Monday, June 30, 2014

9 Great Oils + How To Use Them

Oils don’t get enough credit for all the benefits they provide. How many items can be useful both internally and externally, in the kitchen and in the bathroom, in your salad and in your hair? Oils are magical and the these oils are going to blow your mind with their many different uses. While all these oils are stars, they have very specific roles making some better than others depending how you use them.
As with diet and exercise, some oils will work for you and your skin type better than others, so use this list as inspiration and play around with finding the best oils for your unique body, skin type, hair, tastes, and needs. Here are the top nine oils and what to use them for! 

1. Hemp Oil
In my opinion, hemp oil is the best oil for your skin, especially if it's acne prone. I use it as my face wash every evening. It not only removes makeup, but deep cleans the skin. It’s dark green color is awesome for combating redness and scarring. Organic hemp seed oil as a cleanser and moisturizer works so well because it doesn't clog your pores. Hemp oil is 57% linoleic acid and adding linoleic acid to your skin (and to our diet) creates softer and smoother oil glands, so oil doesn’t get clogged. 

Hemp oil also works wonders when added to your diet. It's awesome in salad dressings (just mix with apple cider vinegar, sea salt, oregano and garlic) or add to your smoothies. The only downside of this oil is that is must be kept in the fridge to stay fresh making it a bit difficult to travel with, but you can find it in any health food store once you arrive. 

2. Neem Oil
This might be the wonder oil. It works like a charm for clearing up acne, scarring, cuts, and even cold scores. If I get a blemish I apply it at night and it is gone or visibly reduced by morning. It’s great to have in the house for healing any skin cuts or scrapes. This oil does have a pungent odor so don't get it in your mouth, and only use externally! 

3. Castor Oil
This oil can be used for everything from constipation relief to labor induction. My favorite use for castor oil is hair growth. Each evening I rub a bit of castor oil on a Q-tip and apply it to my eyelashes. It makes them grow in super long and think by moisturizing them and generating new hair growth.
I also love to use castor oil to aid with digestion by rubbing it on my stomach a few hours after eating a meal. You can just apply it to your stomach and add a hot water bottle on top to help it absorb. Make sure you’re getting a high quality brand that is hexane free because this oil absorbs so deeply. 

4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a rockstar both in and out of the kitchen. Coconut oil is the best oil to cook with since it has a high smoke point meaning it won’t go rancid like other oils when heated. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties so taken internally it's even considered a superfood. It's awesome added to smoothies or even melted into coffee or tea making it creamy, delicious and more nutritional by bringing healthy fats to your brain. 

Externally, coconut oil is excellent for both skin and hair. I use it on a cotton swab nightly to remove eye makeup and also use it as a moisturizing hair mask by applying it to my hair at night and washing it out in the morning. Coconut oil is the best oil to use for the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling and it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties make it great for that and can even help with candida

It can also be used as a body moisturizer and is even great to apply before sun exposure as it is approximately SPF 10. It also helps with thyroid function and can be applied externally right onto the thyroid gland, which is said to increase metabolism and energy. This oil is great as the main ingredient in natural DIY deodorant (simply mix it with equal parts arrowroot starch and baking soda).
Coconut oil is solid and room temperature so it may require melting for some uses. 

5. Macadamia Nut Oil
Has a nutty sweet smell and taste and can be used in the kitchen and even heated since it has a slightly higher smoke point than many other oils. However, my favorite use for this oil is as a moisturizer for the tips of hair. Adding this oil to the tips of your hair both in and out of the shower locks in moisture without making hair greasy like other oils. 

It can also be used as a body moisturizer, shaving gel or aftershave to prevent ingrown hairs or razor burn. 

6. Avocado Oil
Like hemp oil, this oil is great for healing redness, blemishes, and scarring on the skin. It also works well as a gentle shaving gel and full body and hair moisturizer. Avocado oil is tasty on salads and can also be heated at low temperatures for cooking. 

7. Jojoba Oil
This oil is amazing for skin but doesn’t have any uses internally, so keep it out of the kitchen. This oil tends to be a great option for a skin cleanser and moisturizer since it is very similar to our natural skin oil. It also has antibacterial properties making it great another option for acne prone skin types. 

It's packed with vitamins including A, B and E which are all super nourishing. It can be used as a makeup remover and hair moisturizer as well as a crucial oil and lip conditioner. 

8. Sesame Oil
This oil is another great option for oil pulling, especially if you don't like the taste of coconut. This oil is also great for cooking. It’s a nourishing healthy fat that is particularly high in zinc making it also beneficial for skin externally, so go ahead and slather some on! Sesame oil is high in vitamin E and also effective for mild sun protection. 

9. Hazelnut Oil
Also, high in vitamin E, this oil is nourishing for all skin types and is particularly good for sensitive skin and those with oily skin since the moisturizing properties for hazelnut keep the skin from excessive oil production, which causes blemishes. It also has astringent properties and tightens the pores, limiting oil secretions.
This is my favorite oil for shaving and works well to prevent ingrown hairs or razor burn. It can also be great for making your hair color last longer by applying it before shampooing as a way to strengthen hair. It’s light, sweet, and nutty smell and flavor are great in the kitchen as well!
So there you go! My nine favorite oils and all of their incredible uses! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Oil Pulling Craze: All-Purpose Remedy?

By Dr. Mercola
Oil pulling is making headlines as it seems to becoming widely popular, but it's actually an Ayurvedic Indian tradition that's been around for thousands of years.
To perform it, you simply swish an oil in your mouth, "pulling" it between your teeth for about 20 minutes. You can use a number of oils for this, but sesame, sunflower, and coconut oil are the most commonly used.
As for the benefits, this is one of the easiest ways to support your oral health naturally, especially if you use coconut oil, which is a powerful destroyer of all kinds of microbes, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa, many of which can be harmful.

Oil Pulling to Improve Your Oral Health

Ancient Ayurveda texts claim that oil pulling may cure about 30 systemic diseases and even today, it's widely discussed as a tool for detoxification of your whole body. These uses are controversial and I can't vouch for their validity. However, in your mouth,oil pulling does have significant cleansing and healing effects, which are backed up by science.
Anecdotally as well, virtually everyone who tries it notices an improvement in their oral health. Personally, this technique has significantly reduced my plaque buildup, allowing me to go longer between visits to the dental hygienist. As reported by the Indian Journal of Dental Research:1
"Oil pulling has been used extensively as a traditional Indian folk remedy without scientific proof for many years for strengthening teeth, gums and jaws and to prevent decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums and dryness of throat and cracked lips."
If you take a look at the research, it's easy to understand why:
  • Oil pulling reduced counts of Streptococcus mutans bacteria – a significant contributor to tooth decay – in the plaque and saliva of children.2 Researchers concluded, "Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health."
  • Oil pulling significantly reduced plaque, improved gum health and reduced aerobic mircoorganisms in plaque among adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis3
  • Oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that may cause it4
  • Oil pulling benefits your mouth, in part, via its mechanical cleaning action.5 Researchers noted, "The myth that the effect of oil-pulling therapy on oral health was just a placebo effect has been broken and there are clear indications of possible saponification and emulsification process, which enhances its mechanical cleaning action."

What Type of Oil Works Best for Oil Pulling?

It's worth noting that the above studies used sesame oil, which is traditionally recommended. However, it has relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils. Therefore, I believe coconut oil is far superior, as most of us get far too many omega-6 fats, which distorts the sensitive omega 3:6 ratio. And, in my mind, coconut oil tastes much better.
From a mechanical and biophysical perspective, it is likely that both work. However, coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-viral activity that makes it especially well suited for oral health. In fact, coconut oil mixed with baking soda makes for a very simple and inexpensive, yet effective, toothpaste and research suggests it may be a valuable tool for fighting tooth decay.
Researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology's Bioscience Research Institute in Ireland tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in its natural state and coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion.
The oils were tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria, which are common inhabitants of your mouth. They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibits the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay.
It is thought that the breaking down of the fatty coconut oil by the enzymes turns it into acids, which are toxic to certain bacteria. Enzyme-modified coconut oil was also harmful to the yeast Candida albicans, which can cause thrush. So when oil pulling is combined with the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, I believe it can be a very powerful health tool.

Oil Pulling Is Simple

Oil pulling involves "rinsing" your mouth with the oil, much like you would with a mouthwash (except you shouldn't attempt to gargle with it). The oil is "worked" around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of about 20 minutes. Oil pulling will work your jaw muscles as another benefit, but if yours become sore or tired you're probably "swishing" the oil too vigorously. Just relax and focus on moving the oil with your tongue as well as your jaw muscles.
When you're first starting out, you may want to try it for just five minutes at a time, or, if you have more time and want even better results, you can go for 30-45 minutes. This process allows the oil to "pull out" bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other debris from your mouth. Once the oil turns thin and milky white, you'll know it's time to spit it out. The best time to do oil pulling is in the morning before eating breakfast, but it can be done at any time. I try to do it twice a day if my schedule allows. When you're done, spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with water or a combination of water and baking soda. Avoid swallowing the oil as it will be loaded with bacteria and whatever potential toxins and debris it has pulled out.
Candida and Streptococcus are common residents in your mouth, and these germs and their toxic waste products can contribute to plaque accumulation and tooth decay. Oil pulling may help lessen the overall toxic burden on your immune system by preventing the spread of these organisms from your mouth to the rest of your body, by way of your bloodstream. Many people think oil pulling sounds strange ... until they try it. Then many become hooked. It's just one more way that you can use a natural, simple substance to significantly boost your oral health. People have been using this technique, and others like chewing sticks, for centuries because they work.

A Comprehensive Strategy for Oral Health

Proper dental hygiene is important for optimal health in your mouth and in the rest of your body, as discussed by Dr. Bill Osmunson in the interview above. When it comes to preventing cavities, drinking fluoridated water, and brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste is not the answer, because fluoride is more toxic than lead. The key is your diet and proper dental care: good old brushing and flossing. By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you help prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place.
Eating fermented vegetables is another simple "trick." Fermented vegetables are loaded with friendly flora that not only improve digestion but alter the flora in your mouth as well. Since the addition of these foods into my diet, my plaque has decreased by 50 percent and is much softer.
Practicing twice daily brushing and flossing, along with regular cleanings by your biological dentist and hygienist, will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be. I believe oil pulling once or twice a day will also enhance your current dental hygiene routine. In addition to consuming foods that are part of the "traditional diet" and avoiding processed foods and refined sugar, make sure you are getting plenty omega-3 fats. The latest research suggests even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease. My favorite source of high-quality omega-3 fat is krill oil.
And speaking of sugar, a particular type of honey from New Zealand called Manuka honey has also been shown to be effective in reducing plaque. Researchers found Manuka honey worked as well as chemical mouthwash — and better than the cavity fighting sugar alcohol, xylitol — in reducing levels of plaque. This is most likely due to the honey's antibacterial properties. Clinical trials have shown that Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant varieties. I still believe that oil pulling with coconut oil gives you more bang for your buck for your oral health, but it's always interesting to see just how many natural substances are around us that have the power to drastically improve your health.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kale Spring Roll

 Soften rice paper in hot (but not scolding) water, keep immersed only until soft.  Then load...first with a fresh leaf of lettuce, then the mixed kale salad, top with avocado sauce, ginger sauce and sprouts.
 Roll up by folding sides first, then fold over until completely wrapped.  It should hold nicely as the paper is a little sticky
 Slice down the middle and enjoy with some ginger sauce on the side for dipping
 It's now ready to enjoy...
Dip into sweet ginger sauce and eat up!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June Conscious box - Gluten Free

June Conscious Box 2014 - Gluten-Free

How Does Conscious Box work?

Conscious Box is the best way to discover the most ethical and sustainable products on the planet! Focusing on strict tenets of organic, fair trade, and pure and natural products, each month Conscious Box will introduce you to healthy and honest alternatives for every aspect of your life and for every member of your family. Discover the best natural products, earn points for leaving feedback and reviews, and buy your favorites at incredible discounts!

  • Get a variety of unique pure & natural products every month!
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Organyc Cotton Pads

Organyc Cotton Pads

Super Eats Kale + Chia Chips: Ranch
Super Eats Kale + Chia Chips: Ranch

Bach Rescue Pearls
Bach Rescue Pearls

Bare Fruit Apple Chips: Granny Smith
Bare Fruit Apple Chips: Granny Smith

Bolt Tape
Bolt Tape

MRM Elite Performance Protein Powder: Chocolate
MRM Elite Performance Protein Powder: Chocolate

Equal Exchange Milk Chocolate Crisp
Equal Exchange Milk Chocolate Crisp

Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate with Almonds
Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate with Almonds

Xlear Saline Nasal Spray

Xlear Saline Nasal Spray

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kale Salad & Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties

Meal recipes:
  1. Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
  2. Raw Kale salad  
  3. Avocado-Lemon Dressing
  4. Sweet Ginger/Carrot Dressing

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes 

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (skins discarded)
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1 large red onion, finely minced
  • 1 tomato 
  • a couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • shredded and drained zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • 1 green chili pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. jeera (cumin seeds, freshly ground)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (freshly ground)
  • olive oil (or Ghee)
Peal, chop into small pieces, and boil sweet potatoes until soft enough to mash. Cook quinoa to a nice firm texture. Use slightly less than twice as much water to quinoa seeds, and boil covered until all water is gone (usually around 12 minutes).

Heat 1 tsp of ghee and add in the jeera, black mustard seeds, cumin powder, garlic and green chili. Add in the finely chopped onion and stir in for several minutes. Then add the tomato and keep string until the tomato starts to fall apart. 
Place prepared sweet potatoes in a large bowl and mash potatoes. Stir in quinoa, and onion mix thoroughly combine ingredients.

I had some frozen shredded zucchini from my garden, so I thawed that and drained it well. I then heated it on the stove with a little bit of ghee, small amount of crushed jeera seeds and black mustard sees to slightly flavor it. After it softened up and slightly cooked I added it to the sweet potato mix, along with one stirred up egg, and blended very well. 

Shaping quinoa mixture into palm-sized patties as you add it to the stove. Heat up some oil on pan and saute on each side until it starts to brown. Flip once one twice, until desired look.

Top with home made ginger dressing, and/or Avocado-Lemon Dressing. For extra spice drizzle add some Sriracha on top as well.


Raw Kale salad 

  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 small organic tomatoes
  • ½ an organic cucumber
  • ½ organic lemon
  • ½ Sweet Red Bell Pepper (add yellow, orange and as much as you want)
  • Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp of Himalayan salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups Quinoa 
  • Sweet Ginger sauce (recipe below)


  • Cook quinoa (add slightly less than double the amount of water to quinoa. Boil on stove until water is gone (roughly 12 minutes). Once it gets to a boil turn to a medium high and cover. 
  • Wash veggies and your hands well
  • Chop up all ingredients into pretty small pieces. No need to chop up the avocado.
  • Very finely chop up all the kale. Then put chopped up kale in large bowl
  • Pour in juice from lemon, Himalayan salt and drizzle with olive oil
  • Massage kale until nice and soft (with your hands)
  • Then add in avocado and squish in (avocado, lemon and olive oil are all great for your skin! So dig in there)
  • Throw in the rest of the veggie ingredients and mix up.
  • If you didn't cook the quinoa in advance (I like to do it the day before and refrigerate it) let it cool by leaving it uncovered for awhile then put in the fridge until completely cooled. Once cooled add in several generous table spoons of the sweet ginger sauce until it's sweet to the taste. Then mix into the kale salad.
  • Your kale salad is ready to eat:)
 also posted here:


Avocado-Lemon Dressing (gluten-free and vegan)

  • 1 avocado, peel and pit removed
  • 1 Tbsp. of sesame tahini
  • small bunch of cilantro, minced
  • juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and pulse until smooth

Also posted here:


Sweet Ginger/Carrot Dressing (gluten-free and vegan)

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil (or olive oil if you don't want the nutty flavor)
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce (I use Ojio organic soy sauce alternative- from coconuts)
  • 2 teaspoons of organic ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • sprinkle of ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk minced celery
  • around 10 baby carrots


Throw everything in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Let sit in fridge for a few hours to let flavors blend (but can be used immediately too).
Serve on any number of dishes as a dressing or added sauce. 

Also posted here:  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties (gluten-free)


  • 3 large sweet potatoes (skins discarded)
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1 large red onion, finely minced
  • 1 tomato 
  • a couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • shredded and drained zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • 1 green chili pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. jeera (cumin seeds, freshly ground)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (freshly ground)
  • olive oil (or Ghee)
Peal, chop into small pieces, and boil sweet potatoes until soft enough to mash. Cook quinoa to a nice firm texture. Use slightly less than twice as much water to quinoa seeds, and boil covered until all water is gone (usually around 12 minutes).

Heat 1 tsp of ghee and add in the jeera, black mustard seeds, cumin powder, garlic and green chili. Add in the finely chopped onion and stir in for several minutes. Then add the tomato and keep string until the tomato starts to fall apart. 
Place prepared sweet potatoes in a large bowl and mash potatoes. Stir in quinoa, and onion mix thoroughly combine ingredients.

I had some frozen shredded zucchini from my garden, so I thawed that and drained it well. I then heated it on the stove with a little bit of ghee, small amount of crushed jeera seeds and black mustard sees to slightly flavor it. After it softened up and slightly cooked I added it to the sweet potato mix, along with one stirred up egg, and blended very well. 

Shaping quinoa mixture into palm-sized patties as you add it to the stove. Heat up some oil on pan and saute on each side until it starts to brown. Flip once one twice, until desired look.

Top with home made ginger dressing, and/or Avocado-Lemon Dressing. For extra spice drizzle add some Sriracha on top as well.

 All ingredients prepared and mixed in...ready to cook the patties on the stove

Cook on each side for a few minutes
Patty is cooked, nice and neatly round, and ready to be dressed
 Topped with my home made sweet ginger dressing...very moist in the middle. 
Deluxe patty, topped with ginger dressing and Sriracha sauce for an extra kick...not conventionally round, as I flipped it over a few times to brown it slightly more...heavently! Super moist in the middle and full of flavor and texture.  
 Or enjoy on a soft pita bread for a fuller meal!

Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Telltale Signs You're Settling For Less In Life & Love

By Dr. F. Emelia Sam
When your current position doesn’t match up with where you want to be, you have two choices. One is to make the decision to pursue the dream and the other is to pretend it doesn’t matter and attempt to ignore it. 

In the names of responsibility and sacrifice, we often neglect our deepest desires. This differs from putting aside frivolous wants. Settling is about abandoning the most authentic expression of who you are. Here are five telltale signs that you may be settling for less than you deserve. 

1. You are constantly drained.
People often think of settling as being able to check out and coast along. However, if you check in with your internal barometer, you’ll find otherwise. Engaging in activity that is misaligned with your purpose is ultimately exhausting — physically and/or mentally. Only when you are in flow is your energy replenished. 

2. You make dangerous compromises.
This is especially true when it comes to relationships. We say we want one thing and end up with the opposite. When dealing with another person, of course, accommodations are made. However, make sure you compromise on preferences and not on values. Settling will result in you not being able to recognize yourself because you will have violated your core. 

3. You feel stuck, or restless.
The funny thing about settling is that you don’t necessarily feel settled. There is a feeling of nothingness, even though you often try to count your blessings to convince yourself otherwise. Being grateful for what you do have is a great practice but it cannot erase the emptiness of purpose that is unmet. 

4. You are secretly envious.
The success of others may be a serious irritant. Even if you outwardly offer congratulations, you may be secretly seething inside. Settlers can never be completely happy for someone who is bold enough to live out their dreams. 

5. You rationalize playing small.
Settlers are brilliant rationalizers. Excuses are often made for why the road not traveled wasn’t all that appealing. There are a multitude of reasons for why things didn’t turn out and, “I was scared to try” is never one of them. You may also try to minimize the great turnout of someone who did venture in that direction. It’s not always about living a grand life. It is about living the fullness of what life has to offer you. 

Understand that leaving behind your soul’s desires is never without consequence. Settling may masquerade as practicality, but nothing is worth the prolonged erosion of your truest self. Remember, you wouldn’t have the longing if you didn’t have the capacity to see it through.

How I Healed My Body & Lost 60 Pounds Along The Way
By Katrina Love Senn
Do you ever find yourself craving foods that you don’t want to eat? Do you ever feel guilty after eating food you wished you hadn't? Do you find yourself in a constant struggle with your fluctuating weight and self esteem? 

If you said yes to any of the questions above, there is one thing I want you to know: you can change your life for the better. 

Why do I know this to be true? 

Well, I spent most of my teenage years secretly tormented by my relationship with food, my excess weight and my ever-dwindling self confidence. Just days before turning 20, I was 60 pounds overweight and was suffering from a host of chronic ailments including eczema, asthma and adrenal exhaustion. It was at the precise moment that my body completely broke down, leaving me bedridden for months. 

When my doctors offered me experimental medication, I just knew that there had to be another way. Despite not really knowing which way to turn, I was intuitively guided towards the path of healing. Over the course of the following two years, I consulted with healers and naturopaths, as well as many alternative books before uncovering the path that was right for me.
Not only did I heal all of my chronic conditions, I also managed to lose 60 pounds naturally and have kept it off for over 15 years now.
In this article I share three healing thoughts to inspire you along your own weight loss journey. 

1. Allow food to nourish you.
Let me be frank. Food addictions are one of the most challenging addictions to overcome. Unlike addictions to drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex, where at times, under medical supervision, addicts can go cold turkey or participate in a program to wean themselves off of the substance over time to break the cycle of addiction, food addictions necessitate a completely different approach.
To break free of a food addiction, you need to transform your relationship with food. Allow yourself to see food as a source of nourishment rather than something you need to fight or struggle against. Using deprivation or restriction will only strengthen your addiction and is one of the big reasons most diets fail. 

Treat your body with love and kindness. Give it what it needs so that you can create strength, flexibility and wellness. If you really want to lose your excess weight for good, let food be a source of vitality in your life. Let it fuel and energize you. 
You don't need to radically change your diet overnight, either. All you need to do is keep taking baby steps towards improving your nutritional intake. The key here is progress not perfection.
2. Listen to your body.
If you are like most people, you're probably prone to being hard on your body, even when you know that you shouldn’t. I spent many years overburdening my own body until it finally broke down.
There are countless ways that people but excess strain on their bodies including working too hard, sleeping too little and overeating, drinking too much and exercising too much or too little. 

As an alternative to over-extending yourself, give yourself permission to work within your natural limits. Start to listen to your body so that you can give it what it really wants. 

The body has its own secret language and will tell you exactly what it needs if you create enough space to listen to it. A great way to begin attuning to your body is by gently reducing your intake of stimulants such as caffeine, sugar and television. 

Reducing your intake of stimulants has the added benefit of creating space in your life for things that truly nurture your body like gentle stretching, yoga and breath work. 

All of these factors contribute to building a deeper awareness and will help you to feel more at home in your body. When you do this, you will find that you naturally move in the direction of balance without pushing or straining. 

3. Do the things that make you happy.
Doing what makes you happy is one of the most important keys to healing. To cope with our complex modern world, most people end up living the life that other people want them to lead rather than pursuing their own dreams. 
When you push yourself to do things you don't want to do, you work against your natural self and create unnecessary mental, emotional and physical stress. This stress, if left unaddressed, can become chronic and result in many different forms of illness as well as weight gain. 

A number of years ago I felt stuck in a career that didn't make me happy. I had graduated from college with an honors degree in marketing so I thought that it made sense to begin working professionally in the field. 

It didn't take me long to figure out that not only did I not like working in a corporate environment, but I wasn't particularly good at it either. After a number of unsuccessful work experiences, it became obvious that I needed to do something different in order to reduce my stress levels and regain my natural happiness. 

I quit my job, went to art school and life has been an amazing adventure ever since.
When you do the things that make you happy, you create an environment for a healthier life. This will not only help you on your weight loss healing journey, it will also help you to become a happier and more balanced person in the process. 

If you'd like to learn more about healing your body, mind and emotions, download a free chapter of my book, Losing Weight is a Healing Journey, here. Good luck!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Garden update 6/21/14

 6/21/14 - Today's harvest lots of lettuce!
  6/21/14 - Looks like this row cover didn't quite survive the recent storms
  6/21/14 - Giant Fordhook Swiss Chard
  6/21/14 - Lettuce
  6/21/14 - Spinach coming in slowly
  6/21/14 - Tomato plants
  6/21/14 - Chocolate habanero peppers coming in!
  6/21/14 - Cucumbers coming in...teeny baby ones at the moment
  6/21/14 - Black Beauty Zucchini starting to grow
  6/21/14 - Black Beauty Zucchini...on both plants
  6/21/14 - Cucumber plants with lettuce and marigold flowers in front on them
  6/21/14 - Lettuces...well harvested but plenty yet!
 6/21/14 - This plump little unattractive guy hanging out in my lettuce

A 2-Minute Exercise That Will Change Your Life

Did you know that you can visualize your way to health? Even success?
I know that may sound woo-woo, but hang on. 

For sure, getting the health you want requires making conscientious choices—but once you know how, that stuff becomes second nature and doesn’t feel like work. It just becomes a way of life. 

Too often though, women don’t even get started, or they quit before they’ve gotten very far, because they don’t believe that they can have the body or health they desire.
Here are some of the common statements I hear when patients first come to me:

  • I’m so fat. I can never stick to a diet.
  • I just don’t have the time to exercise.
  • My mom and grandmother were overweight, so even if I wanted to lose weight, I doubt that I could.
Sound familiar? 

These defeatist thoughts are uber-common and set us up to fail. The trickiest part of changing health is changing our beliefs. But once we do, the changes we make last forever. 

Make SHIfT happen: Visualize success!
Most of us were taught that health was either something we had or didn’t have—maybe it’s just in our genes, for example—and we certainly weren’t taught it's something we can control! We tend to think negatively about our bodies and our ability to make shift happen. We hand our health over to experts. We focus on the obstacles. And we get STUCK. Because what happens in our mind has a tremendous influence over what happens in our body!
But have you ever considered that there is another way to think about—and create—health? 

Athletes do this all the time: they visualize their success down to the specific details of their moves on the court or field, to hearing their team’s song on the victor’s stand.

  • Bjorn Borg, the 1970s world champion tennis player talked about mastering the perfect serve by visualizing it happening before he even tossed the ball into the air.

  • Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was thought to be so successful because he emphasized his mental agility over his substantial physical prowess, using affirmations, visualization, mental rehearsal, and self-confirmation.

  • Jack Nicklaus, world champion golfer, said, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”
And it’s not just the big boys who've got this mastered!

  • Mary Lou Retton, the first American to win the all-around gold medal in the Olympic Games said in an interview with Time Magazine that on the night before the finals in women's gymnastics, she lay in bed mentally rehearsing her performance.

  • Gabby Douglas, another Olympic Gold-winning gymnast, also used this tool. “I visualized the floor set I wanted to do, and then I went out and hit the best floor routine of my life. It proved to me just how powerful my mind can be.”
The Secret Sauce: See your body and health goals as a fait accompli.
Getting healthy requires that that we believe in ourselves, get our beliefs unstuck, and create new thought patterns that lead to sustainable practices. We do this by visualizing our success, just like world-class athletes. 

Here’s what I teach my patients: Getting healthy requires us to actually see ourselves as healthy (or fit or slimmer or sleeping better or fill-in-the-blank) before we even get there. We have to think ourselves well! It’s a form of emotional fitness and mental retraining. So, for example, if your goal is to lose weight for a wedding this summer, here's what you'd do:

  • Imagine yourself feeling fit and sexy, wearing that perfect-sized peach silk dress, your Michelle Obama “guns” ablazing, to your BFFs upcoming summer wedding—before you even start to change your eating habits.

  • Visualize taking that dream trip of yours, completely headache-free, because you made the lifestyle changes necessary to free yourself up from those nasty stressors that were triggering them, you started drinking more water, and getting more sleep.

  • Revel in the image of standing on top of that mountain with your arms in the air in a victory dance because you had the energy to make that climb—because you got your blood sugar balanced, lost 20 pounds, and started a great exercise plan with a fantastic trainer.

  • Imagine that your period practically sneaked up on you because it was so PMS-less and cramp-free that you didn’t even notice it coming because you quit drinking so much coffee and added green veggies and flax seeds to your daily diet!
If you believe you can get to your health goals, you're more likely to do the things that get you healthy, such as making quality food choices, getting regular exercise, going to sleep at a healthy hour, surrounding yourself with people who make you happy, even changing to a healthier job environment that doesn’t give you headaches! 

Ok, maybe right now you don’t. Because you’ve been practicing the other way of thinking your whole life. It’s all you were ever taught. But I am here to tell you that I believe in you. Because I see women turn it around all the time.
It takes practice and determination to go at it over and over until the new skill is second nature. Sure, there will be some times that you don’t stick the landing. But you just get out there and try again. 

Visualizing Your Goal…and Making It STICK
The first time you do this, give yourself up to 20 minutes to really play with the dream you want to create. After that, you can do this practice in two minutes max each day and get a lifetime of benefit! 

Here are the steps to translate your goals into real and lasting health success:
1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to relax for 20 minutes. Have a notebook and pen in hand, or your fave electronic writing device. Make sure you’ve blocked out all distractions—cell phone, kids, partner, e-mail. You want to focus.
2. Close your eyes and take four deep breaths—inhale deeply, exhale deeply.
3. Now identify the goal you want to create. Get really detailed and specific about it—imagine the sensation you feel having accomplished your goal, imagine your surroundings. Think about what you're wearing, what you see, what you smell, how your friends and loved ones respond to the changes you’ve made. Imagine that it’s already happening.
4. Imagine that you're incredibly proud of yourself. You are positively glowing!
5. Capture this image in your mind’s eye. (Write it all down, too, so you don’t forget!)
6. End your session with a personal “huddle.”
7. Return to it for several minutes every day. 

Reinforce your new practice with the following affirmations:

  • I am amazing.
  • I can do anything.
  • I am prepared to succeed.
Make sure to call this image up when making specific health choices, for example, when deciding between that muffin or veggie sticks and hummus, or when you're torn between going for a quick run or getting glued to Facebook. 

And what I said earlier about having a pit crew for accountability really makes a difference. All successful athletes have coaches (and often teams) who believe in their success and hold them accountable to their goals. 

Don’t hesitate to rely heavily on this tool when you’re making changes for your health. In fact, the more often you call up your goal, the closer it comes to being a reality!