Let’s declutter this EARTH DAY!

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“Your body is the temporary temple of your Spirit. What you keep around you in the extended temple of your home needs to change as you change and grow, so that it reflects who you are. So get into the habit of leaving a trail of discarded clutter in your wake, and start to think of it as a sign of your progression!”  – Karen Kingston

We’ve all been guilty of it…hanging on to something for so long that we don’t know why we have it anymore. As we make our way to Earth Day this year, I want to remind you that decluttering your closet can be one of the ways you work towards developing a green closet. There are many personal and societal benefits to decluttering and sustainable fashion, something that we feel strongly about at Stretchery as we have made it our mission to provide socially responsible and sustainable active wear.

Benefits of Decluttering:

  • The more you have the more energy you have to put towards maintaining ALL those things, keeping you from putting energy into relationships and what you are passionate about.
  • Cleaning out your closet gives you the opportunity to give back to your community. Set a pile aside for items you can donate to community organizations, homeless shelters or the Salvation Army.
  • Decluttering allows you to focus on the most current version of yourself. Make an active decision to let go of things that no longer represent who you are and who you want to be.

Benefits of Sustainable Fashion:

  • When you buy organic, sustainable and eco-friendly fashion items you know that you’re not only buying a quality product, but it was made in a way that is better for the environment.
  • Buying fair trade products also supports smaller and local businesses that share the same passion for quality products as you.
  • It’s better for you! Standard dyes have high levels of carcinogens, that’s why at Stretchery we only use eco-friendly dyes on our products.

We know that taking the first steps towards decluttering and cleaning out your closet can be hard, so make it fun! Find friends to declutter with and when you find those gems in your closet that you don’t wear anymore but know your friends would love set up a trade night!

Starting with your closet is also a good way to set goals for other areas of decluttering in your life. View this as an opportunity to start making the changes you’ve always wanted to make!

At Stretchery, we support clean lifestyles and sustainable clothing and we want to help you work towards your goal of establishing a green closet so we are making a special offer that can be found just on this blog post! Please use SPECIAL OFFER CODE GREEN when you check out to receive 10% discount. Enjoy!

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Power of Hugs!

diwali1016_103016_0023“You know that moment when you hug somebody, when your heart feels warm and high in your chest and tingly? When you feel just for a second like a baby in a womb… that nothing matters? That’s how I want you to feel.”  – Jake Vander Ark

Hugging can help people feel more connected to one another and has an emotional power that you can feel when a loved one hugs you. BUT – it also has the power to actually make you healthier, less susceptible to common colds and reduce stress!

The power of hugs derives from Oxytocin, which is released when people embrace one another. This Oxytocin is also known as “the bonding hormone”, as it is also released when a mother embraces her child for the first time. This powerful hormone can make people feel socially supported, allowing for immune systems to increase and fight off common colds. So just think, every time you hug a friend or loved one, you are making them healthier!

This natural release of the bonding hormone helps to reduce a person’s heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can positively influence the body and decrease stress. Who knew you could be so influential and powerful over the mental and physical health of your loved ones!

In moments of increased stressed, discomfort and depression our bodies react by increasing energy and molecular interaction in order to manage the overwhelming feelings being released. Touch, in the form of hugs or rubbing someone’s back, helps to calm the body, reducing the levels of anxiety and sadness. If you are uncomfortable with hugs, just know that holding hands or stroking someone’s back has just as much power and it can be a great gift to a person in need.

At Stretchery, we believe in the power of hugs and design our clothes to hug your body just right! We want to make pieces that make you feel supported and comfortable in your day to day tasks and when you’re working hard! We believe that social support is a critical aspect of a happy and fulfilled life, and if our clothing can remind you of that-than our job is done!

My challenge to you is this: every time you wear a piece from Stretchery, make it a point to hug someone that day. Let our collection remind you of this powerful gift you hold and how much it can positively affect those you love!

Seven seconds of conscious breathing.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I want you to take a moment to breathe in for a count of three, hold your breath for one count and breathe out for a count of three….didn’t that feel good? How you feel now from seven seconds of conscious breathing.

In what can feel like a hectic and time-consuming world, we often forget to just breathe sometimes. We work hard, we devote ourselves to family and friends, and we strive to better ourselves. There’s always emails to send, texts to reply to and phone calls to make and take. It can all be overwhelming at times, but just remember to not leave yourself behind and allow the stresses of the world to consume you.

All those moments in life when you feel so overwhelmed by work, your home life, or school just stop and breathe. Close your eyes and take the time for yourself. Don’t focus on the stress, you’ve earned this moment so take it! Be calm and let your breath restore you. If you need to take a few sets of breaths that’s okay! Our hearts beating and our lungs taking air are the basic physical functions that give of us life. So remember that every time you take those few seconds to focus on breath you are restoring yourself.

Sometimes taking a restorative moment, even if it is just for seven seconds, can change everything and give you new perspective. Seven seconds and you can gain clarity on a problem you’ve had a hard time solving, have that “Aha!” moment in those seven seconds! Seven seconds and you can feel anger or stress fade away. Seven seconds and you can find the best way to deliver a message. Seven seconds and you can feel like yourself again. All you need is those seven seconds to just make things better sometimes.

At Stretchery, we understand the importance of conscious breathing and make it a part of all of our products. Our organic cotton allows your body to breathe as you work hard throughout the day and through your workout. Let us be your anchor and reminder for conscious breath when you’re working and playing hard.

The key to successful diet control lies in your hand…literally.

Blog-Picture-110415Imagine you are starving before dinner and you wolf down a packet of potato chips or you are watching a movie and you finish a large tub of popcorn. You feel incredibly guilty afterwards, don’t you? Well, what if you were to nosh on a handful of tossed plain popcorn before dinner? Feels less decadent already, doesn’t it? If you’ve seen the movie Supersize Me you’d understand our preoccupation with ginormous quantities of food and that we are consuming far more than we should. You would also notice that if we are distracted with the television or eating while doing chores or standing – you’ll end up eating a lot more than you normally would. Eating mindfully is a very important technique that will tell you when you’ve had enough and is the best tool you have to keep your weight under control.

On the flip side, there are others who are way too strict with our diets eliminating food groups entirely because we are influenced by the food/ diet trends and what the wellness blogosphere has to say about a particular food group. A lot of my friends and acquaintances have shunned all cereal, alcohol, grain, dairy, sugar, fruit and red meat from their diets entirely. I don’t know about you but to me that sounds like way too much abstaining.

This post is in accordance with Stretchery’s a handful of theme. Based on the premise that a handful is a good rule of thumb for portion size and that moderate consumption of everything has health benefits. Unless you are intolerant or allergic, I don’t recommend that you do away with food groups entirely. A handful or fistful of food – whether its lean meat, fruits or nuts is a great way to size up your meals without being too strict with your diet.

Research shows that a handful of plain, unsalted nuts help regulate blood sugar, provide satiety and boost your metabolism. Fasting or skipping meals and eating too much at once can make you feel lethargic and drowsy. Instead, nosh on a handful of nuts, berries or fox nuts (makhanas) to beat the mid meal slump and to stay energized. Alternatively, you can also opt for almond butter and apple slices or a handful of cherries or red grapes to curb those hunger pangs. If you satisfy your need to nosh you’ll be less likely to binge on something highly calorific. It is a wise choice to keep healthy snack foods in the car, pantry and on your work station so you can reach for it when you are feeling peckish.

Obsessing over the scale, counting calories and measuring your food can be extremely tedious and lest we forget, annoying to other diners. Using your hand or fist for measuring portion size is a more practical approach. If you are trying to lose weight and improve your body composition – you can eat more lean protein and healthy fats. Limit your starch and fruit consumption in the evenings and try and go carb heavy when you are training hard. If you are taking rest days, try and avoid a high carb, high glycemic index diet.

A handful of air popped popcorn.
A handful of grapes.
A handful of cherries.
A handful of mixed seeds.
A handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts).
A handful of fistful of grilled chicken or smoked chicken.

Good luck. Happy snacking!

12 tips for a healthier holiday season.

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I absolutely love the holidays and who wouldn’t – you get to spend quality time with your family and friends, eat your favourite treats and spend nights by the fire. No matter where you live- the winter is synonymous with celebrations, late nights, rounds of cocktails, calorific food and a whole lots going out. Let’s face it we are social people and there’s really no point in missing out on all the fun Since time immemorial, our celebrations have revolved around a feast, social drinking and good company with ham or poultry, lots of wine and bubbly. Even disciplined folks have trouble resisting snacks at the party and tend to indulge during the festive season. The slight nip in the air, dip in the temperatures and the fact that its jacket season makes you want to indulge in rich calorific beverages and eat food that will help satiate and keep you warm. Luckily, the advent of winter also means you can layer up – if you dress sensibly, you can be clever about it and accentuate your best assets. Holiday weight gain for most of us might seem inevitable but the festivities and holiday cheer shouldn’t derail you from your diet and workout goals.

We end up starving ourselves and eating too little to fit into our clothes and then feel miserable after a few weeks of overindulging. The idea is to be consistent with your workouts and eat clean 80 percent of the time so you have some leeway for indulgences. Everyone’s got a vice – I love a nice steak, decadent cheesecakes and anything with nut butter, coconut or berries and frozen yoghurt. For some of you it could be your daily glass of vino or a few drinks with your partner post work. Don’t approach the holidays with guilt, anxiety and apprehension over what to eat and what to avoid this year.  Here are a few tips and tricks that have worked for me and they might work for you too.

  1. Portion control is key. Everyone’s going to be tempted to have that glass of vino or that key lime pie but you have to be able to stop at one. Enjoy your treat and indulge mindfully without feeling guilty afterwards but stop yourself from going for seconds.
  2. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Sit down and eat at the table. If you continue to graze at the table and nibble through the night – you will have no idea as to how much you’ve consumed.
  3. Try and incorporate some form of physical activity particularly when you can’t seem to find the time. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a long yoga session, swimming a few laps or a cross fit session- you’ll be happier and healthier for it. It’ll help you stay on track and the tequila shots and the wasabi prawns won’t hurt either.
  4. Try and eat something protein rich before you go out to a party. I swear by a stuffed omelet or a tuna salad with grilled vegetables to satiate me so I can nibble sensibly at the party.
  5. The festive season means late nights and eating binges. Try and keep healthy snacks like roasted foxnuts, salami rolls, apples and almond butter, veggies and hummus and unsalted nuts handy in case you feel like noshing on something. The protein and fat content in most of these will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep your hunger at bay.
  6. I know you are tempted to drink those mimosas and sangria but stay away from sweetened cocktails and infusions. Pick a gin, vodka or whiskey if you absolutely must and drink it with a no calorie mixer like water, lemonade, and soda or mix soda with tonic for that extra bit of zing.
  7. Go meat free one day of the week. Detox your body with a few glasses of coconut water, herbal tea, fruits, cold pressed juices, and almonds. Have a light dinner with grilled vegetables, sautéed tofu and don’t add salt to anything. Use herbs and spices liberally to flavour your dishes. Your face won’t look puffy any longer and your system will appreciate the break.
  8. Stay away from aerated beverages, sweetened drinks, fruit juices and cocktails if you don’t want to put on weight around the middle. Drink herbal tea like green or oolong or white tea to help fight belly bloat, water retention and the caffeine will help with the puffiness too.
  9. Start your day with some restorative yoga and you’ll have more energy all day. If going to the gym seems like a trek with the traffic- log onto comor check out tone it up or P90 for prop free, home based workouts that will help get you toned for the season.
  10. Skip the baileys, café patron and the jaegermeister if you are trying to watch your weight. All that sugar from the shots will go straight to your middle and it’ll be the hardest to work off. If you absolutely must- opt for plain tequila made from agave that is lower in calories and sugar making it a wise flat belly choice.
  11. Sweat out the toxins. Spend some time in the sauna to help release the toxins, detoxify your skin, liver and organs and facilitate lymphatic drainage. Regular use of the sauna will help restore your skins radiant glow and get rid of the holiday water weight and puffiness.
  12. Skip the Indian sweets this winter and opt for a few squares of dark chocolate. Our favourite mithais are sugar bombs made with dairy, sugar and fat. Opt for poached fruits with some fresh yoghurt or cream or dark chocolate.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Do you love your body?

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“It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me” 
– Maya Angelou

The excerpt above is from a poem called ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by one of my favourite poets- Maya Angelou. A poet, civil rights activist and leader in her own right, Maya Angelou shows us that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and we must embrace and celebrate the body we are in.

A lot of us spend way too much time on glossy magazines, other people’s Instagram feeds while we subconsciously criticize and compare our bodies to airbrushed renditions on the media. We fail to realize just how beautiful, perfect and unique we are- irrespective of our size, measurements or the love handles. Photoshopping, cropping and airbrushing make dimples, crows feet, cellulite, fine lines, scars and wrinkles disappear with just a click but these imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.

When I ask my friends if they love their bodies- there’s often a sullen pause because not many of us have really asked ourselves the question. We train too hard, eat too little and wear far too much make up and product in an attempt to fit in. Beauty has no standard and every body is beautiful in its own right. Social media, Instagram feeds have made it harder and harder for us to embrace our bodies. Everyone is constantly striving to achieve the perfect tan, the dreadful thigh gap, sculpted legs and of course the most coveted flat belly. This can be particularly dangerous for younger girls and even boys who are impressionable and don’t realize the ramifications of what they are doing to their bodies. They get moody, irritable, become unsocial and reserved and often end up with either anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia (eating too clean). A lot of teenagers steer clear of meals and drink juice only cleanses popularized by Oprah, Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow without the supervision of an adult or medical professional which can have devastating consequences on the heart, organs, skin and the bones.

I grew up in an all girls boarding school where people tried practically everything to stay skinny because to them being skinny meant looking good. While some of us didn’t succumb to the pressures of looking like our peers, a lot of us ate too little, worked out too hard and trained far too much- causing damage not just to our self esteems but our bodies too.

I, too, have struggled over the years with finding the right balance between loving your body and worrying too much. Having a balanced attitude towards diet, emotional wellbeing and fitness has helped me to transform my body and love it. I have an athletic built that allows me to put on muscle relatively quickly. Instead of shunning it and hiding behind baggy sweatshirts and loose clothes, I’ve learnt how to embrace it and dress right for my body type so I look and feel my best. To read my personal journey- http://scribbler.co/r/5353c76adb043cd2a0f43003/diary-of-an

While, it’s perfectly healthy to worry about your health and exercise restraint on calorific drinks, alcohol, sugar and processed foods; it’s very important to accept your body and love it just the way it is. Our bodies are beautiful and dynamic and constantly changing. So let go of your inhibitions and insecurities and embrace your body. Don’t be afraid of what people will think. Look after yourself and spend time styling your outfits, wearing comfortable lingerie, clothes that fit well and flatter your body shape. Loving your body means complimenting yourself when you look into the mirror every morning or allowing yourself to indulge in that glass of vino or a slice of cheesecake over the weekend without feeling guilty afterwards. Loving yourself comes with the understanding that no two bodies are identical and that you need to embrace the skin you are in without comparing yourself to others. There is nothing sexier than a confident woman who loves herself and the skin she’s in and you also come across more assertive and self assured.

Here are a few guidelines that will enable you to have a healthier relationship with your body-

  • Spend 15-20 minutes daily doing meditation or to practice mindfulness and express gratitude for all the blessings you’ve been given. Practicing the art of gratitude will give you renewed perspective on life.
  • Spend 30-45 minutes every morning doing restorative yoga poses, easy asanas and sun salutations followed by a few moments of pranayama and most importantly, shravasana or rest. Your body will thank you.
  • Atleast twice a week, engage your body in a HIIT workout (High intensity interval training). It’s the perfect way to tone your glutes, abs and thighs, get rid of unwanted fat and is a real calorie torcher- especially if you are pressed for time.
  • Go for a walk in the woods or in the park and try and walk at a medium pace for about 30-45 minutes a few times a week. Soak in the scenery, listen to the sounds of the birds and enjoy the gentle breeze. Switch off your electronic gadgets and devices and breathe in fresh air. Visualise each and every organ getting oxygenated with every breath.
  • Don’t set unrealistic body and fitness goals but enjoy the journey and watch your body change and transform as you emerge a stronger, fitter and leaner you.

If you are suffering from body image issues or know anyone close to you who is- please don’t hesitate to seek help. Speak to a family member or grown up and tell them what you are worried about. There are counselors, dieticians and psychologists near you that might be able to help you change these maladaptive behaviours so you can learn how to eat healthy, find a balance and learn how to love your body again.

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Contributed by Jia Singh. Jia is a wellness consultant, nutritionist and food & travel writer.