Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have you gotten used to colds and exhaustion this time of year?

What kind of energy is THAT? Ick. Do we really want to accept that as the norm?

Here's a small shift you can make that will have a HUGE impact on your energy and health - now and through the rest of the winter.

What would it mean for you, to give yourself permission to step back from the draining energy of holiday stress and bustle, just for a few more hours over the next two weeks? What would it mean for you to not get sick this year?

What will you put your freshly renewed energy towards?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turning "I didn't want this to happen!" Around

Three weeks ago, my partner and I learned that we're going to have to move from our beautiful, cozy cottage in Berkeley - and soon! I found out IN THE MIDDLE of the open house (which I thought was for the whole complex, but turned out to be for our house itself). There were strangers walking through my home as the news was given to me by the realtor's assistant. I was pissed, panicked, and I felt like my safe inner space was being violated. Who knew how fast it was going to happen? The place was priced to sell and I was an anxious mess.

Initially, I was wrapped in a huff of anger and powerlessness, feeling like I was being unwillingly kicked out of my own home. I didn't want to have to pack up and move from the house I had spent the year settling into, thinking it would be a long-term nest for us! That first whole week, the anxious energy I experienced was intense: my stomach was upset with butterflies, I was back to my old patterns of emotional eating, I wasn't sleeping at night, my shoulders were bunched into painful knots, I felt drained and exhausted...

I knew it was because I was completely resisting reality - I was fighting what was happening like a raging tiger in a steel cage. The energy of resistance and fight will always feel hard - in body and in mind.

The part of me that was grounded enough to stand back and witness the tiger in me was actually feeling incredibly grateful. Grateful to be on the path I'm on, to have the consciousness to stay present (even when it was unpleasant), to have the practical tools to process and shift my experience, and to have created the support network I needed around me in that moment.

 From the beginning, I realized - this was NOT the experience I wanted to be having. I knew I couldn't control the fact that we'll have to move. But I know that I CAN control my own personal, inner experience - my thoughts and mindset about the situation.

Within a week, I was able to completely 180 shift my experience. Can you imagine? I felt like I had a super power!

How I moved from powerless, tortured tiger
to light and excited by the opportunity?

*I Accepted It.*
It sounds fairly straightforward, maybe obvious. But think about how often we don't take that breath and cultivate this in our day-to-day lives... Get real with yourself: When was the last time you got in a tizzy about being in a traffic jam or a long line at the store? How much negative energy are you needlessly producing over a situation that is out of your control? I invite you to build this awareness so you can have more choice about the way you're feeling.

Acceptance IS a super power. It alone can change everything. I first needed to come to peace with the situation at hand. And then I had to choose to take care of myself, inside and out, to have the experience I really wanted.

5 Steps to Transmute Resistance Into Forward Momentum:

1. Emote. To move through negative thoughts and energy, you have to allow yourself to express emotions ("e"nergy in "motion")! Stuffing them down or shoving them aside doesn't clear them from your mind and body. So I cried out my sadness. I yelled out my anger. I ripped up paper.  I told people what was going on and how I was really feeling. I let myself be messy. Even when I thought I "should be done" - I let myself keep feeling the whole spectrum of my emotions.

2. Support. I reached out to my support network, the people who I knew would hold space for all of my emotions, heaviness and all. I called and emailed the people who I knew were grounded and positive and would help me lift up, reinforce the more positive perspective I knew I wanted to have. I calmed down.

3. What's Truth? Seeking out the real, hard facts and grounding in reality, versus reeling in anxiety stories. What are our rights as tenant? What is our actual time scale? Where and how do we have the power to negotiate with the owners?

4. Exceptional Energetic Self-Care. I took epsom salt baths, I went for walks and hikes, I spent time with animals, I got tea with friends, I called my parents, I cooked or bought myself good, healthy food so I'd have it on hand, I meditated, I wrote, I went to yoga and stretched. I ran. I calmed and re-centered myself. I asked for massages. I started sleeping again. I read The Power of Now.

5. Facing Forward. Instead of focusing on what I didn't want to be happening, I started envisioning best-case-scenarios. I get to choose my thoughts and where I direct my energy, after all. What if this was an opportunity to find an even better place to call home? What if instead of interrupting the flow of my business, it could feed it (hence this article!) What if we decided to see this as a gift? If we rated our current place as an 8 on a 1-10 scale of living situations, what was an 11? We sat down and made a list together and posted it in our kitchen! I personally wrote out how the new space would feel to me. We started looking at postings online and going to open houses, in the spirit of adventure and seeking.

Do fears and thoughts of "What if we don't find something in time??" stilll surface in me? Of course. But I have the inner resources to recognize that it's just a story, a fear-based future projection based in non-reality and I ground myself back into the present moment. Everything right here, right now is fine and wonderful. My two biggest tools: deep breathing and gratitude lists. Both bring me back into the present.

This is a very different energy! I'm actually excited about finding a new home! I'm looking forward to the fullness of the holidays. I feel grateful for the support in my life.

I haven't always been this way - my old self would have kicked and screamed about the move the whole way! I'd probably get sick right after the move. Remember: Acceptance is a super power. But before even that we have to become aware of where we are now. 

Share with us below: When you find yourself in the midst of "I didn't want this to happen?" how do you usually respond? How do you want to respond next time? Who will that require you to be?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Paradigm Holiday: What Energy Are You Bringing to the Table?

Holiday parties and dinners are everywhere! The cookies are flowing. I know you want to enjoy yourself fully, you want to feel free to eat whatever you want. I also know that you want to feel grounded and in control of yourself and your body, you want to feel energized, and good about your choices.

The best news ever? Eating whatever you want and feeling exactly how you want are not mutually exclusive –you CAN have it all... and eat it too.

Most people use this time of year as an excuse to engage in poor self-care. Have you noticed that it's almost expected? If we all overindulge together, we won't have to feel as bad about it. And have you noticed that most people come into the new year with extra weight, extra guilt, and extra resolutions? Not to mention “flu season” … what I like to think of as I'm-so-stressed-out-and-over-extended-my-immune-system-crashed-and-burned season. Do you want to carry all of that extra heavy energy – physical, emotional and mental – around with you? Or are you ready to try something else?

Even some of the most health-conscious people I know say to me “It's only this one time of year – I really just want to enjoy myself.” Trust me – I do too! I get it – I love turkey and stuffing AND pie. But I'm doing the holidays on my own terms this year, not at the expense of my body and health, or my confidence and peace of mind. I'm not going to pretend like it's no big deal anymore.

Seriously, what IS at stake when we say f*it for the holidays?
Overeating – and eating lots of sugars, in particular – wreaks havoc on your metabolism, hormones and physical energy. Short-term effects on your body include bloating, indigestion, skin break outs, mood swings, energy crashes, cravings. Long-term effects include decreased libido, weight gain, increased difficulty losing weight, insulin imbalance, disrupted cycle, eczema, Irritable Bowel, fatigue, sickness and depression. And that's just the physical energy drain.

Mentally and emotionally, we do even more damage, though most of us have been taught to shovel this uncomfortable stuff down – with more food. Every time we do something we know is not really in our best interest, we destroy our confidence, we chip away at our own foundation. Our actions destroy our own personal power. Your inner gremlins love this, as you probably know! They say, “See, you don't have any willpower after all! You're a fatty. Keep eating, tubbo.” Similarly, when we blame the extra cookies on the people at work, we give our power away. And then we've got a whole baggage carousel of guilt, frustration, victimization, anger and low self-esteem pulling on us for months, years, maybe most of your life. Up until now.

I don't advocate doing anything drastic!
Don't decide that you are, at heart, a vegan right before Thanksgiving dinner - unless you won't be happy otherwise. Generally, that's a recipe for failure pie. I want you to eat whatever you want, I want you to enjoy yourself fully and leave every meal and gathering feeling satisfied. But I am going to ask you to get real with yourself, to get honest about what that would REALLY look and feel like for you.

Here are my top 4 tips on how to put your New Paradigm Holiday into action: (And yes, you still have time before Thanksgiving!)
  1. Get Clear & Set an Intention: How can we expect to have the experience we want if we don't even know what that is? Write down your ultimate holiday experience. How do you want to feel? Pick a specific event, meal or moment in time and script it out in the present tense, as if it's happening to you right now. “I am... I feel...” What are you enjoying? What are you doing differently, and how is it empowering you? Why is this important? Hint: Use as many wonderful sensory descriptions as possible!
  2. Wear Something Special: to remind and anchor you to your vision and intentions, your core values, your true self! Maybe it's a piece of jewelry, or a snazzy outfit. Maybe it's bright red lipstick. Dress the way you want to feel. And act it out.
  3. Find a Buddy to Back You Up: Your partner, your mom, your brother... someone you trust. Pull them aside before the meal and let them know honestly what you're up to and why it's important for you. Ask them if they are willing to get your back and stand up for you when the pressure for seconds comes around. Not only does this set you up to feel supported, but it sets you up to be accountable to another person, and to yourself. If I know anything as a coach, it's that this step is all powerful. Remember – your family wants to you be happy! Assume this energetic attitude and allow them to support you and the changes you are making in your life. You might be blown away.
  4. Ground Yourself and Get Present: Before you head in for the gathering, and throughout. And then SAVOR everything. The sunlight. The people. The drive. The music. Each bite. Every lick. Laughter. Messes. Practice mindful, sensual eating. Take breaks to step outside and breathe in fresh air and remember how beautiful life is.

Remember this:
We cannot control what happens outside of us. We can't control the whole holiday spread. But we can take control of our own experience, from the inside out. We always get the energy that we put out. If we go in with people-pleaser energy, doubting ourselves, others (and we) will sense that energy and pressure us to cave. If we go in feeling clear, luminous and confident, others will more readily respect our choices.

Let this holiday season be an experiment. Will everything go perfectly? My personal experience says no. But I have certainly found that when I allow it all to be a playground, where I am learning from the things that don't go the way I wanted, then I don't have to feel guilty and powerless about the hiccups, I can feel compassionate, curious and creative instead. Now that's some serious energy lift.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I was going to meditate BUT... (The Excuses List)

 I was going to start a regular meditation practice because I know it helps me feel more clear, present, calm and grounded BUT...

I was going to meditate but I'm expecting a package. I'm behind on my email. My mom might call me back. I have too much work to do. I've got a zillion important things on my list. I have to make money.

I was going to meditate but I'm too stressed out, it can't possibly fix me right now.

I was going to meditate but my mind always wanders, it's the afternoon and I'm too tired. I can't focus, I might fall asleep...

I was going to meditate but I got distracted by house chores. I had to clean the kitchen, take out the garbage, wash the dishes, make a shopping list.

I was going to meditate but the plants haven't been watered in a week.

I was going to meditate but I have to check my email again and update my Facebook status and leave messages on all of my friends' posts first and do all my social media marketing so that everyone knows I'm paying attention.

I was going to meditate but what if I don't stick to it, then I'll let myself down. I want to have perfectly easy practice, every day, without fail, and I'll probably screw that up. It's such a commitment.

I was going to meditate but someone outside is hammering and the neighbor's little dog always yaps.

I was going to meditate but I don't want it to be just another thing on my list. I'm already overwhelmed!

I was going to meditate but I also want to read. Or go for a walk.

I really was going to meditate but I haven't exercised in three days... what's more important? Exercise or meditation? I'm going to make a pros and cons list and look up when my favorite yoga classes are and make a formal plan and put it all into my calendar on alternating days in alternating colors, and I've got to sharpen my colored pencils... and now I've got no time for either today...

I was going to meditate but I might get hungry.

I was going to meditate but I forgot, I ran out of time, I'm too scattered now, I'll start tomorrow.

Wow, I'm hilarious... What a trip! Ok, so what are YOU making excuses about showing up for? I challenge you to set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and write down every ridiculous thing that comes into your head. Post it below!

Meet My Muse!
I admit, I've been coveting her. I want to introduce you to my personal Mastermind & Accountability Buddy (do you have one yet??) and dear friend. The writing exercise above is inspired by the one and only Jana Carrey, Creativity Coach & Mentor, and her recent post  "I was going to write, but...", an exercise utilizing the power of writing to get us unstuck and aware of the sneaky ways we might be blocking ourselves from doing what we say we want to do. Money! Check out her excuse list and video describing how the process works on her site Creative Spirit Awakening. Check her OUT yo!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

HOW You Eat Tells All

After all that confessing about my go-to stress snack - toast with nut butter - I've been eating it all week! What??

No, HOW! The energy of HOW you're showing up when you're eating something makes a world of a difference, no matter what it is. I'm sure you've mindlessly downed too much food, or just kept going even though you were full, and you know how that feels: a heavy mix of cathartic, pleasure, anxiety, rush, distraction, guilt...

That's why it's not so much about WHAT you're eating, but HOW. (The French have this down. And you can too...)

6 ways to change the energy of HOW you're eating:
  • Say a prayer before you eat. Thank your body, thank the farmers, thank the cook.
  • Put your fork down between bites. Chew. Breathe!
  • Enjoy the quiet, or enjoy the conversation.
  • Taste. (I know!) Savor. Feel the textures.
  • Eat with your fingers.
  • Get as into the flavors as Bob...

Inspired yet? I invite YOU to show up to a meal or snack in complete mindfulness and savor the whole thing, start to finish... Share with us! What felt different?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stress Snacking? How to Change the Game You're Playing (Video!)

Ever eat because you're stressed? When my to-do list is looming, all nut butters watch out!

I have some big and exciting projects on my plate. But yesterday, I found myself biting my cuticles, and wandering into the kitchen three times throughout the afternoon for PB toast snacks. For me, a tell-tale sign I'm stressing.

The guilty mind spiral (does any of this sound familiar?) is powerful: You should really know better. You're a fatty underneath it all. You don't actually have any willpower, do you? Hypocrite. What's the big deal, anyway? Why are you stressing about a few extra slices of bread and some nut butter? Shouldn't you be worrying about your upcoming projects and deadlines? That's really worth stressing about. Get focused, woman, you've got a lot on your plate! Well, f*ck it, you've ruined your eating today. You might as well just have one more to make yourself feel better... I think one more might actually make you feel better!

I've been down all those roads. An episode or day of stress snacking doesn't mean something is wrong with you, or your willpower has dissolved. It's not a failure on your part. It's simply how you've learned to cope with a busy, stressful situations. Give yourself permission to give yourself a break!

We're not meant to live in a state of unhealthy stress over things like to-do lists! Our overly masculine culture tells us to "buckle down and power through" and that "work is called work for a reason." I spent over 10 years of my life eating because I didn't know how else to feel any better. Stress + extra snacking is a sure recipe for extra stubborn belly fat and adrenal fatigue.

These days I say: Not in my world! I'm a woman doing things my own way!

Here's a peak directly into my *stress snacking course correction strategy*. This is what I do as soon as I recognize myself in any patterns that are not serving me...

Wait a minute... I've got a lot on my plate so I'm taking an HOUR out of my day to go to the Farmers' Market? Well isn't that nice that I've got the time!?

It IS nice, and I've created my lifestyle to accommodate that. The bottom line is that what I do - and what you do - with time is always a choice. Maybe you only can spare 5 minutes. 5 minutes can be a nice chunk of time, ask a diver. This is your life. Please, literally, take your time! It's yours and only yours. The real question is: Will you give it to yourself, fully?

I am committed to living life by my own terms, and working with women who want to do it their own way too. And, I know that if I DON'T take care of myself, unwind and re-center, I will just EAT MORE CRAP today.

That's what I mean by choosing something different. When you know what your patterns are, how are you going to interrupt them with something that puts you back into the state you want to be in?

What 3 things can you keep in your back pocket to do for yourself the next time (or right now) when you're feeling stressed or like you need to switch gears to be your best self? Share with us below!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 Ways to Feel More Sexy, Beautiful, Comfortable & Confident in Your Own Skin TODAY

Can you relate?

I found this in a journal from high school. And I'm looking at this picture now, thinking, I actually look pretty sexy! I was worried about that belly "hanging out"? To be honest, I was.

Flip through any women's magazine for a glimpse of the photo-edited feminine beauty standard. Unrealistic models are everywhere. And they have become our Models. You don't need a magazine to know what I'm talking about, do you?

Back in high school, I wanted that. Bad. I was in a constant battle with my body. I spent most of my life sucking my belly in to look sexy. Or exercising non-stop. Or only eating vegetables. Maybe you've been there - it's no way to live! To battle with your body feels powerless, will-less, miserable and frustrating.

When do we get to define and be our own flavor of sexy, of beautiful?

When do we get to feel comfortable and confident living in our own skin?

When do we get to love and partner with our bodies?

Never, if we hold ourselves up to the impossible and improbable.
Never, if we believe the messaging that we're never good enough.
Never, if we constantly judge ourselves and each other.
Never, if we're always sucking it in, and ignoring its signals.

But we CAN choose to feel sexy and beautiful, comfortable and confident
RIGHT NOW, if we decide it's not something someone else gets to define.
Right now, if we choose to love ourselves just as we are.
Right now, if we allow our imperfections to be the most beautiful parts of us.
Right now, if we give ourselves permission.
Right now, if we change our minds to be our body's best friend, and let it be ours.

5 Ways to Feel More Sexy, Beautiful, Comfortable & Confident in Your Own Skin TODAY:
(Sarah Jenks of Live More Weigh Less is a HUGE inspiration for this list! Check her out!)

  1. Wear clothes that you feel amazing in, that flatter your body. Don't have any? Don't wait to "lose that weight" ... decide you deserve to feel amazing NOW. Buy something new today if you have to. Love those curves up!
  2. Do your hair. Moisturize your skin. Wear red lipstick. Dab on your favorite scent. Taking care to adorn your body is an affirmation of love! Sarah wisdom: A lot of us get nervous about drawing attention to ourselves. It can feel vain, uncomfortable and even dangerous. I need you to know that it is empowering, safe and fun to add a little flare to your face. I think you'll see that this simple act will completely change your whole day.
  3. Stand up straight. Walk with your shoulders back and your chest out for a whole day. Breathe in the air! Flirt with the world. What you project, you get reflected back. Try it right now... feels different doesn't it? And yes, I fake it 'til I make it. All the time.
  4. Get dressed up, heels and all, for no reason whatsoever. As Sarah Jenks would say: If people ask you what's the occasion, say "I decided that it's time to start dressing how I feel." Own it.
  5. Drink green juice and smoothies. These feel more powerfully energizing than coffee to me. My current favorite green smoothie = half a cucumber, one apple, 6 kale leaves, a handful of mint, juice of a lemon, half a cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons of ground flax. Be flexible. When you get in your greens, you'll feel light, lively and high up on top of the world. And proud of yourself, as you should!
What are you choosing to do today?
How does it feel?? Share a picture or comment below!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tired of trying to control yourself with food? Try this super simple exercise instead!

Does "Eat This, Not That" food advice make you feel a little tight, contracted, restricted, or icky inside? To be completely honest, Alisa Vitti's blood sugar diet plan that I recently shared made me feel a little bit too controlling with my food.

How did I know it was making me feel too controlling? Well, I noticed I was thinking way to critically about my meals, I was feeling bad about anything outside of the plan that I ate... and I wasn't having that much fun. I've learned to pay attention to that feeling. When I don't, it usually leads to an all-out crazy binge. This time I noticed what wasn't feeling good before I went there.
Me in middle school!

I've spent a lot of my life in control mode. Growing up, I couldn't control a lot that I wished I could: what the other girls said about me; my parents' relationship; my homework situation. So I controlled what I could.

Or, what I thought I could... my outward appearance. I wore the smiling "I've got it all under control" mask that allowed me to look like the success I wanted to be, but that kept me tight within a box that gave me no satisfaction and left little room for self-expression. I became depressed.

I tried to control my body, eating healthy during the day so I could have whatever desserts I wanted at night and special occasions. I exercised constantly to keep my unruly body in check. Looking back, I can see that I was thin, fit and beautiful, but at the time, all I saw were the bulges, the pimples, the hairs, the ugly.

It drove me CRAZY that I was focusing so much energy on perfecting my body, but it was the one thing that continued to be messy, imperfect, uncontrollable, unpredictable. My weight fluctuated. I got sick. My skin would break out with out warning. My belly was bloated. I got my period out of the blue.

Eventually, after much anxiety and unbalanced diet (at that point, my diet was whole grains, soy products, sweet treats and hardly a drop of fat or protein otherwise), I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It was a wake up call and a real inner surrendering. It was beyond my understanding. I was deeply frustrated and angry with my body. After all I'd done to feed and take care of it?!

Things is, I'd never really been taught how to take care of my body properly, holistically. I didn't really know what it needed to work and flow, what would really make it feel good, balanced, energized. Yes, I obsessively read Seventeen all through high school, looking for the latest diets and belly flattening tips and tricks. I knew about whole grains and vegetables. But that wasn't health.

This is why a big part if my mission today is to put real, biologically and nutritionally sound and accessible information out there for women. It would have saved me a lot of pain and misery to have had information like Alisa Vitti's Womancode book back then (psst, pass it on)!

But it also matters what you choose to do with all of that information. Even the WomanCode blood sugar balancing protocol that I shared is a diet and won't work for everyone's body and tastes. The old me would have gone into strict diet mode with that plan, thinking THIS was finally the answer to being thin and happy (and that's a whole other issue)! The real problem was, I wasn't asking my body or listening to the signals it was sending me about what it needed or wanted.

My suggestion for any diet or nutrition advice you hear?
Take the information and try it if it sounds appealing to you. Pay very, very close attention to how it makes you feel. Take what works, leave what doesn't. Listen to your body. Here's the easiest way to do that!

Here's a super simple way to do that!

Know a friend who would love this? Pass it on!

The body doesn't lie. Your experience is ultimately your experience. If you don't know what feels good for you... Well, all I know for sure is that no one else can truly know that for you. You could say its a major part of the quest I'm on... to find out what lights my fire, what fuels the energy in my body and in my life so I can create more of those experiences.

Any time you hear about any approach to eating that appeals to you, I invite you to simply play with it. No need to adopt it as your holy grail right off the bat. Maybe it will be great! Maybe it will suck.

During my time at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition we were exposed to over 100 approaches to diet and lifestyle in 10 months, some of them directly contradictory! I had to feel out what resonated and then just play. I'm still playing, and my body is ever evolving. And my body never lies.

I used to think it was something I had to control but I've found that when I try to really work with it, in relationship with it (I listen, I ask questions, I make time for it, I take care of it, I pour love all over it), we are a spectacular team. And when we're really in sync, I'm on top of the world, I can do everything I want to in my life, I have the energy to show up as my best, beautiful self!

So play! Take what works, leave what doesn't. Stay curious. Don't judge yourself on what you can make work for you and what you can't. Instead, use your growing body awareness to judge what you want to keep doing and what you want to do differently, based on what works and feels good and what doesn't.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A New Sugar for Your Pantry

I love a decadent bite of sweets... but as you might have noticed, I'm also very conscious of my blood sugar. Is it possible to have both? Yes!

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite sugar substitutes...
Coconut Palm Sugar!

I love it for many reasons:
  • It is a granular sugar and can be subbed in 1-for-1 anywhere you would normally use white or brown sugar, even in baking.
  • It tastes lightly like caramel, slightly nutty... mmm!
  • It's minimally processed (taken as a sap from a coconut palm tree, like maple syrup, then simply dehydrated) so is full of an amazing array of trace vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other macro-nutrients. Eating processed sugar actually pulls the missing minerals right from your bones! Yikes.
  • It's considered to be one the most sustainably produced sugar available, a by-product of coconut fruit production that doesn't even affect the productivity of the trees!
  • It has a low Glycemic Load (meaning a serving of it has a relatively small effect on your blood sugar levels), and so, in moderation, won't rock your blood sugar boat.
What's "Glycemic Load" anyway?
Maybe you've heard the terms Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load before. And they can be very useful terms when you know what they mean. Here's the quick and easy way to remember what they are...
  • Glycemic Index is a 0-100 scale indicating how how quickly a carbohydrate (such a sugar) breaks down in your body and goes into your blood stream. An orange, for example, has a glycemic index of about 45, moderately fast in breaking down its sugars.
  • Glycemic Load is a 0-50 scale that's actually way more useful, because it also takes the quantity of what you're eating into consideration. It lets you know how much of an overall effect a carbohydrate will have on your blood sugar. That orange only has a glycemic load of 5, and so has a relatively low impact on your blood sugar. If you're eating multiple oranges, the impact on your blood sugar, and thus the glycemic load will go up.
  • On of my favorite nutrition reference sites, Self Nutrition Data, gives extensive but comprehensive breakdowns of nutritional data, including Glycemic Load. Check out oranges!

Where to get Coconut Palm Sugar
Whole Foods: sometimes in bulk bins or sold in bags in the baking section. And, you can even buy coconut palm sugar on Amazon... really!

Now, my favorite part... What to do with it!
Like I said, try subbing it into your favorite baking recipes (I've even gotten to the point where I reduce the sugar amounts in things like cookies... just be careful about your dry/liquid ratios when baking!). Here are a few low-glycemic coconut-palm-friendly recipes...

Homemade Nectarine Jam
3 ripe nectarines
1 tablespoon water
optional 1/2 teaspoon agar agar flakes or fruit pectin
  1. Pit and dice 3 ripe nectarines, skin on and put into a small pot with about 1 tablespoon of water. Turn heat to medium-high to get cooking, lid on to steam cook and soften fruit. Stir frequently.
  2. Remove lid and turn heat to low when the fruit bubbling, soft and starting to get jammy. Stir often to prevent sticking!
  3. You may add an optional 1/2 tsp agar agar (a tasteless seaweed thickener) or fruit pectin. Allow liquid to evaporate until you've reached your desired consistency. It will thicken further when it cools. 
  4. For Nectarine Rose Jam, add 1/8 cup dried rose petals (I plucked them from the tea section and removed stems and cores) or 2 teaspoons rose water when you turn the heat down. *Only use fresh petals if you know personally they were grown without pesticides. Most fresh store-bought roses are loaded with chemicals!*

PB Cookie Dough Dip
Adapted from This makes a great party dish (don't tell people the ingredients, they never guess) and is one of my favorite blood-sugar balancing midafternoon snacks!

1 can chickpeas or white beans (1.5 cups, drained & rinsed very well)
3 tbsp oats (ground flax will also work)
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or sweetener of choice)

heaping 1/8-1/4 tsp salt (are your beans salted or not?)
heaping 1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (or of choice)
up to 1/4 cup milk of choice, only if needed
1/3 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips (or use part cacao nibs for less overall sugar)

  1. Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a good food processor (not blender), and blend until very smooth, adding milk as needed to achieve a smooth, cookie-dough consistency.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the chocolate chips. Serve simply with spoons (my favorite), dark cocoa cookies, graham crackers, pretzels, or unsweetened banana chips.

Enjoy & Savor! Post your favorite Coconut Palm Sugar recipes and recipe makeovers below...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eat to Balance Your Energy, Mood & Drive

Balancing your blood sugar is the foundation for having the energy, stable mood, happy digestion, clear skin, and sex drive you want. All of that, yep. It all starts with your blood sugar.

I'm reading Alisa Vitti's WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source right now and it's totally rocking my world! If you like knowing how your body works so you can work with it, THIS is your go-to book. Trust me, I've read a lot of books about taking care of your body and this is the best practical, informative handbook I've picked up that connects all the dots.

Here's a selection of Alisa's steps for managing your blood sugar and busting your cravings for sweets all day long (and yes, my dudes, this goes for you too)!

  • Drink at least 8 oz of water immediately upon waking - try it warm with lemon.
  • Eat breakfast within 90 minutes of waking, and have a good quality protein (such as eggs, salmon, hemp protein shake...)
  • Don't consume caffeine of any kind before breakfast.
  • Minimize carbohydrates in the morning to 30-50 grams (read your food labels - 2 slices of sprouted whole-grain bread have about 30 grams) depending on whether you're a fast or slow burner.
  • Eat lunch within 3.5 hours of breakfast.
  • Eat the majority of your daily calories at lunch (this is when you're active and using them!).
  • Try to have only one complex carbohydrate (brown rice or black beans, not both).
  •  Incorporate at least one good-fat food (like avocado, olive oil, sunflower seeds) to keep blood sugar more stable and prevent you from craving simple carbs later in the day.
  • Eat dinner within 2.5-3.5 hours of your snack.
  • Stick to a meal of vegetarian or animal protein (lentils, tempeh, salmon, etc...) and raw or cooked vegetables.
  • Avoid grains and sugar of any other kind. If you consume sugar at night when you're least active, the resulting glucose in your bloodstream is more likely to be stored as fat than used as energy.
  • Schedule dinner so you'll be going to bed 3.5-4 hours after you last eat.
Get more tips on how to live in your "FLO" at Alisa's site 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Biology of Sugar Addiction

Knowing what's going on in my body has been an enormous tool for helping me choose what I want to eat. When you don't know... well, then it's a big and pretty overwhelming guessing game. It's hard to know what signals and cues to look for from your body.

My guess is that you've experienced a sugar high before. And so you've probably experienced a sugar crash too. It's might feel fun at first, but there's some serious and not-so-funny chemistry going on inside you...

Here's an over-simplified, but effective snapshot of what happens when we eat sugars or simple carbs:
  • Digestive processes break carbs down into basic sugars, including glucose, which goes into our blood for transportation and use around the body. Sugars require very little breakdown and enter the bloodstream very rapidly.
  • Your pancreas releases insulin to escort blood sugar (glucose) and other nutrients into your muscle cells, where they are used for fuel, repair and revitalization.
You've maybe heard of insulin before. Insulin acts as a “nutrient taxi” hormone.

Processed foods (like white flour and sugar) deliver a massive amount of simple carbs into the digestive system all at once, which means a . This triggers a drastic release of insulin all at once to deal with the consequent spike in blood sugar, setting a metabolic nightmare in motion.

Here's the nightmare. A large influx of insulin in the blood stream signals your body to go into fat storing mode - it has plenty of sugar available for fuel! Having frequent blood sugar (and consequently insulin) spikes leads to stubborn weight gain and type-2 diabetes, where your body becomes resistant to insulin (it isn't as effective) and you begin to run out (because we only have so much). I hope there are alarms going off when you read this: 1 in 3 children born today are expected to develop type-2 diabetes in their lifetime.

Here's why sugar is addicting: Spiking your blood sugar on a regular basis knocks your metabolism upside the head. Your blood sugar and insulin levels spike (sugar high) and then as the insulin rushes to do its job, your blood sugar drops dramatically (crash). Since your body has also been signaled to use up the sugar and store away all the fat that comes in (which it would normally use for energy purposes as well), but now your blood sugar has crashed, your body screams for more sugar - the quick fix - to meet its energy needs. And so a craving and binge cycle begins.

More truth to swallow, loves - though knowledge is power, and a great motivator. Excess insulin also disrupts other hormonal system that regulate our muscle growth, sex drive, appetite, mood, energy and fertility. I know, it's hard to hear. It certainly didn't make me happy. But not many people are talking about sugar in this way, and it has dramatic drug-like effects on our body and brain.

In fact, this stuff makes me angry when I think about the way sugar is added to processed foods just so that they'll "taste better" and because of "consumer demand". The truth is, they hook us when we don't even know we're getting it. Number one reason to read labels.
bread, baby
 Read the label for everything that passes your lips. Here are some of the most commonly used names of sugar to look out for on:
  • Corn syrup
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrose, or Glucose
  • Honey (whole other story, often cut with corn syrup without labeling - buy raw/local/organic)
  • Invert sugar (it's not opposite sugar, unfortunately)
  • Lactose (milk sugar)
  • Levulose, or Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Sorbitol, Mannitol, Malitol, Xylitol (processed low-calorie sugar alcohols)

What to do?
Hang tight, I've got glorious news coming your way. Until then, here's your first inspired action step: Go through your kitchen, fridge and pantry and read your labels - especially any baked goods and salad dressings. In addition to sugar, look for any chemical names you can't identify as a food. Throw it out, those are preservatives and "conditioners." Mmm, maybe taste ok, but they're toxic to your body. Clean our your kitchen and get ready!

What to eat?
If you want a *delicious* head start, join me at Whole Foods in Oakland this Friday for my Satisfied Sweet Tooth class and tasting! It's filling up so RSVP to Jesse to reserve your spot.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Raw Fudge Brownie Bites

When I'm going to a potluck, I like to impress ;) AND I like to know there will be a dessert I can savor guilt-free, knowing it's all clean ingredients, and not loaded with sugar that's going to throw me off my game.

This kind of dessert makes you CRAVE clean food over the sugar and chemical-heavy cookies and brownies available in grocery stores or out of box mixes.

These treats are actually a *superfood* bomb that won't rock your blood sugar! With omega-3 rich walnuts, anti-oxidant and mineral booming raw cacao, and all-natural sugar from dates. Dates and nuts are all high in fiber, which slows down the release of sugar into your blood stream, making this a low glycemic load dessert :) It's nice to be nice to your blood sugar, especially when it can't taste the difference.

My brownie bites are inspired by Sarah B.'s recipe for The Raw Brownie, I just simple roll the ingredients into little bonbons in my palm to make little bites. Alternatively, you can press them into a pan and serve them like a full-on decadent, fudgy brownie. (I ADORE getting inspiration and extra feel-good nutrition tidbits from Sarah's site, so definitely check it out :)

1 cup whole raw walnuts
generous 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup raw cacao
1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
1/8 tsp. sea salt

1. Place walnuts in food processor and blend on high until the nuts are finely ground.
2. Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine.
3. Add the dates a few at a time and pulse then run continuously to combine. What you should end up with is a mix that appears rather like cake crumbs, but that when pressed, will easily stick together (if the mixture does not hold together well, add more dates).
4. In a large bowl (or the pan you plan on putting the brownies in), combine the walnut-cacao mix with the chopped almonds. Press into a lined cake pan or mold, or roll into round bites in your hands. Place in freezer or fridge until ready to serve (it is also easier to cut these when they are very cold). Store in an airtight container.

Makes about twenty little 1-inch bites.

If you're feeling extra fancy, sprinkle with cocoa before serving, or roll in finely shredded raw coconut!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Be Prepared: Travel & Plane Food Love

Choosing to be healthy is choosing to love yourself. Healthy is a lifestyle of self-love, it requires intention and planning.

Just as I wouldn't expect to feel clean without taking a shower, I can't expect to feel strong and sexy without feeding myself clean, whole foods.

Here's what I packed for myself out of self-love, out of a desire to feel good physically and mentally, out of an intention to have some control over my choices for eating while flying last month.
  • bags of carrots and radishes and sliced red peppers
  • whole cucumber
  • carton of cherry tomatoes
  • heart of romaine (peel off leaves and eat! I love the fresh crunch!)
  • apples and mandarins and other hard fruits
  • whole grain and seed crackers
  • avocado and sea salt packets (snagged from Whole Foods!)
  • nut butter packets (I love walnut and almond!)
  • dark chocolate
  • nuts and seeds and dried fruit
  • kale chips
I pack my snacks in easy to reach ziplocks, and bring my own plastic spoons and knife so I'm prepared.

I also always bring an empty water bottle through security with me (you can bring it through empty and then simply refill it on the other side). Or I make sure to buy myself the biggest bottle of water I can find.

Hydration is tantamount to your well-being, digestion and immune system when you travel... and staying hydrated gives you a good excuse to get up and stretch your legs and body more often ;)

What makes you feel good when you travel?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pleasure shopping

It's Tuesday evening.
I adventure to the Farmer's Market...
I am hungry, and know it is no way to shop, my belly empty, growling.
Head for the nectarines I bought last week, so full, so juicy, everything I craved.
Picked them up and selected myself the most fragrant yellow, tender nectarine I can find.
It smells like honey nectar.
First bite bursts open. Juice thick, sweet, just a hint of tang, messy, dripping.

Wandering, licking, I let myself be curious and open.
Stop to talk to the political word art man, generally shunned, just wanting to share his art.
"I'm not selling, I hate money," Frankie says and shows me his t-shirts and posters.
He's intelligent, well-spoken, creative and insightful, clever beyond my mind's bounds.
I'm stretched, slightly uncomfortable, but I breathe and I am centered, strong, me.
I allowed myself to be fascinated, to play with his ideas, to excuse myself when I was done.
I felt beautiful, he felt beautiful, we gave each other peace signs goodbye.

Smiling, sitting on the curb, slurping, reveling the last of my nectarine,
it drips on my shoes.
Roll and suck the sour pit in my mouth.
Then it is time to I look around, explore the season.
I shop. I follow my appetite and healthy desires.
I taste the fruits, the strawberries: Albion or Seascape today?

The kombucha woman offers me the last few bites of her chocolate chip cookie.
More savoring and delighting. Lucky day.

I buy as many vegetables as I can carry. 3 bunches of kale for $4.
And a basket of soft candy-sweet black Mission figs.
My arms heavy with produce and riches, my mind ignited in flow and creativity.

I bike home, wind on my face. My legs alive and pumping steadily.
This is how I feed myself.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stepping Back, Creating Clarity

Sometimes I think my favorite part about going away is coming back. Call me crazy, I know. But *clarity* just feels so good... Vacations, holidays, retreats, road trips, breaks, sabbaticals, weekend getaways, stay-cations. All are opportunities to step back from the day-to-day flow, stories and stresses, to get fresh perspective and clarity.

Stepping Back --> Perspectice --> Clear Views & Clarity

July has been my step-back month. I spent 10 days in Italy and then 4 more days on a road trip to Washington state for a camping music festival. Travel creates white space: for thinking and reflecting, and, perhaps more importantly, for not thinking or doing anything at all, for just being present with where you are and what you're doing.

Whenever I take any sort of break, I always find that I return to my regular life flow with more clarity about what IS flowing and what isn't feeling so good.

Going back in, I ask myself:
  • What am I looking forward to, and what am I dreading?
  • What feels exciting and expansive, and what feels heavy and constrictive? (The body doesn't lie.)
  • What's working well and serving my visions and goals, and what's distracting me or getting in the way? 
  • What do I want to do differently, and how can I set myself up for success?

I promise, even if you don't think about work or your life at all while you're away, you'll discover that even just a few minutes of reflection (I love doing written "brain dumps" during airplanes or car rides) will bring the clarity right to the surface. They key is that stepping back disengages you emotionally from the stress, energy, stories and tensions that might otherwise keep you in their wraps. So take advantage of the situation!

Here's my tried-and-true secret tip for ultimate clarity:

Always carve yourself a few extra days to re-integrate from your breaks. Put your vacation email auto-responder up a few days before you leave AND leave it up a few days after. Tell everyone you'll be back a couple of days after you actually get back. This will give you the space and time you need to rest, reset, reflect and re-enter your daily flow feeling rejuvenated, calm and clear.

What is the most powerful part about stepping back from daily life for you?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sexy Silky Summery Skin

Summer is when we get the chance to bare our skin. But showing skin, well... it puts you out there.
There are a lot of elements that get the best of our skin and leave us with sunburn, breakouts, irritation and dry spots. If your skin is sensitive like mine, travel and greasy sunscreen can bring out the worst on your skin, for all to see. Talk about a confidence downer :(

Taking care of my skin and my body is a priority for me during the summer especially. I'm looking out for UV rays and toxic chemicals (in sunscreens, lotions and bug sprays) that will damage and prematurely age my skin. No, thank you!

If I don't take care of myself, I know I won't be able to feel comfortable in my own skin. After my trip to Italy last summer, it took me months of intensive care to get my skin back to normal. I've come a long way since then...

Here I am again this year, in Tuscany, Italy, baring it all and showing you my favorite skin-care products that I take with me into the sun and heat to keep my skin sexy and silky.

My favorite sexy, silky summery skin products:
  1. Water - bring your water bottle with you and drink up. The body doesn't lie: clear, light-colored urine means you're hydrated. Water is the best way to keep your energy high and your digestion smooth too!
  2. Sunscreen - look for paraben-free and toxin-free varieties... I often buy sunscreen marketed for babies because it is much less toxic than the stuff they try to market to adults. Or if you're going super natural - check out this Sun Worshipper's Dream sunscreen by EdibleGoddess!
  3.  Lip balm - bonus if you get some with SPF protection!
  4. Coconut oil - did you know your skin loves oil? Yes way. I used to think I had hopelessly oily skin and hair until I learned that it was oily because I was constantly stripping all of its natural oils with harsh soaps and shampoos. Now I feed my skin oil directly (yes, on my face too!) and it's never been softer. Coconut is just one choice, I also love almond oil, which I find absorbs more readily, grape seed oil for my face, when I want something even lighter, and olive oil or a mixed salve for dry skin areas.
  5. Tea tree oil - has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic qualities when applied topically, and can be used to treat blemishes, acne, and athlete's foot. Apply to your face after washing to remedy breakouts and to your feet before bed, if you've been walking around public pool areas. It's a very powerful oil, you only need a 5% solution for it to be effective, so I often mix a drop with a carrier oil (like coconut) to apply. I learned (the hard way), that it's actually not the best insect repellent... here's a better source on natural ways to keep the bugs at bay.
  6. Sun hat and protective clothing - better than sunscreen, and with the right fabric, will keep you cool and dry. I opt for natural fibers (like cotton and linen) over synthetic, which tend to harbor bacteria and smells over time.
Do share with us!

What do you like to use to take care of your summer skin? What are your favorite products and recipes for natural, healthy, sexy skin care?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Creating What I Want: An Epic Italian Experience

Do you shut down at the idea of planning? But then feel bummed when things don't go or turn out the way you really wanted them to?

Traveling is a time for planning. Not over-planning, stuffing your schedule, or being rigid, that's when it's easy to want to shut down, or to feel like there's no time to actually relax (this applies to everyday living and planning too, by the way). I used to never want to plan or set up any kind of expectations for myself, for fear that I'd then be disappointed. The catch-22 is that I often ended up disappointed because there were things I did want to do or experience that I hadn't allowed myself to even admit to myself.

The kind of planning I'm suggesting supports the experience you want to have. So you simply need to know and declare what you want. "Planning" can simply mean: getting clear about your intentions, how you want to show up, and what you want to experience.

Last week I wrote a Living Vision for my upcoming trip to Italy. I included:
  • how I want to feel: relaxed, spontaneous, sensual, gracious, savoring, refreshed
  • what I want to do: wake up early, write, read, go out for long, luxurious dinners, taste wine, bond and create memories with my family
  • how I want taking care of myself to keep my energy strong and centered: yoga on the cool marble floors of the villa, healthy green smoothies for breakfast
  • my intention to eat whatever I want: feasting my senses, while honoring my body and without stuffing my belly!
A Living Vision is an imagined script for what you ultimately desire to experience, in all it's juicy details. In our day-to-day, writing is how we declare our commitments, make official requests, and create contracts with others and ourselves. A Living Vision is a kind of request and declaration of intent to the universe. This exercise is one of the fundamental pieces of Tara Marino's (Elegant Femme) process for manifesting the life you desire. And it works.

I created my ultimate Italian experience in writing... and it sounds like a pretty glorious vacation! I know from previous travel and last year's trip that there are pieces I need to put into place to help myself step into this reality. I want to pack certain books, journals, clothes, tea and snacks so that I can have the choices and tools I want to create the experience I desire.

Will everything play out perfectly as I want? No guarantees, but by setting my intention and getting clear about what I want, I ensure that I will show up with state of mind, preparations and intentions to create "this or something better for the highest good of all concerned." (Thank you to Tara again!)

What are you looking forward to in your life that you'd like to set an intention and declare your desires for? Share it with us below: What are your intentions? What would you like to experience?

Friday, July 5, 2013

How to FEAST full-out

You love eating, right? And it's the summer season of picnics and parties and potlucks, where huge quantities of food often show up, often in celebratory airs. These gatherings can be a lot of fun, but they don't always lay easy on the conscience.

It's easy to give ourselves the excuse that we're at a party, and decide it's permissible and socially acceptable to go crazy with the food and drink. I think we've all been there and know where that leads: to an evening - or days - of bloating and guilt.

What if feasting was no longer about quantity? I looked the word up, curious. I found that "feast" describes a gathering of richness, abundance, sumptuousness (quality, fineness), agreeableness, and celebration.

Yes, huge quantities of food do tend to be associated with a lot of those words, but when I think about my favorite feasts, I didn't love it because I ate a ton, I loved it because what I was eating was so delectable, special, carefully prepared. The foods lit me up. We can choose our own experience, right?

Sensory feasts!

I'm about to take off for Italy. Before that I have two potluck parties to attend. So feasting... has been on my mind. But I am clear: I don't want to stuff or gorge myself like I used to. Overdoing it in quantity makes me feel heavy, gross, guilty, lethargic. I want to bring all my senses to the table. I want to feel activated, alive, satisfied, fun, free and light.

My favorite ways to have a sensory feast:
  • Don't hold back and arrive to the party starving, trust me on this: your midday snack will be worth it
  • Look first for the beauty in the food and presentation, I ask about it, I investigate it, touch it
  • Enjoy the aromas and smells of my food before I take the first bite
  • Eat slowly, like an explorer of new things (something I love about food: even if it's a food you know, chances are good you've never had this particular recipe, made by this particular person)
  • Use tiny utensils to remind me of the flavor in even the smallest bites
  • Stay aware of my fullness level, how my body is feeling as I take in each bite, stopping at 80% full
  • Eat exactly what I want to eat, with as much attention as possible
  • Get rid of my plate and grab a refreshing glass of water with lemon to walk around with
  • Turn my attention to connecting with the lovely people around me, feasting on the beauty of their eyes and getting curious about their lives, I listen
Here's one of my all-time favorite clips from What About Bob? of Bill Murray's character having a real sensory feast, eating exactly what he wants, how he wants...

 ... and please don't stop that!

What sounds like the most fun way to have a sensory feast to you? Are there other ways you like to slow down and take it all in? Please share! I love new things to try...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

2 Summer Recipes - My Faves for the 4th of July!

Collard Green Wraps

1 bunch collard greens
prepared stuffers
(see below) 

1. Wash and cut the stems off 1 bunch of collard greens, at the base of the leaves.

2. Steam or blanch the collards whole, for 2-3 minutes, and set aside to cool.

3. Grate or finely chop any ingredients you'd like to stuff inside (or get out those leftovers, cold or warm!). Grain salads are great stuffers.

4. Place in middle of collard leaves and wrap up like a burrito, tucking in the ends. My method: tuck one edge over stuffing and pull in snug, fold in each edge, snapping the stem inward, then roll tightly, serving seam-side down. Serve with sauce for dipping, or add sauce inside.

Ideas for the inside:
- Carrots and beets
- Cucumbers
- Sprouts
- Avocado
- Shredded cabbage
- Beans or hummus
- Brown rice or other cooked whole grain
- Turkey or other prepared meat

- Tofu or tempeh stir-fry
- Nuts or nut butters
- Ginger

Saucey ideas:
- Balsamic vinaigrette
- Honey mustard dressing
- Spicy orange peanut sauce
- Green goddess dressing
- Wasabi ginger sauce
- Garlic tahini dill yogurt sauce
- Hot sauce & guacamole & salsa

Why I love this recipe:
- great way to get in more greens
- delicious, creative makeover for leftovers
- packs well for lunch and picnics

Once you have the steamed leaves, save what you don't use in a container in the fridge for wrap meals later in the week - breakfast, lunch or dinner! I often stuff mine with leftover sauteed veggies and rice for lunch the next day. Easy and yum.

Here's my favorite salad for the inside... or to bring to 4th of July parties to make sure I have something healthy, hearty and vegetable-full to satisfy me. Feel free to add any other cooked (grilled? mmm...) or raw veggies!

Quinoa Corn Salad with Basil
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob (I like it raw!)
1 large tomato or 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1⁄2 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
juice from 1-2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

Easy peasy: Combine all in a large mixing bowl and season to taste.

What kind of healthy are you bringing??  Knowledge is empowerment. Share your recipes with us below!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why Cook?

Here I am at Whole Foods leading "So You Want to CRAVE Your Greens"!

As I was getting ready, I asked myself, so... why do I cook? What's in it for me? Here's what I shared at the class...

1. Cooking my own food lets me be in charge: I know what and how much is going into my food and what and how much is going into my body. Quality control, baby.

2. Cooking gives me more choice and flexibility: I don't have to settle for the funky chemicals and ingredients in the store, I don't have to just choose from what's on the shelves. If I want something different, specific or unique, I know I can make it for myself, and most of the time I can make it better ;)

3. Cooking is creative release and expression: It's painting with flavors, colors and textures, mixing, playing, pairing, curating, arranging. It's an expression of love for myself and those I feed. It's an experiment.

4. Cooking wakes me up to my six senses in the present moment: I am active. I am listening to the pan sizzle, I am touching big succulent leaves, I am tasting fresh basil, I am inhaling the aromas of garlic, I am delighting at the symmetry of sliced zucchini, I am trusting my intuition... it's not quite done yet!

Here is a piece of Michael Pollan's "Why Cook?" from his new book Cooked... this stuff gets me revved up...

Leave a comment and tell us below:
Why do you cook? Or, why do you want to cook? What's in it for you?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Eating On Purpose, With Purpose

I'm going to do something scary again. (Share ANOTHER part of me!)

Why do I keep doing this, you might wonder? Because I know I'm not alone where I am. I hope that by sharing all my quirks and imperfections and trials and errors I give someone else permission to feel less alone, less weird, and more empowered to just BE THEIR TRUE SELF. To think about, who am I and what do I stand for? And to stand a little taller in that.

Trust me, it's one of the most challenging things I've been doing with my life, showing up as just myself. As good and worthy enough, just as I am, not having to dull down or hold back. And the rewards are endlessly expanding when I do so. Even as some people get turned off, or judge, or reject, or disconnect because they just don't get me anymore (some of my worst fears!) I trust that the people who DO get me and love me and support me are the people who I really want and desire to have around anyway. I surround myself with the people who lift me up.

I've found that the more honest, specific, and selective I am about what and who I bring into my life and put my energy (time, money, emotion) toward, the more I am able to create the conditions for the experiences I want to be living.

Which is why I'm going to share how and why I am selective with my eating today. I've spent a lot of time talking with a lot of you about food. It's been a big part of my journey. I've gone through times of unhealthy controlling and manipulating of my diet and my body. That's not what this is about.

This is about eating with purpose, in alignment with my life and my values, to support how I want to feel in my body and my life. Yes, it's definitely deeper than kale & quinoa, and I think you're here because you feel that for yourself already.

Being selective is about making choices. I practice respect for other people's choices and always trust that we are all always trying to make the best possible choice for ourselves that we know how to make. (Even when it looks like we're self-sabotaging. I know that whole experience very well.)

Here is what and why I choose to eat:

  • I choose to eat mostly organic vegetables and lots of greens because they make me feel good, have less chemical residue, and are dramatically healthier for the environment.
  • I choose to buy most of my produce from farmers' markets because it's most fresh, affordable, environmentally friendly, supportive of the local economy and downright delicious.
  • I choose to buy most of my packaged goods from heath food stores/cooperatives and Whole Foods, where I know I can find the quality I want, with no added chemical ingredients,  preservatives, flavors or sugars.
  • I choose to stay away from large amounts of sugar, caffeine and white flour/rice which all have drug-like effects in our body, and throw me on some serious energy roller coasters, give me break outs and make me irritable and moody. No fun for anyone.
  • I choose mostly whole grain products that have been soaked or sprouted because it's what my body best digests and uses. I plan ahead and make my own when I'm at home.
  • I choose all organic and free-range meat, eggs, dairy and animal products whenever possible, usually from farmers' markets where I can know exactly what their treatment, feed, lives and impacts on the environment are. If I don't know where my animal foods are from when I'm out to eat, I choose not to partake.
  • I choose to have meat only a few times a week and try to make it a side portion of my meal. I know my body loves getting the animal protein, but I also know it doesn't need a lot to be happy and healthy.
  • I choose to drink mostly purified water and gallons of it.
  • I choose to eat home-cooked, simple food as much as possible because I know what I'm eating and what the quality of the ingredients are.

I don't obsess about being perfect. Perfection is not possible, without feeling limited, deprived or anxious.

I do my best to stick to my values, even when I'm eating with people who I worry about offending or who I worry will judge me. I don't usually explain my food choices, unless asked, and then I don't defend myself, I just tell them it's what I'm choosing "because it makes me feel good." No one yet has been able to argue with me wanting to feel good. And I respect other people's choices and consciousness wherever they are. Talking about piglets and CAFO operations over dinner hardly ever helps to change someone's mind... but giving a genuine "I feel great!" after my meal I figure has to count for something :)

Awareness is where it all begins. Notice what and how you choose to eat and why. I share all of this because I find there is so much power in grounding and anchoring my choices in my core values and beliefs. In the idea that I am CREATING the state and the reality I want (whether in my body, or out in the world through what I'm supporting) rather than REACTING to the state I'm in. And then forgiving myself for reacting. And applauding that I noticed. Baby steps. It's all an evolution.