#ModifiedBearDontCare

Our trainer Jessi Piha is back and better than ever! This month, she shares with us the story of how she pre-habbed and rehabbed her back after a major spinal surgery on the magical Megaformer.

As your teacher I’m not just coaching you to challenge your body's physical potential, I’m compelled to encourage you to fight when you get mentally fatigued. When I tell my classes that, “I’ve got you, I have your back” I’m kinda being literal.

Some of you have been wondering where I disappeared to for a year. Even those who attended my classes regularly were surprised to hear I had a serious back situation. In fact, my surgeon was confused as to how I was functioning. After seeing my x-rays, the damage so to speak, he said the pain must be on another level. The truth is, it was unbearable, I hurt everyday. It got to the point where I flipped an auto pilot switch, I showed up, did my job and the rest of my life was spent in agony.

So what’s the story?  On May 1st 2015 I went under anesthesia and sharp objects for almost 6 hours. The anterior, posterior spinal fusion performed was to correct some structural issues that contributed to a collapsed portion of my back, the part crushing some nerves. The part of this tale you may find particularly relevant is directly correlated with this beast of a machine we adore, and, at the same time curse, here at The Studio (MDR), the mighty Megaformer. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, to answer some of your questions, no, there wasn't any grand event that landed me in a hospital bed with five, three inch screws in my vertebrae.  What began at birth with a small curve in my spine was exacerbated by year's of the usual wear and tear of an active girl. I lived a "semi" normal life, playing sports, jumping out of airplanes, surfing, climbing mountains, and roller skating.  What? This is totally normal for California.  My point is I didn’t take “the road less traveled” in fear that back surgery would be in the my future. I mean who does that anyways? We don’t seize our days like that, waiting for something to break in our bodies. Truth be told, if it wasn't for my tenacity coupled with my love of health and fitness, things could have been much worse. The reality is anything can happen to any of us, at anytime. No one is exempt. Our bodies are precious and powerful, and yes, undoubtedly resilient. Unfortunately  sometimes we take for granted this gift we were given, we ignore the signs or go into denial that something could be seriously wrong.

I wasn’t in denial, rather, I was determined to find a solution through conservative therapy, like acupuncture, chiropractors, massage, to name a few. I fought for years before I reached my breaking point.  I wasn’t worth it anymore and that’s when I asked myself this question, “What is my quality of life?” Wow, it had got to that? My answer was sad, but very honest. For the past six years I was consumed 24/7 in pain. It depended on the day, the weather, how I slept, etc. It was different degrees of discomfort as the years  passed, but it was always present and at the forefront of my thoughts.  It’s frightening when your body you rely on to help represent part of your strength and power begins to fail.  The time sucking planning of where to sit at a movie, dinner, or on a plane, the constant pondering about how will I stand on my feet for a couple hours at an event, or where can I put my leg so it’s extended rather than bent, and driving, forget it. OMG, it was exhausting. Enter big white flag. I surrender!  As terrified as I was to be sliced into, I was equally as excited at the thought of having any kind of relief. Sometimes it takes strength and courage to recognize when it’s time give in. Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t give up, there’s a huge difference. I made a choice to not be in pain anymore.  Fortunately for me, and some spectacular news for you as members of the Megaformer club, I was very prepared physically. I pre-habbed, if you will, and continued doing my workouts, taking classes and training myself on the Mega. I had set myself up for success.  Despite the obvious issues, ironically I was in the best shape of my life, strong and toned and internally healthy.  All my doctors agreed that I was a perfect candidate because of my commitment to my fitness, and overall wellness, including that I eat like a champ.  Mentally was a whole other preparation too and that’s another blog.

 After it was over, I’ll never forget my doctor coming in my hospital room, pleased with his work I imagined, grinning, and he says, “you did great, you’re amazing, you have the abs of a 18 year old ”. I laughed, but at the same time I was thinking to myself, “yeah, that’s right, I’m a bad ass”.  But he meant it, he had his hands on my abs, like he had to “move stuff around” (not to be gross) true fact, needless to say, I felt proud.

 I was walking just 7 days after the procedure, that was all I could do for the first 8 weeks. When I was cleared for PT in July, my physical therapist worked on my incisions doing soft tissue. He started me in his office just doing very minimal leg extensions, bridges and a modified plank on elbows and knees, all of this was on the massage table. When was I going to use some of the equipment in the office I wondered? This is a prominent sports and spine center, pro athletes rehab here, what about me? “Be, patient”, he kept telling me. I had imagined using cables and weight machines, lunging across the gym and I would invasion myself back at The Studio taking class. But none of that was happening. I was getting antsy so, one day at home doing my prescribed floor exercises, I got out my skateboard, (I know, a day in the life) I did my own version of our Lagree exercise Bear. I videoed it and showed the PT. He was taken aback, happy for me, impressed, and at the same time thought I was insane, in a good way.  That’s when I showed him some video clips of the Mega and what I teach.  I needed him to see for himself because I wanted permission to start taking classes. I was bursting to go try, to see what my new bionic back could do. My first day back I modified everything, extra springs for support, lying on my side, only worked off the front of the machine, #modifiedbeardontcare, it was a great triumph, I felt incredible, all smiles. Little by little every exercise got easier, and you all know what I mean when I say easier, I mean, DO-ABLE. It never gets easier, I was getting stronger. My PT never had me touch one piece of equipment in his office, he said I was already doing all the rehab, all of the strengthening my spine, hips and core needed. His work was done. Cue fireworks.

So, where am I at today you ask, am I totally void of pain? Well, no. Keeping it real, because that’s my style. I believe it’s to your benefit to know I understand injuries,that I’ve been there and made it through adversity. It’s a longer road than I thought it would be. However, the fabulous news is that I can sit in movies without being in the special isle seat. When I go out to eat I don’t have to have the entire booth side to myself to stretch my legs out. I can drive my own car and not be chauffeured around because it hurts to press on the gas pedal. Simple stuff like that, it’s the little things that make me happy, and It was the little things that became a chore, not fun anymore because of the chronic pain. So the news for me today is all good. The short of this story is back pain is no joke, it’s for you to determine the risk verses reward. No one would ever be able to take away my aches but me. And nobody can minimize what you go through in your own body. No, I’m absolutely not saying if your back hurts, go have surgery. I’ve shared my experience because I believe in what I teach and the benefits for me have been miraculous.  I’m saying that you’re doing it now, you’re taking care of your body, you show up, work hard, and you get stronger.  I say it before every class, “you got the hardest part done, you signed up, committed and showed up.”

Body awareness is a valuable tool, learn something new about your body everyday, ask questions. I’m always here to motivate you through your health and fitness journey. I would teach you all for the next hundred years to repay you for the immeasurable amount of love and support you have shown me.  I am forever grateful for your generosity and inspiration! - Jessi Piha

Follow Jessi on Instagram @jessipiha and read more from Jessi over on the Beyond Yoga blog!

(MDR) Kitchen: Healthy Eating with Anne Sage

I have a confession to make: I’m an extremely boring date. No matter the restaurant, I order a variation on the same few foods. I ignore the drinks menu. And I turn down dessert without fail. I promise that my scintillating conversation more than makes up for my dearth of dining variety, but if you’re looking for someone to be your partner in sampling every menu item, I’m definitely not your girl.  

I’m also not a nutritionist or any other type of certified health professional. What I am, however, is someone who’s consulted many nutritionists and then performed a lot of trial and error to determine the eating habits that keep my physical and mental state running smoothly. Which is exactly what finding your ideal eating plan should entail, right? Nutrition isn’t one-size-fit-allor even one-size-fits-most!so the only way to find your best fit is to do some experimenting. And for me, after spending years as my own personal lab rat and then reviewing all the data, the results are clear: I’m best served by embracing my inner creature of habit at mealtimes. 

So consequently, I’m a boring date. Or, to reframe it more positively, I’m consistent. And study after study shows that when it comes to meeting health goals (or any goal!), long term consistency is the most powerful and effective tool. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, fueling my body with the energy it needs to kick workout ass, and even making budgeting, shopping, and cooking a breeze: For me those things come down to drawing on the same small roster of foods to build my meals. What’s more, as soon as I gave myself permission to feel okay about eating the exact same breakfast every day, the anxiety I often felt around food decreased significantly. 

So what’s this boring consistent plan look like in practice?

-       Breakfast is oatmeal cooked with my favorite vegan protein powder and either an egg or nut butter for fat. I’ve figured out how to blend and bake this combo as pancakes, waffles, and muffins for the mornings when I do crave a slight change!

-       Lunch is a combination of unprocessed starch, lean protein, and a serving of fat. Frequent go-to’s are eggs scrambled with veggies and a side of apple slices; a mixed veggie salad with homemade vinaigrette and chicken, beans, or hard-boiled eggs; or a roasted sweet potato topped with sauteed greens, salsa, and melted grass-fed cheese. I’m often on the road during lunch and all of these meals travel very well!

-       A mid-afternoon snack is a must for me, lest I get crabby from low blood sugar. In a pinch I’ll grab a low sugar packaged energy bar, but I recently started making my own in large batches and they’re just as convenient! Other snack options include a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit, or plain whole milk yogurt with berries. Oh, and I keep a jar of peanut butter along with a tablespoon measure in my purse in case for hangry emergencies!

-       Dinner is most aptly described as “stuff on top of other stuff”. Stir-fries, soups, stews, and sauces lend themselves very well to adding flavor and heft to a bed of steamed or sauteed veggies. For example, tonight I’m browning chicken sausage to combine with a simple marinara sauce, then I’ll serve the whole works over lightly sauteed kale and zucchini. Tomorrow’s agenda is crockpot chile colorado over roasted cabbage wedges, garnished with pico de gallo and guacamole. Other frequent dinner stars are ground beef, chicken breast, and lentils for bulk; cauliflower rice, shaved brussels sprouts, and spaghetti squash for the base; and Thai curry, Indian spices, or pesto for flavor. From time to time a whole roast chicken makes an appearance alongside potatoes and broccoli. And I never met a soup I couldn’t love! 

So there you have it! It’s a very non-scientific eating plan that works just right for me, presented for anyone to take from it what’s useful and leave behind what’s not. If that means discovering a tasty new vegan protein powder or marinara recipe, then great! If it means finally feeling okay about being a boring eater, then fan-freaking-tastic. And if nothing else, if it means hearing one more supportive and encouraging voice on the path to being healthy, happy, and sane, then hey, my work here is done!

- Anne Sage

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

 

Get Grateful: Benefits of Keeping a Gratitue Journal

Stress is bad, stress is bad, stress is bad. We hear this over an over again. We get it, but what do we do about it? One tangible way to manage stress is to keep a gratitude journal. By focusing on what you are grateful for, even for just five minutes a day, you can significantly reduce your stress.  

In Ariana Huffington’s book, Thrive, she explains what a significant role her gratitude journal played in her success. Ariana shared, “Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation.”     

Benefits of keeping a gratitude journal:

  • By focusing on what you are thankful for, it puts what is important into perspective. This leaves little room for negativity.

  • You’ll begin to have a better understanding of what is important to you. You can then focus your energy on those things and nourish those relationships, those hobbies, etc.

  • On tough days you can read back through your gratitude journal and remember how many wonderful things are in your life.

  • Writing what you are grateful for before you go to bed shifts your focus to the positive things that occurred that day instead of harping on the negative. This gives you a sense of calm and helps you to drift off to sleep.

How to get started:

  • Keep the gratitude journal on your nightstand

  • Before you go to bed, begin to write down what you are grateful for that day. You could write three things or fifteen, sky is the limit

  • What do these things mean to you? Why are you grateful for them? Why do they make you happy?

  • Instead of writing I am grateful for my friends, write I am grateful that I was able to have lunch with Susie and Steve at Urth today and for their endless support

  • When going back to your journal this will take you back to that moment and help you to feel that emotion again

  • If it is difficult to set aside time to do this, set a daily alarm

  • Be consistent with this for at least three weeks, and assess how you feel about this new habit.

*Photo via @twentysomethiing

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A Love Note From Lisa: Patience is a Virtue After All

The owner and CEO of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about the power of patience.

When I was growing up, my mom proclaimed a number of “truths” that I rolled my eyes at countless times. “I have eyes in the back of my head.” (Please.) “If you keep making that face, it’ll freeze that way.” (Mmmhmm.) And one of my all-time least favorites: “Patience is a virtue.” (Just, ugh.)

Of course, she usually uttered this last one when I was totally exasperated about something, like having a 5-year-old hissy fit when I couldn’t find my ballet shoes or as I sat nervously waiting by the phone when my 9th grade crush was supposed to call. And I think this was the mom-ism I hated most because it ringed most true.

Lately, I can hear my mom’s voice on repeat in my mind (and, well, when I call her!), uttering those same words—Patience is a virtue, Lisa—as I wait for our next location, The Studio (MDR) Playa Vista, to open. It feels like an eternity since we started working with the architect on plans and broke ground on this exciting new space. And yet, it’s still not done, and I find myself getting a little (OK, a lot) impatient for the opening of this studio that I cannot wait to unveil.

I’m sure so many of you can relate to the frustration and angst that often comes hand in hand with having to wait for something you want really, really badly. Our weight-loss and get-fit goals tend to fall into this category. I see so many of you at The Studio (MDR) working your butts off and getting impressive results and honestly, your hard work inspires me more than you know. Not only does watching you persevere and stay the course prompt me to do the same, but it also serves as a reminder that sometimes in life, putting in the work and having to wait for the payoff makes that payoff even sweeter.

I know I’ve been saying it for a while now, but we are so close to this third location of The Studio (MDR) opening. And as we get closer to this day that I’ve been impatiently waiting for, I’m getting even more excited for all of you. In a matter of days, there’ll be yet another space in this city for you to get a world-class workout. There’ll be a clothing boutique that’s going to truly wow you. And there will be the same, incredible Studio (MDR) community that you’ve come to know and lean on—the one you have helped create.

My wish for each and every one of you—and for myself, especially these days—is to remember that patience really is a virtue. We live in a society where we want everything to happen immediately. Yet we forget that the things in life we cherish most often come along with a wait. What I’ve learned in the last few months is that there can be so much personal growth and evolution that happens during that wait if we stay open to it, rather than letting that inner 5-year-old in each of us throw a hissy fit.

So, as we all wait for the things in life we want the most, here’s to all of us remembering to be patient and staying open to all of the incredible lessons we might learn along the way.

Big hug,
Lisa

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Transformer of the Month: Melanie Mawema

What was your starting point? 

I've always worked out, but hit a plateau early last year.  I signed up with ClassPass to vary my routine and tried (MDR) because of all the fabulous reviews the studio had online.

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

With ClassPass, you only get three classes per month at each studio.  Once my three classes were up, I knew I needed more (MDR), so I signed up for the Unlimited.  The rest is history!

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

I was in decent shape, so it took a while longer for my body to change.  What I did notice was that my butt started to defy gravity (always a good thing at my age). My abs started to lean out and I got more definition in my legs.  And other classes I took outside of (MDR) (spin and yoga) got easier.

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

Less carbs, more greens, proteins and fats.  My taste buds have changed, because I appreciate those foods more.  Now I think of food as fuel for future workouts not just sustenance.  I'm still working on that chocolate addiction though:).

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

I love all the lower body work ( I really do) - lunges, squats, inner thigh work. I'm still working on getting to appreciate the bungee.  

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?

(MDR) workouts challenge you mentally and physically.  I find that I leave the studio physically spent but with total mental clarity.  If you can make it through these workouts on a regular basis, everything outside the studio will be gravy, because you're mentally stronger.

As for new goals, I just want to make it through one session without stopping. Or cursing Lindsay in my head when she says "Can't you feel we're almost done?".  Sorry, Lindsay!

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(MDR) Kitchen: Bone Broth - Trendy or Timeless?

Bone broth seems to be all the buzz lately (in the wellness world at least). The Today Show coined it “trendy” after the entire Lakers team hopped on board. New Yorkers began swapping their lattes for cups of bone broth from NYC’s Brodo, a walk up window serving only slow-cooked bone broth. So, is this superfood trendy, or will it stand the test of time? We believe the latter and we’re here to tell you why.

This traditional food dates all the way back to the Stone Age. Bone broth is rich in collagen, gelatin, glutamine, glycine, proline, and countless minerals. It supports gut health, joint and bone health, the immune system, and holds anti-aging properties. It’s no wonder our grannies loved this stuff!

Immune Support: Roughly eighty percent of the immune system is located in the digestive system, therefore it is really important to have a healthy gut! The high gelatin and collagen content in bone broth is wonderful for gut health, which also means it is wonderful for the immune system. The amino acids found in bone broth also reduce inflammation.

Heal and Seal Your Gut: One of the most vital nutrients in healing your gut is gelatin. The gelatin in bone broth helps to heal the mucosal lining in the digestive tract and can even reverse leaky gut syndrome and digestive conditions. Bone broth is also rich in amino acids like l-glutamine, which are beneficial for gut health and healing.

Protect Your Joints: Bone broth is full of glucosamine, chondroitin sulphates, and other compounds that are crucial to joint health. The glycosaminoglycan in bone broth is resistant to digestion and is easily absorbed.

Look Beautiful: Bone broth contains collagen and the amino acids needed for collagen production. It supports hair, skin, and nail health. This magical molecule also keeps skin firm, smooth, and wrinkle-free. Prevent aging, support hair growth and nail strength…where do we sign up?

Strong Bones: Bone broth is full of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which help our bones to grow and repair.

Detox: Our liver is constantly working to rid of toxins. Its ability to detoxify is limited by the availability of the amino acid, glycine. Bone broth is full of glycine and it’s bioavailable.  
 

INGREDIENTS (Makes 2 quarts)

  • 3-4 lbs. Mixed Beef Bones
  • 1 tbsp. Avocado Oil
  • 2 Medium Carrots
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 2 Leeks
  • 1 Fennel
  • 2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Optional herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage
  • Sea Salt
     
  1. ROAST THE BONES (optional) Preheat the oven to 400. Toss the bones with olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for about 1 hour, turning once. This step is optional, but really helps to develop a deeper flavor.
     
  2. CUT THE VEGETABLES Rough chop vegetables into large chunks
     
  3. COMBINE THE BONES AND VEGETABLES IN POT: Combine in a stock pot or slow cooker
     
  4. COVER WITH WATER Add enough water to cover the ingredients by a few inches
     
  5. ADD APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND HERBS the apple cider vinegar helps extract nutrients from the bones.
     
  6. STOCK POT Bring the water to a simmer over high heat on the stovetop, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and keep the broth at a low simmer for at least 12 to 24 hours, checking the pot occasionally. Skim off any foam that collects and add additional water if needed to keep the ingredients covered.
     
  7. SLOW COOKER Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 12-48 hours. Check the slow cooker occasionally and skim off any foam that collects. Add additional water if necessary to keep the ingredients covered.
     
  8. STRAIN THE BROTH The broth should be deep in color and full of flavor. Strain through a fine mesh strainer
     
  9. ALLOW BROTH TO COOL Cool the broth to room temperature then refrigerate
     
  10. SKIM THE FAT As the broth chills, the fat will rise to the top and solidify. Once it has solidified, you can scrape it off if you choose. 
     
  11. STORE & EAT Broth will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 3 months. Reheat over the stovetop and enjoy!
     

Alright - so you want to start drinking this magical cup of wellness, but you don't have time to make it? We've got you covered. You can buy a cup of qiality bone broth at Another Kind of Sunrise on Abbot Kinney, Bulletproof on Main St, or Belcampo in Santa Monica. Switch out your latte for bone broth a few days a week or double fist like we do daily. Happy healing!

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The Benefits of Dry Brushing ( It's Beyond Skin Deep)

We all have our sacred beauty rituals, and one of ours is dry brushing. If you haven’t already incorporated this into your daily routine we encourage you to try it, for at least 30 days. We can almost guarantee you’ll never go back!

You may be surprised to hear that the skin is your largest organ. It’s also one of the most important organs in the body, when it comes to daily detoxification. Think about it, when your body is filled with impurities or your experiencing imbalances your skin is the first to reflect this.

You see while dry brushing may improve the appearance of the skin, its benefits go far beyond skin deep.


Benefits of Dry Brushing

Lymphatic Support/Drainage: The lymphatic system is responsible for helping the body eliminate toxins and fight infections. When your lymphatic system is not functioning properly, toxins can build up and lead to inflammation and disease. Dry brushing stimulates the lymph circulation, which in turn helps the body to detoxify.

Exfoliation: This is the most immediate benefit of dry brushing. By running the firm bristled brush over your skin everyday, you remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Your skin will look smoother and feel softer than ever before.

Reduce Cellulite: Some proponents say that dry brushing can reduce cellulite. Cellulite is an accumulation of toxicities in your body’s fat cells. By increasing the circulation to skin and breaking down toxins, some believe it can reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Stress Relief: You can dry brush your body for five to twenty minutes. By doing this first thing in the morning or after your (MDR) class, you set the precedent for a wonderful and healthy day. This sets aside time, even if it’s just five minutes, to focus solely on you. Not to mention, the repetitive process of dry brushing can be very soothing.  


How to Dry Brush

Dry brushing should be done daily, preferably in the morning before you shower. Applying firm pressure, begin at your feet. Brush the bottom of your feet and work up your legs in long, smooth strokes. Always brush towards your heart! (This is best for circulation and your lymphatic system)

Repeat this process with the arms beginning with the palm of your hands and working your way towards the heart. Use the same process on your abdomen and back brushing towards your heart.


Tips & Tricks

  • Brush before showering on dry skin.
  • Shower to rinse off the dead skin, and follow with coconut oil or natural lotion.
  • Be sure to use a natural bristle brush, we love this one!
  • Your skin will be pink after, but it should not be red or sting.
  • Never brush over inflamed skin, open wounds, or sunburns.  

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Top Scenic Hikes Around Los Angeles

Living in a city like Los Angeles, we're lucky enough to have nearly perfect weather all year round! That means there's no excuse not to get outdoors, and explore one of the many natural areas that are spread throughout the city.

We asked our trainers to share some of their favorite hiking spots they frequent when they're not in the studio training on a megaformer. 

JESSI PHIA

Red Rock in Topanga Canyon. It can be anywhere from 30 min -2 hours and the trees and rocks up there in the mountains are magical.

ALBINA KATSMAN

Sandstone Peak in Ventura. Take PCH all the way past Malibu and then 30 minutes up. Best view of LA. Its  a pretty easy hike too!

ERIKA RAE DEFRATES

Parker Mesa! It's a longer hike but not to up hill so great spot to take family and kids. At the end of the hike you get a 360 view of la and the ocean.

DANA GOODMAN

I'm currently enjoying Baldwin Hills hike in Culver City because it's very close and has a ton of stairs (great for the booty). I also enjoy Murphys Ranch Trail in the Pacific Palisades. This one has a set of 500 stairs!

CASEY PALAZZO

The Bronson street entrance to Griffith park to the back of the Hollywood sign. No phone service and horses = perfection 

OLIVIA CHANIEWSKI

It used to be Runyon Canyon, but now living so close to Griffith Park, I change my answer to the less heavily trafficked Griffith Park.

MELISSA KUSACK

Will Rogers State Park

LINDSAY HALLAM

I really love to do the Culver City stairs because it has a great view of the city at the top and it feels more "hike-y" and less crowded than the Santa Monica stairs.

YUMI SUGAI

Escondido Falls, Malibu!

 

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(MDR) Kitchen: Egg Muffins Recipe

Egg Muffins are the perfect breakfast on the go! Whether you’re headed to work, dropping your kids at school, or on your way to The Studio (MDR), this recipe will be ready to go and packed with nutrients. 

Ingredients

12 eggs
½ Yellow onion, diced
4 Chicken-apple sausages, diced
1 Sweet potato, peeled and diced
½ Tsp. Himalayan pink salt
1 Tbsp. Coconut oil
1 Tbsp. Avocado oil

Instructions

1.    Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the muffin tray lightly with coconut oil. Set aside.

2.    Place sweet potatoes on a pan and drizzle with avocado oil and Himalayan pink salt. Place in oven for 40 minutes.

3.    In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle avocado oil and add diced onions. Stir until the onions begin to brown. Turn off the heat.

4.    In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle avocado oil and add sausages. Mix until lightly browned.

5.    In a large bowl, beat eggs, add Himalayan pink salt and pepper to taste.

6.    Add the sweet potatoes, onions, and sausage into the large bowl and mix together.

7.    With a ladle, pour egg mixture evenly into the muffin liners until they are about ¾ full.

8.    Bake the egg muffins for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out cleanly.

9.    Enjoy immediately or place in a glass container and enjoy throughout the week! 

 

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Healthy Pantry Substitutes

pantry cleanout.jpg

With the fresh start of a new year, we think it's time to detox those pantries. We hate to be the bearers of bad news but your beloved refined flours, sugars, and artificial flavors have got to go. But don’t fret; with these delicious and healthful substitutions you’ll forget you ever longed for those goodies!

Coconut Oil

The perfect choice for high-heat cooking; it's one of the most stable oils and full of healthy fats.

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Coconut Aminos

The perfect soy-free and gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. It is made from two simple ingredients, coconut tree sap and sea salt, but the taste is anything but simple. Not to mention, its full of amino acids. 

MaraNatha All Natural Raw Almond Butter

Ditch the Jiffy, full of ingredients we can’t even pronounce, and substitute it for almond butter. This one in particular has just one ingredient….100% organic dry roasted almonds. Almond butter is a wonderful source of healthy fats. 

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Coconut Sugar

A natural sugar made from the sap of the coconut plant, which sits low on the glycemic index and even contains small amounts of vital nutrients like zinc, calcium, and potassium. It also contains Inulin, which slows the absorption of glucose. 

Coconut Butter

Thicker than coconut oil, coconut butter is the perfect spread for your GF toast or used in place of butter (A dollop on sweet potatoes=no words). Like coconut oil, it is filled with medium-chain triglycerides, which is a great source of energy! But, coconut butter also provides fiber, potassium, magnesium, and iron. 

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a wonderful lactose-free option that is both thick and flavorful. It’s the perfect alternative to cream or milk, and is a flawless base for a smoothie. Just make sure it’s in a BPA free can! 

Coconut Flour 

The perfect alternative to wheat flour. It’s gluten-free, high in fiber, and more than 20% protein. In two tablespoons it packs a generous six grams of dietary fiber and three grams of protein. Needless to say, it’s a necessary staple.

Flavor God Seasoning 

Now this is a serious task, pull out all your spices and take a look at the ingredients. If you see anything along the lines of modified food starch, sugar, vegetable oil, soybean oil, or natural flavors…ditch it. Flavor God seasoning has amazing spices that are free of chemicals and fillers and have low salt levels. Their blends of spices are immaculate and will change your food game, we promise.

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Shredding For The Wedding: Brett Gerson Chinn

Brett grew up practicing jazz and ballet, and has always been fairly active - her parents both work out every day- but started focusing on her health after being diagnosed with severe food allergies in her early 20s, and then Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic collagen disorder, at age 27. She is currently a recruiting consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton and has recently launched her own career coaching business, BGC Coaching, but her dream is to find a job that will utilize her language skills and keep her active! Fun fact: Brett was a guest at the 2006 NATO Summit in Riga, Latvia. When she's not coaching, working, or working out, you can find Brett either cooking a delicious allergen-free meal or curled up with a good book, good wine, and her adorable cat, Franny.

We talked to Brett about how The Studio (MDR) has encouraged her feel more empowered in her life, and how the megaformer was an essential part of her fitness routine leading up to her big day!

 

What brought you to The Studio (MDR)?

I moved to Marina Del Rey about a year ago and had been practicing reformer Pilates for around 3 years, following surgery on my abdomen. I knew that Pilates was helping me develop strength and balance, but wanted to challenge myself to something more. The Studio was across the street from my husband's first apartment, and I would see these amazingly fit women leaving each class and think, "Wow, what are they doing in there?!" I will be honest, I took one class thinking I could keep up, and I was completely intimidated- I felt like an impostor! A few months later, I emailed Lisa and explained that I was looking to step up my workout game. I also explained to her that I have a genetic connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), and complications involve loose/subluxed joints, low blood pressure, and chronic pain and fatigue, as well as difficulty building and retaining muscle. Lisa invited me to the introduction class with Lindsay, and the entire staff could not have been more supportive or empathetic! And I saw results after one class. I felt like the instructors really listened to me and respected my boundaries - all while pushing me to do my best! 

 

What do you love most about the Megaformer workout and how has it helped your EDS?

I love the sweat- just look at the Megaformer after a workout and it's immediate gratification! Because you are pushing yourself to the limit, there is an enormous sense of accomplishment after completing each sequence, and especially after each class! It is very low impact on my joints and there are always modifications, which are encouraged if you have injuries or other physical limitations. In fact, I often drop to my knees in certain moves as that allows me to isolate my lower abs without over straining or hyper-extending other parts of my body. I have seen a huge increase in muscle tone and balance, and am able to target muscles that tend to "under-fire," like my hamstrings, which helps protect my hips and low back and balance my quads.

What was your fitness routine leading up to your wedding?

I tried my best to do the Megaformer 3 times per week, and supplement a light bike ride or walk on the other days. (It would not be healthy for me to perform intense workouts on consecutive days.) I would usually do a 2.0 at least once per week and stick to the All Levels class for the others. 

 

Has training at The Studio (MDR) positively affected other aspects of your life?

Besides boosting my body image, it has definitely given me more confidence. Believe me, there are times when I've felt defeated if I couldn't hold a move in class, but more often I am proud of what I am able to accomplish. We all need to be kinder to ourselves, and it helps that I have such a fantastic support system in all of the trainers and Lisa. I have never felt like a failure because I had to modify a move. In fact, I feel empowered-  this is a TOUGH workout, and while I may not be able to do a megaformer workout every day or even every other day, I know I've left all I can on the machine. It's cathartic!


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New Habits in The New Year

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, or break a bad habit. We've been told this for the past couple of decades, but recently scientific research has shown that it actually takes 66 days to stick to a new routine. Makes sense, right?

With that in mind, we asked a few of our trainers what they're looking to change in their own daily habits in 2016:

Jessi Phia

Get outside more to workout, walk. When I had my surgeries all I could do was walk and it reminded me of how much I love nature. Also make peace of mind top priority , don't sweat the small stuff. This year is going to be dedicated to getting back into my pre-surgery body! Modify exercises when I'm rehabbing my body. It's still a process and I have to remember not to be hard on myself and be proud of how far I've come in which a short time.

Albina Katsman

Work smarter, not harder. I want my hard work to produce results within my body, health, career and mind.

Erika Rae DeFrates

Do something different every weekend! I realized I do a lot of the same things over and over and I want to try to go out and try new things in 2016.

Dana Goodman

Drink A LOT more water to stay hydrated. Cleanse my body and get back to my post baby bod! 

Casey Palazzo

Walk more! I'm from NYC and we walk everywhere all day long. Not only is it go for the environment (let's think green LA) it's the best low impact work out and it doesn't feel like a work out! I'm gonna try to walk an extra  45 mins a day to help get back to my roots. 

Olivia Chaniewski

Put things away as soon as I am done using them (this includes dishes)! Make time for some sort of physical exercise every day, even if it's only for 20 minutes. Shift my focus to what I have and can accomplish as opposed to dwelling on imperfections or what I feel is lacking. Also to take courses in nutrition and healthy living!

Melissa Kusack

To smile more, radiate with positive energy and to empower others!

Lindsay Hallam

I would like to focus more on gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for even in the most dreary of moments and for me, 2016 will be the start of indefinitely finding the good with expressing gratitude.YUMI SUGAI

YUMI SUGAI

To smile more, radiate with positive energy and to empower others

What new habits are you looking to form in the new year? We'd love to know! Share with us over on Instagram @thestudiomdr with hashtag #lookitfeelitliveit®

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(MDR) Kitchen: The Whole 30 with Albina Katsman

Recently, I challenged myself to partake in the Whole30! What is that you ask? Well, the Whole30 is the original nutritional program designed to reset your body. It was designed to help put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system. Basically, for 30 days I completely stripped my diet of any psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups.

Being in the fitness industry as well as the entertainment world, you never know when a last minute photo shoot can creep up on you. Therefore, its always best to be prepared. On top of maintaining a healthy lifestyle such as classes at the Studio (MDR) 3 times a week, yoga 2/3 times a week, and an occasional run/jog by the beach, I believe that the food that goes into your body is what creates YOU!  I did the challenge last year as well and felt fantastic! Thus, I decided to give my body a little change up this past month. Right now, I feel great, light and full!

Interested? Here's a little insight of my daily life these past (almost) 30 days! It is very doable and you never feel like you are starving. I do have to say, that I am not a doctor, so I can only give advice on what I know works for me.

SAMPLE DAY

Breakfast:

  • 2 eggs. (I usually prefer boiled or scrambled. For scrambled I mix all ingredients together. For boiled I add a pinch of salt to each egg)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 Handful of spinach with tomatoes 
  • 1/2 medium apple 

Post Teaching/Workout Snack:

  • Piece of fruit
  • Almonds or cashews

Lunch:

  • Israeli Salad (Cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers all cut up. Add lemon, salt, pepper)
  • Piece of grilled chicken (On the stove for a few minutes with salt and pepper) 
  • 1 Sweet Potato (Keep in oven for 20 minutes)

Dinner:

  • Cauliflower Rice (My new favorite thing ever! Here is a great recipe on how to make it. ) 
  • Classic Chili
  • Strawberries/blackberries

TIPS

Avoid:

  • Added Sugar (Real or artificial)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains 
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.

Things that saved me:

  • Trader Joes Sparkling Water (Lemon or Lime flavor)
  • LARA bars (make sure to read ingredients. The Apple Pie flavor is best!)
  • Almonds

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Transformer of the Month: Sue Garber

When Sue started working out at The Studio (MDR), she wore a size 8 or 10. Now, she’s down to a 4 or 6 and feels better than ever. Here’s her story:

Tell us about life pre-The Studio (MDR).

I started working out here in March 2014 and weighed 138 pounds and went between a size 8 and 10. I had just joined a local gym and used the elliptical machine for cardio work and some free weights for arms twice a week. I also took yoga once a week. But when my son Jacob joined The Studio (MDR), he encouraged me to try it. I physically felt OK—but definitely not as good as I do now! I also spent hours at the gym but never got the results I see in my body these days.

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 saw a positive change in Jake, including his eating habits, and I wanted to do the same.

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

The first few weeks, I wasn't sure I noticed anything. But as I gave it more time, I noticed my waistline felt tighter, and I started feeling so much more energized. Visible changes started happening a few months later. And while I never imagined I’d ever say this, I definitely love being in a state of constant soreness. After about 6 to 8 months of working out at The Studio (MDR), awareness of what I was eating started to happen organically, and the pounds started to shed off almost effortlessly.

 OK, so it sounds like you’ve really cleaned up your diet.

Tremendously! I’ve come to learn that diet is key to maintaining the results these workouts give you. I now practice mindful eating as much as I can, but I also give myself permission to enjoy eating the things I truly love, without the guilt. I can honestly say that I enjoy food more than I've enjoyed it before.

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

I used to feel nauseous when we would do the inner thigh exercises! Now my legs have become much stronger and tighter.

How far have you come from your starting point, both physically and mentally? And what are some of your new goals?

Physically, I feel much stronger all around. I love my waistline and I dress differently. I accentuate my arms and waist, even my legs and butt. I love how I feel after a great workout. My posture has improved and I carry myself with more confidence.  I never used to wear sleeveless shirts before. Now I love wearing tank tops to show off my arms. In addition to dropping from a size 8-10 to a size 4-6, I also lost 10 pounds—down to 128. It’s been great when friends notice the change in my appearance. But more importantly, my attitude has changed.

I feel so grateful for Lindsay, who is like a bright, positive light and who makes working out extra enjoyable with her awesome playlists. She shares her great energy consistently in each and every class—so much so that I always look forward to coming to class. Even if I had a bad day, I know The Studio (MDR) will make it all better.

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Transformer Update: Tammy Dunkley-Niklov

It's been about two years since your transformer story - what have you changed in your routine to stay healthy? 

I am an (MDR) junkie! It’s hard to believe that my transformation story was 2 years ago. Since then, I have continued to lose pounds and have surpassed my goal weight. It has never really been about the weight loss though.  For me it was a lifestyle change. I now train by doing (MDR), running or yoga daily.

Have you changed your diet at all? What are some of your go to snacks/meals?

I pretty much cut out all processed foods and try to stick with a balanced meal of protein, fruits and vegetables. I started working with a nutritionist to get my diet in check.  It turns out I wasn’t eating enough!  I learned that I need to fuel my body to keep up with all of my training. My favorite pre-workout meal is protein powder, almond butter, banana with a scoop of Beet Elite and Dr. Schulze’s Super Food. 

How has your transformation affected other aspects of your life? 

One of the biggest changes has been falling in love with running.  This is something that I never thought would happen. I ran my first 5K in July and decided to start training for the LA Marathon on Feb 14th.  I have been training with a Marathon group every Saturday. I know that if it wasn’t for the endurance training I learned at The Studio, I would have never even considered doing this. Training at The Studio (MDR) has proven to myself that I can push through anything.  I also wanted to be sure I go about it in the right way. You have to put in the work in order to make it to the finish line and if I make it to Marathon day, then I have met my goal! 

Also, my daughter loves any excuse to come to The Studio (MDR). She was only 2 when I first started so she has grown up with it. I am glad that I am showing her a healthy path. She likes to pretend she’s holding plank and pretends to be the instructor and shows me new moves!

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2nd Annual Pink to Pink Walk

Congrats to our 2nd Annual PINK TO PINK Walkers! Last Sunday, The Studio (MDR) staff and so many of our amazing clients walked to prevent breast cancer—starting at The Studio (MDR) East and making our way to (MDR) West! All fundraising and contributions were raised and donated to A Vision of Health, a local organization that works to offer free mammograms and preventative nutrition advice to all areas of Los Angeles.

We are still taking donations until 10/31 at the front desks of all (MDR) locations, so if you’re feeling charitable, there’s still time to donate. Every dollar counts!

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A Love Note From Lisa

Lisa

The owner and CEO of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about the power of seeing the familiar through new eyes.

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting on a beach on the beautiful island of Maui and had this moment of feeling almost awe-struck. The water was stunning. The bright, warm sun was on its way toward setting. My love, Andy, was sitting next to me. And I was about to head back to our room to get gussied up to watch one of our friends get married. I had this moment of pure gratefulness—a feeling that this life I’m lucky enough to live is a great one, and that when you really open your eyes to all of the wonderful things around you, it can be almost overwhelming in the best possible way.

Cut to today, and I am so not sitting on a beach in Hawaii. I’m sitting at my computer and as I write this, that e-mail “ding” is going off every other second. Like all of you, I’ve got a to-do list that feels seriously ambitious and a full life that keeps me always on the go. Sometimes, that feeling of fullness puts me on edge a bit. But today, I’m trying something new. Remembering that beautiful trip to Hawaii—and that gorgeous marriage ceremony filled with big love, the most important thing in this world—I’m committing to looking at the everyday “stuff” that fills my life with new eyes. It’s what the Zen Buddhists call Shoshin, and it means having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.

OK, so I know what you’re thinking. This is so much easier said than done. And I hear you on that front. But think about it for a moment: How many areas of your life do you just kind of go through the motions? I don’t mean that in a negative sense! I know there are times when going through the motions is very beneficial (like all of you amazing new moms out there, who sleepily shuffle into your baby’s room in the middle of the night for a feeding or to soothe your little one). But I challenge you to think of other times, say, when you just plow through your e-mail inbox on autopilot or you show up for a class at The Studio (MDR) and just kind of roll through the 50 moves in 50 minutes, your mind drifting elsewhere.

We’re all culprits. It’s human nature. Which is why today, I’m embracing that new, beginner’s mind attitude. I’m about to leave our house to head to work and I’m going to be more mindful on my drive, really drinking in the view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean that I’m so blessed to see every day. I’m going to take a class at The Studio (MDR) and pretend it’s my first week on the Megaformer again, when I was filled with equal parts love and fear and awe, which made me concentrate like a champ. I’m going to look at all of you, clients I admire more than I can say, as if it’s opening day again. And my hope is that you all find ways to do the same.

From where I sit, all of you—our amazing clients and friends—are all role models. You’re putting in the work, you’re transforming your bodies, you’re showing up day in and day out with big, open hearts. You often inspire in me the same kind of awe I felt on that Hawaiian beach a few weeks ago, and for that, I’ll forever be grateful.

Big hug,

Lisa

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5 Tips to Help You New Mamas (and Mamas-to-Be) Get Your Best Abs Ever

 

Seven months ago, teacher Dana Goodman had her first baby and says her workouts at The Studio (MDR) transformed her pregnancy, labor, and how she feels today. “To be honest, since this was my first baby I was super careful with core exercises throughout my entire pregnancy. I didn’t want to take any risks! However, I stayed consistent with my routine at (MDR) with some modifications along the way, and I had an amazing pregnancy. I was not sick one day and I felt energized the entire time, even when I was 10 days late delivering.” In fact, Dana was still teaching 19 classes a week when she was seven months preggers (!!).

Dana gave birth to Saylor, a 7 lb, 14 oz beautiful baby girl, and her labor was 100 percent natural. “I don’t think I would have ever been able to have a natural delivery without the strength I built from the (MDR) classes,” she says. Check out Dana’s best tips on how to get a killer core here.

Tip No. 1: A strong core will make everything feel better. Working your abdominal muscles has so many benefits. A tight tummy will not only help your confidence soar, but it’ll also help easy any low back pain you might be feeling. “Since abs are attached to your back muscles, strengthening your transverse abdominal muscles can help reduce back pain,” says Dana.

Tip No. 2: Strong abs can also make labor easier. Here’s a heads up for all of you moms-to-be: “When you learn how to better control your abs, you may not need to push as much when you’re in labor,” says Dana. “When I had my daughter, I only pushed for 20 minutes, which is pretty fast!”

Tip No. 3: You’ll have an easier time post-baby, too. “The rectus abdominis can split during pregnancy in order to accommodate your growing baby—it’s known as diastasis,” says Dana. “Having tight transverse abs during pregnancy can get your rectus muscles back into place faster and therefore give you a flatter stomach sooner after pregnancy.” After you give birth, make sure to incorporate exercises that target the transverse abs, she says, which will help improve posture, reduce back pain, and create a flatter tummy much faster.

Tip No. 4: Your strength will transfer to your baby, too. “Our daughter is super active and very strong,” says Dana. “At 5 ½ months she started crawling, and at 6 ½ months she started pulling herself up to stand. These are both major milestones she’s doing very early, and her pediatrician has told me that the environment a baby is exposed to in utero can have a big impact on your baby.”

Tip No. 5: Ease back into working out post-baby. First things first: You’ll want to assess if you have diastasis recti before you begin to workout after giving birth. If you have DR, there are several exercises you can do at home to help improve this condition before getting back into your normal workout routine. Remember to start back slowly (six weeks post-baby for vaginal deliveries and eight weeks if you had a c-section), and be cautious for the first several months. “It’s important to give yourself time to heal and rebuild your strength before venturing off to new workout routine,” says Dana.One thing I constantly have to keep reminding myself is to be kind to my body! It took 10 months to create this amazing little baby, and I have to be patient and remember it could take just as long to get back to where I was physically. Whenever I get down on myself, I just look at her bright smile and know that it is all worth it!”

Dana’s MegaMamas class is on hiatus in November but will be back in full swing when we open our Playa Vista studio!

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Step Up Your Fashion Game this Fall with These 5 Fitness Picks

  1. Bustier Bra Top Sexy sports bras are having a major moment, and this one is seriously on point.
  2. VIMMIA Dotty Stirrup LeggingPair these with a cute pair of boots when you’re feeling like showing off your (MDR)-toned legs.
  3. Moto Legging These are equal parts comfy and stylish, making them great for traveling, running errands, or even casual Fridays at the office.
  4. ChillbyWill Light Tank The mesh back on this top is risqué and classy.
  5. Vie Active Chelsea Rainfall White 3/4 Compression Tights There’s a reason you want to live in yoga pants, and these super-cute tights are it.

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A Love Note From Lisa

The owner and CEO of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about the newest way she’s finding happiness … one stroke at a time.

Recently, on my usual walk around the neighborhood with Willie Meatball Nelson and Mabel (my adorable Brussels Griffins), I saw something that was just so sweet: two young girls leaning against a fence, cruiser bikes resting beside them as they ate ice pops. They looked so carefree and happy, and it instantly brought me back to the summers of my childhood, waiting for the Mr. Softee ice cream truck to pass my house while playing with my friends in the pool.

These days, the demands of work and life tend to keep me so busy that I rarely savor these simple summer joys. Who’s with me? When’s the last time that the thing that mattered most to you was how great your ice pop tasted on a warm summer day?

When I got home from my walk that day I decided to take a plunge—literally. I signed up for swimming lessons, hoping they’d infuse a little fun (and a big challenge) into my every day. I’m loving it more than I thought I would, and struggling as much as I anticipated (but that’s another story for another day!).

For starters, there’s something so meditative about the repetition of breath and movement. There’s so much for the mind to focus on—the strokes, the breathing, the kicking—that it’s almost impossible to let my brain wander to my insanely long list of to-dos. Then, there’s the silence. When you swim, you’re literally suspended under water for about half the time you’re doing it. No music. No talking. No listening to others talk. Diving into that silence after every breath feels like a gift each time, and it has helped me find a lot more peace even when I’m not in the pool.

Hopping back into the pool has also reminded me of an important lesson, and one that I think can help everyone—whether you feel like you’re in a great place or a bad one, whether you’re calm or stressed, feeling happy or sad: When you mix up your usual routine with something new, it can breathe new life into everything.

Each time I show up at the pool in Santa Monica to swim, so many metaphors for life end up presenting themselves. I need to learn how to breathe (master this in the water and you’ll absolutely be more conscious of your inhales and exhales on dry land). I need to slow down (when I first get into the pool, I pop into turbo-speed). And I need to find little moments to have just a little more fun (the amount of laughing at myself that I’ve done re-learning the breaststroke is a good start).

I’m going to wrap this up so I can hop on my beach cruiser and go get some ice cream on this beautiful summer day. But before I do, why not let your mind wander back to your most fun summer ever. Then, think about what you can do to infuse this summer with a little more joy. What are you going to do to remind yourself of how much fun is all around?

Big hug,

Lisa

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