Monthly Archives

April 2015

Fit Babes

Q&A with Cynthia Sass

Last week the girls at Sculpt & Shine got the chance to have a one on one with none other than New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist Cynthia Sass! When she’s not acting as the nutrition consultant for the New York Yankees and the New York Rangers, she’s a contributor for Health Magazine, counseling celebrity and sports clients and appearing on shows such as The Today Show and The Doctors. She also just released her new book, Slim Down Now.

Cynthia shared with us some cool perks about her job, what it means to be a nutritionist, her opinion of healthy desserts and her favorite secret healthy spots in New York City! See the exclusive interview below:


  1. What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietician? Which one do you identify with?


I identify with nutritionist, but unfortunately that term doesn’t have a legal definition, which means that anyone can call himself or herself a nutritionist, even with no formal education or training. I am also a dietitian, which requires a university degree, with specific course work in the science of nutrition, including biology, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, food science, metabolism, courses in vitamins and minerals, nutrition through the life cycle, and medical nutrition therapy. Dietitians must also pass a comprehensive exam, and complete ongoing continuing education. I’m proud to be a dietitian (I also have master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health, and I’m board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics), but my passion is optimal wellness and superfoods (I also have formal culinary training in vegan organic culinary arts), and in that realm, the term ‘nutritionist’ seems to be a better fit. So I often say that I’m a nutritionist, who has also completed the in-depth clinical dietitian training.


  1. What’s your favorite thing about being a nutritionist?


That’s a tough one, because there are so many things I love about what I do! First it’s exciting, because nutrition is a young science, so it’s constantly evolving. I spend about an hour every day reading new research just to keep up! It’s also incredibly rewarding. I love passing on tips, information, and recipes that truly change people’s lives, from boosting energy or mood to enhancing sleep, athletic performance, immunity and recovery, to helping someone manage, or significantly improve a medical condition through a dietary intervention. The power of nutrition is incredible, and the effects can be both immediate, and long-lasting. Plus, nutrition something that touches everyone, because we all must eat!


  1. In your opinion, what are some great best pre- and post workout snack ideas?


Pre-workout my favorite go-to is a banana. It’s easy to digest, so the carbs become readily available fuel. It also doesn’t cause digestive upset, and it’s rich in nutrients, including potassium, which is needed for muscle contractions and to prevent cramping. Post-workout I have a wide variety of favorites. If my athletes or active clients can’t eat a meal soon after exercise, smoothies are a great way to start the recovery process, and replenish nutrients and fluid. Plus, they’re refreshing, and you can whip almost anything in, from veggies and fruits to lean protein, nut butter or coconut oil, quinoa, and anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, like ginger, turmeric, and mint. I love formulating smoothies tailored to my clients’ needs and goals.


  1. What are your favorite ways to work out? (Are you more of a gym person, yoga, soul cycle etc.)


I am NOT a gym person! I love taking group classes, but they have to be fun, like some kind of dance-based workout. On my own my go-tos are hiking, rollerskating, and dancing. I used to be a runner, but I have injuries, so now I’m a power walker! I also love walking for utility. Both in NYC and LA I walk whenever I can, rather than taking the subway or driving. If I have the time it’s not unusual for me to walk from a meeting on the upper west side to another on the lower east side. And while it seems like nobody walks in LA, the other day I walked over for two and a half hours showing my nephew around Venice and Santa Monica. I love taking in the sights while I walk, from nature and architecture to people watching. It sparks my creativity and makes me feel alive!


whole-food-cleanse                                                                                                                                (photo credit)



  1. Why is protein before a workout actually bad for your body?


Pre-workout the top priority is energy, to fuel the activity, and protein isn’t an optimal fuel source. Protein’s top job is to serve as a building block to maintain, heal, and repair protein tissues in the body, so it’s ideal post-workout, along with appropriately sized portions of healthy fat, and whole food starch.


  1. In your new book. “Slim Down Now” you talk a lot about the importance of fiber in our everyday diet. Why is it so important and the secret to staying slim?


In addition to being filling, fiber itself does not get digested, which means it never gets absorbed into the blood, where it has to be either be either burned off or stored as fat. In addition, fiber slows the rate of digestion and absorption overall, which keeps you feeling fuller longer, and helps regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels. It also binds to some fat and protein, which prevents those calories from being absorbed. Essentially, every gram of fiber you eat cancels out about seven calories, so if we all ate 30 grams a day, it would be the calorie equivalent of going for a 40 minute walk. Finally, on top of all of the weight loss advantages, fiber offers numerous health benefits. Eating fiber is like strength training for the digestive tract, which keeps the muscle strong and healthy. It also improves bowel regularity, lowers cholesterol, and binds to cancer causing substances in the gut, so they can be swept out of the body. It’s pretty powerful stuff, and pulses (the cornerstone of Slim Down Now), which include beans, peas, and lentils, are one of the very best sources. Pulses also happen to be incredibly nutrient rich, providing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant levels that rival berries, and they’re gluten free, plant-based, versatile, and affordable – in my book pulses are the single most underrated superfood group on the planet.


  1. Why is meditation an important practice in everyday life?


I think intuitively we just know that meditation makes us feel better – more calm, and grounded, but the research on its benefits is remarkable. Meditation has been shown to quell inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging and disease. It’s also been shown to curb hunger, as well as mindless and impulsive eating, boost self-esteem and the desire to be more physically active, reduce belly fat, improve the ability to retain new information, and cultivate compassion, which can even be applied to yourself (very important when trying to lose weight). For all of the reasons, I devoted a chapter to meditation in Slim Down Now, and I recorded a free five minute guided meditation video for my website. Nutrition will always be my first love, but I’m enamored with meditation. Just five minutes a day can change your entire outlook and transform your relationship with food and your body.


8 New York or LA? Which one steals your heart?


They both do! New York City and Los Angeles are like George Clooney and Brad Pitt – they’re both magnetic, charming, and endearing, but in different ways. In NYC I feel inspired and exhilarated. In LA I feel balanced and happy, so it’s like yin and yang. I love them both, and feel so fortunate to bounce back and forth between the two amazing cities!


GustOrganics                                                                                                                                  ( photo credit)


  1. What are some of your favorite healthy places to eat in NY?


One of the things I love about NYC is that there are so many healthy places to eat. I love GustOrganics, and when I’m on the go I often just pop into Whole Foods, or an indie health food store, like Lifethyme in the West Village.


  1. Can dessert be healthy?! How?


Absolutely! To me baking is pure bliss, and I love creating other healthy treats, like puddings, frozen pops, and dark chocolate truffles! I have a variety of tricks for making them healthy, including using nut and bean flours and milks, pureed veggies, fruit and beans, spices, zest, and herbs, coconut oil, raw cocoa powder, and healthy sweeteners like maple syrup. I LOVE it when someone reluctantly tries one of my treats, like my vegan spinach brownies, or vegan chia pulse pudding (made with beans) thinking it’s going to be weird, only to be delightfully surprised by how tasty and satisfying my “healthied up” version is compared to the traditional.



Fit Babes

Fitness Friday: Healthy Blogger Series


This week for the healthy blogger series Sculpt & Shine is proud to feature this guest post by my good friend Joey Slomowitz, model, fellow fitness blogger and Creator of Man in Denim Joey shares his favorite healthy breakfast recipe, his sculpting workout routine and favorite places to eat in NYC! Be sure to check out his blog too! 

joey slomowitz

My favorite thing to eat in the morning is porridge (oatmeal). It’s the first thing I look forward to when waking up in the morning and it provides the greatest start to my day.  I usually alternate between buckwheat and oats, but the main ingredients are essentially the same.

I usually add:

  • a banana
  • cinamon
  • hemp seeds
  • berries, or any fruit I have in the fridge


I have a pressure cooker, so I usually use that to prepare my porridge whilst I do my morning workout routine.  The cooker takes around 2 mins for oats and about 4 mins for buckwheat or steel cut oats.


I do a ten minute core workout every morning.  I usually alternate between using routines from youtube videos and using my own personal curated workouts.  Here’s an example of one that I have stored in my phone.  I call it the Australian core workout;

Australian Core Workout!
[ ] 50 leg raises – for lower back
[ ] 30 normal crunches
[ ] 20 side dips (each way)
[ ] 20 straddled legs crunch
[ ] 15 reverse crunch
[ ] 15 ‘cowboy’ crunch
[ ] Half boat – 20 ‘accordians’
[ ] Corpse pose – 30 leg raises
[ ] Swimming x 30 seconds
[ ] 50 criss cross (25 normal, 25 scissor legs)
[ ] Screen door plank × 20
[ ] Plank with leg raise (15 secs each)


My favourite ‘go to’ restaurant has been Bliss Grand in Williamsburg.  They have an all vegan healthy menu, a quiet interior and small charming outdoor space.  Perfect for close and personal get togethers with friends.

My 2 favourite things on their menu are the ‘black bean burrito’ and the ‘grand plate’.

Sweetgreen-Williamsburg                                                                                                         ( photo cred: madera-trade)

Another one of my favourite spots is Sweet Green, also in Williamsburg.  Much more than just a salad bar, to me they come across as the healthiest ‘fast food’ you can possibly imagine.  They take so much pride in their all organic and locally sourced ingredients that they post on their blackboards where everything comes from!  All the local farms listed are either in New York or within close vicinity.  On top of all that, I usually don’t end up spending more than $10 on my meal.



Outdoor Workouts

After being cooped up inside this long winter, I finally had the opportunity to do some outdoor workouts! It was a great change of scenery from the gym, and I reloaded on vitamin D (totally necessary after countless gloomy days).


I did variations of  Kayla Itsines‘ butt and ab workouts using my surroundings. You can use benches or stairs to do squats (out of personal preference I use a bench). For abs, I also use a bench to do planks/side planks. I find that while planks strengthen my core, doing them on a bench simultaneously improves my balance. Bikini season is right around the corner ladies, use these workouts to be ready for the beach in no time!


1. High Step Up with Knee Raise

This looks fairly simple, but after 2 sets of 30 reps you can really feel the burn! It does wonders to sculpt your butt though, so push through! Step up onto the bench with your right leg, raise your left knee into the air, then step back down and switch legs. 30 reps sounds like a lot, but it calculates to be 15 reps per leg (so it’s not that much actually!). If you are feeling up for a challenge try to add 2 more sets into the exercise.


2. Plyometric Squat Jumps

This is one of my favorite plyometric exercises! It’s easy, and gets the sculpting job done. Start from the ground in a standing position, and jump onto the bench landing in a squat, then jump back down. If you are familiar with this exercise, I would suggest starting in a squat position from the ground to challenge yourself. Do 3 sets of 15 reps for best results!

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3. Jumping Lunges

The ultimate type of lunge exercise is the jumping lunge. This exercise works out your gluts to the extreme giving great results! Start out in a stance with one leg up and down at 90 degree angles (like the picture below). Staying in the same spot, jump to switch your legs. Try to stay in the same spot and keep your legs perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to the ground while jumping. Do 3 sets of 15 reps for this exercise.


4. Planks

1 set of planks is middle plank, transitioning to right side plank, back to middle plank, and then transitioning to left side plank. Try to do these daily, they don’t take much time and do wonders for your abs! Start at 30 seconds for each plank you do in the set. Increase your time by 15 seconds every week. Your goal is to reach 2 minutes over the course of a month.

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Use Saturday as a rest day for all exercises. Remember to stretch before and after, and do not workout too hard if you feel like you may injure yourself!


Fit Babes

Athlete Series: Getting Back Into Running

This week Sculpt & Shine is proud to feature this guest post by Georgie Morley, fellow fitness blogger and Creator of In It For the Long Run :

Growing up, I always thought I hated running. I think a lot of us do. It’s a tough sport. You’re on your own, moving your body against inertia. During the summer, after my freshman year of college, I wanted to find a cheap way to stay active, so I decided to conquer the one exercise I hated. Running. At first I was pretty damn miserable. I was slower than slow, tired, grumpy, but I kept at it. Why? Because the one thing I did love was how I felt afterwards.

But then this kind of crazy thing happened. I began to love running… while I was still running. Mind you I didn’t feel this during every run. But some evenings after work when I laced up and ran the trails around my house, set to the summer sunset, I thought “ok, I think I get it now.”


This was the honeymoon phase of my relationship with running. At this point, we couldn’t get enough of each other. I don’t think I have ever come close to the milage I ran during that first summer.

After several years of running, I decided I wanted to take the next step, so I began training for a half marathon. It was an intense and rewarding experience, but after my second half marathon I felt like something wasn’t quite right. I just couldn’t get excited about my runs and even the after run joy wasn’t hitting me the same. It was time. We had to take our first big break.

From about September 2014 to this past February, I took a break from running. In that time I saw other types of fitness. I worked with a trainer doing HIIT cardio and weight training. I learned to lift on my own, I explored different types of group classes, I did yoga. It was strange learning to adjust to fitness without running, but I loved the diversity and how strong my body felt. I never felt the guilt that sometimes came with not hitting my milage goals and I really felt like I was working out for myself, for fun.

About a month ago, I started getting an itch to run again, I felt it in my gut that it was time to get back to it. So I wanted to share some tips that have really been helping me get back into running after a long break:


Getting Back Into Running: The Steps

Start Slow:

It’s so easy to remember where you left off and think that you can get right back to it, but not only will it hurt, but you run a huge risk of injury going too fast too and too far too soon. I suggest starting with 2-3 runs per week and slowly increase over time. I’ve started running 3 times a week, 3 miles each. Slowly I’ll be incorporating one more longer run from 5-7 miles each week. As I get more comfortable I’ll be pushing the pace of each of these runs.

Set Goals

Your goal can be as simple as run 2-3 times each week, but by setting and achieving this goal you’ll put yourself in a great place when you want to start pushing your mileage and speed. My goal starting out was run 10+ miles per week. I’m hoping to run 100 miles in the month of July. It’s going to be a challenge, but I want to make sure I give myself enough time and training before that to achieve this goal safely.

Don’t Forget to Stretch

Sounds like an obvious one, but it bears repeating. After your runs don’t forget to cool down, and really stretch. Once a week carve out at least 15 minutes to really stretch. You can take that time to reflect on your week of running and adjust goals and milage as appropriate.

Make Yourself Accountable

You know how I said I was going to run 100 miles in July? Yeah now that’s public, I am definitely going to do that. No, you don’t have to have a blog or even share on social media, but enlist an accountability buddy who will check in on your running progress. Let them know your goals and they’ll be able to push you in the right direction when you need that support the most.


Find a Race

Another great way to keep yourself accountable is to sign up for a race. It’s like traveling, once you buy the plane ticket it’s a lot harder to bail. Nothing like a looming deadline to push you out the door.

Also, give yourself a high five! You’re running again and that’s awesome. Don’t be afraid to take breaks even from the things you love. Sometimes these breaks are so important because they remind you why you fell in love with running to start with.

Georgie Morley is the Social Media Manager for Drink Bai and blogs about Health & Fitness on In It For the Long Run 

DIY Beauty


This coffee scrub has taken Instagram by storm! But when I was about to buy some I found it was actually very simple to make and it still produces great results! This scrub only requires a few ingredients you probably already have in your house and exfoliates and tightens your body! Warning: since it contains caffeine it might give you a slight caffeine buzz since you’re applying directly to your skin- so with that said I recommend doing it a couple hours before bedtime or in the morning to wake you up. I love how this scrub contains all natural and even some organic ingredients! I love how it leaves my skin feeling super soft, moisturized and smooth.


       coffee scrub


coffee scrub




1/2 cup of ground coffee

-1/2 cup coconut sugar

-1 teaspoon of cinnamon

-2 drops of vitamin e oil

-1/4 cup of coconut oil ( melt if its solid)

– optional 1 drop of almond oil



Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together and your scrub is ready! Store in an airtight container such as a mason jar. When you are ready to use the scrub lightly hydrate the areas you want to apply the scrub to ( for face run cool water over your face and leave face slightly moist before applying the scrub.) Scrub in small circular motions and leave scrub to dry. For best results leave on 5-10 minutes until dry and then rinse off with cool water. Follow with mild face wash to remove excess oil if desired.

Because its made with natural ingredients its safe to use this scrub 2-4x a week. If you have any skin sensitivities normally, patch test on skin first before applying the scrub to your whole body just to be safe.


Shine On!

xx SS

About Us

About the Blog

The purpose of this blog, Sculpt and Shine is all about Inspiring and empowering others to look and feel their best.

We started this blog because we both were passionate about leading healthy lives.

While we both take a different approach to fitness and healthy eating, we wanted to combine Michelle’s love of strength training and clean eating with Nastasia’s holistic/ vegan lifestyle and yoga practicing approach.

We also wanted to share some of the cool events, new workout studios and healthy restaurants we visit in New York & Boston and anything else we fall in love with when we travel.

Shine on!
Xx Nastasia & Michelle