What was your starting point?

I started MDR religiously (3-4 times a week) 1 year ago, about 8 months after my son was born.  I was having a hard time loosing the final 10 lbs of my baby weight. Aside from being above my normal weight, my body was unrecognizable to me.  Pregnancy had changed the shape of my body and I wanted my toned body back.   On top of wanting to change my body I also had severe lower back pain, which made it difficult to do any exercise.  I was feeling stressed out and unhappy with the way I looked.  

Do you remember a specific moment that nudged you to go to class, or decide that it was finally time to make a change?  

I suppose I was superficially motivated by summer, which was fast approaching, but I also just missed working out. I have been athletic my whole life and prior to my son, I worked out 6 days a week doing a variety of spinning, running, circuit training and strength training.  I really missed working out and feeling strong.  Working out has always been a sanctuary for me, and I felt lost and anxious without it.  I knew something had to change. 

What were the first changes you noticed after the first few weeks of taking classes at The Studio (MDR)?  

The first thing I noticed within two weeks of going was that my lower back pain completely gone.  The teachers were very helpful giving me suggestions to modify positions until my core was stronger.  Once this happened my back no longer hurt and I was able to do poses without modifications; I was also so much happier.  I could hold my son without pain and it also allowed me to get back into spinning and running.  The next thing I noticed were my stomach muscles, I could see them again!!  I have done every workout imaginable and I had never seen results as quickly as I saw with MDR.   By summer I was proud of my body - my stomach was flat and my butt was high and tight.  

Have you cleaned up your diet and if so, how has it changed?  

I was much more religious about my diet when I first started because I wanted to loose those last few pounds. I tried to stick to mostly protein, veggies, low sugar fruits, and healthy fats but I definitely cheated every once and a while.  Once I lost the weight I wasn't as strict and I have been able to maintain my weight.  

What’s one pose that you used to hate but love now?  

When I first started I hated bear off the back of the machine.  I just didn't get it. I never felt it in my lower abs and I always felt it in my quads.  It was the most challenging move for me.  After a few months it finally clicked for me and I could do it.  I no longer felt it in my legs and was able to connect to my lower abs.  I wouldn't say I love it now but I now like it.  The moves I love are those that make my butt burn, but I have always felt that way. 

How far have you come from your starting point in both physical and mental ways? And what are some of your new goals when you look ahead?  

I think that the most dramatic change has been my quality of life.  I am less stressed and happier.  (MDR) allowed me to reconnect to my inner and outer strength, which empowered me in other areas of my life.  I have over exercised and struggled with body image issues my entire life and for the first time I feel proud and at peace with my body.  I workout less than I use to and am happier with the results than any other exercise.  My body is lean and toned without being bulky which is what tends to happen to me with other workouts.  My goals for the future are to continue building my strength and to remain on this path of happiness.



Super inspired by (MDR) client, Shentale, so we're putting the spotlight on her for all her hard work! Get the low down on what she's overcome and her commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Take it away, Shentale...

"After several sinus surgeries, my body was left in the most out-of-shape state I’ve ever experienced. Rather than getting depressed, I decided to get positive and regain back a healthy body. Being in my 40s, my prolonged illness taught me the extremely valuable lesson that without one’s health, one’s quality of life is greatly diminished. With this lesson in mind, I reset my financial priorities and decided to invest in my health as a preventive measure.

As such…enter the Studio (MDR). All gyms, like exercise routines, are not created equal! A former trainer of mine referred me to the Studio (MDR) after my doctor cleared me to exercise.

In July of 2016, I began attending Essential classes. It’s been four months since I was gently encouraged to move to the more challenging Total Body sessions. What I’ve discovered is that even though I still rely on modifying some of the moves, I always feel one step closer to my goal at the end of each class. It is motivating and reassuring when one focuses and actively works toward a set goal. Also, the instructors are keen to ensure that all moves are done properly.

The atmosphere is very professional, positive, friendly and inspiring as well. Patience is urged from the instructors, the staff and the owner, Lisa. In one word my experience has been: Fabulous!

Paired with a healthy meal plan, a cardio routine, determination and consistency, the desired physical as well as emotional results will come if an individual is determined. From Mega Stretch, to Essentials and the ever-challenging Total Body, all of the Lagree method classes are rewarding while the instructors are attentive and incredibly encouraging.

As a writer, I’m well versed that achieving optimal physical shape is akin to sculpting one’s body, which in turn is like crafting a well-written story. And although this particular chapter in my personal, nonfiction tale is yet to be complete, I highly anticipate a very happy ending upon attaining my fitness goals. However, that will only be the completion of one chapter with many more to come pertaining to the overall desire of maintaining a healthy lifestyle!

I firmly and strongly recommend those who wish to engage in an effective workout regimen, whether if just beginning your fitness journey or desiring to maintain an existing one, to check out any of the three locations of the Studio (MDR). With patience being your top priority: Put in the work. Put in the time. Prepare for fabulous results. You will not be disappointed!"



Last month, our beloved leader of The Studio (MDR)—the CEO formerly known as Lisa Hirsch—married her best friend and all-around amazing guy, Andy Solomon. Their wedding took place at a beautiful villa in the Santa Ynez Valley. We recently caught up with Lisa to chat with her about her big day.

Q: Tell us more about your wedding. What was it like? 

In a word: magical! It was pure fun, and exactly how I wanted it to be. I laughed from the moment the wedding ceremony started until I closed my eyes to go to sleep. The best part was that it seemed like everyone else was having the time of their lives, too, which was all that I wanted for everyone who was there.

Q: Was it what you expected it would be like? 

To be honest, I had no expectations, which made all of it even more phenomenal! I knew we would throw a good party. But, literally, our friends and family from all walks of life got along, laughed, and danced from the moment they walked into the tent until we were told we had to leave the after-party in the wine cave! It felt like one big love-fest!

Q: Is there a moment that surprised you?

My parents have been divorced for 35 years and after a long, rocky road of separation, it was nice to have them both walk me down the aisle.  It was an honor to have them at my wedding and to know how proud they are of me.  For a moment, time seemed to stand still, differences were put aside, and my mom and dad stood together, helping me feel like even at 45 years old, I’m still their little girl. 

I have to say, I also felt this incredible gratitude as I stood next to my parents and waited to walk through the vines (my “aisle”). It was so incredible to know that I was about to marry my best friend, the love of my life, and the man of my dreams. It was an affirmation of my good fortune.

Q: Are there any dietary changes you made before your big day that you’ll stick to post-wedding?  

PALETA has been my go-to for years, and I will continue to order from their food delivery menu. It’s honestly the best I’ve tried and makes it so easy for someone like me who is constantly on the go, ensuring that I will eat enough before and after my workouts.

Q: Any pre-wedding diet tweaks that you’ll abandon now? 

Yes! One word for you: Pizza. Pizza (and an occasional glass of wine) are back! While I always try to keep good nutrition in mind, reaching for mostly veggies, fruit, and lean protein, I definitely won’t be as strict as I was prior to the wedding.

Q: Are there any exercise changes you made that you think you’ll keep doing now that the wedding is over?

My back is feeling much better, and I credit the Lagree Method with helping me heal. I also started meditating in the stressful months leading up to the wedding, and I’m officially hooked. I’ll definitely continue working with the incredible Rachelle Tratt and Taylor Estes.

The only thing I’ll change when it comes to my workouts is that I may not throw in that fourth day at (MDR), because three is plenty! 

Q: What was the best part of wedding prep? 

Meeting my wedding planner, Percy Sales. He is officially a friend for life. I also thought our Cantor, Mark Childs, was phenomenal. I only wish he lived in Los Angeles and not Santa Barbara, because I would be joining him for Shabbat services every Friday evening! Cantor Childs helped to make our ceremony intimate, warm, fun, and incredibly meaningful—and for that, I will be forever grateful to him. 

Q: What was the worst part of wedding prep? 

STRESS. STRESS is EVIL. There’s a reason it has a link to most health issues, sleeping issues, family arguments, wrinkles, pains that come out of nowhere … the list of woes goes on. The ultimate catch is that we bring it on ourselves and we are the only ones who can stop it. 

Here’s my biggest suggestion for anyone planning a wedding: Figure out what is most important to you and focus on that first. Do not let family make your big day “their” day. Remember that it is about you and your partner, and that it’s important that you really enjoy it. So, actually take a moment to dance, laugh, have a drink with your best friends. Yes, it will be a blur. But I can honestly say, I recall everything people said I wouldn’t!

Also, try to remember that if something goes wrong during the actual day, most likely no one will know but you—so don’t draw attention to it. For instance, our caterer was so late in serving our courses that we didn’t get to do a cake cutting—or even get to serve our incredible cake at the wedding. At first I was bummed, because the cake was so delicious and beautiful, and I wanted to give my friend who made it time to shine. But then I realized, why stress?! There was nothing I could do since someone else messed up, so let’s just get it served during the after-party! From what I heard, everyone had an incredible time and not one person noticed the cake situation or that the photo-booth wasn’t set up till mid-way into the party because they got into a car accident on the way to the wedding (thank G-d they were OK!).

Q: What are you most looking forward to in this new chapter? 

I love saying, “Hi, its Lisa Solomon.”  I am so proud to be married to such an incredible man and have a wonderful new family. I was very nervous before I stepped out of the villa to walk down the aisle. The wind had kicked up and my dad kept stepping on my dress, and I was worried that everyone would see my tush. But as soon as I saw the rose petal walkway, my darling husband-to-be, and all of my friends and family smiling at me, it all melted away and all I could do was smile back and giggle. I had a quick flash over my life and a calm came over me. I knew that though I was getting married a little later in life than I may have expected, I was lucky to have waited for my perfect fit.  

Do’s & Don’ts of Athleisure Makeup

It’s no secret that athleisure has blown up in the past few years, with LA at its epicenter. It’s not at all uncommon to see girls seamlessly transition from brunch to The Studio (MDR), all without an outfit change.

The newest trend should come as no surprise — athleisure makeup.
You heard right: makeup.

We know, for years, everyone from your mother to your aesthetician has been telling you that wearing makeup to the gym is a big don’t and could lead to acne.
So has wearing makeup to the gym finally become a do?

Let’s break it down.

What exactly is athleisure makeup?

Athleisure makeup focuses on adding natural coverage and definition without clogging your pores. These new lines of makeup, skin care, and other body products are specifically made to control sweat and be lightweight, breathable, and long-wearing.

And like athleisure clothing— it’s also great for rest days where you’re hitting Netflix instead of the gym.

So, is athleisure makeup really safe to wear to workouts?
Here’s where the jury’s out. When it comes to your face, the safest bets are mineral-based powders, which are naturally non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging). Even so, mixing with sweat could still lead to clogged pores after a bout of intense cardio. The main takeaway here is that if you’re going to wear makeup to the gym, to choose something that’s light and oil-free—like a non-comedogenic tinted primer or a water-resistant tinted moisturizer with SPF. Confession - we’re obsessed with this Laura Mercier moisturizer that has clean ingredients and a little bit of illuminator to give your skin a healthy glow.

 The good news: when it comes to eye makeup and lip color, you’re set. There are fewer pores in these areas, leading to a lower likelihood of acne.

Another great find is Tarte’s new athleisure makeup line which includes items like Lifted Sweatproof Mascara, a new, lightweight mascara meant to offer a natural look and lift that persists through even your sweatiest class.   

And we can’t forget to mention Arrow’s BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm ($14), which was actually the best-selling product on Birchbox last year. As an added bonus, all of the products in the Arrow line are paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Interested in more athleisure makeup options? Refinery29 has a great slideshow featuring their top picks that you can check out here.

We’d love to know what your athleisure beauty routine is and what’s working best for you. Tag us on Instagram @thestudiomdr to join the conversation and of course, share your fave products!

(MDR) Bride Tribe: Lisa Talks Wedding Prep

Our Founder and CEO of The Studio (MDR), the one and only Lisa Hirsch, is getting married this weekend! In addition to wishing her a world of happiness, inquiring minds want to know: What’s life been like leading up to the big day, and what have you done to look and feel your best? Here’s what Lisa has to say…   

Q: What was your diet + exercise routine like before you started wedding prep?

A: I’d take classes at The Studio (MDR) 3 times a week, and I would typically throw in a spin class at YAS twice a week. If I didn’t spin, I’d do some cardio at Spectrum in the early mornings with my fiancé, Andy.

Q: How has your diet + exercise routine changed since you started preparing for your wedding?
A: Well, I should preface this by saying it has definitely been an interesting time to prepare for my wedding because I have a lower-back injury that I have been working through. So, the limitations of that—both mentally and physically—have been intense! I’m someone who is normally quite strong and dedicated to an exercise routine, so learning how to really listen to my body and back off when my pain is “talking” to me has felt rather stifling at times.
Because of these limitations on my workouts over the past three months, I’ve had to focus a lot on my mental preparation for the wedding—which has been a blessing in disguise! As anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows, getting all of the details organized is seriously stressful! Learning how to control my stress (and I’ll admit it—my frustration at times!) and channel it into something beneficial is work that’ll benefit me long after Andy and I say “I do.”
Despite my injury, I’ve continued to work out at The Studio 3 to 4 times a week (I added an extra day), but now I modify many of the moves due to my injury. I am very cautious because I obviously don’t want to make my injury worse. All of our trainers have been amazing, helping me make modifications so that I stay safe but still get a good workout.
I am also lucky in that I received a Peloton bike for Hanukkah this year. So, I spin in the comfort of my own home a couple days a week. It saves a ton of time—and also truly feels as if I am actually in a class!
I also practice yoga—though it’s a more “mental” yoga these days, because I can’t curve my back into certain postures due to my back pain. Once a week, I practice with one of my clients who is a fabulous teacher, Rachelle Tratt (she teaches at Yoga Collective in Venice). She also guides me in meditation, which I’ve found super-helpful in the stressful times leading up to the big day.
As for my diet, I’ve been extremely lucky to work with my good friend, Chef Kelly Boyer, who is the CEO and founder of PALETA.  I order her meal delivery service daily to make sure that I eat enough before the wedding. As a bride-to-be, I want to look and feel amazing. I also know myself well enough to know that during really busy, stressful times, it’s easy to forget to eat. For someone who is constantly on the go like me, PALETA is perfect. It gives me all the nourishment I need, and everything that arrives in those cute little cooler bags tastes delicious!
Finally, I’ve also been working with Dr. Koyama, who practices Color Therapy. To be honest, I can’t explain it. You’re just going to have to trust me: Go to him if you have any sort of minor injury! Color Therapy works, and it doesn’t hurt. Plus, the doc’s office is conveniently located on Washington Blvd.
Q: Are there any dietary or exercise routine changes that you plan on continuing after your wedding?
A: For me, it’s all about continuing to heal my back and get stronger, so I think my pre-wedding routine is my new go-to routine.
Q: What kind of changes have you seen in your body since you started wedding prep?
A: In many ways, I’m a lot stronger than I was before I started wedding prep. And I really have my injury to thank for that! Strength is about so much more than physical fitness; it’s also about how well you’re able to stay grounded during crazy times, or connect with your body even when it’s injured and won’t do what you’d like it to do.

Q: What are you most excited about in preparing for your wedding? 

A: Knowing that all the people I love will be in the same place at once, and that I am marrying the most wonderful man.
Q: What has been most stressful about preparing for your wedding? 

A: Sticking to a budget, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and dealing with a back injury throughout it all!
Q: What kinds of things have you been doing to support a positive psyche in what can be a fairly stressful time? 

A: I’ve called my life-lines (a.k.a. my friends)! And lucky me, a couple of my dear friends are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to meditation. Working with Rachelle Tratt on breathing techniques as well as Taylor Estes, who teaches a form of yoga called Kundalini, has been amazingly supportive and calming. I also drop in to my friend’s meditation studio, Suze Yalof Schwartz’ Unplug, for group meditation sessions.  
Q: What is the most “out-there” thing that you have tried (from a diet/exercise/ psychological POV)?

A: Definitely color therapy. It may be all mental, but I swear, it works!
Q: What advice do you have for other brides-to-be preparing for their own weddings on how to get into wedding-ready shape?
A: There is not a cookie-cutter “Guide to The Perfect Bride,” but here is what I can suggest.
For starters, I think it’s smart to simply embrace the fact that planning a wedding is stressful. Wait, I take that back. It’s not stressful, it’s extremely stressful. I would open 10 studios in one day over planning a wedding again, and I have the BEST wedding planner ever, Percy Sales! So, know that things are going to come up between you and your partner that are unexpected. Try to roll with them and take a step back when things get heated or uneasy. Because in the long run, it’s really just supposed to be a happy day in your life, celebrating your union of love—nothing more. Life is too short to let the details make you crazy.
When it comes to exercise and food intake… Yes, we all want to feel and look good on our wedding day. But it’s important to remember that when you are shining from within, you look a heck of a lot better then when you are 5 pounds smaller, feeling miserable and broken. So, do what lights you up and makes you happy! Go for hikes, sign up for a private meditation session with one of my amazing teachers, and come to The Studio (MDR) three times a week for one of the most effective (and fun!) workouts you’ll ever try. Whatever it is that makes you utterly you, DO IT! And when you do, I guarantee it will make you be the most GORGEOUS (MDR) BRIDE EVER!
Look It*Feel It*Live it®

How to Keep Your Glow While On the Go!

(MDR) client and certified holistic health coach Moniqua Plante shares nutrition tips and tricks for eating healthy that are perfect for anyone with a busy schedule. She is all about keeping your glow while on the go with new ideas for healthy snacking, easy small meals and hacks to sneak in nutrient dense greens everyday so we thought we’d share the 411 with you. Take it away Moniqua!

We are all busy, right? And ideally you've taken some time out of your week to do a lil meal prep, right? Uh huh. Look, I'm the queen of meal prep, but there are times when even my schedule is so off the chain, I just can’t get it done.  Then (shocker!) I find myself out and about—and STARVING.

Making better food choices at home and on the road will have an uber positive impact on your life as a whole. Your energy levels will soar, you'll sleep better and you'll be happy and healthy from the inside out.

So let’s just get down to business. When hunger hits and you missed the meal prep, here are my Top Five Tips to help you keep your glow while on the go.

1) Find the Fresh Food
If you're on the road and choose to stop at a fast-food joint, your food choices are limited to say the least. If you stop at a grocery store instead, you open your choices up to some whole and healthy options—fruits, bagged carrots, nuts, hummus—and if there is a salad bar, you’re golden!

2) Play it Smart - Pack Some Snacks
Okay, so you’re on the road and you don't have access to food at regular intervals—what do you do? You probably skip meals and make bad choices cause you’re ready to eat your own arm. The problem with this scenario is that your body responds as if it’s starving and goes into survival mode—cue the cortisol levels, then your metabolism slows way down to prevent you from dying of starvation.

So as an arm-eating alternative, be smart and always bring some healthy snacks with you. Keep some non-perishables in your car or bag, then pack perishable items in a little soft cooler if you can’t stock them in a refrigerator at the office. Keep it simple like nuts and seeds, homemade trail mix, veggies and hummus, Mary’s Crackers and avocado, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, maybe some unsweetened greek yogurt and berries. Boom, it’s that simple.

3. Keep Your Brain and Body Boosted
So, you’re busy and you skip a meal or two, no biggie, right? Wrong. There’s evidence that missing meals can negatively impact sugar and glucose levels in the body and can cause weight gain. Your body simply needs a steady supply of fuel to function properly.
Eating small amounts of healthy real food throughout the day will keep your body burning those calories more quickly. It also is a great way to keep your blood sugar stable—helping you stay energized and focused.

4. Get your Greens to Go
Greens are the number one nutrient dense food and also the number one food missing from the American diet. So, if you didn’t get a chance to whip up that green smoothie before you ran out the door, carry your greens with you. Powdered greens packets like Amazing Grass' Superfoods Packets are perfect for going green on the go. You can simply mix these packets with water and voila!

5. Conquer your Cravings
When you're constantly on the move, it's so important to avoid foods that drain your energy, fog your focus and diminish your mood.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Avoid Simple Carbs and High Glycemic Foods—sodas, juices, sugary snacks, breads and pastries
  • Ditch the Deep-Fried Foods
  • No Non-Fat, Low Fat Fake Foods and Sweeteners—these “foods” are loaded with chemicals that your body literally can't process
  • Pass on the Partially Hydrogenated Products—like non dairy creamer, Jiffy-style peanut butter, margarine, and most packaged baked goods
  • Back Off the Booze
  • Stay Hydrated -- don’t mistake thirst for hunger

With all these tips in mind, I created the Busy Gal’s On-The-Go Guide to help you always find your way to healthy habits. I break down snacking into three levels - Prime, Preferred and Primo. This way you can always find something healthy to enjoy no matter where you are—or how much time to have to grab a quick bite between meetings. Plus, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite recipes from my secret stash, like Sassy Sweet Potato Chips, to create ahead of time and keep on hand for those hangry emergencies.

This free downloadable guide will be your pocket pal to keep your sanity intact and your energy levels soaring no matter what the week throws at you. Download your copy here!

LOVE + Real Food,
Moniqua Plante

Transformer of the Month: Taylor Caprio


I was feeling really badly about myself and the way I looked last year after the scales tipped past 200 lbs and I was no longer fitting into any of my clothes. Even at 5’9, I could no longer hide the extra pounds, so I committed to making a change. I’m down 30 lbs since I started at The Studio (MDR) in October and the progress came amazingly quickly. It was 10 lbs per month for the first three months, which is a very healthy 2.5 lbs a week. By December I felt great with the progress I had made, and have since just been maintaining my results with 3 classes a week. I don’t do any other form of exercising anymore since this hits all the body parts and keeps my heart rate up for the full 50 minutes.

I’m so glad I found The Studio (MDR) and I am thankful to my best friend who had taken a few classes and introduced me to it. I thought the studio looked upscale, and the classes always looked full so that was a good sign! All of the studio locations are convenient to my apartment too, so the only thing holding me back was my fear that my current fitness level wouldn’t quite work with all the core exercises. I started by just doing what I could and the teachers were really helpful in offering modifications, and little by little I noticed after a few weeks of taking classes that I started to get stronger and was forming lines on the sides of my abdominals. Both made me really happy and feel encouraged!

After committing to workouts 3x a week I started making better nutritional choices that have helped me see results faster. Now I try to avoid bread at least 5 days a week, but I allow rice because I love sushi! I also cut back on drinking which is really hard when you’re single and dating, but I make it work. I keep everything I want to eat in my diet, just in moderation. I still eat anything I want, I just try to eat a lighter dinner if I had a treat like Yogurtland in the afternoon. I still eat pasta (no more than once a week) and ice cream (no more than once a week). Not feeling deprived allows me to actually enjoy the journey. It’s all about being mindful and finding a balance.

My practice keeps getting stronger thanks to the support of my instructors Stephanie, Olivia and Melissa - their instruction has helped me conquer poses I didn’t think I’d be capable of. For instance, one pose that I used to hate but now I love is ‘Teaser’. But I still HATE scrambled eggs, and I make it known that I hate it with lots of eye rolls and disappointed groans!

Overall I feel so much stronger physically and way more confident from where I started in October. I’ve noticed definition in my shoulders, arms, waist and legs. I plan to start taking a 4th class every week starting soon, so I am excited to see how much better my results will be!

3 Ways To Get Your Stretch In This Weekend

Have you stretched today? If you’ve taken a class at The Studio MDR today, the answer is YES! As you may have heard from your instructor, every move throughout class actually incorporates stretching. For example, MDR instructor, Svetlana, says “Reverse Crunch” doesn’t just help you recover — it also helps you stretch your spine. MDR instructor Mary echoes that and says all lunges, but particularly “Reverse Super Floor Lunge”, help build muscle while offering a great stretch too.

But maybe you want to take your stretch game to the next level— and it’s no wonder‚ stretching has a whole host of incredible benefits – some of our faves include helping you feel more alert, increasing your body awareness, warding off injury, and more.

So kick off your weekend with some zen and check out these 3 easy ways to feel more flexible by Monday:

1) Attend the Shred & Stretch or Mega Stretch class
While the majority of poses you do in the studio already incorporate a great stretch (everyone’s favorite, Child Pose, for example), we also have a couple classes with more of a stretching focus. Lindsay Hallam teaches MDR Shred & Stretch — which is 35 minutes of moves you’d typically do in a (MDR) Total Body class and is followed by 15 minutes of stretch-based poses. An awesome stretch that she incorporates is Pigeon Pose, a yogi favorite deemed the “King of Hip Openers.” Looking for even more stretch? Albina Katsman teaches a class called (MDR) Mega Stretch which utilizes ballet-inspired ideas and a focus on progressive core movements to heal and stretch your body.

2) Hit your local park and stretch it out
We’re finally starting to see some beautiful sunny, blue-skied days after a period of (much-needed) rain— take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head outdoors to get your stretch on. Spending time outdoors is scientifically proven to improve your health in a number of ways, elevating not only your mood, but also in aiding your body to fight against everything from cancer to heart attacks. Bring a yoga mat and work on some hip flexor stretches or use a park bench for a relaxing foldover stretch. We love using this list of essential stretches from Self for inspiration – your body will tell you what you need!

3) Incorporate stretching as part of your bedtime ritual
After a long day at work, the last thing you might want to do is add one more item to your list. But make room for this one— stretching is a great way to wind down from the stresses of a day, relax your mind and muscles, and prepare you for sleep. By doing some pre-bedtime stretching, you can actually improve the quality of your sleep and lower your stress levels. A good stretch to start with is “Rag Doll” - simply stand with your feet about hips distance apart, bend over and grab opposite elbows. Let your head hang freely, releasing all tension, and breathe. For more on pre-bedtime stretches, read on here.

What to Eat Before Class

Jessi is a certified nutrition expert and food strategist with experience as a chef - she is constantly giving helpful nutrition advice about what we should be eating and it has been a serious game changer to our fitness. To share the wealth, we invited Jessi to debunk some of the most common nutrition myths out there like working out on an empty stomach or going overboard on protein. Take it away Jessi!

How much do we love the Megaformer? Yep, thought so. You love it and hate it at the same time. It transforms our bodies and challenges us on some deep mental and physical levels. The athletic walk out stronger and the beginners walk out hopeful for where this new journey is going to take them.

Have you more often than not finished a class and said to your teacher “that was so hard today”? Wouldn’t you agree that all this effort and energy your body puts forth during this fifty-minute fitness ride warrants some fuel? As a former bodybuilding competitor, private chef and certified nutritionist I have put the time into learning what it takes to fuel your body properly for a workout. But so often I am confronted by people that are making nutrition mistakes that throw off their game more than they know so…let’s BUST-A-MYTH (or two)!

MYTH: Eat tons of protein before a workout
FACT: Carbs and fat are the most optimal fuel source before tackling a high-intensity fitness class. Protein is what you save for the “post workout” re-fuel and repairing of muscles. Try this smoothie for post-fuel.

MYTH: Working out on an empty stomach can burn more fat.
FACT: If you’re looking to feel dizzy and weak then workout on an empty stomach…a drop in blood sugar isn’t a fun experience! Alternatively, I recommend eating 1/2 hour before your sweat sesh, so nutrients have time to absorb, breakdown and supply the proper energy. Eating is the new strong!

MYTH: If I eat before my workout I will get cramps.
FACT: If you eat 1/2 hour before your workout, you should not get cramps. A few of my fave go-to's and gentle-on-the-tummy foods include:
- Sweet potato
- Whole-wheat toast with a nut butter or avocado
- Oatmeal with cinnamon & walnuts
- Granola bar or my fave homemade Matcha Chocolate Date Bar

MYTH: I ate balanced meals all day so I don’t need to eat before a late evening class.
FACT: You still need that energy to make it through that 4th plank. Have a light nibble and then throw some protein in that bod post-workout like a protein smoothie or some lean meat. Your muscles are begging for that repair, but try to be mindful of eating heavy right before bedtime.

To sum it up, you want your wits about you when embarking in a The Studio (MDR) class - it requires thinking fast, executing precise movements, making smart choices and mindfulness to avoid injury. Proper care and feeding of your muscular system will get you one step closer to your body composition goal.

What You Really Want to Wear for Valentine’s Day

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, which gives you all the more reason to stay in and keep it cozy with your girls, hubby, or that special someone in your life! Instead of struggling to find the perfect Valentine’s Day restaurant and dress, add some romance to your dining room with a candlelit homemade dinner. We love this simple zucchini bolognese recipe alongside a glass of our favorite rosé to really make it feel like the special occasion it is.

Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a sweet (and healthy) treat. We won’t be feeling guilty when we indulge in these chocolate dipped apples and satsumas that are sure to satisfy sweet and savory cravings.

All that’s left is finding the perfect outfit…since we’re at home, we’re sticking to a comfy, cute look. These festive leggings and a flirty, peek-a-boo sweatshirt are now available at the Playa Vista studio and will be perfect for cuddling up on the couch. We can’t wait to end our night binge watching our favorite lovey-dovey movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, 50 Shades of Grey, and a classic, The Notebook.

MDR Bride Tribe

Do you hear wedding bells? Wedding season is still a few months away, but for brides-to-be at the studio, the time for hard work is now — those bells are already ringing loud and clear!

To help our brides-to-be make sure they look their very best on their big day, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our #MDRBrideTribe series. This is also a great opportunity for anyone looking to prepare for ANY big event where you want to make sure you look fantastic — a birthday, bikini season, The Oscars— the sky’s the limit.

What’s more, we’re excited to share that our very own founder, Lisa Hirsch, is getting married next month, so the timing for #MDRBrideTribe couldn’t be better!

To kick it off, here are some tips and tricks to help you fit perfectly into your wedding dress:

• Build a schedule and stick to it — consistency is key for killer results. If you’re 6 months away from your big day, our instructors recommend to start hitting the studio a minimum of 3 times a week for best results. 3 months out? Up the ante to 4 times a week. Also, keep in mind, in addition to your time at the studio, our instructors recommend that you add cardio into your routine at least 2-3x per week. This can be at least 30 minutes of spinning, running, hiking, rowing, swimming…anything that gets your heart rate up and you enjoy doing!

• Keep your dress style in mind and pick workout moves that target the areas you want to show off. Good news is since our workout is a total body workout, tone and functional strength come from most moves that we do. For instance, we are working our arms when we simply hold a plank or in our other essential moves like wheelbarrow and bear!
However, you can certainly bring your A game to the moves that matter most depending on your dress. Do you have a strapless dress? Put some extra effort into making sure your back and arms are toned and sculpted.  According to Studio MDR trainer Dana Sands, who used The Studio (MDR) to tone up for her own wedding, ‘Kneeling Lateral Pulls’ will help to sculpt your shoulders and back. Mermaid style? Slim and trim those thighs and hips to make sure your dress hugs your curves by crushing the move ‘Standing Outer Thighs’. Have other problem areas like dreaded love handles? We’ve got you covered — ‘French Twist’ will help to whittle your waist. Talk to your instructor and tell them what areas you want to target – they’ll tell you the moves you should work to perfect

• Set a concrete, specific goal and have a timeline. Is it to lose 5 pounds? An inch off your waist? Think about where you want to be on your special day, and create a concrete, specific goal. From there, you can work backwards to create a plan that starts today and be able to track your progress towards your goal. It’s often helpful to visualize your goal by creating a physical timeline and putting it up on your wall to make sure you stay on track.

• Abs were built in the kitchen — clean up your nutrition! We get it, anxiety over wedding planning might make you want to stress eat your weight in dark chocolate. But put down the chocolate bar, and you’ll thank yourself in a few months when your dress zips up without a hitch. In conjunction with your workout, cleaning up your diet is absolutely crucial. Substitute salty snacks like chips for nuts. Have a sweet tooth? Sub out cookies for some fruit to kick your sugar craving. Keep healthy snacks with you so you don’t slack while you’re on the go, and either trash any junk food lying around, or keep it out of sight so you’re not tempted to cheat.  

You don’t have to do this all at once either. Take more strides to eat cleaner as the date gets closer. Instructor Dana went cold turkey and cut sugars and carbs 3 months before her wedding date. Her diet focused on lean meats, veggies, drinking tons of water and she snacked on things like hard boiled eggs, seaweed, carrots and hummus. She also made smoothies every morning packed with veggies and superfoods like chia, flax, almond milk, Sun Warrior protein and almond or cashew butter. Another tip she swears by is to make sure you have your last meal before 7pm every night.

We want to hear from you! What’s working best for you? What are you struggling with? Share posts on Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter and tag us @thestudiomdr and hashtag #MDRBrideTribe. Share what your goals are, comment on other bride’s posts to see how they’re doing, and offer support and tips on what’s worked well for you.

We know that it can be really tough to stay accountable to yourself — to help with this, there’s a sign-up sheet at the front desk to sign up for a #MDRBrideTribe “Accountability Buddy” program. The idea is to connect amazing community members to one another to help you keep each other accountable as you go. This can be as flexible as you want it to be — you can send each other text messages at the beginning and end of each week checking in to share small wins and struggles. If you do choose to participate, be on the lookout for an email from us on who your accountability is so you can connect — exciting!

A quick word on what’s coming up: stay tuned in the coming weeks for an exclusive interview with our founder Lisa to learn what she’s doing to prepare in the final moments before her big day. We’ll also share some nutrition tips to help you prepare for yours!

5 Tips to Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

5 Tips to Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

It’s inevitable that on January 1st your pants will fit a little tighter, right? That a month’s worth of feasting instead of sweating will set you back on your wellness goals? Sometimes as the invitations flood in for holiday revelry, resistance towards the annual battle of the bulge does seem futile. But with intention, commitment, and creative planning, it’s possible to ring in the new year feeling just as fit as as you did when the season began! Here’s my five favorite ways to stay heathy throughout the holiday season.

1. Explore New Territory: If you’re traveling this holiday season, use it as an opportunity to try a new workout in a different town! Check Yelp for well-reviewed studios and sign up for classes before you even hop on the plane. You’re more likely to attend sessions for which you’ve already paid—and you have an excuse to make your escape for some precious me-time when the family drama hits the fan!

2. Create a Win-Win: Visiting family? Hosting houseguests? Enroll them into joining you in your usual fitness routine! Not only will you maintain your own physical health and support theirs, you'll eliminate the sense of guilt that can sometimes crop up when you sneak off for a workout while everyone else is sipping eggnog. Plus, you'll create the opportunity to deepen your relationships while bonding over a shared experience!

3. Schedule your indulgences. Booking your workouts is a given. But do you plan your special treats too? Prevent feelings of deprivation (which can often lead to overdoing it when your willpower runs out) by planning which holiday treats you'll enjoy. It will be a lot easier to say no to tonight's surprise tray of gingerbread if you know tomorrow's scheduled cocoa date is just around the corner!

4. Find an accountability buddy. Got a friend who shares your commitment to staying in shape over the holidays? You needn't have the same schedule and take all the same classes together; rather, you can create a system of accountability that consists of declared intentions, and then check in with each other. Send each other gym selfies and snaps of your healthy meals to keep inspired! 

5. Make friends with the scale. Being in relationship with the impact of our actions is the best way to course correct them when needed. So make a habit of stepping on the scale every morning. Do it not from a place of self-judgement but as a valuable reality check, in the same way you'd monitor your bank account to prevent overspending. It's easy to think that several nights in a row of cocktails and cookies won't have an impact—and indeed a few here and there won't!—but if you see the number start to climb steadily upwards you know it's time to put down the Brie and reach for the celery! 

- Anne Sage

Read Anne's blog here and follow her on Instagram @citysage

A Love Note From Lisa:

“And -- and to all the little girls (and boys) who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
- Hillary Clinton

Every life is a gift. I believe this with everything in me. And I know that it can be easy to get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that it’s easy to ignore this fact. For so many, simply breathing each day can be difficult, which makes it even more important to embrace how lucky we are!  How we choose to wake up and live our lives each day is up to us. Whether this past week was a disappointment or not, I personally found myself feeling sad and angry. And then I had a thought: We can either opt out of living in this incredible country that allows us so many freedoms that others are not privy to, or we can choose to do one thing each day to help make this country a better place — no matter who is our leader. For some of you, that may mean donating to Planned Parenthood; for others, it might mean helping an underprivileged child, feeding the homeless, understanding those that think differently than you, or simply making a concerted effort to smile more at your neighbor.

It’s my birthday week, and as many of you know, I treasure this time of year.  I simply LOVE MY BIRTHDAY!  It never gets old to me, and I will celebrate the day as I have since I was a little girl — because I feel life is way too short not to celebrate our time here. During this time of national transition, I think it’s even more crucial to celebrate the positive. For me, that means rejoicing in the fact I LOVE my studios and interacting with our clients every day, meeting new students and hearing their stories. It’s like I can literally feel my heart bursting with pride. In a world that is filled with confusion and ugliness at times, my heart is my private island hideaway from it all — and you’ve all got the same place of respite in each of you. I can honestly say that I am happy to grow older with these studios, and my loving staff and clients help me feel more vibrant by the day.

The message I’m embracing and trying to share right now is that life doesn’t need to be as complicated as we tend to make it. If we could all find a way to love each other a little more, smile a bit more, and steer clear of the drama that’s so easy to get caught up in, we could all contribute to a better, stronger world — even if it’s just the one in each of our own hearts.

Let’s all forge ahead into the New Year with bells on, embracing new determination to live our lives to the fullest. That’s my plan as I enter this 45th year of mine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and please know how incredibly grateful I am for the many gifts all of you bring to my life.

Big hug and lots of love,

Transformer of the Month: Meggie Choi

1. What was your starting point?  

On my last birthday, I realized that another year had quickly whisked on by! Even though I was happy with my career, family, and friends, my health and eating habits weren't where I wanted it to be. I was still eating like a college freshman and never made responsible choices in my diet. I'm a junk food addict, and I knew that if I wanted to grow up and live a long and happy life, I'd have to say goodbye to that. I started with making radical changes to my diet: shopping mostly in the produce aisle at the grocery store, giving up fast food, and watching my portions. After losing my first 15 pounds on diet alone, I learned that if I wanted to transform my body, I had to be smart about integrating cardio and strength training. I started coming to (MDR) for the strength training portion of my grand plan, and haven't looked back since. While I'm now very focused on what I eat, and I do spend a lot of time doing cardio and circuit training, pilates on the Megaformer has been an instrumental part of my 100 lb. weight loss journey.

2. Do you remember a specific moment that nudged you to go to class, or decide that it was finally time to make a change? 

I started off with really small, achievable goals. In my first month at (MDR), my goal was just to make it to class! That sounds simple, but it actually can be hard after a long day of work! Once I was in class, the next goal was just to finish! If that meant modifying every move but making it through class, I was happy with that.  

There was never a specific moment for me that nudged me to class. Once I had gathered momentum, it was more about keeping consistent and sticking to it. Eventually, the goal changed from simply attending class to modifying 50% of my moves. The more classes I attended, the less I had to modify! I still have goals now (and I still modify my moves)! Now I'm focused on getting my form right on all the moves. 

3. What were the first changes you noticed after the first few weeks of taking classes at The Studio (MDR)? 

One of the biggest victories I had was not feeling SO sore after class! But of course, now I hope to find new places in my body that I can challenge, and the soreness is welcome because it means I'm trying something new and strengthening the muscles in new places. From a social perspective, after coming consistently, I've met some really great people who are part of the (MDR) community. It's really nice to see friendly faces and check-in with them. The instructors also take classes alongside me, so it's inspiring to see them challenge themselves.

4. Have you cleaned up your diet and if so, how has it changed?

My diet has done a complete 180. Pizza, burritos, and burgers will always be my first love (believe me, I miss them every day), but now I see it more like a very rare treat, rather than a daily habit. Instead, my daily habits now consist of vegetables, lean protein, and fruit. I've also stopped drinking alcohol... but only because I'd rather indulge in a piece of cake or some fries if I'm going to add more calories in my day. I'm learning new things about nutrition and my body every day, so I think my diet will continue to change alongside that.

5. What’s one pose that you used to hate but love now? 

THEY'RE ALL SO CHALLENGING! It probably took me the longest to figure out how to do chaturanga because it didn't feel natural to my arms.  Also, in my experience, that move tends to come towards the end of class when I'm feeling spent and my body is ready to call it a day. But because that move comes at the end of class, that means it's almost time to go home, so, that makes me love it :)

6. How far have you come from your starting point in both physical and mental ways? And what are some of your new goals when you look ahead?

I've discovered a lot about myself from the starting point! I'm generally not a very spiritual or mindful person, but it's hard to avoid thinking about your body when you're doing repeated bungee cord leg lifts and wondering if your glutes can survive 30 more seconds. As a result, I think I'm much more aware of how amazing and resilient our bodies are! I've made vast changes in my life, but they all started with very small decisions. My body has responded greatly to these small little mental tweaks and I am grateful for that. Not to sound cheesy, but I've learned that if you're willing to bet on yourself and go all in, there's no way you can't win. 

Beyond Black Friday with Joy Bitonio

Thanksgiving is a time for us to reflect and express gratitude for all the good things in our lives. Our social feeds are flooded with nothing but “#blessed” posts. It’s all conviviality and good vibes. That is, until Black Friday rolls around, and the abrupt shift of focus towards conspicuous consumption and shopping stampedes at Bed Bath & Beyond.

We’re not suggesting not to indulge in it at all. Rather, like so many things in life, it’s about finding the balance and making mindful choices about how we spend our resources. If we just take things in perspective, there will be plenty more sales to come during the holiday season and then some, so there’s no need to let FOMO set in.

When making plans on how you’ll spend your money and time, ask yourself: What is the feeling behind it? What am I really looking for? What need will this fill, and at what expense? Will countless hours of battling traffic, standing in long lines, and racking up credit card debt be time well spent?

According to Tony Robbins, we all have six universal needs, and it’s no surprise that it takes far more than material things for them to be met. They’re listed here, along with some ideas to truly fulfill them in a real and meaningful way:

Certainty/Comfort: We have a need for security and safety and it’s important we don’t take for granted the significance of a roof over our head and food on the table. We’re lucky to have both and more, so find comfort in ways that you’ve neglected lately.  Book an overdue massage, recalibrate in the vibrations of a sound bath, decompress in a float tank, or make an extra deposit into your savings account.

Uncertainty/Variety: Another holiday that is predictably just like the one before is uninspiring. Shake things up and trade routine for some fun and spontaneity. With this extra day off, awaken the sense of adventure inside of you that’s dying to come out to play. Do something that scares you a little, or a lot. Go on a last minute road trip to a locale without a store in sight, take up your rock climbing friend on their offer to show you the ropes. Just say yes.

Significance: At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced how chasing happiness through conspicuous consumption or other outside means leaves us feeling empty. Our sense of esteem comes from knowing that we are doing our best to become the best version of ourselves, and not relying on external sources of validation or approval. LOVE YOURSELF today and every day. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself some credit. Because we can’t give these things to others that we don’t have ourselves.

Love and Connection:  Spend less money today so you can spend more time. With your family. Your friends. Your kids. Your lover. Your pets. Make plans and surprise visits. Scrolling through social media feeds and liking their posts doesn’t count. Get some real life face time, and if they’re on the other side of the world, call them and really listen.

Growth: Read that book. Make good on your scheduled workout. Take that workshop you’ve been eyeing. Exercise your risk muscle by doing something that’s outside of your comfort zone, like asking that hot guy out to do something, anything but shopping.

Contribution: Let stuff go and pay it forward. Most of us have more stuff than we can even keep track of. Now is a perfect time to donate your stuff, and even better, your time. There are some amazing local organizations where you can do both.  Dress for Success provides services to empower women to achieve economic independence. They’ve served close to 5,000 women in the Greater LA area since 2009 and counting. Those clothes that are taking up space in your closet can be put to better use with these women. Volunteer service shifts for career coaches and personal stylists (to help women look their best for upcoming job interviews) is a gift that has the power to literally change someone’s life. DWC (Downtown Women’s Center) is the only organization in Los Angeles dedicated to addressing the needs of women overcoming poverty and homelessness in Skid Row. All donations directly benefit the women of the center. 

How you plan to spend your money, time, and attention can be in line with the things you value the most in life if you are intentional about it. With what really matters to you? With what makes you happy? With what lights you up? We’re willing to bet it’s not stuff.

Here’s to being grateful to “live it,” today, and every day.

- Joy Bitano of Aloha Spreader. Follow Joy here on Instagram.

A Love Note From Lisa: Seasonal Renewal

Founder of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about renewal and personal goals for the season..

September always signifies a time of renewal in my mind. The kids go back to school, the weather changes in some parts of the country, and I get flashbacks to when we couldn't wear white after Labor Day. There is always excitement in the air! This year is certainly no different.

I was away for the Labor Day holiday weekend and actually took time to have fun and relax. I returned feeling renewed. I can’t tell you how much I loved coming back to the many emails and greetings from clients about how much The Studio (MDR) and the Lagree Method has changed them—even though the workout is incredibly hard. As I read the same question from so many of you—“Why doesn't it get easier?!”—I could relate. Truth be told, this workout hasn’t gotten easier for me, either. Yet think of it this way: I’ve seen this workout make you stronger, leaner, and longer—not just in your bodies but in your minds, too. Doesn’t it feel amazing when you start to hit small goals when you come back to The Studio two, then three times a week? First it might be holding plank for 5 seconds on your hands and toes. Then all of a sudden you hold it for 30 and by the time you know it, it's a minute! Sure, some days are going to feel easier than others, but if you take a step back and look at your overall experience at The Studio (MDR) - and at life itself - it’s my sincere hope that we have added a smile to your face and helped you feel a sense of renewal, too. I truly believe this workout empowers you to feel and be more than you already are.

What we have strived to create at The Studio (MDR) is a place where there is no judgment. Where people, no matter who they are or from what walk of life, can feel comfortable at whatever fitness level they are at, taking the Total Body class and modifying it or going for more of an advanced class and up-leveling everything. I am committed to making our studio a place where you can ask questions, express concerns, and see the change that arise from your dedication. I hope that is what you are experiencing. Whether you are or are not, I want to hear about it. Most of all, let's jump into this amazing season of new energy together and help each other hit our goals and achieve our wildest dreams.
Here's to you, and here's to a great Fall ahead!

Big hug,

Transformer of the Month: Annie Wilson

1. What was your starting point?  

When I first came to The Studio (MDR) it had been years since I worked out regularly—although I’ve always had a passion for fitness and health it had taken a backseat in my life for a period of time. I had lost all my muscle tone, stamina, and confidence about regaining these back. I came in weighing around 150 pounds and now I am 130 pounds of awesome muscle power.  

2. Do you remember a specific moment that nudged you to go to class, or decide that it was finally time to make a change? 

I felt trapped in a cycle of feeling discontent about my physical fitness and frustrated by my inability to find a fitness routine that could keep me inspired, engaged, and motivated without it becoming monotonous. It was a happenstance that brought me to The Studio (MDR). Midst brooding over finding a felicitous workout that encompassed a level of high-intensity and efficacy – I ran into a former roommate who had just come out of a class. Drenched in sweat, looking toned, and healthy I had to know more! She described the workout and kept promulgating the studio is transformative and effective. Even better, she told me it was continually challenging and never humdrum. I decided right then and there I had to check it out. I love a challenge and more so a class that can be a routine workout for me without feeling routine.

3. What were the first changes you noticed after the first few weeks of taking classes at The Studio (MDR)? 

After my first class I fell in love. Not only is it dynamic, face-paced, fun, I can feel every muscle being worked out in a way in which I’ve never experienced before. It truly is a groundbreaking routine in the ability to incorporate a total-body workout with cardio and strength in such short time duration. After the first few weeks of classes my body was significantly changed. I first noticed how much core strength I gained in such a short period of time. It is unparalleled to any other workout I’ve tried.

4. Have you cleaned up your diet and if so, how has it changed?

I have definitely started to eat more raw unprocessed food. I’ve cut down on eating sugar and I make sure that I stay hydrated.

5. What’s one pose that you used to hate but love now? 

French twist. The name sounds so sweet and innocent, but it works you hard and carves out your abs to make them ready for bikini season. Living in LA ‘bikini season’ is an all year ordeal so I’m always prepared. 

6. How far have you come from your starting point in both physical and mental ways? And what are some of your new goals when you look ahead?

When I first started taking classes I had no muscle definition or tone, now I have strength throughout my body and it has changed my entire physique. Having developed strength and sculpted muscle tone, I’ve become more in-tune with body awareness. From something as simple as recognizing when I am slouching and self-correcting my posture to understanding how to use more core strength and muscle control when I am in dance class.

The Studio (MDR) has pushed me to break through mental barriers and to learn to accept being comfortable in discomfort -- when the change is happening. I love when occasionally an instructor will put extra resistance on my megaformer during class because they know I can do it and giving me a loving push to better myself. Them having faith and confidence in my own strength has lead me to realize I am capable of so much more than I thought possible. Especially since just shy of a year ago I experienced a severe case pneumonia alongside multiple lung surgeries --- there was around an 8 month period where I couldn’t workout like I’d been used to. Coming back in again to The Studio (MDR) I was once again gaining up strength and stamina. I was overwhelmed at first dwelling on fears about my ability to do it, but thanks to the instructors I’ve come back (maybe even stronger) and feeling confident and mentally prepared to take on whatever is next in life. In fact, the Studio (MDR) has made me not only want to "look it. feel it. live it," but fueled my desire to inspire and start teaching fitness and health education to others as well.

(MDR) Kitchen: Grain-Free Protein Pancakes by Anne Sage

Pancakes have been my favorite food since childhood, but the recipe now sends my poor stomach into spasms and weighs me down for the rest of the day. I'm not about to relinquish my go-to weekend indulgence, though, and fortunately for me there are plenty of great pancake recipe options whose ingredient profile is as impressive as their taste!

I've spent the last few years honing this recipe and it fully satisfies my breakfast cravings. These cakes are light and fluffy without the overly eggy taste that sometimes characterizes grain-free pancakes. They're the perfect foundation for sliced fruit, a drizzle of honey, or even plain ghee! I like cook up all the batter, eat half my pancakes in the morning, then tuck the rest into a sandwich bag for laterthey're great at room temperature with a slather of nut butter!

Grain-Free Protein Pancakes

Preheat an electric griddle to 350 degrees or heat a non-stick pan on the stove over medium low heat. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree on high for 30 seconds or until smoothly blended. Measure 2 tbsp of batter per pancake onto pre-heated surface and cook until bubbles appear in batter. Flip with a spatula, finish cooking other side for 30-60 seconds, and serve up hot with your choice of toppings! Or, let the pancakes cool on a baking sheet and enjoy as a snack for later! Makes 12 small pancakes. 

*A word regarding protein powder. Each one is different, and this recipe has been tested specifically for the one I specify here. I certainly encourage you to try using your own favorite powder but can't guarantee the results!

- Anne Sage

Read Anne's blog here and follow her on Instagram @citysage

How to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation plays a role in everything from cardiovascular disease to depression, and diabetes to obesity. It is important to differentiate chronic inflammation from acute inflammation. Acute inflammation is what happens when you cut yourself, for example. Inflammation temporarily occurs to protect and heal you. Inflammation becomes damaging when it is chronic. If you want to stay healthy, fit, and vibrant, it is important to keep inflammation in check.

The best way to prevent or heal inflammation is to eliminate inflammatory foods, introduce anti-inflammatory foods, and implement a few lifestyle changes.

CUT IT: Limit processed foods, refined sugar, and flour. Gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and yeast are common food allergens. If you are sensitive to these foods your body will produce an inflammatory reaction. If you suspect any food sensitivities try an elimination diet.

EAT IT: Eat a diet filled will nutrient dense, whole foods. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that can combat inflammation. Aim to eat wild-caught fish 3 to 4 times a week. They are filled with omega-6 essential fatty acids, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

SIP IT: Drink bone broth daily. It provides collagen, glutamine, glycine, proline, and glucosamine. This helps to heal the lining of the gut and reduce inflammation. For a recipe, check out this post.

SWAP IT: Try to eat organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed meat instead of grain fed meat. Eat as many organic foods as possible and limit GMOs.

ZZZ’s: Be sure to get adequate sleep, seven to ten hours, depending upon age, activity level, and overall health. If you have difficulty sleeping check out this post.

WORK IT: As if we needed another reason to come into The Studio (MDR), research shows that people who did at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise weekly lowered their markers of inflammation by at least 12 percent!

CHILL OUT: Stress plays a role in inflammation, so do whatever it take to de-stress. Spend time with friends, get outside, and get moving. Numerous studies have shown that mind-body therapies actually can actually reduce inflammation markers. All it takes is 5 to 10 minutes of meditation.

SPICE IT: Add turmeric to your arsenal. It has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

MASSAGE IT: Rumor has it a 45 minute massage can actually lower your pro-inflammatory cytokines. (If you’re looking for a therapeutic massage we love Acutonix in Venice)

SUPPLEMENT: Take a quality probiotic daily. Due to stress, antibiotics, and poor diet the bad bacteria in our gut can start to outweigh the good bacteria. This can lead to dysbiosis and inflammation. Look for a probiotic with acidophilus, bifidus, and lactobacillus. 

5 Tips To Mindful Eating

You may think you’re doing your body good by sipping on a green juice or eating a salad, but if you’re doing so while watching TV or behind the wheel of your car, then keep reading.

Driving, working, watching TV, or scrolling through social media, are all distractions that interfere with the ritual of eating. Mindless eating cannot only lead to overindulgence, but it also does not allow us to properly digest what we consume. This impaired digestion means you won’t absorb all of the precious nutrients your body needs. The simple solution to this is to practice mindful eating, which requires you to shift your full awareness to the meal in front of you.

  • Begin with why: Before you begin eating ask yourself, “Why am I eating this?” Am I hungry, thirsty, or am I simply bored? Why do I want this? How will it make me feel? Asking ourselves why allows us to tune into our bodies and avoid emotional or mindless eating.
  • Unplug: Sit down and unplug. While we completely understand mealtime may seem like the perfect thirty minutes to squeeze in your TV show, catch up on instagram, or peruse pinterest…resist the urge. When we’re distracted while eating, we tend to eat mindlessly. This can lead to overeating and many times gas, bloating, and digestive issues. Take mealtime as a well-deserved break and a time to focus on nourishing yourself.  
  • Breathe: At this point, you’re now sitting with as few distractions as possible and it’s time to begin focusing on your breath. Take a few deep breaths from your diaphragm (belly breathing). Inhale as your stomach extends and count to ten, and then exhale slowly for a count of ten. Do this at least three times. This allows you to release any tension or stress you may have had and connect with your body. This breathing exercise relaxes the body and enhances the blood flow to your digestive organs.
  • Use your senses: Before you dig in, use all of your senses to observe the dish. This allows you to slow down and become aware of what you are about to eat. It also tells your body to prepare for eating. Smelling and looking at your food sends signals to your body to create the enzymes needed for digestion.
  • Chew well: Digestion begins in the mouth with salivary amylase and salivary liapse. Salivary amylase begins the breakdown of carbohydrates, while salivary lipase begins the breakdown of fats. With that said, thorough chewing and exposure to the lipase and amylase will enhance digestion. The rule of thumb is chew each bite until the food becomes liquefied, which could be 20-50 chews depending upon what you are eating. Chewing well has many benefits. It enhances digestion, promotes optimal absorption of nutrients, and it forces you to slow down so you will feel when you are full.