Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Little Something Every Day

Whenever I'm in a particularly rough place in my life, or just feeling down, it's easy to think things are always going to be like that.  I know I'm not alone in thinking this.  I want to encourage you all, though, that while it's natural for thoughts and feelings like these to arise, they are only transitory because the only thing constant is change!

Unfortunately, change can sometimes take awhile to occur.  Waiting for it to happen can, at times, be defeating.  Because of this, it's important to do what you can NOW to better your mood in the moment!  

Today, for example, I was in one of those "feeling sorry for myself" kind of moods.  While I did indulge that feeling a little bit, I also took active steps to zap it!  I said good morning to a total stranger (which was reciprocated!) on my way in to work;  I told the secretary at my work that her blouse looked lovely;  I bought myself a bouquet of flowers after work;  and I did a half hour of yoga in my apartment once I got home from work.

These conscious acts were very little, indeed, but oh-so helpful!  While today was still kind of crappy overall (some days just are!), saying hello, offering a compliment, buying some flowers and practicing yoga improved my mood profoundly!  You, too, can improve by just doing a little something every day.  I guarantee it will make you happier, if only in that moment.  Say hello to a stranger if that will make YOU smile, or have a square of chocolate after dinner if that will just totally bliss you out.  

Whatever pops into your head, do it!  Don't overanalyze or think about what little thing, or things, you should do, just do SOMETHING!  Over time these little "somethings" will become a larger part of the fiber that comprises your overall happy, healthy being :)

With love, light and happiness,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Are You Using Your Health For?

Today, as I was walking along the San Francisco Bay before work, I was thinking about this very question because a month ago I gave up coffee.

The reason I gave it up was in an effort to improve my health.  I thought that by so doing I would become clearer headed, more focused and better able to serve those around me.  I thought that by eliminating coffee I would be a more present, aware and conscious person. 

So I gave up the stuff, cold turkey.  I took to my new, coffee-free, life quite easily, drinking my chamomile tea every night (and sometimes morning), and although I didn't like the taste of tea as much as coffee (and still don't), I was fine with it.  I thought drinking it was making me a purer person.

I made it through a week, then two, then three, then four and had solidified in my mind the fact that I no longer was a coffee drinker.  I was a tea drinker.  

This morning, however, I revisited my decision in the first time in weeks.  Why had I given up coffee? How was I benefitting--myself or others--from it? 

I referred back to my initial reasons for giving it up and realized none of them were manifesting.  

I was not clearer headed.  

I was not better able to serve those around me.  

I was not more present, aware or conscious.  

In fact, I felt more scattered and spacey since going off coffee!  I also noticed my overall mood was  more solemn and I wasn't as chipper and extroverted as my usual why was I doing it?

I couldn't answer this question.

My not being able to answer it was a serious reality check.  After all, I had given up coffee in an attempt to better serve others and myself and I was doing neither.  Plus, I kind of missed the taste of it along with the daily morning jolt it gave me.

So I brought it back.

To me, health means living in a state of contentment.  It's feeling vibrant and energized and wanting to share these positive feelings with others.  Health is wanting to form relationships and connect with others.  Living healthfully means being able to carry out goals with no mental or physical impediments.

I wasn't living my own definition of health.  I didn't have enough spiritual basis for my decision, which is why it didn't stick, and I also wasn't noticing any positive changes as a result of my decision so, again, I asked myself, Why am I doing this?  

Again, I couldn't answer.

In closing, I would like to encourage you all to define what health means to you.  Are you living your definition of it and, if so, what are you using it for?  Remember, health is a journey, not a final destination.  One never reaches "health."  It's a process under which one goes.  One makes her way through this process by encountering obstacles, mis-steps, successes and failures but each encounter is part of the health journey.  Just keep in mind the question, what are you using your health for, and this will carry you through.  

If you can't answer this question, then maybe you need to reevaluate your "health" and perhaps nix choices that are serving neither yourself not others! 

With love, light and happiness,

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Check In With Yourself

How do you feel right now in this moment? Are you hungry? Do you feel bloated? Weak? Lethargic? Energized? Strong?  

Food is the backbone of how we feel, both in the moment and overall.  What's serving you now might not serve you down the road and what served you in the past might not serve you in the present.  It's about adapting to the changes life (and your body) throws at you.

So ask yourself how you're feeling and what, if anything, you might need to change about your current eating habits to improve how you feel.  Maybe there's nothing you need to change, and that's great! Keep in mind, though, that as we change and evolve, so too do our food needs.  Even if you are feeling great now and everything you're eating is serving you, know that they may not always.  Honor your ever-changing body and listen to what it needs right here, right now, regardless of what it needed yesterday!

To use myself as an example, I've been vegan for nearly two years.  Since moving to the Bay Area, though, and basically adopting an entirely new life in an entirely new environment, I started to not feel as great, physically.  I attributed this to stress in a new place and I experimented with different food in an effort to resolve some of the issues I was encountering.  I cut back on gluten then I cut back on grains then I limited fat but I realized I was restricting too much on an already somewhat restricted diet and I knew I needed more nutrition! 

I decided to re-evaluate my entire vegan dietary approach and why I had chosen it and if it was serving me.  After a lot of soul searching and introspection, I decided I would be okay with trying pasture raised, organic, local eggs, purchased from the farmers market.  So I went one Saturday to buy a half dozen, and that very evening I cooked two up (over easy) to have for dinner.  Guess what? 

My body loved them.

And with this modification to my diet, I felt stronger and more energized.  Eggs were not a part of my diet for two years because, for whatever reason, they did not serve me...then.  Now they do and I continue to eat them several times throughout the week.

I say all this to say that what may once serve you--like my 100% vegan diet--may no longer, and that's okay!  But for this reason, it is SO important to check in with yourself and do a scan of how you're feeling now.

There are many conflicting dietary theories out there, which makes the task of figuring out what's right for YOU all the more challenging. There are valid claims for raw, vegetarian, Paleo, vegan, macrobiotic and other diets that make it difficult to figure out what's "right."  Fortunately (or unfortunately), there is no one "right" diet.  

You just need to find the foods that work for you

In closing, I encourage you to do a self-scan and assess your current well being.  Be open-minded to trying new foods and see if they improve your overall health.  Please do not pigeon-hole yourself into one way of eating and think you must adhere to it 100%.  Each one of us is unique and requires different foods for our own unique health and happiness.  Finding what works for us will be a journey of exploration and self discovery!

With love, light and happiness,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Be Kind. Unwind.

This post is going to be very short.  Why?  Because I am so, so, so very tired.  

I want to invite you all to be kind and honor your body, mind and spirit whenever you can.  For me that means going to bed early tonight rather than writing the longer post I had intended on because I am so very tired.  I know that an extra hour or so of sleep will better serve me than a blog post.

So with that, I leave you and wish you all kindness and self-love.  Treat yourself to something special.  Honor yourself and do whatever it is you need to do RIGHT NOW.

Love, light and happiness,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Enough With The Excuses!

Alright all, it's time for a little tough love.

When I was at work today, some of my coworkers were commenting on how their job has really taken a toll on their health.  They talked about how they exercise less and eat less healthfully because they "don't have the time."  While I certainly am gaining a profound empathy for full-time workers, like myself, who have a harder time fitting exercise and healthy eating in, it can certainly be done!  I am learning how to adapt and make my new situation work so that I can sustain my pre-established healthy habits and help others foster theirs.

Like my coworkers, you too might feel there are not enough waking hours to dedicate to exercise and healthy eating.  You might also find yourself comparing the "you" of now with the "you" of then.  I used to work out all the time.  I used to be so good about my eating habits.  If you're having self-defeating thoughts like these, squash them now!  Ask yourself how you can make the most of your current situation, whatever it is, to live life better in your present situation.

To use myself as an example, as it may help you, I used to practice Vinyasa yoga once a day, sometimes twice;  I'd prepare myself beautifully made lunches, sometimes spending an hour on them (not to mention presenting them beautifully so I could post them to Instagram);  and I'd spend my days baking vegan desserts in my kitchen.  At that point in my life I was able to do all those things but those things are not feasible with my current full-time work schedule.  I've found that rather than compare the "me" of then with the "me" of now, I'm enjoying the process of discovering ways to create a healthy schedule for me that serves me in my life now!

So getting back to the whole "I don't have time to eat healthfully" excuse--it's crap.  Complete and total crap.  I'm sorry but it is.

My schedule right now is crazy, being gone basically from 6:30 am to 7:45-8:00 pm, depending, and yet I find time to eat healthfully!  I just plan a little more.  To do this, you don't need to find more time, you just need to discover new ways to use the same amount of time to incorporate healthier practices!  Feeling daunted by this task?  I can help!  Just email me!

I would like to end this post by encouraging you all to take one positive action step by making your own healthy lunch tomorrow.  That's it!  You can interpret this challenge in any way you'd like and, please, share your results!  How was the experience for you?  Was it time-consuming?  Did you enjoy the meal you prepared?  What did you make and how did it feel to know YOU made the healthy lunch that nourished you?

I can't wait to hear your feedback!

Love, light and happiness,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Prepare to Eat Better!

I've been on a kick with lists lately and I hope you've found them helpful!  This post, not surprisingly, includes yet another list.  This list is of must-have food staples I either prepare in my kitchen at the start of every week.  They're what get me through the week and offer me joy and nourishment!

Often times, people struggle when trying to make healthy food choices because they simply don't know where to start or the task of changing their diet seems too daunting.  That's why I'm offering my refrigerator staples so that they might inspire you!  When your fridge is packed with healthy go-tos, you're less inclined to reach for a bag of Fritos.

If you current diet is not-so great, or if it is and you're wanting some more inspiration, then I hope you will find these recommendations useful!  It is my hope that these suggestions will allow you to implement gradual dietary changes in a way that is sustainable, effortless and enjoyable!

1.  Almond Milk
I love almond milk.  It's creamy, nutrient-packed and a great alternative to dairy-based cow's milk, for numerous reasons you can read about here.  I use it in smoothies, added to cooked grains to achieve a porridge-like consistency or in recipes calling for milk.

2.  Applesauce
Aside from being on a "list kick" lately, I've also been on an applesauce kick, mainly because the apples here in California are amazing right now and because applesauce is so easy to make!  To make mine, I use Gravensteins.  All you need to do is peel, core and chop the apples, place them in a covered pot with a very little bit of water, add cinnamon to your liking and cook on low until the apples have softened and are mash-able.  That's it!  You might need to add more water, depending on the type of apples you use.  Applesauce is a great, easy way to get in another portion of fruit in for the day.  Additionally, peeling and cooking the apples is much less taxing on your digestive system so if you have tummy problems with high-fiber fruits, give homemade applesauce a try!

3.  Soup
Every Sunday I make soup.  Lately it's been different types of carrot soup because I love how carrots cook down to create an ├╝ber creamy texture when blended.  All I do is saute some garlic and/shallots in a little oil until tender then add my 4 or so cups of carrots (or whatever veggies you want to use), add a cinnamon stick, maybe some grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, lots of black pepper and 6-ish cups of veggie broth.  I bring that to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook that baby for as long as I can stand, really letting the flavors marry!  Soup is so great to have on hand because it can provide a really quick meal!

4.  Flatbread
Flatbread, in particular, is SO easy to make and is exponentially healthier than store-bought.  I am more of a sweet flatbread kind of girl and enjoy a slice with my homemade applesauce as breakfast, but there are a lot of delicious savory recipes out there, perhaps to have as a dinner accompaniment.  If you're anything like me, you like your bread, and making your own will allow you to satisfy that craving in a way that's much healthier and, likely, tastier than store bought!  I highly recommend Ashley's bread recipes on her site, Edible Perspective.

5.  Condiment/side
This could mean anything for you--pre-cooked veggies that are ready to go, maybe some fermented veggies, hummus, a nut pate.  Have some quick little munchy thing that's ready to go and waiting for you in your refrigerator so that when you get home from work and are starving, you can snack on it while you make dinner instead of, again, those darn Fritos!  Right now in my fridge I have some balsamic roasted beets and some pickles.  I actually bought the pickles from the farmers market this past weekend and if you have access to homemade or freshly prepared healthy foods like this, then go for it and save yourself a little time in the kitchen!  Use your freed up time to take a bike ride instead!

6.  Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are lazy man's health food.  They are literally so easy to make and once you cook it up, you'll have it on hand to eat with breakfast, lunch or dinner any day during the week.  I halve mine so that I get two dishes out of it.  To cook it, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Score Xs in the top of your washed potato.  Stick it on the top rack of your oven and bake for 45-60 minutes.  Done.

7.  Salad dressing
Homemade salad dressing is really fun to make and the great thing about it is you have total control over what you want in it!  Homemade dressings are automatically healthier too because there are no preservatives.  Why?  Because you made it with recognizable ingredients and are likely going to be consuming it within a relatively short amount of time so there's no need to preserve it.  My FAVORITE dressing of the moment is Kimberly Snyder's Magenta Goddess Dressing.  It's pink and beautiful and waiting patiently for me in my fridge right now.

9.  Grains
I highly encourage you to cook up some grains at the start of each week.  The best, nutritionally speaking, would be those like quinoa, millet, amarenth or buckwheat.  Of the four, buckwheat is my favorite.  These can be added to salads, stir fry, veggie roasts or made into breakfast porridges.  They're also another great, quick go-to when you're wanting a quick something after work!  Just make sure when you cook them, you do so the right way:

9.  Greens
Okay, technically this is not something I need prepare; it's just something I buy but I always, always, always have some type of greens in my fridge and you need to too!  You can and should incorporate them with any meal!  Definitely aim to have one salad per day, be it a side or, better yet, whole meal.  There are so many beautifully creative salads out there that will reshape the way you thing about them.  Here is some inspiration to get you started!

Love, light and happiness,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Time Stops For No Working Woman

I am one busy girl. Not only do I work an 8-5, which has lately been more like a 7:30-6:30, but I am in-transit for about an hour and a half each day, I cook myself dinners every night, try to go to yoga regularly,  and I'm in school earning my health coaching certification. Oh, and did I mention I'm car-less?  That little factor makes things all the more interesting. Whenever I need food or other things, I either bike to the store or I walk somewhere on my lunch break at work and lug my purchases home from the train station on my way home from the train station after work. 

For awhile I was getting really down on myself for not managing my time better or for not giving enough priority to things I needed or wanted to do.  The thing was, though, I just didn't have enough hours in the day! I wanted to be blogging but I needed to make and eat dinner. I wanted to work on my health coaching business but I needed to take a shower. After I finished doing all the "have tos," it was past 11:30 and I was ready for bed!  I'd go to bed feeling like I didn't get anything done in my evening hours and I'd fall asleep and repeat that very cycle again the next day.

Well, I came to realize that my number of waking hours each day are limited and that, truly, I only can do so much and some things are going to have to be sacrificed throughout the week in order to get other, more pressing, things done.  I'm slowly becoming okay with this and learning to ease up on myself.  It's definitely a process though and I'm, by no means, "there" but I'm closer than I was!

That all said, I do have some practical how-tos for how to get more done in the same amount of time.  They're things I've found work for me, personally, and i know they'll work for of you too!  My list certainly isn't exhaustive but it's a good place to start.  Try out my suggestions (where applicable) and see which ones work for you.  Please make sure and leave your comments below too and let me know what you've found helpful!

1.  Change your shower schedule.
Fortunately or not, we all have to bathe. For some of us, myself included, taking a shower and getting ready can take up quite a chunk of time, between shaving, blow drying and styling  your hair.  If you normally take showers in the morning and find yourself waking up super early in order to do so, try taking your shower at night instead and ladies, throw in some curlers so your hair is ready to go in the morning.  This little change might give you more time to do something else or, at the very least, allow you to sleep in later in the morning.

2.  Journal or blog in-transit.
Perhaps for you it's not journaling or blogging but some other outlet for creative expression you have (or want) to do every day.  Don't sacrifice it for the seemingly more "necessary" tasks. Creative expression IS necessary, you just need to find a consistent time when you'll be able to do it, whatever "it" is.  For me, I've started to find that my ride into work in the morning and home in the evening is a perfect time to work on my blog, which I'm doing right now, and/or update my Integrative Nutrition journal.  I used to try and work on these things every night after dinner but, realistically, that wasn't happening so I found a time and place that works for me.  I encourage you to do the same. For those of you who use public transportation, I highly recommend getting your "creative on" when you're in-transit!

3. Dedicate exercise nights and wind-down nights.
You can do this either rigidly or fluidly. To do this "rigidly," say, for example, you'll dedicate Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to yoga and set aside Mondays and Fridays to cooking a nice meal or watching your favorite television show. A more "fluid" approach would be to say you'll be active three nights a week and chill two nights a week. Again, find what works best for you but go in with a plan!

4. Pack a lunch the night before.
I've kind of always done this but I realize many of you do not. Some of you may throw things haphazardly into a brown bag in the morning or skip the whole lunch packing thing altogether and buy your lunch at work. For those of you who DO pack lunch in the morning, try out packing it the night before. I guarantee you your lunch will be better.  You won't feel rushed and can put thought into what you actually want to include in your lunch rather than what's fast and convenient. Fast and convenient is still good (think fruit,) but so is setting aside time to make a collard wrap with all of your favorite fillings!

5. Embrace your weekends!
For all the things you wanted to accomplish during your week but didn't, use your weekend time to do just that--or don't! Weekends are about flexibility, fun and sometimes laziness. So if those unfinished things are important to you, do them. If not, forget about them and just have fun! Fully LIVE your weekends and drink them up like nectar.  I encourage you all to do one new thing every weekend.  It can be something as little as going to a different farmers market than usual or as big as taking a red eye flight to Las Vegas to try and win some big ones, but fully live.  After all, you aren't going to be able to do these things during the week so take advantage of your weekend time.  Explore!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Embrace the Unexpected

It certainly has been quite awhile since my last post, and the reason for the delay is actually the subject of this post!

As some of you readers know, I moved out to the Bay Area from a suburb of Detroit a little over four months ago.  This past weekend was my first time going home since my move our here, and my reason for so doing was to surprise my dad for his 60th birthday.  My mom paid to have both me and my sister, who lives in Chicago, fly in for his birthday. 

Well, my short trip home got off to a less-than ideal start when, on Friday afternoon, my delayed flight out of San Francisco caused me to miss my connection to Detroit in Atlanta.  I had to spend the night in Atlanta--hot, humid, unfamiliar Atlanta, in a hotel I had to pay for.  My flight back to San Francisco on Monday was also delayed for nearly three hours due to weather, which would have forced me to spend yet another night in Atlanta, had I not opted to rebook my flight for the following day and spend one more night in dear ol' Michigan.  The next morning, when I got on my rebooked flight, I departed on time but the connection in Las Vegas was delayed.  Fortunately, San Francisco was my end destination and the delay only inconvenienced my arrival into work.

I would have loved nothing more than to have gone home and slept after nearly 24 hours of shuffling through airports and waiting for planes to arrive, but I had made commitments and work and thought that showing up, though it was three in the afternoon, was the only responsible, professional thing to do.

So, after this series of unfortunate events, I could not help but ask myself, Why did this have to happen?  Why did I have to endure all this inconvenience?  I believe this experience was presented to me in order to test and strengthen my patience and equanimity, or non-reactiveness.  I can't say I "passed," because my frustration in the moment almost brought me to tears, but I became aware of the fact that I was reacting so strongly and emotionally and quickly tried to stop it and just breathe, which actually worked!  Additionally, when I was confronted with almost the same scenario on my flight home, all I could do was laugh at the unlikelihood of it!

Having been home now for a full day or so, I'm still reflecting on my chaotic trip to and from San Francisco, and I think another reason I might have had to experience the delays and frustration I did was to provide me time to sleep!  I'm always go, go, go, do, do, do and as such, my sleep is definitely sacrificed.  Ample and adequate sleep is so important for one's health and I am certain I don't get enough.  I always just have so much I need to do or catch up on when I get home from work that I seldom get in bed before 11:30 pm.  Mind you, I wake up at 5:30.  That's not enough hours for me or for anybody!  I made up for some of my sleep deprivation by sleeping at the gates, sleeping in the flights into and out of San Francisco, sleeping in the Best Western Plus where I stayed in Atlanta, and sleeping in my mom's car on the ride back from the airport on the night my return flight got delayed.

The delays literally forced me to do nothing because there was nothing else I could be doing.  I believe the universe presented me with these frustrating impediments in an effort to slow me down and take the much needed rest my body was craving.  Additionally, as I already mentioned, enduring this taught me to focus more on being non-reactive and present.

I learned a valuable lesson from my whirlwind weekend and that is to embrace challenges and welcome unexpected obstacles as vehicles through which you can learn and grow.  This is often easier said than done but it can be done.  The more you practice cultivating this skill, the stronger you'll be and the better able you'll be to embrace any unexpected obstacle--or two!--the universe decides to catapult your way!

Love, light and happiness,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ten Tips For A Happier Belly!

Digestion isn't a subject many of us feel comfortable talking about.  With it arises words like bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea, which are words not many of us feel comfortable uttering.  The thing is, though, we need to talk about this stuff if we want to resolve our issues.

That is why I am here!

I've been working through some digestive issues of my own and am successfully resolving them!  From my own experience, including the wealth of digestion-related knowledge I've acquired, I would like to share with you some things you can do to improve your digestion.  They're simple and easy to integrate into your everyday lives.  Even if you don't currently experience any digestive issues, trying out some of these techniques might improve your already stellar gut!

Ten Tips For A Happier Belly:

1.  Eat your meal while seated.
This focuses your attention more on your food, signaling to your brain, "I'm going to have a meal now.  I have pulled up a chair and am seated, ready to eat."  Sitting down gives your meal greater importance by making the meal an event unto itself.  It also encourages you to eat slower (even if that still means you eat fast!).  Standing while eating, on the other hand, doesn't give the food the importance it deserves, which, in turn, interferes with the digestive process.  Your body is aware that food is entering it but you haven't sent the appropriate signals to your brain (ie. pulling up a chair, setting a place of some kind, sitting down) for it to be on the same page, and this is when digestion can go awry.

2.  Drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar ("ACV") before your meal.
This gets your digestive juices flowing, which aids with the overall digestion of your meal.

3.  Chew, chew, chew!
For all the macronutrients, except fat, the digestive process begins in the mouth.  So when you consume any type of carbohydrate or protein, you really want to chew it well.  Your saliva, which mixes with the food, actually begins the digestive process.  Additionally, chewing foods breaks down the cell walls of the food, which allows for greater nutrient absorption and assimilation.  Chewing food thoroughly will also decrease your potential to eat too fast, thereby decreasing your likelihood of "swallowing too much air," which can cause bloating.

4.  Experiment with supplements.
I try not to rely too heavily on supplements but I do have a couple staples in my diet that I swear by.  I also am a huge fan of herbs, which I've had a lot of success with as well, in terms of healing my gut.  The first supplement I would highly recommend is a probiotic.  Probiotics replenish the healthy flora in your small intestine, which is crucial for good digestion.  I also recommend peppermint oil capsules, which can soothe and coat the lining of your intestine, further aiding digestion.  L-glutamine is another supplement with which I've experienced tremendous results.  L-glutamine helps protect the lining of the GI tract and maintains gut-barrier function. 

5.  Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid with meals.
This dilutes the acid in our stomachs, which is what makes for efficient digestion.  Small sips of room-temperature water, on the other hand, has found to actually aid in digestion.  The key word here, though is "sip."  Over the course of your whole meal, you don't want to sip more than 1/4 cup's worth and each sip that you take should be a true "sip," or approximately a tablespoon.

6.  Think happy thoughts.
If you're upset, angry, stressed or just plain thinking bad thoughts, that same negative energy is going to enter your physical body through the food you eat.  So, think happy thoughts.  The more positive your mind is during a meal, the more positive the energy of the food you put into your body.

Though I have this listed as number seven, it is perhaps the most useful tip for aiding digestion.  Take big, bold, juicy breaths during the course of your meal.  Engage not only your upper chest but your diaphragm and lower belly.

8.  Take a walk.
Even if it's just for five minutes, taking a walk after a meal is tremendously beneficial for one's digestion.  

9.  Try Qigong. 
Qigong is a practice started in China centuries ago.  Somewhat similar to yoga, Qigong incorporates breath, movement, balance and energy.  The movements are very slow, and breath (again, I cannot emphasize the importance of breathing) is most important.  The video below demonstrates a quick exercise you can do following a meal to jumpstart your digestion.

10.  Rub some castor oil on your belly.
As weird as this sounds, I do this every night.  I rub the castor oil on my low abdomen in massage-like circles.  When externally applied, castor oil has been found to remove toxins, improve elimination, aid in digestion and relieve constipation.  I speak from experience--this works!

I could go on and on, offering at least 50 more tips for a happy belly, but I'm going to stop here.  I hope the ten I provided help you wherever you're at on your journey to digestive health.  If you're interested in learning about more ways you can improve your digestion and would like to work with me, please email me at

Wishing you all very happy tummies!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Change Your Habits, Change Your Brain

I don't think I'm generalizing when I say we all fall into routines.  Be they good or bad, routines eek their way into our everyday lives.  Sometimes it's at our workplace, where we find ourselves "going through the motions," or it's after work, when we shuffle through the door, drop our keys on the mat, open the fridge to eat something (regardless of hunger) and change into comfier clothes.

Our habitual way of doing things is, as I mentioned, something we should judge as neither good nor bad.  Sometimes habits are necessary, like always avoiding a particular street because of its notoriety for pickpockets or wearing dress clothes to church every Sunday.  Sometimes, though, are unnecessary.  Rather, they offer a sense of comfort, like eating dinner seated in front of a laptop while MasterChef plays.

I am definitely not referring to myself...

The point is, whether necessary or unnecessary, anything done the same way over and over again gives the brain very little stimulus.  Our brains, after all, crave variety and challenge, whether we like to acknowledge it or not!  Doing something differently, even a little differently, has profound effects on the wiring of our brain.  It causes the brain to work differently; to change.  Even something as little as sleeping on the other side of the bed or changing out of work clothes before beginning dinner (again, not using myself as an example), will cause one's brain to go Oh, hey, what's going on?  I'm not used to this!

...and that's good!

We want to flex our cranial muscle.  So doing can not only help prevent diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia, it can also increase our mood!  By breaking away from our routine ways of doing things, like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the peanut butter consistently on top, we can experience greater happiness and excitement in our lives because we open the door of possibility!  If we were to eat that PB&J with the jelly side up, a little spark in of excitement in our brain would go off at the notion of doing that same routine differently.  And just imagine, if something as simple as eating a sandwich differently can do that, imagine what even bigger, sustained changes can do, for your whole, mind-body self.

I invite you all to choose ONE of your daily routines and modify some aspect of it.  Post your results below.  I look forward to reading them!  Also, if you have a few more minutes to set aside after reading this post, you might enjoy this video as well!

Love, light and happiness,

Monday, August 5, 2013

You and the Moon

I woke up today feeling pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, despite having gotten only five hours of sleep last night.  For me, and I think for everybody, five hours is not nearly enough sleep, and I certainly do not make a habit of getting so little.

That said, I was alert and energetic early this morning, ready to take on the day.  As mid-morning drew near, however, total and utter tiredness overcame me.  I initially attributed this sleepiness to my short night's sleep, but as the day progressed and I was just as tired, if not more so, I thought, there must be something else at play.  I was REALLY exhausted.

Between intermittent naps on the train ride home, I whipped out my iPhone to start Googling phases of the moon.  We, as human beings of Planet Earth and the universe, are so intrinsically linked that when nature experiences shifts, changes, what have you, so too do we.  Our bodies, for example, are comprised of approximately 60 percent water so when it's "high tide," we experience shifts in our own constitutional being.

Anyway, from my Google research, I discovered that today, August 5th, 2013, the moon is in its "new" phase.  A little more research revealed to me that during this particular phase, one tends to be at his/her lowest, energy-wise.  Oh my gosh!  Discovering this information gave me some comfort in knowing that my tiredness, while partly due to my five hours of sleep, was (and is, as I tiredly sit here typing this) also due to the phase of the moon.

The universe's awesomeness never ceases to amaze me.

The next time you're not feeling "yourself," I invite you to do a little research, like I did, to see if there might be some other "bigger" explanation out there.  Perhaps Mercury is in retrograde and that explains why you've been feeling so out of it!  You might unearth some revelations about yourself as well as your belief system, whatever that may be.  In any event, you will certainly expand your capacity for open-mindedness and that is definitely a skill worth cultivating.

Love, light and happiness,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Primary Food Indulgence

Perhaps it's no secret that I am somewhat of an introvert.  I strike up conversations easily, I'm bubbly and I like to think I have a good personality, but when it comes down to it, I have a hard time putting myself out there and making friends.

I don't say this to evoke sympathy.  I say this to be honest and to share with YOU all, who, perhaps, might be in a similar situation, that you can change this!  I am!  Changing routines and trying to be more social is definitely an ongoing challenge but the first step in overcoming this challenge is to be aware of it (which I am) and the second step is to make positive steps to change it, and I'm doing that too!

Today was a perfect example of breaking away from my usual, reclusive Sunday routine of staying in my apartment and maybe cooking some food to have on hand for the week.  While cooking is important, especially for incorporating healthier "secondary foods" into your lifestyle, just as important is the incorporation of healthy "primary foods," like relationships, activities, spiritual practices, etc.

Today I indulged in primary foods by sharing a beautiful lunch with one of my dear friends from work, Louis, and his ADORABLE mom, Lydia.  Lydia is seriously a woman whom I want to strive and be like when I'm 65.  She was not only beautiful but she had a totally optimistic personality, was in great shape and super funny...not to mention, her hat was too cute!

Although I ate way too much and am pretty darn stuffed as I sit here typing this, the wonderful company more than justified my fullness.  I laughed, I talked with food in my mouth at some points and I didn't chew my food into oblivion, but that's okay because today the food I was putting into my body was less important than was the event of eating with friends and being present in that space.

So if you're like me and don't necessarily set aside the time you should to do social things or try and meet new friends, see if there are ways you might be able to change this.  While it's comfortable to have your own way of doing things and have a comfy schedule, it is so important to foster relationships.  Yes, they are work, and are often difficult, but they're worth it.

To use me, again, as an example, I am trying to create relationships in this new city of mine by inviting myself to goings-on and asking others if they'd like to do x, y or z.  Not every invitation manifests itself into reality but the fact is, I'm trying to put myself out there.  I'm taking active steps.

Today's lunch at Herbivore with Louis and Lydia was my idea.  I knew I didn't really have anything planned for the day (except for maybe the usual cooking, as I mentioned), and so I thought lunch would be nice, and instead of letting it slip into one of those things "we should do," I cemented a time and place and voila!  It happened.

You can do the same.  Decide on a fun activity, think of someone with whom you might want to share that activity and then make it happen!  You have the power to change your habits.  Your "old ways" are not what define you.  You're constantly changing and evolving.  Who you are yesterday, including the "secondary foods" you ate or the "primary foods" in which you were lacking, is not who you have to be tomorrow.  Maybe it's the first day you decide to have a salad for lunch, or maybe it's the first day you decide to eat lunch with a total stranger at a free table.

Whatever it is, indulge!

Love, light and happiness,

Finding Downward Dog In Day-To-Day Life

As many of you may or may not know, I recently picked up and moved across the country from a suburb of Detroit, Michigan to San Francisco, California.  Not only was the move a total and utter upheaval, but my change in lifestyle was equally as dramatic.  I went from practicing 90-degree Vinyasa flow yoga daily, baking in my kitchen for hours on end and working part time at a local yoga studio, to sitting on my rear behind a computer screen for eight hours at a stretch.  As someone who is naturally active and energetic, this was a difficult switch for me, to say the least.

At first I set my focus simply on trying to adjust to my new job.  I didn’t worry at all about incorporating a daily—or even weekly—yoga practice.  The important thing for me was that I get settled.  Once I felt settled, then did I begin trying to find a routine for myself that would support a yoga practice, at least a couple times a week, and that would allow me to cook dinner for myself upon arriving home each night.

Well, this was not as easy as I had hoped or anticipated.  I found myself rushing after work to a studio, booking it to the train station directly after class, hoofing it back to my apartment from the train station in order to get dinner going A.S.A.P. and sitting down to dinner at nine o’clock at night. 

But I got in my yoga practice.

I realized I was undoing much of what I was trying to cultivate with my practice.  I get on my mat in order to find balance and harmony within myself and to quiet that inner voice that’s incessantly talking.  I practice to slow down, which is an aspect of myself I thrive to take off my mat as well.  By rushing, rushing, rushing to get to the studio then the train station then home, I was neither slowing down nor finding that inner peace and quiet.

I played around with my schedule a bit more and experimented to try and find a situation that would better serve my busy life.  Because yoga, and physical activity, in general, is critical for my overall wellness, I knew I had to incorporate it some way, but I had to find a way of doing it that it would add balance to my life and not subtract it. 

To do this, I found a yoga studio closer to my work with more convenient evening class times.  Now I’m not rushing out of the office, changing into my leggings as I half-run to class, and I have time to actually settle into the practice.  Additionally, because the class time is earlier, I’m able to get home with enough time to make a dinner for myself and eat before nine. 

In addition to my yoga practice, I’ve also started taking brisk walks around my new city before work each morning.  These walks recharge my spirit and ensure I get in some form of activity for the day, in the event I don’t make it to my evening yoga class.  Sometimes I even use my lunch break to do my grocery shopping at Whole Foods, a fifteen minute walking distance from my work, and get my activity that way.  Whatever I do, however much or little it is, it’s something, and I feel better about myself after doing it.

I encourage you, too, to think of creative ways to weave whatever it is you do into your schedule, however chaotic it looks.  Even if you can’t incorporate your favorite activity every day, do something.  Move your body.  Take the stairs instead of the escalator.  Walk to the Starbucks a block farther away but do something, little things, even, that are going to add balance, stability and groundedness to your life and not make it more of a frenetic, stressful craze. Your body and mind will thank you.

Love, light and happiness,