positive change: 14 weeks

baby bump

I consider myself a pretty balanced person and while I engage in healthy habits that include clean eating, mindfulness based practices like therapy and reading a plethora of books on mental and emotional health, I’m not perfect. I don’t exercise, I drink caffeine, I can easily fall down the rabbit hole of anxiety (and sometimes depression) and while meditation is something I’ve dabbled in before, I haven’t incorporated it into my life in a way where it’s become routine. With that being said, since becoming pregnant it’s triggered a strong desire to put more energy into the areas of my life where I felt things were lacking.

This is a time to be strong. Not only to prepare for birth, but to become a healthier person and prepare for motherhood in general. I don’t have children yet, but I do know that the demands of parenting are great and it take intense amounts of energy, patience and strength to stay in balance. I want nothing more then to be a woman who can endure the roller coaster ride of not only pregnancy, but motherhood as well. And with that, I’m making a commitment to get myself to an even steadier and healthier place.

I thought about all of this in my first trimester, but wasn’t able to incorporate any of these new practices. My barely there energy was used for the basics like eating, daily chores and work. And I wasn’t ready either. Now that things are shifting in week 14, I’m slowly beginning to make some change.

On Monday of this week, I started to meditate for ten minutes every morning using an application called Head Space. I’m going through the 10-day trial before committing to the yearly subscription, but so far so good. It has not been easy but I’m sticking with it because there has been so much information on mindfulness-based meditation that confirms its positive impact on your overall health and well-being. A recent study conducted by Harvard University has proven that meditation can actually rebuild the brains gray matter in 8-weeks! Baby boo definitely deserves this small sacrifice, don’t you think?

As far as activity goes, I’m beginning prenatal yoga as well. While I’m going down kicking and screaming, my friend Mika who specializes in prenatal yoga has offered to work with me weekly to help get my body strong and ready over the next 6 months. Another friend Corinne, founder of Birthing Mama Yoga has also sent on her Birthing Mama program which goes from week 14-42, and provides a weekly prenatal yoga video, developmental benchmarks, recipes/nutritional recommendations, self care practices and 6 audio recordings of guided meditations/relaxations. And there is a daily prenatal yoga class offered at Jivamukti which I will get to as well.

I don’t expect to become a super yogi, or a mindfulness-based meditation expert, but like with anything, if not now, then when? Whether you’re expecting a new babe, making change for the new year, or have just decided that you’re ready to embark on a spiritual and emotional journey to holistically heal from the inside out – any of these practices can be for you. I plan on taking baby steps – literally.

I will keep you posted on my progress, and if you have any tips for reducing stress, and increasing overall strength and wellness (be it physical or emotional), please send my way. I would love to hear your suggestions. I’m also looking for additional prenatal classes offered in the Union Square/West or East Village area (aside from Jivamukti) so if you know of any – please, do tell!

Wish me luck!

Have a fantastic and restful weekend.

the connection

the connection documentary

A few weeks back Dina and I were fortunate enough to catch the viewing of a new documentary called, The Connection, a film “about how frontier research is proving that there is a direct connection between your mind and your health.” I know there are plenty of cynics out there, some of them my very own close friends and family, but I have spent much of my life attuned to the mind and body relationship, and learned very early on that instead of co-existing, these are two components of the same larger system, working and feeding off one another. If one is compromised, so is the other. Your Soul Style’s mission was founded on this very philosophy. It pertains to everything we do from our emotional health to the clothes we wear. We are one being and the mind’s experience is just as impactful as our physical one.

Think about the traditional Chinese or Indian cultures where practices like acupuncture, natural herbs and yoga have been used for centuries to heal disease, and achieve overall balance and wellness. The American culture on the whole is much further behind and we have created a system that has grown accustomed to treating the body without considering the mind. In Western medicine, science has taken the lead and while I am grateful for the advancement of technology in the medical field, it’s just as important to pay attention to mindfulness based techniques which have now been proven (by Harvard doctors, no less!) to be equally as effective. “The film features scientists, researchers, writers, and doctors, as well as remarkable true stories of people adding mind-body medicine to their healing toolkit to recover from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis”, along with many other examples on the power of positive thinking. Australian filmmaker and producer of the documentary, Shannon Harvey who herself was faced with an autoimmune disease at age 24, tried everything from drugs to alternative therapies and anything in between, but recognized that regardless of how aggressive she was in her treatment, the more stressed she got, the worse she felt. And was not getting better. It was here when she set out on a quest to find answers, interviewing specialists from around the globe in the field of mind-body medicine.

This film is transformative. Whatever doubt I had (if any) in the power of the mind-body connection, it is now gone, and I am working towards adding even more mindfulness based practices into my daily life. Especially since I am going through the fertility process, and living with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto. Whether you’re a cynic, a believer, open or closed, doubtful, set in your ways, or someone that is already engaging in these behaviors, this film is for you. A mind-expanding experience that provides critical insight with factual data to support it, this film is crucial for everyone to see. This film could change your life.

Tomorrow will be a rainy one here in NYC so do yourself a favor, cozy up on the couch and educate yourself through watching this film. Click on over here for the preview, and here to purchase/stream.

xx jenny

photo via california tailor

seven-pound itch

jenny greenstein

Since starting the fertility process, I’ve taken more medication than I could count –  HCG, Ganirelix, Gonal F, Lupron, Estradiol, Vivelle, Crinone – is your head spinning yet? Mine is, but maybe that’s from the meds. Kidding. Unfortunately while they do their job of helping me make a babe which I’m grateful for, they are also royally fu*king up my hormone levels which landed me with some extra unwanted pounds – specifically seven. While I pride myself on eating a strict, clean diet (some may argue to a fault), not being in control of my body during this time in spite of that is something I’ve had to contend with and ultimately accept. Staying consistent with yoga has been difficult too because of the countless times my Doctor has advised me to stop. And I really haven’t felt up to it either. I’ve tried to make further adjustments to my regimen, but while on this cocktail of medications, the scale is not budging. It actually may be continuously going up. Did I mention my boobs are also a size bigger? It feels like I’ve been pregnant since January already without actually being pregnant. Good times. 

When your hormone levels are out of balance, so is your metabolism. Simply put, all the estrogen I’m getting pumped with to prep for a fertility cycle causes estrogen dominance and weight gain. Add on an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s (which is what the DNA gods have predisposed me with) and it makes things even more complicated. If you’re struggling to lose weight and not on fertility drugs, this article by Dr. Amy Shah breaks it down, as does this one by Dr. William Cole and this one from Natasha Turner, N.D. naturopathic doctor). 

Despite all my complaining, I truly have surrendered to this process, and to my current shape which I believe is half the battle, but that didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a slow-building process to ultimately reach a place of acceptance, and I finally decided that instead of getting caught up in my head about not maintaining my weight, I would pour that toxic energy into other areas of my life that I’m passionate about. Our bodies are constantly changing and while I spent many months ruminating over the loss of control, I have released it. I give it back. It held me hostage from truly embracing the beauty of this magical journey.

We are making a baby! 

Letting go has been a very positive step, a breath of fresh breathable air, and has allowed my focus to remain on maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle from an emotional, mental and physical perspective. I’ve learned to see my life through a new lens – one that involves gratitude, patience, humility and acceptance. And that I’m holding on to. I won’t give that back – ever. I will carry these valuable lessons forward with me into motherhood and do my best to pass them on to the soul we bring into this world. What I’ve gained in numbers, I’ve gained in infinite wisdom. Worth the trade off. 

What’s also really helped is working out a few styling tricks along the way – choices which have made a huge difference and allowed me to find an ease within this new body. Here are 10 styling techniques for dealing with those unwanted pounds whether it be pre, during or post a new babe to help you look and feel your best! 

10 styling Tips For Your Changing Shape: 

1. Go Deep: Pay attention to the necklines of your clothing which can create an illusion of a slimmer frame. A lower neckline, such as a v-neck, balances proportions and helps eliminate looking top heavy (if you’re fuller in middle or have a big bust).

2. Size Up: Do not put on the pants that dig into your stomach. Let me repeat this: DO NOT put pants on that dig into your stomach. It is masochistic to wear clothes that are too tight so while your body is in a different phase, and possibly a little bigger – size up. Don’t pretend to be the same size you were and squeeze into your clothes. Purchase the size you are. Just like age is just a number, so is size. Be comfortable! You exude way more sex appeal (and confidence) when you’re not squirming to adjust your muffin top.

jenny greenstein

3. Skip the Brights: While I realize that not everyone loves the color black as much as I do, wearing darker colors such as navy, dark grey, burgundy and army green will help shade the areas your self-conscious of. Also, darker colors are most flattering in photos and during this cultures current obsession with social media (me included), you know your friend is going to request a selfie at Saturday night’s dinner. Be subtle. Skip the brights until you’re back at your comfortable weight.

4. Boyfriend Bestie: My skinny jeans are on a sabbatical. I want to be comfortable so I stocked up on boyfriend jeans (in blue, white and black) that are slouchy and relaxed. I would even recommend sizing up. Add a shoe like a black pointy toe pump or bootie to elevate the sexy. Paired with a top that has a deep v-neck of course.

jenny greenstein jenny greenstein

5. SuperSize It: Remember when I discussed bigger being better this season? Well, oversized sweaters, dresses, coats and bottoms are all the rage so if you’re not at your comfortable weight, embrace the sh*t out of this trend.

6. Fashion Tuck (or half-tuck): Do you know what a fashion tuck is? Here’s a photo for reference. While this may be a silly little tweak, it goes a very long way. Especially if you’re wearing items that are baggier and need more shape. This clever little maneuver will create a waistline, and add the perfect amount of scrunch to conceal the mid-section.

jenny greenstein jenny greenstein

7. Shoes: I am not much of a heel-wearer, however during this time I’ve decided to bust mine out. Because truth be told, they add height and length to provide an overall slimmer appearance. For all the non-believers out there, comfortable heels DO exist, you just need to find them. The ones I wear here are from Banana Republic and I think they’ve got some of the most walkable heels around. But every person’s foot shape is different so make sure you find the designer that works for you. Here’s an article from Who What Wear that provides some great pointers. And as always, I’m always here to help out if you need guidance.

8. Silhouette: The shape of a garment is half the battle and strategic draping can provide ruching in your desired “problem-areas”, for me, my mid-section. Pay attention to the silhouette of a garment because as your body’s shape continues to change, so should the item you’re wearing.

jenny greenstein jenny greenstein

9. Highlight your Assets: Sexy doesn’t always mean tight and skimpy. There is more to sexy then butt, boobs and belly. Shoulders are sexy, as are backs, chests and most importantly personalities! Put on your relaxed boyfriend jeans with an oversized sweater, sexy shoes, a bright red lipstick and smile!

10. Acceptance: Accept that you work really hard at living a balanced and healthy life. Accept that your body is beautiful no matter what shape it is. Accept that your body will change throughout life contingent upon circumstances. Be grateful for having the ability to grow a life inside of your body. Be empowered by that. Accept that we have one body to love, honor and respect. Accept.

jenny greenstein

SHOP IT: dress: Zara, old (similar) // shoes: Banana Republic, old (similar) // moto jacket: Sfera, old (similar) // clutch: Just Female

living yoga: by mika oakes

IMG_1854

The constant challenges of life are always encouraging us to practice and refine our technique.  Whether it be through tangible action, becoming a master of your craft, tolerance for discomfort or the life-changing experience of entering motherhood, we are all students on this journey and need to remain open in order to stretch and grow.  Aristotle said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.  

Contributor to Your Soul Style, Mika Oakes shares her perspective with us today on practice, the discipline of the mind and body experience, and getting comfortable in the discomfort.

I hope you have a weekend filled with love, life and soul  xx jenny

Living Yoga by Mika Oakes

Have you ever looked up the word practice in the dictionary?  When you hear it, you certainly think you know what it means, but what does it really mean in the broader sense of our lives?  Does practice make perfect? We’ve heard that phrase since childhood, when our parents used it to encourage our various interests.  We come to learn though, as we grow into adulthood, perfection rarely if ever exists, and that it’s the imperfections in life that become our best teachers.

I practice yoga on a regular basis: it’s both a large part of my personal life and career.  I don’t DO yoga, I don’t TAKE yoga, but I PRACTICE yoga.  As a practitioner, I (along with my colleagues, friends, and clients) am constantly striving to better myself, be it through the vehicle of the physical body, or a greater awareness of self.  I know full well I will never be finished in this endeavor – it will always remain a work in progress, and I am okay with that.

Life in and of itself is essentially always a practice.  Not everybody views it as such, but there is always learning that can be done.  If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you may have heard a teacher state “the work of this practice isn’t only about what you do on your mat, but what you take off your mat and into the world.”  That statement suggests that the mindful behavior you exhibit in your physical body while sweating it out in a yoga class, can be exhibited in mindful behavior through your daily life.  It’s a choice.  It means being aware of your actions and trying to better them on a daily basis.  It’s about showing up and pushing yourself to stay committed and focused even when sometimes it feels hard.

One of the remarkable things about the practice of yoga is that few other fields make such a strong acknowledgment of our eternal positions as students.  Even the most achieved figures in the yoga world refer to their work as a practice, and therefore remain continuous students.  It’s a field that keeps people humble, honest and raw for the most part, and the attitude isn’t that of completion, but constant personal growth and evolution.

The textbook definition of practice is “the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.” It also means “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”  So that’s just it – you are repeating exercises or behaviors to continue growing.  It’s fluid and ever-changing.  One of the reasons why I am so drawn to yoga as a practice is because it’s not something that you get perfect at, and it’s certainly not something that becomes easier over time.  With consistency, there are physical and emotional elements that change as the body opens.

I think perhaps I am so presently aware of my current status as a student in life is because of the recent birth of my son this past October. As a new mom, people have said that with each month, “things get easier”.  But in my opinion, they don’t get easier, they just change.  The same can be said of yoga.  Never before have I had a job that requires so much humility, patience and acceptance of change.  It takes these practices to a whole new level.

We all personally desire to feel a sense of accomplishment in our lives, whether on a personal or professional plane. Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge that our lives are constantly evolving, and therefore in a state of practice.  Most importantly however, is our inner need to keep pushing ourselves, exploring our individual potential, no matter how difficult. When we stop practicing, that’s when we begin to stagnate, questioning why we do the things we do in the first place.

Mika Oakes is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, licensed massage therapist in New York State and certified in prenatal for both.  She is certified with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), and is a proud member of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).  For more information, visit her website here.