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Thoughts: The Toxic Grip of Sibling/Parent Jealousy - Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC, covers the touchy, somewhat taboo realities of toxic family dynamics. In the video that inspired this post, “The Toxic Grip of Sibling/Parent Jealousy: Beware of This Trap,” she educates viewers about a common yet rarely talked-about feature of some toxic families. This topic intrigued me after I sought counseling for a family issue I have been trying to separate myself from for the past three years. Mental health practitioners, like Ms. Hill, enable many experiencing such issues to recognize things they may have been battling or ignoring for years, how dangerous those dynamics are, and how to free themselves from those dangers and lessen the scars they may have left behind.   My Personal Experience Unfortunately, for decades, my mother has found ways to insert herself into my life. Did she specifically select me? I believe yes and no. She’s an opportunist who lives her life as a sort of succubus. She’s of that generation (or generations, more correctly) of women who believe the way to have security in life is to attach themselves to someone, preferably a man with money. But if that fails, they test other targets, including their children. From this leechlike lifestyle choice, family dynamics like the devouring mother, which typically affects sons, and enmeshment, which can befall any child, come about. The devouring mother is defined as: “[A] psychological archetype that describes a mother who is overbearing, controlling, and manipulative towards her children. This personality disorder is often seen in those with borderline personality disorders or narcissism. A devouring mother doesn’t want her children to spread their wings and fly. They want them dependent, downtrodden, and constantly in need of their mother. She essentially wants to “devour” them whole in order to keep their kids as close as possible with no chance to develop an identity of their own. “It’s an analytical term referring to kind of this shadow side of the mother archetype. It’s somebody who consumes their children psychologically and emotionally instilling guilt in them for leaving or for becoming an independent autonomous human,” Brillon from explains. @jimbrillon What is a devouring mother? #narcissism #psychology #psychiatrist #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness ♬ original sound – Orange County, CA Therapist Enmeshment is defined as: “Emotional incest, also known as covert incest, has nothing to do with incestuous sexual abuse. Rather, it is an unhealthy emotional relationship between a parent and a child that blurs boundaries . . . . The parent looks to the child for emotional support. In some cases, the parent also seeks practical support from the child,” Should you have the misfortune of being born of one of the above-described women and she has not found a man who is willing to keep her, you might be targeted as a de facto life partner for your mother. Yes, that’s sick, but you already read the above definitions. You might also find yourself writing or reading books like this recent bestseller. Looking back, I was an easy target: I’ve stayed mostly single because I enjoy personal freedom; I struggled in my early adulthood as a single parent, so my mom put on the guise of the caring rescuer; and I had a soft spot for my mother that I didn’t have for anyone else on this earth. Combining all of that, every time one of her relationships failed, she came back to me. Over and over again, until she managed to live with me for most of my twenties, and she is actively stealing the last years of my thirties. At least now, I recognize all her schemes—since she has finally managed to make herself the center of my universe. Access the Family Enmeshment Signs and Checklist from Attachment Project The Jealous Mother My mom gets upset when I make progress with any of my business endeavors, trying her best to invalidate any of my accomplishments by saying things that suggest I didn’t really do or complete one of my endeavors, such as graduate college or write my book, for example. Specifically business-wise, one day she offered me money toward my business and suggested I also ask my aunt for financial help. I immediately turned down the suggestion to ask my aunt, whom I’ve barely spoken to for decades for money, and thought about her offer for sometime before unfortunately accepting. By accepting, I fell into the final trap she laid for me. I only just realized that the sole reason she has ever offered me any money or support has been to claim that without her, I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved. She tries to get ahead of any of my accomplishments in progress by planting seeds about me to invalidate or minimize the steps I’m taking to make progress. It’s been a lifelong thing that I really didn’t pay attention to until recently. The funny thing about her “logic” is I’m twenty five years her junior, which is plenty of time to undo her attempts to stain my character. Meanwhile, she’s running out of time. What makes a perfect target for a narcissist? Before her most recent scheme to get back in my daily life, I looked back at the years thinking about my boyfriends, jobs, etc., while my mom was constantly in the background planting seeds until she found a way to make herself central in my life. What’s the point? Well, I was someone she believed she could always return to, and she believes I make her look good by labeling me as the ever-in-need child whom she went to rescue—rather than admitting that the decades-long cycle of her living with me started when she was over 40 and ever-lost and seeking a place to live. So, she targeted me, her youngest child, who was gladly living over 1,300 miles away from her at the time. Since then and many moves later, she has positioned herself as accomplished and above by labeling me as incapable and needy over the years. She believes by putting down her children, she in contrast appears better in the perception of others. The needy one is the woman described above, one who attaches herself to others for a sense of security. As Ms. Hill states, projection is a tool of this type of mother. In my mother’s claims against me and others, she isn’t fooling anyone about what she is; yet people indulge because putting down others is a favorite pastime of many, and schadenfreude is irresistible to some. I’ll admit, there was a period in my early twenties when I thought my mom knew somethings about navigating life, and I thought she could be of help while I was raising my son. But now I know she has been perpetually lost and always seeking to jump on to something or someone who will hopefully finally get her somewhere. The Jealous/Insecure Sister Now, my eldest sibling, the beloved, the jealous—as Ms. Hill defines—is very transparent. She attempts to hide her insecurities by accumulating labels through money spent, rather than through personal discipline and achievement, and by constantly seeking faults in others—no one is off limits. She speaks as if she is an authority on things she has no qualifications for and no applied experience in. She believes she is so intelligent and superior to others that she blurts out inaccuracies and believes you’ll believe her because she is so confident and loud with her claims. She has played it safe throughout her life, and that has led her to believe she is successful, but she is pusillanimous and has been unchallenged. The second there’s a whiff of challenge against her, she cracks. Very fragile ego. Then, as a coverup, she projects that on others. Signs of her jealousy have been a need, an ostensibly animal-like prodding or urge, to find something to put me down about every single time I’m in her presence. In fact, the post, “Things Other Women Say and Do to Fit Women,” was largely inspired by my sister’s treatment of me, her and many other women I’ve encountered at gyms, jobs, etc., throughout my life. The motive behind my sister’s instinctual reactions and antics toward me, again, come from a place in which she’s 1.) insecure, and 2.) believes she’s an authority, superior, and successful. She believes I’ll internalize her putdowns and be humbled. I’ve encountered many spiteful females like her in my life. I know their methods. Her attempts are all miscalculations that fail to land. Their Coalition “You’re doing too much!” That’s what my sister asserted during a bullying event she and my mother launched on me while trying to pressure me to give up my rights to a home I’m 50% owner of. The motive of the jealous mother/sibling coalition is to chip away at the rival to make them feel small, make them second-guess themselves, and keep them from fully flourishing. In my jealous sibling/mother scenario, my mother attempted to use my insecure sister to attack me—like her ultimate weapon against me, believing I stayed away from my sister for years due to intimidation at how loud, big, and surface-level successful she is. But, really, I have too much life experience with such women and no patience for them. So, when my mom and her tried for days to apply pressure on me to get a reaction that would be detrimental to me, they failed. I knew exactly what they were trying to do. Another miscalculation. That angry protest from my sister, “You’re doing too much,” might as well have been, “Stand still while we punch you. Stop growing, stop achieving, stop defending yourself. Take our abuse, give into our pressure, and succumb to the ruin and setback that will bring to your life!” Some people can’t mask their desperation for your demise. And as I wrote above, my sister very easy to read. It’s funny how family members can behave as if you have no life experience outside of your childhood and them. As if all your development stopped in childhood; yet, of course, their development continued. You’re the flat character, while they’re the complex, round character.     Waking Up Sometimes to get out of toxic situations with family, you have to accept the reality of who they are as people and stop making exceptions for them. So many of us tend to take repeated disrespect from our relatives or see them through rose-colored glasses. If you would not tolerate mistreatment from a non-relative, don’t accept it from family. They don’t have special rights to interfere with your life or mistreat you, and the law agrees. Now that I’ve finally woken up to what my mother is, I greatly enjoy making my business moves known. When I attend a networking event, I love seeing her seethe. When she tries to knock my choice of business and immediately compares it to what she would do instead, I laugh internally—because she never does anything that requires real work. She always seeks someone to do the work for her, as she sits back and claims credit because it was her idea or because she unwisely threw money here and there. And, every time she tries to mess with my business online, I know I can pursue tortuous interference against her—to add to the other lawsuit I have against her—yes, the toxicity of the situation has gotten that bad, and her embedding in my life is now so enmeshed that I’ve had to go legal, as if I’m divorcing from my mother. Yes, that’s a sick comparison, but reread the definition of enmeshment above. I don’t have much to say about my sister. She’s a typical insecure female, and as a matter of course, I don’t keep those in my life. via GIPHY Final Thoughts I appreciate Támara Hill for covering this topic, and I hope sharing a bit of my story helps some readers. Keeping with taboo topics, I would like to know Ms. Hills experience and knowledge on the toxicity in...
I Tried SpoiledChild’s Rapid Recovery Hair Mask - This website earns commissions from qualifying purchases from posted ads. This post is not a paid advertisement for any SpoiledChild products. I fell for SpoiledChild’s Instagram ads and ordered the S24 Rapid Recovery Hair Mask. Week after week my Reels feed showed me ads of customers dipping combs into a thick, pale, creamy hair mask, until the sight of what looked like creamy goodness wore me down and I finally clicked the “Learn More” link. I have been on a hair growth journey since December 2017. The fact that I remember the month I began that journey reveals just how frustrating reaching my hair growth goal has been. In this six-year period, I tried all the mainstream products and some specialty products for natural, ethnic 4C hair (like mine). My hair hasn’t grown much, but it has strengthened, and my true pattern has finally revealed itself—after years of perms, hot iron straightening, and resisting the often-recommended big chop. My Current Hair Regimen (w/o SpoiledChild) Butter (yes, butter) – Danish Creamery Unsalted Frequency of use: 1-2x/month Application: I apply melted unsalted butter to my hair and leave it in for up to three days before washing it out. Chebeauty Chebe Hair Butter and NaturAll Sea Moss & Chebe 8.5 Oz Curl Refresher Spray for Curly Hair, Coils and Waves Frequency of use: Daily Application: I apply Chebe butter to my hair whenever I feel it is needed to add shine, shape, and relax my curls. Shiny Leaf Cold-Pressed Castor Oil Shampoo & Conditioner Frequency of use: Every two weeks or as needed with my exercise routine, which can make shampooing more necessary. Application: This product gives me the same effect as washing my hair in highly filtered water. Design Essentials Natural Coconut & Monoi Curl Defining Gelee Frequency of use: As needed Application: I’ve fallen out of using this wonderful product regularly after noticing Chebe butter products do more for my hair than this product. The above routine is finally offering me regular growth, defined curls, and comfort and confidence with my hair every single day. So, given that, I had no reason to try SpoiledChild’s Rapid Recovery Hair Mask—but as stated above, the Instagram ads got me. Still, even though I fell for the ads, I was also skeptical of the product’s effectiveness compared to the products that took me years to find and make part of my regime. My Thoughts on SpoiledChild’s Rapid Recovery Hair Mask I took the SpoiledChild welcome quiz and was recommended the S24 hair mask. I applied it post-gym to my hair and left it in for about 6 minutes (I didn’t have the 10 minutes recommended in the instructions). After rinsing out the majority of the product, I put my hair up in a bun and went about my day, and left the hair mask jar with my son to try for himself. The Results My son’s hair was noticeably looser and more defined after one use. 😍 After seeing his hair, I undid my bun and fanned out my hair. The texture was so much softer than it has ever been. My curls were defined and shiny. Even with my satisfaction with my current routine, I’ve never seen my hair look that pretty—actually “pretty.” Needless to say, I signed up for the S24 hair mask auto-subscription, and I can’t wait to see where my hair goes from here. Recommendation Give SpoiledChild a try. Even though Instagram can be full of fly-by-night companies and gimmicks, SpoiledChild does not appear to fall into that category. Improving 4C hair like mine is not easy, especially with one application of a product. But SpoiledChild’s Rapid Recovery Hair Mask accomplished that with flying colors.
LLAFIT eat well in 2024 Eat Well in 2024 - Eat Well in 2024! Sustainable practices are the goal at LLAFIT. If you didn’t reach your nutrition goals in 2023, it is not too late. You can start again today—in fact, you can start again with your next meal, no matter how many times you fall off track. When it comes to sustainable eating choices to stay lean and healthy for life, follow the core principles below as a foundational guideline. 🥗 Organic Prioritization: Opt for organic produce to minimize exposure to pesticides and synthetic chemicals, promoting long-term health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. 🌈 Colorful Veggie Palette: Incorporate a diverse range of colorful vegetables, each offering unique phytonutrients, antioxidants, and essential vitamins crucial for optimal cellular function. 🌾 Whole Grains Wisdom: Choose whole grains over refined counterparts to ensure a sustained release of energy, stabilize blood sugar levels, and support digestive health throughout your life. 🥑 Healthy Fats Harmony: Embrace sources of healthy fats, such as avocados and nuts, to nourish your brain, maintain cardiovascular health, and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins over the years. 🌱 Protein Prowess: Whether plant-based or lean meats, prioritize proteins to support muscle health, immune function, and cellular repair for a resilient body across the stages of life. 🍽️ Portion Precision: Practice mindful portion control to maintain a healthy weight, optimize nutrient absorption, and prevent overeating-related health issues. 💧 Hydration Habits: Stay adequately hydrated with water and herbal teas to support bodily functions, optimize cognitive performance, and maintain skin elasticity over the course of your life. 🍽️ Mindful Eating Mastery: Cultivate the habit of slow, mindful eating, fostering a deeper connection with your food, enhanced digestion, and an overall sense of satisfaction. #nutrition #fitness #womenshealth #lifelongfitness #lifelongnutrition #EatWell2024 #SustainableEating #NutritionGoals #LLAFIT #HealthyChoices #StartAgainToday #WellnessJourney #HealthyForLife #CorePrinciples #BalancedDiet #LifelongHealth #NutritionGuidelines #fitforlife #fitmom
PODCAST TRANSCRIPT: Family Narcissism Unmasked w/ Lisa A. Romano - NOTE: below is a generated transcript from Season 2, Episode 5 of the Lifelong Health and Fitness Conversations podcast. Episode title: "Family Narcissism Unmasked w/ Lisa A. Romano" Lifelong Health and Fitness Conversations podcast features mental health expert Lisa Romano Sylvia Petro: Thank you for tuning into the mental health segment of the Lifelong Health and Fitness Conversations podcast. In this episode, I speak with Lisa A. Romano, a globally recognized life coach who specializes in assisting wounded adult children to overcome the childhood emotional trauma that keeps them stuck by repeating negative self-sabotaging patterns in their lives. Lisa is best known for her remarkable work in the area of adult children of alcoholic issues, codependency, and narcissistic abuse recovery. Lisa is also one of the most-listened-to meditation teachers on Insight Timer, and her YouTube channel has over 640,000 subscribers. Her podcast Breakdown to Breakthrough ranks in the Top 100 Podcasts on mental wellness. You can learn more about Lisa’s online courses and her seven bestselling books by visiting And for Lisa’s full bio and links to connect with her, please see the podcast description. Now, on to our conversation. Lisa Romano is a life coach specializing in narcissistic familial relationships Sylvia Petro: So, first, Lisa, I’d like to thank you for joining me on this episode. Lisa A. Romano: Sure. Thank you so much for inviting me. Sylvia Petro: And would you like me to call you Miss Romano or Lisa? Lisa A. Romano: Oh, please, call me Lisa. Sylvia Petro: Okay. Well, I look forward to speaking about an important topic today, which is narcissistic familial relationships but first, what led you to become a life coach? Lisa A. Romano: My life path. When my life imploded and I didn’t know where to turn, life was just getting really crazy. I couldn’t go to my family. I began to realize they really couldn’t help me. They didn’t have the tools or the life skills to help me. And I went to a psychologist as a last resort, which was seen as, a no-no in my family because it meant you were weak. But I had three little kids to take care of, and I decided to go anyway, despite what they thought about it, and he diagnosed me with codependency. And as I stuck with understanding codependency. And understood my play in it, how I was contributing to the toxic dynamics in my life, I eventually learned about narcissism and began to see the many layers of narcissism in my own family. And that’s when, as crazy as it was, things started to make sense, so I decided to teach people what I was learning about codependency, because I wasn’t getting what I wanted from meetings. They’re not for everybody. I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Even sometimes out of therapy. I was getting information, but I wasn’t getting the life skills. And so, as I taught myself how to heal from codependency, that’s when I decided that I would like to do this professionally and help other people learn what helped save my life. You were born into a codependent family Sylvia Petro: Where did you develop your codependency? Lisa A. Romano: I was born into a codependent family. So, both my parents are adult children of alcoholics. Sylvia Petro: Yeah. Lisa A. Romano: My mom was highly codependent. My dad was highly narcissistic, although my mom had narcissistic traits as well, I would call her more of a codependent, and she was very heavily invested in my father’s emotions, and that was her priority, was keeping him calm, keeping him happy, and seeking his approval. It was really something to grow up watching how my mother absolutely just adored my dad, and not in a healthy way, because she was stuffing her emotions. She was sacrificing herself just to make him happy. And so, observing that as a little girl, and then also reeling from verbal abuse and emotional abuse and neglect, and learning that in order to have any sense of attachment to my mother whatsoever, I couldn’t have a self, I couldn’t have needs. I had to be completely focused on her. Which, as I gained objectivity, I began to realize that how my mother had mirrored her love for my father was, essentially, how I learned to love her, just to sacrifice myself. And that led to being a codependent teenager and being obsessed with boys, and then getting engaged at 21 and just following the pattern and thinking that if. I just love somebody, everything’s going to be great, and if they have a need, I’ll just jump in and fix it. And then after eleven or twelve years of that type of sacrificing and stuffing your emotions, I just imploded. I was near death. I developed asthma, migraine headaches. And it was during a severe asthma attack, and I didn’t even know how sick I was. Which is comma for trauma. It’s common for trauma survivors because you’re so used to neglecting yourself. That allergist said to me that if I fell asleep, I’d die. He said, if you fall asleep right now, you’re not waking up. You better listen to your body, because your body is listening to you. And it was a profound moment because it was the first time someone said look within, look within. Because I had been taught to look outside of me. Sylvia Petro: So, you did mention that your mother wasn’t as narcissistic as your father. but if you had to mold yourself to gain acceptance from her, that’s displaying some narcissistic traits. Correct? Lisa A. Romano: Correct. However, I think I just want to clarify that codependency and narcissism, there can be overlap. Sylvia Petro: Okay. Lisa A. Romano: So you could love someone who is highly codependent and is self-sacrificing, and they expect you to behave a certain way because they’re doing so much for you. Sylvia Petro: Yeah. Lisa A. Romano: So there definitely was some overlap with my mom. And this was not something that she showed anybody else. This was, doors were closed. I was her target. Absolutely. Narcissists feel entitled to exploit people emotionally, and they lack empathy Sylvia Petro: Okay, so regarding, the topic of this episode, narcissistic familial relationships, in one of your videos, you said, people might worry that they can be labeled narcissist. And I think especially nowadays, we’re inundated with videos about narcissism. And also when someone is in a situation where they’re under attack by multiple people, like, if they’re triangulated by the narcissist, they might be accused of being a narcissist because they started fighting for their lives. So what can you define as hallmarks of a narcissist? Lisa A. Romano: Well, narcissists are grandiose. They feel entitled to exploit people emotionally, and they lack empathy. And these are pervasive patterns. This isn’t your best friend has a bad day because her dog died or her boyfriend broke up with her, these are pervasive patterns of entitlement exploitation; a lack of empathy; the need to be right; the consistent lack of accountability; getting angry at you because you got angry at them for violating a boundary. And, again, these are consistent–crazy-making conversations; circular conversations to avoid accountability; triangulation; hedging their bets; making sure that in case you ever leave them, people think that you’re the crazy one; creating flying monkeys; and it’s all happening and you don’t even know what’s happening. Sylvia Petro: Right. Lisa A. Romano: You might be having, let’s say it’s–a sister who you think is highly narcissistic for whatever reason, and you’re having an argument with her, or you’re in a spat with her, and you’re just like, it’s in you, right? Like, you’re just like, “wow, I can’t believe this is going on between me and Mary, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” But you don’t know that Mary is going out of her way to talk to your boyfriend or talk to your mom, and she really is hedging her bets to get out ahead of the conversation. So, in case you open your mouth you already look like the one that is crazy, and, she comes off like the concerned sibling. Sylvia Petro: Yeah. And this is very much true. I noticed–I don’t want to speak on my issue too much; it’s mainly for listeners, but in a personal issue, where it really could be years of setting someone up as a certain character type or categorizing someone a certain way, and it might not be just directed toward you. It could be multiple family members. when they help a certain family member, that one’s needy, and I also help this one, and I help that one. And if you let them accumulate enough events of them giving you things and you accepting those things, then when they go in for a big return on that investment in you, then they already created this image of you. That is so negative as this needy, dependent person that the damage is essentially done because you did nothing to really stop it, or you didn’t think it was really that harmful. Because while it’s a relative, they make certain slights, and we make allowances for relatives to slight us. so, yeah, it seems like this long-term investment in creating, an image. Lisa A. Romano: Yeah. And I think it stems in their image of self because they’re “superior.” So I think it’s just their nature. That, well, if I’m superior to everyone, then there has to be a minion. There has to be someone that I enable, perhaps, or there has to be someone that I can play this role out with, where I am seen as the superior one, the more intelligent one, the more capable one, the more responsible one. I think it’s just part of their nature. And you’re right, it can happen all outside your conscious awareness of it and on the surface appear to be very innocent. But you’ll see it when there’s an expected payback. That’s when you’ll see it like, whoa, where’d that come from? And you will regret ever taking anything from this person. Sylvia Petro: Yeah, that’s exactly what happens. How common is familial or parental narcissism? Sylvia Petro: So how common would you say familial or parental narcissism is? Lisa A. Romano: I think it’s fairly common. I don’t know how common it is in terms of being able to diagnose someone with NPD. To be able to diagnose someone, that person has to walk into a therapist office and say, “my life is unmanageable, and please help me figure out why.” So the numbers in terms of statistics are pretty low. But just think about it. Narcissists don’t go into therapy. You go into therapy because you’re married to a narcissist or your mother’s a narcissist, your dad’s a narcissist, or you work with the narcissist. But in terms of statistics, I can’t give you those statistics. I don’t even know if those statistics exist. But what I would say is that most I believe that undiagnosed narcissistic traits. Are probably at the core of many upsetting relationship dynamics. Lisa A. Romano: But narcissist, again, they’re not self aware, and so they’re not looking at how they might be behaving in a relationship. So trying to gain those statistics is nearly impossible. But I think it’s far more common. Than a lot of people realize. Yeah. Sylvia Petro: And, as far as narcissistic parents or family authority figures, how can they affect the family unit? And when I say that, I mean it seems to spread far and wide. Can you give some information based on your practice or personal experience on that, on the role of an authority figure in a family and how that can really sway things? Lisa A. Romano: I always tell everybody it’s like one narcissist in a bunch. They say, like,...
womanmiddlesplits Top 10 Reasons to Learn Middle Splits: Flexibility, Performance, and More - This website earns commissions from qualifying purchases from posted ads. Learning the middle splits, also known as a straddle or middle split stretch, can offer several benefits. While it may not be necessary for everyone, it can be valuable for certain individuals depending on their goals and interests. Here are some reasons why people might choose to learn the middle splits: Flexibility: Middle splits are an excellent way to improve flexibility in the hip adductors (inner thigh muscles), hamstrings, and groins. Increased flexibility can lead to better range of motion in the hips and legs, which can be beneficial in various activities such as dance, martial arts, yoga, and gymnastics. Injury Prevention: Improved flexibility can help prevent injuries, especially in sports or activities that involve kicking, jumping, or sudden changes in direction. It can reduce the risk of strains, tears, and muscle imbalances. Enhanced Athletic Performance: For athletes, middle split flexibility can enhance performance in sports like martial arts, cheerleading, and acrobatics, where a wider range of motion in the hips and legs is crucial. Posture and Alignment: Middle split training can contribute to better posture and alignment by addressing imbalances in the pelvic and hip area. This can help alleviate lower back pain and improve overall body alignment. Core Strength: Maintaining proper form while working on middle splits requires engagement of the core muscles. Over time, this can lead to increased core strength and stability. Mental Discipline: Learning the middle splits requires patience and consistent effort. It can be a challenging and rewarding journey that helps develop mental discipline and perseverance. Cross-Training: Even if you’re not primarily focused on flexibility, adding middle split training to your fitness routine can be a great form of cross-training. It can complement strength training and cardiovascular workouts. Aesthetic Goals: Some individuals are motivated to learn the middle splits for aesthetic reasons. Achieving the splits can be a satisfying personal accomplishment and may enhance body confidence. Yoga and Meditation: In yoga and meditation practices, sitting in a wide-legged position similar to the middle splits is often used for grounding and meditation purposes. Learning the splits can make these practices more comfortable and accessible. Diverse Skill Set: Learning the middle splits is a skill in itself, and having a diverse set of physical skills and abilities can be personally fulfilling and open up opportunities to explore various physical disciplines. It’s important to note that achieving the middle splits takes time and effort, and it’s not necessary for everyone. Whether or not you decide to learn them should depend on your individual goals, interests, and physical abilities. If you’re considering it, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified trainer or coach who can provide guidance and help you progress safely.
A Candid Review of My First Cruise w/ Virgin Voyages - This website earns commissions from qualifying purchases from posted ads. Virgin Voyages has been making waves in the cruise industry since its launch in 2019. With a focus on creating unique experiences for travelers, Virgin Voyages offers an array of amenities on board their ships. From a tattoo parlor to a record shop, Virgin Voyages strives to offer something for everyone–as long as you’re 18+. Yes, the cruise line is adult-only, and that is one of its primary selling points. In this post, I detail the highlights of my experience aboard the Scarlet Lady, one of Virgin Voyages’ four ships. Pre-Voyage As a wellness destination planner, I was immediately drawn to Virgin Voyages gym and spa offerings. I booked my first cruise on the Scarlet Lady, which sailed directly after the Limitless Voyage curated by JLo. My son and I flew into Miami, Florida, from Texas one day before our cruise departure, which gave us extra time to explore Miami. I booked us in an upscale but affordable boutique hotel, Yotel Miami, which was about two miles away from Virgin Voyages Terminal V. The hotel was located close to the Metromover rail, city buses, and the free city trolley. The day of our sailing, my son and I made our way to Virgin Voyages cruise terminal. As a travel agent, I make it a priority to explore various ways to get around different destinations, so to get to Virgin’s Terminal V, we took the Coral Way, a free trolley in downtown Miami that stops at the cruise terminal and goes all the way to Terminal V. Virgin Voyages crew members were also on the trolley on their way to welcome “sailors” (Virgin Voyages passengers) and board the Scarlet Lady. Boarding We arrived at the terminal a little over an hour early, and while we waited to line up for boarding, the Virgin crew offered us free shuttle rides to and from Bayside, an area of the cruise port with shops and food. The shuttle accommodated around 15 adults and had room for luggage. While at Bayside, we ate at a mainstream chain restaurant and explored the mall. By the time we returned to Terminal V, we were able to get in line to board the ship. Boarding took between 30-40 minutes, and check-in was easy. Tip: Currently, Virgin Voyages requires all passengers to have a valid passport that is not within six months of expiring post-voyage. The party atmosphere Virgin Voyages is known for started the moment we got through passport checks. The crew danced and made loud, enthusiastic pep announcements before we boarded. The deck of the ship we entered on (Deck 7), led to shops and few eateries. This led to most people opting to eat at the nearest (and easiest to navigate to) restaurant, The Pizza Place. The restaurant had limited seating, and this created an awkward clustering of people minutes after stepping on board. This introductory experience was a preview of the week to come: confusion on how to navigate the ship. My Cabin Our cabin was ready after we finished eating at The Pizza Place. The moment we opened the cabin door, the curtains to the balcony opened automatically. The infotainment touch pad was handy, and the movie offerings were decent. The Band, assigned to us pre-boarding, worked like a champ when it came to accessing our cabin and making purchases. Lastly, my Ship Eats delivery was my best-tasting food on board. Real Guests vs Virgin Voyages Marketing Marketing videos and materials for Virgin Voyages show a diverse crowd of people on their ships, and that is true to life. People of all sexual orientations, ages (I’ll return to this), races, etc.,  were ready to dance, drink, get in a hot tub, and lounge in the sun or at one of the bars or hangout spots on board. As hinted at above, I ran into just one unwelcome sticking point while on board. Oddly, while Virgin Voyages caters to people 18+, if you actually look 18 or in your early twenties, you will get a lot of stares from other guests. I’m not sure why this was a thing, but after Scarlet Night (the second night of the cruise) my son, who looks about seventeen but is years above eighteen, felt very out of place and didn’t want to leave the cabin for a while. He pulled it together the following day and made the best of it for the remainder of the cruise. But how young we both look was commented on more than once; this meant at every reserved restaurant, people stared at us. Maybe people wondered how we afforded the cruise? I’m honestly at a loss as to why we stuck out like such a sore thumb. As a lifelong wellness practitioner, abstaining from alcohol and staying out of the sun is great for antiaging, but I don’t like being gawked at for it, and for being such a socially inclusive line, I was surprised by how uncomfortable my son was made to feel merely because of how young he looks. I know Virgin Voyages is not at fault for the behavior of its guests, so that was just an unfortunate experience on our sailing. Other cruise lines that aren’t adult-only have kids (actual kids) on board, and therefore seeing a young-looking person is not a big deal. Entertainment The shows on board are creative, fresh, celebrate focus on only sub or counterculture, and one popular show, Dual Reality, is a new take on the classic Romeo and Juliet. Pop-up entertainment was also around on board, which was often singers and dancing crew members. Compared to other cruise entertainment I’ve seen, Virgin Voyages is equal to or in some ways more entertaining than entertainment on other cruise lines. In addition to creative theatrical shows, great large-screen technology is also incorporated in a number of Virgin Voyages shows. Food Virgin Voyages recently won a best dining award by Cruise Critic. The week we sailed, the flavor quality was not there, however. I wish it was because I was really looking forward to a tasty meal, since the quality of food everywhere seems to have been declining lately. I’m not sure why most meals I had on board lacked flavor or in some cases lacked something as simple as salt. I like to believe my experience was a fluke because many guests continue to praise the food on Virgin Voyages. My theory is the food lacked flavor because our cruise directly followed a major celebrity sailing. Maybe they ran out of salt—and sugar, and all seasonings? Lastly, on debarkation day, the coffee was very weak, and crew members brushed it off, making it clear that they were done servicing us, even though we had not debarked yet. Duly noted. Gunbae on Scarlet Lady - Virgin Voyages - IG View this post on InstagramA post shared by Sylvia Petro & Advisors - Dream Vacations (@sylviapetroandadvisors) Destinations I booked the Fire & Sunset Soirées itinerary, which sailed to Key West then Beach Club Bimini, Bahamas, and finally returned to Miami. Key West had great excursion options and many tourist-oriented places to explore. Bimini, Bahamas, is a narrow strip of land with some excursion offerings and shops that were closed during our stop on the island. Virgin Voyages Beach Club Bimini is toward the end of Bimini island and is set up for lounging, ocean swimming, and partying in large pools. I unfortunately missed the planned bonfires because I returned to the cruise ship early. I’m sure the bonfires were beautiful. See the video below for images of Beach Club Bimini. Beach Club Bimini While the Fire & Sunset Soirées sailing was brief and within the eastern Caribbean, Virgin Voyages sails to many locations, with some exciting, bucket-list-worthy destinations. Some popular itineraries take sailors to Greece, Australia, and Dubai. See all Virgin Voyages Itineraries. Will I Sail Virgin Again? Virgin Voyages is a new cruise line aiming to fill a gap in the cruise market that will accommodate sexy, fitness- and wellness-oriented adults who love great food, group gatherings, relaxation, and drinking. To me, as a lifelong fitness-oriented person, a couple of those things don’t go together, or at least there should be more spaces to keep some things apart. I prefer activities outside of the bars and lounges I found on board the Scarlet Lady. However, for lounge and bar-goers, the ship had a gaming area as part of The Social Club for quizzes and group games. The Groupie, a karaoke lounge, was also a great feature of the ship. I enjoyed making people’s ears bleed as I sang Stricken by Disturbed and other songs far out of my range of vocal capabilities. Overall, Virgin Voyages is a great fit for bar and lounge lovers, sub and counterculture enjoyment, wellness experiences. Virgin Voyages is a new cruise line, and I know there is a lot in store for the future. Don’t let the bumpy points of my first Virgin Voyage experience stop you from trying this new cruise line. All said, I’d be happy to sail on a Virgin Voyage again. Travel can sometimes be trial and error. The fun of it lies in exploration and what the experiences teach you about yourself.
4-Step Functional Upper Body Workout - Always consult a doctor or other medical professional before starting any exercise program. This website earns commissions from qualifying purchases from posted ads. As I’ve written in earlier posts (especially during the COVID lockdown), getting and staying fit does not require a gym membership or expensive equipment. Bodyweight exercises are an effective way to improve strength, function, and overall fitness, and can be done virtually anywhere. In this post, I detail a functional bodyweight routine for the upper body, engaging the back, triceps, chest, and abdominals. The combination of all four exercises below, will challenge your upper body to build strength, function, burn calories, and help improve your overall fitness. 1. Back Exercise: Pull-Ups   Function: Strengthens multiple muscles in the upper body, including the back, shoulders, and arms. Benefits: Improves upper body strength, posture, and stability, which can help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall posture. 2. Chest Exercise: Push-Ups 3 sets | 10-20 reps | 30-45 seconds rest between sets, you can also super set with tricep dips (below). Function: Strengthens the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Benefits: Improves upper body strength and stability and can also help strengthen postural muscles, thus reducing the risk of injury.   3. Tricep Exercise: Tricep Dips   3 sets | 8-10 reps | 30-45 seconds rest between sets. Function: Strengthens the triceps, stretches the chest, and opens the shoulders. Benefits: Improves arm and shoulder stability, reduces the risk of injury, and increases upper body strength. 4. Abdominal Exercise: V-sits (optional: use a stability ball or hand weight) Function: Strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and improves core stability. Benefits: Builds and strengthens postural muscles, thus reducing the risk of both upper- and lower-body injury. Note: If the rep/set guidelines above feel too strenuous, start with a few reps of each exercise and gradually increase the number of reps and sets as you get stronger. The above combination of exercises is curated to engage multiple muscle groups for synergistic movement that will in turn help improve overall functional fitness. Remember to always perform each exercise with proper form to avoid injury and ensure you can get the most out of every rep and set.
Travel for adventure, renewal, and well-being. 4 Reasons Taking a Trip is Good for the Mind, Body, and Soul - This website earns commissions from qualifying purchases from posted ads. Travel is a popular way to experience new cultures, try new foods, and make memories that will last a lifetime. But did you know that traveling can also have a positive impact on your mental health? In this post, we’ll explore four major ways that traveling can improve your mental–and, even physical well-being, if you select the right travel vendor and location, as detailed below. Travel Reduces Stress and Increases Relaxation Traveling takes you away from the daily grind, thus reducing stress levels. Whether it’s lounging on a tropical beach or exploring a bustling city, travel provides a change of scenery and a chance to recharge. Even the act of planning a trip can bring joy and excitement to your life, which can help to reduce stress levels. Research has also shown that immersing yourself in nature has a calming effect on the mind and body, which can be achieved through activities like hiking, kayaking, or simply lounging in a natural setting, like a beach. Travel Improves Mood and Increases Happiness Traveling can also boost your mood and increase happiness levels. Experiencing new and exciting things or simply stepping outside of your comfort zone, can bring a sense of adventure and fulfillment to your life. Research has shown that engaging in new and novel experiences can stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and happiness. Furthermore, the memories you create while traveling can bring joy and happiness for years to come. Travel Promotes Self-Care and Mindfulness Traveling provides a unique opportunity to prioritize self-care and mindfulness. Gone are the days of viewing a vacation as vegsession–lying about, just soaking in the sun and doing limited physical activity. Many travelers now also want to exercise, meditate, and/or partake in spa treatments while away. People who are dedicated to a fitness lifestyle know the energy and mood boost exercise grants them, so why miss out on that while on a trip of a lifetime? The good news is, travel vendors recognize this desire from modern travelers, and many now offer the services and facilities to accommodate active, health-minded travelers. Virgin Voyages cruise line comes to mind as a forerunner in the space of play, relaxation, fitness, and wellness. Whether it’s indulging in a spa treatment, taking a yoga class, or simply taking a nap in a hammock, travel provides the time and space to focus on your physical and mental well-being. This can help you to return home feeling refreshed and recharged, with a renewed sense of purpose. Travel Provides a Sense of Accomplishment and Boosts Confidence Traveling to new destinations and overcoming any obstacles or challenges along the way can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost confidence levels. Navigating a new city, trying new foods, or simply stepping outside of your comfort zone, can help you grow and develop as a person. Furthermore, meeting new people and making connections while traveling can also enhance your sense of belonging and provide a sense of purpose. To enhance your travel experience, consider booking a trip with companies that prioritize wellness, such as Virgin Voyages, Zoëtry by AMResorts, or Sandals resorts. These companies offer exercise and spa options to help you maintain your physical and mental well-being even while traveling. Altogether, traveling can have a positive net impact on your mind, body, and soul. From reducing stress and increasing happiness to promoting self-care and boosting confidence, travel provides a unique opportunity to improve your mental well-being. If you’re looking to book a trip that prioritizes wellness, visit to explore a range of travel experiences with your mental and physical health in mind, planned and booked by a travel agent. Learn more below. About was created by Sylvia Petro & Advisors, a Dream Vacations travel agency that specializes in wellness, luxury, solo, and group travel. Coming from a twenty-year-long fitness and wellness background, Sylvia Petro & Advisors puts thoughtful wellness, solo, group, and luxury travel at the forefront of offerings. All four categories offer the option to renew, relax, regroup, and/or reenergize–by yourself, as a couple, or with friends and family. Leave the planning and booking to Sylvia Petro & Advisors, so you can fully immerse yourself in rejuvenation, relaxation, and adventure. Contact Sylvia Petro & Advisors to design your ideal getaway–on land, at sea, or both!
Master Your Core book review Book Review: Master Your Core - What exactly is “the core” and how should we strengthen it? These questions often cross the minds of the millions of people worldwide pursuing a fitter body. In Master Your Core, these questions are answered by award-winning Doctor of Physical Therapy and board-certified orthopedic specialist, Dr. Zazulak of Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University. Much more than being a book of prescribed exercises, like most popular material about core strength, Master Your Core provides comprehensive, yet concise information about the core. Through each chapter, Dr. Zazulak explains how the core affects our movement and body function from our heads to our toes, and how activities like breathing, jumping, and balancing influence core mastery. With three decades of experience as a clinical physical therapist specializing in the study of sports injuries and gender disparities, and as a former competitive athlete, Dr. Zazulak not only expresses her academic and athletic experience, but she also provides science-based data to guide readers to understand the mechanics of the core. Why We All Should Master Our Cores “[L]ack of core stability is directly linked to injury,” Dr. Zazulak, Master Your Core A flat stomach or a six-pack are often the motive for gym-goers to hit the mat and attempt to strengthen their cores. But as readers will learn in Master Your Core, that focus, apart from being a shallow and incomplete way of developing core strength, can lead to injury. This is because, as Dr. Zazulak explains, popular exercises to achieve a flat stomach or a six-pack, such as crunches, are aesthetically focused and inadequate for all-around core development. Further, this incomprehensive approach in these short-sighted programs can lead to injury, as they often neglect to address core stability and awareness. Dr. Zazulak supports this information by detailing clinical studies she has conducted, along with providing professional and personal anecdotes. Gender Differences A feature that makes this book about the core different than others is Dr. Zazulak’s research in differences between the female and male core. Unlike popular narratives about the core that simplify core development down to exercises to get visible abs, Dr. Zazulak goes deeper, and notes things women and men can do to ensure greater core development and injury prevention. Natural Movement “Developmentally, all movement starts at our core. Central inner-core muscle pre-activation creates a stable foundation for distal movement of the arms and legs,” Dr. Zazulak, Master Your Core Core development starts from birth and the mission to have a robust core for athletic performance starts then as well. Dr. Zazulak refers to this as “natural core development,” the way the human body has evolved to move, stabilize, and operate in various environments and under different pressures. However, she explains if you have missed out on healthy core awareness and development in your childhood, it is never too late to improve. Master Your Core provides a Core BASE Guide (detailed further) to help readers begin their journey of improving their core strength, stability, awareness, and ability. Modern Sports Science “You’ll learn more about how you can positively influence your genes with simple strategies and healthy lifestyle choices later in the book,” Dr. Zazulak, Master Your Core “Your genetics is not your destiny.” This new phrase, originated by George M. Church, is rooted in modern science, and Dr. Zazulak brings this modern science to readers. In addition to citations about genetic testing and injury differences between genders and across modern sports science, Dr. Zazulak writes that, despite our genetics, we all can work to make our core do more through her book’s holistic approach, involving mind, body, and spirit. The Pelvic Floor Another area of the core that is often neglected by popular training programs is the pelvic floor. Dr. Zazulak explains that the pelvic floor is composed of stabilizer muscles that reside deep in our core. The pelvic floor muscles provide sustained support and control of our spinal vertebrae while the body is at rest or in motion. Healthy function of these muscles becomes more important as we age, but also at any age, with regard to athletic function. Dr. Zazulak offers readers ways to assess and develop awareness of their pelvic floor function and strengthen it via her Core BASE Guide. Core BASE Guide If you have spent any time on a fitness goal, you have likely heard about “the core” and seen or been offered ways to strengthen it. Generally, this “strengthening” focuses on the anterior plane of the body and is centered on the frontal abs with movements that involve rounding the back and tightening the abdominals repetitively. But as Dr. Zazulak explains in Master Your Core, the core encases our midsection and lower back 360 degrees and is composed of thirty-five muscles. This encasing includes anterior muscles: abdominals; posterior muscles: the back and glutes; and the pelvis. Therefore, considering all the muscle groups that compose the core, strengthening it is not as simple as targeting just one area of it: our mirror muscles, the center abdominals. Master Your Core’s Core BASE Guide provides a library of progressive movements for readers to test and develop their core for true strength; meaning, not just developing force, but also balance, stability, and awareness. Rating – 5 Stars LLAFIT gives Master Your Core five stars. As a website with a focus on lifelong functional fitness and athletic ability, Master Your Core stands on its own as a complete guide to understanding and developing the strength, awareness, and function of the core. LLAFIT also appreciates the evidence-based science shared with readers. As a Yale Doctor of Physical Therapy and Researcher, a practicing clinical physical therapist, and an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Zazulak is at the forefront of the latest findings and advances in sports science. She delivers her expert knowledge through accessible language, relatable stories, and easy-to-understand citations from her research. Master Your Core is not only a guide for developing current athletic performance and function, but it is also a resource for those pursuing lifelong fitness and health – mind, body, and spirit. Get Your Copy of Master Your Core Get the Audiobook


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