Shifting Wellness Attitudes Shape 2022 Fitness Trends

Shifting Wellness Attitudes Shape 2022 Fitness Trends

In adjusting to the constraints of the pandemic, many Americans had to improvise where and how they work out. After months of adapting to a “gym anywhere” mentality and learning to accommodate more flexible workout schedules, this new fitness mindset is inspiring some larger trends for healthier living.

“We’ve learned that wellness is not one-size fits all, and that it’s achieved by small habits like regular hydration that can really impact how you feel throughout the day,” said celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak, MsC. “Collectively, nourishing both body and mind together as one makes holistic health a sustainable lifestyle.”

Pasternak and the experts at Propel Fitness Water are forecasting five fitness and wellness trends to watch for in 2022:

Accountability Buddies

When gym closures ran rampant, folks leaned on others for inspiration to get moving, so it’s no surprise working out in pairs (or more) is a continued way to focus on fitness. Feelings of burnout may be common heading into 2022, so having a partner who gives you a healthy sense of camaraderie and competition can help push you to show up on days when you’d rather rest and stay committed to your goals. It also provides a sounding board when you need suggestions for nutritious recipes or fresh at-home cardio ideas.

Versatility in Gym Spaces and Schedules

When a large segment of the workforce started working from home, the rituals of before- and after-work gym visits fell by the wayside. People grew more accustomed to improvising where they work out, whether it was their neighbor’s garage, their living room or a running path in the city. As exercisers are less beholden to studio or gym schedules, the “gym anywhere” mentality is a level of flexibility many are holding on to, even as they ease back into more normal work routines.

Health in Small, Achievable Doses

This trend is all about recognizing health transformations don’t happen overnight, and even modest steps can make a big difference in how you feel throughout the day. One example is paying more attention to your hydration. If you aren’t properly hydrated, few other things tend to go right either. Small habits like throwing Propel Powder Packs into your gym, work or school bag can make a difference. Filled with enough electrolytes to replace what is lost in sweat, they are handy for on-the-go hydration and are easy to add to a water bottle.

Wellness Goals vs. Fitness

Committing to overall wellness is more about lifestyle changes than numbers like weight loss or muscle mass. People embracing this trend are forgoing numeric goals based on performance in the gym or on the scale and instead emphasizing outcomes that affect life, nourishing both body and mind together as one. Fitness goals are an essential component, but so is supporting your mental health as well as being cognizant of what you’re putting into your body. When each piece is well taken care of, your body is better able to work like a well-oiled machine.

Low-Impact Workouts

This year, walking treadmill challenges gained virality on social media, marking the increasing popularity of workouts that are low impact yet effective. Getting moving is the key, even if it means taking your tempo down. You don’t need to do hours of HIIT every day to see results. In fact, less time- and energy-intensive workouts are easier to sustain and can often yield the same, or better, results.

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Five Things to Do at the Beginning of a New Relationship

Five Things to Do at the Beginning of a New Relationship

Entering a new relationship is a fun and exciting experience. This phase consists of discovering each other’s interests, laughter, and late night conversations that you spend the next day thinking about. The world is filled with endless possibilities. It’s electric, and so far everything is as close to perfect as it can be. But it’s important not to get too swept away during this time. As your emotions surge, it will be harder to keep a level head and set necessary boundaries, but if you want your new relationship to truly blossom, to mature and grow in a healthy way that’s exactly what you need to do. Below, you’ll find a few tips to help as you navigate your new relationship.

Be Yourself

It’s no secret that everyone wants to appear appealing and put together to their new partner. While you certainly don’t want to dump all your childhood trauma on them right out the gate, you shouldn’t lie about who you are either. You don’t have to put on a show to make someone like you. An ideal partner is someone who will love you for who truly you are, but in order for that to happen, they have to know who you are. Building a relationship based on lies is a foolproof way to create drama and trust issues down the line. Be yourself. Don’t change for anyone. Be honest about your hobbies and your likes and dislikes. Be your goofy or clumsy self. Tell them your favorite movies, even if they don’t appreciate the genre. Don’t tell them you love the outdoors if the idea of spending the day hiking sounds like your own personal hell. Obviously, you can learn to love and appreciate new things in the relationship, and you can certainly try out things they enjoy simply because you want to be around them, but don’t lie about who you are and what you like. Be your beautiful self, and let that be enough.

Don’t Give up Control

Relationships aren’t a game. They shouldn’t be a power play or a battle of any kind, but that being said, you can still lose the power in the relationship by constantly deferring to the other person. If you find yourself asking questions like, “When can we take this step?” “When can I say this without scaring them?” “I want to spend more time together, but should I tell them that?” then you are giving control of the relationship’s speed and direction to the other person. One thing a lot of people forget but should remember is that you are equal partners in the relationship. It’s your relationship too; it belongs to both of you. You have an equal say in things. Your voice matters. Your needs should be met just as much as theirs. Don’t lose your voice, and don’t leave all the important decisions up to someone else.

Set Boundaries

When you’re swept up in someone new, it’s easy to let other aspects of your life fall to the side. You start seeing your friends less because you’re spending all your time with your new partner. You don’t put in as much effort at work because you’re too busy thinking about your possible future together. You don’t spend time alone because you’d rather be with them. And while there’s nothing wrong with being excited about a new relationship, it shouldn’t consume your life and make you put everything else on hold. You are still important, and spending time away from your partner is healthy for your mental health and your identity. Your friends are still important; these are relationships you’ve spent time cultivating and people who’ve been by your side through thick and thin, and they deserve your attention too. Your career is still important. Your goals and hard work shouldn’t fade into the background just because you’re falling in love. Putting boundaries in place, like not seeing each other every night and making time for other aspects of your individual lives, is crucial in the beginning of the relationship. It’ll help prevent you from ‘losing yourself’ within the relationship and neglecting the people and things that matter to you because you’re enchanted with the light of new love. 

Be Honest About What You Want

If you want a long term relationship, don’t act like you’re okay with something casual and temporary. If you don’t want kids, don’t say that you can see yourself starting a family. If you love where you live and never plan to move, make that known to your partner. Everyone has to make small compromises in relationships, like eating at a restaurant you aren’t fond of because it’s your partner’s favorite, but no one should have to compromise on the big issues. You need to remember that this is your life; it should look the way you want it to. You should never rearrange your biggest dreams, goals, or desires in order to be with someone. Some lines should be drawn and never crossed, and you should do it early. 

Don’t Bring Past Trauma into Your New Relationship

Obviously, you won’t magically heal from all your past pain the moment you get into a new relationship. That would be great, but it’s simply not realistic. Still, you need to keep your past and present separate in your mind. Just because your last partner cheated on you, doesn’t mean your current one will. Just because your last partner was controlling and manipulative doesn’t mean your current one will be. Certainly keep an eye out for red flags, but don’t project other people’s behaviors onto your new significant other. It’s unfair and will only cause doubt and drama to fester in the relationship. Communication and vulnerability are crucial in order to succeed in leaving the past behind you. Talk about your insecurities without accusing anyone of anything. Have a mature and open discussion, and do your best to trust your significant other unless they personally give you reason not to. Relationships are hard enough to navigate without the ghosts of past partners lingering around to mess things up. 

If you recently entered into a new relationship, or you think you might start one soon, use this list as a guideline to help you enjoy the happiness new love brings while also making smart decisions for you and your future. It’s not always easy setting boundaries or being open and honest, especially when you want your partner to see you as ‘perfect,’ but it’s crucial if you want your relationship to mature win a healthy way.

Traditional Chinese Medicine for a Healthy Autumn Season

Traditional Chinese Medicine for a Healthy Autumn Season

 In the traditional Chinese medicine five element theory, autumn is associated with the metal element. On an energetic level, the metal element represents organization, boundary setting, and communication. It is a good time of year to decide what you want to prioritize in your life and what you want to let go of. As the trees shed their leaves to make room for new buds in the springtime, our bodies also go through similar changes. It’s the transitional period into the most yin time of year as we go more inward.

The lungs and the large intestine are the organs associated with the metal element and they assist in the elimination and cleansing of the body. Autumn is the time for nourishing and strengthening these organs on a physical and energetic level to help us let go of that which no longer serves us.

The lungs are called the “tender organ” because they are susceptible to the wind and cold. During the change to cooler temperatures, it’s important to dress properly and wear scarves and sweaters to cover the neck and throat. Fall weather tends to be very dry, and this dryness can damage the lungs. It’s especially important to stay
hydrated throughout autumn to help the lungs stay healthy. Drink hot teas with ginger and honey to keep the throat moistened.

This time of year has an abundance of wholesome fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate seasonal foods into your diet such as squash, artichokes, arugula, spinach, beets, cabbage, and leeks. Chinese medicine recommends eating lots of soups and stews. Transition away from the cold, raw, crisp foods of summer and begin to eat warm, cooked foods. Switch out cold cereal with hot oatmeal, iced tea with warm tea, and raw salads with oven-roasted root veggies. Add in pungent foods to your cooking that benefits the lungs, such as onions, ginger, garlic, or mustard. If you want something sweet, stew seasonal fruits like apples, pears, figs, and persimmons.

Ginger Poached Pears

1 cup sweet dessert wine

One 1″ piece fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup of maple syrup or honey

4-6 ripe pears, peeled

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup raisins


In a saute pan over medium heat, add 2 cups water, dessert wine, fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, maple
syrup, or honey. Bring to a simmer and stir to combine.

Add the pears, turning occasionally to cook evenly. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are tender through. Then remove the pears to a serving plate. Continue to cook the liquid for another 15 minutes, or until it has thickened to a sauce-like consistency and reduced to half. Top the pears with the sweet poaching sauce and,
if you’d like, top with nuts and raisins.

Natasha Kubis is a licensed acupuncturist and certified yoga teacher.
For more
information, visit

Healing in the Garden

Healing in the Garden

Claude Monet said, “Perhaps, I owe having become a painter to flowers.” There’s nothing that feeds the senses more than basking in the richness of nature’s canvas. Tending to a garden and bearing witness to its unpredictable splendor is a captivating experience that ignites a sense of holiness and meditation. Many Artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Dali, and Kahlo cultivated beautiful gardens specifically to give them a pleasing natural subject to paint. Claude Monet used his garden to aid in his recovery from a debilitating depression, and then painted it on canvases to help heal the war-torn French nation.

For years, healing gardens have been found at nursing homes, hospitals, and healthcare facilities where they provide a place of refuge for patients, family, and staff. Places of worship, college campuses, and city centers often have a central garden where people can contemplate and find solace. When I lived in NYC, I was incredibly lucky to live across the street from Central Park, and would often bring a towel, music, or a book and hide out from the chaos swarming around me. Research has shown that when you connect with nature, positive changes occur in the body that include lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, reducing stress, and improving mood. Most of us are dealing with stress in our everyday lives and could all benefit from our own healing garden.

April is National Garden Month, and a good time to create a healing and inspirational garden that indulges your senses. When you create a blueprint for your garden, include a place to sit and observe the beauty of nature. This can be a simple bench, a comfy chair, or a hammock. Add a focal point for meditation and reflection such as a sculpture, interesting rocks, art, or wind chimes. The sound of water evokes a feeling of relaxation and contemplation and can include a water fountain, a pond, or a waterfall. If you plan to spend time in your sanctuary in the evening, use LED lighting to set off plants to their best advantage. Drape a string of lights over an arbor or tree. Encourage butterflies, birds, insects, and other wildlife to the garden with bird feeders, birdhouses, and plants that supply nectar and food.

When deciding which plants to add to your healing garden, remember to grow what you like. Some colorful flowers that grow easily in most environments include:





  Morning Glories








Include some healing herbs that will be easy to dry out and make into medicinal teas:

 Dandelion supports a healthy liver, kidney function, blood pressure, and encourages the healing of skin ailments like acne.

 Echinacea is used as an immune stimulant and the tea is often gargled for a sore throat.

 Fennel stimulates appetite and supports healthy digestion.

 Garlic aids in immune function, supports healthy blood pressure, and is traditionally used in
remedies to eliminate common intestinal parasites.

 Lavender is typically grown for its beautiful flowers and lovely scent. It is traditionally used to support mental wellness. It can be used for tea or in bath sachets.

 Lemon balm supports headache relief, encourages stress relief,
and restful sleep.

 Thyme is used medicinally to support healthy lungs and corrects fungal imbalances.

You can make your healing garden adaptable to any living situation, whether in your backyard or with potted plants on your balcony, or in a sunny corner of your living room. It’s a great opportunity to let your creativity flourish and nurture well-being.

Natasha Kubis is a licensed acupuncturist and certified yoga teacher.
For more
information, visit

Relieving Menstrual Pain

Relieving Menstrual Pain

 What is dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea is a medical term that means “painful periods” and unfortunately 50%-90% of menstruating women experience it every month. It’s ironic that such an important and life-giving biological function can have such an agonizing physical and emotional impact on us. There are a number of ways to decrease menstrual pain and to increase quality of life, allowing for a more amicable monthly visit from Aunt Flo.

What causes menstrual cramping?

Dr. Vicky Scott is the founder of Asheville Gynecology and Wellness, an integrative GYN practice in Asheville, N.C. She is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, lifestyle medicine, as well as integrative and holistic medicine. She explains that as women get closer to their period the body starts producing prostaglandins, which are inflammatory compounds that cause the uterus to contract and release its lining. This can cause cramping. Cramps can also occur with an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, particularly when estrogen levels are too high or progesterone levels are too low.

The following are the most common symptoms of dysmenorrhea:

• Cramping and pain in the lower abdomen

• Low back pain

• Pain radiating down the legs

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Fatigue

• Weakness

• Fainting

• Headaches

It is very important to see a gynecologist to address any underlying causes of dysmenorrhea. Other conditions that can cause cramping, pelvic pressure, low back pain, heavy or prolonged periods, and gastrointestinal issues include the following:

Endometriosis is a condition that causes the tissue that usually lines your uterus to grow outside the uterus.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone disorder affecting approximately 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. This is when the body tends to produce higher than normal amounts of male hormones. Symptoms include heavy periods, prolonged periods, excessive facial and body hair, weight gain, trouble losing weight, acne, thinning hair, or hair loss.

Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop inside or outside of the uterus. They range in size from as small as a seed to large masses that can cause an enlarged uterus. The symptoms vary depending on the number of fibroids, their size, and location.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a bacterial infection of the female reproductive organs. It’s usually caused by sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Symptoms include painful intercourse, bleeding during or after sex, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, burning sensation when urinating, fever, and spotting between periods.

Adenomyosis is a thickening of the uterus. It occurs when the endometrial tissue that lines your uterus grows into the muscles of your uterus and can cause your uterus to grow two to three times its normal size.

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small birth control device that’s inserted into your uterus. There are different types of IUDs available, some containing hormones while others are hormone-free. They’re safe for most people, but they can occasionally cause side effects, including severe menstrual cramps, irregular periods, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

How to treat painful periods

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce menstrual pain by inhibiting prostaglandin activity, and reducing inflammation.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another option if NSAIDS fail to work, or upset the stomach.

Hormone therapy such as the birth control pill, skin patches, or a Depo-Provera shot may prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. They can also make periods lighter, shorter, and less painful. This is not an option for women who smoke, have a history of blood clots, high blood pressure, or cancer.

Regular exercise increases endorphins which can decrease pain.

A heating pad across the abdomen can help relax the abdominal muscles.

Pelvic floor physical therapy can relieve pelvic floor pain associated with excessive tightening and cramping by helping shortened and contracted muscles to stretch and relax.

A hot bath with aromatherapy oils such as lavender, chamomile, and sage can be soothing.

Give yourself an abdominal massage by placing your hands over your navel. Begin by making small circles in a clockwise direction. This should be done slowly with moderate pressure for about a minute. Then gradually increase the size of the circling until you are rubbing the entire abdomen.

Food as Medicine

Dr. Scott often recommends proper nutrition and dietary changes to support a healthy and pain free menstrual cycle. Foods eaten can either increase the estrogen effect or reduce it. There have been studies that show that women who eat a high fiber and low fat diet have less estrogen levels and less painful cycles. Here are some dietary and lifestyle recommendations from Dr. Scott:

Eat whole grains such as brown rice, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal.

Eat vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts.

Eat legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils.

Eat fruits such as apples, mangoes, berries, and oranges.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Avoid refined grains such as white bread, refined cereals, and pastries.

Avoid fatty foods such as doughnuts, cheese, French fries, and potato chips.

Reduce stress: psychological stress may increase your risk of menstrual cramps.

Drink herbal teas such as chamomile, ginger, lemon balm, fenugreek, peppermint, and cramp bark which contain anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic compounds.

Supplements such as vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-6, and magnesium may effectively reduce menstrual cramps.

A Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach

In Chinese medicine, the most common reason for menstrual cramping is because of the stagnation of blood circulation in the lower abdomen. Acupuncture is a safe and effective technique used to increase blood flow, relax contractions, and move stagnation.  Researchers at The National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University in Australia conducted a study to compare the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of dysmenorrhea. The researchers found that, in all cases, acupuncture led to a significant reduction in the intensity and duration of menstrual pain after three months of treatment.

Yoga as Medicine

Vinita Khatavkar is a seasoned yogi who teaches in the Asheville area. She has been practicing yoga since 1989 and says that regular practice of asanas (yogic postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) are beneficial for relieving menstrual pain. Every asana can be held for 5 to 6 deep breaths or for a longer duration if it helps with the pain. She notes that inversions such as headstands and shoulder stands, as well as deep twists and backbends, should be avoided while menstruating.

Natasha Kubis is a licensed acupuncturist and certified yoga teacher.
For more 
information, visit

The Ancient Art of Cupping

The Ancient Art of Cupping

By Natasha Kubis

When Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Phelps, appeared in photographs sporting red circular marks all over his body, people questioned if he had been in an altercation with an octopus. In recent years, celebrities and athletes alike have brought the ancient art of cupping therapy to the public eye, making it more mainstream than ever before.

Cupping may be trending at the moment but it is in fact a universal therapy practiced by many cultures around the world. It can be traced back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern times, and as early as 1550 BC. It was prescribed for various ailments in the records of Herodotus, Hippocrates, Celsus, and Aretaeus. Its roots can be found in the ancient healing systems of Tibetan, Oriental, and Ayurvedic medicine (traditional Indian medicine), as well as Unani (a South Asian and Middle Eastern folk medicine).

As ancient and widely used as this technique is, it is widely misunderstood in our modern culture and the marks that it leaves on the skin can make people quite apprehensive, understandably so. Having some knowledge about the technique may help transform it into a viable option to treat your aches and pains.

What is cupping used for?

Cupping is effective for relieving pain, relaxing muscle spasms, increasing local blood circulation, and detoxifying local tissues. It can increase range of motion in the joints, and promote flexibility in the ligaments, tendons, and in-between muscle layers. It is most effective for neck, back, knee, and elbow pain, as well as for conditions like tendonitis, sciatica, tension headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. It can be used for bronchial congestion caused by allergies, asthma, and the common cold.

How does it work?

There are several cupping methods. A traditional technique used by practitioners of Chinese Medicine is called Glass Jar Fire Cupping. The practitioner will light a cotton ball on fire and use it as a heat source to warm the glass cup and to remove the oxygen from inside of it. The cup is then placed on the skin and as the air inside of it cools, a vacuum effect causes the blood vessels to expand and the skin begins to rise.

More modern versions of cupping methods used by massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, or for home use do not use fire, but instead, create the vacuum effect with glass, bamboo, earthenware, or silicon cups that are moved across the skin, or remain stationary.

Is it similar to massage?

Cupping has a similar effect on the body as massage except that cupping uses suction or negative pressure rather than the tissue compression used in massage techniques. The suction stretches the tissues up from the underlying structures, thereby releasing muscle tension and loosening areas of restriction. This creates an expansion of the tissues while increasing blood flow, promoting better functioning of sweat and sebaceous glands, flushing capillary beds, and dispelling stagnation and congestion.

How does it affect the skin?

The suction of the cups often leaves temporary marks on the skin. The marks resemble bruising, but are not painful. They are the result of bringing blood and toxins to the skin’s surface. The color of the marks can range from light pink to dark purple, depending on your condition. The marks can last from about 3 to 10 days. To help reduce this duration, it is recommended to drink plenty of water after your treatment.

Does it hurt?

No, it does not hurt. Most people find it relaxing and feel a warm suction, as though their skin is being lifted.

How many treatments will you need?

The effects of cupping are cumulative and the treatment should be repeated until the ailment is resolved. The severity of the marks will usually diminish with each follow up treatment, indicating that the stagnation in the tissues has decreased.

Are there any risks associated with the technique?

It is important to see a licensed acupuncturist, Doctor of Chinese Medicine, licensed massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor who has been adequately trained in the technique. Do not be shy about asking about their training before booking a session. The risks of cupping are very low with a trained professional who has adequate experience. There are cupping sets available for home use, but it is important to have proper knowledge of safe cupping practices before trying it on yourself or others.

Cupping is contraindicated for those with blood clotting disorders (like deep vein thrombosis or history of stroke), bleeding disorders (such as hemophilia), or those who take blood thinners (such as warfarin). It is not recommended for skin conditions such as allergic dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema. Cupping is contraindicated in cases of severe diseases such as cardiac failure, renal failure, ascites due to hepato-cirrhosis, and severe edema. Cupping should not be applied over broken bones, dislocations, hernias, and should not be used on the low back or abdomen during pregnancy.

The Takeaway

Cupping is a wonderful option to help ease pain and inflammation, increase blood flow, promote relaxation and well-being by calming the nervous system, aid in detox, and provide a deep-tissue massage. The cupping marks also make for a good story when wearing a bathing suit or a strapless dress!

Natasha Kubis is a licensed acupuncturist and certified yoga teacher.
For more
information, visit