WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: KEEP YOUR CALM WHEN LIFE GETS STRESSFUL

 

December is so busy isn’t it? Stress is a normal part of life for every single person, but it can be a little grinch, stealing joy until stress is more than just a part of your life. The first step to know is that stress is natural, but you are in charge of your life and you don’t have to be stressed af all the time!! Here are some really simple things to do to help relieve stress for me. I hope they work for you too!

  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself. When we have a lot going on, self-care is usually the first thing to go. It’s okay to let things slide sometimes. Just check in with yourself  before adderall becomes the new sleeping ;) Some simple ways to stay well in the midst of a crazy schedule are getting 6 hours of sleep (at least!!!), eating a healthy breakfast, drinking lots of water & herbal tea, not drinking lots of alcohol, working out just 15-20 minutes,  taking 5 minute meditation breaks, and fueling your day with healthy snacks like carrots, almonds, bananas, apples, hummus, and dark chocolate (it makes you happy!) Little things go a long way.
  • Create an environment for stress relief.  Candles, flowers, music, tea,  incense help take me out of my mind & into the sensory experience of the space. Scents & sounds can have a calming effect without us even paying specific attention to them, so they are perfect for reducing stress when you are working or studying. This helps us see that even when we are dealing with external stress, we are able to influence & bring calm into our environment.
  • In moments of overwhelm, never forget that within you there is always a space where everything is okay. An inner paradise where we experience total security, well-being, and love. I imagine a glowing, golden, mini-sun in the center of my body.  I close my eyes and focus on this place of inner peace. I imagine the light & warmth spreading through my whole body until the light begins radiating out of me. I love this because even if it sounds a little out there, it’s something that literally anyone can do and it’s really a beautiful idea to me that inner peace is always available we just have to focus on it and give it permission to rise above all the stress stuff!

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.” MLK

You will never create a world with more peace and more tolerance if you continue to feel anger and contempt for those who disagree with you.

Loving your enemies is the hardest lesson to learn, but if you cannot find a way to be peaceful and tolerant towards those who oppose you, how deeply can you really believe in your vision of a better world? How can you preach equality and simultaneously write off millions of people as stupid and ignorant? How can you expect your enemies to listen to you if you refuse to listen to them?

There is something that feels good, righteous, powerful about being angry towards something we disagree with. Feel whatever you feel, but consider how often anger has worked to actually resolve an issue for you. Letting go of anger does not mean doing nothing. It means no matter what happens, you stand up over and again to recommit to the path of peace. The second a hateful person has power over your emotions & actions is the second hate wins. When you let love rise above in your own heart, you reinforce the idea that love can win. You are better able to show others the power of love. Outrage may seem appropriate, but ultimately it adds to the net negativity in the world. It may be good for riling people up to want change, but it needs to followed up with thought and action that address the needed change.

People who are hateful have been modeled this behavior at some point in their lives. One of the scary things about Trump is that he is modeling this bad behavior to our whole country. This is exactly why we need to be peaceful more than ever. Hating someone who is racist will not be effective in making them love people of all colors. The already know hate. Your hate will only confirm their idea that hatred is an acceptable sentiment to have towards another person.  Maybe nothing will change their mind, but being an example of love at least shows them it is possible. It forces them to confront the idea of love, even if they cannot yet accept it. Love that expects nothing in return is a most powerful force. 

It is difficult to take the high road, especially when you find your opponent's views to be backwards, illogical, disgusting.  But when you are open minded and take the time to listen, you will be able to come up with a better and more effective solution than if you just act from anger or despair. Let’s be models for peace.

CREATING CHANGE THROUGH POSITIVE THINKING

I used to have a very negative relationship with my body. My entire world centered around what I looked like, how much I weighed, how much I had eaten. I was always weighing myself, measuring my food, obsessively calculating how many calories I’d consumed over and over again. Despite my fixation with food and body, I was neither healthy nor happy.  I was deep in a war with my body, failing to see this was a war that I could inherently never win.

You cannot win a war with your body because your body is part of who you are. It is the vehicle that allows you to live your life- get to work, eat, sleep, connect with the people you love. Your body is home to your spirit, your soul. Your body is a physical manifestation of an energy, a life-force much greater than anything.

For a long time I put a lot of energy into escaping my body. I was simultaneously concerned with every flaw and concerned my body was my only value. I had so much pressure and expectation directed towards my body that inevitably I would end up running from all of it by drinking until I didn’t care anymore about calories and scales and thigh gaps.  This cycle continued for a long time until I became friends with a someone who was dealing with eating disorder and substance abuse issues much worse than my own.

When I saw what was happening with her and became involved in the situation as her friend trying to help, I had an out of self experience.  It hurt me so much to see her in this place. I knew I couldn’t control what she did, but I could control how I treated myself. So I relearned how to think about my food and my body. I turned my focus to the nutrition of my food and the physiological benefits of exercise. I filled my mind with positive voices and healthy perspectives on body image. I read and educated myself and practiced the new ideas I was learning about. And now I am healthier and happier than I ever was when I was obsessed with everything that touched my lips.

The point of this whole story is that health, weight loss, your “dream body” all of this, all of it starts and ends in the mind. There is no point to having a great body if you don’t appreciate and love it. If you are convinced you are too fat or too skinny or ugly or unworthy and constantly tell yourself this, then this is how you will feel - no matter what you actually look like.

Even more, negative thoughts carry negative energy which seeps into the body. Stress & unhappiness cause hormones to be released that make it harder to lose weight, cause acne etc.  Feeling bad about yourself makes you less likely to make positive choices. More and more studies come out about the harmful health effects of stress and anxiety. It seems like an internal defense mechanism to me- you just can’t hate yourself into the person you want to be. It’s a difficult to learn how to stay positive, but it is by far the most important thing you can do for your health. The connections between the mind and body are infinite and it’s up to us to use them to our advantage, not our destruction.

The positive of this connection is that you can create a body you love just by changing your attitude to one of gratitude. It can be hard to do this because we are given many messages about how we are supposed to look. Although society is fucked up, it doesn’t really matter because it is still up to you to take ownership of yourself and your beliefs about yourself- and you are that much more empowered by believing in your whole self in a culture that is often dangerously shallow.  You can let go of body shaming - when these thoughts come up, remind yourself you are enough. Remind yourself you are infinitely expansive, far beyond your physical self. You are not a body, you are free.

The greatest gift of this is that now that I have healed my relationship with my body, I have energy to grow and love and share positivity with others in a way I never could have before. When we accept ourselves as we are, we free up so much space for good things to come into our lives.

I am not a body, I am free.

GREENS + GRAINS SALAD

Finish your day strong by fueling up on fiber & carbs at lunch. Including whole grains and an array of fruits and vegetables is the best way to stay nourished and energized after your midday meal. It's tempting to treat yourself at lunchtime, but you'll be happy when your co-worker is falling asleep at his desk after that cheeseburger and fries. It's also an easy salad to make at night so you can grab and go in the morning. Just keep the dressing separate and add in when you're ready to eat. 

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I used quinoa and mixed greens as the base for this salad, but you can mix it up with rice, barley, spinach, and all your other favorite greens and grains. I always think about including a bunch of different colors in my meals to make sure I'm getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients- I'd say it turned out looking pretty damn good. 

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RECIPE

  • 1 CUP QUINOA
  • 1 CUP MIXED GREENS
  • 5 BABY CARROTS (CHOPPED)
  • 1 SLICE RED ONION (CHOPPED UP SMALL)
  • 1/2 CUP CUCUMBER (CHOPPED)
  • HALF AN AVOCADO (SLICED UP)
  • 1/2 CUP FROZEN BERRIES 
  • SPRINKLE CHIA & FLAX SEEDS
  • CRUNCHY DRIED CHICKPEAS (BRAND: SAFFRON ROAD)
  • DRESSING: LEMON JUICE, OLIVE OIL, SALT, PEPPER, GARLIC POWDER

TURMERIC SMOOTHIE BOWL

Boost your immune system with turmeric, one of the most healing herbs in the world. Turmeric is the main spice in curry and what gives it a bright, yellow color. This golden spice contains a healing compound called curcumin and has been shown through thousands to studies to prevent and reverse diseases including depression, arthritis, cancer, and high cholesterol. It's also a powerful anti-inflammatory, shown in one study to be much more effective than ibuprofen and aspirin in inflammation and pain relief. Turmeric has a mild flavor, so it can be added to stir-fries, smoothies, salads, and many other dishes. 

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RECIPE

  • 1 FROZEN BANANA
  • 1 CUP MANGO
  • 1 CUP PINEAPPLE
  • 1 TABLESPOON TURMERIC
  • 1 CUP COCONUT MILK

BLEND EVERYTHING FOR 30 SECONDS. TOPPED WITH CHIA SEEDS, COCONUT FLAKE AND DRAGON FRUIT. XO 

MATCHA SMOOTHIE BOWL

Smoothie bowls are my favorite way to get loads of nutrition in one beautiful, easy-to-make, easy-to-eat bowl. There are endless delicious combinations, but I always aim for at least 4 different fruits or vegetables in each bowl so I know I'm getting a variety of nutrients and benefits. This bowl features 2 vegetables and 5 fruits, plus matcha, coconut water, flax seeds, coconut milk whipped cream, and toasted quinoa for added nourishment.

As you can see, all plant foods offer several benefits. Eating plant based means preventing disease, improving digestion, clearing up your skin and much more with every bite. Every part of our body is connected- how we look on the outside is in many ways a reflection of what's going on inside. Knowing what my food is doing for me is empowering and always motivates me to make healthy choices. Read on to find out just how each ingredient helps to keep you glowing, energized and strong. 

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SMOOTHIE BOWL

  • MATCHA:  Matcha is a green tea powder loaded with antioxidants that helps with focus, memory and energy.  Boosts the immune system and detoxifies the body. 
  • SPINACH: Full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, magnesium and manganese among countless other vitamins and minerals. Spinach is one of the most nutritious greens you can get, and a powerful defense against a range of diseases. 
  • COCONUT WATER: Coconut water is a powerful hydrator. Good hydration means more energy, glowing skin, and healthy cells. It's also a great cure for a hangover ;) 
  • BANANA: Bananas are a good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and potassium. They're also rich in fiber and carbs which help you stay full. 
  • PINEAPPLE: Pineapples are a great source of antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, which is a key nutrient for immune system health. 
  • MANGO: Mango's contain a variety of vitamins and antioxidants that help prevent cancer, improve skin quality, and promote eye health. It's also a great source of fiber which is important for digestion and elimination. 
  • ROMAINE: Just 1 cup of romaine has almost 100% your daily value of Vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a vital role in bone growth, good vision, and reproductive and immune system health. 
  • CUCUMBER: Cucumbers are mostly water, so they are great for staying hydrated and flushing toxins out of the body. They also contain vitamins like magnesium and potassium which promote healthy skin and help prevent diseases. 

ON TOP

  • COCONUT MILK WHIPPED CREAM: Coconut milk (made by straining ground coconut meat) is rich in many vitamins, but is particularly good for it's lauric acid- a healthy fat that is easily absorbed by the body and used for energy. Coconut milk also contains other healthy fats that have been shown to help lower cholesterol. 
  • GREEN APPLES: Green apples are full of nutrients, particularly fiber which is key for regular digestion. 
  • FLAX SEEDS: Flax seeds are a potent source of many nutrients including protein, fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Omega-3s and B vitamins can be hard to get into a plant based diet so flax seeds are great food to include in your diet. 
  • WATERMELON: The name really says it all. Made up of 92% water, watermelon is one of the most delicious ways to stay hydrated while still nourishing you with Vitamins A, B6, C and lycopene among small amounts of many other nutrients. 

Epic sandwich made at my Cooking Matters class today. Cooking Matters is a program that offers nutrition and cooking classes to immigrants, children and others who don't have much access to this kind of information. 

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Food and health is yet another area where minorities, immigrants and people without a lot of money are disproportionately negatively affected. This includes less access to healthy food, higher fast food consumption and higher rates of diseases like obesity and diabetes.

Conglomerates line Coke and McDonald's as well as big agriculture companies (Monsanto, dairy industry) are subsidized and enabled by the US government despite countless studies and lawsuits indicating how harmful these products are. One of the worst examples is the unregulated advertising to children which gets kids hooked on junk foods before they even have a choice.

The ladies in my Cooking Matters class are all immigrants with several children and they learn so much in our 6 week program. They are creative, open-minded, hard-working, and proof that anyone and everyone can live a healthier life.

You don't have to be a part of this fucked up system and you can change it with your awareness and your business. Buy local, but less meat, dairy, processed and fast food. Eating well will change your life. Imagine what we could solve if we all made this change.

STRAWBERRY CITRUS POPSICLE

Baby it's hot outside! Like, melt your Popsicle hot. 😜

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Stay cool by eating these Strawberry Citrus Popsicles in a nice air conditioned room, and get a healthy dose of Vitamin C to fight off the summer cold you'll get from all that AC exposure. 😝

So easy to make - mix together juice from a few oranges and half a grapefruit. Slice strawberries and mix in with juice. Pour into popsicle molds (or small cups if you don't have a mold) and freeze for 1-2 hours until solid. Another option if you don't have a mold is to use an ice cube tray and use the cubes in cocktails, fresh squeezed juice or soda water. 

chia pudding

 
  • 2 cup almond milk
  • 2/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
  • cinnamon to taste

Mix together until well blended. Store overnight in the fridge (or for at least 4 hours). When you wake up you'll have the perfect chia seed pudding. This is possibly the easiest breakfast ever. 

Chia seeds are loaded with protein and fiber and honestly are just a fun, weird food to try. They start out as dry seeds, but become gelatinous when soaked in water of

Chia seeds have an earthy flavor and are not terribly palatable on their own. I like to top my chia pudding with frozen berries because the juice adds sweetness and flavor to the pudding. Other good add ins are:

  • sweet fruits like mango, peach, banana, papaya, and pineapple
  • dark chocolate chips
  • granola
  • nuts
  • coconut flakes
  • dried fruit

 

stay hydrated

Hydration is a pillar of health 💪A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for at least 75 oz of water a day. (8 oz =1 cup) 💦 Hydrate with flavor by adding fruits and herbs like berries, citrus, mint, basil, cinnamon, cucumber, watermelon etc. 🍓 Good hydration means more energy, glowing skin, clearer mind, less bloating, healthy cells and more. 🍋 

 

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BENEFITS TO A PLANT BASED DIET

 

  • Weight Loss. Dairy and meat products are high in saturated fat which directly leads to accumulating fat in the body. Plant foods are naturally low in fat, calories, salt & sugar, so they are nearly impossible to overeat or gain weight on. Plus they are easier for the body to digest and promote better digestion and metabolism to help you get to your healthiest weight.

  • Healthy Hair, Skin & Nails. Eating a variety of colorful plant foods ensures that you are getting all the nutrients needed for overall health, including strong and shiny hair, skin and nails. In addition, salt, sugar and fat-filled foods lead to breakouts and oily skin, so eliminating them can clear up even stubborn acne.

  • More Energy. Heavy foods like meat, dairy, and anything processed are hard for the body to digest and convert to energy. Carbs, including fruits and vegetables, can quickly be converted to fuel to keep you energized. A plant-based diet also makes it easy to eat throughout the day without overeating, so you can maintain steady energy levels.

 

  • Disease Prevention. Countless studies show the link between fatty, processed foods including animal products, junk food etc. and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer and much more. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants that have a multitude of healthy benefits for the body.

  • Save Money. While many people think eating healthy has to be expensive, many staples of a plant-based diet are very affordable. Potatoes, rice, bananas, apples, kale, corn, and carrots are just a few examples of foods that offer up to 10 servings for under $5.

  • Live Consciously. Eating plant based allows you to have a positive impact on the planet and well-being of animals while just living your life. Being able to connect to a greater purpose through your food shows you how small acts can create big change and this is super empowering!

Chickpea Quinoa Salad

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Plants contain more than enough protein & calcium to keep you strong and healthy. Eating a variety of plant foods ensures you get all the nutrients you need without the negative side effects of meat and dairy. Eat plants, save your self, save the world.  

CHICKPEA QUINOA SALAD

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1 cup diced red onion  
  • fresh garlic
  • garlic powder 
  • turmeric  
  • cumin
  • cayenne 

Sautee everything together for 10 min. I don't put exact measurements on the spices. Give a few shakes of each and play around to see what you like best. Serve hot or cold over salad. I did a spinach and cucumber salad with olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing. You could also make a wrap, eat with rice, add more sauteed vegetables or just by itself. So easy, so good !! 

 

 

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

#WEIRDBEAUTYTIPS

Did you know the skin absorbs over 60% of what we put on it? Between pollutants, make-up, lotions, and chemical laden skin care products, we end up absorbing a lot of toxins via our skin. These toxins make their way into our bloodstream and travel through out the body, causing damage all over- including bad skin! 

To avoid this damage, I go natural most of the time and always look for products that are free of harmful chemicals like parabens. But, there's another cool trick I like to use- activated charcoal. This probably sounds super weird and it is, but activated charcoal is a powerful tool to eliminate toxins both on the skin and in the body. 

WHAT IS IT? Activated charcoal is charcoal (which is made from heating natural materials like wood without the presence of oxygen) that has been heated in a way that makes it more porous & adsorbent (Adsorption is when a material magnetically attracts other substances. Charcoal acts like a magnet to adsorb toxins so they can be found and removed from the body. Cool, huh?!)  It is used in hospitals to remove poisons & venoms because of its amazing ability to bind to and eliminate toxic materials. 

HOW DO I USE IT? You can drink activated charcoal by adding it to water to cleanse the body of toxins & reduce bloat. It has little to no taste, but I add lemon to make it more palatable.  To use it topically (on the skin) you can mix it with water to create a scrub or mix with bentonite clay to create a mask. There are also lots of products made with activated charcoal like Dark Angels from LUSH. You can also brush your teeth with charcoal- they whiten your grill by binding to tannins, the part of tea, coffee, and wine that cause stains! 

WHERE DO I GET IT? You can buy activated charcoal in bulk online from Amazon & other bulk retailers or at specialty/health food stores. 1 pound (which is a lot of charcoal!) will run you around $18.

GOOD TO KNOW Charcoal is super dark!! Be careful about spilling the powder or  getting it on white clothes or leaving it in a white sink or dish too long as it may stain.