pain that makes John Mellencamp want to sing, “Hurts So Good.

I’ve struggled with obnixous back pain for the past three years. Knock on wood, but it has nothing to do with my spine—it’s in my muscles. Whenever I sit at work or in the car for too long, I get an aching pain in my lower back. Doing certain exercises in barre and yoga classes makes it worse. I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you the exact trouble spots, but from what I’ve gathered, the problem is deep—it’s not the kind of problem that my boyfriend’s five-minute back rub can solve (sorry, Luke 😚).

Since starting my 200-hour yoga teacher training in February, I decided it was time to get serious about addressing my back pain. I was doing more yoga than ever and the pain was only getting worse. To my surprise, I’ve had huge success in addressing it, so I decided to share my experience in hopes that it can help others. Below, I break down my process into three steps, but if you’re short on time, I suggest you read Steps 1 and 3.

Step 1: Tennis Ball (free!*)

A year ago I tore my ACL and went to a physical therapist for a solid six months. Although I was there for my knee, my whole body got screwed up. So one day, I mentioned that I had back pain for awhile, and favoring one leg because of my injury was making it worse. My physical therapist didn’t have the solution, but she pointed me in the right direction. What she told me is that a lot of people who think they struggle with back pain actually struggle tightness, soreness, or muscle strains in their glutes (again, read: ass). This is particularly true for people like me with lower back pain—the muscles there are closely connected. So she suggested I roll out my glutes at home daily using a tennis ball. The first time I tried this I realized she was onto something—sitting and rolling around on a tennis ball made a huge difference, and I could feel how much tension was hiding there.

Step 2: Foam Roller ($27.00)

From there, I decided to get serious and buy a foam roller. I purchased the Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Roller from Target, er, Tarjay, for $27.99. #WorthIt. I started rolling out my glute muscles every night after yoga class and immediately felt amazing results. Most gyms have foam rollers you can use free of charge, but I found having one at home is much more effective because I can use it while watching TV or doing other mindless things around the house.

GiamStep 3: TENS Machine ($59- $79)

From there, I was noticing such a difference that I thought, ‘Let’s take this one step further.’ At this point, it was clear to me that whatever was causing my back pain was some sort of deep muscle strain buried in my gluteal muscles. I began by looking into booking a series of deep tissue massages, but quickly realized this was out of my budget 😢. Then, on good old Google, I came across TENS Machines (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), a small, battery operated machine that transmits tiny electronic shocks through sticky pads that stick to your skin. A lot of people are familiar with these from physical therapy, but many don’t realize you can actually purchase them to use at home.

The science on TENS machines is iffy. Doctors haven’t been able to prove whether they work one way or another. But in my case, I have no doubt that a TENS machine helped relieve much of my back pain.

The way I know this is because when I find the right spot, I can literally see and feel my muscles twitching. It’s freaky and magical at the same time. Usually, it’s muscles buried deep inside my body…down in my glutes or other strange places that are hard to reach via regular stretching. (My theory about why I have this built up of muscle strain is because I’m super flexible, especially in my hips, so when I try to stretch them out in yoga, it doesn’t do the trick.)

The specific machine I bought is called Pure Pulse Duo, and you can buy it on Amazon for $79. There’s plenty of cheaper options out there but after doing some research, I settled on this one and couldn’t be happier.

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It’s super easy to use and fits in a tiny pouch. (Side note: if you’re wondering whether they paid me to post this, I can assure you they didn’t—Pure Pulse Duo has no idea that I’m even writing this! But #yourewelcome.)

The reason I’m writing this is because as someone who’s struggled with back pain for three years and finally found something so simple(!) that works, I feel the urge to share it. Everyone’s bodies are different, so of course, what works for me might not work for you, but I can’t help but think, “I wish someone had suggested this to me three years ago.”

For me, purchasing a TENS machine is and was life-changing. My back pain’s not gone, but it’s greatly reduced and now manageable. As an added bonus, using a TENS machine is extremely relaxing after a long day of work. Pop it on before bed, and you have the closest thing to an at-home deep tissue massage you can find. I’m probably supposed say, “Consult your doctor before using,” but if you’re struggling with a muscle strain that’s not serious enough to call the doctor, consider trying out a tennis ball, a foam roller, or a TENS machine first. A little, I’ve learned, can go long way.

xx
Capital Yoga Girl

*I took the liberty of assuming most of you own a tennis ball, or live close enough to a dog park to find one😆.

Exciting News!

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Hi friends! It’s been so, so long since I’ve posted here—for no other reason than, life. I’ve remained active on my Instagram (@capitalyogagirl) but fell behind on my website. But today, I’m making an early New Year’s resolution to blog more. I’m usually not into New Year’s resolutions (especially when they involve cutting calories) but I think pushing myself to write more is always a good thing, both personally and professionally.

And … not to mention, I now have something exciting to write about! Drumroll please…..

I’M GETTING CERTIFIED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL YOGA INSTRUCTOR!

I apologize if you aren’t as excited about this new as I am, but it’s a big step for me. Why? For reasons I’ll explain later in this post. First, the logistics. The 200-hour training begins in February and goes through the end of May. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but with a full-time job (and then some), I never thought it was possible. But as life will have it, my favorite yoga instructor at Vida Fitness in Washington, D.C., announced he’s teaming up with my former yoga instructor from Noma Yoga (before I moved) to host a weekend-only training class for people who work other jobs, like me! We’ll practice from 9am-6pm every other weekend and then are required to do certain readings and attend lots of yoga classes between that. Basically, I’m going to eat, sleep, and breathe yoga, which I really can’t complain about. (Yet.)

In order to apply, the instructors asked that I write a statement about why I want to become a yoga instructor. So for my first post about this experience, I thought it would be appropriate to share that essay. Wish me luck and stay tuned–a part of me doesn’t know what I’m in for but if you follow my journey here, we’ll find out together! (Oh, and P.S.—they asked that we share a teacher or writing that has inspired us, which is why I included one of my favorite (semi-cheesy) yoga quotes below.) Enjoy!

My Yoga Statement

When I stepped onto a yoga mat for the very first time, I never imagined that five years later, I’d want to become a yoga teacher. To this day, I’m still not sure that I want to teach, but what I am sure of is that I want to deepen my practice, mentally, spiritually, and physically. I started yoga for the physical aspect, and growing up a gymnast, that always came easy. The mental and spiritual side…that was a different story. I had my own religion and never understood the meaning of “om,” but I quickly realized that yoga was transforming me from the inside out.

Yoga is the only part of my busy, often stressful day that I’m able to take fully for myself. While that might sound selfish, I’ve learned that bettering myself makes me a better person to others around me. Since starting yoga five years ago, I’ve become a happier, healthier, more balanced human being. In college, I often had mental break downs where I couldn’t control my emotions. Sometimes, I didn’t even know why I was crying. It wasn’t until I began practicing yoga that I was able to process those emotions and actually appreciate them, both the good and the bad, the happy and the sad.

While I’ll admit the prospect of teaching a room full of yogis scares the bejesus out of me, over the past year, I’ve found myself wanting to share the light. Yoga has given so much to me that I feel a responsibility to pass it on—to my friends, to my coworkers, and even to complete strangers. But whether or not I become a teacher one day is not what’s important to me right now. Right now, I simply want to learn more about what this practice has to offer.

The writing I’d like to share is short and sweet—and admittedly, a bit cliché. But to me, it means the world.

“We learn to bend so we don’t break.”

I honestly don’t know who wrote this or where it comes from, but it speaks to everything yoga is for me. Life is unpredictable, and yoga has taught me that being flexible is the best way not only to survive it, but to thrive in it. If becoming a yoga teacher enables me to pass that on to others, then, well, Namaste. This is where I’m supposed to be.

When Best Friends Come to Visit

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It was another beautiful fall weekend here in Washington, D.C., and I couldn’t have spent it any better. My best friends from college paid me a visit and we were blessed with perfect weather. First on the agenda was brunch to celebrate one of their engagements!

I brought the group to The Fainting Goat on U Street because it’s a fun area with one of the best brunches in the city. The food is fresh, filling, not too fancy, but local and creative. (If you’re hungry, I highly recommend the Breakfast Sammy.)

We had the waiter bring out one of their famous pecan coffee cakes drizzled in warm caramel to surprise the bride-to-be, and they even threw in a free glass of bubbly. (On top of our $15 unlimited bloodys and mimosas, of course.)

After we finished, I (or more likely, the mimosas) made my friends take this admittedly embarrassing picture outside the restaurant. The people sitting behind us in the bar window were watching on, and no doubt getting some free entertainment. But when at The Fainting Goat…

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Next on the agenda was a walking tour around the monuments. My friends were really excited about doing this and I like to think Capital Yoga Girl had something to do with that! What was just as special as seeing the monuments this time around was running into some veterans who were visiting D.C. for their very first time. I can’t imagine how overwhelming that experience must be.

If you ever visit D.C., you’ll likely run into some of these folks—there are some great charities that give veterans a free trip to visit the memorials. If you see them, stop and say hi. They’ll appreciate it, and you will too.

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As we continued our tour my friends asked to see Capital Yoga Girl in action (or as they like to call it, “CYG”). I didn’t come prepared with my yoga clothes but did my best to make due. These crazy orange leaves were hanging from a tree that had a view of the Washington Monument, but unfortunately that didn’t come through. I’m pretty sure these leaves can hold their own, though!

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Sadly, all good things must come to an end and this morning, they headed back home to New York City. On the bright side, we didn’t have time for a tour of the U.S. Capitol building, so there’s a good excuse to come back!

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Now, time to unwind at candle night yoga.

 

My Trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon

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If you’re like me, you could probably use a brush-up on our nation’s first president, George Washington. And where better to do that than at his estate, Mount Vernon!

Mount Vernon is located in Virginia, a short 30-minute drive outside of Washington, D.C. The drive along the Potomac River is beautiful and worth a trip in itself—just look at the picture I posted above! It was taken five minutes outside of Washington’s Mount Vernon estate along the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail, which is a great place for running, biking…and yoga.

I recommend going to Mount Vernon on a day when it’s good weather because the property is just as amazing to see as the inside of the house. In 1973, federal legislation created a park along the Maryland side of the Potomac River so that we could enjoy the same views General Washington once did. Pretty crazy putting that into perspective.

The most interesting tidbit that I re-learned while visiting here is that George Washington was unanimously elected president twice. That would never happen today. Our country is way too divided.

There’s a reason Washington was so well-liked. He secured American independence as commander of the Continental Army and presided over the country during some of its most important years. (The making of the Constitution in Philadelphia, Pa., for example. No biggie.)

In December 1799, Washington died here in his Mount Vernon home. After that, the nation’s capital was moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and named so in his honor.

Now, people like Neil, this Colonial worker who I convinced to do tree pose with me (check out the explanation here), welcome the public into Washington’s Mount Vernon home to help us better appreciate our heritage.

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I’ll leave you with this quote, which I believe reflects the honesty and virtues of our nation’s first president, while also speaking to the heart and soul of the yoga community. Go visit Mount Vernon to learn LOTS more!

Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected. -George Washington

My First Post

(Photo: Tate Holcombe)
(Photo Credit: Tate Holcombe)

I did it! I created my own yoga blog.

For starters, as much as I love yoga and owe the practice a great deal, I want this blog to be much bigger than yoga. I decided to create Capital Yoga Girl to highlight the amazing history, culture and beauty in Washington, D.C.

I moved to Washington, D.C. from New York City (slash my hometown in Connecticut) almost a year and a half ago, and not once have I looked back. Every time I drive by the monuments, they’re as beautiful as the first time I saw them. When I visit museums and go inside the Capitol buildings, I’m stopped in my tracks. There’s so much this city has to offer and I want to show that off.

I call myself a “reporter by day, yogi by night” because yoga isn’t my full-time job. Like many of the people who come to Washington, D.C., I’m a political/policy junkie with hopes of changing the world.

Ambitious, right?

Politics aside, there’s something here we can all agree upon. Without the decisions, sacrifices and history made in our nation’s great capital, none of us would have the freedom to practice yoga. As the saying goes, freedom isn’t free. It took many, many lives and continues to do so. My hope with this blog is to honor that in some small way—while having fun, of course!

So next time you travel to this beautiful city that I’m lucky to call home, or just feel grateful to live in America, join me in celebrating #yogaintheUSA!

PS-I will do my best to update this blog regularly, but be sure to follow @capitalyogagirl on Instagram for the latest!