Tag Archives: Stephanie Bell Wellness

Permission Happiness: Granted

27 Apr
Jane Austin and homemade chili? I don't mind if I do!

Jane Austen and homemade chili? I don’t mind if I do!

I’ve been noticing in my own life that it’s really hard to do something kind for myself without justifying it, or to allow myself to feel moments of happiness and joy without feeling guilty or shameful about it. Maybe you can relate.

It’s sad and fascinating and frustrating all at the same time. Why can’t I spend an hour–candles lit and hot tea ready to drink–reading a good book without justifying “I’m not being lazy, it’s for work?” And why am I waiting for the hands of judgment to punish me for enjoying chocolate truffles and snuggles with my man?

Logical Me wants to know why I do it and how can I fix it. Emotional Me wants to fully indulge myself, then mentally punish myself for weeks to come.

…And then there is this small, steady voice. It is barely audible, but when I breathe–just breathe–I can hear it. It’s stronger than I think. It reminds me that when I give myself permission to be kind to myself, to discover what makes me happy, to engage in simple moments of pleasure, that I in turn give my mother, my niece, my friends, all men and women, permission to do the same.

Accepting and loving ourselves gives others permission and strength to do the same.

I call that voice Loving Me.

I Brake for Planks

16 Jun


My absolute favorite core exercise is the plank. It’s the duct tape of exercise: versatile (side, front, knees, toes, hip extension, arm extension, rotary, hip abduction and the list goes on), functional (no core strength = pain and injury) and suitable for almost all fitness levels (Olympic athletes to office workers with herniated discs to grandparents with stenosis). Pretty sure MacGyver had core strength AND duct tape.


Now let’s break this mutha down into proper form so you receive the most benefits. After all, knowing how to stabilize your core is fundamental for all movement.


1. Lying on your stomach, place your elbows underneath your shoulders and forearms on the ground. Your arms will be within the frame of your body. Keep shoulders wide rather than sinking into them and avoid clasping your hands together.

2. Draw your belly button towards your spine (innie or outie–ain’t no thang) and squeeze your butt, slightly tucking your tailbone and lifting your hips in alignment with your shoulders. Toes will be tucked underneath you.

3. Shift your weight back into your heels and reach long through the crown of your head. Your body will be one strong, straight line, like a battering ram (see picture). Breathe and hold this position for 15-60 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat.


Of course, you will only perform this exercise if you have been cleared to exercise by your physician. If you feel pain at any time, stop the exercise immediately and consult a certified personal trainer –like me!–to check form and help you modify the exercise to meet your specific needs.




What Are You Going to Choose?

9 Jun

Do you ever feel like you’re a deflating balloon? Not a slow deflate, but a just-let-go-of-a-fully-blown-balloon-spinning-out-of-control-and-helplessly-flailing-about sort of deflating balloon? Yeah, me too. But there is one key word that simply isn’t true: we aren’t helpless.


I tend to forget that. Maybe you do too. It is so easy to let the negative self talk win. It is so easy to believe we aren’t good enough, that we have nothing valuable to share. In fact, I just spent this entire last week binge watching three Jane Austin movies and feeling sick to my stomach because I’m so afraid to fail at something I really want to do. Something I really believe in.


It is scary to put ourselves out there… but far scarier to never try. And the thought of never trying and therefore never knowing terrifies me.


We have a say in our life. We have every right to feel deflated, upset, scared, disappointed, angry… and we have every right to feel excited, joyful, loving and happy.


So, what are you going to choose? Are you going to helplessly flail about as though you have no choice? Or are you going to acknowledge you’re deflating, give your balloon a few deep breaths and enjoy floating among the stars?


I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What helps or inspires you to keep moving forward during times of self-doubt?

Swapping Grains for Greens: How to Use Collard Greens for Wraps

2 Jun

An easy way to increase your metabolic mojo is to swap nutrient-dense greens (and other yummy veggies) in place of grains and starches (like potatoes). Collard greens flourish when it comes to lowering cholesterol and they support detoxification and anti-inflammation in the body which studies show may contribute to cancer prevention. There is no better time than now because they are in season at your local Farmers’ Market and grocery store. Yum!


Check out the pictures below for a simple step-by-step guide to creating the perfect collard green wrap.

1. Soak and clean greens in water and apple cider vinegar.

Step 1: Soak and clean greens in water and apple cider vinegar.

Step 2: Rinse and pat dry. Then, cut the stem out.

Step 2: Rinse and pat dry. Then, cut the stem out.

Step 3: Store extras in an 8x13 glass baking dish, separating them with a paper towel.

Step 3: Store extras in an 8×13 glass baking dish, separating them with a paper towel.


Step 4: Overlap leaves by 1/2 an inch and place the wrap filling towards the bottom. Fold the bottom edge up and over. Then, tuck in the sides and continue to roll until it looks like the wrap in the upper right side corner.


I’d love to hear from you! What health challenges are you facing? What fitness and food tips would help you get the life you deserve? Please post them below.

Homemade Produce Wash: How to Get the Funk Off Your Fruit (and Veggies)

19 May
This pear is about to get a spa treatment.

This pear is about to get a spa treatment.

Obvious statement: I dig gardening and Farmers’ Markets. Always have, always will. I remember many instances eating strawberries and chives straight from my parents’ garden as a little girl. No rinsing or checking for bugs… maybe just a little air to blow the dirt off if I noticed any. Probably not my finest moment in food hygiene, but I definitely excelled at the Farm to Table experience in my younger years.


Now that I am a gardening adult, fully aware of the amount of manure I use in my garden, I like to make sure my food is actually clean before I eat it. The secret weapon: apple cider vinegar. Not only can it make your hair shine and improve your digestion, but this little wonder can clean your produce of dirt, bugs and bacteria. Woot, woot!


Here’s how…


Mix 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar (I prefer Bragg’s) for every 1 cup of filtered water you use. Place the produce in a bowl or your kitchen sink (make sure the sink is clean) and soak it in this mixture for at least 5 minutes. Scrub (with a designated produce scrub brush or your hands), rinse with water, pat dry and savor!

Jungle (Gym) Fever

7 Apr

There is far too much Spring beauty outdoors to keep your sweet, tight cheeks lifting weights indoors. About time you spice up your routine with some jungle gym action. The routine is written for all levels, but I added an alternate exercise in parentheses if you need more of a challenge.


Truth: I’m not a fan of generic exercise programs (hence my words of caution you will read right…. NOW). It is extremely important to work with your doctor (to make sure you are cleared for exercise and do not have any orthopedic issues, etc.) and a certified trainer (like yours truly) who can properly assess and design an individualized exercise program for you that effectively reaches your goals while keeping your safety and needs numero uno.


Before beginning any exercise program, always check with your doctor and stop exercise immediately if you experience any pain, dizziness, numbness, etc. There are four things you need to execute with each exercise to ensure proper technique: 1) activate abdominals (as though someone was going to poke or punch you in the stomach), 2) lift your chest, 3) breathe and 4) drink water. It’s about to get crazy…


Equipment: jungle gym at your home or park, you (yay you!) and jungle boogie tunes never hurt



Warm Up:

Walk to the park or around your yard (at least 5 minutes)

Perform any corrective exercises or stretches you need

Bodyweight Squats–8 reps (Figure 1)

Modified Push Up on bench–8 reps (Figure 2)

Split Squat–8 reps each (Figure 3)


Bodyweight Training Circuit: perform 10 reps of each exercise in a row, rest for 60 seconds and perform entire circuit again for 3-4 more times.


1. Plank (or Plank with Arm Reach). Start in a neutral spine position with your elbows under your shoulders and your weight back in your heels (Figure 4). Hold this for 30-60 seconds rather than performing 10 reps (or Plank with Arm Reach: keep pelvis level and still while reaching one arm out in front of you at a 45 degree angle, set back down in start position and reach opposite arm. Perform 10 reps each side). Keep breathing.


2. Split Squat (or Bulgarian Squat). Start in a split stance with right leg in front and left leg back, legs hip width apart (or Bulgarian Squat: place top of the toes of the left back foot on a swing seat so it is elevated). Inhale, bend knees to lower your body, leading with the left knee towards the ground (but don’t touch the knee to ground) (Figure 3). Exhale, squeeze the glutes and push with the right heel to start position. Keep the spine neutral the entire time. Perform 10 reps, then switch to the other side.


3. Push Up (or Push Up with feet elevated on bench or swing seat). Start in a neutral spine position with your wrists under your shoulders (Figure 5). Inhale, squeeze your shoulder blades to pull yourself towards the ground, elbows pointing back at a 45 degree angle. Once your arms are level with your torso, exhale and push up to start (Figure 6). This can also be performed like the modified push up in the warm up.


4. Reverse Row (or Pull Up). Find a sturdy bar that is hip or chest height (or Pull Up: find monkey bars or a sturdy bar that is slightly taller than you). Place your hands on the bar shoulder width apart and position yourself underneath the bar where the chest is in line with the bar (or Pull Up: you will be hanging directly underneath the bar, knees bent if needed so feet do not touch the ground). Start in neutral spine/ plank position. Inhale, squeeze the shoulder blades and pull your chest towards the bar, moving the body as one unit and not braking at the hips or overextend the lumbar spine (or Pull Up: use your back muscles to pull your chest up to the bar until elbows are bent slightly past 90 degrees). Exhale and lower, straightening the elbows but still staying in a neutral spine/ plank position.


5. Squat (or Jump Squat). Stand with feet hip width apart. Inhale, sit back like you are going to sit in a chair, keeping knees behind and in line with second toe (Figure 1). Exhale, squeeze the butt and push through the heels as though you are pushing the ground away from you to return to start (or Jump Squat: push through the heels and jump) (Note: my arms are in a prisoner’s squat position. This is not the best position for those with shoulder issues, tight pecs, etc. Please keep hands on hips or folded at your chest. I simply posed like this because it was the best view to demonstrate proper technique in the photograph without blocking my lower body.)



Walk back home or around your yard until your heart rate slows and returns to normal. Foam roll and stretch as needed.


***This program is designed for healthy individuals with no medical concerns. Always speak with your doctor before performing any exercise program. If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised in a while (but your doctor has given you the A-OK), start with one set and build your endurance and strength from there. Optimal results can only be obtained with a customized exercise and nutrition program.

Figure 1: Bodyweight Squats

Figure 1: Bodyweight Squats

Figure 2: Modified Push Up

Figure 2: Modified Push Up

Figure 3 Split Squat (you can use the chair for balance if you are a new exerciser)

Figure 3: Split Squat

Figure 6

Figure 4: Plank

Figure 4

Figure 5: Start position of push up

Figure 5

Figure 6: Bottom position of push up

Mexican Spaghetti (grain-free)

31 Mar
My half-eaten plate of Mexican Spaghetti served with roasted broccoli.

My half-eaten plate of Mexican Spaghetti served with roasted broccoli.

If you love Mexican and Italian food (or food in general) as much as I do, you will devour this healthy dish that marries the flavors of both. Mangia!



1 lb grass-fed beef

1/4 tsp sea salt

10 turns black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 lb bag frozen or fresh sliced bell peppers

1 bag Explore Asia Organic Black Bean Spaghetti (or use spaghetti squash)

1 cup salsa

Garnish: avocado, black olives, fresh cilantro



1. Brown beef, drain grease and add salt, black pepper, garlic, oregano, chili powder and bell peppers. Simmer for 15 minutes.

2. While taco meat is simmering, cook spaghetti according to box. Drain and place in large serving bowl.

3. Add taco meat, and remaining ingredients to bowl, mix and eat!


Serves 4