I stumbled upon the featured photo (pictured above) in a Facebook group and found it so striking that I couldn’t resist reaching out to find out more about the woman in the image. Her name is Nicci Morris, and she’s a writer, editor, entrepreneur, yogi and new mom who makes it a priority to find daily zen amid bedlam.
I asked her to share her tips for practicing yoga successfully, making time for workouts even with a baby, finding peace when life gets hectic, and how she brings foodies together in the name of love.
How has fitness played a role in your life? Were you active as a child or did you get more involved in pursuing your well-being as an adult?
I was relatively active as a child. I ran track and played softball for a little while. I wish I had been more active though. I was more into writing and reading. As I got older, I became more interested in fitness and health. I earned my certification as a fitness trainer in my early 20s. I plan to do so again this year. Yoga instructor certification is also on my to-do list. I fell in love with yoga in 2010 and have been delving more into my practice since then. I tried Kemetic yoga for the first time last year and I definitely felt a deep mind-body connection. I plan to explore that deeper.
What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?
On a good day, I eat 100 percent plant-based. Complete veganism is my goal. I was raised eating meat so it’s a work in progress. But for ethical and health reasons, my goal is to get to the point where I don’t consume any animal products. Since I had my daughter, Amina, last August it is more important to me than ever that I am as health-conscious as possible. I want to be in great health for her and I also want to give her a good, clean start with plant-based nutrition.
You’re big on morning smoothies. What are some of your favorites and why do you start your day like this?
I love smoothies. I am an early-riser, but I am so not a breakfast person. However I look forward to my morning smoothies. I keep them to a ratio of 50 percent greens, 30-40 percent fruit and the rest is nuts, chia seeds, hemp hearts, oats etc… for fiber, protein and healthy fats. Add water to get the consistency you desire and blend away. They’re filling and I’m energized for hours afterward. I can’t get enough of my NutriBullet.
Do you have any food weaknesses? If so, how do you find balance between binging and exercising self-control?
For me, it’s not so much about managing the type of food as it is about managing my emotions. I am an emotional eater/non-eater. When I have allowed my stress to get the better of me, I have struggled with over- or under-eating. Neither are the answer, so I work to keep that in check and have more patience with myself and others on this journey called life.
How have you been able to balance new motherhood with a zen lifestyle, work and keeping up with your practice?
Let me start by saying it is not easy. But I believe a happy mommy leads to a happy baby. I have to take great care of myself to take great care of my daughter. I have had to swap frequent 90-minute hot sessions for shorter unheated sessions at a studio closer to my home, on demand via cable and poses and stretches when and where I can.
I was not thin to begin with, so I only gained about 20 pounds during my pregnancy. I lost most of that within the first couple weeks after I had her. But I found that everything had changed. I’m still figuring out this post-baby body because I am exclusively breastfeeding and plan to for at least another six months. Just drinking enough water and eating the right foods requires serious planning.
There was an incident late last year when I allowed myself to become extremely upset. I actually felt the adrenaline and cortisol kick in and I felt the negativity of that situation move through me. The next few days I noticed a dramatic decrease in my milk production. I know it was a direct result of that stressful situation. That hit home with me and I’m so grateful for that life lesson. Never again will I allow stress – especially centered around something over which I have no control – to affect my health.
Is there an ideal body type for practicing yoga?
I’ve been the largest woman in the studio and I’ve been the smallest woman in the studio. I’ve been the only black woman in the room and I’ve been in classes where nearly everybody was black. None of that truly matters in life and it certainly doesn’t matter in yoga. Yoga is about union with your divine self. Everybody can benefit from this ancient practice. If we all did nothing more than center ourselves and remember everything can be accomplished as long as you have time and breath, the world would be a much better place.
What advice do you have for potential yoga newbies?
My advice to the newbies is to breathe deep and focus on their journey. Remember that the person in the front of the class who moves from tree to toe stand with such ease and grace was not always able to do so. Focus on your practice and your connection with your divine self. If you do that on a consistent basis, the rest will come.
But I also have advice for the instructors and the people who have been practicing for years. Be kind. Be patient. Make your studio/classes inviting and create an environment that allows new students to peel back the emotional and physical layers as they begin their practice.
While there might be books/videos that help people, I think the soul-to-soul connections work best. I also believe we benefit from having an instructor. There have been times when I was ready to go deeper into a pose, but for whatever reason I didn’t realize it. A good instructor can help you make adjustments and also push you to take your practice to another level when you don’t even realize you can.
If you run across a less-that-ideal instructor (I have and it wasn’t pretty!), don’t let that sour you. Try a different class or a different studio. You will find the right place for you.
Explain the concept behind your site, LoveandFood.com.
The mission of LoveAndFood.com is simple: To help people develop rewarding relationships by cultivating the deep connection between love and food. It’s online dating for food enthusiasts. I happen to believe people who love to cook and eat tend to be the most passionate, nurturing and thoughtful people around. Yes, I’m biased…
But seriously, I think of LoveAndFood.com as the modern-day twist on meeting the love of your life in the grocery store. In addition to the ability to search, flirt and chat with other members, we will also have meetups in larger markets across the country. It will be a great way to meet other singles and to support non-chain restaurants.
What are your goals and intentions for 2014?
My goals are to love well, eat well and live well.
The only thing that matters is the thing that doesn’t change. The only thing that doesn’t change is love.
Visit www.niccimorris.com for more information about this fierce yoganista.
Check out last week’s Grunty Crush, Chrissy K. Fit.