5 Reasons You Should Meditate

5 Reasons You Should Meditate

Do You Meditate?

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Fall is here, and I’m reflecting on things I’m grateful for.   I’m thankful for my loving husband who takes such good care of me.  I’m proud of my sons, who are both making strides in their growth and personal development.  I’m excited that business is thriving and my personal relationships are strong.  I’m also happy that I made the decision to take the entire month of September off to rest and recharge.  That was a tough decision, as I feared I would lose momentum that I’ve built up since relaunching my business last November.  But after a fateful day in August, which should have been the worst day of the entire year for me, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I got the message loud and clear from the Universe that it was imperative that I slow DOWN.

I’m sure you’re wondering…what happened in August? Well, here’s the short version:

I had a 3 day business travel planned in the last week of August. I had it planned several months in advance.  I arrived at the airport well in advanced, got my bags checked, made it through security, and made my way to the gate, anticipating a good hour of down time before catching my flight.  However, I quickly found out at my gate that there were several flight delays due to mechanical failure, and ALL connecting flights were cancelled due to a bad storm. I’ll skip over the several trips I made, running (with an injured back) back and forth from my gate and Customer Service, trying desperately to  catch another flight.  I ended up stuck in two airports all day, and ended up having to cancel my whole trip. By the time I was got back home, it was after midnight, with my luggage lost somewhere (I finally received my luggage that following Sunday). When my husband picked me up at the airport, I broke down and cried a few minutes from sheer exhaustion, then slept the whole ride back home.

Again, I won’t bore you with the details, but if you’ve ever experienced being stuck in an airport due to bad weather, and faced being stranded overnight in a different city without your laptop or luggage, I’m sure you can imagine the stress and strain this can put on your body. My neck and back ached, I was hungry, tired, and I could FEEL the cortisol overload in my body:  I felt TOXIC, tense, and like I wanted to explode.

The next week was a blur.

I had no energy, my thoughts were cloudy, I had trouble remembering simple things, and I felt like molasses in December. It wasn’t until I had an energetic reading/chakra healing session and a subsequent personal life coaching session that I realized my problem: I had adrenal fatigue, my root and sacral chakras were blocked, and my energetic boundaries were blown wide open from that travel fiasco.

As an Empath and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I am very sensitive to being in crowded, public places beyond what I can normally stand, which is a about a couple of hours, depending on the vibration level.  That travel day sucked out all my energy, and I was left depleted.  I realized the experiences from that day pierced my energetic boundaries. It felt like my auras had gaping-wide holes, like the flood-gates to my spirit had been forced wide open, and all sorts of uninvited energy freely flowed into my personal space.  This is what if feels like to an Empath to be surrounded in a public place for an extended period of time: at some point, the senses become overstimulated, and it’s on a subtle energy level, it’s like too much white noise. My emotions were raw, and I just needed to turn the white noise all the way DOWN, and get some space and distance from everyone and everything.

So, the minor setback to my back healing progress aside, with this new information that my adrenals were worn out, my cortisol was through the roof, my chakras needed re-clearing, and my energetic boundaries needed sealing, in lieu of unconsciously plowing through the month of September and delaying my healing further, I decided to TAKE A BREAK.

During the month of September, I did several things to help me get back on track. I did a 21-day version of my Renewal Detox (and gained energy, and lost 10 lbs by accident).  I took herbs such as maca and stress-relieving essential oils to nourish my adrenals. I continued my reiki  energy healing, resumed my weekly chiropractic sessions (and my back and sciatic nerves improved a bit), I added weekly acupuncture sessions, and I also threw in a couple of professional reflexology and deep tissue massages sessions for good measure. All of these things helped me tremendously, but what I feel helped me the most is meditation.

Meditation

Meditation Saved Me from Spiraling Out of Control

Meditation enabled me to block out the external world, draw within, hit the RESET button, and get the distance and space I needed, even in the midst of everything around me.  Spontaneous meditations, ranging anywhere from 5-15 minutes, helped me keep my balance and avoid going over the edge, especially after low vibration emotions of anger and frustration hit me like a brick with each new announcement of another yet another flight delay.

5 Reasons You Should Practice Meditating Every Day

If you are new to meditation, and are interested in making it a regular practice to help manage stress in your life, I hope the following reasons to meditate inspire you to get on board:

1.   Meditation lowers your stress “set point”.

Stress in the bodyOur body has wisdom and it remembers. When you get really stressed to the point of boiling anger, your body remembers that and bookmarks a “set point” of what you deem as acceptable levels of stress.  Repeat exposure to high levels of stress lead you to become programmed to respond to certain triggers, and like a domino effect, it initiates a downward spiral of negative thoughts, low vibration emotions, and behavior that goes along with it.

Meditation can serve as a stop-gap, to remind you there are other ways to handle a situation, such as take deep breaths, walk away and cool off, and fully process information you receive from your emotions. This helps you observe and “check-in” with yourself before making a conscious choice to react or act in your highest and greatest good, rather than take action fueled by low vibration emotions such as anger or frustration.

2.  Meditation lowers cortisol and blood pressure.

Doctor holding a heartI was told by my doctor years ago that stress is like an explosion inside your body.  Many people live with high levels of stress  for long periods of time, unaware this is a dangerous lifestyle choice. The good news is,  you can quickly lower your cortisol when you are triggered in a stressful situation.

According to Christopher Bergland in The Athlete’s Way:

“Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax and decompress.”

Whenever I feel the stress spike my cortisol, I have trained myself to immediately take a quick ten deep breaths. I also ask myself why am I triggered, and what my physical reaction means. I scan my core values, to see if they have been compromised in the stressful moment, and I intuitively make a decision whether to respond or just keep observing the moment. Then, as soon as I can, I mentally white out every stimuli, and clean my mental plate, until it’s clear or white in my mind. I do this until I feel more calm, or until my stress and cortisol intuitively feels at an acceptable or healthy level.

3.  Meditation empowers you.

Emotionally strongOne of the things I love about meditation is that it gives you control over your mind. It’s a good thing to be inspired by others, and to have positive influences.  However, without meditation or some similar form of healthy, temporary mental isolation, it can be tough to have soul clarity, to make clear decisions, without questioning if that decision was made from yourself, or if it was due to an outside influence. This is especially true if you are people pleaser, or if you are easily emotionally manipulated.

In my youth up until my late 20s, I was both. I unconsciously took actions to make others feel good at my personal expense, not just because it made me happy to see them smile, but on a deeper level, because I sought love and acceptance.  Meditation increases your awareness of what your soul craves, what your body needs, enables you to have clarity; clear mental thought processes. This in turn strengthens your intuitive decision-making decisions in both your personal and professional life, so you are empowered to take action for your highest and greatest good, in the midst of outside influence.

4.  Meditation activates your feminine side.

Feminine DivineWe live in a fast-paced, stressful society, one that doesn’t cater to nourishment of the body, mind, and soul. Working in Corporate America, the high cost of living, work deadlines, societal expectations, all these things and more can pull you away from your feminine side, and give you the illusion that you should be more masculine in order to survive.  If this is against your nature, meaning, your alchemy and personality is more feminine energy, you will be unhappy, because your life in not aligned with your authentic self. Meditation helps you be gentle, and less aggressive, with yourself.

The act of meditating is one of the most gentle form of self-care you can engage in. It encourages you to stay connected with your feminine side, to explore the parts of you that beg to be explored, expressed. It increases your awareness of what is inside, in a gentle, non-aggressive way.

5. Meditation bridges the Body + Mind + Spirit connection.

WWomen on Vacatione learn so much from watching our parents, our elders. Growing up, I learned from watching the women in my family that in their own way, they used prayer as a way to reconnect the body, mind, and spirit. But they didn’t just use prayer, they connected their body, mind and spirit in traditional pastimes such as family camping trips (think beach tents, camp fire, boat fishing, log cabins, etc.), Sunday family dinner, a modern-day tribal ritual of sorts, where women congregated in the kitchen and talked about everything, and Saturday girl’s beauty nights, where we all washed our hair, and everyone took a turn getting their hair either braided or their scalp rubbed and treated with a hot oil conditioning.  The physical routines are a meditation in itself. The endorphins from the physical contact on these special occasions rival a high-priced professional massage at a luxury spa. There’s no better feeling than letting your guard down, and immersing in a routine or fun-filled family activity, being surrounded in a stress-free, safe, loving, high vibration environment. To me, this is a form of meditation because rather than being mentally/emotionally checked out, you are fully present, fully engaged, fully aware of all your senses, and it makes you feel connected, grounded, alive.

Do you meditate? How do you benefit from meditation?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Why You Need a Chiropractor…NOW!

Why You Need a Chiropractor…NOW!

Do You Have Good Bone Health?

If you said yes, is that a guess, or do you know for sure? Because I found out this week that my bones are in a bit of trouble. Scary, but I’m so glad I found out now, rather than later.

Here’s the story: I have had a severe pain in my neck for over a week now.  As a holistic health coach and trained yoga instructor, I was doing all the right things, or so I thought. But after the pain became worse and turned into a full-blown back spasm, I was forced to look deeper. When the body talks, we MUST listen! And I did. I realized it had been a few months into the 24/7 sciatic nerve pain (completely unrelated to the surgery I had last year) I had been experiencing, and I admitted: I needed professional help, STAT!

So I went to see a chiropractor.

And I’m so glad I did! Not only did I get to the root of my neck and back pain, but my new chiropractor, Dr. Lindy M Johnson of In-Line Chiropractic in Cypress, TX, had an actual conversation with me. You know, the kind where you actually talk about your life, get emotional, and the other person looks you in the eye with empathy, mutual respect, and offers encouragement? Yep, that really happened.

Me and my chiro-doctor, having a real live chat about my life. I told her about how I’ve had mysterious aches and pains for a while now.  She listened intently.  Then Dr. Lindy told me something that opened up Heaven’s Pearly Gates to my heart and soul: she said she really likes to get to the root of the issue with her patients. She doesn’t just treat the symptoms, she wants her patients to get WELL. She told me, “Venus, you’re in your prime of your life! You don’t have time for neck and back pain!” {Amen, 2 Soul Sistah finger snaps, and several high fives to you, Dr. Lindy!}

Damnit, I agree! Heck, I’m 41, and I’m with Dr, Lindy on this: a woman’s prime is in her 40s – 60s, maybe even up to her 70s!

I have too much living to do – no time for neck pain, back spasms, and sciatic nerve flare ups every time I want to work out. I’m a Modern Goddess mentally, emotionally, spiritually, but truth is, my body has felt out of whack for some time now. It seemed every time I would try to work out, some muscle would scream bloody murder. I began to wonder, along with my holistic health coach friends, if I was subconsciously doing this to myself, even after all the mind+body+spirit work I have been doing. And that made me sad. Well, after my visit today with Dr. Lindy, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is…I WAS doing more damage every time I worked out. It didn’t matter whether it was yoga, walking, cardio with my favs Jillian Michaels, Rodney Yee, Sean Corn, or Shaun T Insanity (via DVD or iTunes), or whether I just sat at my desk working all day long. The fact is, my neck is more straight than curved, and that’s not normal. My spine and shoulders are out of alignment too. And Dr. Lindy says these young bones of mine were only going to get worse. (gulp.) Makes perfect sense to me, as I’ve had a few physically traumatic incidents in life, including really bad bicycle and car accidents.

Every time I stood or sat, it put a constant strain and pressure on my spinal cord. And that just created a domino effect of all kinds of nasty.

This made my muscles really frustrated…and even angry at times.  You already know this: anger is such a low vibration emotion.  Have you ever been frustrated after trying everything you know, after giving it your all, but still feel like you’re getting nowhere? No matter what I tried, whether is was warming up, stretching, using essential oils, sitting in a sea salt or apple cider vinegar whirlpool bath, or getting a massage, meditating, self-reiki, although I would feel better for a while, nothing lasted.

But I wouldn’t give up. I kept on trying, searching, looking for a way to get my body back into balance, feel strong, and release the aches and pains.

Remember that AAA quote about doing the same thing over and over again, how that’s the definition of insanity?

Yep, that was me. AND…despite my natural “happy go lucky” demeanor, you can guess what a Crabby Patty I must have turned into at times.  Thanks Hubby for being there for me, for all your wonderful back rubs, I promise to make it up to you! 🙂

The GOOD news?

Because I reached out for help to my amazing soul sister tribe of women friends (who encouraged me to see a chiropractor),  it led me a great meeting and life intervention with my new chiropractor, Dr. Lindy.  I have affirmation that my subconscious is all good. And Dr. Lindy says my condition is completely reversible, but it will take aggressive approach: several treatments per week until we see results, then scale it down to 1-2 treatments per month. I will need a lifetime of chiropractor visits to keep my bones in good shape from now on. And you know what? That’s just fine with me. So, you may be asking, what does this all mean for you?

Why did I share this experience?

Well, the moral of my story is, I don’t want you to suffer needlessly as I did. I probably could have resolved this long ago. But for whatever reason, it didn’t click to go see a chiropractor. The way I see it is, just like we need dentists for strong, long-lasting, healthy teeth, we all need a good chiropractor’s care to make sure we have good bone health. Poor alignment, nerve issues, headaches, stress on our spinal cord, back pain, all these things can manifest in so many ways, and instead of just treating it with guesswork (like me), you really deserve to get to the root of the issue quickly, so your body can heal itself.

There’s no need to suffer or put your health at risk by taking toxic pain killers, if there’s a healthier remedy. If you have never seen a chiropractor, I highly recommend you schedule an appointment today!

I’d LOVE to hear from you! Do you have a horror story like me, where you endure pain and then a heavenly chiropractor arrived with shiny stars, pink bubbles, and unicorns, gave you an alignment, and made all your aches and pains go away? Also, if you enjoyed this story and think you know someone who will love it too, please pass it on. My neck and back thank you! (Imagine me bowing gracefully – and painlessly.)

 

5 Ways to Feel Like Beyonce Everyday

5 Ways to Feel Like Beyonce Everyday

Don’t let the media fool you. Not everyone needs to know what Beyonce wore to dinner last night, what brand shampoo Katy Perry washes her hair  with, and where Jennifer Lopez vacations. (Well, I might be only vaguely interested in the vacation part – wink.)  This is not valuable information when it comes to our lives, our values, our happiness, and how we feel from day to day.

If magazines, social media, and the internet were any indication of where we put our values, it would seem we’re all obsessed with the extravagant lifestyles of celebrities, or the rich and famous. I can’t remember the last time I scanned through Facebook or Pinterest, or even CNN, without some mention of a famous celebrity – who’s getting married, who’s having a baby, who’s breaking up.  What is the fascination with celebrities?  And more importantly, how does it make you feel? Do you find yourself fantasizing about how celebrities live, or do you find yourself comparing their quality of life to yours? How is comparisonitis (a fake word I just made up, for the act of constantly compare one’s self to others) working out for you?

There is a better way.

Instead of obsessing over the glamorous lifestyles of movie stars and models, and feeling like your life is shitty in comparison, try the following ideas on how to feel good about your life.  Once you incorporate this new perspective in your life repeatedly, you may even begin to feel like you’re the superstar of YOUR life, every day! Soon you’ll stop comparing your boring, drab life to celebrities, because you’ll be completely engaged in your life – you are the “Beyonce” or “Lady Gaga” of your world!

1. Clear the White Noise
Ditch the social gossip websites, unsubscribe, hide, delete, block – whatever it takes to disconnect from the white noise that feeds into the hype and lures you into comparisonitis. Stop reading gossip magazines, and instead, visit the Self-Help or Spiritual section of the bookstore. I’ve curated a selection of great books that inspire your inner Modern Goddess.

2. Identify Your Core Values
 Get clear on your core values. What is the absolute MUST HAVE for your complete happiness? What are the base requirements and nice to haves (think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs meets Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map)? Write them down, post them on a wall where you can see them every day.

Sample core values and desired feelings: abundance of money/joy/time/love, clear mind, relaxed, calm, excitement, authenticity, empowered, aligned, connected to the present, freedom, spontaneous, feminine energy, generous, gratitude. I’ll share a few of my core values:  for my complete and sheer happiness, and for me to feel like I’m a superstar of my life, I must feel immersed in beauty (I love the beach, mountains, the forest, pink and white decor, a clean home, fresh flowers, uncluttered office space), be able to luxuriate in my five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing (I play jazz music when I cook, and use fresh herbs and produce when I cook), and I also have a portion  of unstructured, spontaneous time in my day to get quiet, meditate, and tap into my 6th sense: my intuition. I give myself reiki energy healing everyday to keep my chakras clear, I use essential oils, candles, and incense to enhance my meditations experience and really dial up the intensity of indulging in sight, smell, etc.

Hint: core values isn’t something you DO, rather, is something that you FEEL or something you want to BE.
Tip: Speak them loud and clear. Make them your mantra to live by. Decide they are your birthrights, and you don’t have to earn them, you have a right to feel this way every day of your life. Expect to attract these things, places, or feelings in your life.

3. Protect and Defend
Get clear on what your core values are, and refuse to compromise them. If having 6-8 hours of sleep is an absolute requirement for your health and happiness, let nothing stop you from getting the rest you need. If you know you get cranky in noisy, crowded places, or if you’re an Empath like me, and you know certain people (I call them Energy Vampires) drain your energy, avoid them at all costs. I have certain “friends” and family that I keep at a safe perimeter of my life.

I’ve chosen to love them at a safe distance, because their energy is such an energetic drain to me, and I value having a high level of positive, high vibration energy.
Other core values might be reciprocity in relationships, trust among friends, integrity in business dealings, peace, moments of solitude for meditation. Think about how you want to feel on a day-to-day basis. What feelings are non-negotiable for your base level of happiness? Now turn up the volume on this level of happiness you’re willing to accept in your life. This could give you insight to your core values. Protect and defend these core values just like you imagine your favorite celebrity would if it were them!

4. Make Everyday Special

We feel down when we feel like we have no control to change what is our life. We feel happy when we feel empowered to change and make things better. You CAN change your life, instantly! Here’s one great way to feel empowered immediately and feel like a celebrity in your life: Don’t save the expensive perfume, wine, fresh flowers, outfits, or jewelry for certain times of the year like holidays or birthdays. Make every day special: wear your BEST outfits like today is special. Why? Because when you look great, you send your brain a message, and your brain then tells you that you FEEL GREAT. When you dress in old gym sweats, granny panties, and ugly socks, I guarantee the way you’re dressed is sending your brain mixed messages, and you won’t feel great! So Dress UP like TODAY is a SPECIAL DAY, even if no one else will see you. Rinse and repeat every day! Take time for you with a chapter of a good book, enroll in a fun class like yoga, cooking, art, break out the good china, nice tablecloth, use the special wine glasses, even for plain water. (Or make plain water special by adding fresh cut fruit or herbs like mint or basil.) Everyday, decide THIS day is special, and treat it as if it were a special day, because it is…it’s the PRESENT, a gift to you!

5. Don’t Be A Martyr

Somehow, somewhere down the road of life, something bad or even devastating happened like a bad romance, losing a friend, or death in the family, and in some way, you may have accepted pain or misery as a part of life. In some ways, this is true: pain is a part of life. A part of the human experience is to feel pain and suffering, because like TEDTalk public speaker and author Brené Brown says on Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays, pain is the best teacher. For some reason, we learn life lessons best after experiencing things we DON’T like, like a heartbreak after a romance ends, a car accident, or an embarrassing moment. But I believe we also have the power of choice, and we can CHOOSE to experience life, for the most part, through a graceful flow of ease, happiness, and joy. I believe we can also learn our life lessons without pain, that we can CHOOSE happiness over sadness. I believe emotions are a choice.

Brene says on Spirituality & Health Magazine:

“The overwhelming message in our culture today is that an ordinary life is a meaningless life unless you are grabbing a lot of attention and you have lots of Twitter followers and Facebook fans who know everything you know. I use the shame-based fear of being ordinary as my definition for narcissism. I definitely see it in younger generations, where people fear they are not big enough. No matter how happy and fulfilling their small, quiet life is, they feel it must not mean very much, because it’s not the way people are measuring success. Which is just terrifying.” – See more here.

You Can Decide to Live a High Vibrational Life

If one day you wake up sad, Brene would have you accept that sadness as vulnerability. She writes and speaks about the power in giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable. I agree with her that there is strength in being vulnerable. I also feel at that moment, we must also take decisive action when we feel low vibration emotions (like anger, jealousy, sadness) – we must recognize the emotion as low vibration, and decide in that moment to CHOOSE a higher vibration emotion, like joy, love, gratitude, and take decisive action to support that positive emotion.

Then watch as the domino affect happen in your life – instead of choosing to be a marty and suffer in life, you choose to live your life like a superstar, what that image represents for you, in terms of your core values. Then as you begin to make the shift towards deciding to BE happy and indulge in your core values, you attract MORE of the same: you become a magnet for more love, more joy, more abundance, more freedom, etc. You become the Beyonce of YOUR LIFE. No need to compare, no need to keep track of what celebrities are doing, because your life is holding all of your attention, and your needs are being fulfilled. Your life holds meaning, and your full attention.

I’ll offer myself as an example:  I am a native Texan. I grew up in Houston, TX, but now live in Cypress with my husband. I love Texas, and I think Houston and Cypress are great places to live. The cities have a lot to offer for growing families. Our two sons went to school here, but have now grown up and moved away.  Although my husband and I enjoy having an empty home here, we are entertaining the idea of selling the house and becoming Digital Nomads, moving from place to place until we find a new city to settle in and call home. For me, that means LOTS of time near clean beaches, or natural lakes with crystal clear or blue water. 

Until then, I still deal with things I don’t love. Summer heat and humidity. Mosquitos. Restaurants that love to put cheese and bacon on everything (I’m extremely dairy-sensitive and I don’t eat pork). Bad hair days. (Thank you The Dry Bar for helping me stay cute!) In spite of these things, I still make it a high priority to live like a Modern Goddess, an ideal which represents living gracefully through life, empowered, with gratitude, feeling beautiful, feeling my divine feminine energy, and taking positive action to support, protect, and defend my core values in this lifetime. We travel whenever we can, or at least take weekend trips when possible. I cook (dairy-free, gluten-free, pork-free) at home as much as possible, I use essential oils and take a raw Vitamin B to keep mosquitoes at away, and I do whatever it takes to make my remaining time here enjoyable. 

I am mindful of what I expose myself to on social media, with my social circle, and even music I listen to. I refuse to listen to music with lyrics (especially a lot of pop or rap music) that I feel are low vibration or are demeaning to women. I strive everyday to keep my eyes on my path, and not compare myself with others. I avoid people that always complain, so that low vibration energy doesn’t rub off on me. I protect and defend my core values, even if it means doing a social purge, letting certain people, places and or things go. I make my happiness my highest priority, because I can do more in life from a place of happiness, than I can feeling down and unempowered.

So, I’d love to hear from you. How do you live in a celebrity-obsessed world, and maintain balance by avoiding self-comparison? How do you protect your core values? What do you do to be the superstar or Modern Goddess in your life?

My favorite finds at Whole Foods

My favorite finds at Whole Foods

I don’t know about you, but I get sad when I get in line at the checkout stand at Whole Foods and see a bunch of expensive, organic junk disguised as healthy food in customers’ shopping carts. Why spend all that money, when it’s not going to really benefit you in the long run? So I decided to put together a board on Pinterest, showing my favorite finds for healthy and convenient snacks foods at Whole Foods. Note, these are NOT staples for  a healthy diet! These foods I post on this board are NOT a replacement for fresh fruit, vegetables, gluten-free grains, soaked and sprouted seeds, healthy raw fats, etc.

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Rather, these are fun foods are easy to prepare or ready-to-eat. They taste so great, it almost makes you wonder: Is this REALLY healthy for me?

Trust me, it healthy for you! So, here’s the link to my Whole Foods Favorites board on Pinterest. Enjoy! (And don’t forget to still eat your veggies!)

I’d LOVE to hear from you! What are your favorite healthy snacks from Whole Foods?

Pinterest - Whole Foods Favorites

Coconut Yogurt for a Healthy Vagina?

Coconut Yogurt for a Healthy Vagina?

Raw Vegan Coconut Yogurt

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Simple-Rewarding-Delicious

I love eating foods that replenish the good bacteria we need for digestive health, but finding those high-quality probiotic-like foods can be tricky at times.  Fermented or cultured foods are some of the most beneficial to your stomach health and digestive system. Not only do they help your tummy, they also improve help keep a happy and healthy vagina!  One of the gems I’ve found (and one of my favorite snacks regardless) is coconut yogurt. .It’s one of the easiest and tastiest, and when I posted this recently on Facebook, I received several requests for the recipe. So here you go – enjoy!

 Raw Vegan Coconut Yogurt

Ingredients

  • Two raw young Thai Coconuts
  • Probiotic powder (2-4 Capsules)

Instructions

  1. Crack open the coconuts. Strain the coconut water, set aside in a clean bowl. Scrape out the coconut flesh, clean off anything that’s not white and discard.
  2. Blend both the coconut meat and coconut water in Vitamix until smooth. Pulse and scrape if needed. Do NOT over process.
  3. Open the probiotic capsules, pour the contents into the blender. Blend just until mixed with coconut pulp to make coconut yogurt.
  4. Pour coconut yogurt mix into a glass bowl with an fitted lid.
  5. Set your coconut yogurt in a dark cool place (kitchen counter away from sun) to culture, around 16-24 hours. Let it ferment longer for a stronger taste. I prefer 2-3 days.

Once ready, blend with your favorite mix-ins: honey to sweeten, vanilla, strawberries, blueberries, mango, etc.

Seal and refrigerate like you would normal yogurt. Your coconut yogurt will stay good for about seven days. Enjoy!

Coconut yogurt

Hydrate in Summer Heat

Hydrate in Summer Heat

What coconut water can do for you…and how it probably saved my life.

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Okay, maybe that was a small exaggeration. But coconut water did save me from an overnight stay in the hospital.

My Story with Coconut Water

In 2009, I started fitness training with a workout buddy, and came down with with Rhabdomyolysis (the rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue). I ended up in the ER with chest pain, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. The doctors ran tests and found my  put me on an IV of fluids to flush out the poison from the muscle that had been released into my blood stream. If I had waited any longer, I could have had permanent kidney damage, or worse, even died.  I did not want to stay in the hospital overnight, so made a deal with the doctor, and promised to drink LOTS of water in the next 24 hours, and call if symptoms returned.

Over the next few days I drank coconut water around the clock, and it helped me so much I began to give it to my sons who were playing football in extreme heat.

Coconut water is a great source of potassium, electrolytes, and it tastes great! You can swap it out for water in smoothies, add it to raw veggie juice, or you can mix it with water or other fruit juice for a refreshing and hydrating drink. Sometimes when I decide to do a food fast, I drink nothing but coconut water all day, and it certainly sustains me.

Other foods to help you stay hydrated:

  • watermelon (you can juice an entire watermelon, including the rind!)
  • veggie juices (minimal fruit) (celery, cucumber)
  • smoothies
  • clear broth soups
  • vegetable salads
  • cruciferous veggies like cabbage+ tamari & toasted sesame chili oil
  • fresh fruits
  • spa water (simply add fruit and herb combinations to water, leave in the fridge overnight, and enjoy  the next day! Try strawberry + fresh basil, or cucumber + mint, or pineapple + rosemary.
  • coconut water – my favorite hydrating beverage! You can purchase at Whole Foods or HEB grocery stores, or you can make coconut water yourself.

 Want to try Coconut Water? Play it safe!

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Important rules with coconut water:

  • Be sure it’s raw.  Pasteurized means it has been heated to a temperature that kills all the living enzymes that make it a powerful food beverage. No bueno.
  • Be sure it’s 100% PURE.  This means NO added fruit, color, sugar or preservatives or flavorings. Otherwise it’s degraded to those popular sports drinks, which are not healthy for you.

 Learn to crack a young Thai coconut and make your own coconut water – save money! Here’s a quick YouTube How To Crack a Coconut demonstration.

 Where to buy coconuts:

I’d love to hear from you! Do you drink coconut water? Where do you buy it from, or do  you make it yourself?

Easy, Simple Summer Detox Tips

Easy, Simple Summer Detox Tips

Today I talked with Cynthia Brooks Nickerson on her radio talk show at Urban Wellness mjwjtalkradio.com, and we discussed some simple, inexpensive ways to do a summer detox.  I’ve listed them below.

  1. Hot water and lemon/lime juice when you wake up, to jumpstart your metabolism and encourage bile production.
  2. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar + water 30 minutes before eating, after working out to prevent cramps, as a digestive aid.
  3. Liver-Loving Herbs are great for detoxes. Our liver breaks down toxins in the body. It’s a powerhouse organ – it filters out the toxins we are exposed to from food, environment, even indoor air and body products. Our liver needs regular maintenance because it can get clogged kind of like an air conditioning filter in our car or home. It produces bile to metabolize and breaks down fats.
    1. Dandelion
    2. Burberry
    3. Milk Thistle
    4. Turmeric
    5. Yellow dock
  4. Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic detox method, great for healthy mouth, teeth, gums, throat. To oil pull, combine 1 Tbsp cold pressed organic sesame oil or raw coconut oil with a drop of a detoxing essential oil, then place in your mouth. Swish the oil (like you would a mouthwash) for 10-15 minutes. Spit it out, as the oil draws out toxins – do NOT swallow it.
  5. Detoxing essential oils – a few drops in water, or add to oil pulling:
    1. Geranium
    2. Clove
    3. Grapefruit
    4. Oregano
    5. Peppermint
  6. Eat MINDFULLY:
    1. Give thanks, bless your food.
    2. Eat only when happy.
    3. Emotions get absorbed!
    4. Chew slowly 25 chews per bite.
    5. Don’t talk while chewing.
    6. Don’t drink during meals, wait till 1 hour after, otherwise your digestive enzymes get diluted, and this disrupts the natural digestive function.
Mmmmm…… Ch- Ch- Chia Pudding

Mmmmm…… Ch- Ch- Chia Pudding

Sing for Pudding

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Yes, you probably want to start singing the jingle from the commercial:
Ch-ch-ch-chia…remember the pet planter?
And yes, you can eat this seed! Who would have thought it was so healthy back in the day? This recipe is so easy to make it’s almost too good to be true.
For 1-2 servings:
  • 1 cup coconut, almond, or hemp milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries (frozen are OK)
  • Handful of almonds or walnuts, if desired
  • Cinnamon, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and let them sit in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Stir after a few minutes, as the chia is “gelling” into a pudding-like consistency. Let it sit in the refrigerator about 20 minutes or until ready  to eat.  If you find the pudding too thick, you can add more milk or a little water. If you find the pudding too thin, add more chia or any of the other ingredients to make it thicker. You really can’t go wrong with chia  pudding, which is why I love making it so much.
Now, let’s talk about the health benefits of chia. It is a superfood, for sure! According to Dr. Andrew Weil, chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids and provides fiber as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese,  copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
Another great benefit of chia seeds is that they are good for travel. Pack them in your suitcase and have them readily available to make chia pudding for breakfast or a snack in your hotel room. You can also pack travel size  containers of almond milk (if checking luggage), as well as nuts and just pick up fresh fruit in your destination city.
Soon you will be singing ch-ch-ch-chia right along with me.  Enjoy!

 

Why Sleep? Your Adrenals need a break

Why Sleep? Your Adrenals need a break

Fight or Flight

Your body’s hidden burden

New Age, Old Instincts 

93169676The “fight or flight” syndrome- you’ve heard of it, right? Accompanied with the image of the saber-toothed tiger dashing after a hunter, getting ready to attack. You often get into this situation, don’t you? In modern times, we’re not literally in that frantic position, but our bodies are often reacting as if we were fighting for our lives. Our adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, are forced to work overtime in an effort to deal with stress from all sources: injury, disease, work, family, finances, environment, etc. It’s hard to imagine these small endocrine glands, essentially the size of a walnut, responsible for the manufacture and secretion of vital hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone.

Cortisol production is crucial for the body to combat stress

There’s a war going on inside you. And you didn’t even know it. 

 Whereas thousands of years ago the stress was a finite amount of time – you either outran the predator or survived or you were eaten – nowadays, stress seems to be a state of being for so many people. Although not getting along with a boss or missing a bill payment are not life-threatening like the saber-toothed tiger, our bodies react to the stressors in a similar fashion. The body starts to feel unsettled. More and more cortisol is produced because the body believes it needs massive amounts of energy to run for its life. This happens over and over again throughout the day: getting the kids ready for school and getting yourself ready for work, traffic, spilling coffee on your new suit, your assistant calls in sick and you’ve got to send out 20 packages today, the babysitter is late picking up the kids from school and taking them to soccer practice, your late afternoon meeting runs over and you leave the office late so family dinner becomes you eating leftovers alone. And all this is going to happen again tomorrow! Here’s the problem: chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion.

What can I do?

Discipline is key

For some, the fatigue will become overwhelming and the adrenals will no longer function properly to provide the energy and resources the body needs on a day-to-day basis. When someone is exhausted, a natural suggestion is to get more sleep. That’s not always easy with adrenal problems because insomnia is a common symptom. There are, however, steps you can take to prepare yourself for sleep, which is certainly one of the best ways to refresh and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.

For better sleep and to heal your adrenal glands:

1) Go to bed at the same time every night between 10-10:30pm.

2) Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar in late afternoon/evening (or remove them completely from your diet to avoid any rollercoaster-like blood sugar surges).

3) Keep a gratitude journal near your bedside. Every night, list five things for which you are grateful. Remind yourself that even though you may feel fatigued, there are wonderful aspects ofyour life and many reasons to heal.

Ah, Avocado. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

Ah, Avocado. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

Avocado Love

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How much do I love avocados? Let me count the ways…

  1.  I love that your decadence tastes sinfully delicious, yet it’s the “healthiest” of fats.
  2. I love that you make my skin beautiful. The antioxidants in avocados help to get rid of toxins that promote premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. A lot of the toxins on your facial skin are the residue of makeup. Applying 1 mashed avocado as a facial mask and leaving it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing will help to remove these toxins and soften the skin. I promise, in the end, you will not look like the Wicked Witch of the West.
  3. I love to use you as a spread on my Ezekiel bread toast with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt, and red pepper flakes.
  4. I love that you make my hair shiny.  One avocado mashed and mixed together with 1 egg and your favorite essential oil is great for conditioning your hair. The healthy oils in the avocado help to moisturize and soften dry and brittle hair, and the vitamin E helps to restore a natural shine to your hair. To obtain these benefits simply massage the avocado and egg mixture into your hair and scalp and leave in for about 20 minutes. Then wash and condition with your favorite shampoo and conditioner.
  5. I love to use you in my salads. Any kind of salad.
  6. I love to use you on my sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.
  7. I love that you complete me. Avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body, because avocados also contain fiber. If you are trying to cut down on animal sources of protein in your diet, or if you are a vegetarian or vegan seeking more protein, avocados are a great nutritional ally to include not merely as an occasional treat, but as a regular part of your diet. Highest protein content of any fruit (yes, it’s a fruit).
  8. I love to use you in my smoothies to add some creamy richness.
  9. I love to scramble you in my egg white omelet.
  10. I love that you help me with my ABCs. While avocados have a high caloric count (one avocado is 320 calories), the various nutrients and “healthy” fats make it a must-eat. They are an alphabet of vitamins.  One avocado provides your body with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, along with an enormous amount of potassium and “healthy” fat. Perhaps the biggest health benefit of avocados is that by adding avocado to certain foods, you can improve your absorption of nutrients. This means that when you combine other fat burning foods with avocado, you can improve your nutrient absorption up to 400%!

Oh, yes, I truly do love you, avocado!