The Trauma Therapist Project with Dr. Guy Macpherson

What a fun podcast with Guy Macpherson, PhD on The Trauma Therapist Project talking resilience and mental health! We recorded this a few weeks ago, and it’s now live on his site HERE.  You can also access it directly on the PodCast. There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen Why was I on Guy’s show? Well, I’m a Denver-based holistic health and wellness counselor. I’ve always loved guiding people to better choices, and I did that first as a U.S. Marine Corps officer. Now, as a mental health professional, I mentor people and organizations around the country to help them find clarity and discover how to live happier, healthier lives. On the show, we talked a bit about those topics as they have appeared in both my professional and personal life. Pain is a pretty universal experience – life has kicked all of us in the teeth at least once. How do we learn to get back up well, though? As a mental health professional, I get really energized during one-on-one counseling sessions and by leading resilience workshops teaching others how to do that – “get back up” and how to do it in an authentic, serving way for them. You know why?  Because I think in most cases people aren’t as far off as they think they are, and that it’s really important to begin a collaboration by focusing on what is going right and what my clients already know. I use really simple, evidence-based principles to help people tune into their intuition and refocus their energy. If you are interested in working together...

Stephen King Helped Me Write My First Book

In this episode of Dan Evan’s Military Entrepreneur Podcast series, I discuss how THE Stephen King helped me write my first book, Just Roll With It: 7 Battle Tested Truths For Building a Resilient Life. Well, not directly (that would be amazing!) but via his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. That book, along with William Zinser’s On Writing Well, propelled me forward toward publication. Both books gave me relevant advice on how to write a little bit each day, and how to have a keen eye for emerging themes. That was four years ago. And I’ve written A LOT since then. (Admittedly, not all of it has been great, but gosh darn it if I haven’t kept at it, though!) So, what’s rest of the story (so far)? My book, Just Roll With It, just got published. Point being, it’s a journey. That being said, because “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” we need to bring our dynamic resilience to the business battlefield – whether we be writers, marketers, trainers, or designers – just as much as we do to our personal health and wellness. Although most of my work focuses on mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing, this is a chance for you to get a little more scoop of the behind-the-sceens of Semper Sarah® LLC. We’re talking business, service, and more, Marine to Marine, on this edition of the Dan Evans‘ Military Entrepreneur podcast.  The full interview can be accessed here, for free www.danevansonline.com/sarahtaylor, or you can catch a 2min edited preview of our 30 min interview below. + If you or someone you...

If Athletes Do This Without Question, Why Are So Many of Us So Skeptical?

Why practice? Specifically, why practice mediating, moving, and/or praying mindfully DAILY? Because it trains our brains during times of calm how to better respond in times of anxiety, pressure, or stress. It is like soccer practice versus the big match: we cultivate the skills and muscle memory mindfully when we have the time and space to do it, so that when the big game comes, we are ready. (So says this neuroscientist!) Then the training takes over. Our brains and bodies are wired to respond in a way that serves us, versus a way that exacerbates a situation. Practice and game day are never quite the same, of course, yet the benefit of training is never questioned in sports. Nor is the mass amount of time required to practice in order to become proficient. No one expects someone who’s never played basketball in their life at 35 years old to step to the three point line and swish 3-pointer after 3-pointer! It takes discipline and practice for years to get into the “flow state” where you can nail a fade away jumper with a defender in your face. So, too, it takes practice to get into our “flow state” in meditation. Yet, when I work with clients or speak to audiences who are new to mindfulness practices, I often get questions about its utility. It often seems too good to be true, “woo woo,” or “too new agey.” Or people feel like it takes too long to “work!” They don’t see immediate results, and so they give up on the practice early and never return. Fortunately, western science now...

Last Weekend in New Orleans…

I got to spend two energizing days with the Mission Continues at the Women Veterans Leadership Summit in New Orleans, LA from April 1st to the 3rd. The intended purpose was to empower women veterans for successful transition to civilian life. And the message I heard loud and clear was the importance of finding authentic purpose and investing intentionally in yourself and others. We also heard about the importance of being adaptable. Something I teach my coaching clients at Semper Sarah is that if we’re too rigid we break (that’s a tweetable :)). This is a lesson that’s important for all of us – veteran or not, male or female, entrepreneur or employee. Moreover, instead of being a trauma-focused weekend, during the summit – through a mix of outdoor service and indoor leadership talks and panels – people were sharing ideas, offering resources and encouragement, and there was a real sense of excitement. The hope was almost tangible. I spoke on the Entrepreneurship Panel. We talked about the value of mentors, as well as the value of accountability to your community and clients. We talked about the value of building flexible frameworks and being able to adapt like we did in the military. There’s also tremendous power in building out a strong social network and community that understands and supports your vision, and that does not always have to be other military veterans. The other two panelists were civilians, and each of us represented three distinct types of business: service, training, and products. We were all different, and yet we had very common challenges. We may feel our challenges our...

Once-stodgy, the VFW is now a new portrait of America’s changing military

Our progressive Veterans of Foreign Wars Post-1 in Denver has been featured yet again, this time in the Christian Science Monitor. You know why? ‘Cause we’re rocking it with gender equality, gay rights, yoga, meditation, child care, art shows, and much more at this Post! Healing happens together, folks. 🙂 So, as the article goes… “In the up-and-coming heart of a neighborhood that boasts a cross-fit gym, a sushi restaurant, and several modern art galleries, the door of the nation’s first Veterans of Foreign Wars post is open for yoga class. The instructor, Marine veteran Sarah Plummer Taylor, tells her cross-legged students that while they close their eyes, she’ll keep hers open, to watch the room – a nod to those grappling with post-traumatic stress. “I imagine we also have a lot of members of the tight hamstring club,” she says, as she takes the class through a gentle series of poses. “That would be an affirmative,” says Alan Norton, a Vietnam vet gamely endeavoring a downward-facing dog in jeans and a short-sleeve button-up shirt. The former commander of VFW Post 1, Mr. Norton recalls the years when the post drew very few young people – very few members at all, for that matter.”. . . To enjoy the rest of this extensive article, read on HERE.    The veterans’ yoga community is growing. Classes are offered: * VFW Post-1, Denver, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm * VA hospitals in Denver and Golden * Thanks to Comeback Yoga, Kindness Yoga’s Platte St location now offers free veterans classes Saturdays at 10am.   “I believe that people intuitively hold so many of the right answers...

Healing Doesn’t Happen in Isolation

Integrate, don’t isolate. Healing happens together because healing happens in the very place the initial trauma or stress occurs – in relationship. I know this might initially sound contradictory, but think about it – healing cannot happen in isolation because we are relational creatures. Of course, we often want to retreat at the very times we need to reach out. I get that! I’ve DONE that! We think isolating will protect us somehow. Instead, we really need to integrate. Accept that our pain is part of the PROCESS and that it shouldn’t prevent us from connecting with others, even if it’s in ways we may not really want to. Don’t try to shove the pain away; integrate it into your experience as simply what comes with moving forward. For instance, a couple weeks ago, a young veteran came to a yoga class at the VFW. When I asked for people to give brief introductions of themselves and why they were there, he shared his name and simply said, “I’m trying not to isolate so much anymore.” It was NOT about the yoga.  It WAS about CONNECTING with his brothers and sisters. He had never done yoga before. It wasn’t his “jam” so to speak. So it was a little bit painful for him to even be there at all for that reason alone. He recognized that, and came anyway, though. As the Denver CBS news write up says…These yogis are battle buddies and they are rising above trauma together. The veterans’ yoga community is growing. Classes are offered at various Veterans organizations like the VFW Post-1 (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm (other...

Yoga: How We Help Veterans of Combat Reintegrate Into Their Lives – HuffPost

“Since I began teaching, I understand the principle of ‘yoga off the mat’ more and more every day. I teach veterans — who tend to be survivors of anything from combat to sexual assault — that you can apply yogic principles to all areas of your life. Service… is also about helping people live better, accept themselves, and move forward.” This is an interview with Sarah Plummer, (originally shared on Huffington Post in 2013) who started practicing yoga in 2001 in order to cope with overuse injuries from soccer and military training. After years of dabbling in the practice, in 2006, during her second deployment to Iraq, she became “hooked.” Yoga “saved my life when I was on the edge. At a time when I felt like I was suffocating, yoga was the one thing that got me doing something very simple each day — breathing.” If she could roll off her bed, onto her yoga mat and start there, she knew she would make it another day during the war. In January 2012, she did an intensive yoga teacher training in Costa Rica and became certified to teach others this healing art. Rob: What originally motivated you to do this work and what continues to motivate you? How, if at all, has that motivation changed over time? My own laundry list of physical and mental injuries made me want to help others coping with the same challenges. I’ve had crazy things happen to me, like getting hit by a car, struck by lightning, combined with Marine Corps wear-and-tear for over a decade. I used to think yoga was...

Stop Spinning Sideways

“This is just the visual difference that 6 months made when I started making better choices in how I lived my life and applied principles we discussed during your coaching and expressed in your book. No surgeries, prescriptions or fad diets. Just eating healthy, exercising, sleeping, and re-centering my life around core values.” Robert is a partner in a top global law firm and founder of the Christian ministry, Arms of Love International. You see, Robert and I worked together in 2014. He was a busy guy with a lot on his plate – a family he loved, a job he cared about, a non-profit to manage, and health concerns that were weighing him down. Robert and I worked together in 2014. He emailed me a couple months ago simply to share his story, his progress, and his gratitude, and to ask for some feedback on his current projects. I am so grateful that he did. He went on to say, “I believe in your holistic approach to health and wellness and that it’s something worth promoting. All sides need to be clicking, the physical, spiritual, relational parts of life. You can’t leave any of them behind, or you’ll spin sideways.” I just have to say how amazing I think this man is. He is working on his first book now, and it’s a powerful story about rising out from childhood abandonment and using that narrative to fuel his passion to help other children around the world who have been neglected and abandoned by their families. Robert re-calibrated his life to align with his core values.  He is a walking,...

Bulletproofing the Psyche: Mindfulness Interventions in the Training Environment to Improve Resilience in the Military and Veteran Communities

While clinical health services exist for service members with existing mental health conditions like posttraumatic stress, they are not stemming the rising tide of service suicides. A new approach to mental health intervention and suicide prevention in military-connected personnel is required, one that speaks to the participatory, hard-working ethos of military culture. Social work and health promotion professionals working to prevent and treat mental health problems like depression and stress injuries must understand the confluence of warrior culture and mental health issues in the veteran community. While the research literature does not yet address this confluence issue directly, programs exist that provide guidance, and a mindfulness-based training protocol may provide the answer. The purpose of this review is to provide programming recommendations based on a review of successful exemplars in treatment settings, the limited evaluation of best practices currently available when working with this priority population in prevention settings, and a cultural analysis of the military veteran community. Please visit Advances in Social Work, an Indiana University journal, to read the entire article. https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork/article/view/18357 By: Kate Hendricks Thomas, PhD, E-RYT200 and Sarah Plummer Taylor, MSWc, RYT500   Keywords: Veterans; Depression; Mental health; Resilience; Mindfulness; warrior culture   * Feature image was taken by photographer, by James Richard Kao, while on assignment for a Semper Sarah® Mindfulness Retreat in Costa Rica. A Marine Corps Veteran, Tyler, is featured in the foreground and a Navy Veteran, Caitlin, is featured in the...

Your Nose Knows – Getting Balance, Clarity, and Calm With this Powerful Breathwork

Ever heard of or tried “alternate nostril breathing” or nadi shodhana (in sanskrit)? Nope? Well, you’re not alone! This simple, yet powerful, way of breathing is one that taps into all sorts of intuitive body-based helper systems within us. Huh? That was my verbose way of saying, this breath work does the (good) work for you! Here’s how. See, our noses are directly linked to our brains and our nervous systems. Yup, ’tis true! And we breathe predominantly through one nostril or the other at any given time. This automatic pattern even helps us sleep better, as we often roll over, for instance, when one nostril begins to get more restricted and the other opens up, so we can keep breathing smoothly. Generally, the dominant nostril alternates rhythmically every 90 minutes to 2 hours or so.  Right now, take a few breaths in and out of your nose and see what you notice. Is one nostril more open than the other?  Do your best to just notice without immediately jumping to a conclusion of it somehow being good or bad. Alright, so here’s one approach – you may use the technique of inhaling and exhaling exclusively through either the left or right nostril in order to benefit from the quality associated with that side of the body and brain. Consciously using different breath ratios can yield varied effects. For instance, if you breathe exclusively through the left nostril, it may help you feel calmer, kind of integrating unwanted negative emotions or stress with the body’s natural systems to help balance that out. This is excellent by itself before bed. Or you can inhale...

Restore & Rebuild: A Free Resilient Leadership Retreat for Veterans this March

Resilient Leadership Retreat for OIF/OEF Veterans A quick break in my regular blogging programming to ask you to please help Just Roll With It Wellness LLC share a unique opportunity with wounded, injured, or ill veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The retreat is this March in beautiful Charleston, SC. Lodging, food, and gear are all covered, and travel stipends are available for a limited number of non-locals, so apply soon if you’re from anywhere other than South Carolina. 🙂 Learn more and apply online today! Resilience isn’t a quality “other people” have – it is something we can all train and cultivate. Come join a group of 50 veterans ready to do the...

Living Your Practice: Incorporating Yoga Into Your Daily Life

Like many other things in life, yoga practice becomes deeper and more meaningful as you spend more time with it. In Yoga Sutra 1.14, Patanjali notes that the three keys to success in any aspect of life are to do it for a long time, without interruption, and with full sincerity. Yet today’s busy world leaves little free time to practice yoga without interruption. Still, by developing a few new habits, you can find ways to incorporate yoga into your daily life. Prioritize Yourself An old truism in the mental health field states that you cannot help anyone else become any healthier than you are. Yet when you are coping with conflicting priorities, it is easy to put yourself last. Make a renewed commitment to caring for yourself so that you can better care for others, and it will become easier to “justify” the time you spend on your practice. Even if it is only an hour a week, find a way to set aside time to devote solely to yoga. Find a New Perspective Many people believe that the only way to practice yoga is to shut everything else out and go through a series of poses. Yet yoga is so much more than that. A deep yoga practice involves a new way of living your daily life. Make a pledge to yourself to live your practice moment by moment as you go through your regular routine. Practice Mindfulness Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, accepting fleeting thoughts without judgment, and accepting what comes your way. While private meditation can certainly help you develop mindfulness, you...

The Pistol or the Yoga Mat?

Originally posted January 4, 2016 by Yoga Service Council in Trauma-Informed Yoga / Veterans A couple of years ago, in a New Year’s Eve note to my readers on SemperSarah.com, I encouraged them to be vulnerable. Then, I decided, I was going to walk my talk. First, I shared this note with them. Then, I included an expanded version of it in my book, Just Roll With It: 7 Battle Tested Truths for Building a Resilient Life, which was published this December. This is what I said: Having experienced surviving a sexual assault, as well as two combat deployments to Iraq as a United States Marine Corps officer, getting hit by a car, struck by lightening, having a mini-stroke when I was 28 and more than a dozen traumatic brain injuries, I hear a lot about post-traumatic stress. But today, I want us to think about post-traumatic growth, and the places where we do heal. I believe that one of the most powerful ways that people can heal from trauma is through gaining the tools necessary to exercise meaningful choice. Growth is possible. You can change your relationship with trauma by choosing to move through it mindfully, versus avoiding it, burying it, checking out of life, or remaining stuck, repeating the story of your trauma to yourself over and over again. And today, I do want to talk about choices. Choice is complex, but I assume that if you’re reading this, you are someone who has the ability to choose, who has power, who has responsibility. And I believe every one of us has a choice not only every day, but with every single breath. I would like to share a story with...

Does It Piss You Off When People Tell You To “Just Let It Go?”

Ya, me too. But I think that’s because somewhere deep down I know I need to. I need to just. Let. It. Go. So, I got to thinkin’ – I’m probably not the only one who’s felt this way! And as we approach the New Year and goals and resolutions galore begin to crop up and take shape, you might also be considering the things you’d really love to “just let go” of. Those things that you’re “over,” sick of, or frankly just want to throw out the window and say “good riddance” to. Well, here’s a little offering from me to you this holiday season. By no means am I implying this is a magic button and the one thing to truly set you free (lets be serious), but it might be a helpful nudge in a fruitful direction. As with anything I offer, please know it’s just a suggestion. Ultimately, you need to put it in your body and your spirit and see where it lands. It might feel goofy on first try, and then feel a little more comfortable on the second or third go round. I don’t know! Do your best to approach it with authenticity and curiosity, and let me know how it goes. OFFERING: Use this as a prayer or a meditation Find a comfortable position, either sitting, lying down, or perhaps even resting comfortably on your side with support underneath you. Allow yourself to settle into this position. Then, close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Take a couple slow breaths. Call to mind something—a feeling, a relationship, a sensation,...

Focus Outward. Pay Attention. Extend a Hand. Today is the day!

Happy Friday December 11th, 2015! Today. Is. The. Day!  🙂 My book, Just Roll With It: 7 Battle Tested Truths for Building a Resilient Life, is now available in hardback, paperback, and kindle on Amazon.com. Whooooooo hooooo!!!!! Ok, but beyond my own personal excitement about my book finally really being ready for the world, I’m most excited at the opportunity to share my work with my peers, with my family, with my community, with the people whose proverbial shoes I’ve stood in as well as those I haven’t. We don’t have to have experienced the exact same thing as another person to be able to empathize with them, and offer kindness.   Unfortunately, during the holiday season in particular, many of us – not just veterans – struggle with feeling truly connected. Due to family drama or separation, cold and dreary weather, or quite simply tough times and overwhelm, we often feel more alone than we do supported.   And that can be a dangerous sensation.   We can isolate. We can feel separate. We disconnect – from others and ourselves. We can end up feeling like no one really understands us.   So, why this book? Why now?   Because I passionately hope that people know that they have options.   Because our veterans – and their FAMILIES – need more than a “thank you for your service.”   Because not only our veterans, but anyone who’s been through a really tough time, trauma, or pervasive stress, needs support.   You can extend your hand. You have enough to give now. You don’t need more money, more time,...

Resilience – Want It? Build It. Here’s a meditation to try.

Whether you’re “into meditation” or not, I think you will enjoy this blog today. As my dear friend and owner of Third Eye Yoga, Lisa Theis, says “Meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Though easy to dismiss, taking even 3 minutes out of your day to quiet your mind can be helpful…especially in times of finger pointing, name calling, and other such grandiose assumptions about “Them”. Learn to train your mind see what lies beyond your first thoughts and reactions. Empower yourself (and the rest of the world) by choosing a more enlightened path of being, acting, thinking.” I agree with her big time! Meditation is simple but powerful. Well, this Friday, December 11th, my book, Just Roll With It: 7 Battle Tested Traits for Building a Resilient Life, will be available on Amazon.com. Mark your calendars to get it in just a couple of days! 🙂 And whether you purchase my book or not, I want to offer you some of the best of what I have to give right now. In my next few newsletters, you will get meditations and excerpts from my book that I think might empower or inspire you or someone you love.   Today, please try this “Resilient Meditation,” and let me know how it goes! (This meditation is in Chapter 9 of my book.) Consider setting a timer so you don’t have to worry about when the meditation is complete. I suggest at least 3 minutes, but if you have more time, set it for 10 or 15 minutes or more. Begin by allowing yourself to come...

Brave Strong True – Happy Veterans Day to You

“Honest, humble, and humorous, I enjoyed every page of this book and plan to share it with everyone I know – veteran and civilian alike!” It is truly my honor to share something special with you today, a special day. First of all, I sincerely wish you well this Veterans Day. Secondly, please take a moment to celebrate the Brave, Strong, & True qualities within you. Lastly, and not leastly 😉 please visit the website of my friend and colleague, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, to order a signed paperback copy of her book, “Brave, Strong, & True: The Modern Warrior’s Battle for Balance.” It is honest, humble, and humorous. I enjoyed every page of this book and plan to share it with everyone I know – veteran and civilian alike! Brave Strong True strikes that balance between story-telling and educating while inspiring you to reflect, learn, and then take action toward creating a more resilient life and helping those you love to do so, as well. There are timeless and universal lessons woven into every chapter. Kate’s combination of personal narrative and insightful research gave me more tools to use in my balance toolbox. This is a book I will certainly reread and reference for years to come. If you’re familiar with any of Brené Brown’s work, think of Kate’s book like a GI Jane meets Brené Brown masterful mash up for veterans and their friends and family! 🙂 Visit www.BraveStrongTrue.com for more info and to order a copy for you and a loved one, and share about the book on social media using the #BraveStrongTrue hashtag. P.S. My book, Just Roll With It:...

How Athletes Integrate Yoga In Their Workouts (guest post)

Yoga has long been known for its mental and physical fitness benefits. Until relatively recently, however, many top athletes derided it as “soft” and “earthy,” irrelevant to their hardcore training regimens. Today, however, opinions have changed. As science continues to demonstrate the incredible transformative powers of yoga, more and more high achieving athletes have begun to incorporate it into their workouts. Here is a closer look at the benefits of yoga and how you can use it in your own workout routines.   Mental Toughness Top athletes regularly mention “the zone,” or the mental head space that allows them to perform at their best. Two of the eight limbs of yoga are Pratyahara, or control of the senses, and Dharana, or concentration and perceptual awareness. Regular yoga practice helps you learn to focus on a singular goal, accept fleeting thoughts without judgment, and be fully present in the moment. In tandem with Pranayama, or breath control, these aspects of yoga enhance an athlete’s ability to enter and remain in “the zone.”   Body Awareness All sports require you to be acutely aware of your own body and its relative position at all times, and to move deliberately, using the least amount of energy to achieve the maximum benefit. Yoga teaches body awareness and the ability to make subtle adjustments as needed to gain optimal functioning. Whichever style of yoga you choose, working through Asana, or physical expression through poses, will help you turn your focus inward and become more aware of why and how you move.   Flexibility Stretching out before and after each workout is absolutely critical to...

The Lady Bulldogs Are the Most Winning Team in Sports-Crazed Denver

If we’re not connected on social media, you may have missed the latest posting about one of my personal passions, an “Engaged and Excited” staple in my SEMPER Sarah life: AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL. Did you know that the Denver Lady Bulldogs are THE most winning team in this sports crazy town of Denver? Wulp, we are! Read this feature-length article by the Westword to learn more about this amazing sport and incredible team.   Excerpt… Sarah Plummer Taylor is another linchpin in the Lady Bulldogs lineup. The 34-year-old former Marine played for five years on the U.S. Military Olympics women’s soccer team. Trim and compact, Plummer Taylor is not afraid to trade pain for clutch tackles against her opponents — and she thinks the team can do more during the rest of the game. A whistle is blown, signifying that halftime is over. The players return to their positions, on opposite sides of the field this time, since the goals switch at halftime. Another whistle, and the second half begins. Almost immediately, Sacramento scores with a grounded kick through the Lady Bulldogs’ center goalposts. Six points. The Bulldogs regroup, but the Suns keep up the attack, looking sprightlier than they did during the first half. They advance the ball around the edge of the field and pass it to a player who is within kicking distance of the Bulldogs’ goalposts. While still running, the Sacramento player positions the ball for the kick. Just as it is about to be released, Plummer Taylor sprints in for a tackle, but can’t quite grab her opponent. The player stumbles, and Plummer Taylor...

3 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga (Guest Post)

Yoga has long been popular for its ability to help us relax, soothe stress, ease tired muscles, and build flexibility. Whether you prefer a vigorous power yoga workout or a gentle, calming routine, yoga offers something for everyone. Like most things in life, the more you put into your yoga practice, the more you will get out of it. Yet many people are unaware of the myriad of ways in which regular yoga practice can boost physical health. Here are just 3 of the surprising health benefits. 1. Immune System Improvement Yoga has a complex effect on all of the body’s systems, and scientists are just beginning to understand exactly how this process works. Nonetheless, yoga has been shown to improve the immune system in numerous different ways. Stretching and moving through different poses helps your body drain lymph, increasing your ability to fight infections and rid your body of toxic waste. Meditation, a key part of yoga practice, helps you target your immune system to boost functioning when needed and decrease the over-functionality that occurs in such diseases as psoriasis. Guided imagery, which is an important element of many people’s practices, has been shown to help with healing from surgery and fighting chronic diseases. In addition, chronic stress and anxiety have been repeatedly shown to slow healing and make the body more susceptible to infections. The deep relaxation and contentment that come with a mature yoga practice can wipe away the majority of your chronic stress, giving your body the best possible opportunities to heal itself. 2. Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Level Control Yoga has been found to...

4 Ways Yoga Can Help You Manage Chronic Pain (Guest Post)

Yoga has become a tremendously popular way to relieve stress, improve flexibility, and boost both physical and emotional health. For those with chronic pain, yoga can have a powerful effect on reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. Although it will not necessarily get rid of all the pain, research has repeatedly shown that yoga can lower subjective pain levels and make the pain that remains feel much more tolerable. Here are 4 ways that this can occur. 1. Brain Anatomy Changes Both the gray matter and the white matter in your brain are fundamentally changed by chronic pain. These changes often lead to depression, anxiety, and the impaired cognitive functioning or “brain fog” that is frequently reported by people with chronic pain. Yet imaging studies of yoga practitioners show nearly polar opposite results. The gray matter and white matter change in ways that improve cognitive functioning, mood, and physical tolerance of pain and discomfort. If you have chronic pain, regular yoga practice boosts the brain anatomy, undoing the changes that the pain caused. Depending on your medical condition, current pain levels, and existing brain anatomy, the effects can be quite dramatic. Boosting your brain responses can lead you out of the fog, remove the physical impacts of depression and anxiety, and drastically improve your pain tolerance. 2. Replacing Learned Bodily Responses Pain is ultimately a protective response by your body when faced with a physical threat. It stops you from performing activities that could cause further damage, and encourages you to rest and heal. However, the nervous system also learns from the experience, and begins to process pain...

Program Eval for Resilience Training for Military Veterans – As Published in the Californian Journal of Health Promotion

Developing, offering, and evaluating programs to cultivate resilience for military veterans and their families is work easy to love. New evaluation results are out, and we enjoyed being on a team that included the co-owners of Just Roll With It Wellness LLC, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas & Semper Sarah Plummer Taylor, MSWc, as well as program community partner Team Red, White & Blue.   Abstract Background and Purpose: Military and veteran suicide rates exceed those found in the general population. Veterans often reject patient identities, creating barriers to care for mental health within the clinical sector and a mandate for prevention programs. The purpose of this study was to offer a post- intervention process evaluation of one peer-led resilience program offered to military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan at three sites in 2013. Methods: Secondary analysis of survey data collected involved mixed-methods analysis of open and closed-ended questions. In total, the research team reviewed 52 electronic survey responses; participant response rate was 48.1%. Results: Descriptive data analysis found that all participants rated Just Roll With It Bootcamp content as “somewhat useful” (17.9%) or “very useful” (82.1%). Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions found that content was perceived as valuable by participants. Emergent themes included: health practices, social support, and participant quality of life or satisfaction. Comments also informed four subthemes which included: meditation/mindfulness, nutrition, physical practice, and the seminars’ physical environment. Conclusion: Culturally-informed prevention programs that emphasize social support, physical movement, and peer-leadership have a vital role to play in working to prevent suicide by promoting quality of life for veterans. Official Article Title – Multi-site Programming Offered to Promote Resilience in Military Veterans: A Process...

FITNESS – To be fun, or not to be fun? That is the question!

Friend, colleague, and co-owner of our business Just Roll With It Wellness LLC, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, (eloquently as always) describes how agency, grace, and resiliency bring the fun back into fitness in the most unlikely ways. Please enjoy a guest post this week, the full content of which can be found at Grow Soul Beautiful, and is posted below, as well. Kate says… I can remember a childhood Christmas morning that my family rose early, opened presents, then looked outside to see new snow falling.  It was beautiful and we decided we needed to go enjoy it.  The whole family bundled up and we headed out to our residential street.  By then the light snow was coming down more like violent hail and sleet.  My little sisters rode their bicycles, and the rest of us started off on a jog.  The neighbors told us later they thought we were crazy- a ragtag group of six running along on Christmas morning, dodging hail, laughing, and breathing hard.  I remember that day as happiness uncomplicated by age or societal expectations.  It was visceral and childish – it was joy. Fitness in contemporary society can often be accused of working in diametric opposition to such visceral, celebratory expressions of physicality.  So often, physical endeavors are linked to pursuit of an aesthetic, with no focus on empowerment and strength.  Yoga gets accused of having a commercial, aesthetic-driven, mean-girl vibe all the time.  As a girl, I remember physicality providing me with happiness.  I knew how to celebrate my body outside of dictates about what it should look like.  I remember thinking that strength...

What makes a “good day” good?

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elizabeth Kübler-Ross How was your day today? What are the key components of a “good day” for you? Is that a hard question to answer? Are you like “What? I don’t freaking know! I only have bad days!” Wulp, as they say, knowing is half the battle. So, I’ll share first (but really do want to know your answers too!) because when I have heard variations of what makes for a good day from dear people in my life, with whom I have REAL relationships, vulnerable, honest (sometimes brutally so), compassionate relationships, it has helped me refine how I approach things. Knowing those things for others, and better defining them for myself helps me have a “good day” even when I’m heartbroken … Or in physical pain …. Or frustrated with things out of my control… And yesterday was a day like that for me in many ways. So, a (good – heck, yesterday was great!) day in the life of Sarah looks a little like this… Early morning wake up so I can meditate first thing and then get outside to get some blue light, prayer and journaling to set my intention for the day, work (answering emails, corresponding with future & prospective clients, biz strategy & planning call with biz partner and...

When is the last time someone wrote you a love letter?

Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day. Nicholas Sparks   So, when’s the last time someone wrote you a love letter?   My guess is it may have been awhile since you’ve received that particular kind of gift.   Perhaps you associate “love letters” with high school sweethearts, mushy romance, or something simply superfluous. (Sorry I’m not sorry, I’m a sucker for alliteration! ;-p)   However, LOVE is so much more than the romantic stuff. Love is a practice just like faith. Love is dynamic and diverse.   Love is comprised of properties, elements, and sensations that exist along a spectrum.   Love includes doubt, fear, insecurity, tension, and uncertainty just as much as it includes faith, trust, clarity, and peace.   Where we may find more acceptance with all elements of love is in seeing love as a practice. It requires going back to it, choosing it, nurturing a devotion to it each week…each day…in each moment that we have the capacity to choose (and, heck, sometimes it does NOT feel like we CAN choose). But if and when you can, start small, and build from there.   As part of that practice, I encourage you to ask someone in your life to write you a love letter. Part of practicing love is getting used to receiving it, too.   So, keep it simple. Request a letter from a friend, a family member, or a partner, and see what comes up. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to write them one yourself.   Let me know how that...

Faith, what is it good for?

“Without exception, spirituality – the belief in connection, a power greater than self, and the interconnections grounded in love and compassion – emerged as a component of resilience.” ~Brené Brown   Personal stories and research alike provide rich evidence for faith, spirituality, or some sort of practice of that type to be of supreme importance. Whether it’s Brené Brown asserting that spirituality (of any kind) kept coming up in her research as a requirement for “Whole-Hearted Living,” Duke University’s combination of spiritual studies and health sciences research indicating the same, resilience studies continuing to show the power of connectedness, or yogis reminding us that uncertainty (and the subsequent trust required to live with uncertainty without losing your mind) is something to be embraced, faith is good for a lot of things in our lives. I didn’t say religion – I said FAITH. I think the essence of faith is –       love –       trust –       hope “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” Hebrews 11 –       grace and gratitude –       devotion to that with which you are aligned –       spirituality –       connection –       loyalty and honor And faith in action looks like –       service –       generosity –       gratitude –       surrender –       acceptance –       reaching out to others as well as receiving help from others –       letting go of certainty –       embracing mystery The key is PRACTICE. Practice exercising your “spiritual muscle.” Faith – like love – is great to feel, but it becomes transformative and powerful when it is done, when it is put into ACTION. Faith – like love – is a...

Have You Ever Done Something Imperfectly…and Then Lived To Tell?

“She went out on a limb, had it break off behind her, and discovered she could fly.”  ~ Kobi Yamada, She What’s something YOU have done imperfectly? That picture above this post is a candid shot of me crying after falling over again and again when I tried a difficult yoga pose in Costa Rica. But, “Look, she lives!” as Lisa would say 😉 So what is something you were TERRIFIED to do, swore up and down it would turn out awful, convinced yourself you’d be judged irrevocably for, and have to spend the rest of your life hiding under a rock because you did it, said it, shared it, whatever’d it “wrong?” A reply-all email that didn’t damage your career but opened up a dialogue to something everyone else was thinking. A vulnerable sharing of your emotions with your partner that left them saying, “I’m sorry. I had no idea you felt that way” with a subsequent relief of tension afterwards. A paper you thought “this is so stupid” and you turned in for school that ended up getting high praise from your teacher. A yoga class taught from a place of excitement and joy, but then feeling like “Wow, I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m an idiot goof,” only to hear after class, “That was exactly what I needed. Thank you.” Anything like that? Ever? Ok, you go first before I tell you mine! 😉 So, in all seriousness, I’m battling with some major internal tension, fear, anxiety, an insecurity myself right now and I’ve decided I’m going to start an IMPERFECTION EXPERIMENT. I’m going to give myself permission to...

Like To Cook? Hungry For New Ideas? Info + Give Away!

Seared Halloumi Sandwiches on Focaccia...with roasted vegetables & Fuji apple salad “Halloumi is an amazing, semi-hard cheese originally made in Cyprus. It has a distinct, layered texture, and an incredible high melting point – meaning that even when exposed to high heat, it will hold its shape. This makes it possible to sear the cheese in a hot pan, caramelizing it slightly, giving it a crisp crust and enhancing its naturally mild flavor. Layered with roasted bell pepper and Japanese eggplant, halloumi makes these hearty sandwiches uniquely delicious.” Ok, so this blog may seemingly be just about food… I’m going to share a recipe with you… I’m going to tell you how to get three free meals from Blue Apron… I’m going to write about food… But, it’s never “just about food.” Food can speak to and open up the creativity within us. Cooking requires our attention. Cooking is expressive…it’s heart felt…it’s empowering. Unfortunately, many of us have been led to believe cooking is a chore. I disagree. Because as we prepare and create our own meals, we feed ourselves and our loved ones. We can choose what we eat. What we eat, becomes us. It is the only form of art we can quite literally consume. And it – eating – is something most of us take for granted. I believe cooking, and eating, can be a gateway to healing, though. It’s a place where we can make choices. It’s a place where we choose what becomes us. So, when a food “will hold its shape even when exposed to high heat,” we end up absorbing a least a little bit of that quality, too. We end up consuming, absorbing,...

The Story Behind the Yoga Stuff (another guest post) & What’s YOUR Story?

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done” ~ Lucille Ball In this blog, I’m sharing some more Kris Beal with you! 🙂 Once again, her latest newsletter inspired me not only to take some time to be mindful about my own journey but to also reach out to you and hear about YOUR story (yoga-oriented or otherwise). 🙂  Kris says: “I’ve got my Groovy Yoga music playing in the background. It seems so fitting! What are you listening to?I get lots of questions about my love of yoga. After all, it’s been less then 2 years when I embarked on my first retreat. Since that fateful trip, I’ve completed multiple teacher trainings, immersions, committed to a daily home practice, and am blessed to share the practice. Believe me – this is all quite unexpected!Believe me, never in a million years would I have predicted this path!Here’s how it all began….A friend of a friend of a friend had posted something about a Costa Rica Yoga Retreat, and I blindly clicked “like” on the Facebook page. Why not? No harm in clicking, right?Of course, I completely forgot about it until Sarah reached out to me and said, “Hey! Are you interested?” I checked my calendar and flights and spontaneously signed up. Boom!I didn’t do yoga.  I was burnt out. Exhausted once again. I just wanted to get out of dodge, right? Little did I know that the spontaneous click would lead me on this transformative journey.I was not bendy. I was not strong. I was not thin. I was not a 20-something. I was not calm. I didn’t breathe or mediate....

Exploring Your Ingredients for an Energized and Fulfilling Day (guest post)

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile.“ ~ Gretchen Rubin, author Today, I’m sharing some musings from a dear, wise, and humorous friend, Kris Beal. Kris has a newsletter, too, and in her last one, this is what she sent: “I’ve renewed – yet again – my commitment for more fresh air, so I’m sitting on the deck under my gorgeous oak tree. It’s lovely! It seems that when I’m feeling cranky or drained at the end of the day, I’m usually missing one of my key ingredients for contentment – and fresh air is one of them. So here I am. Sitting outside. On purpose. Practicing. Again. I’m reminded that I rarely put all the pieces perfectly in place at one time. Some days I do great on fueling myself, but I neglect moving my body. Other days, I drink enough water, but I spend too much time on the computer. Some days I have too much fun, but I don’t take care of business. You get the idea. The first step was to identify the ingredients of my energized and contented days. After some reflection I discovered common themes. Food for fuel. Move the body. Adequate rest. Sufficient hydration. Time to quiet the mind. Not too much computer or tv. Music. Fresh air. Service. A bit of productivity. Friends. My comfortable days typically contain a balanced mix of each of these ingredients, and they don’t magically appear on accident. So I’m curious. Do you know your ingredients?  If not, are you interested in exploring this further? Action: Grab a piece of paper. Make two columns:...

Balance Is A Waste of Time

“Work-life balance was a mistake from the start. Because we don’t really want balance. We want satisfaction.” – Matthew Kelly, author   Busy is busy. Hard is hard. Pain is pain. It’s all relative.   For each of us, our busy may feel more important than someone else’s busy, or your pain may feel bigger than someone else’s pain.  However, we need to shift away from competing over who’s got it hardest and put positive energy into fostering growth in what we do want versus what we claim we don’t. Balance is a sticky subject among many people. We have careers, partners, children, family commitments, volunteer work, classes, hobbies, worship time – plus, big desires to improve our health. How can one possibly balance so many things? I’m going to let you in on a little secret here: You can’t. Harmony is a more realistic and less stress-inducing goal than balance.  (In this day and age, “balance” is just another word for “perfect.”) Rhythm is more realistic. Going with the flow – instead of against it – is more efficient and effective. (This is what I mean when I say “just roll with it” all the time!) Honestly, it’s about being more and more comfortable with the inevitable discomfort of life. On first read, that may sound pessimistic. Life is always uncomfortable?! Well, ya! But it’s optimistic because it’s honest. That doesn’t mean life is awful all the time, it just means that life is life, stuff comes up, and wouldn’t you rather have a mindset and habits that help you handle those things versus get stuck in the junk...

Spring Cleaning + Focus Food: GREENS

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. – Jan Glidewell   Spring Cleaning People like “stuff.” We tend to hold onto it year after year. (I still have clothes from college more than 10 years ago!) We save and stock up on things that we don’t know what to do with anymore. Maybe we keep things because they hold precious memories of days gone by, or they remind us of our parents, grandparents, past loves or childhood. To part with these precious possessions seems out of the question. There is a saying that goes, “You have to get rid of the old to make way for the new.” If you are feeling stuck or stagnant in your life, try spring-cleaning. Throw out some of that stuff, say goodbye to your past and welcome the new energy of your happy, healthy future. Try these three ideas: 1. For good mental and physical health, we actually have two “houses” that need to be spring-cleaned: our physical homes and our physical bodies. Just as we accumulate “stuff” in the form of outgrown clothes, magazines, rusty bicycles, tools and random keepsakes, so do our bodies accumulate old food residues and toxins that need to be cleaned out. 2. To spring clean your body, give it a break from rich and complicated foods by either cleansing or fasting for a short period of time. Cleansing means paring down your food to just simple fruits and vegetables, lots of water and perhaps whole grains. Fasting means limiting most foods and drinking lots...

Slow Down and Chew + Quinoa Recipe

“I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life.” -William Gladstone Chewing When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted—working, reading, talking and watching television—and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems. There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food: 1. Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets. 2. Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food. 3. More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings. 4. It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full. 5. In fact, chewing can promote increased circulation, enhanced immunity, increased energy and endurance, as well as improve skin health and stabilize weight. 6. Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It...

Why forgiveness helps YOU heal

Have you ever downed an entire package of chips, crackers, or cookies? Ate pizza or cake until you felt sick? Drank more coffee or wine than your body wanted?  Have you ever worked out well past the point of “healthy” and brought yourself to the brink of destruction?   Do you remember how you were feeling at the time?   I ask because sometimes we overeat to help distract us from emotional pain. Think about it – have you noticed that sometimes when you overeat you’re not hungry at all? What you are is lonely. Or angry. Or sad. Or resentful. Or frustrated. Or something else.   So what hurt are YOU holding on to?   –> Tap Into the Power of Forgiveness   Wouldn’t it be more effective to address your uncomfortable feelings? The best, most thorough, most divinely perfect way to do that is forgiveness.   Forgiving is not easy, even for the most enlightened among us. If you’ve been allowing your present health to be controlled by past hurts, I urge you to commit to forgiving. These steps can help: 1. Talk to sympathetic friends and family about your desire to forgive. Chatting with others is tremendously comforting. 2. Write a letter to the person you’d like to forgive. You can decide whether or not you send it. 3. See the situation from the other person’s perspective – your own perspective may change. 4. Don’t forget to forgive yourself. Sometimes we can be harshest with ourselves. 5. Understand that you are responsible for your own attitude. Don’t let holding a grudge keep you from feeling free,...

You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are: Practicing Yoga With Injuries

“Meeting yourself where you are’ is a dance between complacency and perfectionism, coupled with trusting that you are stronger than you think you are.” ~Sarah Plummer   (This article was originally published on Zenspiration HERE) I am a yoga skeptic, turned yoga student, turned yoga teacher. It’s been quite the evolution from my “it’s not worth exercising unless it kicks my butt” days to where I am now (15 years later). I’m still both a student and a teacher at all times, though. I am a recovering perfectionist; I was raised by a career military father, strict mother, have been a competitive athlete my whole life, and became a United States Marine. I’ve got plenty of interesting baggage to work with. We all do. Realizing that I’m not special in that regard – that we’ve all got baggage, insecurities, and (mental and physical) injuries – has helped me immensely. I’ve been injured – a lot. I really shouldn’t be alive. (No really, I’ve been hit by a car and struck by lightning, just to give you a couple examples). I can get mired down in that story sometimes, though, believing I’m the only one who’s been through what I’ve been through. Yoga, for all its feel good niceties, bendiness, and fit bodies, isn’t all sunshine and butterflies all the time. Yoga brings your shit up, too. It’s sort of supposed to but it doesn’t always mean that’s a pleasant experience. Yoga can be the refining fires that we need to walk through, but don’t want to. The question is, how do meet the challenge of the fire without getting...

Chocolate is its own food group

Chocolate is the only ingredient that is its very own food group. Well not really – but it seems as if it should be. Powerfully comforting, creamy, delicious – many people eat chocolate at least several times a week. Which begs the question… Is Chocolate Good for You? The answer is both yes and no. Chocolate has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, sexual malaise, fatigue, hangovers, anemia, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, and more. It also helps release that feel-good neurotransmitter – serotonin – in the brain. But eat the wrong kind and you’ll get loads of sugar, calories, and junky ingredients.   How to Eat it Responsibly Chocolate begins life as raw cacao (pronounced kah-kow) beans. Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, cacao is a powerful superfood. The more processed cacao becomes, however – think commercially produced candy bars – the fewer healthy components remain. So how to get the most out of your chocolate fix? Don’t be afraid of the dark. The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains. Know your percentages: the number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao bean in chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% to 85% cacao. Go raw – or as unprocessed as possible. Looking for more fun ways to enjoy your favorite food? You’ll love this dark chocolate treat. Invite some friends over and make a batch!   Chef Karolina’s Raw Chocolate Truffles Prep time: 20 minutes Makes 25 truffles Ingredients: 1 cup raw cacao powder 1 cup cashews or macadamia nuts...

The Deeper Meaning of “Soul Food”

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.  -Rumi Think for a moment of a food from your past, one that makes you feel great after you eat it for no specific reason. Maybe it is macaroni and cheese, creamy pesto gnocchi, ice cream cones, or rich potato pancakes. Eating comfort foods (every now and then) can be incredibly healing, even though your rational brain might not consider it highly nutritious.   Food has the power to impact us on a level deeper than just our physical well-being. What we eat can reconnect us to precious memories, like childhood playtimes, first dates, holidays, our grandmother’s cooking or our country of ancestry. Our bodies remember foods from the past on an emotional and cellular level. Eating this food connects us to our roots and has youthening and nurturing effects that go far beyond the food’s biochemical make-up.   Acknowledging what different foods mean to us is an important part of cultivating a good relationship with food. This month when we celebrate lovers and relationships, it’s important to notice that we each have a relationship with food—and that this relationship is often far from loving. Many of us restrict food, attempting to control our weight. We often abuse food, substituting it for emotional well-being. Others ignore food, swallowing it whole before we’ve even tasted it.   What would your life be like if you treated food and your body as you would treat your beloved – with gentleness, playfulness, communication, honesty, respect and love? The next time you eat your soul food, do so with...

Powerful plant protein (+ cooking tips!)

“I was determined to know beans.” – Henry David Thoreau, The Bean-Field How about you? How well do you know beans? Creamy cannellinis, meaty garbanzos, sweet adzuki, tender pintos, and so many more – beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around. Consider this: Beans are packed with tons of fiber, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are low in calories. Plus, studies have found them to lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. What To Do With Beans Many people avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them. Are you one of them? Keep reading: Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots, and red peppers) with vinaigrette for a bean salad. Blend cooked beans with tomatoes, onions, and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup. Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean. Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread. Add beans to eggs. Top with avocado and salsa! Add 1/4 cup pureed beans to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin, or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans. If you’re new to cooking with beans, try these tips: Wash and soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking. After soaking, rinse, fill a pot with fresh water, bring to a boil, then skim off the foam. To aid digestion, add kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise, or...

How do you want to FEEL in the New Year?

True life is lived when tiny changes occur. ~ Leo Tolstoy New Year, New You…right? A lot of people begin the New Year by making resolutions. We’ve all been there. We take a vow to lose weight, exercise more or spend more time with our family. We start the year with great intentions, but then we quickly relapse into old habits. Why is it so hard to stick to those New Year’s resolutions? Because resolutions come from a deficit mentality in a way. Resolutions imply we need fixing. Resolutions are different than intentions…different than deep desires…different than the dreams and feelings and purposes that really guide you… Here are some ways you can make your intentions a reality this year: First, consider how you want to FEEL. Ie. I want to loose 10 pounds versus I want to have enough energy to play with my kids or go running with my partner. Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car. Use just one or two that resonate with you the most as a daily mantra or prayer. Get to the source of whatever is keeping you in a rut. Are you in a stressful relationship that causes you to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night? Are you stressed at your job and feel too tired to exercise after work? If you don’t tackle the root of the behavior, it will be much harder to accomplish your goal. Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If...

Cultivate Calm Amidst the Chaos

This past Monday night, I was graciously asked to speak at the Real Life Book Club meeting hosted by Susannah Campora. Her group of dynamic Denver women are currently reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, and Susannah felt my work was very much akin to Brené’s and, therefore, it would be great to connect with the group. I wanna be Brené Brown when I grow up, so to say that I was thrilled to hear 1. I in any way, shape, or form reminded Susannah of Brené Brown or her work and 2. That I was invited into the fold of such a great group, would be an understatement. To open up with the vulnerability that Brené Brown emphasizes as so important, I shared a little about my story – to include the variety of obstacles and challenges I’ve faced, as well as a bit about how I’ve overcome them and what I’m doing now – but the follow up questions were some of the most thought-provoking I’ve been asked in such a setting.   I did my best to answer mindfully and with the intent to be helpful. Different grounding exercises, breath work, mantras, and insights were shared. When I got home, though, my mind and heart were still racing. The Q&A had just scratched the surface, and there was more I wanted to both share with these women and hear from them. Although we dug deep in a short amount of time, alas, this blog post must suffice as further explanation for now 🙂 I shared that meditation has been a critical component of continued health...

Shut Your Mouth And Breathe

The key to success is to keep things simple. So… Just Shut Your Mouth And Breathe   Admittedly, my life has taken on a new level of “busy” the past several months with grad school, internship, new marriage, regular self-care to maintain, and a business to run and a business to build, but I want to make sure we stay in touch, gosh darn it! 🙂 And well, my hope is that this re-share from two years ago brings you a little laugh (because of poor video quality) for your Friday afternoon. Two years ago, Semper Sarah LLC was breaking onto the scene…I released my first book, I’d run my first of four Just Roll With It Bootcamps, had delivered my first few keynote and graduation speeches, scheduled my first Costa Rica Yoga and Adventure Retreat, and was building a full health coaching client load. So as I both reflect back on that time 2 years ago as well as take pause to assess things now, I realize the same principles still hold true: keep it simple, and it always comes back to the breath. I invite you to hop onto my YouTube Channel to see this 3 minute video about simple and powerful breath work that I find to be so consistently helpful in my own life, and I hope you find it helpful in yours. You don’t need to be a yoga or meditation expert to do it, I promise! 🙂 Give it a try and let me know what you think. Always feel free to email with any questions at all. Wishing you all the very best this holiday season. To sweet breathing and simple living! 🙂...

The 10 Step Love Burger: Recipe for the Veggie Burger of Your Dreams

Today it’s time to (re)share the LOVE BURGER recipe!! 🙂  and I’ve got two reasons for retrieving this favorite from the Semper Sarah archives: 1. Two weeks ago, my husband, Pete, and I took a trip to Ohio. We lived in this charming Midwest state a couple of years ago, and were thrilled to return recently in order to compete in Australian Rules Football Nationals with our team, the Denver Bulldogs.  The Lady Bulldogs won our fifth straight National title (hooray!!!). I’m so fortunate to play with a team full of amazing athletes and women, but I gotta admit, one of the other highlights of our trip was getting to visit one of our favorite Columbus restaurants with our local friends, Dan and Cindy.  This restaurant serves a veggie burger that Pete and I loved so much so that Pete creatively adapted the recipe for it so we could recreate it at home. 2. The weather has been great here in Denver, and outdoor get-togethers are still happening. So, in that vein, if have gotten an invite to “bring a dish to pass” to an upcoming get-together or backyard BBQ and all you can think of is a cheesy, high-calorie dish, have no fear, the alternative is here! Turns out, there is still a way to keep things healthy while bringing a delicious dish, too. I am sharing this recipe with Aloha, a new company that says hello to health and happiness. Aloha offers a number of whole-powder products – basically, superfoods in a pouch! You can add these into almost any recipe you can think of for an added kick of healthy...

Time Management: Accepting Limitation in order to Transcend It + Roasted Root Vegetable Recipe

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. -Mark Twain   Have you ever wished for a few more hours in the day, or wish you could leave it all beyond and whisk yourself away on a retreat? Why is it that some people seem to get everything done effortlessly and others feel that time constantly eludes them? The secret to managing your time well isn’t working more hours. It is about prioritizing the important things and learning to use the time you have more efficiently and effectively. The secret is working smarter, not harder.   Some of us, by nature, organize and get tasks out of the way before we relax, while others of us play first and work later. It is important to first recognize which type you are and whether your style is allowing you to have the life you really want. Maybe you are super-organized at work, but burned out because you don’t know how to make time for yourself. Maybe you are naturally a less organized person who knows how to relax, but you are dissatisfied because you aren’t fulfilling your goals and dreams. To paraphrase Anodea Judith in Eastern Body Western Mind, If you have an unrealistic attachment to freedom, you’ll have an unwillingness to accept limitations long enough to manifest your own basic needs, subsequently leaving you feeling trapped (the very thing you least want!). She says it wasn’t until she “accepted limits with grace” that [she] found any prosperity for...

Gandhi’s Paradox – What will YOU do?

“Nothing you do as an individual matters, but it is vitally important you do it anyway.” ~Mahatma Gandhi   Why recycle? Why advocate for others? Why bother making any changes in your diet? Why reconcile with a loved one? Why bother voting? Gandhi’s paradox certainly touches on a powerful paradox in the relationship between society and individuals: if we as individual don’t really “make a difference,” then why bother doing anything at all?    Imagine that social systems (family, community, the state in which we live, our country, friends who are the same, race, gender, or sexual orientation as us (or different)) are trees and we are the leaves. No individual leaf on the tree matters; whether it lives or dies has no effect on much of anything. But collectively, the leaves are essential to the whole tree because they photosynthesize the sugar that feeds it. Without the leaves, the tree dies. So leaves matter, and they don’t, just like we matter and we don’t. It’s a matter of critical mass. Alone, or one time, doesn’t amount to much, but collectively we can tip the scale.    This metaphor is applicable with our personal health, as well. The trees are our personal “ecosystem” of well-being and the leaves are the small, positive changes we make to improve it. I often hear people say they just can’t see how one small change (made repeatedly) can make a difference in their health…then, after 2, or 6, or 12 months, they see the change.  Hmmm..didn’t Gandhi say something about change, too? 😉   Anyway, just some food for thought today, and a lil encouragement from me to to...

Alkalinize, Juice, & Reduce (inflammation)

It’s already the end of September (yikes!). Things are beginning to cool down, but I want to cover three “hot” wellness topics with you that can help you feel your very best: Alkalinizing Juicing (photo from justjuice.org) Inflammation reduction First, you need to know the difference between acid and alkaline forming foods, because alkalinizing our bodies is a helpful tactic in overall health. Please find this basic hand out HERE depicting the spectrum of foods with acid or alkaline qualities.  In a nut shell, you want more alkaline in your life 🙂 Second, juicing can be a great compliment to your healthy lifestyle and a powerful way to alkalinize.  Here’s a little handout for you on store bought vs homemade, some basic background on it, and few handy dandy recipes.  Download it HERE.  Third, reducing inflammation – internal and external – is helpful to building resilience.  Alkaline foods do that (reduce inflammation) and, yup, you guessed it, I’ve got another handy dandy lil handout about it for you HERE. Perhaps these handouts will spark some ideas for you to tweak things. They’re just the tip of the iceberg for these topics. –> Only change one to three major things at once.  You want to be able to discern what shift is causing what change, and not feel further frazzled by too many changes happening at once.   Give one – or up to all three – of these things a try and write me back to let me know how it went. I READ EVERY EMAIL YOU SEND ME and every comment you post! 🙂 P.S. The next SEMPER Sarah Retreat is “Align & Shine: A Mind-Body-Spirit Coaching Intensive & Yoga Retreat for Professional Women.” It is scheduled...

Sharing Some “Happy Momentum” With You: Getting Closer to Bliss Even When You Argue

Happy Monday! Today, I’d love to share some “Happy Momentum” with you.I am incredibly fortunate to have amazing friends, colleagues, and mentors in my life.  One of those special, kind, and inspirational people is my friend, and fellow yoga teacher at Denver studio The Freyja Project, Caren Baginski, whose website is “Happy Momentum.”  Furthermore, she has this awesome weekly newsletter that gets my mind and spirit going in a great direction every time I read it. And today, I’m sharing Caren’s work with you because she’s doing this whole “translating yoga to ‘real life’ thing” really well. 🙂  So, I figured, instead of recreating the wheel, I would just share one of her posts with you because, heck, I just started full time grad school and – honestly – I’m already swamped!  (But swamped in a  I’m-in-nerd-Heaven-and-loving-this swamped kind of way :-p).  Something in particular that Caren does that I really love, is linking specific yoga poses – asanas – with an “off-the-mat” lesson. (That picture is of her and her adorable pup, and her post includes instructions on how to do the pose and why it’s relevant to today’s lesson). That being said, here’s how one of her most recent posts {which can be found directly here: http://www.carenbaginski.com/closer-to-bliss/} goes … “Each day, we either eliminate or grow the distance between us and our bliss. This distance is tangible. When we’re far from feeling like ourselves, we disconnect from others, eat empty calories, spend inordinate amounts of time feeling like day-tripping tourists in our own bodies. When we arrive closer to our core, we’re in our most creative flow, lose track of time, and don’t need to convince ourselves that we...

Guard Your Spare Moments Well…Relaxation, Exercise, Water, & Recipes

Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life. -Ralph Waldo Emerson Relaxation and Exercise Summer is often a time for serious play, time off and deep relaxation. Many of us use the summertime to rebuild our reserves for the rest of the busy year. In our work-crazed society we can lose sight of the benefits of slowing down and taking time to rest. Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to enjoy the restorative powers of reconnecting to your body through movement and relaxation.   The body loves to move. Even though our body is healthiest when it is getting appropriate physical activity, we often feel dread and boredom when we hear the word “exercise”. Think for a moment of what type of movement you would consider fun as opposed to torturous. Perhaps you loathe the idea of a gym, but miss taking dance classes. Maybe you secretly want to try yoga or rollerblading. You could play touch football with your kids, walk with a neighbor in the mornings or go for a swim. The summer offers so many choices – it’s simply up to you to choose which style of movement excites you. Your heart will thank you, your soul will be gratified, your limbs will be more fluid and you’ll sleep better at night.   Summer is a unique time of year when we can do both our relaxation and our movement out in nature. Take a nap in a hammock...

Your Mother Told You So…

The report is due in two hours. Or perhaps you’re in the middle of a mid-term exam. Or you’re making sales calls. Suddenly, bam! Around 10:30 a.m. you hit a wall. All you want to do is look out the window. Or crawl back in bed. Or pull your hair out.   Hmm… what did you eat for breakfast?   I hate to say, “I told you so,” so I’ll turn to Mom, who has said it countless times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the meal that’s designed to supply a third of the macro and micronutrients your body needs to run without a hitch.   So what are you eating each morning to do all these things? A cup of coffee gulped down on the go? A cup of sugary yogurt and a muffin eaten at your desk? A ‘protein bar?’ Nothing at all?   Your body deserves so much better than that, and so do you!   When you eat a good breakfast, your day goes smoothly. No growling stomachs, low blood sugar shakiness, or wandering attention to keep you from nailing those big goals you’ve made for yourself.   What Breakfast is Right for You?   One of the best – and most fun – ways to find out which foods serve YOU most powerfully is something called the Breakfast Experiment. For one week, eat a different breakfast each day. (This is something I have my clients do in my one-on-one and group health coaching programs and it’s always great to see what they discover when their awareness is honed in...

Simple Tip Tuesday: Put Your Junk in Your Trunk

In 2011, at least 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones. I felt inspired to write this iteration of “Simple Tip Tuesday” because of an accident I had last week. Don’t worry, I’m ok.  I didn’t have an accent really. Rather, it’s that I accidentally left my cell phone behind when I departed in the wee hours of the morning for yoga class. And in that short amount of time I didn’t have my phone within arm’s reach during my drive and immediately after class, when I wasn’t able to check my phone at every pause, I felt a serious sense of relief, less scatteredness, and overall calm.  I thought to myself, “I should do this more often.” That morning, I was able to go to class and return home immediately afterwards, so I didn’t have any pressing need to have my phone with me but it sparked an idea for me.  I realized I really don’t need my phone with me at all times. So, more often now, I put my phone in my trunk, or in my purse, in the back seat out of arm’s reach, so I’m not even tempted to text/FB/email at stop lights, or God forbid, text and drive. It’s not just safe, it helps me practice mindfulness.  At stop lights, I can take deep, conscious breaths.  As I drive, I’m more aware of the road and the scenery.  When I arrive home, I don’t park and check my email on my phone for five minutes before going inside to be with my fiancé and three-legged-wonder-dog.  Not having my phone omnipresent removes one little layer...

Military Olympian Makes Transition to International Wellness Guide: Task and Purpose Feature

Sarah Plummer Taylor is on a roll. The 34-year-old founder of both SEMPERSarah.com, a wellness mentoring brand, and Just Roll With It Wellness LLC, a resiliency training and education company, keeps a busy schedule of international travel, speaking, coaching, writing, and teaching. Her powerful drive to help people transition from trauma has not gone unnoticed. From the Katie Couric Show to NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams to repeat appearances on HuffPost Live and MSNBC to one-on-one and group coaching sessions, Plummer Taylor is advancing her mission to teach resiliency to those who need it most. Plummer Taylor, a University of Virginia graduate, left active duty six years ago after serving as a U.S. Marine Intelligence Officer for seven years. Her military service, which included two deployments to Iraq and several years as a Military Olympian, equipped her well for the work she does today. “People are hungry for guidance, leadership, and role models as they work to transition from miserable situations to being happy and healthy,” said Plummer Taylor. “My goal is to reach people who might feel isolated by their trauma, to connect with them through my own story, and to equip them with tools for wellness.” On her most pivotal experiences while serving Despite some particularly challenging active duty experiences, Plummer Taylor’s first pivotal military moment came during her final years at the University of Virginia when she switched from Air Force ROTC to Marine ROTC. “I went against the advice of almost everyone in my life to make that switch,” said Plummer Taylor. “As a young adult, tapping into my intuitive wisdom for the first time was...

Simple Tip Tuesday: Stop Guzzling Ice-Cold Water All the Time!

Did you know that our bellies are our second brains? What happens in our gut isn’t just about food, it’s about “gut feelings.” We get a lot of wisdom from our core, but many of us pay little attention to ensuring things are running smoothly there. If you’re often gassy, constipated, dealing with diarrhea, or any combo of those things, one simple suggestion I would make is to consider the temperature of the beverages you drink and the food you eat. Do you often guzzle ice cold water right before a meal? If so, you may be washing away those über helpful digestive juices that get churning before you chow down and drastically lowering the temperature of your intestines, making it significantly harder for them to do their job. Our bellies need to be warmed up before meals just like our bodies do before work outs. If they get doused with cold liquids right as they’re getting geared up to do their work, though, your ecosystem doesn’t run as smoothly. Even something seemingly small like this can add a lot of stress to the body over time. So make it easy on yourself! Small changes like this can make a big difference over time.  No need to change it ALL all today.  Start here, and let me know how it goes for you 🙂   Sarah’s website is new & improved! Thanks to Moriah Creatives, booking Sarah for coaching, retreats, and speaking is easier than ever before. Coaching: 1-on-1, group, and retreats Speaking: keynotes and workshops Merchandise: book, journal, and t-shirts   “SEMPER Sarah” Plummer is an internationally recognized speaker and author, certified Holistic Health Coach, RYT-500 Yoga Instructor, University of...

Simple Tip Tuesday: Calm Down Before You Scarf Down

When your body is in fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system), it cannot rest and digest (parasympathetic nervous system). As nice as “sympathetic” sounds, that’s not the mode you want to be in when you’re eating. But don’t just take my word for it.  If you feel like you’re hearing this whole “slow down and enjoy the chew” thing more and more lately, it’s for good reason.  We need a certain amount of stress to survive, sure; but we are not designed to be in this heightened state of survival at all times.  Over the long term, this takes a toll not just on us mentally and emotionally. It also hinders our ability to sleep well, lose weight, and build muscle. And lets be serious, most of us are trying to do that. If the pursuit of health causes more stress, RELAX.  Find what makes you happy and start there; then see what foods you’re called to eat and activities you crave. Already working on this? Swell! Tell us about it, please!...

Simple Tip Tuesday: Eat Fancy, Curb Cravings

Serve yourself like a queen or king to curb cravings. When you inhale a bag of potato chips, or scarf down a pint of ice cream, lets be serious, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You zone out. You catch yourself with the freezer door open or your hand at the bottom of a bag of chips asking “What did I just do” or feeling like Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed exclaiming “Who ate my whole pie?!” Instead, I recommend doing this: – select your food (even if it is “junk food”); remove it from the cupboard, fridge, or freezer; close respective door – place a serving size of said “junk food” into a fancy dish, and accompany with real silverware – walk away from storage/serving area and sit down with your food (aka: BE PRESENT) – ENJOY it   In all likelihood, you’ll eat less and enjoy it more than if you scarf your treats down mindlessly and are plagued with guilt later.  Heck, even if you don’t eat less, you’ll enjoy it more and actually taste your food and process it properly.  Give a shot and let em know what you think!     Get Even Healthier! Are you curious about how to harmonize your health goals? How to fit wellness into your busy schedule? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today – or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Or better yet, meet me in person at one of my future workshops or speaking engagements.    About Me In addition to being a University of Virginia graduate, United...

How Yoga and Meditation Made My Life Better – On HuffPostLive

This morning I was fortunate to share some “air time” with Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, the Host & Producer of HuffPostLive’s Thrive Online where she talks women, world news, religion, and politics.  Today’s topic was: How Yoga and Meditation Made My Life Better.  I was a guest on the show along with yoga instructors from NYC, Austin, and SoCal.   I gotta say, I do always get a little nervous before speeches, interviews, and media appearances, and often find that later when I listen back to the recording, I didn’t say what I planned to say.  This morning’s segment was no exception. Thankfully, the “yoga off the mat” practitioner in me doesn’t attach to a specific outcome, though 😉 and I trust that what was said was what was supposed to be said, and what was heard by those listening was exactly what they needed to hear at that moment. So, Just Roll With It™, right?!  🙂 In all seriousness, I just want to let you know that if you ever have any questions at all about yoga, I’d love chat with you.   Yoga really has saved my life time and time again, both while deployed as a Marine and as it continues to keep me sane day-in and day-out now.   There are a lot of “styles” of yoga out there, and that can be intimidating in and of itself to new practitioners.  So, here’s my advice to you: JUST BREATHE.  🙂  Really.  Even if you’re doing the poses differently, or feel lost or confused, as long as you’re paying even a little more attention to your breath and feeling...

Just Breathe: Align & Shine in Battle and Beyond – Sarah speaks at Urban Campfire, Denver

“You can only make choices; you can’t make your outcomes.” ~ Sarah Plummer   Tuesday, 3 June 2014, I had the honor of speaking at Urban Campfire Spring Edition: Denver.  It was an emotional and powerful night.  Two speakers went before me, and I followed their lead of sharing from the heart without notes, and being raw and vulnerable in a way I hope was helpful to the other women in the audience.   I asked myself and the audience a critical questions: When you find yourself in battle, whether that’s literal combat, or divorce, financial ruin, loss of a child, addiction, or chronic stress, what can you do?  When you feel like a victim, when you’ve been a victim, how do you get empowered again? Well, I believe, choosing your breath is the first step to getting your power back in the midst of chaos.   Listen in…   A huge thank you to Melody Biringer, the founder of Urban Campfire.  She is taking this amazing event all over North America.  This is the kind of thing we need more of, and I’m stoked she’s leading the way!  Also, much love and gratitude to Brit Stueven of Pollinize Media, who promoted and emcee’d the event, and has supported the heck out of me from the moment we met.   I thought about trying to recap the event in more detail, but Christina Vazquez, who attended Urban Campfire, wrote this about the night, and I thought it was perfect: HUNGER OF A DIFFERENT SORT   Today I’m going to write about a different kind of hungry. The hunger for depth and...

A Deeper Look Into Why Diets Don’t Work

Getting my weight under control has come from a process of treating myself as well as I treat others in every way. -Oprah Winfrey You can’t turn on the TV, drive down the road or go to a party without being confronted with America’s hottest obsession: weight. Diets are a billion-dollar industry; companies spend millions and millions luring you to try the latest diet (low carb, high protein, low fat, no fat, you name it) with promises that this will (finally!) be the solution—your shortcut to a thinner body. Advertising efforts also deeply affect our children, who develop distorted body images and are often on diets as early as nine or 10 years of age.   Our culture touts diet pills, celebrity workouts, convenience foods and trendy diets to help us achieve our desired weight, but these quick-fix solutions have backfired. America’s populace has reached its highest weight in history. About half of Americans are overweight; one-third are obese. Diets steer us away from our common sense and dip deeply into our pocketbooks while eliciting few, if any, lasting results. Why?   1. Bioindividuality gets ignored: Diets don’t work because each person is unique, with different needs based on gender, age, ancestry and lifestyle; how could one diet be right for everyone? 2. Diets don’t go with the rhythm, they go against it: Diets don’t work because they are extreme solutions. As in physics, if a pendulum swings to one extreme, it has to swing equally to the other. A diet might work for a short amount of time, but research shows that almost all diets result in a...

Wyoming, Women Warriors, and Wellness

The past several days have been joyfully FULL.  Thursday night, I lead a workshop in Denver at the Freyja Project for CRAVEfuel (Stylish Women Entrepreneurs) about Fueling Your Creative Rampage. I opened with pranayama, shared part of my story of my journey to wellness, provided nutrition and lifestyle tips and techniques, then closed out with a lovely vibration-raising chant which everyone, with their heart wide open, participated in.  (Gosh, that was beautiful and inspiring to witness!) It was a late night as passionate conversations and connections continued well after the workshop and networking time slots. I met some amazing women here in my new home town, and am excited about our opportunities for future collaboration and support here in Denver and beyond. On Friday, I drove Bailey (my amazing three-legged wonder dog) and I to Casper, Wyoming. On Saturday, I had the honor of conducting three 75 minute workshops on “Feeding Your Mind, Body, and Spirit” for the third annual Promoting Our Women Warriors of Wyoming conference (with two media interviews in between).  Click on the image below to watch the 2.5 minute interview with News 13 to hear a few thoughts I have about the legal proceedings of military sexual assault cases, parallels to these similar crimes on college campuses, and wellness for our women warriors. Further thoughts: 1. I support the Military Justice Improvement Act because the bill supports impartial and unbiased legal proceedings. 2. Wellness begins with small choices that continue to build on one another.  Change doesn’t happen overnight, and we don’t have to do it ALL, all today.   You can, however, choose to take one step at a time toward...

Go Beyond the Boring Salad

When you think about healthy eating, salads and green vegetables usually come to mind. But how about adding a little more variety to your plan?   Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and turnips, are a rich source of nutritious complex carbohydrates. Instead of upsetting blood sugar levels like refined sweet foods do, they help regulate them.   Why Eat More Root Veggies? Long roots – carrots, parsnips, burdock, and daikon radish – are excellent blood purifiers and can help improve circulation in the body. Round roots – turnips, radishes, beets, and rutabagas – nourish the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and reproductive organs.   Which root vegetables do you eat most? If you’re like most of the world, it’s carrots and potatoes. Here are a few others to explore: Beets contain an abundance of antioxidants and are highly detoxifying. Burdock is considered a powerful blood purifier. This long, thin veggie is a staple in Asian and health food stores. Celeriac, also known as celery root, is rich in fiber and has a respectable amount of antioxidants. Jicama is crunchy and refreshing and contains a generous amount of vitamin C. It’s a favorite in its native Mexico and South America. Onions are rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients, making them prized for their ability to strengthen the immune system. Parsnips, which look like giant white carrots, boast a sweet, earthy taste. They’ve also got plenty of fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, niacin, thiamine, magnesium, and potassium. Radish is an excellent source of vitamin C. It’s also rich in calcium, molybdenum, and folic acid. Sweet Potatoes contain unsurpassed levels of beta-carotene and...

Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio Show: Resilience, Wellness, & More With Sarah Plummer

On Wednesday, 7 May 2014, I had a blast as a guest on Lisa Cyper Kamen’s radio show, Harvesting Happiness.  We discussed resiliency, peak performance, happiness, optimal wellness, and yoga which, lets be serious, is stuff we all can’t hear enough about!  Further more, it was a real honor to be on Lisa’s show given the work she does to help improve the lives of our nations wounded warriors.   Plus, I wasn’t Lisa’s only guest that day.  She also had Dr Raymond Hall on who discussed sleep, stress, and weight loss. It was a great show, and I hope you check it out!   The podcasts from the show are now available. You can access them here: Toginet  show page Lisa’s show website Harvesting Happiness on iTunes    If you found any portion of this show helpful, inspirational, or educational and know someone who could benefit from the message, please share the link to the show with your family and friends, and place it both on Twitter and Facebook.   Lisa does A LOT of great work both for the veteran community and society at large.  She brings light, love, and happiness into this world, and I think it is important that we continue to help her grow her audience. You can help contribute to the number of downloads of the show I just appeared on by simply giving Harvesting Happiness a review on iTunes , and asking anyone you share the show with to do the same. The direct download link to your show is: http://toginet.com/podcasts/harvestinghappiness/HarvestingHappinessLIVE_2014-05-07.mp3...

Does Your Job Suck? Maybe It’s Not Your Job. Maybe It’s YOU.

Do you have a case of the Monday’s?   Catch yourself blaming your job – a lot – for being unhappy?  Or saying “life sucks because my job sucks”?  Well, maybe your job doesn’t suck; maybe you suck.   Apparently this quote was a favorite from my keynote speech for Gaining Ground: Go Green, Meridian this weekend! I said it after sharing one of my tips to better health: Find Work You Love, or Find a Way to Love the Work You Have.   And saying it this bluntly “Maybe your job doesn’t suck, maybe you do” wasn’t exactly how I meant for it to come out.  What I meant was to consider that YOU are the common denominator from job to job to job.  If you’re always complaining or unhappy, maybe your attitude is what needs the shift, not your job title. Here are just a few things to honestly consider about yourself and your work: Have you become complacent? Do you challenge yourself in your work environment?  If so, can you ask your boss for a new or creative project? Can you refocus at work?  Try freshening up your office space, literally making it a more welcoming environment to be in while you’re there. Can you see the challenges as opportunities for growth instead of bemoaning them 100% of the time? Or, if you really are unhappy and feel like it is truly the job, not you, do you have the courage to go elsewhere?  Do some research for other jobs in your field, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and see where else you can apply them...

BostInno’s Woman to Watch: Superwoman ‘Semper Sarah’ Plummer

This is part of Nickerson PR’s ‘Woman to Watch’ series. Each month, we profile remarkable women to keep on your radar. Real women. Real stories. Real success. (Original publication location HERE on BostInno’s website). Sarah Plummer has visited six continents and forty countries. She’s served two deployments in Iraq and volunteered in Europe and the Middle East. She’s a registered yoga instructor, certified holistic health counselor, and published author. You could say Plummer has been everywhere and seen everything. But her life has been much more than glowing achievements and globetrotting. While she calls herself “blessed,” Plummer also describes her life as “one sprinkled with a good bit of tragedy.” Rightly so.  Illness, accidents, and even sexual assault have plagued Plummer’s life. Is Sarah Plummer a victim? Far from it. She’s a warrior. Plummer braved the darkest dangers and experienced the “utterly ugly.” But she doesn’t dwell in the past; she focuses on the future. Since she has found the strength to overcome adversity, to survive and thrive, Plummer has made it her life’s mission to help others do the same. She passed along her wisdom in her inspiring book Just Roll With It; created the Semper Sarah Mission, traveling as a health and wellness coach and speaker; and broke the silence surrounding sexual assault in the military by advocating for the Military Justice Improvement Act. Plummer understands we all get stuck every once and a while, and she empowers us all to move forward, “to turn tragedies into triumphs, obstacles into opportunities,” and live our best life. Sarah Plummer is a Marine and mentor; author and advocate. She is a survivor....

Pass the Military Justice Improvement Act

Today, RIGHT NOW, the Military Justice Improvement Act is on the Senate floor. I received the following schedule from one of Senator Gillibrand’s staff members: The military sexual assault time agreement will be executed on Thursday, 6 March 2014 – there will be up to four votes, beginning at around 2pm.- Roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on S. 1752 (Gillibrand). – If cloture is invoked on S. 1752, all post-cloture time will be yielded back and the Senate will immediately proceed to a roll call vote on passage of the bill. No amendments, points of order, or motions will be in order to S. 1752 prior to a vote on passage of the bill. – Following disposition of S. 1752, the Senate will immediately proceed to a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on S. 1917 (McCaskill). – If cloture is invoked on S. 1917, all post-cloture time will be yielded back and the Senate will immediately proceed to a roll call vote on passage of the bill. No amendments, points of order, or motions will be in order to S. 1917 prior to a vote on passage of the bill. In November 2013, along with an Active Duty Soldier, Navy Veteran Brian, two Army veterans BriGette and Ayana, and an Air Force veteran, Marti, I, a Marine Corps veteran, testified before a Congressionally-appointed panel in regards to three main areas: 1. The inadequacy of the military system to support victims throughout all phases of the incident reporting process. 2.  Recommendations on the role of commanders in military justice system. 3. Victim Services If you feel like...

Isn’t Fat Bad For Me?

           click the image above for a PDF version of this newsletter Dietary fat: is it good or bad? Both. You see, not all fats are created equal. The Skinny on Fats Heavily processed, hydrogenated “trans” fats used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. They can compromise the cardiovascular system, immune system, and contribute to behavior problems. They can also lead to weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, and liver strain. Many people are scared of fats, but our bodies need fat for insulation, vitamin and mineral absorption, and to protect our organs. High-quality fats can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair, and nails, and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly.  {Here’s a funny VIDEO I made about this very topic: “Why You WANT To Be A Part of the Fatty Club.”}   Where to Find Healthy Fats Avocados, olives, coconuts, wild salmon, and omega-3 rich organic eggs. Whole nuts and seeds, and their butters like almond butter or tahini. Look for the highest quality organic oils when shopping. Words to look for: organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin, and unrefined. Avoid expeller-pressed, refined, and solvent extracted.   How to Use Healthy Fats When Cooking For cooking at high temperatures (stir frying and baking), try butter, ghee (clarified butter), or coconut oil. When sautéing foods, try organic extra virgin olive oil. Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings.   Try this delicious, easy recipe for a great source of healthy fat: Avocado Dip...

“Stress Management” or “Resiliency Training?” – On Location in Costa Rica {VIDEO 2 of 2}

My dear friends and colleagues, PhD(c) Kate Hendricks from Precision Wellness and Dr. Theresa Larson, DPT, from Movement-RX, are going to explain some key concepts around stress: – positive stress versus negative stress – sleep – nutrition – mood – performance in our personal and professional lives     The good news? These resiliency building techniques are TEACHABLE and TRAINABLE.   Go ahead and watch this short video and let me know what you think.   After all, here at Semper Sarah LLC, I’m all about building optimal wellness and resilience. So, if you want to know more how about to work together one-on-one, or incorporate my instruction into your corporate environment, please contact me now at Contact@SemperSarah.com.  I’d love to discuss creative solutions to your personal or professional wellness challenges.   re·sil·ience 1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position,etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or...

Healthy Movement for Yoga, Lifting, & Life: On Location in Costa Rica {VIDEO 1 of 2}

It’s been snowing here in Denver, but not that long ago I was in sunny, breezy Costa Rica. . . January 4th to the 10th, and the 11th to the 17th, I, along with fellow yoginis and functional fitness gurus, lead two back to back week-long yoga and adventure retreats in Nosara, Costa Rica.  We covered a lot of mind-body-spirit ground in a short amount of time, and are so blessed to work with such amazing men and women from around the world. Today, I’d like to share a short video with you that my friend and colleague, Dr Theresa Larson, and I made while on location in Costa Rica.  Theresa is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, a mobility maven, an incredible athlete, and a former Marine. Please watch the short video below about pelvic tilting and let us know what you think. Theresa’s write up accompanying the video on her site is: “Since I have been doing a lot more yoga than I am used to this week I have noticed many of the positions are similar to what we discuss in the strength and conditioning world.  We may not use the same gentle and kind words (such as a light shining off the end or your spine),  however the outcome is the same. So my question to YOU is this: Want to learn some yoga poses that have archetypes similar to that of the weight lifting movements like the split jerk and overhead squat? Check out this video on how to align your pelvis and practice the feel of an end range split jerk NOT overextended or...

Healthy Snack Ideas: Crunchy, Sweet, Salty, Creamy

Do you like to snack? Do you wish you had healthier, more creative, unique options than chips and dip? Would you rather approach the dilemma by satiating your crunchy, sweet, salty, or creamy cravings? Don’t worry, I gotchya covered! 🙂  Get the FREE download of my Healthy Snack List here to give you some great ideas. If you’re more into recipes than lists, then check out the Healthy Snack Recipes free download from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, too....

Got milk? I hope not! — A few food myths dispelled

In the spirit of New Years’y type resolutions to eat better, today, I’d love to dispel a few super common food myths for you and hope that helps you on your journey to better health.   Most people believe the following: 1. Protein = meat (and only meat) 2. Calcium = dairy (and only dairy) 3. Vitamin C = citrus (and only citrus)   I propose some alternative options based off research and personal experience: 1. Alternate Protein Sources: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, hemp hearts, and barely. Beans like adzuki, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, and black turtle beans. Bean bonus: Pour a little apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar or white wine vinegar into the water in the last stages of cooking.  This softens the beans and breaks down protein chains and indigestible compounds. Leafy greens.   2. Alternate Calcium Sources: Greens like kale, spinach, celery, okra, and collard greens. Nuts/seeds like sesame seeds and almonds. Recommended reading: The China Study – after reading this, you may never want to drink cow’s milk again.   3. Alternate Vitamin C Sources: Some people actually have mild allergies to citrus and don’t even know it. Too much citrus can flood the system with sugars (even though they’re “natural” sugars, too much is too much).  Trying an elimination diet to include eliminating citrus is worth a try. I’ve had clients try this and positive results. Non-orange/lemon sources: Broccoli, red peppers, spinach, onions, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe (which is anti-inflammatory so that means it’s extra good for you).   Ultimately: I’m not the boss of you and your body.  Meat, milk, and...

I wanted my life taken from me. Yoga brought me back.

In my New Year’s Eve note, I encouraged you to be vulnerable. Today, I’m going to walk my talk. I’m going to be vulnerable, authentic, and share an excerpt from a larger piece of writing I’m working on which describes some of the challenges I faced during my second deployment to Iraq… “Although I never planned to take my own life, I wanted it taken from me. I was done. I stopped eating, not because I forcefully denied myself nourishment as a form of control or punishment, but because I had lost my appetite, I had lost my will to live. Like an animal does when it knows it’s time to go, I allowed time to take its own course with me. I faded. I was an athletic 5’6” young woman, losing so much weight that my underwear were barely stayed perched upon my protruding hips.  I basically never slept – nightmares of the rape years before, as well as the current harassment, kept me up at night.  I felt I had no purpose on this earth. My body assumed a sunken, concave “C” shape when I was alone in my “can” (what we called our rooms in our the trailers in Iraq). This space was large enough for a single bed, a closet, and a yoga mat. Although I began sporadically practicing yoga in college to deal with overtraining injuries from soccer and ROTC, it was nothing more than creative cross-training to me until I was in Iraq. Without even consciously processing the higher transformation that was taking place within me, when I was emotionally distraught, yoga gave me clarity. The simple, basic union of breath...

Happy New Year: A Pro-Choice Message from Semper Sarah

You have a choice…. Look, I’m not a doctor (yet) but I do know a thing or two about what makes people tick… about what makes people happy… about what makes people survivors and thrivors… about what makes people resilient… about what makes people healthy… and research (from people who are doctors) shows that the difference between happy and unhappy people often hinges upon their choice (of perspective.) Happy people don’t have “easier” lives… less trauma… more money… Happy people make the choice to not compare, compete, or self-defeat. Happy people make the choice to be courageously vulnerable. Happy people make the choice to be compassionate. Happy people know how to be fully engaged, fully present. Happy people, are content people, and although that may not sound super exciting, it’s actually one of the most fulfilling, peaceful feelings in the world.  In yoga, this sensation or state of being of contentment is call santosha, and it is one of the foundations of yoga. Basically, happy people are happy beings. So, this New Year, instead of making a list of things to do, give a try to just being the most authentic, bold, and present version of yourself and see how you feel. Happy New Year’s Eve, my friend.  Now, go out there and Be the most present, authentic, courageous version of yourself you can be! 🙂  ~ As always, please feel free to share your thoughts below. ~ ************************************ Want To Work With Me? Ready to improve your business or life? –>  Coaching package prices go up in the New Year. CONFIRM BY TOMORROW that you want to co-create your improved life with me...

Stress Is Your Friend!

Stress is not unique to me, to you, to veterans, to trauma victims, to stay at home parents, or to full-time executives.  “ Ya, ya, everybody’s got stress; I know that.  What’s the big deal?” you may be asking.  Well, the fact that everyone deals with stress…   That’s actually good news.    But why?  Because we all have stress, we don’t have to get bogged down in feeling like we’re the only ones going through what we’re going through.  That’s at least a starting point anyway!  Feeling like “I’m the only one dealing with this” can cause us to isolate and avoid healthfully dealing with things as they are.   **  You can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges…and that you don’t have to face them alone. **   Also, it empowers us to know that how we view stress changes it immensely.   Now, how can we view stress in a way that HELPS us?   Don’t think all stress is bad stress.  We don’t want to get rid of it… We want you to get better at stress.   How do you think about stress?  The thought alone changes how your body processes it.   YOUR STRESS RESPONSE HAS A BUILT IN MECHANISM FOR STRESS RESILIENCE.   Turns out I’m not the only one who knows that caring creates resilience.   In other words: empathy builds resilience! (I kind of talk about that a little bit in my book, Just Roll With It).   So, go after what creates meaning in your life and trust that you can handle the stress that follows.  You got this!...

Gluten Free Holiday Guide

  Please, enjoy this little holiday gift from my friends at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.   Try a new-to-you gluten-free recipe and post your comments below!   Your successes inspire others! 🙂     Click the image below to get the Gluten-Free Holiday Recipe Guide in PDF.   Happy holidays, my...

2min to “Biohack” Your Body & Access More Courage

What do you and Wonder Woman have in common? Access to a power pose that actually changes your mind, your courage, your confidence! Did you know that in a matter of only TWO MINUTES you could “bio-hack” your mind and body without the use of any technology to access the strength and poise that already exists within you? Look, we know there’s a lot of talk out there about the “mind body connection,” yet many of us are still skeptical. If you’ve been a part of the Semper Sarah community for even a little while, you’ve heard me say this before, “Western science now proves what the yogis have been saying for millennium.”   You’ve probably also heard me say: –       the mind body connection is REAL –       change your BREATH, change your BRAIN –       small changes make BIG differences   Utilizing Amy Cuddy’s expertise you can gain access to that very real mind-body connection and by changing your posture, breath, and thoughts you can better access your power, courage, and confidence. And although she discusses body language in the context of a professional setting, you can apply her wisdom to truly embracing the power of meditation, as well, in that small changes make big differences.  Studies have shown that even for a novice meditator, three minutes a day beings to improve neurological function within the first four days! “Tiny tweaks lead to BIG CHANGES.” Whether you do this fun breathing exercise for a few minutes a day and see big results over time, or try the “Wonder Woman” pose before your next interview or speech, embrace the power...

Advocate, Sarah Plummer, Stands With Senator Gillibrand in Fight For Military Justice Improvements

Good morning.  My name is Sarah Plummer. I am a former Marine Corps Captain who served two deployments to Iraq as an Intelligence Officer, I played for 5 years in a row on the Military Olympic Soccer Team, and my last Active Duty assignment was as the Deputy Director of the Geospatial Intelligence Directorate of the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity.   I grew up in an Air Force family.  To say that I loved the military is an understatement. And when I was raped, and then faced sexual harassment and retaliation in the Marine Corps, my parents told me I couldn’t change the military.  Today is my mother’s birthday, and part of my present to her is being here today and doing my best to speak with courage.  I know she and my father are proud of me because today – WE – can change the military —for the BETTER!     Commanders are incentivized to protect the honor of their name and the reputation of their command; not to report the truth.   Commanders are biased and partial to the troops they know intimately.  When you are raped by a fellow service member, it is like being raped by your brother and having your father or mother decide the case.  It just doesn’t make sense. We cannot reasonably expect commanders to impartially and judicially respond to these types of criminal cases.  The argument that taking sexual assault and rape cases out of the chain of command would threaten good order and discipline actually works in quite the contrary way – keeping these cases in the chain of command distracts commanders...

The Katie Couric Show: Sarah Shares Some of Her Story

November 2013:  Sharing this type of story leaves one feeling exposed and vulnerable.  I share it, though, in the hopes that it helps other survivors out there, as well as serving to enliven our country’s political and military leaders to make historical reform to the current military judicial system. I offer my sincerest thanks to each and every one of you who have supported me, encouraged me, comforted me along the way.  Also, thank you to every man and woman who has shared their story with me privately both before and after this show.  I pray for courage, light, love, and health in all of our lives.   *Note added November 2014: Unfortunately due to my website updates, all of the previous comments and interaction via social media attached to this blog have been lost. 🙁 I just want to point out, though, that I am so grateful for having received an outpouring of support this time last year. So why have I re-shared this post on FB today and added this note??? Because I’m “too busy” with grad school and business and life right now to advocate as actively as I’d like to. Because I don’t want us to forget that there are a lot of people – not just survivors of sexual violence – who are fighting day in and day out, in their different ways, for improvements in social justice. Because with the passing of the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day last week, I am overcome with memories of my time in the military, friends lost, pieces of myself lost, and also what I gained and...

MSNBC Jansing & Co: Sarah Weighs in on Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act & More

The debate continues about whether the historic reforms offered by the Military Justice Improvement Act will be fulfilled.  Cheers to Senator Gillibrand for her continued efforts, as well as the efforts of the supporting Senators, to create a more judicially sound environment in which some felony level cases – such as rape –  can be handled by the military. Furthermore, a Politico article released this morning shared an internal Army email that advised personnel to use less attractive women in marketing because “in general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.” Yes, seriously. Listen through the end of the segment to hear about it. * In case you’re wondering why I look confused initially, it’s because I didn’t know I was live/on camera at that moment!  Just Roll With It 😉...

NPR Morning Edition: Senate Considers Ways To Address Military Sexual Assaults

Summary: Members of Congress are unlikely to adopt one measure that many victims say is essential: taking away from commanders the ability to decide whether to pursue assault cases. Members of Congress say that step would undermine order and discipline in the ranks, and the Pentagon agrees. You can listen to the full 4min 15sec long segment HERE, on NPR’s website. Around the 2:45 mark, a sound byte of my testimony from a hearing in DC last week was inserted into NPR Morning Edition’s segment. Of all the fall-out I experienced, what I explain in the sound byte that NPR used is perhaps the most tangible of all examples. As always, thank you to those of you who provide support, encouragement, and sound advice.  On a personal level, I’ve very much moved past – healthfully so – many of my previous traumas.  Retelling portions of my story to large, public audiences is difficult, though, to say the least.  I keep pressing forward, though, because I hear from people like YOU who say it is helpful. And you know what? You help ME, too.  So thank you. And please, whatever struggles you may be facing, whether day-to-day stressors, or battling events from your past, please don’t give up.  Health and happiness really are possible.  Yes, the rape I experienced effectively “ruined” my career, but I had the choice of which path to will walk afterwards because as Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” My path has never been “perfect,” but I do my best with where I am....

Happy Veterans Day & An Important Note About Brain Health

Good morning. I’d like to wish you a Happy Veterans Day today, as well as (a day late) a Happy 238th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps.   I also want to remind you to please take a moment out of your day to thank a Veteran for their service.   If you have a family member, loved one, or friend who is a Veteran, they may be struggling with some invisible wounds.   Many are now familiar with the terms “PTSD” or “TBI”…but are still unfamiliar with the true repercussions of such conditions.   I invite you to watch this 15min TEDx talk from Dr Amen (above), a leader in the brain health field who says he has the single most important lesson learned after studying 38,000 brains! Pretty compelling, right?   I also wanted to share with you that just this past Friday morning, I was testifying to the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Federal Advisory Committee. The panel was created by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to: (1) get recommendations on role of commanders in military justice system (2) examine civilian systems to compare (3) assess adequacy of system to support victims throughout all phases   The panel operates under a law called Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) which allows the public to be aware of and participate in outside advisory committees for U.S. Government. This allows people outside of the government to provide information. The Meetings on November 7th and 8th were focused on victim services. The panel wanted to hear our stories and what we think can...

10 Tips for New Yoga Practitioners + COSTA RICA In 60 Days! :)

I stumbled across this great little article about 10 tips for new yogis and wanted to share it with you. I don’t know the author, Kate Stone; I simply found the tips to ring true in addition to being funny.  Sometimes we can take yoga too seriously and frankly, it should be fun (if I do say so myself). If you have any questions about these tips, though, please do feel free to ask me! 🙂     Here they are: 1. If you’re new, be new. 2. Yoga is not for everyone 3. If it hurts, stop. 4. If nothing in #3 made any sense to you, you are not ready for a class with 40 people in it. 5. Figure out why you’re doing this 6. Yoga is personal. 7. If you want to win, go to CrossFit. 8. Looks are deceiving. 9. You don’t need to buy anything. 10. Breathe at your own pace. You can read the full article here   Now, in the spirit of sharing yoga news, I would be negligent if I didn’t remind you of the following…. **** ONLY 60 DAYS UNTIL WEEK 1 COSTA RICA YOGA AND ADVENTURE RETREAT!!!! & Price goes up $120 on 22 November. ****   Because this retreat is so awesome; the friendships you make, lasting; the setting world-class and unique; and the knowledge you acquire, life-long I really want you to join us. 🙂 Week 1 is lead by Dr Theresa Larson, DPT and CrossFit coach.  She’ll teach you how to move smoothly, efficiently, and without pain. Kate Hendricks and I will also be teaching yoga, meditation,...

We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf with yoga

I love this metaphor: “We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf.” ~ Jonathan Kabat-Zinn.   What does that really mean, though?   And how can we learn to metaphorically “surf” or swim (instead of sinking) when waves come crashing?   Yoga is one way I’ve found to be very helpful for navigating rough waters.  Because yoga trains us to mindfully “witness” what is happening to us in a healthfully detached sort of way, it can build a internal resiliency reservoir within us.   Now, don’t get up and arms about that word “detached.”  I know it carries some negative connotations.  All I mean is that yoga empowers us to detach from our ego, expectations, and other things that often weigh us down or overwhelm us when we face stress or challenges.   So, lets just move forward with the wave metaphor to explain a little more what I mean…     When you were a kid at the beach, at first you never even noticed the ocean.   It was all about the sand, the trees, the toys right in front of you. Land was where it was at.   Family. Sand castles. Friends. Toys. Then you noticed the water more, but were scared of it.  There was no understanding of that large body of water other than it being big, loud, and very there.   One day you eventually dip in, and grow more comfortable.  Perhaps, that’s where the journey ends.  Or, you play for awhile, but as you grow older, you begin to spend more time on land again, on the shoreline, watching...

Re-Thinking Wellness: A Feminist Approach to Health and Fitness

Given that friend and colleague, Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, and I are just as big of nerds as we are jocks, yogis, and across the board fun-loving people, we get super duper psyched when we get published in academic journals.  This week, we had a jointly written paper published in a peer-reviewed feminist theory journal, the Gender Forum, called RE-THINKING WELLNESS: A FEMINIST APPROACH TO HEALTH AND FITNESS . The editor’s description is a great summary of the entire piece, or check it out free online.  www.genderforum.org “They engage with the problematic position of physical activity in feminist and post-feminist discourse. In “Re-thinking Wellness: A Feminist Approach to Health and Fitness”, they critically discuss that fitness and wellness are often approached in decidedly non-feminist ways, with popular culture’s emphasis on beauty and size detracting from the core benefit of any personal wellness practice – empowerment. Their article thus explores the roots of feminist critiques of sexist beauty norms and thinness mandates and analyses how these provide barriers to holistic wellness in society at large, and within the feminist community.”   Kate and I co-own Just Roll With It™ Wellness, and our mission is to empower individuals and communities to cultivate an active body, a resilient mind, a renewed spirit, and a sustainable lifestyle amidst their setbacks, stressors, and challenges.  In addition to workshops, seminars, and international yoga and adventure retreats, we write about the power of holistic wellness in a lot of places attempting to get the word out to as many people as possible!   Let us know what you thought about our article! 🙂 Was it insightful? Helpful? Good? Bad? Otherwise? Did you disagree with anything?...

Who is the most motivated person you know?

Can we KISS, please?  😉   Wait, what?!  Don’t worry, I’m not being creepy, I swear. 😉   I just want to Keep It Simple, Silly.   Today I have one, simple question for you: Who is the most motivated person you know?     Please post your answer below because sharing stories or even simple words about those who have motivated you really does motivate others.  Feel free to elaborate a bit, if ya want… Tell me what motivates and drives that particular person, and how they inspire you because of their determination. If you’re more of the Facebook type of person, you can even pop onto the Semper Sarah page and post an answer there.   I look forward to hearing your responses. 🙂...

7 Special Updates – especially for my COLORADO and my YOGA pals

Lets be serious.  After spending about 90% of my time on the road, in the air, and overseas since April, it’s time I settle down for a bit. But why should YOU care?  Well, if you’re into yoga and/or live in Denver, take a peek below…    1. I’m teaching yoga regularly in Denver, CO now. THIS WEEK: Monday 7:30am and 1:30pm All Levels Flow, Tuesday 9:15am All Levels Flow 75min class, and Wednesday 7:30-8:30am All Levels Flow at Karma Yoga Center Next week: out of town In the future: I substitute teach a variety of other times from week to week, but my regular class times at Karma are Monday at 1:30pm and Wednesday at 7:30am.  Starting in December, I’ll be teaching for the Freyja Project in the Highlands.  Check the Semper Sarah Facebook page for updates about my yoga instruction schedule. Want some yoga for FREE?  Veterans Day evening, I’m teaching a free class with friend, fellow yoga teacher, and licensed therapist near the Tech Center.  More deets to come.  Aside from that, I’ll soon be offering regularly scheduled free yoga classes in conjunction with Team Red White & Blue Denver. Want some yoga, on-one-one?  Cool. I do that, too. Pricing depends on how many sessions we book or if you are currently enrolled in one of my health coaching programs.  I can do both the yoga and the coaching remotely or in person.  Contact me for details.   2.    Next big trip is COSTA RICA in the NEW YEAR and you can join me, Kate Hendricks, and Dr Theresa Larson there!  4-10 January 2014: Theresa, Kate, and...

Social Entrepreneurship, Business Advice, & Health Tips

Go a little behind the Semper Sarah LLC scenes to hear a bit of Sarah’s personal background, more of her business story with commentary on social entrepreneurship and business advice, plus get 12 tips for better health.  It’s a dynamic “three-fer!” 😉   Personal background goes until about the 10 minute mark, then business-specific story begins.   Business advice starts around minute 20.   Health tips begin around minute 33. To review the 3 business related tips.. 1. Don’t’ be a nerd squirrel 2. Engage in informed risk-taking. 3. Make a schedule but be willing to deviate from it. Then the video cut out for a bit 🙁 So, here are my notes from that part of the presentation: In addition to incorporating SEMPER into your health and business, I’d say… 1. Don’t be a nerd-squirrel – Avoid shiny-objection obsession  – one of my business partners and I call this being a nerd-squirrel.  You’re on track, then BAM! Some new exciting academic or business related thing opportunity appears in front of you.  Have you ever done this?  I know it’s easy for me to think, “I can do this, so I should.” However, every time I take the proverbial “step back” and simplify, my business grows. When I remember, “Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I need to.” Sometimes I have this fear of not doing enough, so simplifying sounds scary to me.  The truth of the matter is  that simplifying almost never means that things get dull, rather, that my efforts get more focused.  There is still tons to do, but what simplifying helps me do is...

4 Ways To Jumpstart Autumn and Enjoy the Transition Into the New Season!

  Please enjoy this Fall Prep Guide from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). It includes simple guidelines for: 1. Fall Cleaning 2. Goal Setting 3. Getting Energized and 4. A Yummy Recipe! 🙂   I completed my training to become a certified health coach at IIN, which is based in New York City, although I now live in Denver. And even though I live in CO, I coach people all over the country via phone and Skype. Speaking of being a certified Health Coach, I will take on new clients for only TWO MORE WEEKS.  So, if you’ve been thinking about doing one of my powerful health and lifestyle coaching programs, now is the time to invest in yourself, your health, and your happiness!  For only 2 hours a month, you can enhance your life in ways you never thought possible…   **  Jessica Hall of Denver said “I now take more time for self-care, feel better, and am living healthier thanks to Sarah’s coaching.  I improved connections with friends and family, I feel more creative, and my career is better.  I learned a ton about all areas of my life through the coaching process.” **   Three very important things note: 1. I am raising my prices 1 October 2013 2. I am closing my 6-month, one-on-one health coaching program to new client registration on 10 October 2013 3. Invest in my 6-month guidance and coaching by 10 October and get a FitMark Bag Race Messenger tote ($100 value!) FREE from me! *shipping not included             Not stoked about investing only 2 hours...

An Offering of Strength & Prayers for Colorado Flood Victims

Recently, Denver, Boulder, Estes Park and surrounding areas of Colorado were bombarded with rain, hail, and lightening for nearly a week straight. Late last week, the resulting flash floods swept entire roads, homes, and business away.  I was in Lyons, near Estes Park, Wednesday night – on 9/11 –when the deluge really let loose and thankfully, my friend and fellow yoga teacher, Tami, and I made it back from the Give Back Yoga Foundation’s fundraising dinner to Denver safely in the midst of the storm.   We saw cars that had slipped off the highway and were stranded in the median.   We drove about 30mph on a freeway with a speed limit of 70mph.   Reports of closures of the very roads we’d just traversed began soon after we got home.   Heart-breaking news began the next day, depicting destruction and loss.   The scale of damage has been more than anyone imagined.   And I hate to admit it, but when the flash flood alerts blared from people’s cell phones Wednesday night, many of us thought, “I’m sure it’ll be ok.”  You really never think – rather it’s that we hope, I suppose – it’ll be that bad.  Unfortunately, it has been.   So in this time of tragedy, I wanted to offer up something a little different, and hopefully fun and uplifting, as well: a mantra, a chant, a prayer.   Don’t worry too much about what you call it, or that it’s in Sanskrit.  If you’ve never chanted before, no worries.  Also, if you’re a Christian (I am, too!), there’s nothing funky or weird that...

9/11: A Reminder of the Power of Choice & The Option to Heal

The annual remembrance of September 11th, 2001 evokes a lot of emotions in me, many of which have changed over the last couple of years.       In 2011, I wrote an account of where I was when it all went down in 2001, and how I felt that the “Tumbling Towers Built America’s Next Greatest Generation.”  But I’m not sure I’d write about it the same way today as I did even just 2 years ago.   How about you?  Do you feel the same way about it now as you did a few years ago or the very day it happened?  How have your thoughts and feelings changed?  Have the US wars abroad affected your opinion at all?   For most of the last decade plus, when the calendar hit 9/11, my heart swelled with pride that I was part of a microcosm of my generation who volunteered to serve during a time of war.  Two years ago, when my business wasn’t a business yet but merely a blog, I shared a letter from my father whereby he berated my choice to join the Marines as juxtaposition to the honor I felt at having joined.  The irony of his letter is that he wrote to his youngest daughter, a college junior in Air Force ROTC, exactly one week before September 11th, 2001, and probably had no idea the weight it would carry as history rolled forward.   Although my father, with whom I was very close, said, “I will never say I agree with you becoming a Marine,” I never doubted my decision to join the Corps.  Although...

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider Went Where?

No, this is not a picture of me singing “the itsy-bitsy-spider” to a room full of adults.  This is me, “Semper Sarah,” speaking at our latest Just Roll With It Bootcamp which took place Saturday August 24th in Hermosa Beach, CA.  Because a former Marine, a photographer, a friend, took the effort to make this short video I posted below, I don’t think there’s too much I need to say.  I’ll let the footage speak for itself about what the day was like.  Words simply typed upon my computer screen will not due justice to the gratitude I’d like to express to Dr Theresa Larson DPT, Kate Hendricks, Dianna DiTorio, Dallas Poore, Jesse Kahle, Deanna Storer, Rebecca Kovacs, Jesse Flagg, Team Red White & Blue, CrossFit Southbay, Steve Trush, Forrest Jung, Steven Diebold of PapaSteve’s NO JUNK Protein Bars, Bulletproof Coffee, Nutrex Hawaii, and GaiamTV, but here are the words: THANK YOU. Now, please enjoy one of these two videos 🙂 …              ...

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

How was your weekend?  Mine was fabulous, I gotta say!   I spent last Friday through Monday in Washington State.  I’ve never been before.  Well, unless you count that time I drove across the Oregon border to bungee jump off Mount St Helens twice in 2007, but the point is, I’ve never really fully explored the state.   And boy, did I enjoy my visit! Washington is beautiful, and with a few days in Seattle and a day in Fidalgo Island, I felt like I got to soak a lot in.  Plus, I got to see old friends and make new ones, and connect with lovely colleagues and conference attendees.   But why was I in Washington?  Well, I was there speaking at the V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) Conference on Sunday morning of the 3 day event.  My keynote was titled “Just Roll With It for Healthy Leadership,” the cornerstone of which is effective self-care. AKA: “Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others!”   After the conference wrapped up, I headed out to the countryside of Fidalgo Island to meet the owners of Thrive Community Fitness in Oak Harbor to discuss the details of bringing the Just Roll With It Bootcamp to their patrons – both civilian and veteran – staff, friends, and colleagues in 2014.  Exciting stuff!   Anyway, the whole weekend served to re-remind me of 3 critical components of self-care that I know will be helpful for you, too.    Because if we burn out, even if in the name of service, what good are we to anyone when we...

With Alex Witt on MSNBCLive: President Obama’s comments on assault in military reflect same rhetoric

We covered a lot in a short amount of time!  So, just to be clear — I am not blaming President Obama for the crisis in our military judicial system.  I sincerely think it’s great that he acknowledges that rapes and sexual assaults undermine our military and our nation…I simply take issue with the fact that it’s still being approached purely in terms of safety, and less about what happens – what will REALLY, no $hit actually happen – to someone if they rape another human being.    DoD reports show that there are more than 26,000 incidents a year, yet only about 1,500 reported.  Why?  Because service member victims fear retaliation and know that perpetrators are very infrequently held accountable. Anyway, there is a lot to say about this, of course, but for now, hope you enjoy this latest interview.  I do my best to smile and BREATHE, but I am always incredibly nervous for these live interviews and I never know exactly what they’re going to ask me.  So thank you for being understanding of my humanness and my many imperfections.  I hope that as more and more survivors speak out, and as more and more Senators support the Military Justice Improvement Act, that we can affect real, positive change in regards to the military judicial system’s handling of felony level cases. Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy (Me employing yogic mudras, silent mantras, and breathing to try to relax myself 🙂  It’s why I do what I do!) Plummer: Obama’s comments on assault in military reflect same rhetoric Sexual Assault survivor,...

Better than a freaking cup of coffee! :)

The reason I say this is better than a cup of coffee is because pranayama: 1. Energizes you 2. Balances you 3. and when done even for just a few minutes a day, every day, can significantly improve the health of your mind, body, and spirit. There is SO MUCH great stuff to pranayama, and lots of different types of pranayama, but today I’m going to share just one method with you – alternate nostril breathing. So, go ahead and watch this silly video.  Yoga and meditation doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. And here’s a secret — yoga is really all about the breath work anyway! 😉  When done with a spirit of openness, fun, and hunger to learn and grow, you and your breath just can’t be stopped!  So breath on, friends! 🙂 #4 – Your breath is FREE.  I think that beats a $4 cup of coffee any day! 🙂 When you change your breath, you change your mind.  “Everything we think, eat, and do is recorded by the body… asana helps to erase that, by removing that which stands in the way of seeing our authentic self. Pranayama is even an more powerful method than anything you can do with your body to change what you think… you can change your breath to change your mind.” ~ Rod Stryker Kripalu article about...

Simple Lifestyle Suggestions for Total Health

Health and nutrition is about so much more than just eating well. Below you will find simple lifestyle suggestions designed to help you live a ridiculously happy, healthy, and successful life. 😉 This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but something to get you started or remind you of what you already know.  Remember, Keep It Simple, Silly! The most powerful changes are often small and simple, and therefore sustainable. Now, get rolling with it!  🙂   Eating habits – Avoid cooking with electricity, especially microwave ovens. Convert to gas when practical. – Avoid water with chlorine and fluoride. Use spring water or a good-quality water filter. – Chew your food well, 30 seconds per mouthful or more, until it becomes liquid.   Relationships – View everything and everyone you meet with gratitude. – Do your best to be on good terms with people, especially your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends and co-workers. Communicate with them regularly, either in person or via telephone or email. – Let go and let God. (Or “let be and let Buddha” etc) – Create and/or foster community.  Attend events and seminars like the Just Roll With It Bootcamp for Transitioning Warriors or connect with groups like Team, Red, White, & Blue.   Hygiene – To increase your circulation, scrub your entire body with a hot, damp washcloth morning and/or night. – Avoid wearing synthetic or woolen clothing directly on the skin. Wear 100% cotton clothing as often as possible. – Avoid chemically perfumed cosmetics. – Use natural toothpaste. – Avoid excessive jewelry on your fingers, wrists...

Do You Like What You See in the Mirror?

If you’re not connected with me on the Semper Sarah Facebook page, you may have missed out on all the great lil’ nuggets o’ wisdom I’ve been posting the last few weeks. But don’t fret my pet, I’ve gathered them all up for you in a nice little package here in this week’s blog! 🙂 I’ve been in Nosara, Costa Rica completing yoga teacher training that goes toward my 500hour RYT certification.  I jokingly call this “yoga camp,” and it might sound like it’s all fun and games for Semper Sarah LLC down here, but the truth of the matter is that as much as it is an absolute joy and blessing to be here, it’s a lot of hard work, too.  They say that Costa Rica Yoga Spa – the host of our training program –  is the “land of mirrors” and that the yoga rancho where we practice every day (3 or more times a day!) is the “spaceship.”  In other words, this land takes you places, transforms you, and makes you face your proverbial “shit.” Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, we put ourselves to the test from sunrise and well past sunset for 21 days straight.  There were a lot of tears, a lot of pain, and too many hugs and smiles to count because like anything in life, the beautiful stuff has qualities of light and dark, joy and pain, growth and rebirth.  Finding joy in the journey and being patient with the process will allow you to just roll with the changes as they come, though. When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see?  If you...

3 Ways to Save Money on Fitness Gear AND Eliminate Excuses to Not Work-Out

So there I was, getting into my car after a sweaty, dusty run through the Colorado hills, about to head to Karma Yoga Center for a class with one of my favorite teachers, Lisa Schlelein Theis.  I opened up my trunk to double check that I brought my yoga mat with me. Well, I sure had brought my yoga mat…and, oh by the way, had three others in there, too, along with 2 pairs of running shoes, two pairs of soccer cleats, and a bag with a t-shirt, shorts, a sports bra, socks, face wipes, a visor, and gloves. The thing is, not all of that gear was either in tip-top shape, or my primary go-to mat, set of shoes, or whatever.  But that’s ok, because I’ve realized that stashing gear in my car accomplishes a few great things that both helps me save money and eliminate my excuses for not being able to work out whenever, wherever.  Because, lets be honest, sometimes the rhythm does getchya, and you wanna head to the hills for a jaunt. 😉  I’ve done this with running gear for years, but when I noticed I subconsciously started doing this with yoga gear, too, I kind of cracked myself up. Anyway, HERE are the tips! 1. Be accepting. You really don’t always have to have your favorite, perfect, top of the line gear with you to run, play, or yoga.  It won’t kill you to run in ugly, holey, barely-any-grip-left-on-them running shoes from time to time.  Wouldn’t you rather get the run in than not simply because you didn’t have some shoes with you?...

3 Ways to do NBA Finals Night Right: Healthy AND Fun, I Swear!

Whether you like it hot with the Heat or need a kick in the pants from the Spurs, you can use one or more of these tips to make your NBA Finals Night a fun – and healthy – one!  🙂 1. First: “Add-in.”  This is a great concept that helps keep all the nutrition mumbo-jumbo simple!  The more “good” stuff you add-in, the less room there is for the “bad stuff.”  Without engaging in a mindset of scarcity or depravity, you can “crowd-out” unhealthy food or drink by adding in more good stuff ahead of time.   2. “Do it or don’t do it, but do it.” Still indulge in those chicken wings, beers, and French fries.  Give yourself a head start by eating something healthy first, though (#1).  Then, if you’re gonna drink some beers, have them be the best, most fulfilling, tasty, satisfying beers you want.  [If you actually like the taste of Miller 64, go for it, but lets be honest, who really enjoys beer-flavored water?]  You’re actually cheating yourself in the long run when you opt for low-fat, diet, or calorie-reduced treats.  Your body doesn’t recognize the chemicals in those food-like substances.  Chemicalized, artificial, junk food doesn’t just wreak havoc on our waistlines, but it’s been shown to cause forms of low-grade brain damage. Yes, seriously!  Sure you’re eating fewer calories, but you’re not really serving yourself because quality over quantity is what matters in the calorie ballgame. Even outside of special occasions, I recommend this mindset to my clients.  All coffee, chocolate, and booze (or whatever your preferred food-related “treat” is) is not...

MSNBC Weekends with Alex Witt: Courses of action in solving military sexual assault crisis

(the screen-shot images are hyperlinked to the video)         Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy I gotta be honest, folks. I was SUPER nervous about this interview for some reason on Sunday and felt like I had serious brain fog all weekend. (Plus Mara was talking really fast! LOL)  In retrospect, I see that my self-care regimen had fallen off track a bit the last two weeks, and with hindsight being 20/20, I now recognize the effects of that.  I hope, though, that my comments still gave voice to others who wish to speak out, as well. There is so much to say about the debate over removing criminal cases from the military chain of command, and I just want to clarify/elaborate on a few comments I made in my interview with Mara Schiavocampo of MSNBC: 1. Take assault cases out of the military chain of command: I agree with Senator Gillabrand on this one.  We need impartial (and specially-trained) people to be the final word on these cases.  As the system currently exists, commanders – who who typically know one or both of the people involved in the investigation – are the ones with the final say-so on criminal cases.  Although commanders attend various legal training schools throughout their careers they are not lawyers.  Moreover, our military leaders may be dedicated and determined, but they are not impartial. Look at the great lengths we go to in order to select impartial jurors and judges in a wide range of civilian cases.  Why, then, is it ok to have peer...

NBC Nightly News (again) – in response to Senate Armed Services Committee Hearings June 2013 – VICTIMS MUST REPORT

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy I just discovered that NBC Nightly News repurposed parts of our interview a couple weeks ago (from an interview about a month ago). I was glad to see that they showed more of my response, though, because 1. It doesn’t make sense to have CRIMINAL cases directly within the Chain of Command and 2. Although often life-crushing, I maintain my stance that VICTIMS MUST REPORT. *** Where would we be if not for the steps our foremothers and forefathers took to speak out? They suffered worse injustices than we probably have, but spoke up. Believe me, I know it is hard (that’s an understatement) but we MUST, because slowly but surely, I believe it chips away at the system and puts light on a very dark subject. There are so many layers to this… and rape is a WORLDWIDE problem. I hope the military can lead the way and effect positive change on a larger scale. 3. On a happier note, I’m so stoked my three-legged, wonder-pup got lots of coverage this time! 🙂   *this is a 3:30 minute long segment with Brian Williams and Jim Miklaszewski. My statements are made beginning at...

Carbs Do NOT Equal Evil

Nowadays it seems like the the word “carbs”  is synonymous with “bad.” In actuality, it is the REFINED carbohydrates that are bad, but because people tend to eat so many processed foods, the two tend to go hand in hand. Grains in their whole, natural form are generally healthier than refined grain foods like bread, pastas, and pastries, though. – Whole grains digest slowly – provide sustained energy – and supply needed fiber and nutrients. Some common whole grains are brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, and millet.  Branch out and try other, less familiar whole grains sometime, though, like farro, black rice, basmati rice,amaranth, and hemp hearts. Plus, if you want to use the excuse that you’re too busy to cook, watch this short video about how to turn one batch of quinoa into three meals to convince you otherwise 😉 Also, chia seeds and hemp hearts are easy peasey to throw into any smoothie recipe, but I especially like this one. 🙂 Give one of these a try and let me know what you...

Maureen Dowd quotes Sarah in The NYTimes Opinion Section

An excerpt from Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Cut the Strings to George III:” The brass agreed there was a “cancer” in the military, but their rigid, nonsensical response boiled down to: Trust us. We’ll fix the system, even though we don’t really believe it’s broken. They were unanimously resistant to the shift that several of our allies have made, giving lawyers, rather than commanders, the power to take cases to court. This even though they were having a hard time coming up with examples of any commanders who had been removed from their posts for allowing a toxic climate on sexual assault. In fact, the military honchos made it clear that, after months of public dismay, they hadn’t even gotten around to studying the systems our allies put in place to achieve objective decision making, where commanders can’t protect buddies or Top Gun criminals. “Talking to people who have managed this problem longer than we have seems to me the very easiest place to start,” chided Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, told me the arguments of the brass “boiled down to an almost mystical notion of the commanders’ responsibility. Why can’t we cut the strings to the British system we inherited from George III? The British are baffled by us. They gave control over major crimes to professional prosecutors years ago. It’s an institutional structure that has outlived its utility and credibility.” As Sarah Plummer, a beautiful ex-Marine who served in Iraq and says she was raped by a fellow Marine who was never prosecuted, explained to NBC...

Archives