Deborah Kessler: The Gem Behind Body Conceptions

Whenever I am asked how I was able to start and develop Body Conceptions, my connection with Deborah Kessler is one of the first things I mention.  I knew Deborah for many years before I started the business, and she was one of the very first people I approached when I needed business and marketing advice.

Deborah has now become integral to so many of Body Conceptions’ partnerships and business strategies.  She also happens to be one the smartest and most creative people I know on top of being a tireless and conscientious advocate.  I recommend Deborah to any new or transitioning business owner who needs branding, marketing or operational support!



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1) Where are you from? I grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ

2) In your own words, can you describe what you do? Alright, let’s see… I am a marketing and business development consultant. I’m a lot like a therapist with a background in finance. I work with companies that are in transition and help them with branding, marketing, and operations management.

3) How did you get where you are? Any professional twists and turns? Yes, many!  My path has never been straight which makes life all the more exciting.  I have always believed that opportunities come when and how you least expect them.  Live fearlessly and welcome every opportunity because you never know where it will lead you.

I moved to New York and worked as an actress for a number of years.  Marketing and bar program development were always my “between jobs” jobs.  I was fortunate enough to become employed as marketing director of a restaurant helmed by a notable chef and a very influential Wall Street businessman.  When they chose to close the restaurant I was offered a job working for the restaurant’s owner on Wall Street.  Though far out of my comfort zone I accepted the position and grabbed the bull by its horns so to speak.  I left performing behind and got what I like to call my on-the-job MBA. I learned everything from private equity to trading (commodities and equities), business management, international business, fundraising, finance, technology, and the soup-to-nuts of how to launch a start-up…the list goes on.  My main focus became marketing and business development for a wide array of companies.  My last big Wall Street project was preparing a financial technology company for a public offering on the NASDAQ.  I then started my own consulting company.  It has been quite a ride!

4) What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever gotten? We had a poster in my house growing up that said “To be good is not enough when you dream of being great.”  That has always resonated with me.

5) If someone told you they wanted to start their own business, what’s the first thing you would say to them? I would probably say “Great!”   It takes a lot of guts to start your own business. I deeply admire those who are willing to take a risk to pursue their dreams.

Deb Pregnant shot

6) Now for the fun stuff! Tell us about your new baby girl! (Truthfully, she’s one of the most beautiful little girls I’ve ever seen!)  Thank you.  Motherhood has been an incredible journey.  I think the most eye-opening moment was when Alexandra was five days old and I realized the simple act of picking up the mail meant bundling the baby, putting her in her stroller and bringing her with me.  No longer could I dash down a flight of stairs and be back before my coffee brewed.  Speaking of which, I would kill for the ability to start and finish a hot cup of coffee too!  Never had I experienced this degree of life altering responsibility. But the responsibility came with the most amazing pay-off.  Every smile melts my soul.  When she wraps her tiny chubby arms around my neck I am reminded of how lucky I am.  My 6-month-old daughter loves people but hates being bored.  She could win any staring contest, she is not fond of bananas, she loves to sing, she loves to shriek, she is fiercely determined and sleeps 12 hours each night.  Without that last bit I would have never survived the past six months!

Little Alex

7) What’s the most unusual thing about you that most people don’t know – that you’re willing to share? :)  I have three last names; my birth name, my professional name and my married name.  I often don’t know who knows me by what name…I confuse myself all the time.

8) Is there anything here that I’ve missed?  You forgot to ask me about how happy I am to be working with you and the beautiful, energetic women of BoCo. The difference you all make, how brave you were starting your company two years ago, how passionate you are every day of your life, and now the enthusiasm of your trainers…it is an inspiring thing. I am honored to work with this company and to help you further your business and your mission.

9) If people need your services, how do they get in touch with you?  Email is always a great way to go!  .

Jenné’s Springtime Salad

Jenné Claiborne is one of those people you can’t help but admire and want to befriend at the same time.  I met her at a health and wellness event at Barefoot Tiger last year and felt like her positivity and enthusiasm were incredibly contagious.  She also made some of the most delicious vegan food I had tasted in a long time!

As spring finally comes (thank goodness!), we start thinking about venturing outdoors, wearing our long-awaited spring clothes, and making delicious salads.  Jenné has offered a great salad recipe here – and I also recommend checking out her personal chef service and her vegan food blog at and



Springtime Salad by Jenné Claiborne

Since the beginning of the year, I have been looking forward to craving salads again. To feel warm and cozy during the cold winter, I filled my plate with roasted vegetables, cooked greens, lots of legumes, and plenty of hot drinks.

Now it’s officially Spring, and my body is asking for a salad. Not just any old salad, but one that is full of different non-starchy vegetables, healthy fat, a good amount of zest, and lots of color. I call this a “Daily Salad” because I could easily eat it everyday. When I grow tired of one component of the salad or need more bulk, it’s easy to substitute or make an addition. Some of my favorite additions are lentils, beans, strawberries, cilantro, mint, basil and sunflower seeds. Have fun with this salad, and make it your own!

Jenné’s Daily (Springtime!) Salad 

(Use a food processor with a shred blade to shred the carrots and cabbage. It makes your life easy, and cuts the time it takes to make the salad.)

serves 1-2

  • 6-8 leaves of kale, torn off stem
  • 4 cups of arugula
  • 1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed or sliced
  • pinch of sea salt
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 1/2 lemon more to taste)

Place the clean kale into a mixing bowl. Into the kale add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of sea salt and 1/2 of the avocado. Using your clean hands, massage the toppings into the kale for a minute or so, until the kale has shrunken in size and become tender. Rinse your hands, then add in the arugula, shredded veggies and remaining lemon juice. Toss it all together, using your hands then serve topped with more avocado, pumpkin seeds and a pinch more of sea salt.



Jenné helps people adopt and maintain a healthy, delicious and sustainable plant-based diet so they can improve their energy, lose weight and feel their very best. She is the founder of The Nourishing Vegan, a New York based personal chef service. She is also the creator of Sweet Potato Soul, a vegan food blog that features recipes, tips and super fun cooking videos. In late-summer 2013 Jenné launched the 21-Day Vegan Blueprint–an interactive online program that takes the guess work out of becoming vegan and guides members to become vibrant, nourished and glowing herbivores. She is a regular contributor to the Vegetarian Times blog. Follow Jenné on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram @sweetpotatosoul.

My 10 Favorite Things


My 10 Favorite Things

Over the years, I’ve been asked a lot what products I use, clothes I wear, services I recommend, among other things. I definitely have my preferences, and it gives me pleasure to share them.

Of course, not everyone will love the same things I do, and different lifestyles lend themselves to different needs. But I feel passionately about some of these picks – and it would be fun to be able to introduce them for the first time to some of you as well!

So here goes!


1) My Lole Nina Bag – Everyone who really knows me knows how much I carry with me. I live far from the center of NYC and have to pack everything with me for the whole day. All of this means I need to find the perfect bag! The Nina bag has SOO many pockets, attachments, and little pouches. I feel like I can organize everything and find them easily. And the bag is lightweight, too. So I can carry my whole life around without breaking my back :)


2) My Icy 2 Lole Vest – This is a piece of clothing I have used religiously through all seasons. It has especially saved me during these cold winter days when layering has become essential. The Icy 2 is lightweight, warm, and so cute (like many of their clothes). Although the Icy 2 model is not available this season, check out the Penelope (shown here), which is also a great vest for helping you transition through changing temperatures. I suggest checking out all of Lole’s stuff online – and look out for a brick and mortar store opening soon in NYC!!


3) Kinara Reparative Nutrient Serum – I was introduced to this product pretty recently by a beauty editor insider. I noticed immediately how smooth it made my skin feel, but the coolest part was how many friends told me my skin looked great. They even told me I look rested (which happened to be completely wrong! Ha!). I think this Kinara product will become one of my beauty staples.


4) Juice Press Sin-a-Buns – I am honestly a healthy eater and huge lover of foods like kale, spinach, chia, acai, and avocado among so many others. But I also suffer from a sweet tooth and always look for ways to satisfy my craving while staying healthy. Sin-a-Buns from Juice Press are not a substitute for kale by any means, but they have become a new obsession of mine. Made from dates, buckwheat, flaxseed, coconut, and Irish moss (among a few other things), they taste almost like real cinnamon buns, they keep me satisfied, and they’re surprisingly low-calorie. Yup, totally hooked!


5) Post-Workout Cream/Mio’s Workout Wonder – I just learned about Mio’s skin fitness line during the Sweaty Saturday events in New York City last month. Brooke, the lovely Mio rep, slathered Workout Wonder on my legs before teaching a Sweaty Saturday class, and she told me my legs would feel better post-workout. She was right! This product contains healing and inflammation-fighting ingredients like arnica, magnesium, and horse chestnut… And it smells good, too!


6) Hair Color with Michaela Murray – I was first introduced to Michaela during the days when I worked for Tracy Anderson. She colored hair for many of the trainers, and I was amazed at how beautiful and natural my hair looked after her expert balayage highlighting and intuitive color choices. Michaela works at the Plaza Hotel, but she also opened a salon in West Springfield, MA called, Wicked Salon. Check her out there – or book her when she comes to New York every once in a while. (Just leave a slot open for me!!)


7) Consignment Shop/In My Travels – I had to be careful how much I spent on clothing when I was a musical theater performer for so many years in NYC. You can imagine how excited I felt when I discovered this gem of a consignment shop in Chatham on Cape Cod, In My Travels. Janice Kurlychek, the owner, has somehow connected with some of the most well-dressed women around, and she literally provided (and continues to provide) me with my favorite wardrobe pieces to this day. I held parties with my friends in her store, and we would regularly walk out with gorgeous pieces by Prada, Armani, Betsey Johnson, Free People, and Theory at fractions of the original price. Please look her up the next time you head to Chatham, MA. And tell her I sent you!


8) Networking and Business Matchmaking Guru: Allegra Cohen – I first got to know Allegra through my business manager, Deborah, and I immediately noticed how dynamic, sharp, and warm she was. I have since become close friends with Allegra, but I can’t do a list like this without talking about how great she is at promoting and connecting businesses and professionals– and also raising money. She is the person to contact if you want to grow your business and connect with the folks who will help you realize your goals!


9) Priori CoffeeBerry Perfecting Foundation – I have not used this product for very long but I’m already a convert! Diana Seo of B Spa Bar introduced me to the Priori brand, and I’ve been excited about using Priori products ever since. The foundation is particularly great for me because it covers what I need to cover without any clumping or caking. And it contains anti-aging properties that improve my skin while I’m running around (and sweating!) all day.


10) Bite Lipstick – So…I was walking down Prince Street in Soho last month and happened upon the Bite Beauty Lip Lab. My dream come true! I love lipstick, but I always have trouble finding the shade that works best for me. Enter this cute little gem of a store in which a makeup artist helps you blend the perfect shade for you using their custom all-natural ingredients. You can choose how matte or glossy the texture is, and you can also choose the scent of your lipstick and the shape of the container it’s in! I walked out with a shade I wear almost every day. Score!


Please contact me if you have questions about any of these items – and feel free to share some of your favorites as well.  After all, that’s how I learned about many of these favorites in the first place!


Using Yoga During Pregnancy: Guest Expert, Kendra Fitzgerald

When I met her, Kendra Fitzgerald was one of those people I knew I would like immediately.  Smart, grounded, caring, capable – all the qualities I respect tremendously.  Kendra is the owner of Barefoot Tiger, a wellness concierge company.  She is also a personal trainer and yoga teacher and has recently had a baby boy!

Kendra’s knowledge of anatomy, yoga, and pre- and postnatal fitness is extensive.  I asked her to share her perspective on the connections between yoga and the pregnancy experience, and I’m excited to share her expert piece here with you.  Enjoy!


Kendra Coppey Headshot 2

5 Ways to Use Yoga to Transform your Pregnancy and Childbirth Experience

Just minutes after giving birth three months ago, my OB asked me “Do you do yoga?” A seemingly random question to ask a woman who just gave birth, I couldn’t have been happier to answer it. I told him yes, I do, to which he said “ah yes, the yoga ladies are very strong.” He couldn’t be more right.

Giving birth was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I know, it’s not often you hear the word ‘exhilarating’ and ‘birth’ in the same sentence.  And yes, it was very uncomfortable, but I firmly believe my yoga practice helped me explore and understand what was going on in my body during pregnancy and cope and manage the pain during childbirth. It taught me to focus, breathe, and be fully conscious during every moment of the birth process, and I’m happy to say that I remember the experience in vivid detail, and with much joy.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t doing a full physical practice of yoga every single day. I took a prenatal yoga class once a week at the local yoga studio and would do a few poses after a long walk or a weight workout. Sometimes my asana (posture) practice would just be a restorative relaxation over a bolster. If you’ve never tried this…it’s heavenly.

But there is far more to a yoga practice than just the physical asana. Yoga – or ‘union’ – connects all the important aspects of a woman’s strength to enable her to productively and consciously give birth to a baby – physical asana practice, meditation, breath work and attention to the present moment. We were born to do this work of creating a life, and yoga can effectively help us harness our power.

Knowing what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone, here are a few of the parts of my yoga practice that truly helped me during pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery.

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1)    ‘Corset’ ab work – I often hear women say they can’t do core work while pregnant. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In reality, core work is even more important now, when you are pregnant and a new mom, than ever before. Not only will your back muscles thank you, but you’ll have a much easier time pushing during delivery and recovering post-childbirth as well. However, the type of core work you do is of utmost importance (ie, no more crunches during or after pregnancy!) All you need is this one ab exercise, which I call the ‘corset pull.’ This one exercise is perfect for both pre- and post-natal core health:

  • Lean against a wall with your feet about a foot away from the baseboard. Your upper body and hips should be against the wall.
  • Put your hands on your baby / stomach and take a deep breath, filling your stomach out as you breathe.
  • As you exhale, make a ‘SSSS’ sound through your mouth and draw your navel back toward your spine at the same time. Keep exhaling to the end of your breath until you feel all the muscles of your core pulling in – in the front, on the sides and around the back. **Be careful not to hold your breath during pregnancy as this can negatively affect oxygen levels for you and your baby. Breath-retention work in yoga is not recommended for pregnancy.
  • Repeat 20 times
  • For more of a challenge, do this exercise on all 4’s.
  • I should also mention that this one exercise can help whittle inches off your midsection…anxious to try it now?!

hypnosis for birth

Hypnosis for Birth with Gabrielle Targett

2)     Guided birth meditations can help you visualize the events of your childbirth experience. Athletes mentally prepare for the game beforehand, and this is exactly what meditation and visualization is meant to do for you during childbirth. I listened to hypnobirthing guided meditations before going to sleep, and it was this meditation that helped me visualize and internalize the birth process I envisioned. In fact, after listening to this meditation one weekend, I was further dilated at my next OB appointment at 38 weeks! (Full disclaimer: this is my sister’s recording, and I’m not being compensated for this mention. I used this meditation a LOT during my pregnancy because it is so good.)

3)    Breath work is key to being able to ‘release’ into contractions and work with the process of delivery, not against it. Think about when you are in pain, what is the first thing you likely do? Suck in air, and hold it.  As challenging as it sounds, being able to let go and breathe through the contractions will help advance your progress greatly, and potentially shorten your labor.

  • Aim for very long, slow, deep breaths. If you are familiar with ujjayi (ocean breath), use that to find your rhythm. If not, count to 4 on your inhale, and 6 on your exhale. A longer exhale accesses the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system.
  • How does this apply in yoga? When faced with a challenging posture, notice your reaction with your breath. Do you hold your breath? Does the breath get shorter? If so, take long, slow and deep inhales and exhales to see if you can work with the discomfort, rather than against it.
  • You can even practice your breath during your day, during a stressful event or while waiting for the subway (which can also be a stressful event.)

4)    Know that the baby feels what you feel, and experiences the same hormone rushes as you. Tuning into your breath and taking longer, deeper breaths can lower your stress level in just a few seconds. The same breathing exercises above apply to lowering your stress level as well! Two for one.

5)    Finding community – as a new mom, know that it takes time to recover and there is no such thing as too much support. In many cultures, new mothers are kept in bed, with their babies, for the first 40 days. The woman’s mother, sisters, and women friends shower her with help, support and love during these 40 days, after which point the new mama emerges into the world with her baby. In our culture, we’re sent home from the hospital after a life-changing event to fend for ourselves. The support and love of a yoga community can be a lifeline during this very sensitive time.  Check out your local yoga studio for prenatal classes, and see what happens!


Kendra Fitzgerald, CPT-ACE, CYT is the Founder & Director of Barefoot Tiger, an in-home personal training, yoga, pilates, and nutrition company in New York City & Los Angeles. A yoga teacher and personal trainer herself, she and her staff of 20 have been teaching around NYC since 2005.

Meet the Wonderful Megan Beers!!

I first met Megan in one of my fitness Intensive programs.  I remember noticing her beautiful strength, control, and focus and wondering, “Who is this girl??”  I came to know Megan as an incredibly warm, knowledgeable and capable trainer.  She is one of my premiere prenatal fitness experts and also a popular Body Conceptions instructor at Rutgers University.

I feel lucky to know Megan, and I’m happy that you’ll get to know her a bit here, too!


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Where were you born?  Edison NJ

Where did you grow up?  Washington, NJ

What’s your biggest passion?  To Dance!  That’s why I love what I do so much. I get to dance and help others feel good about themselves.

Tell me about your career.  Have you changed direction?  If so, why?  Yes!  I was training to be a professional ballet dancer when I got a career-ending back injury during my senior year of high school.  All of that time spent trying to rehabilitate myself led me to decide to become a Pilates and fitness trainer.

Megan Fitness

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?  Not to spend so much time worrying!  I think I wasted a lot of time in my head, and I’ve learned since to pay more attention to what’s in my heart.

What’s your fitness style? A combination of enthusiasm and focus.

What piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten?  Never stop dancing!  I was told this when I was going through my injury and I think the real message there was that no matter what happens, find a way to do what you love.

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)?  I almost always wear socks. I have a bit of a foot phobia!

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Watching every and any reality show!

What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I’m determined to keep learning and growing so I can become the best version of myself.

Anything else about you that I missed?  I’ve been very lucky to have really amazing parents who are responsible for me now being able to live a life filled with passion and joy.