Thursday, February 28, 2008


*Sigh of relief*
Well, I listened to my own advice yesterday by doing the following simple things:
  • Juiced!
  • Danced
  • Yoga:)
  • Meditation (ten minutes is better than zero!)
  • Light and satisfying meals (smoothie, salads, quinoa, baked sweet potato, nuts)
  • NO computer after 9pm
  • Wound down for a half hour before turning out the lights (reading a novel in bed)
It all paid off. Eight wonderful, restful hours of sleep. I woke up naturally this morning and finished some writing projects before 9am! Plus, I didn't carry that negative energy with me to bed. Yes, there are dishes in the sink right now, but I feel great! It wasn't a problem fitting these things into my day even though I taught four yoga classes and worked for four hours.

This blog is a huge motivator. It keeps me on track and records my progress. I highly recommend starting a journal or a blog if you want to make healthy changes in your life or stay on track with the changes you've already made.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Rather than getting bent out of shape that I had a horrible night of sleep and today is my busiest day (working 7am-8:30pm), I am going to learn from WHY it happened and move on with the day. First mistake, I ate sugar minutes before hitting the hay. Although it was natural sugar, I should know better! Second mistake, zero "down time" before turning out the lights. My hubby and I were watching a movie until 11pm and the whole time I was multi-tasking. Third, I jumped on the computer and dealt with some email that I knew was going to make me upset just before going to bed. The odds were stacked against me as I tried to catch as many z's as possible before my most hectic day of the week.

The good thing about days like today are that I learn the most about myself when faced with a little challenge. How can I use the tools that I've picked up over the past year to make today a good one? First, eat healthy and just enough so that I am nourished and satisfied. Second, take at least 10 minutes to meditate. Third, do some yoga (shouldn't be difficult, I teach four classes today!). Fourth, computer stays off after 9pm. Fifth, take at least 30 minutes to wind down before turning off the lights tonight. Now that I have my plan for the day, I think I'll start things off with a little boogie.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Have Fun

People who know me probably scoff at the thought of my advising others to "have fun". I've had trouble with this simple yet priceless part of life. Sometimes its easier to make excuses to not have fun, like "I have too much work to do", "I don't have enough money", "I'm too stressed out", and the list goes on. Lately, I'm very conscious of my tendency to make these excuses and I think that becoming aware is the first step toward letting go and just goofing off. The sky won't fall, the world won't come to an end, and no one is going to die if I decide to wait until tomorrow to do the dishes or finish a writing project. Instead of thinking up ways to fill time with preparations for the next day, an errand, or a phone call, do something that is purely for the sake of enjoyment. I find that when I do indulge in some simple pleasures (and I'm not talking about chocolate cake), the "work" stuff is ten times more enjoyable! And again, through writing this blog, I've decided that the best thing to do is crank up the tunes and dance:)

Monday, February 25, 2008


Knowledge is power, but it is also a pain in the butt sometimes. The more I learn about health, ego, spirituality, nutrition, the environment, and the list goes on, the more I am aware of the thoughts and actions working against these things (or resisting them). There was a time that I would have thrown up my hands and given up after making a mistake, but I've learned to be more gentle with myself. Now, I breathe. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but incorporating deep abdominal breathing and anuloma viloma (alternate nostril breathing-which by the way is also great for quiting smoking) are priceless tools that can be used anytime, anywhere.

First of all, let you belly relax. For the first twenty-four years of my life, I took shallow, short breaths and held in my stomach. This breathing pattern effects your entire body and mind. Shoulders tense, heart races, chest is tight, hands clenched, and again the list goes on. This chain reaction will reverse if you relax your belly and breathe deeply into your abdomen. I usually count "om one, om two, on three" (as I inhale) and then "om one, om two, on three" (as I exhale). In the morning, try taking ten deep breaths like this before your feet touch the floor:)

Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) takes a little more practice, but I can say that it has changed my life. The directions in this article are fantastic. Even though other drivers probably think I'm cuckoo, I sometimes do this exercise in the car. This breathing exercise is helpful when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, confused, worried, or stressed. If I need to relax or find clarity, the simple exercise of conscious breathing helps me get there. I hope it helps you too!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Food Dehydrator

My new food dehydrator arrived in the mail yesterday! I have good and bad news. Good news is, the apple-cinnamon-almond-agave cookies are pretty good. Bad news is, after twelve hours of working its magic, the dehydrator started smelling funny. Nothing was burning, but a weird plastic and unnatural smell wafting from the machine. It took a few hours to get rid of the smell (with the aid of incense) and now I feel like the cookies are tainted with fumes. There is a lot of talk lately about toxic chemicals released from plastics, so I am a little wary. I should have sprung for the Cadillac of dehydrators, but I had a gift certificate to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and they only offer this model. I'll give it another spin this week and see how things pan out.

The more I experiment with my diet and peel away layers of unhealthy eating habits, the more I have to face what is truly good for my body and let go of life long (comforting) dietary habits. It has become a personal science experiment. Even natural sugars are giving me the jitters now. I'm going to start increasing my greens and decreasing my fruits. Also, my cravings for regular cookies, baked goods, and chocolate are back to zero after only a week of abstaining from these sugary treats. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, so we'll see how I feel come March.

I keep adding books to my reading list. At the moment, I am reading The China Study, In Defense of Food, My Antonia, and the most recent addition: Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. All excellent.

I've done a lot of cooking this weekend. Yesterday, I made "Wheat" Balls, whole wheat angel hair pasta, and a carrot-red pepper marinara sauce. Tonight, I made Falafel and salad. Usually, I try to go raw all day except for dinner. I also watched Becoming Jane and The Motorcycle Diaries this evening with my husband. Both also excellent. Last night, we watched Michael Clayton. I guess we're getting ready for the Oscars.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Humane Society Video

Words cannot describe how shocking, sickening, and saddening this video (secretly filmed by the Humane Society) is, so watch at your own risk. Background on the beef recall can be found here. I was deeply disturbed by the footage, but at the same time, where did I think hamburgers came from? Baltimore Sun reporter, Rob Kasper, said it best when he wrote:

Longtime vegetarians are, Cunningham said, "somewhat bemused" by the reaction of surprise to the video. "As a friend of mine said, 'What did people think happened at a slaughterhouse? Did they think the animals got tickled to death?' "
This video shows the reality of food sitting on most American's kitchen tables. If I wasn't already a vegetarian, I think seeing this video would make it difficult to take another bite of meat. We don't need to eat meat to be healthy. Its becoming more and more evident that animal-based protein is not the best source of protein and it is actually harmful to our health. So why do so many people eat it? I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the more I face the facts, the more I realize that the government and "food" corporations have brainwashed Americans to think that vitamin-infused Coke, hormone-injected meat and dairy, and calcium-fortified cereal will make us strong and healthy. Have you seen commercials for Special K Protein water???

All of this information is obviously not spontaneously entering my brain. Currently, I am reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and today I picked up The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. The China Study is fantastic. Its easy to understand and based on decades of research. Over the past six months, I've been scouring the web for information on vegetarianism, raw foods, organic foods, ayurvedic nutrition, and macrobiotics. Kris Carr has also offered a wealth of information and resources. I guess what I'm saying is, educate yourself before putting packaged and processed foods into your body! I have just skimmed the surface of understanding these concepts, but the changes that I have made (i.e. vegetarianism, raw foods, juicing, organic produce, food combining) has made a huge impact on my mental and physical health. More later on all the fascinating and relevant things I am learning from Pollan and Campbell.

Rise and Shine

I felt so good this morning (waking up at 6am) that I wanted to spread the positive energy here. Three days in a row of waking up refreshed and ready for the day! There must be a connection between my mood and refined/processed sugar detox. Hooray!

Its amazing how remarkable the difference is in my feelings about the rest of the day, my perspective on work, and general happiness. I hope that this keeps up! I'll be noting my progress here:)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Composting and Smoothies

I have wanted to spiff up our backyard since we bought the house a year ago and I am especially excited about the possibility of composting. Since we live in the city, I was skeptical about whether we could pull this off without inviting every critter in the neighborhood for a nightly feast. I came across a few encouraging articles and websites, one from Urbanite and the other from NYC's Compost Project. I'm sure I've only skimmed the surface of the resources that are out there. I'll keep you posted on this composting/gardening journey. My hope is to have a nice vegetable garden this summer and to put the pulp from my juicer and other organic materials to use, rather than throwing them in the garbage.

So far, so good with the refined/processed sugar detox. I am still eating natural sugars (honey and fruit). Today I made a nice smoothie, loosely based on a recipe from Raw Food Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis. I threw the following ingredients into a blender: a bag of organic tropical fruit medley (frozen Whole Foods Brand), 1 tbls. raw almond butter, 1 tbls. raw honey (Lord Byron's Honey), 1 tsp. Bee Pollen (first time eating this, couldn't taste it in the smoothie!), 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, pinch of celtic sea salt. It was sooooo good! I also experimented later in the day with Carob powder. I heated up 1 tbls. of Carob, 1 tbls. raw honey, and 1 cup almond milk. Although the powder wouldn't dissolve completely, it was still very good.

I'm feeling better overall. This morning, I awoke naturally at 7:30am and I didn't feel groggy for the first time in weeks! I really hope that this continues. I'm very excited to receive my new dehydrator in the mail! It should be here in a few days. Hopefully I'll be "cooking" (dehydrated food cannot be cooked over 110 degrees or the enzymes will begin to break down in the food) lots of goodies this weekend:)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Addiction Part II

I'm feeling better today than I have in about a week. The culprit: sugar overload (and me of course). For a while I had my sugar addiction under relative control with dark chocolate, but in reality, I was still overdoing it. The first few bites were never enough! Once I had some, I couldn't eat enough of it! I know it sounds crazy-Chocolate? Get a real problem, right? Unfortunately, these are the same emotions, thoughts, and actions I experienced with cigarettes and alcohol. Just because the substance is "less harmful", the internal struggle still drives you bonkers. Needless to say, I was down in the dumps for days as I "sugar crashed" and beat myself up, over and over again. Bottom line: refined sugar (and even too much natural sugar) makes me feel like crap, so I need to take it out of my life. That means brownies, cookies, muffins, pies, ice cream, and the list goes on.

Here is the catch, I recently ordered a food dehydrator in hopes that I can make some sweet treats that won't turn me into an obsessive maniac. I've read about these healthier options on the We Like it Raw blog. Its worth a try, right? The dehydrator should be here in a few days. I'll keep you posted on this little experiment. In the meantime, I'm steering clear of all sugary sweet delights and cutting back on my fruit intake. More veggies!! David Wolfe's website has a nice overview of sugar here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Less is more

I never would have thought that too much knowledge was a bad thing until I realized that all this information is making me crazy! I am ashamed to say that I check my email while driving. How can we find peace if we have 10 windows open on the computer and we are darting to one web page while the other one is loading?

Last night I was at the end of my writing and editing "rope". I felt frustrated by every sentence that I pounded out of the keyboard. Finally, I decided to just go to bed and it was only 9:30! The world didn't come to an end. I got up this morning and the words flowed onto the page. We are all a work in progress. I don't know if any of this makes sense, but its all I have. I'm off to teach some yoga!

Monday, February 4, 2008

A New Earth and In Defense of Food

I picked up two books today-A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I've already dived into both of them. In addition, I will be discussing the books with two wonderful communities . Kris Carr's blogging community is reading The Defense o f Food and Oprah's Book Club is reading A New Earth.

I'm so confused about food right now and I can already tell that Michael Pollan's book will set the record straight in a simple way. I'm also struggling to stay positive, focused, and in the moment. Eckhart's book, The Power of Now helped me make some positive changes in my everyday life and I hope that A New Earth will take these changes a step further.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Juice Analysis, Organic Produce, and Inspiration

I've been a little worried about my juicing habits lately because my urge to juice was dwindling. Even this morning (after two days without juice) I was questioning whether I could keep this up. After doing a full yoga practice, it was back. I went downstairs and juiced away! The picture to the left is what I started with.

I was curious about which nutrients I was benefiting from in this juice, so here the analysis I came up with, using The Complete Book of Juicing by Michael T. Murray. I listed the key benefits of each vegetable, fruit, and root.
  • Potasium
  • Sodium (electrolyte replacer)
  • Coumarins (increases activity of certain white blood cells, tone vascular system, lower blood pressure)
  • Highest vegetable source of provitamin A carotenes
  • Skin contains Silica (strengthens connective tissues, i.e. muscles, tendons, and ligaments)
  • Excellent Carminative (promotes elimination of intestinal gases)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Rich in Vitamin C and Potassium
  • Contains Limonine (promising anti-cancer properties)
  • Pectin (improves the intestinal muscle's ability to push waste through the gastrointestinal tract)
  • Ellagic, chlorogenic, and caffeic acids (anutrients with significant anticancer properties)
And here is the result of those veggies and fruits plowing through my Breville juicer:

I am going crazy trying to figure out where to buy produce and which produce to buy. Until yesterday I thought that any produce bought at Whole Foods was organic. Not true! Anything marked "Conventional" is not organic. Bummer.

Also, I wonder about the integrity of companies like Nature's Promise. Nature's Promise is easy to find at the cheaper, chain grocery stores in Baltimore: Giant and Super Fresh, but how great are these fruits and vegetables really?

I am excited that Kris Carr has brought up the idea of a book club in her blog. I am interested in reading, Michael's Pollen's book, In the Defense of Food and it would be nice to share the experience with her community.

I am working on a fiction novel at the moment, but my interest in writing a creative non-fiction novel is increasing as I become more inspired by my pursuits in alternative health and wellness. Also, I feel inspired each day by information coming from blogs and books that I am drawn to make a contribution as well. Its like the idea is at the tip of my tongue, but it hasn't come to fruition yet. I am going to have faith that it will come in its own time and I just have to keep on this path. With that thought in mind, I should get back to other writing projects. Peace and love:)

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I've been playing with my balance lately and discovered how easy it is to fall, especially when it comes to my diet. I fell off the deep end with half of a medium sized Papa John's Garden pizza (more cheese and white flour than I've consumed in months). I couldn't sleep- heart racing, cold sweats, scattered thoughts. I was miserable! I had a pizza hangover the next day. In college, half a pizza, a six pack of beer, and half a pack of smokes were a regular part of my diet and my body surrendered to this pattern. Now, my mind and body revolts!

Thank goodness I had my green juice to fall back on the next morning. Since experimenting with a juice fast, becoming vegetarian, and adopting other healthy habits (dry brushing, tongue scraping, neti potting), I am comfortable with giving my stomach a rest in the morning. I used to throw food in my mouth as soon as my feet hit the ground in the morning. Now, I'm ok with waiting until noon to eat if I don't feel ready, although I usually drink my juice around 10am.

I am also finding balance in my yoga practice. For a few months following my stay at the ashram, I was putting all of my energy into teaching and ignoring my personal practice. Over the past month, I have found new joy and confidence in my personal practice. I've also taken it up a notch and I am working my way toward the handstand. This is a pose that my mind tries to tell me that I cannot accomplish, but I am ignoring those thoughts and focusing on the handstand a few minutes each day. It was the same situation when I approached the headstand. My body simply did not have the strength at first, but everyday I tried to get a step further in the pose, until eventually it just happened. I feel as fulfilled by achieving this pose as I do about getting my Master's degree. It taught me that I can achieve things that my mind perceives as impossible and that is priceless.