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Yasmin Essa

Strong Back Gym Workout

Before we get into the workout, let's talk about why a strong back is important. Doing this workout at least once a week will help reduce pain, improve your posture, and increase your overall confidence. As someone who thrives with scoliosis, I always feel better when my back is strong.

Note: The following weight suggestions are simply ideas. As always, listen to your body and do what feels best for you. The weight should be difficult, but you should not feel any sharp pains. Challenge yourself without going overboard.

Instructions: Do 3 sets of 9 for each move
  • Suicides (they really gotta think of a better name of these..)
  • Lat pulldown
    • Beginners: 20 lbs
    • Intermediate: 40 lbs
    • Advance: 60 lbs
  • Seated cable row
    • Beginners: 20lbs
    • Intermediate: 40 lbs
    • Advanced: 60 lbs
  • Renegade row
    • Beginner: 5 lbs
    • Intermediate: 15 lbs
    • Advanced: 25 lbs
  • Back extension machine
    • Beginner: 20 lbs
    • Intermediate: 40 lbs
    • Advanced: 60 lbs
Each of these moves (except the first) require gym equipment. If you don't have access to a gym, no problem. There are plenty of other workouts you can do using no equipment at all. This workout is for someone with a gym membership and/or access to this type of equipment.


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Yasmin Essa

[Recipe] Italian Chicken Balls - Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo/Low-Carb/Grain-Free Option

Makes 13 Balls

Ingredients:
  • 10 oz Chicken Breast
    • Chicken should already be previously cooked
    • If it's available to you and you can afford it, always choose organic and humanely raised poultry
    • I used Halal Organic Chicken Breast from Honest Chops in NJ
  • 2 Eggs 
    • If it's available to you and you can afford it, always choose organic. One step above this is pasture-raised
  • 1 cup baby spinach
    • Use organic if possible
  • 1/2 cup Pasta Sauce
    • I used Walnut Acres Organic Garlic Salt-Free Pasta Sauce
    • You can make your own pasta sauce if you wish
    • If buying store-bought, choose a brand that comes in glass and preferably salt free, or with low amount of sea salt
  • 2 Slices Gluten Free Bread
    • I used Udi's Multigrain Gluten Free Bread
    • You can use any other bread if you want
    • If gluten doesn't bother you, no need to use gluten free.
    • Read my previous blog post here about choosing the best bread for yourself
    • Skip this ingredient if you're looking to make your chicken balls paleo, grain free, and low-carb
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    • Make sure you are really using 100% olive oil. A lot of brands cut cheap oils like vegetable and soy into their product. These are no good for the thyroid gland, as well as other processes in your body.
  • Food processer
Instructions:
  1. Say bismillah (if that's your belief).
  2. Toast bread.
    • Personally, I don't have a toaster. I do have an electric toaster oven. So I put the two slices on a small piece of If You Care brand parchment paper on bake (400) until they browned. If your regular oven is gas like mine, aim to do smaller jobs like this in the toaster oven (if you have one), as electric appliances don't fume dangerous gases the way gas ovens do.
    • Skip this step if you want your chicken balls to be paleo, grain-free, and low-carb.
  3. Preheat oven to 400.
  4. Process all ingredients except for tomato sauce in a food processor. Make sure bread is cooled down before adding to food processor.
    • If you don't have a food processor, you can mash everything by hand, but I can't guarantee the texture will come out exactly the same
  5. By now, you should have a processed mixture that easily shapes into balls. The mixture should make 13 nice round chicken balls. As you make each ball, place it on a baking dish. For me, I used a glass Pyrex cookware lined with parchment paper.
  6. Once you have all of the balls on your cooking dish, place in oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Mix 1/2 cup pasta sauce with 1/4 cup water. Once mixed, pour over chicken balls. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  8. Say bismillah (if that's your belief) and enjoy, inshaAllah (Godwilling).

Nutritional Facts:

Regular Version: 1 Ball = 64.2 calories; 6.8g Protein; 2.2g Fat; 3.5g Carbs

Paleo/GrainFree/Low-Carb Version: 1 Ball = 47.3 Calories; 6.3g Protein; 1.7g Fat; 0.9g Carbs
 
 

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Yasmin Essa

Love Note 1: You Are Enough

One of my August 2016 goals is to write a short & sweet handwritten love to share on social media, starting today. Here is the first one. I know a lot of people will like it because it's pretty and makes you feel good. But let's go deeper than that. Do you really believe you are enough? Well, if you're a homo sapien (human), you probably struggle in this area. We all fight inner thoughts of not feeling like we're enough. Some of us more than others. We often look to external sources for validation that we are enough. Some look to money. Some look to power. Some look to material items. Some look to fame. Some look to accomplishments. The list goes on and on. The real truth underneath it all is that no external source will ever make us feel enough. Our worthiness doesn't lie in what we do, or what we have, or what anyone perceives about us. Our worthiness exists in simply being. We are worthy because we are humans. Why do you think it's called human rights? Okay... So if this is the case, why do we struggle so badly with feeling enough? Umm... Ding ding.. It's not too hard to see all the people tearing each other down. The discourse that surrounds us is loud and it's ugly. Advertisements bombard us with ideals that we aren't good enough. Politicians and people in power mock us for things like skin color, ethnicity, religion. Even our own family and friends who may love us dearly put unintentional pressures on us to do more. Let's admit it. We are a society that has lost the power of the now. Right here. Right now. Everything is okay. You're breathing. You are enough. Exactly as you are. Take advantage of that. I can guarantee you there are others in this world who currently don't have the same blessings. You are enough. As you are. Breathe it in. Remind yourself. Over and over again.
 

 
 

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Yasmin Essa

Yasmin's August 2016 Goals


I spent some time today dialing in on my personal + professional + spiritual goals for the month of August. I've decided to share them with you all.

I'm sharing for three main reasons: 1) to keep myself accountable, 2) to share about myself since it's normal human nature for people to generally be curious about what others are doing, and 3) to inspire others to get their goals down in writing, so we can support each other, inshaAllah (Godwilling).

Here are some of my goals for the month, inshaAllah (Godwilling).

1) Share a handwritten short love note each day on social media. My goal is to make them short, simple, and sweet. I'll begin tomorrow, August 3rd inshaAllah.

2) Fill my current open 1:1 coaching spots for my Initial Coaching Session. (I have 2 currently open this month. These sessions are for new clients. If you are interested, send me a private message, or leave your contact info below in a comment). I specialize in all things women's health from a mental, physical, and spiritual perspective. Some of the things I work with women on (and have a track record of getting clients results with) include nutrition goals, fitness goals, weight loss, vitamin deficiencies, blood work review, thyroid disease, gut issues, digestive disorders, mood disorders, autoimmune disease, joint pain, inflammation, emotional management, anxiety, food sensitivities, cooking, career goals, relationship issues, eating disorders, chronic pain, holistically managing depression, work/life balance, to name a few.

3) For my regular every other week coaching clients: Spend a few minutes after each client session to brainstorm new ways to add more value to the experience my long term coaching clients get both during and in-between our sessions

4) Continue my current morning routine including no technology for the first hour of waking up. I've been doing this for about a week now and it's been a game changer.

5) Read Surat al Kahf on Jumuah (Friday). I've been wanting to do this for so long now. No more procrastination with this inshaAllah. I've been doing okay with reading Quran in general. It's time to get serious with this inshaAllah.

6) Spend 3 days (mostly) disconnected from technology to spend time with Kyle and honor our 3 year wedding anniversary.

7) Publish and market Glow Academy 2016-2017 classes. I’ll be offering seven different 2 hour intensive online classes between September 2016 thru May 2017. Each class will be on a very specific topic based on the needs of my current audience. If you want to make sure you receive the info on this, sign up for my free mailing list at www.wellnesswithyasmin.com

8) Continue to track my macros. This is something I’ve been doing for about a week. I am doing this to get in touch with some numbers in order to achieve current personal fitness goals. I haven’t tracked this for years prior to this, as I eat and maintain myself intuitively.

9) Take new photos for my website.

10) Make the most of my IIN Immersion Training. I'm currently doing a 6 month Immersion program with IIN. This is the third time I'm doing it. It's a service the school I received my Board Certification offers all alumni. As I go through it, I'll be connecting with more Health Coaches as well as redefining and upgrading my current coaching practice.

11) Create a handmade physical wedding album with Kyle (this is one of the things we plan to do together during our anniversary inshaAllah). We don't hang up any pictures of faces in our home (due to the Hadith), so I am excited to have this keepsake that adheres to our spiritual practices. I have a feeling some family members will be excited about this.

12) Create an doctor referral network as well as an action plan to reach out to physicians who are passionate about wellness.

13) Publish 2 new recipes on my blog.

14) Spend time with family.

15) Meet up with two particular long-time friends I haven't seen in a while.

Those are my goals inshaAllah. I'll be reporting back to let you all know how they go down. What about you? No goal is too big or small. Don't be intimated to share. I want to hear about yours. Let's make this a community effort inshaAllah (Godwilling).
 
 

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Yasmin Essa

Green Smoothie Recipe

Green smoothie season is upon us. They are great for optimal digestion, healthy skin, a strong immune system, joint mobility, hormonal balance, mental clarity, sustainable energy and so much more. Perfect for breaking fast in Ramadan alongside water. We used it for this past Monday's sunnah fast. For this particular batch, I adapted one of Kim Snyder's ‪#‎glowinggreensmoothie‬recipes. Here's my version:

GreenSmoothie

Blend first:
-2 cups water
-3 cups baby leafy greens

Add and blend:
-1 mini cucumber

Add and blend:
-1/2 inch ginger root

Add and blend:
-1 pink lady Apple

Add and blend:
-juice from 1/2 lemon

Add and blend:
-1 gram of stevia (no added ingredients, I used sweetleaf brand)

Enjoy inshaAllah (Godwilling)


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Yasmin Essa

4 Healthy Ways to Enjoy Bread

This beautiful plate was one of my meals last week and it was delicious, alhamdulilah (all praise and gratitude is due to God alone). It was easy to make and very well balanced. The main reason I took a picture and am sharing it now is because there's a myth out there that in order to be lean and healthy you can't eat bread. I disagree. I personally enjoy bread and find that if you enjoy something, restriction isn't the answer. There are some guidelines to help you enjoy bread in a more wholesome way.
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1) Aim for either homemade or fresh bread. If choosing store-brought, choose brands that are stored in the freezer section that have minimal ingredients. You know something is not right when shelf stable breads sit for weeks on the shelf/counter without getting moldy. This is thanks to crazy amounts of fillers and preservatives (no bueno).

2) As with all carbs, it isn't the carb that's the problem. We need carbs as they are an essential macronutrient. Restrict them and I promise you'll run into problems. The problem is with how people tend to eat carbs (alone, with no protein and greens). Protein helps stabilize blood sugar which is especially important when consuming bread which has a higher GI than other whole food sources of carbs. Greens help alkalize your overall meal. Add natural detoxifiers like beets or probiotic rich food like saurkruat.

3) Bread has a higher GI than let's say sweet potato, because it has less fiber and contains flour. Aim to eat it earlier in the day, when your body can utilize the energy.

4) To gluten or not gluten. That is the question. For me, it's not gluten. I've been gluten free for many years now. Do I recommend that to everyone? Heck no. People who can benefit include but are not limited to those with joint issues, inflammation, gut issues, thyroid issues, MTHFR, celiac disease, constipation, etc. Most importantly, you have to be mentally there, otherwise you are going to feel restricted. For me, I went gluten free years ago to reduce inflammation, and holistically manage my idiopathic scoliosis. I don't feel the least bit restricted because I have yet to find something I can't rework to be gluten free.

There you have it, my top 4 ways to enjoy bread, inshaAllah (Godwilling).



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Yasmin Essa

Spring Detox Webinar 2016

 
 

Yasmin Essa

5 Holistic Ways To Reduce Your Breast Cancer Odds

October 2015 is coming to a close and we've all seen our fair share of pink ribbons, etc. Awareness is a great thing, but it's action that makes real difference in your real life.

Breast cancer is a personal topic for me. Two of my maternal aunts fought aggressive battles against breast cancer, so I've seen first hand what it can do to a family. While it was hard on me and still remains a sensitive topic in my heart as their niece, I can only imagine how hard it was / still is on their children, my dear cousins.

My one aunt passed away after a long battle of aggressive treatment. She lived in Egypt, but she even came here to the US for treatment. I remember those countless days and nights in the hospital very clearly. My other aunt successfully beat cancer after undergoing a lot of aggressive treatment. The amazing thing is that my aunt who beat cancer found out she had cancer after being tested after learning about her sisters' diagnosis.

I am sharing these tips with you, so that you can do what is in your hands to reduce your odds for breast cancer.

1) Love up your lymph, especially the lymph surrounding your breasts
When it comes to our lymph nodes, my favorite analogy is that they are like the sewage system of our body. Just like a sewage system filters out harmful substances from waste water, our lymph nodes filter out harmful substances from our body. The thing is though, that everything has an upper limit. When we have too many harmful substances in our body, it can contribute to our lymphatic system becoming congested. Lymph node health is strongly linked to breast health.

Here are some ways to love up your lymph:
  • Exfoliate. Use a natural bristle dry brush or a loofah to get your lymph moving.
  • Say no thanks to aluminum and other heavy metals. They take a toll on your lymphatic system. Easiest ways to reduce your exposure? Use aluminum free deodorant (my favorite is Primal Pit Paste, and no they are not paying me to say that. I also make my own sometimes, and yes it works). Also, use cookware made from ceramic or glass, rather than aluminum or metal.
  • Trash those wired bras. Let's be honest. They are not comfortable, and you and I both know that. Plus they reduce lymphatic movement.
  • Learn how to do a self-breast exam, and do one every few months.
  • Massage. It reduces stress, can serve as a self breast exam (when doing breast massage), and gets lymph moving. Focus on your chest muscles, neck, shoulder, breasts, underneath your breasts, rib cage, and below your armpits.
  • Sweat it out. Find exercise you enjoy and do it regularly (at least 3x per week)
2) Respect your comfort
When you sit down and think about the things that women do in the name of "beauty", it's quite absurd. Trust me, I love a fashionable outfit as much as the next person, but when fashion equals pain, I say no thank you.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Suffocating your body increases inflammation in the body.
  • Give yourself daily breaks from bras. It's good for you and it feels good. Enough said.
3) Say no thanks to fake estrogen
Fake estrogen is all around us in the form of phytoestrogens (plants that act like estrogen) and xenoestrogens (substances like plastic that act as estrogen). It's one thing to be existent in small amounts. It's a completely different issue when it's highly prevalent and many women are estrogen dominant. Estrogen dominance is one of the leading hormonal imbalances in today's day and age.

The key problem with fake estrogen is that it acts like estrogen, but do not actually carry out the job that real estrogen does. Imagine how confused your body is when there is an intruder that looks like the real thing, but can't perform like the real thing.

You may not be able to avoid fake estrogen 100%, but you can control upwards of 95% of your exposure. Here are some ways to do so:
  • Avoid soy. Anyone who has been following my work long enough knows that I don't believe in blanket restrictions. Soy is the king of all exceptions. Not only is soy a phytoestrogen, but it is also a goitrogen (inhibits thyroid function), and it's high in phytic acid (an antrinutrient). 
  • Choose glass over plastic when you can.
4) Cherish your cells, daily.
Every single type of cancer starts at the cellular level and then grows. We have trillions of cells in our body and our immune system (when healthy) is fighting off intruders and disease all the time. Wrap your head around that for a second.
    • Alkalize your body on the daily. It has been scientifically proven that cancer cells can not grow in an alkalize environment. Acidic environments provide the proper breeding grounds for cancer cell growth.
      • My favorite ways to alkalize are:
        • fresh squeezed lemon water on an empty stomach
        • homemade dressing using 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part extra virgin olive oil
        • eating dark greens at each meal
        • green juices and powders (Remember to choose quality over quantity, and avoid green juices that are loaded with too much sugar)
    • Take a food based vitamin D supplement once a day, after having a meal or snack that contains a healthy fat (vitamin D is fat soluble). In terms of what dosage to take, that depends on your current levels. Your doctor and holistic health coach can help you with this based on your bloodwork.
    • Drink plenty of water on the daily
      • It should be a crime not to hydrate properly. When you don't drink lots of water, you are not taking care of your cells at the most basic physical level. How can you be healthy if you are dehydrated? Aim for at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces. If you're an active individual, drink even more.
    • Be on the lookout for any underlying infections
      • Infectious disease is all around us. In functional medicine, treating underlying infections is key to heal the root cause of chronic disease. When you have a swollen lymph node, it is often your body fighting an infection. You can monitor this by keeping up with bloodwork and monitoring any abnormal white blood cell activity.
    • Get your c reactive protein tested, it is a marker for inflammation in the body. If you find your body is highly inflamed, here are some things you can do to reduce your overall inflammation
      • incorporate fresh ginger into your day
      • incorporate turmeric (both fresh and powder) into your day
      • get tested for food sensitivities that may be causing inflammation 
      • take an omega 3 oil supplement daily
5) Trust your story
Remember: At the end of the day, you can't guarantee anything. Sure, you can follow these tips, but nothing guarantees your full immunity. That's kind of how this life works.

Does that mean you should throw it in the bag and do nothing? Um, absolutely not. These methods are scientifically based methods to reduce your odds. I use them myself and I know they make a difference, because I used to a live a not so healthy life years ago.

I used to really fear breast cancer. I don't really fear it like that anymore. I know I am doing my part and that's all I can do.

At the same time, we must remember that "what is meant for us will not pass us by".

In the Qur'an, Allah SWT tells us that:

{Certainly, We shall test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient—those who, when afflicted with calamity say, "Truly to Allah we belong, and truly to Him shall we return." It is those who will be awarded blessings and mercy from their Lord; and it is those who are the guided ones.} (Al-Baqarah 2:155–157)

Therefore, do your part, and leave the rest in the hands of the Most High.

Do you have a personal connection to breast cancer or some tips of your own? Go ahead and share your story in the comments below.

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Yasmin Essa

Savory & Zesty Chicken Salad

Yummy Chicken Salad

This salad is perfect anytime of the day. It's loaded with healthy proteins and fats. Feel free to pair it with your favorite healthy carbs. Feel free to improvise and switch up any ingredients you aren't that keen on, inshaAllah (Godwilling).


Salad Ingredients

Use as much or as little as you want of each ingredient.

  • Strawberries
  • Cooked Chicken Breast
  • Castelvetrano Olives
  • Spring Mix (massage it after washing
  • Tomato
  • Avocado

Dressing Ingredients


  • 2 Parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Part Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pink himilayan sea salt to each 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Enjoy, inshaAllah. :)

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Yasmin Essa

Healthy Chocolate + Cherry Protein Pancakes (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

Healthy Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate + Cherry Pancakes
My husband Kyle & I enjoyed a fresh homemade batch of these on our 2nd wedding anniversary. :) I improvised this recipe and it came out awesome, fluffy, light, and fulfilling. Enjoy, inshaAllah.

Wet Ingredients
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
    • if using store-bought almond milk, use a brand that does not have 'carrageenan' in it, as this destroys the interested
    • you can use water if you don't have almond milk or have a nut allergy
Dry Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (we used SunWarrior vegan protein powder, you can substitute an additional 1/4 cup oatmeal + 1 teaspoon chia seeds)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour (you can substitute 1 tablespoon of cinnamon if you don't have coconut flour)
  • 1 shake non aluminum baking soda
Topping Ingredients

  • Enjoy Life Brand dark chocolate chunks
  • Cherries
  • Cinnamon Powder


Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the wet ingredients until mixed
  2. Add the dry ingredients and blend again until mixed
  3. Heat your pan until hot
  4. Add a little bit of coconut oil to pan and wipe any excess with paper towel
  5. Pour mixture into pan the way you would with any other pancake mix.
  6. Lower your heat on your pan when not in use between making pancakes and wipe your pan in between if you begin to see black debris
  7. Keep the cooked pancakes in a warm covered plate while you finish all batches
  8. When all pancakes have been cooked, plate them and add cherries, chocolate, and cinnamon
  9. Enjoy, inshaAllah (Godwilling)

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