Saturday, May 30, 2009

Embrace change.

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."- Helen Keller

Almost two years ago I packed two suitcases and flew to California to start a new life.  I remember being a bit apprehensive yet smugly confident the few weeks before departing. 

It would have been safe and comfortable for me to live near my parents' house in Connecticut, go home for Sunday dinners, hang out with all my college friends in New York or Boston, used my connections to build a solid client base near home...But I knew it was time to go, and California was calling me in the strongest and strangest way.  

There was definitely an adjustment period, but otherwise I was unruffled by the move across the country.  People couldn't believe I'd made such a "bold" move.  But I shrugged my shoulders.  I'd never seen it as a risk nor questioned myself for I knew this change was vital to my happiness and development.

Three months after I moved here, I met someone and lost myself in a breathtaking, incredible relationship.  I began to change, let go of my boundaries, and it was scary at first, letting myself be completely open and vulnerable in so many ways.   Yet soon I slowly forgot my own visions and dreams.  I took jobs that weren't in alignment with my life purpose because I was scared I wasn't good enough on my own.  Then I hurt my hip, broke my leg and sprained my knee all within a year, and lost the ability to run and practice yoga.  It seemed the only good thing I had left was my relationship.

It was wrong and unfair of me to rely on someone else who was trying to piece his own life together, but I thought his love for me and the security of our relationship would make everything better, would be enough to fill me up.  Looking back, even in the deepest moments of our love, I was unhappy because I wasn't taking care of ME (which meant neither my life nor my body.)  It was easier to focus on someone else than do the hard work on myself. 

Initially I was devastated by the breakup and so frightened to be without him.  Lately it's turned to a glorious feeling of exhilaration.  My future is so bright and certain now that I am tuning in to my own needs and dreams.   And I'm starting to recognize myself again, the girl who embraced all of life's adventures.  I am able to run, do yoga, partake in all kinds of new fitness classes, and am taking on my health and career with renewed vigor.  

So whatever change comes about, don't fight it.  What you resist persists.  Rather, embrace it, and look for how this moment is shaping your life in the most perfect way, the way it's meant to be.    Take it from me:  it will totally be fine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Essential sleep

Everyone needs sleep, and more of it, these days.  Our days are so jam-packed with activity, our bodies need to recover, rebuild the immune system, and detoxify.  If you're having trouble sleeping, check out these tips from Stanford University.

CAN'T SLEEP?

Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to sleep. Tossing and turning. Your mind is racing, going over everything that happened today. Night noises keep you awake. What can you do? There ARE things you can do! Read on and learn some new tricks to sleep well. These tips are also known as "Sleep Hygiene."

  • Sleep only when sleepy
This reduces the time you are awake in bed.

  • If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy
Sit quietly in the dark or read the warranty on your refrigerator. Don't expose yourself to bright light while you are up. The light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up.

  • Don't take naps
This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour, before 3 pm.

  • Get up and go to bed the same time every day
Even on weekends! When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel better.

  • Refrain from exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime
Regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well, but the timing of the workout is important. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep.

  • Develop sleep rituals
It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine free tea, do relaxation exercises.

  • Only use your bed for sleeping
Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, pay bills, do work or reading. So when you go to bed your body knows it is time to sleep. Sex is the only exception.

  • Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate and some prescription and non-prescription drugs contain caffeine. Cigarettes and some drugs contain nicotine. Alcohol may seem to help you sleep in the beginning as it slows brain activity, but you will end end up having fragmented sleep.

  • Have a light snack before bed
If your stomach is too empty, that can interfere with sleep. However, if you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, that can interfere as well. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. Tryptophan is probably why a warm glass of milk is sometimes recommended.

  • Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime

A hot bath will raise your body temperature, but it is the drop in body temperature that may leave you feeling sleepy. Read about the study done on body temperature below.

Trouble Sleeping? Chill Out! - A press release from the journal Sleep about the significance in body temperature before sleep

  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable
A hot room can be uncomfortable. A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended. If light in the early morning bothers you, get a blackout shade or wear a slumber mask. If noise bothers you, wear earplugs or get a "white noise" machine.

  • Use sunlight to set your biological clock

As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and turn your face to the sun for 15 minutes.


Friday, May 22, 2009

She's a brainiac!

Check out my brain! video

I participated in a study that was examining normal vs. autistic brains.  They also took a DNA sample, and will compare the DNA and brain structures to see if there are marked differences between normal and autistic.  Pretty sweet!

I've done a lot of research on how we can help autistic people through nutrition, but this study reminded me that it is such a complex situation, and there are also scientific factors behind it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh soy...

One morning when I was thirteen, my mother slapped down a plate of river bass for breakfast, and I screamed, "Gross!  I'm not eating this, I'm a vegetarian!"  Thus began years of confusion in the food department.

Vegetarians always get the bad rap for not getting enough protein in their diets, and many of them turn to soy products.  Heck there's a soy version of every meat out there.  I was dining on soy hot dogs, soy nuggets, soy burgers, soy cold cuts!  And drinking soy milk.  And eating soy nuts.

Soybeans actually have phytoestrogens in them, which means I was getting a TON of extra estrogen in my body.  When you're a teenager, extra hormones is never a good thing.  My poor parents.

Luckily I've gotten off the soy craze.  Those products make me bloated and more emotional than I already am, and they really aren't all they cracked up to be.  Soy is cheap and used as a filler in everything!  Plus it's been known to screw up your thyroid and fuel cancer growth.

If you must have soy, make sure it's organic to avoid pesticides and genetically modified soybeans.  And check out this article about different soy milk companies' ratings.  http://www.NaturalNews.com/026294.html

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eat Brown Not White Rice!

I found this inside my brown rice box:

5 Reasons to Love Brown Rice:
-The fiber in brown rice helps promote regularity and lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
-People who eat whole grains like brown rice tend to be leaner and have a lower risk of heart disease than those who don't.
-Brown rice contains antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols that help protect against coronary disease.
-It provides a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and phytonutrients.
-Grains are rich in carbohydrates--the body's main fuel supply--so we need a fair amount daily.


White rice has been processed, stripped of fiber, B vitamins and minerals, and sometimes bleached.  I think this one's a no-brainer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Do Yoga!


Check out this great article from Yoga Journal about the essential benefits of yoga!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

BUGS!

Do you frequently eat at restaurants?  Do you prefer take-out to cooking your own dinner? You might want to think twice...

I just had my body tested and they found all kinds of little bugs in my intestines, and they said it's from eating outside of my home!  I couldn't believe it!  Luckily I've already made the shift to cooking 90% of my meals, but I think about all the people who eat out every day!

When you go to a restaurant, you have no control over your food.  The cooks may or may not wash all the vegetables, or even their hands after going to the bathroom.  GROSS.  This leads to bacteria and parasites in the food, thus right into our bellies.  

So perhaps think twice before sushi... 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To sunscreen or not to sunscreen...

I was feeling quite under the weather recently, so I accompanied a friend to the beach in hopes of soaking up the sun's vitamins and getting some energy!  We laid out our towels, put a little bit of lotion on here and there, and relaxed for a few hours.

When we trudged home up the hill on our bikes, we noticed slight tightness and pains on our stomachs and bums.  We lifted our clothes to see RED LOBSTER PINK skin! Yowzas!

But is sunscreen the right solution?  Will I get skin cancer if I don't use it next time???  I don't think so.  Dr. Mercola doesn't think so either.  Check out all the nasty ingredients in sunscreen that your skin absorbs and sends right to your liver:
  • Para Amino benzoic acid (PABA)
  • Avobenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Homosalate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Octocrylene
  • Octo methoxycinnamate
  • Octyl salicylate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Padimate O
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Trolamine salicylate
  • Zinc oxide

These are all synthetic chemicals, not natural, so your body doesn't know what the heck to do with them and has a hard time processing them.

Sunscreen also blocks your skin’s ability to make vitamin D by more than 95 percent. And we need vitamin D for healthy bones and immunity.

Of course you don't want to burn every time you sit in the sun, so start by going out a little bit more each day.  And most of us know that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m is when the sun is strongest, so you can stay out of it then.

It's also important to feed your skin with lots and lots of omega-3s from fish oil and flax oil, and saturate your body with fruits and vegetables.  Fill yourself with antioxidants to sweep up any damage from the sun.  

Happy sun time!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

That human touch...

I firmly believe that we Americans are amongst the most touch-starved societies in the world.  It's not all our fault, it's just somehow become the norm these days.  Touch someone too much and they think you're weird.  Touch someone at work and they might take it the wrong way and report you for sexual harassment.  The fact that the phrase PDA (public displays of affection) is in existence is a clear indication of this fear around intimacy.

Check out these stats I found:

There are generally Two kinds of cultures classified as High Touch and Low Touch. Countries like France, Italy, and Greece are High Touch; New Zealand, Australia, Britain, and, yes, the U.S.A are Low Touch.  What's the difference. Well check this out.
 
One study showed a stark contrast between cultures by noting the number of touches exchanged by pairs of people sitting in coffee shops around the world: 
 
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, people touched 180 times an hour
in Paris, France, 110 times an hour; 
in Gainesville, Florida, 2 times per hour; and 
in London, England, they never touched
 
 
On a pre-school playground watching children they found 
 
Affectionate Touching -         Paris - 23% of the time
                                         Miami - 3% of the time
 
Aggressive Touching             Paris - 1% of the time
                                         Miami - 37% of the time
 
Now, who invaded Iraq?  Was it France or was it the US and Britain? 



Perhaps it was our upbringing, how or if our parents were affectionate with us.  Or perhaps it was a traumatic experience that closed us off forever.  Whatever the case may be, over time, we will find ourselves seeking nourishment elsewhere, and often in more toxic forms.  This is when people turn to anti-depressants, alcohol, cocaine, cigarettes, junk food...They need that high, that euphoric feeling when the endorphins and dopamine are shooting throughout the body.  

I say, give someone a hug already!  Go get a massage, or ask someone close to you for one.  It's amazing what a little human touch can do.