un aguacate a la vez

wellness

5 Misconceptions About Wellness

Brujita Diaries, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
Pic via Urban Outfitters. Shop it   here . 

Pic via Urban Outfitters. Shop it here

I am by no means an expert in the topic of wellness. In fact, while I have always been interested in health and fitness, I'm a newbie. I can honestly say I started this "Wellness Journey" almost a year ago and it has been an amazing learning process. It started by running, which led to yoga it went on to a plant based lifestyle and now I even run a podcast about wellness (and sometimes withchy stuff) with one of my best friends, Silvia. I go a little more into depth here, here and here.

Getting into wellness wasn't a struggle, it just happened because of this simple mindset: I found a lifestyle that helps me maximize every aspect of my life. If I eat well, I have amazing runs, if I have amazing runs, I have an amazing day and if I have an amazing day, I sleep really, really well! It's a cycle and all you have to do is find the routines that adapt to your lifestyle. 

Nevertheless, over the course of this past year I have received many questions about this "living a healthy and well balanced lifestyle" which are hard to answer in one particular way. This is why I decided to break down the main misconceptions about wellness in this post: 

 

1.  "Wellness is how the cool kids are now calling Health and Fitness" 

While I find it hard to debate you on that since it seems like everyone and their mother's are calling everything health related "wellness", here's the definition according to dictionary.com:

"The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort."

"An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases."

I define it as a way of finding what feels right to your mind, body and soul. 

 

Gabrielle Bernstein via  Harper's Bazaar

Gabrielle Bernstein via Harper's Bazaar

2. There is a right and wrong way of practicing spirituality. 

"How do I set an intention"

"How do you find the patience to meditate? I just can't."

"I can't practice yoga because I hate chanting"

"I hate religions"

"I'm afraid of witchy stuff" 

I have heard all of these before and if I didn't give you a clear answer or enough details and you felt lost, it's because I can't tell you what to do or think. Spirituality is NOT a trend, it is truly a personal journey. Each individual will find a way to connect and find a meaningful way to look at this world in their own time and place. For me, it was through yoga. Yoga created in me a craving to want to connect more with nature (hence my obsession with crystals and plants!) and specially, with myself. 

For some, spirituality may happen through Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or believe it or not, being an agnostic or atheist. It's all about connecting with everything that surrounds you and it's a beautiful thing. So here's the one tip I can give you if you're craving spiritual growth: Learn to breath and stay still for at least 5 minutes a day. Follow your curiosity. Stay away from judgement and do good to others without expecting something in return. Take care of yourself and learn to crave experiences, not things. 

The book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a read great for any person craving some spirtuality but is kind-of freaked out by the word.  

Shop similar amethyst crystal clusters   here  . 

Shop similar amethyst crystal clusters here

3. There is a formula to using crystals and connecting with the moon. 

"How do you cleanse crystals?"

"How do you choose crystals" 

"I used this crystal and it didn't work" 

"What's the deal with thee moon, teach me!" 

Sorry to break it to you, but if you think buying an amethyst and getting a moon bath will change your life, you're in for huge dissapointment. While these two things seem super trendy and new-agey and everyone wants to be part of it, the only way to actually "tap into its power", is by (you guessed it!) connecting with yourself first. 

Just because using crystals and connecting with the moon has worked for some, it doesn't mean you have to follow their exact formula. For me, it was a natural way of continuing my yoga practice off the mat. I did use some guidance from Google, read the book Moonologie by Yasmin Boland and even wrote a beginners guide to crystals, but this doesn't mean that you need to go ahead and buy this book or follow my exact instructions so you KNOW that you're doing things right. It means that if you have some curiosity about topics surrounding wellness and spirituality, go ahead and read about them, experiment with them! 

You need to understand that when it comes to this wellness journey, each experience is unique and it is much more about intuition and doing what feels right than you think.

PD: If you read this and felt it was complete bullshit, this is not your journey. But if you read this and are confused but curiouos, keep soul searching, you're getting there! 

 

spirituality astrologer cat

4. Now that you're a spiritual person, you need to be vegan, do yoga, follow astrology and buy an oracle deck. 

lol

No. 

For some people, the simple acts of gardening, being out in nature, following an ethical vegan lifestyle, going to church, spending time with animals or helping others is what helps them connect with their highest self or be a spiritual person. Don't get sucked in by all the social media frenzy about new-age spiritualy. I mean, it's awesome, I love it, but it doesn't mean that is what you need to be doing or what will work for you. 

I repeat, stay curious, keep soul searching and most importantly stop judging. Life is hard enough as it is. 

 

Image via  Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

5. Women who get into wellness and spirituality become witches. 

LOOOOL

I can't exactly deny this, but I will clear up the most common misconception: Is being a witch really a bad thing? In my short life I have seen that what the media calls a witch is a strong woman who is in tune with her intuition and in total control of her life. Do I think that is a bad thing? HELL NAH'! I want to be a witch. 

But now, seriously, stop with the judging. While there exists some weird dark magic out there, associated with witchcraft, most of it made famous by men scared of strong women, but that's for another day, remember this is all about wellness and feeling good with yourself. And if you really like these topics, I would really suggest you listen to our podcast Un aguacate a la vez available on iTunes and Stitcher

 

Conclusion:

In the end, it's all about you. Let go of the mindset we've all learned in school because there is no formula that helps you practice what makes you feel good. Wellness is all about taking care of your mind, body and soul in your own way. But if you're a Type A like me and can't finally seam to understand but really want to find your "wellness nirvana", here's a simple cheat sheet that may help you find it:

  • Mind: Keep a log of what helps you release stress that doesn't envolve shopping. For me this is being in or by the water, specially in Cabo Rojo, PR. 
  • Body: What workout or fitness routine makes you feel most alive or happy. For me this is running outside. 
  • Soul: What practice frees your mind and helps you be a better person. For me this is yoga and meditation with crystals. 
Quote via  Pinterest

Quote via Pinterest

Let me know how it goes. 

Until next time, 

María Elena

Crystals 101 | A Beginners Guide to Crystals

wellness, Brujita DiariesMaría Elena RodríguezComment
what is crystal healing

Ok. If you listen to our new podcast, Un aguacate a la vez, you probably saw this coming. If you haven't listened to the podcast, firstly, what are you waiting for?! Secondly, yes, I am into crystals and no, this doesn't mean I'm having a Spencer Pratt-like nervous breakdown. In fact, I am a new (and very proud) self-discovered brujita. But before you start judging, please continue reading. 👇

Apart from Spencer Pratt, the first time I heard about using crystals for wellness was from my friend and co-host at Un aguacate a la vez, Silvia Vallejo. But to be honest, when she told me about this, I immediately judged her (shame on me!) and dismissed the idea thinking it was "too new-age" for me. By the way, we talked about this on Episode #2 if you want to listen to it later!

Fast forward to September 2017: Hurricane María. I kept feeling like I needed some reconnecting with nature (aka "grounding" if you're into yoga/ wellness) after all the craziness going on in Puerto Rico. My life was almost literally turned upside down and for some reason I was craving nature. Long story short: Now I have more than 15 crystals scattered all over my home and here's what I have learned if you are considering entering this magical world:

The Basics

Don't freak out!

Crystals have been with us for millions of years. Why would you reject something that comes from nature? I like to give crystals a similar approach as I do to plants: They are beautiful and make me happy! 

Why are people using crystals?

In my opinion, people are sick and tired of the current state the world is in. We are tired of being hooked on technology 24/7 and having something tangible that comes from nature makes us feel grounded and like we belong to something more meaningful than Trump's Twitter wars and the latest influencer on Instagram.  

And of course, they are trendy! All you need to do is a quick "crystals" search on Instagram to know what I'm talking about. I have seen several bloggers sneaking crystals into their flat-lays for a while now! Yes, we are guilty too.

Crystals are all about you

They are all about you because YOU decide what they mean to you. Yes, you can read online what all these crystals mean, but at the end of the day, you need to use what works for you. Don't worry, I'll explain later how to use them. 

How do you use them?

I like to wear them as jewelry, keep them around me at home and try to leave the house with a small crystal in my bag or pocket every once in a while, specially when I'm anxious about something. 

My Favorite Crystals:

crystals 101 - beginners guide to crystals

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Choosing a crystal

1. Go to a crystal store. 

My favorite crystal stores are: 

  • Turquesa in Old San Juan - Prepare to stay hours browsing around!

  • Gaia in Baldrich - This is just a magical place. Go and let me know. 

  • Natural Style in San Patricio - It's a kiosk right between La Favorita and Men's Wearhouse. 

  • Etsy - Hundreds of stores to choose from here! Just write "crystals" in their search bar. 

  • Energy Muse - This is also a great place to research information about crystals. 

2. Browse around and grab the crystal that you're most attracted to. 

Instead of researching for the perfect crystal for your current situation or setting your mind into buying the most "Instagram worthy" one, try using your intuition. You will notice that even though you like a certain crystal better, you may be more attracted to another one. This happened to me when I first started. All I wanted was an amethyst because, come on, it's gorgeous! But I wasn't vibing with any of the ones I came across with AT ALL. I kept coming back to a big piece of black tourmaline, which I don't particularly love aesthetically, but when I did a little research I understood it was all I really needed: Grounding. #shocking (not!) 

Using your crystals

1. Cleanse

Yes you read that right. Specially if you are planning on using crystals for spirituality and mindfulness, you must cleanse them. Why? If you believe in vibes, then you will be getting rid of all the bad vibes it may have been exposed to. But if you are skeptical, like I was, cleansing them is the best way to set your mind and believe this crystal is truly yours. 

How do you cleanse them? We talked about this more deeply on the podcast, but my favorite way is smudging it with sage or palo santo. You can also leave it overnight in water with salt, in a bath salt or just setting an intention. The best way to cleanse it is to use your intuition and a little Google!

Warning: Some crystals may dissolve in water and or salt so make sure you Google this first. 

2. Set an intention

This is the most important part of owning a crystal. After all, this is a mindfulness tool! Here are some intentions you can set:

  • Work with ease

  • Attract abundance

  • Love without judgement

  • Loose weight

Whatever you need in your life can become your intention! Just make sure you believe you can achieve it.

3. Use

Once you set an intention, it's time to put it to good use. My favorite way to use my crystals is in the morning. I keep a shunguite in my running pants for protection and like to put a crystal at the top of my yoga mat before each yoga session. Helps me stay focus and connected to my practice!

Final thoughts

Using crystals is very personal. This is not a religion or an obscure practice, it's just a little piece of Mother Earth that can help you enhance your life, however you choose to. Don't be afraid to try this magical world. But if you're just getting started, allow me to introduce you to some books I read during my crystal journey:

  • Crystal Bliss - This is the first one I ever read. She can get a little woo-woo at times, but it's a great beginners guide!

  • The Crystal Bible - Once you get really into crystals, you will start craving more in depth descriptions and this book delivers! Since there are so many crystals on Earth is divided by 3 volumes. You can grab them here, here and here.

  • The Book of Chakra Healing - The moment I finally understood the chakra system is the moment I truly understood crystals. Needless to say, this is also a great book for beginners since it details the best crystals for each chakra imbalance.

BONUS: 

Here are some books on my crystal healing wish list:

crystals 101 - beginners guide to crystals - books

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

6 Easy Ayurveda Self-Care Routines to Implement in Your Life

wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
ayurvedic medicine remedies

According to Mr. Google Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. To me, Ayurveda is a way of implementing self-care into my everyday routine and becoming more mindful and aware of how I treat my body and what I put in it. So after reading Sahara Rose's Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda literally cover to cover, here are the 6 Ayurveda self-care routines that I am currently implementing in my day to day and how I do them:

1. Tongue scraping right when I wake up

DSC03179.jpg
  • What is it? Tongue scraping is as disgusting as it sounds. It's a tool you use to scrape away all the white stuff in your tongue.
  • Why you need it?  That white coating in your tongue right when you wake up is bacteria, which is the one to blame for your morning breath.
  • How I do it? Right after brushing my teeth, I stick my tongue out and scrape all the white stuff comes off. Disgusting? Yes, but it gives me some sort of peace of mind to know that at least I know I'm not eating  a side of bacteria for breakfast. 
  • Where can you find a tongue cleaner?

2. Switch mouth wash for oil Pulling

  • What is it? Oil pulling is said to be a natural and toxic-free alternative to mouthwash in helping you take out all the bacteria and toxins in your mouth that build up while you sleep. Like for example, the ones you left behind while tongue scraping.
  • Why you need it? Because it's a toxic free and natural alternative to mouth wash. 
  • How I do it? After I'm finished tongue scraping, I take about a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around in my mouth for at least 10 minutes (the ideal time is 20 minutes). Once I'm done, I go ahead and toss it in the trash, because I've read it could clog your pipes. I rinse my mouth with some water afterwards. 
    • "Wow! María Elena estás loca. I don't have time" You say? If you're thinking that's too much time oil pulling these are all the things I do while oil pulling: make my bed, boil my water with lemon, make breakfast and brew coffee.
  • Which oil should I purchase? You can use sesame, sunflower or coconut oil. I prefer coconut oil because it's easier to find and I don't mind the taste. Just make sure they are virgin/ unrefined and organic! Here are some alternatives:

3. Warm water with lemon and apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinegar tea
  • Why you need it? The premise behind this is hydrating your body right after waking up without disrupting your digestive system. According to Ayurvedic medicine, your stomach is associated with the element of fire, which means that putting cold liquids and foods is harming to your digestive system, specially right when you wake up.
  • How I do it? While I'm oil pulling and making my breakfast, I heat up a cup of water in the stove. Then I add the juice of half a lemon and a splash of apple cider vinegar to a cup and pour the water while it's simmering. I like to pre-cut some lemons to have them ready in the morning. In my experience, this "tea" is delicious on its own, but you can add some honey or ginger if you want to spice it up! 
  • Which Apple Cider Vinegar do you recommend? Anything raw including "the mother" works. Here are some alternatives:

4. Implementing Essential oils to my everyday life

essential oils
  • What are they? According to Dr. Axe, "essential oils are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma and because of their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming properties, they recently gaining popularity as a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy for a number of health concerns".  
  • Why do you need them? Because you can use them for aromatherapy, cleaning, natural remedies and even cooking! One small tube of essential oil can be used for a vast majority of things in your life. 
  • How I use them? I use them with a diffuser during yoga, meditation or to fall asleep and on their own on pressure points. I even to make some DIY projects like shampoo and toxic-free all purpose cleaner!
  • Where can I find the best essential oils? My top pick will always be, you guessed it... iHerb! I seriously love their free 2-day-shipping and prices, but here are some alternatives:
  • What are your favorite essential oils?

5. Dry Brushing

what is dry brushing
what is dry brushing
  • What is it? Brushing your dry body with a natural bristle brush to stimulate your lymphatic system. 
  • Why you need it? According to a mindbodygreen article, "dry brushing helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin". It is also said to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. I have seen less cellulite bumps in my thighs since I started doing it!
  • How I do it? Before getting into the shower, I grab a natural bristle brush like this one and brush it all over my body, from the feet to my upper body, always towards the heart. Yes, you have to be naked and yes, it's called dry brush because need to be dry in order to do it. 
  • Where can I find a dry brush? Basically anywhere! Just make sure it's a natural bristle brush like any of these:

6. Oil Massaging

oil massaging abhyanga
  • What is it? Massaging your body right after dry brushing and showering. Basically the ultimate self-love manifestation! 
  • Why do you need it? Ayurvedic medicine recommends that you don't put anything in your body that you wouldn't eat. This is why the best thing about using oils instead of regular body moisturizers is that you will be absorbing all the wonderful properties of natural oils. 
  • How I do it? I give myself a nice and strong massage from the feet to my face giving stronger attention to dry areas, like my elbows. I use coconut oil or almond oil and sometimes mix it with some eucalyptus essential oil for my feet and tea tree oil for my face! 
  • What are the best oils to use? According to Sahara Rose's book, here are the best oils to use:
Pin this for later!

Pin this for later!

Let me know if you already implement any of these routines! Liked this post? You will LOVE 5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Have a Spa Retreat at Home

Don't forget to leave a comment and share this post with your friends!

Until next time, 

María Elena

Current Favorites | March 2018

Beauty, Health, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
iherb basics

1 | 2 | 3 (On Sale!)| 4 | 5

My New Nighttime Skincare Routine

For YEARS I had been hooked on the same skincare routine: Ole Henriksen Truth SerumTarte Maracuja Oil and the eye cream I was using at the moment, since I haven't found one that I am in love with. This all changed once the store Coconut People in Old San Juan gifted me the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum.

Pic via Coconut People

Pic via Coconut People

After just one week I started to see my skin become more radiant and smooth! Now, almost one month after I started using it, I started using Almond Oil mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil as my moisturizer instead of my super trusty maracuja oil. And I'm not talking about a fancy Sephora facial oil, I'm talking about a $10 per 16oz pure almond oil you can find almost anywhere! The result? My skin is as smooth as a baby's butt! I am going to stick to this routine for a while to see how it turns out, but I highly recommend you try this combo! Just make sure you are buying almond oil with only almond oil as ingredient, like this one

You can find Mad Hippie at Coconut People in Calle San Francisco, Old San Juan or at iherb.com. You can find pure almond oil at any grocery store, but I recommend you get it on iherb.com. Free shipping over $20, no tax (bye Amazon!) and you can get 5% off with my coupon code: AFU8252

Ayurvedic Self-care Routines

ayurveda

If you read my 5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Have a Spa Retreat at Home post, you have an idea of where I'm going with this one.  I will not go over all the Ayurveda body types (doshas) and nutrition details because they are a LOT (check out this book if you're interested), so here are the Ayurveda Self-Care routines that have improved my life recently:

  • Tongue scraping right when I wake up
  • Switch mouth wash for coconut oil (Oil Pulling) 
  • Warm water with lemon before breakfast
  • Using essential oils for diffusing
  • Dry Brushing before showering at night
  • Oil Massaging before going to bed

Like everything, consistency is key! I have been doing all of these steps daily for about two weeks now and I have seen a significant improvement on my well being. From complexion to energy levels. And let's be honest, this self-care routine is making me feel like a queen! And who doesn't want that?! 

I am currently working on a separate blog post with details on this process so make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter! I will share it once it's ready.

iHerb.com

Yup, you guessed it! I am HOOKED with iherb.com and I promise this is not sponsored, ok?! As you may have heard on my Instagram Stories, 2018 is all about looking for even more natural alternatives to my beauty routine! Meaning vegan, toxic free brands that I can trust.  This means that I have been looking for a one stop shop where I can find everything that makes me happy these days: everything wellness related! 

That's it! Let me know your March favorites on the comments below.

Until next time, 

María Elena

5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Have a Spa Retreat at Home

wellness, Podcast, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
DSC03159.jpg

If you've been listening to my new podcast, Un aguacate a la vez, which I co-host with my friend Silvia Vallejo, you may have noticed that lately I've been reaaaally into self-care. I just keep coming back to this thought over and over again: Self Care is the new luxury. You don't need to have a trust fund, a fancy home or a sports car; you just need TIME, time for the most important person in your life: yourself. What better way to celebrate yourself than with self-care? So if for any reason you can't getaway this spring break, here are some ideas that will help you have a rejuvenating and luxurious experience at home. The best part? You can do this by yourself or with a loved one. Enjoy!

1. Turn off all your electronics

Want to feel renewed after this experience? I'm sorry but binge watching Netflix won't do it! Get rid of all the blue lights and electronics that take over our daily lives and make yourself a priority. This includes your phone, iPad, TV, Kindle, laptop and even your smart watch! 

Cost: $0

2. Give yourself an ayurvedic massage

Ever since I purchased The Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose, I can't stop giving myself spa rituals at home. My favorite ritual? Dry brushing and oil massaging! If you have been reading me since 2013, you know that I tried dry brushing a while back but I stopped very quickly (I even deleted that post lol). I guess it wasn't the right time for me. But now? I dry brush after showering for about ten minutes. It's not hard, all you need is a brush like this $5 one!  Here's a great article on how to dry brush. 

ayurveda sahara rose

After dry brushing, I grab some coconut oil or almond oil and spend a good 10-15 minutes just massaging the oil through my body. Why oil and not a cream moisturizer? According to Ayurveda, you shouldn't put anything in your body that you wouldn't eat because you don't want toxins in the biggest organ of your body, which is your skin. Makes sense doesn't it? Just as I thought putting oils on my face was crazy and now I can't get enough of it, I used to think that using oil as a body moisturizer was going to be a mess! But I promise it isn't, you just need to sit still for a few minutes afterwards to let the oil absorb and that's it! I like to do it right before bed and curl up with a book. You will wake up with the softest skin ever. 

By the way, you don't need any fancy department store body oil in order to achieve this. My favorite places to find good quality oils are Costco, Freshmart or my most recent obsession: iHerb.com, which I happen to have a discount code (AFU8252) if you want 5% off your purchase! You just need an organic, pure and unrefined oil (like this almond oil or this coconut oil) which are usually much cheaper than then ones branded as a beauty staple.

Cost: $0 if you already own a dry brush and oil. $30 at most if you need to purchase these items. Shop them here:

3. Practice Restorative or yin Yoga

I already talked about doing yoga at home in this post, but here's a more relaxing way of practicing yoga at home: Restorative or yin yoga. In the video above you will go over the basics of yin yoga, but it is basically a way to calm down and restore the body from all the stress. It is basically the rest day of your yoga practice. In order to achieve an easy and cheap restorative yoga practice at home you will need at least a yoga mat, a comfy pillow and a good connection to the internet for some free youtube videos like these. 

healing crystals

If you want to take your at home yoga practice to another level (I'm talking #BrujitasDeCloset level) here are some ideas:

You can read more about at home yoga practices here. 

Cost: You decide! My recommendation is to start with a good quality yoga mat and slowly start creating your yoga space. Here are some alternatives:

Cook your favorite food and invite your friends and family over

Self care is not just about enjoying yourself alone, it is also about enjoying yourself surrounded by the people who make you feel good. You know that dinner party you've been meaning to host for a while? Go ahead and plan it! Want to host a brunch with your friends? Do it! Whatever you do for your friends and family, make them feel special and let them know how happy you are to have them in your life. 

Cost: You decide! 

Go for a long walk or hike

Don't ever underestimate the power of bonding with nature. Nothing compares to feeling the breeze brush your skin and smelling the flowers and the grass as you go by. Why do you think I enjoy running outside so much?! It is a grounding experience that we should all prioritize at least 10 minutes daily. On your day off, dedicate an hour to this! Thank me later. 

Cost: You can buy a comfortable pair of tennis shoes for less than $100. (Brooks will always be my #1 choice!)

Finally I wanted to give a heads up that I will be beginning a 30 Day Ayurveda Challenge for Silvia this April, so let me know if you are interested in joining us! Make sure you follow our podcast, Un aguacate a la vez on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter so you don't miss when it happens.

Besos, 

María Elena

Favorites and Fails | February 2018

Beauty, Podcast, wellness, Shopping, Real Talk, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
february beauty favorites and fails

Favorites

We launched a Podcast!

Yes, you read that right. My friend from college, Silvia Vallejo and I decided that it was time to put our conversations to good use. O sea, to publish them. The Podcast is called Un aguacate a la vez and we will talk about everything wellness related: from supplements to all the woo woo astrological-mystic stuff! 

You can listen to it today and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud! 

Aaron Stewart Home - Love PR

After months of not knowing anything about Fernando Rodríguez from Aaron Stewart Home, I was pleasantly surprised to know how much they've grown and specially battled obstacles since Hurricane María hit them. They took all the devastating energy from the hardest months of modern day Puerto Rico and announced the launch of their new line: LOVE PR. This affordable new line is a capsule collection that will assist victims of Hurricane Maria across the island of Puerto Rico by going directly to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, The Sato Project, ConPRmetidos, and Instituto Psicopedagogico de Puerto Rico. 

I personally love the t-shirt for working out and their luggage tags

Purina

Purina invited me to a doggie brunch with Fiona and I couldn't be happier!!! They gave us some samples of their new small breed line Purina Bella and Fiona has been loving it!

Quay Australia Black on Black Aviators

I found this during my recent trip to New York this past fall and I haven't been able to put them down! I love how edgy and trendy they look, but most importantly, their price! 

Seeing some progress in Yoga

After doing yoga for almost 6 months now, I can finally see some progress, specially in my chaturangas and crow pose. 

Glossier You Perfume

This is a favorite ever since I got it. Smells spicy yet sweet, but not TOO sweet for the day time. Grab it here. 

Learning to cook vegan

I have been having a lot of fun learning to cook some vegan recipes and sharing them over on Instagram stories. Check out some awesome vegan books here:

Got accepted in the New York Marathon!!!

This girl is running 26.2 miles on November 4, 2018 and I can't even begin to process that. With that being said, expect a lot more posts about running, nutrition and wellness! I will definetely need them... 

Coconut People

Coconut People is a store in Old San Juan that carries a variety of cruelty free beauty products that I've been dying to try. They gave me some products by Mad Hippie that I will start trying now in March to see if it fixes my hormonal breakouts. Check out some of their products here:

Fails

february fails

Beats by Dr. Dre PowerBeats 2

Now that I got accepted to the New York Marathon I am exceptionally mad at this. This is my second pair of PowerBeats by Dr. Dre and they keep failing on me. The battery doesn't last for even 24 hours without use! Ugh, please send me your recommendations for wireless headphones... 

Breaking out!

On February I suffered from some really heavy hormonal breakouts, which is why I'm taking some extra care of my skin this March! 

Overdoing it with Yoga

Yoga was my favorite, but being able to see some progress means that I pushed myself to the limit some days. Yes, I ended up in the chyropractor after failing to do a complete wheel pose. Yikes! 


What were your favorites and fails this month?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Valentine's Day Self Care Gift Guide

Beauty, Entertaining, wellness, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
2.png

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

I know, I have made it pretty clear that I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. If you are new to this blog or don't know what I'm talking about, check out this post and this post

But this year, after all that happened in 2017, I'm a new María Elena and I want to embrace love more than ever. But because I still believe Valentine's Day is just an excuse to make us shop for useless stuff we don't need, I decided to look at V-Day as a self-care day to embrace self-love. The best part? Your friends and/or significant other would truly enjoy and use these gifts!  

Forget about going out to dinner! Self-care is all about feeling cozy and being comfortable in your own skin and who doesn't love some cozy pj's and fuzzy socks for a night in?! But if you decide to have a steamy night with your lucky guy/girl, you can also take your Netflix & Chill time to a whole new level with a cute throw and indulgent aromatherapy like these candles or my current personal favorite, essential oils. And if you are thinking about a Galentines day, why not have a girls night in with some extra fancy skincare like this scrub or this mandarin orange body scrub that I'm dying to try! You can finish the night with a good nourishing recipe from a plant based cookbook like this one

Finally, I decided to throw in a crystal book, because yeah, I've been into some crystal healing magic lately. Thanks Gwyneth! And no, I'm not talking about Breaking Bad, by the way. Let me know if you are not totally weirded out by this topic and I will happily make a post about it. One of you guys already noticed them in one of my Instagram stories

However you decide to spend your Valentine's Day, it's ok. Just remember that you should always be your own priority. Give yourself some love!

Let me know how are you spending this VDay!

Until next time, 

María Elena

Shop this post:

How to Enjoy a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

Lifestyle, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
how to have a healthy plant based diet

If you've ever decided to stop eating animals or even minimize your animal products consumption, you know the struggle is real. From going out to eat at restaurants, having dinner with the family and learning how to properly get all your nutrients, not because it's especially hard, but because we have to change our mindset completely. Seriously! It's like learning how to cook all over again! But the hardest part, at least for me, is explaining why I don't eat animals. And let me be clear on this: Contrary to what most people think about vegans and vegetarians, 99.9% of the time I don't start this conversation. People want to know why/how and for some weird reason, they feel entitled to give me all types of unsolicited nutritional advice *alternative facts* on why I should eat meat. And if I debunk their theory, they give me their favorite comeback: But plants also suffer when they're killed! (Insert the annoyed gif of your preference here)

I decided to stop eating all types of meats back in September 2017 (yes, right when Hurricane Irma and María hit us) and I promised myself I was going to go easy on myself, just so I didn't fail as I did a few years back. I made a deal with myself that if I wanted to eat chicken one day, I would, if I wanted to drink a latte with cow's milk, I would and if I wanted to eat a cupcake with cream cheese frosting, I would enjoy it without regret. But little by little I stopped craving animal products and started craving real whole foods, mostly because of how great I felt from the inside out every time I ate this way. Nevertheless, I still eat the ocasional egg or cheese, but I gradually crave it less. 

In a nutshell, I enjoy a plant-based diet because of health and ethical reasons. I feel amazing and my gut health is on point, if you know what I mean 💁🏻and just as I only endorse exclusively cruelty-free beauty products, I don't want to contribute to the suffering of innocent animals just for my pleasure. 

So after receiving so many questions about my new lifestyle, which had me actually questioning if I was doing the right thing, even though I have probably done the equivalent of research on the topic as a straight A student, I decided to interview the nutritionist Carla de La Torre from carlaminutricionista.com to know if the plant-based lifestyle is in fact, a healthy alternative. Here's the result:

Can you explain the main difference between a vegetarian and vegan?

Vegetarians exclude all meats, such as beef, pigs, fish and poultry, while vegans don't eat any of these, plus don't eat eggs nor dairy. You can be as strict or as flexible as you want, but obviously, the more strict you are, the more discipline and knowledge you need in terms of nutrition. You need to know how to complement your food so you don't have any nutritional deficiencies.

Instead of labeling ourselves as vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, etc, I like to use the approach of eating "more vegetables and fewer animals". That way we can little by little diminish our animal product consumption.

Is the vegetarian/ vegan diet healthy?

Without a doubt you can be healthy while eating an strict vegan diet. My master's degree tesis is about the Nutritional Habits for Resistance Athletes in Recovery, where I researched how you can recover your muscles without depending on whey protein, steaks, eggs but instead achieving this with quinoa, soy, hemp seeds, peanut butter and other grains. My research concluded that you can be an strict vegan, be a resistance athlete and not have any nutritional deficiencies nor performance problems. 

The only concern with the strictly vegan lifestyle would a B12 deficiency, since you can't find this vitamin in plants, but you can easily supplement it. Plus, even though you can get iron from plants, there is a risk of having an iron deficiency. That's why nutritionists give you the tools and strategies so you can have a healthy, delicious and cost effective plant based diet. I don't want you to only depend on super expensive and processed vegan foods! 

What are the main reasons someone should consider a Plant based diet?

I have three main reasons:

  1. Health - There are many studies that prove that eating meats, processed foods and eating a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol could cause obesity and can have a damaging effect in cardiovascular health and/or cause colon cancer.

  2. Ecology - Consuming animal products can significantly affect our carbon footprint. The amount of water and soil that is needed to satisfy our omnivorous diet is not sustainable.

  3. Animal Cruelty - A diet with more vegetables and fewer animals is obviously friendlier towards animals.

Instead of labeling ourselves as vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, etc, I like to use the approach of eating “more vegetables and fewer animals”.
— Carla de la Torre

What is the best way to start a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle?

The best way to start a plant based diet is to take it little by little. It is already difficult to eliminate animal products in terms of shopping, changing your recipes, eating out and taking care of our nutrition at the same time. This is why I recommend to start by eliminating the animal products that are worst to our health and go from there. Here's an example:

  1. Processed Meats (hams, sausages, etc) - In nutritional terms, these foods are horrible and they are tightly linked to colon cancer.

  2. Beef and Pork - These meats are also associated with colon cancer as well as other types of cancer.

  3. Poultry - You want to avoid all the hormones induced into these birds.

  4. Fish - I always recommend that you eat fish only two to three times a week and eat a mainly plant based diet every other day. If you stay here, you are considered a pescatarian. 

  5. Eggs and Dairy - If you eliminate these and all of the above, you are considered a vegan. If you only decide to eliminate these, you are a lacto vegetarian. 

You can also become a flexitarian. Most people like to stay here because it is easier in social terms, especially when going out to dinner with friends and make it easier on their family members who still eat meats. 

What If this elimination process doesn't work for someone?

Some people like more extreme or direct approaches towards a healthy lifestyle. In my website I have a section in which I divide a healthy and easy approach to each day of the week: Meatless Monday, No Sugar Tuesday, Colorful Wednesday, Fish Friday, Active Saturday and Delightful Sunday.

The great thing about this approach, specially Meatless Monday, is that it introduces veganism or vegetaniarism without intimidating people. Plus, by grocery shopping for each lifestyle, you will be little by little changing the way you cook and eat for yourself and your family. 

There's also the term "Vegan 'til 5" in  which your breakfast, lunch and snacks are vegan. But in the evening you let yourself eat animal products in order to be more flexible with your social life. 

It's so hard to explain the plant-based diet to older generations. Why do you think this happens?

A lot of people associate this lifestyle with nutritional deficiencies or food shortage, so eating meat is sort of a symbol of wealth. Eliminating meats from our diet is like going back in time in some societies. 

I see this a lot with mothers of teenagers that come to me because they don't approve of their son or daughter's decision of going vegetarian. I have to work with them and  sort of re-program their excess of repeated wrong information from generations before. That's why I love to educate people. 

Is it true that you don't need multivitamins if you have a balanced vegan lifestyle?

This is not a yes or no question, because we have to make some blood tests in order to really know. But in essence, in a well balanced plant based diet you shouldn't need anything more than a B12 supplement.

If someone has celiac disease, is it a good idea to go vegan?

healthy vegan lifestyle

Yes, if the condition is controlled in terms of vitamin absorption.  

A lot of people think that being plant based means not eating gluten also. Why do you think this happens?

Gluten has nothing to do with the vegan or vegetarian diet. Most of the hype around gluten is due to a lot of miss-information from people who want a low carb diet. 

Is it true that you should be careful with the oil intake in a vegan diet?

As long as they are healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut or olive oil, you should have no problem. You should also make sure the amount of fats your eating fit your daily macronutrients. 

What do you think about fitness apps such as my fitness pal and macronutrients?

I would highly suggest you leave this task to your nutritionist, since a lot of times these apps overestimate or underestimate your portions. You want this process to be enjoyable! It is difficult enough to eliminate meats while eating out or going to the supermarket. It is just too much information to process. 

When you go to a nutritionist, we will give you the right portions you should eat to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. 

What do you think about all the food industry documentaries on Netflix?

I think that it is a great way to create awareness among people who don't have studies in nutrition and who have no clue about the pharmaceutical industry. But I do believe that sometimes they create hysteria around these topics, even though they are speaking a lot of the truth. This is why some people may develop orthorexia which is the obsession with eating healthy. 

I think that they usually have a message of judging other people for eating the way they do and you have to be careful with this. I don't want people to feel excluded or rejected by the vegan community. I want them to feel welcomed and not intimidated by the movement. 


If you would like to know more about Carla de la Torre, you can visit her website carlaminutricionista.com. She has several plans to choose from, starting from $80 and they can be completely online! 

ambinity's Vegan Must Haves:

How to Create a Yoga Space at Home

wellness, Lifestyle, HealthMaría Elena RodríguezComment
How to Create a Yoga Space copy.png

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

I started doing yoga back in August, when I discovered I actually don't hate running. Back then, yoga became my go-to stretching routine after my runs and soon after that, Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating hurricanes. In the midst of all the chaos, yoga became my little piece of heaven and I credit the combination of running and yoga to my mental stability through the most difficult months of my life. I am forever grateful. 

I do yoga when I need a stretch, I do yoga when I'm depressed, I do yoga when I have a back pain, I do yoga when I'm angry and I do yoga when I'm happy. Why? Because yoga is self love and helps you truly realize that the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself, through a connection of mind and body. 

So where do I practice it? I go to free community classes every once in a while (Santurce Yogi by El Estudio La Ciudadela and Lululemon's Roof Top Yoga at Mall of San Juan are my favorites), attend special classes in studios near me and my favorite way to practice; at home. Here's how I do it: 

Setting the stage  

  • High Quality Yoga Mat - I started out with an old workout mat that would move all over the place while doing my downward facing dogs, and yeah... that's not safe. So for my birthday, my boyfriend got me a really good quality yoga mat. I can definetely see the difference in my practice!

  • Yoga Bolster - A restorative yoga game changer. Yes, you can use some pillows or blankets for this, but this is all about creating a yoga studio experience at home. If you haven't practiced restorative yoga yet, you don't know what you're missing. Here are some really good videos to get started.

  • Yoga Blocks - This is a must if you are a beginner. Trying to go deeper on your poses when you are starting out can be really harmful for you! 

  • Aroma Diffuser - This is one of those products that you don't know you need until you get one. Diffusing essential oils help you center you during your practice. My favorite essential oils are peppermint for the day time and lavender for nighttime. 

  • Bluetooth Speakers - You definetely don't need this, but it is nice to listen to your yoga music through good quality speakers. Yoga is about treating yourself! 

  • Comfy Clothes - Yoga is all about feeling comfortable in your own skin. That's why I love doing yoga in comfortable leggings and shirts. I especially love practicing with jackets now in the "colder" months in Puerto Rico. 

  • Warm Lighting - I recently started reading about the benefits of himalayan salt lamps, so my sister got me one for my birthday. You can also hang some fairy lights or light some candles. Basically anything that makes your yoga space look warm and cozy in your terms will work.  

  • Earthy Items - Meaning plants, rocks and crystals. In my personal experience, the more you sync with nature, the better your yoga practice. 

Yoga Videos

Yes, you can buy yoga videos online. But there are so many great yoga channels on Youtube that upload really great quality content each week! Here are my favorites:

  • Yoga with Adriene - If you are not feeling well in any area of your life, physically or mentally, Adriene is your girl. Her classes are pure self love and with over 300 videos to choose from and a witty personality, there's no way you will get bored with this lady. She has a yoga video for almost anyone! Plus, her cute dog makes appearances in her videos every once in a while! I did her Yoga for Tired Legs video after my first 10 mile run and it was h-e-a-v-e-n. 
  • Yoga with Tim - This is how I started practicing yoga for real! I did his 30 Day Total Yoga Body Challenge, which really helped me with learning the foundations of yoga and basic poses. He's your go-to-guy if you really don't like the spiritual side of yoga and you're looking for a great workout. In my opinion, he has one of the best Vinyasa Flow videos on Youtube!