Movement is Key

Movement is Key

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Over the past 3 months I have been taking a course to become a certified personal trainer. I love exercise and how it makes you feel afterwards and most importantly I really feel a detoxifying pleasure when I break a sweat. Just like you, I myself have a hectic schedule. I know how hard it can be to get in a great workout or just break a sweat. I’ve attempted everything from getting up earlier to staying up later just so I can workout at least 5 to 6 times a week. The only accomplishment I got from this was lack of sleep, crankiness, and not to mention over training!

When we lack sleep our bodies cannot perform to the best of its abilities. I always went with, “No pain, no gain.” I thought pain was my friend and it would help me feel better about myself and that I would see faster progression. So what happened, you ask? I was working a 70 hour work week October of last year and all I did was reach for the cumin in the spice rack and I felt my shoulder fall out of its socket. That’s right, I dislocated my shoulder right there, at work with an hour before we opened for service. I simply popped it back in and finished my shift….ouch! After that, I learned there are certain things worth sacrificing but sleep and rest are not one of them. You do not need to exercise everyday in order to see results! Instead of doing intense sessions all the time now, I simply engage in active movement with friends instead of going out for dinner or cocktails. I go on walks, take the dogs out for off leash hours where I get to walk and they get to play or do hobbies that I love such as rock climbing! My sisters and I found a place in Brooklyn named Brooklyn Boulders where you can rock climb all day with a day pass and you don’t even feel like you’re working out until you get home, crawl into bed and pass out!

If you get to work early one day, try walking around the office a little. When you’re having lunch during your break make sure you get some stretches in. If you drive to work, park a little farther than usual and walk the rest of the way. Take the stairs some flights instead of taking the elevator the whole ride. Keep your body moving but don’t overexert yourself. Listen to your body when doing anything whether it be going for a run and you feel that pull in your ankle but you simply run it off or when doing yoga and you’re so desperate to accomplish that pose that you strain a muscle. These recoveries don’t take days. They take months! Love yourself and thank your body everyday for doing its best!

Health and Happiness,

Farrah Unger




Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

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Today is Valentine’s Day, the day of love and affection. Yikes! Despite the mass commercialization that surrounds this “holiday,” it is nice to be reminded to reflect upon the loved ones in your life and your gratitude for them.

Truth be told the number one person on my list to remember to love is me. Although the holiday seems to target couples, the most important person to always remember to love is you! By the way, it’s also the secret to loving others.

I can confidently speak to this because my own experience of struggling with poor body image, compulsive eating and exercising, laxative and diuretic abuse, and weight management finally brought me to my knees where the only thing left to try was learning how to honestly love myself. So how did I do this?

Well, the Universe intervened and guided me to a group of people who identified with my unhealthy eating behaviors and feelings of self-hate and despair. All of them said that they too used to feel the same way, but now have lives full of abundance, laughter and love. They told me I needed to take some time out and focus on Mackenzie for a bit, and that they would love me until I learned to love myself. I decided to trust them and take their suggestions:

  • They gave me a food plan to follow. Despite all of my knowledge in nutrition, I decided to be a beginner again
  • I wrote a daily gratitude list
  • I called people everyday even when I didn’t feel like it
  • I shared open and honestly
  • I attended support meetings to remember that I was not alone
  • Nothing came before my recovery, which meant letting go of commitments. It’s okay to say no.

Talk about mind blowing! I basically had a new rulebook for living that gave me peace, confidence and a sense of self-love and gratitude that I had never felt before. Today I honor and celebrate life and myself by making my health, wellbeing and recovery the most important things in my life; and as a result, I am a better friend, daughter, sister, girlfriend and member of society. Everyone wins!

So whether you are single or in a relationship, remember that Valentine’s Day can be a healthy reminder that it’s time to make a date with you!

Hugs and Health,
Mackenzie Hawkins


Sleep and Exercise Saved My Life

Sleep and Exercise Saved My Life

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I love reading these new blogs from line cooks who love to write about the restaurant industry and what it really entails. I have to say, I’ve seen my share of cuts, 1st to 3rd degree burns, and emotional breakdowns due to lack of sleep. I can actually say, I remember a fellow cook being so tired and frustrated that he ran to the bathroom and did a line in order to take the edge off. Not falling into that category of drug and alcohol abuse, I did find another source of coping and taking the edge off…coffee! I would drink at least a pot of coffee before service and another quart during service. After doing this for four years, I started to get very sick. I started to suffer from chronic headaches, digestive issues, abdominal pain and lack of sleep. I went to several doctors, had extensive blood work done, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy and even a sleep study to be told I was more than healthy and all my levels were PERFECT. How could I be perfect when all I wanted to do was sleep and couldn’t even force a smile because I was so tired? I became easily irritated and very cranky. I actually remember one day, my mom came and told me she was going to eat my bagel that I left out and actually ran away from me because she was scared of my response. I just brushed it off and convinced myself that I’m surrounded by sensitive people. The truth was I was a ticking time bomb and didn’t have a filter as to what was said because I was so tired and overworked.

About a year after my doctor visits and extensive tests, I was now a lead line cook and loved the pressure of a dinner service for two hundred people and the process of multitasking. By all means, I didn’t feel better at all. I now needed coffee and sugar to stay awake. I would always sneak over to the pastry station and steal pastries, have my quart of coffee and then just drink water throughout service until I would get home at one in the morning. I would then have a meal which consisted of something fried with a glass of seltzer and then fall asleep at 3 am. I would wake up at 10 am to repeat the vicious cycle. I was so under appreciated at this point, working 90 hours a week, losing touch with my friends and not even being able to enjoy my fully furnished apartment that I snapped. I walked into work one day, gave my notice and decided enough was enough. After my last day of work, I went home and slept. I remember waking up periodically to eat and shower and then I would immediately fall asleep again. Before I knew it, 3 weeks had passed and I felt AMAZING! All my body was crying for was less caffeine and more sleep. I could finally have a conversation without losing my temper and just slow down and finally see what all my friends were up to in life. I started taking supplements such probiotics, multi-vitamins and omega 3’s. I started weight training again and running. Before I knew it, my energy levels were improving and my abdominal pain, which I convinced myself was normal and I would just have to deal with, completely subsided. I went down to one cup of coffee per day and no longer had dessert as my meals. I started to appreciate whole, seasonal eating.

What a lot of people don’t understand is your body talks to you. It will do anything in its power to help you get the message and the more you ignore it, the more it will make you sick to help you slow down. If you push through that enough, such as going to work when you have the flu, you will get sicker and end up in a hospital bed where you are forced to stay, possibly in quarantine until you are no longer contagious. I picked up yoga and calisthenics training and started sweating out toxins. My energy excelled once I paired my workouts with whole eating. The body works in synergy and everything you do plays a role in how we function. I don’t train for looks, I am addicted to progression. I started with walking 2 miles a day and then I started doing 10 push ups. A month later I started to do 10 pull ups. Before I knew it, my outlook on life changed. I began to see the beauty in nature and understand how lucky I was to have family and friends who truly care for me. I am no longer in the restaurant industry and although I miss it every day, I’ve learned to accept that the industry didn’t love me. I started working with children and am teaching them the beauty of self love. Every day I remind my clients, love yourself, honor your body and thank it every day for doing its best.

Health and Happiness,
Farrah Unger