Snow – Again??

snow close-up

Photo by Kate Mereand-Sinha

I saw the forecast the other day…More Snow!!  Seriously?? 

I used to covet snow since it always meant that school was cancelled when I lived on Cape Cod.  Living in such a rural place, the snow created a kind of wonderland in which I loved to play.  And it also meant movies and hot chocolate and all those cozy traditions that went with not going to school and having time to hang with my family.

I’m an adult now… and New York snow feels different.  Especially this year.  I think many of us find it hard to get out of our apartments if it’s not absolutely necessary, and it’s hard to find joy amid the slush and dirty snow piles.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing for many people.  Even if we don’t suffer on a clinical scale, so many of us can experience frustration, sadness, and even hopelessness on a spectrum in winters like these.  I work with lots of people every day, and I share the winter struggle with so many of my clients.  What can we do about it?? How can we remain healthy and active when we don’t feel like going outside?  And what can we do for ourselves to get through this winter with sanity and positivity??

snowing - city view

Photo by Iryna Yeroshko

Getting Through This Winter Strong, Healthy and Happy

I have found some things that have worked for me, for my friends, and for my clients.  The key is to find what works best for you.  Most importantly, make the effort.  Get yourself out there. Try some of these tips.  It’s worth it – I promise!!

1) Get a light box.  Since depression can arise from a lack of exposure to sunlight, many people find that light boxes (which mimic outdoor light) help them get the boost they’re not getting during dark winter days.  Most people find that a minimum of 30 minutes of exposure each morning makes a real difference and lifts their mood throughout the day.

2)  Cut back on sugar. In many ways, I’m writing this tip to myself – but I know so many people struggle from poor eating habits during the winter.  We turn to unhealthy comfort foods when we feel down, and our bodies may be unconsciously trying to give us extra protection and padding against the cold.  Unfortunately, too much intake of ingredients like sugar can make depression worse, make us feel lethargic, and fuel the desire to have more.

3) Plan ahead.  Spontaneity can be fun, but sometimes when we avoid planning we let our emotions run our decision-making in the moment.  Planning ahead allows you to “promise yourself”  that you’ll accomplish certain goals during the week when you’re thinking clearly and practically.  Make your workout schedule at the beginning of the week, and really try to stick to it (even if you would rather cancel in the moment).  You will thank yourself for your dedication.  And you’ll feel better afterwards, I promise!!

4) Forgive yourself.  We all have bad days, and this winter has been particularly hard.  Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself slipping into bad habits.  Acknowledge they happened, think about how you might have done things differently, and move on.  Everyone is human, and there is no need to wallow.  You have plenty of chances to get re-focused and try again.

5) Try something new.  Want to find new inspiration?  Think of one thing you’ve always wanted to try, and go for it.  Maybe it’s that instructor you’ve heard so much about.  Or that new yoga class in your neighborhood.  Go ahead and put yourself in a new setting, and you may find that you’ve found something you want to start incorporating into your life.  The change will refresh you.

Good luck!  Spring is around the corner.  And there’s no way it won’t be one of the most beautiful and welcomed springs we’ve had in years.

Meet Lauren Rust and Her Truffle Roasted Vegetables!

I really like to bring attention to great friends who are doing important work in the wellness world.   Lauren Rust is one of those people. She is a health coach – but she specifically works with women who have been diagnosed with HPV and cervical dysplasia.  Lauren is developing a program to support women in this situation and to help them make health- and immune-boosting lifestyle choices.

I am happy to introduce Lauren’s work here. And I’m especially looking forward to trying this fantastic recipe!!




By: Lauren Rust, CHC

I’m pretty cold right now. How about you? Being raised in Georgia did nothing to prepare me for the kind of winter we’re having. When I moved to the city five years ago, my idea of a winter coat was a light jacket. Needless to say, I’ve upgraded my wardrobe since then!

When it’s cold outside, my body craves warm, nourishing foods and there’s nothing easier than roasting veggies for dinner. (HEALTH COACH CONFESSION: Contrary to popular belief, when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen emulating June Cleaver). So when I’m in a pinch for time or need a fabulous side dish, this is my go-to recipe. It’s so simple and it’s always a crowd pleaser!

And what kind of health coach would I be if I didn’t tell you about all the glorious health benefits of this delicious dish? In my practice, I work with women who have HPV or cervical dysplasia, teaching them how to support their immune systems naturally, and one of the best things women can do for strong immunity is to add lots of cruciferous vegetables into their diet! We all know vegetables are good for us, but cruciferous vegetables are the powerhouses of the vegetable world! So today, let’s talk about one of them – Brussels sprouts!

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts contain compounds called ITCs that promote the elimination of carcinogens from the body. ITCs also help reduce DNA damage that could potentially lead to the development and proliferation of abnormal cell growth! Plus, sprouts are full of vitamin C (for immune system support), folate (for healthy cell growth) and vitamin K (which helps regulate inflammation).

So next time you’re craving a warm, delicious dinner that’s also super nutritious, do yourself a favor and start roasting!



  • 1 small bag (or heaping handful) of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 (8 oz.) pack of mushrooms
  • 1 onion (red or yellow)
  • 1 (13.75 oz.) can of artichoke hearts
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Extra-virgin coconut oil (I recommend Trader Joe’s brand!)
  • 1 tsp. (divided) of truffle oil (this is optional, but gives them that extra delicious flavor!)


  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease 2 baking pans (I’m a big fan of leftovers, but if this is too much for you, cut the recipe in half).

2. Finely chop the garlic and cut the onion into long strips.

3. Wash and chop your mushrooms into smaller pieces (there is no wrong way to chop these veggies, by the way!).

4. Wash and cut your asparagus into thirds (discarding the tough white end of the stalks).

5. Wash and chop your Brussels sprouts in half. Then with your knife, make a tiny slit into the “tree trunk” looking end of the sprout (this helps them cook more evenly!).

6. Wash and break your cauliflower into smaller pieces (you can use your hands!).

7. Now drain your can of artichokes and break the hearts into smaller pieces.

8. In a large mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients and drizzle with just enough coconut oil to give the veggies a light coat. Mix well.

9. Give the veggies a generous sprinkle of the spices listed above, then spread the mixture evenly onto the baking pans.

10. If you’re using truffle oil, drizzle ½ tsp. per pan over the veggies and bake for 40-45 minutes (flipping halfway through) until the veggies are cooked through and slightly browned. Enjoy!


Lauren Rust Bio Pic

Lauren Rust is a Certified Health Coach based in New York City. She works with women who have HPV and cervical dysplasia, giving them emotional support and simple tools for supporting their immune systems through food and lifestyle modifications. She received formal training in nutrition and innovative coaching techniques at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. Lauren is a travel junkie, a big fan of her trusted bicycle and a great listener who would love to connect with you in person or by phone! You can learn more about her programs at Lauren Rust Wellness.


Turn Valentine’s Day Around!!

heartinsnow copy

Photo link

Oh, Valentine’s Day… One of those days that’s supposed to make us feel warm and fuzzy – and often leaves us feeling rather prickly instead.  Boo! We can’t help but watch those cheesy Hallmark commercials and yell at the TV, “It NEVER happens like that!”  Well, almost never anyway.  Like most, I hate the movie theater romance pressure.  I mean, I can’t think of many other days of the year I try my best to avoid acknowledging – whether I’m in a relationship or not!

Ok, so I don’t totally hate Valentine’s Day. In fact, I think Valentine’s Day, when stripped of the commercial consumer Hollywood crazy, can be a great day to connect. To celebrate the people in our lives who are really there for us, whether as romantic partners, friends, or co-workers. These are the people who help you feel stronger and happier, who WANT you to succeed, and who really care about both the good and bad things that happen to you. Who love you for every aspect of who you are.

Having said all of this, I will be reflecting upon the connections in my own life and would love for you to do the same.  Grab one or more of those important people and take some time out this week to do some amazing things in the city that truly fulfill you and make you feel good.  Whatever your situation allow yourself to feel great this Valentine’s Day!


Photo link

Here are some of my suggestions and personal NYC activity faves:

1) Gotta mention this. We have an awesome promotion with Alex Anthony Salon right now through the end of the month. Grab a friend, come take a Body Conceptions class with us (two for the price of one!) and then head over to Alex Anthony for a chocolate scrub and conditioning treatment. Email me to find out more. (I don’t love using this space to advertise, but this could really constitute a great day that makes you feel good inside and out.)

2) King Spa Sauna. I’ve mentioned this place a few times. Located in Palisade Park, NJ, it’s an oasis of saunas, jacuzzis, beauty and wellness services, and really great food for very low prices. Bring a friend, and pamper yourself without guilt. Don’t have a car? Not a problem! The spa runs regular shuttles from Penn Station.

3) Try Gobo in the West Village. Our favorite destination as a company, Gobo has some of the tastiest vegetarian options I’ve tried. Their breadth of dishes is impressive, and I have yet to meet one of their plates that I didn”t like. My suggestion? Start your meal with their lettuce wraps!

4) B Spa Bar – If you want to give your skin the most amazing treat, you have to try one of Diana Seo’s famous facials. I got one from her last week, and I’m pretty amazed by the results. Her technology is really advanced (something about opening the water channels in skin cells to allow penetration of collagen) but the real test is in the way your skin feels. I’m definitely a convert. This is a great way to revive your skin in this crazy winter weather.

5) Talk. Get together with your great friends and tell them how you feel about them. The winter is hard, and can be really isolating. It makes you – and your friends – feel so good to know how strong your connections really are and that you’ll be there for each other no matter how hard and also how amazing life can become. I am really appreciating this in my own life, and sometimes putting it into words makes all of the difference.

I wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Enjoy your connections and your pampering this month – and know that spring will be here before you know it. Hang in there!!!


p.s.  I’m teaching class on Valentine’s Day!  Come to class at Stepping Studios, and have a blast with us!!  Sign up here.

Fabulous Trainer (and recent performer!): Erin West

Many of the trainers who work for Body Conceptions are performers who can be seen on stages around the world  – and Erin is no exception.  We are excited to welcome her back after her amazing run as Maggie in an Indianapolis production of Lend Me a Tenor.  Anyone who trains with Erin knows how infectiously enthusiastic and hard-working she is.  She will make you laugh while simultaneously work you harder than ever in your life.  Erin will be teaching class again at Stepping Out Studios – so be sure to come check her out!!



Full Name: Erin Phyllis West

Where were you born? I was born at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Hospital in Aurora, CO. My dad was in the Air Force at the time.

Where did you grow up? My Dad was transferred to the Little Rock Air Force Base when I was five and soon after retired. He decided we should stay in Arkansas, so I grew up there.

What’s your biggest passion? Oh that’s easy–Music. I grew up listening to my parents’ records, I made up dances in the living room to my favorite songs, I started singing and my heart just LOVED it. I got my degree in music from Oklahoma City University. But aside from all that, I just think that music has the power to evoke feeling from people in the most incredibly special way. I could go on and on about it, but it will suffice to say that music is my passion.

Tell me about your career.  Have you changed direction?  If so, why? Oh man, my career as a performer has brought some awesome opportunities. I have performed in Japan and China. I got to do the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I have performed in shows around the U.S. with some really talented and wonderful peopleI’ve been very lucky! I think there comes a time in every performer’s life where they ask themselves, “What is next for me? What is the career that I can turn to when I’m not performing anymore?” I started asking myself that seriously about a year ago, which lead me to pursue fitness. I don’t consider it a change of direction, I consider it more of a logical transition. That’s not to say I’ve given up on performing, but I’ve just allowed myself another path to travel, and I’m loving it!

millie 134.erin

What do you wish you knew when you were younger? I wish I had known that it doesn’t matter what other people say about you.

What’s your fitness style? Haha, well I think my clients and the people who take my class would say it’s BALLS TO THE WALL ENERGY. And, I think I’d probably agree. I can’t hide my excitement for exercise and I love that I get to work out along WITH my clients. It’s exhilarating! AND I pick music that gets me really excited

What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? Well, the dance program at my college  used to weigh us in every month and our weight would affect our grade. Later on, someone told me that it doesn’t matter what the numbers say–it matters how you FEEL. That, to me, was a much more positive notion. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers instead of staying off the scale and listening to our bodies.

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? I don’t often tell people that I used to do pageants as a teenager. It was my idea (not my mom’s) and I did it mostly so I could perform. The highest I ever placed was first runner-up in the Miss Mount Nebo Chicken Fry pageant. (I’m not kidding about the title.) I quit pageants after that.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? I really love those little chocolate donuts that you can buy at the gas station in a six-pack. Oh man…. And put them in the refrigerator? Forget about it!

What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I think this is a tough question because it’s not something you get asked often…. Something I really cherish is the wonderful friends I have. Every one of them is just so kind and inspiring and smart and I feel so lucky to have such incredible people that care about me. So, whatever quality I have that makes them treasure me–that’s one that I cherish.

Anything else about you that I missed? Yes–you missed the time I introduced myself to L.L. Cool J on a flight from New York to Atlanta and then realized an hour later that my fly was completely open.