My secrets for a GREAT Salad

My secrets for a GREAT Salad

Can you believe it’s Monday already? And we’re already in February!

How was your Super Bowl Sunday? I only watched the halftime show, and I thought Katy Perry and Missy Elliott did a great job. Oh, and Lenny Kravitz was great too, but I’m all about girl-power, so I really enjoyed watching two beautiful women creatively express themselves in such a strong, powerful way. What an amazing show!

And I don’t know about you, but Monday morning came too soon, eh? Although I’m not a sports fan, I was busy all day yesterday. While Greg enjoyed the game, I got some household chores done, did some self-care, and even knocked out a couple of chores in my home office. I probably overdid it with the vacuuming – my back is sore, and in big need of some massage therapy!

But still, it was a really good weekend. And now it’s Monday morning, and I’m excited to get back to work, as I’ve got some exciting projects lined up for this year.

Well, anyway, back to the purpose of this email. I wanted to disrupt your Monday with a healthy recipe. It’s similar to the ones in my 28 Day Jumpstart To a New You program.

I love to make this recipe, and this is one of my family’s all-time favorites. And guess what? It’s 100% HEALTHY, EASY and DELICIOUS!

BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE

Makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 handful frozen or fresh organic wild blueberries
    1 banana
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon hemp seeds
    1 tablespoon chia seeds
    1 pinch of cinnamon
    ½ cup to 1 cup hemp milk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut water as your base
  • Optional: Stevia, or 1 tablespoon raw honey if you need to sweeten it. Add more water if it’s too thick.DIRECTIONS
    Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until creamy (1-2 minutes).

AND…I didn’t forget about that salad.

My Secrets for a GREAT Salad

Here’s my secrets for making a GREAT salad:

  1. The trick to making a great salad is to always use FRESH, organic ingredients when possible.
  2. If I use organic pre-rinsed salad mix, I still rinse it again 2-3 times. I’m picky like that, but do what feels right.
  3. I never use pre-washed spinach – the chlorine water gives it a gritty texture that sticks to my teeth when I chew it.
    If you prefer spinach, grab the unwashed spinach, and when you get home, put it in a bowl of water and add a splash of veggie wash. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then agitate it with your hands to loosen the dirt and sand. Do this as often as you need, until your spinach is clean. I have been known to rinse my spinach 5-6 times, if it’s really caked with mud. And I love it when my veggies still have the dirt from the ground on it, it means it came straight from the farm to my kitchen!
  4. Rinse loose leaf greens in cold filtered water and use a salad spinner to discard excess water.
  5. Place loose leaf greens in a large bowl, and drizzle it with about 1-2 Tbsp of good quality organic extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil.
  6. Add a pinch of sea salt flakes. I prefer Maldon Sea Salt.
  7. Using a large wooden spoon, stir the salad until all leaves are well coated with the olive oil.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – NEVER SKIP THIS STEP!!!
  8. Now you’re ready to add all your other salad fixings. I like to put my salad toppings in little serving bowls, and let my family members build their own salad.

Salad Fixing Suggestions:

  • Grab olives from Whole Food’s olive bar. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with anything there, but make sure to skip the olives that aren’t pitted. Your teeth will thank you.
  • Diced cucumber (peel off the skin first).
  • Diced green apple
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced heirloom tomatoes, topped with a finishing sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, thinly sliced basil, drizzled with olive oil
  • Thinly sliced red, yellow and orange bell pepper (seeds and stem removed)
  • Orange slices (peeled, remove all seeds, pith, and skin)
  • Fresh chopped herbs like mint, basil, or cilantro
  • Chopped watermelon (goes well with mint and balsamic vinegar)
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Steamed peas, chickpeas, or black beans
  • Sliced avocado (my substitute for cheese, as I am lactose-intolerant)
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Splash of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice

Enjoy!

 

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!

 

 

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.
Why you should start juicing, NOW!

Why you should start juicing, NOW!

 

Did you know that when you make juice from raw vegetables, your
body absorbs the nutrients within 15 seconds?

Talk about an energy shot! No need to buy those sugary and chemical-ish concoctions from
your local drug-store or mini mart. Juicing is an all-natural way to boost
your energy and feel amazing. When you juice your fruits and veggies,
you end up extracting all the water and nutrients from them and leave
behind only the plant fibers. By separating the fruit or vegetable from
its fiber, we gain access to all of the amazing vitamins, minerals,
enzymes, and phytonutrients which are much more easily assimilated
by our body than if we were to eat them.
This allows your body to absorb the nutrients more quickly, without
having to digest the dense bulk of the plant. You can also fit an
amazing amount of veggies into a single glass of juice, making it a
great way to use up those extra veggies.

PLUS, you will end up with a glass of deliciousness that packs a

powerful nutritional punch. Although some would also say that the cost

of stocking enough fresh organic vegetables to make daily juices can
be somewhat expensive, my feeling is that if you stop buying all of the
pre-packaged foods/snacks you were buying, you will end up saving
money in the long run on your food AND your doctor bills.
One more thing before I go: while you can control the quality of
ingredients when you are making fresh juice at home, always read
your labels when it comes to buying store-bought juice. These juices
can be high in sugar and have a high glycemic load, which may cause
blood sugar imbalances.

How I Got into the Holiday Spirit

How I Got into the Holiday Spirit

Me and Mom - 2005

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m sitting here at my desk reflecting on why I feel so much more happier this holiday season than in the past couple of years.

See, in February 2009, I lost my mother to breast cancer.  It was devastating enough to watch her take her last breath.  I realize now, looking back, that for many months following, I hadn’t given myself permission to go through the natural stages of grief, because I was still very much in shock. The official term is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but for me, it was mostly a period of huge memory gaps, brain fog, and emotional detachment. I can recall having entire conversations with other fellow students at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City, where I eventually graduated as a certified Holistic Health Coach. I would talk with a fellow student after a lecture, and then a few hours later, I would totally forget having met that person. I remember once I paid an $800+ electric bill, only to forget that I had already paid it, and paid it again…in the same week. I’m so grateful that my husband understood what I was going through, and showed a helluva lotta patience and love with me during this time!

In the aftermath, holidays were difficult, bittersweet, and a blue cloud hung over me, as I resigned to “get through the holidays” and decided to just put on a smile. In doing so, that smile I wore became my mask. The mask served me well, and soon after, I began to put on the mask everyday, using it as a way to hide from the world.

But the truth is, I really didn’t enjoy the holidays, because I wasn’t fully present. I masked my pain, my sorrows, my grieving, and in doing so, delayed my healing process.

It wasn’t until last year that I finally came to reckon with this, and truly allowed myself to “hit rock bottom.”  I allowed myself to break down, slowly, bit by bit, to shed and release all the hurt, pain, heartbreak, sorrow, anger, and bitterness around losing my biggest fan, my best friend, my sweet angel, my mother.  In 2012, I allowed myself to sit in solitude and finally hear my thoughts, something I had been avoiding since my birthday, September 25, 2008, when I got the call at work that the cancer was not only back for a third time, but that it had also spread to over 90% of her body.  She was gone in 6 months.   In 2012, I went through yoga teacher training, twice, with the primary focus of allowing my grieving to finally happen. I meditated, I learned about asanas (yoga body movement and positions), and pranas (breathing exercises), chakras (energy channels), and female power from a body energy perspective.  While I didn’t graduate  and become certified in yoga due to physical limitations (more on this in a future post), I achieved what I desired: assistance with grieving and healing for myself, so I could finally release my mom’s passing, and move forward in life without a heavy heart. During this time, I also took a year or so off from my holistic practice, so I could give 100% focus on my own personal development.

And taking that time to do my emotional work paid off.  When I woke up January 1, 2013, I felt like a brand new woman, the blue cloud had been lifted and I felt lighter, STRONGER, more than ever before.  So, this holiday season has me feeling much, much happier, healthier, and WHOLE again, and I feel I have come full circle again.  I found myself watching old Christmas movies I used to watch with my mom as a little girl, and I noticed instead of feeling pain, I experienced full head on JOY that is just unexplainable.  In fact, it was watching Elf that inspired this post. Here’s other ways I get into the holiday spirit:

  1. Release all guilt and “I should” for shopping and gift giving. If it happens, great. If not, run a quick check of your priorities from now and January 2, 2014: what really matters?
  2. Create some space and time for YOU. For me, that means EVERY DAY I take at least an hour to do something that really relaxes me: a hot candle lit bath, baking gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cookies, calling a friend, watching old Christmas movies with organic sea salted popcorn, or snuggling with my husband by the fire.
  3. Set reminders during work hours to BREATH and take a stretch break. I learned in yoga teacher training that managing our breath is a large part of stress management and self control. I tend to stop breathing when I get stressed over something as little as my computer moving slow. So I set reminders for myself to BREATH, even take a quick 3-2 minute short stress-busting walk every hour, to hit the Stress RESET button and relax.
  4. Allow myself some fun food, within reason, as long as I stay within the 80/20 rule: eat 80% healthy, and have fun (within reason – my body cannot tolerate gluten, beef, or pork animal protein) with the 20%.  This ratio shifts back to 90% healthy and 10% fun after New Year’s.
  5. Be flexible – people will do what people do, and I can’t control them. But I can control me, and my reactions. In fact, I can also choose to NOT react, but rather, to observe other’s behavior and ask with curiosity and compassion, what is the underlying reason? I also ask, “How can I look at this from a different perspective?
  6. Gratitude:  I approach the Holiday season, or any other for that matter, with gratitude, because this is the most powerful way to activate abundance and manifest your desires. The Universe (God) begins to return to you whatever you direct your energy towards. So, for example, if you direct your energy towards complaining about traffic, you will only receive more frustration with being stuck in traffic. If you, on the other hand, approach traffic with an attitude of gratitude, like, “I am grateful to have a vehicle, to have normal function in my brain, my hands, my legs, to be able to drive,” or “I’m grateful that my vehicle is working properly and that I am safe” would invite more of the same, and most likely you would not feel frustration, but feel much more positive in spirit.

I hope that you find some benefit in my story, as well as my tips to get in to the holiday spirit, so that you may release what might be blocking you from feeling the holiday spirit as well. I don’t know your story, but I would love to hear from you. How do you get into the holiday spirit?

In Other News

I am glad to say that I happy to have returned to coaching, having relaunched my business on my 41st birthday this year, and I have very exciting programs coming up for 2014!

I’m also ecstatic about finally launching my brand new website: www.venusavivwellness.com!  I still have the old website at www.venusaviv.com, and will keep this website up until I have all existing content transferred to this site.  Please be patient, as you may see changes on the fly during the remainder of December 2013 until the transition is complete.

Till next time, Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Venus Aviv