5 Healthy Things I Did Last Year

Last year I explored and discovered a lot of new things. As I was building my practice and yoga teaching, I experimented with many different ways of eating and moving to see what felt best to me and what I most wanted to share with people. I realize that everyone is different, and what works for one, may not work for another. As I tried different things I found the ones that worked for me and I found amazing things that can help others too. Some of these I keep in my life, others I recommend to those in need. Here are some things you can try:

1. I varied my work-outs. I tried new things like High Intensity Interval Training, running, bootcamps, restorative yoga. All kinds of things I thought I would never do. It’s good to switch things up so your body doesn’t get accustomed to the same thing.

Jacobs ladder

2. I added more meat into my diet. I started the year basically a vegetarian, eating meat only occasionally. I was eating mostly plants and a lot of fiber but I wasn’t feeling lean or fitting into my clothes like I wanted. I began eating more meat on a daily basis and upping my protein intake. My energy levels went through the roof and I reduced my body fat by 10%

I paid homage to my midwestern roots with a squirt of ketchup on top

I paid homage to my midwestern roots with a squirt of ketchup on top

3. I got more sleep. I stopped falling asleep on the couch and instead I took myself to bed early. Sometimes so early I felt ridiculous if anyone found out I was in my pajamas at 7:30pm. But my body responded amazingly and I began waking naturally with the sun and not needing caffeine. I enjoyed my nightly ritual of reading and meditating in bed, falling naturally into a restful 8 hour sleep. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I do pinterest in bed and it totally relaxes me. It’s my digital vision board–  Don’t hate. sleep well

4. I gave up mindless snacking. Just because I cook and bake healthy things with healthy ingredients doesn’t give me a green light to nosh all day. I stopped keeping sweets around my house because I found myself grazing all day and not being hungry enough for real food. This changed the way I fed my body and in turn changed the way my body feels and looks. I have more muscle mass, more energy, and less fat.  Now I enjoy sweets as an occasional treat, not a daily staple.

oatmeal cookies

5. I surrendered to what is. This is a big one and didn’t really happen til the end of the year. I am an ambitious capricorn who loves to push and pursue my goals. I found myself getting very frustrated when things didn’t move as quickly as I’d like them to, or when things just didn’t go the way I thought they should. I finally resolved to let go of control and let things unfold. I became very grateful for what I have, not what I want. I became engrossed in the present circumstances and gave them my full attention. I LET GO when things felt wrong. It feels so much better than holding on.

love stones

What are you going to try this year to get healthier? For more info please visit me at www.CreateWholeHealth.com

Ego: How to Locate, Stimulate, and Eradicate.

There is a lot of talk in yoga and spirituality about the ego, or ego-based thinking, and it can be confusing what it actually means. To me the ego is a lot like yoga, it has different meanings for everyone but there are some general characteristics. You can usually identify ego by the following assumptions:

Ego is based on superficial existence, tangible stuff, and the absence of connection. Ego demands immediate satisfaction and will go to any means to get it.

Ego insists on being right, being in control, and making fast decisions. Ego tells you to do a backbend in yoga class even though you’re tired and your shoulders hurt. Ego whispers to you to buy the car you can’t really afford because it will make you appear richer. Ego loves when you push yourself too far physically, emotionally, or mentally.

Ego will always suggest that you do things for the approval of others, not for yourself. Ego loves competition and will always insist on winning. Ego thrives on drama and will encourage it often.

Ego despises when we surrender to a higher power or the universe to take care of things.

beach sunset

Ego cannot co-exist with: self-confidence, faith, healthy self-esteem, contentment, peace, willingness, and trust. The ego will retreat to a dark corner when faced with any of the above.

Ego says “I am what I buy, what I do, what I wear, what I make, what I look like, and who I am with”

Ego doesn’t like to hang around: humility, generosity, care, concern, surrender, grace, or acceptance.

Ego lives and feeds on: approval, attention, gossip, worry, division, hierarchy, status, labels, titles, adoration, action, noise, distraction, over-consumption, and denial.

Ego loves being underlined and made to feel important.

How to tell you when you are living from your ego: you are always tired, stressed, feel pulled in a million directions, resentful, worried, angry, fearful, jealous, manipulative, scattered, unfocused, cranky, pissed, lonely, disconnected, anxious, tight, tense, miserable, and competitive.

Being authentic and true to yourself means making decisions based on things other than the Ego. Like…your heart….and not worrying what others might think. Loving your life the way it is without trying to change it everyday. Being happy with who you are and not trying to change it everyday.

buddha

Without Ego, life might start to be……. simple, pleasurable, easy, fun, open, exciting, enjoyable, quiet, still, flowing, magical, sweet, delicious, abundant, real, full, surprising, rich, fulfilling, meaningful, deep, quenching, satisfying, graceful, light, airy, and fluffy.

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

How many times have you set a goal and within a short period of time forgotten about it? Or worse yet, get frustrated over lack of success and give up? New Year’s resolutions, diets, and contests with ourselves are sometimes the least the effective way to meet a particular goal. We set goals that may seem do-able at the beginning when we are motivated in some way, but then real life sets in and the challenge to meet those lofty goals becomes too much.

I have learned a great way to set goals for myself. It makes them manageable and it holds me accountable for each small step so that I’m not flailing about with no direction. S.M.A.R.T is the acronym for this goal setting technique and it works for anything you might want to achieve.

Smart-Goals

Here’s how to make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T

S- Is it Specific? Don’t just say “I will eat healthier from now on” instead try “I will eat one less serving of meat a week” that way you have a specific project in mind.

M- Is it Measurable? We won’t know if we’ve met our goal unless we have a way to measure it. “I will eat 1 less serving of meat this week” is measurable. We know at the end of 1 week if we’ve accomplished it or not.  Same goes for weight loss, weight gain, work-out progress, or saving $$.

A- Is it Attainable? Can you do this particular thing in the amount of time you’ve given yourself? Do you really WANT it? This is an important question to ask yourself. Make sure the goals you set are things that can actually be attained by you and more importantly, that you desire them. I mean, do I REALLY want to live on an island, eat fresh pineapple, and do yoga all day on the beach? Yes!

R- Is it Realistic or Relevant? Be really honest with yourself when you look at this aspect. Will you ever be a size 6? Do you want to be? Maybe your body isn’t built to be “thin” so don’t make that your goal, instead make optimal health your goal. Keep things real and be fair to yourself by being honest with your capabilities.

T- Is there a Timeline? Did you set a realistic amount of time to reach your goal? Do you have short term and long term goals? Goals can change daily, weekly, and monthly. Keep track of your progress by recording your progress. Remember, this is a process.

Lastly, Keep a Goal journal and write them down often. The act of writing makes things more “real” and perhaps will spark even more motivation or ideas for other goals. It is also nice to look back at goals you’ve accomplished and allow yourself to feel proud.

Leave Room for Growth

A couple years ago when I parted ways with my longtime corporate career, I had a huge amount of new found space in my life. Not only was my calendar clear, so was my head, my ego and my agenda. I literally had no plans or aspirations and it was a scary feeling. Thankfully, it was beautiful fall weather and I decided to create a new perennial bed in my front lawn.

A lone, scraggly lilac bush stood in the area by the curving walkway to the front door. I began fervently digging up clumps of crab-grass in order to make room for new plants. I didn’t plan or design the space, I just wanted to be busy and not focus on getting my life in order. The garden became a metaphor for where I was at the time; unplanned, uprooted, and not sure what was going to take hold or even blossom.

I moved perennials from my backyard to this new space as well as buying some bargain bin plants at the local nursery. I hastily shoved root balls into the hard ground and shoveled dirt on top, ready for the garden to be up and blooming soon. I needed some type of movement in my life, I was counting on these plants.

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Fall turned into winter and the plants began to die back for the season. The space now just looked like a big patch of ugly lawn that someone had haphazardly taken a shovel to. The weather eventually killed any sign of green and I began to regret what I had done. I didn’t think it would ever recover.

The following season, to my surprise, most of the perennials came back. Not big and strong like I had envisioned, but they survived. I enjoyed a couple coneflowers and my little rosebush gave out more blossoms in it’s new home than before. Again in the fall, I covered the new bed with dried leaves and let it rest while I went about my business of still trying to figure out my life.

This spring, just as things in my life are really beginning to take root and put forth lots of new growth, so is my garden! The little lilac is now a sweet smelling large shrub, the yellow rose has about 100 buds on it, and the other perennials are thick and lush! Everything has filled in so nicely and evenly, it’s hard to believe this was once a bare plot of land I had created out of nothing.

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It reminds me that when things seem slow or empty to not be in such a big hurry to fill them up. To not cram our schedules full of appointments so we leave no room for spontaneity. To leave space and room for things to happen naturally, in their own time, without being crowded out by our own plans.

100 posts- let’s celebrate!

This is the 100th post on CreateWholeHealth!

It feels like it should be special in some way to celebrate the significance. I thought about the following post ideas for this momentous occasion:

“100 things about Me”– too self-absorbed. I like to cook and do yoga. From there the list would go into meaningless details of my life like “I played Adrian in our 4th grade satire of the movie Rocky and I had a mad crush on the boy who played the lead so the final scene was very real to me”

“100 things I love”– too long and probably boring for most of you. Would include things like hello kitty stickers, the smell of magic markers, and puppies.  You may mistake me for a 7th grade girl after reading it.

“100 ways to use honey”– Good idea but off the top of my head I can only think of 24 that make sense and aren’t too messy.

local honey

“100 ways to cook healthier”– hmmmm, that’s sort of what I’ve been doing this whole time, right? Hint: EAT YOUR VEGGIES!

Farmer's market

“100 places I’d like to visit”- super short list; the beach. Any beach. Done.

hawaiian-beaches

“100 yoga poses for your pet” I think they already do them all on their own?

Shivasana

Shivasana

“100 great books” I like this idea but I’m too lazy to go through all my bookshelves. Here’s a good one though:

I highly recommend this book!!!

I highly recommend this book!!!

“100 things I’m grateful for” This is actually something I did one year. I kept a Gratitude List and wrote in it almost every night what I was thankful for, whether it was something simple like “hot coffee” or big like “my family” The tricky part is to even be grateful for the annoying little things that teach us great lessons.

zen night

Thank YOU for joining me on this journey of my love for healthy, real food, fitness, yoga, inspirational living and pretty colorful photos of the stuff I cook! I can’t wait for the next 100!

Hot Tea and Lipgloss

I admit I have a problem: It’s not about alcohol or drugs, or cats, or a bad credit score. It’s about my obsession with tea and lipgloss. We all have our sources of comfort, right? Since I quit drinking coffee in October I have become mildly obsessed with teas of all kinds: herbal, medicinal, traditional, floral, flavored, green, you get the idea ….I am enamored with the entire process of boiling a kettle of water, pouring it into a teapot with 1 or 2 different tea bags and waiting patiently for it to steep. There is something meditative and centering about this.

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With coffee, I stood impatiently at the coffeemaker as it dripped slowly and noisily into my waiting cup. It couldn’t come fast enough for me. Tea is like a visit with an old friend;  it starts slow and easy and gently builds into a comforting, familiar experience.

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With coffee, I am agitated, both physically and emotionally.  With tea I am comforted and feel cared for way deep down inside.

Before he died, my dad made this ceramic teapot and I can’t believe I’ve saved it for so long.  There is something almost spiritual about using this to brew my tea everyday.

Lime Green was the hot color of the 70's!

Lime Green was the hot color of the 70’s! It looks like a genie might coil out of here…..

My friend in the natural foods industry has generously shared MANY tea samples with me over time.  I have discovered yerba mate, rooibios, ginseng and masala chai. One of my all time favorites is Gypsy Cold Care. It works better than any over the counter medicine for flu and cold symptoms.

As for the lipgloss- this has been a lifelong love of mine. I can’t seem to stop collecting the delicious, flavored, adorable tubes of gooey stuff. My favorite is Buddha Balm in “Burnt Sugar Fig” It smells and tastes like pancake syrup! SO Yummy! I also love Kiss My Face Sheer Organic Shine- it’s light and minty.

These were in my purse and kitchen drawer, Don't Judge.

These were in my purse and kitchen drawer, Don’t Judge.

The ritual of hot tea is a winter life saver for me- both physically and mentally, in the summer I turn to iced tea brewed in the sun or cold lemon water. The lipgloss is year round!

What things do you use on a daily basis for comfort?

My New Year’s Resolutions

Not everyone believes in resolutions and some would say they are detrimental because they set us up for disappointment when they don’t last.  But I love any time of year that makes us stop to look at ourselves and make conscious choices about where we want to go. As I look back on 2012 and see how much I’ve experienced and learned,  I am  grateful for all the amazing things that transpired and came my way.  I now look ahead with hope, optimism, and  intent on growing and enjoying life even more.

2013 is your year to create the life you want!

2013 is your year to create the life you want!

Some of my new year’s resolutions are:

1. Practice Patience. This is a big one for me. It seems to be the area where all my lessons originate. Whether it’s an injury that won’t leave my body quickly enough, planting seeds and waiting for them to sprout, or the  elusive search for my ideal job.  I am always being taught to “Wait and be Patient….”

My long awaited moonflower

My long awaited moonflower I started from seed

2. Explore new foods: Hemp seeds, acai berries, cacao powder, macha tea, and more local, seasonal foods. I keep meaning to try all these amazing foods I learn about so this year I will experiment more with new foods.

My awesome neighborhood farmers market

My awesome neighborhood farmers market

3. Smile more. For no reason.

My happy chihuahua

My happy chihuahua

4. Invest in myself. This is also a big lesson for me. I sometimes overly tighten my budget and do without things I really want or need in the name of “saving for a rainy day”.  Hoarding of any sort simply blocks the energy from flowing freely to come into our lives. It also promotes fear which is a huge block to ALL good stuff coming our way.

Energy flows in our lives as freely as water in nature

Energy flows in our lives as freely as water in nature

5. Get rid of things I no longer use. I do this several times a year but every time I do it I am reminded how GREAT it feels to clear out stuff and create space. I don’t believe in holding on to things that no longer “feel good” in my life. Instead of stashing them in a hidden closet like I sometimes do, I will remove them permanently to create space for new and better things.

What are your hopes and intentions for yourself in 2013?

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