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  • Letting Go : Part II

    Last month I wrote a fairly well received blog on letting go. It seemed to be what people needed to hear. We always hear the right thing at the right time when we need it, don’t we?

    What I failed to mention is this: one of the most challenging relationships you’ll ever let go of is the one you have with yourself. I have been undergoing this process for a while now, and almost excruciatingly so in the past two months – ever since the aforementioned break up.

    In fact, it was the prime force behind the break up. I was feeling called to do some ‘self-work’. I knew there was some huge shift that needed to happen in my life and I knew I couldn’t do that and be in the relationship at the same time. I am not saying this can’t be done. In fact, I believe a life partner is one who walks the path with you no matter what shifts you endure. However, I did not feel that my transformation and this relationship could happily co-exist.

    Thus, the work began – and is continuing through a very challenging part of my life.

    Intellectually I know that I am blessed and have so much for which to be grateful. I continue to express this on a daily basis in my morning and evening prayers. Yet, my prayers haven’t alleviated the weight that bears heavy on my heart. I have no logical explanation, which makes it all the more perplexing. As I mentioned above, my life is filled with many gifts. I can see beauty all around me. I just don’t feel like I am a part of it.

    I just came off my yoga mat thinking to myself, “I don’t feel like me.” I am not bright. Life is not full of ease right now. In fact, it feels downright heavy. Sadness, a much more present companion than joy. Where did I go?

    I believe the I that I have known most of my adult life, is, in fact, dying. I believe the I that I knew is in the midst of a radical transformation. One that will completely shift what I believe, how I communicate and fundamentally, who I am. And, consequently, how I show up in the world.  This means my career, something that has identified this I, will change. It means the people who I call friends may change. It means the relationships I was used to being in will no longer feel fulfilling.

    While these shifts have been gradually leading me down a different path for the past four years or so, I think now I’m being forced to say goodbye. The loss that I have not yet grieved is my own. A death of the person I’ve identified with my whole life. ME as I have known her.

    “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life you that is waiting for you.” I’ve felt connected to this quote from the moment I read it. It sounds so inspirational. Until you start ‘giving up’. What Joseph Campbell doesn’t tell you, is that if we are to truly ‘give up’ the life we planned, in some way, we must bear witness to our own death. This can be painful and laden thick with fear and anxiety. What if I fail? What if this isn’t the right thing? Who wants to read what I have to say anyway? I didn’t go to school for this. If I’m not the person I thought I was, WHO AM I?  This is just a smattering of thoughts that have plagued me for the past 3 months.

    My mother sent me this lovely poem:

    She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
    She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
    She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go…She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just ri
    She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
    She just let go.
    She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
    No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
    There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
    In the space of letting go, she let it all be. 
    A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

    This is lovely. I love the message the poem carries and ease it conveys. Some women (and men) may get to this point and it may be this simple for them. I wish I were one of those women. To live this poem requires an enormous amount of trust and faith – in yourself and more importantly, something much bigger than you. It requires relinquishing the reigns. It’s difficult to admit, when all is said and done, we are not in control. “We plan. God laughs.” (I do love my inspirational quotes. They seem to help.)
    I do have faith that, hopefully sooner than later, I will completely surrender. To whatever is in store for me.  I choose to believe that the life planned for me is much greater than I could have ever imagined. Believing in the mind and knowing in the heart however, are two very different things. Until they are one and the same, I’ll let go a little more every day until - There is no effort. There is no struggle. It isn’t good and it isn’t bad. It is what it is, and it is just that.  

  • Letting Go

    I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Probably too much. So much in fact, my head hurts. Not too long after a recent break up I found out my ex was dating another girl I knew. Every morning – and most afternoon and evenings and well into some bad dreams- I witness my mind run through ruminations of what their new relationship looks like. Or what I would say if I saw her or him or both of them together. Of course I know this is neither useful nor helpful.  I actually have conversations with my brain in an attempt to stop it from going down that road because at times it’s made me sick to my stomach. While I don’t have a desire to get back together with my ex, the very thought of this other girl sleeping in the same bed I slept in, lying on the same couch and him touching her is enough to make me – like I mentioned above – quite ill. Mostly because even before all of this even happened, I wasn’t her biggest fan. And while we weren’t friends, I am of the opinion that this situation wasn’t handled in the classiest of manners. All adding insult to injury. 

    Even though I can clearly see my ex repeating old patterns, I know it’s not my place to point them out to him or try to heal him. I can no longer be his teacher. Nor do I have a desire to be one in my future relationships. Yet, the other day, in my verbal spewing of crazy thoughts to a very comforting and generous soul (Who, by the way, I was meeting for the first time, bless her heart – No doubt I made quite the impression), I heard myself say something that borders absurdity. “I want to shake him and wake him up. Because he would have been the perfect man if only …”  I paused here for a moment, because I knew what was coming next and how crazy it sounded. I continued anyway. “Yes. He would’ve been perfect if only he was the man I wanted him to be.”

    We’ve all done this – whether in romantic relationships, friendships, with family, maybe even businesses associates. Hoped for, wished or expected something different from somebody. It is those hopes, wishes and expectations that many times keep us in a relationship long after it should be over. Even after it is over. 

    It’s hard to let go when you’re focusing on all that could’ve been “if only…”. It’s amazing how much time we spend in that “if only” space despite the fact we know it doesn’t move us forward or help us grow. Dreaming about the future, especially one that’s passed, doesn’t create your future reality – changing your present does. 

    Letting go is hard. There are a whole host of tips and tools I can offer,  most of which I am utilizing now, to help you, and myself, move on with some sense of sanity. 

    I rather not present those here. There are likely a million articles you can find about letting go and quick tips about how to “get over” an ex or anyone who has hurt you.  

    What I’d rather express to you – as well as to myself – is that it’s okay to grieve the process of letting go, however you decide to go about doing it and however long it takes. Let the thoughts have their day, their glory moments, with all the gory fabricated, and fantastical details. Eventually, if you just watch them and actually acknowledge them free of judgement or condemnation, you’ll tire of them. They won’t hold power and they’ll start to dissipate. Eventually they will disappear. I can’t even believe this myself right now, but I know it to be true. Time heals all wounds.

    After I told my story for the umpteenth time this week, I threw my hands in disbelief. “I’m tired of hearing myself talk about this!” The good news is, with this statement, I’ve expressed a desire to be done with the story. I know, eventually, I will be. The pull to live in the stories in my head gets weaker even as I write this. 

    However, if tears continue to come, I’ll let them fall. They will dry. And when they do I will gracefully bow my head and be grateful for the experience and what I’ve learned from it (which is a lot). I’ll close the chapter and then be able to write a new chapter with thoughts not about what could have been, but the amazing things to come. 

  • I Love Myself

    I don’t mean to sound arrogant. But I’m happy I can actually make this statement. After 40 years, for the first time in my life, I truly like myself. I mean it. I may have said it before, but now, I feel it. Big difference.

    I can’t say that I’ve ever LOVED being by myself. Not really. Sure, aside from a couple long-ish relationships and some not so long-ish, and other just really poor choices, I’ve spent most of my adult life single and I suppose okay with it. However, despite being ‘okay’ I have been really guarded in my single-dom – “I don’t need a man” more of my mantra. If I’m honest, I secretly always had this romantic notion of ‘the one’ and wished and hoped he would come find me. Now I realize that’s total bullshit. Long love letters (although I have had some of those and they are lovely when they are authentic), grand gestures of love, manufactured ideals created by a society that promotes a Hollywood version of love is a grand illusion used to sell movies, products, books, and a social construct that may not fit for everyone. Not to mention groom both men and women for the holy grail of love – marriage. Only to find out, for many, it ain’t the real deal. 

    I’m learning that – surprise – I’M the ONE. I’m the real deal.

    Through a lot of self-reflection, deep inner work and meditation, gratefully, my mechanisms of self-defense have fallen. Without the armor or the façade of the ‘tough broad’ I now am able to spend time with the vulnerable, softer but quietly confident me and truly enjoy it. Beyond enjoy it. I mean enjoy it to the point where at times, I think I may become anti-social. Because if I never get out of my sweatpants all day, I don’t care. As my new favorite blogger, Mark Manson so eloquently writes in his article (click here to read), I’ve stopped wasting my ‘give a F*!#’s’ so to speak. I’m done not speaking what’s on my mind. I don’t give a f—. Not saying how I feel. I don’t give a f—. Doing things for others that don’t bring me any joy – either out of guilt or a feeling of obligation -  I really don’t give a f—. Call me selfish. I no longer give a f—-.

    I have found such freedom in my new love. In this new blossoming relationship I get massages. I give myself massages. I take naps. I take baths. (BATHS!!! Seriously – who does that? Rose petals and all!) I read books. I go out when I feel like it. I may even have a cocktail or two and engage in some, what I used to view as ‘not so good’ behavior. (I’ll leave that to the imagination.) Let’s just say I’ve given up the ‘good girl’ for the ‘authentic woman’.

     More often than not, I stay home. And cook. I call dear friends if I need to talk. I make chai tea (a lot). I focus on my writing. I practice.

    It’s an amazing love affair I’m having. 

    There may come a time when, like other relationships, the love begins to fade. But this relationship is one I believe in. It’s one worth fighting for. Like any healthy and strong relationship, it doesn’t work on cruise control. It takes effort, clear communication and most importantly, honesty. But above all others, THIS relationship is the one that, as the vows command, should last “Til death do us part.”

     So yes. I do, Me. I do. 

  • Baby It’s Cold Outside

    Once again, I had another blog all ready to go and then BAM. The ‘Polar Vortex’ swept  the nation, dropping temperatures well below zero in many parts of the country. Thus, I felt compelled to write about ways to combat the bone chilling days of winter. Remember it’s not only COLD outside. It’s typically very dry. Even if there is moisture in the air, likely the heat at work or your home is cranked just to stop the teeth from chattering, sucking every bit of moisture out of the air. To battle the brutal effects of old man winter, here are ten tips to not only stay warm, but moisturized, grounded and healthy all season long.

    1. Hang your clothes to dry. If you’re heat is on, they will dry lickety split.
    2. Get a good humidifier. Worth every penny.  
    3. For the love of God, this is NOT the time of year to do a juice cleanse. Or go raw. Or embark on a diet of smoothies. Get over the need to eat nothing. Your body needs nourishment right now. Feed it. Well. Root vegetables, stew, warm oatmeal, ghee, creamy soups (even if not cream based)  –  all are better options in the winter. Here is one of my favorite recipes!
    4. Drink hot water with lemon every morning – this will also help detoxify the liver and reduce bloat.
    5. Drink hot teas with herbs throughout the day. One of my most favorite gifts ever is this tea infuser from Libre tea. You can add loose-leaf tea or herbs to some hot or room temperature water and sip throughout the day. Refill often. Try lemon and ginger, or a stimulating chai during the day.
    6. Speaking of water, skip the ice. Drink room temperature or hot water with lemon.
    7. Before you climb into bed, grab some good quality sesame oil (my favorite is this Triphala oil from the Himalayan Institute.) and give yourself a foot massage. Or better yet, find someone else to do it for you! Cover your feet with socks to prevent oil from getting on sheets.
    8. One of the greatest treasures of the Ayurvedic system of healing and balance is Abhyanga or self-massage. Use the same quality massage oil as above and begin at your feet, rubbing and massaging oil into you legs, belly and upward. Don’t forget your head and scalp! Rest and allow oil to soak into your body for about a half hour. This is a great time to do a meditation, practice yoga nidra or rest with your feet up the wall (Viparita Karani). Shower with warm water, leaving some oil residue on your skin. Besides nourishing and moisturizing the skin, there are a multitude of other benefits to Abhyanga including, better sleep, improved digestion and elimination, relief from fatigue, and mental rejuvenation, just to name a few.
    9. I mentioned yoga nidra above. Yoga Nidra is a guided systematic process of relaxation that requires nothing of you except complete relaxation and a slight trace of awareness. This process deeply restores and renews your nervous system and has been said to equal four to five hours of actual sleep. It’s a power nap times two!
    10. Take an Ayurvedic bath. This is a time honored tradition in the east and one we can use to help balance and rejuvenate us during the dreary days of winter. Depending on your individual constitution, or dosha, different herbs can be used. In the winter, a nourishing milk and rice starch bath can sooth dry and cracked skin. Add soothing oils such as lavender or rose to calm and heal. You can always use Epsom salts to draw out impurities and sooth tired muscles. For maximum benefit, perform Abhyanga prior to slipping into your bath.

      Holiday festivities, the weather, social commitments, erratic eating  – all of these can take their toll not only on our physical body, but our immune and nervous systems as well. It is worth it to find time to establish healthy routines and cultivate positive nourishing practices during the wintertime. They say it’s going to be a long and brutal one. Now you have the tools to make it through with radiant health!

     

  • The Next 40 Years

    Yup. My time has come. The big 4-0. Everyone tells me it only gets better from here. Well, then, I’m pretty darn lucky because for all its ups and downs, my first 40 have been pretty amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world, see and experience things only a handful do. From Thailand to Nicaragua to where I am celebrating now – Mexico. From safaris to surfing. Broken hearts, but luckily never a broken bone. I had a few thoughts on turning 40, but to be honest, I haven’t done a whole lot of contemplating on the subject. It’s another year like any other. And I truly feel I am where I am supposed to be. (Right now, that’s enjoying a margarita with three of the best girlfriends I could ever ask for). While I’m certainly not stress-free, I do stress less. And enjoy more.

    Thought I’d share my contemplations, straight from my journal entry from the morning of –

    Wow. 40 years. Of pretty cool living and I’m only halfway there – at least. My wish for myself? To come into and go through the next decades of my life with grace, abundance, more love – to keep cracking open to uncover the light and see my true nature. To connect to that more and more. And speak, walk, and act from that authentic space. To fear less. To enjoy more. God willing – to stay healthy and strong and adapt as needed. To embrace those I love more fully and not worry so much about the ones who don’t love – or even like – me. Worry less. Smile more. Even when I may not want to. Think less, do more. But do less too. So maybe not “do.” Actually, be OK with NOT doing all the time. BE more. That’s better. Be OK with just being here. In one place. Being happy and healthy because there really is no greater gift. You are loved. And supported. You are blessed with so much. And you are love. Be honest. With yourself and with others. Authentic. Speaking your mind does not make you a bitch. But know now, that you will make mistakes. Apologize. And so will others. So forgive. Celebrate successes because you deserve them. And embrace and then release sorrow. Help others even it it’s just by being kinder to them. And forever be grateful that you were brought into this world for a reason. To live with purpose. And grateful to the two people that supported your gift of life – Mom and Dad. Now go forth and enter the next 40-plus years with all of this.

     
  • Mental marathons

    Marathons are running races that cover a total of 26.2 miles. For many this distance seems rather odd since it not an even number. This distance is the length of a fabled run that occurred in Ancient Greece during the Battle of Marathon, hence the name. Since its inception, the marathon has evolved over the years and today, there are many marathons which you can run that go beyond the scope of the traditional marathon. These so-called crazy marathons provide a unique experience for runners across the globe.
    One of the most grueling marathons is in northern China.

    Here, the Great Wall Marathon provides an additional challenge beyond simple running. Runners in this demanding race climb a total of 5,164 steps along the Great Wall. However, they do this not just once but twice and for some runners, they may wish to run the 5 km or 10 km race. There is also a half marathon option.¬¬
    One crazy marathon is relatively new. The HydroWorx Underwater Marathon takes place annually in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The race occurs entirely in the water which can help lessen the impact on one’s body. After all, working out in water helps reduce body weight due to the buoyancy of the water. About 80% of your body weight cannot be felt in the water which makes this the ideal marathon for literally anyway even if they don’t run on land. The race raises money to help provide improved care for wounded American soldiers.

    Another interesting marathon is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon which occurs in Las Vegas. You’re more likely to have heard of due to its casinos than its athletic events, though there has been an increase in various other forms of entertainment over recent years due to the competition posed by online casinos like www.jackpotcity.org. The race is one of the oldest marathons in the United States. It first took place in 1967 and has occurred every year since. The course has changed numerous times over the years and the current course was first run in 2009.

  • The Ten Gifts of Christmas

    I love lists. You should see my desk and purse. Tons of lists. Especially Top Ten lists. If I don’t have ten things to do in a day, I make shit up, like “Breathe”  just so I can cross it off. Actually, being reminded to take deep breaths isn’t such a bad idea, especially this time of year, so add it to the list! Now it’s on to your Christmas gift list. Stuck? Well, without further ado, I give you my top ten Christmas gifts for 2013. All in good health! Ho Ho Healthy!

     1. For the Fitness Fashionista: I’m loving this new dance look from Lorna Jane! Especially the back detail. (I did my best to get the rear view! Bonus if you can tell me what the back of the pants says!) Check out all their cool apparel here

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    2. For the Healthy Chef : There are so many wonderful recipes in this new Move Over Sugar cookbook (FREE) available online! I found many similar to the ones on my site. Simple, unprocessed, clean and 100% yummy!  I’m can’t wait to try all of them, but being the breakfast gal that I am, I wanted to share a morning fave! Plus, who doesn’t love chocolate for breakfast???  

    moveoversugar copy

    VEGAN SUPERFOOD PANCAKES

    1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)   
    ½ cup buckwheat flour
    1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
    1-2 tbsp. raw cacao powder
    1 tsp. vanilla powder
    1 tsp. maca powder
    1 tsp. mesquite powder
    ½ tsp. baking powder

    topping suggestions:

    whipped coconut cream
    strawberries
    maple syrup
    cacao nibs
    (or add what you like!)

    Blend ingredients together until smooth and combined. Add a splash more almond milk if needed for consistency. Cook a couple of tablespoons of batter in coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.
    Stack pancakes and top with whipped coconut cream, strawberries, maple syrup and cacao nibs.
    Eat em up!

    3. For the Gadget Guy: Nautilus Bowflex Boost.  ($49.95)

    bowflexboost

    Worn as a bracelet, this 24 hour activity tracking device offers all the bells and whistles for a fraction of the cost of some other wrist monitors. Plus, I personally like the sleek design. Stay motivated to get moving! Another great reliable product from Bowflex. 

     

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    4. For the Yogi Who Has Everything: Personalized Mala Beads. ($205) You know the yogi – has the best mat, the coolestwater bottle, an eco friendly towel, enough lululemon to last a lifetime, and even cute hairties. What else do you get them? Why bespoke malas, of course! Shakti Malas are custom designed malas, intuitively created for the enhancement of spiritual practice and prescriptive for each individual. Tracee Stanley, yoga goddess, and Karen Rinzler, gifted artisan, will guide you through the process including an initial consultation  to ensure your malas are truly one of a kind! Normally, these special pieces are $225 but Shakti Malas are offering them for $205 for livWhole customers only! Please email SSMALAS@ICLOUD.COM to order yours and set up your consultation!!! 

     

    5. For the Scent Saavy : Please ladies – enough with the processed, fake, marketing laden perfumes. I can’t tell you how many times I get sick, especially over the holidays, from phony scents. You don’t smell like a flower. You smell like a teenager who idolizes Britney Spears. Try a natural essential oil instead. You can keep it simple with relaxing lavender, or sweeten things up a bit with a vanilla based scent. (Studies show many men love the sweet stuff.) The bonus? Depending on what scent you choose, essential oils can also affect your mood, whether you need to relax or revitalize! Dab a little behind your ears and on your wrists. And remember, no one wants to smell you coming a mile away. Someone should maybe get a whiff as you breeze by or if they are whispering sweet nothings in your ear! A perfect stocking stuffer available at natural product stores such as Whole Foods or most yoga studios carry nice lines.

     

    libretea6. For the Tea Junkie: Individual tea travelers by Libre Tea.($20.40) A dear friend of mine gave me one these as a gift, and I’m sick now that I realize I must have lost it!!! It’s a perfect way to brew loose leaf tea on the go and keep it warm for hours! For an at home individual tea experience, a simple mesh infuser is a great option and should fit into any mug . I love to grate fresh ginger and turmeric into mine. Pour hot water over and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove filter, add honey and drink up the anti inflammatory, anti viral goodness! And now you know what you can get me!

     

     

    7. For the Home Asana Junkie: Manduka PRO Squared mat. ($360) Because one rectangle just aint’ big enough! Yoga- better than a game of Twister! 

     

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    8. For the Facial Junkie: LifeLine skincare products. ($350) For the person that needs the newest technology and research for their facial products, you can’t beat LifeLine products. Applying the latest in stem cell research to your skin, LifeLine products will turn back the clock in mere months. And I know. I use it. Seriously. Click here to save 10% on your order through the livWhole store using the code HOLIDAY at checkout! 

     

     

    9. For the Massage Junkie: Yoga Tune Up Balls. ($12.95) Something else I use. Every. Day. Seriously. Jill Miller (or as I like to fondly refer to her as the “body dork”!) has created a simple to use, affordable solution for pain and tight anything! Give someone you know with a tight ass (literally) these and watch the tension melt away and range of motion return. Nothing says I love you like a fluffy butt! Plus, much cheaper than a daily masseuse!  You can also find these in the livWhole store and save 10% on your total order by using the code HOLIDAY at checkout!

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    10. For the Eco Freak: Thinksport! eco friendly athletic and baby products! Perfect for the active eco conscious member of your family, even your kids! From baby bottles to sunscreen, Thinksport! has got you covered.  Not only will you be caring for yourself and those you love, but the planet as well. Spread the joy!

    Okay, fine, I’ll include my DVDs!!! You can also find them in my store here! Remember, 10% off your total order using the code HOLIDAY!  

    Dance Off the Inches: Hip Hop Party Pack!

  • Five Food Myths You Need To Forget

    Many of us try to eat healthy. But with all the fads, trends, diets, new products and claims, it’s no wonder people wanting to make a change are left saying, “Huh?”

    It’s difficult to know what’s honest and what’s hype. I took an informal survey on Facebook and came up with five topics of confusion.

    Let the truth be told.

    PROBIOTIC YOGURT

    Probiotic Yogurt and Diet

    CULPRITS:  Activia, Yoplait and Stonyfield.

    CLAIMS: Many yogurts now make special probiotic formulas for a healthy gut.

    TRUTH: Yes, probiotics are wonderful to maintain healthy flora in the gut; however, most of the brands above contain an ungodly amount of sugar that negates any positive effects in your gut. Sugar can cause bloating and a whole host of other digestive problems. Plus, ANY good quality yogurt contains probiotics. Don’t fall for the gimmick.

    BETTER CHOICE: Stick to PLAIN flavors (even those have natural occurring sugars found in dairy products), and if you have sensitivity to dairy, try a goat or sheep milk yogurt that’s  lower in lactose, Or my favorite, the lactose-free variety from Green Valley.

    WHOLE GRAIN

    whole grain bread health

    CULPRITS: Any and all cereals, breads and crackers with this label

    CLAIMS: Products now made with whole grains are more nutritious than their predecessors.

    TRUTH: This is probably the most egregious assault on American health since the Big Mac. Big food companies have convinced people that their cereals are now healthier because of this new whole grain label. It occurred to me how bad it was when I recently was on vacation and one of my friends—a very intelligent, fairly well-off, grown man—said, “Yeah, I’ll only buy the whole grain cereals now. They’re all going that way.” I didn’t have the heart to correct him because he truly thought he was making a healthier choice for himself and his family (plus it was 6:30 a.m. and I was on vacation). Here’s the thing: processed food is processed food. The whole grains are still processed to the point of nil nutritional value. Okay, maybe they add a gram or two of fiber, but the first or second ingredient is usually some form of sugar.

    BETTER CHOICE: Stick to oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa or other grains in the morning. You can doctor it up with a ton of healthier options such as fruit, flaxseed, and natural sweeteners. Tastes good, good for you, no label required.

    And while we’re on the topic of grains…

    GLUTEN FREE

    Health Benefits of Gluten Free Diet

    CULPRITS: Everything in the supermarket these days.

    CLAIMS: Eating gluten free is the solution to any and all of life’s problems.

    TRUTH: Poor wheat. It’s gotten such a bad reputation. First the no carb trend then Paleo and now this. Truth is, wheat is not the devil. It’s the processed part that does you no good. Gluten-free foods can still be extremely processed and full of sugar, salt and artificial ingredients. Gluten-free does not mean good for you. If a gluten free lifestyle leads someone down the path of more whole grains, simpler ingredients and more educated food decisions, kudos! However, more often than not, I see this label being used by people anxious to conform to the latest fad. Maybe you’ve heard a similar version of this conversation?

    Trendy Eater #1: “Oh, I can’t have that amazing homemade French bread with butter on it while I’m on vacation in Paris. I’m gluten-free.”

    Waiter: “Mademoiselle, would you like a pint of our gluten free double chocolate gelato, topped with gluten free Oreos and gluten free whipped cream?”

    Trendy Eater #1: “SURE!”

    This isn’t to say there is no place for gluten free treats. Many people are diagnosed with a very serious condition called Celiac disease, cause of a whole host of serious health problems. By golly, these people deserve some cake too. But, by and large, let’s not use it as an excuse to indulge in more garbage with a different label.

    LOW OR NO FAT

    Low-fat diet health benefits

    CULPRITS: Milk products, salad dressings, bread, cereals.

    CLAIMS: Eating less fat is better for you and will help you be skinny.

    TRUTH: I was tempted not to add this to the list because I was convinced this trend went out with the “Let’s Get Physical” headbands and step aerobics. Apparently, I was wrong. Many are still confused and duped by this label. Say it with me: “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH FAT.” There is something wrong with hydrogenated oils and margarine or other butter-like products made out of plastic that your body has no clue how to digest. Or replacing fat with sugar in an attempt to make up for the loss of taste. Salad dressings are a huge culprit of this. Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, nuts, seeds? Go for it. Even eggs, if you don’t have more than a couple a week. Stop counting numbers. Start eating less processed foods. Your body will thank you.

    NO ADDED SUGAR, LOW SUGAR OR NO SUGAR

    Sugar free diet and foods health

    CULPRITS: Juices, diet soda, cereal, bread, protein/nutrition bars, protein powders.

    CLAIMS: Less calories and, therefore, better for you – sending you to skinny land!

    TRUTH: So it may seem I am contradicting myself here, as I basically expose sugar as the devil in every example above. But here’s the deal, like Marvin Gaye says, “Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.” If you’re going to have a Coke, go for it. But don’t make it a habit. Don’t kid yourself by thinking you’re doing better by having 5 DIET cokes a day instead of regular ones. Yes, you may save yourself hundreds of empty calories and a serious case of Type 2 Diabetes, but you’ve replaced one bad habit with another. And that’s just no good. These products usually contain artificial sweeteners likened to Aspartame, Sucralose, and everyone’s favorite Saccharine!

    Remember TAB? The fake it ‘til you make it approach does not apply here. The best rule of thumb when it comes to sugar products? Moderation. Use a teaspoon of primo maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Or try Stevia, a natural sugar substitute. Although admittedly, there are conflicting claims on this product too. Bottom line: No one likes a fake.

    On that note, we’re not saints. Notice the use of the word we. I have a real honest to goodness Coke in a bottle sitting in my fridge right now. Made with REAL sugar and not corn syrup! And I’ve been known to down a diet Dr. Brown’s Cream or Black Cherry soda a couple of times a year. As a matter of fact, I had one last night. However, these are not habits, and I don’t pretend I’m doing something good for me because that soda was fat, sugar, calorie, and gluten-free.

    Make educated decisions. Read ingredient labels, not marketing claims. Education is key. Knowledge is power. Don’t buy into the gimmicks and the advertising schemes.

    My new website at http://www.livwhole.com features easy and tasty recipes that avoid these common pitfalls! Sign up for mynewsletter here so you can keep abreast of the latest updates! Got a question? Hit me up at info@livwhole.com.

  • Simple Ways To Find Balance Between Work And Life

    With the current economic situation, most of us hardly have time for ourselves, let alone for family. Most of us are trying hard to make ends meet that we forget to create time to just unwind. Work without play is unhealthy in more ways than one. If you are always working, then you are likely to get fatigued which leads to depression. When depression kicks in, even the job that you are most passionate about becomes stressful. This is why it is important that you find a balance between work and life.

     

    Balance in life is all about taking care of yourself by taking some time off of work, eating healthy, regularly exercising and pampering yourself once in a while. Even with the busiest of lifestyles, you can still create some "you" time each day or week and improve your lifestyle.

     

    There are many ways you can create a balance between work and life. It all starts by creating time within your busy lifestyle. If you are always juggling work and taking care of your family, maybe its time you searched for additional help. Consider hiring someone to take care of the cooking and cleaning or teach other members of your family to help around the house. Make it known to other people living with you that your work takes its toll on you and some help would do you a whole lot of good. This way, you will have some time to relax after a busy day of work and have some time for yourself.

     

    You'll also need to learn to say 'no' more often. Some of us are too generous and will put the needs of others ahead of ours. While thinking of others is a good thing, allowing others to take advantage of your generosity is unhealthy. At some point, you'll need to turn down those annoying invitations to different functions and even new business deals and take some time off.

     

    Most people over-commit in order to look busy, be popular and to be seen as indispensable. This often weighs down on them and it will only be a matter of time before they break down. To avoid this, determine what is good for you and you only. if you are stuck in a career that you hate, it is definitely time to start working on switching to something you are passionate about and something that gives you more freedom to spend time with your family or simply unwind on your own. Take a vacation once in a while and do something you like.

     

    If visiting a casino and laying some money on the table feels good to you, then do just that. Nowadays, you don't even necessarily have to go to a casino in order to place wagers on your favorite game. With Royal Vegas online casino games, you can actually take part in different games from the comfort of your home or office using your computer or mobile device.  Note that sometimes, for you to be happy, you need to put yourself first before anything else. After all, you won't be able to perform well when you are depressed or fatigued.


  • Waste Not Want Not

    I recently moved into a new apartment and realized all my ‘junk’ moved with me. I’ve spent the past two weeks tossing old papers, photos, pens and other things I don’t need or even like. I’m not saying I belong on an episode of “Hoarders”, but I’ve been challenged by many circumstances in my life to simplify as much as possible. With the exception of my bedroom suite, I barely have any furniture. My yoga mat, props and meditation cushion lie in the middle of a fairly empty room, a vintage desk I purchased from Craigslist for $75 beckons me to work and write.
    My life is filled with things I adore, need and truly want. And that feels good.
    After multiple trips to Goodwill, the recycling bin and the garbage can, I got to thinking about how weighed down I had become with my stuff. Literally. I shipped too many boxes to count from LA and NYC to Austin, only to throw half of it out. Not exactly economical. Now I have space and I can breathe and am determined to maintain a clutter free and unencumbered lifestyle. Here are FIVE rules you can follow to do the same.

    1. First things first. Take half (or whole depending on how much ‘stuff’ you have) a day to clear your space. Categorize it. You can spend one day attacking clothing. Another powering through your office. Rule of thumb for clothing/purses, etc. – if you haven’t worn or used it in the past two years, to Goodwill it goes. If it’s couture or cool, you may even earn a buck or two from a vintage store or an online reseller like this one. On to your office. Get rid of half used pens, old receipts, dried out highlighters and magazines from 1999. Organize your bills into file folders. Even better jump to #2.
    2. If you are computer savvy, take all your bills online. Subscribing to e-payments is an easy way to keep your physical mailbox free of clutter and to systematically organize your bills in one place – your virtual mailbox, aka, e-mail. I keep a document with all my usernames and passwords or use a little notebook in your office to keep all of them straight.
    3. Remember the 3 R’s. Reduce Reuse Recycle. (If you need a handy jingle to help remind you, listen here.) I’ve started reusing my plastic baggies if they are not totally mangled. Turn them inside out, rinse (another R!) and dry. (REUSE!) The grocery stores where I live imposed a ban on single use paper and plastic bags. If you happen to show up without your own, you buy one. Keep it in your car for subsequent visits. I’m not for telling people what to do, but I am for nudging people in the right direction toward healthy change. Don’t wait for a ban. Trust me, it’s a wonderful feeling to not have 800 grocery bags folded and jammed in the space between the fridge and the kitchen wall. (REDUCE!) If you are lucky enough to live in a city with grocery stores that sell in bulk, it’s always a great way to go. Spices, teas, sugars, granola, nuts, seeds, grains, even olive oil and vinegar in my local Whole Foods markets and Co-op! The list has become endless. Sure, buying bulk does require some sort of plastic vessel but you know what you can do with those. (REUSE!)
      When push comes to shove, move to the last “R”. Recycle. If your city doesn’t provide recycling bins, you can find a local recycling center here. This site is a great resource as it will not only provide centers that recycle the basics like plastic,paper, etc. but also other junk you can get rid of . . . like this cell phone.
      MDcellphone
    4. I refuse to buy any more shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner, soap, scrubs, facial wash, lotion and other bathroom accoutrements until I am completely done with what is currently in my cabinet and shower right now. This includes sample sizes from the various hotels, spas and resorts I’ve visited in the past ten years. If it’s half full, I tossed it (into the recycling bin of course). I’ll never miss that quarter sized lotion of Aveda lotion. No matter how expensive it is on the retail shelf. You don’t need five different shampoos, no matter what the commercials say or what your hair type. Use it or lose it.
    5. Now that you’ve cleared some space, STOP before you shop. Seriously. Next time you go shopping, whether for food, clothing, (luckily I don’t enjoy this activity too much) or just ‘stuff’, be present. Before you throw another thing in your cart, real or virtual, take pause. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Count backwards from ten on every exhale. Then open your eyes and see if the initial urge to spend still exists. We all know what it’s like to go into Target to buy one thing and come out with 100. It happens. Use this trick, come out with 10, and you’ve hit a home run.