10 Things to Love about the Season

1. The Winter Solstice is a time of returning light. This means after Dec 22nd the days will once again start getting longer and daylight will begin to increase.

winter solstice

2. Things slow down….or they should this time of year. We have extra time off work to celebrate the season and rest. Use this time to slow it down and draw inward as nature does, rather than inviting more chaos into your precious time. Read here on how to not self-sabotage during the holidays.

snowy meditation

3. Hearty, Warming Foods. Slow roasted root vegetables, thick stews, hot soups, and savory meats are all winter foods that give us grounding energy and stability. Enjoy the warmth of these.

homemade chicken noodle soup

4. Reconnecting with old friends. Christmas gatherings, parties, or cards allow us to catch up with friends and family we may not see other times of the year. Welcome these connections into your life.

5.  Contemplation. This is when we reflect over the last year and note the areas of our life that were gratifying, fulfilling, and productive. It is also when we can resolve to leave behind that which no longer serves us as we move into the new year.

peaceful wish

6.  A New Fresh Start. Everyone feels recharged and ready to make positive changes January 1st. Setting goals and creating vision boards is exciting this time of year when the future is truly a blank page. Be creative!

new year7. The Christmas Spirit. Whatever Christmas means to you, there is no doubt that a lot people are happy and joyful right now and that can be contagious. Absorb that good energy while it’s here!

8. Curling up and staying warm. What’s more comforting that thick socks, a warm blanket, hot tea, and a fire? This time of the year just begs for us to feel cozy, soft, warm, and nurtured.

sleepy kitty

9. Hot tea. OK, I drink hot tea all year long but it’s especially good this time of year. Warming from the inside out and enjoying spicy flavors like chai and cinnamon is just better in the winter.

hot tea

10. Dark, leafy, winter greens! Full of phytonutrients and calcium, dark leafy greens grow best in colder weather.

kale

*11. Bonus reason: My birthday is right around the corner! And that means cake.

*12. Extra bonus reason: The pretty falling snow that WordPress provides!

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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.

How to Make a Vision Board

There is a theory that what we focus on is what creates our reality: that we energetically draw to us anything that is in alignment with what we feel and think. There are MANY books to read on The Law of Attraction and I find it fascinating and empowering. People have been studying and living by this law for centuries. But what does it mean in our modern, everyday, busy lives?

It means being positive, optimistic, and reaching for what you want in life. It means setting intentions and keeping your mental focus on those intentions. It means aligning your energy, your mood, your spirit, with that which you seek in every way possible.

One of the best tools for this is visualization. Keeping our dreams and hopes in full view can be a huge help in manifesting our dreams. I’ve been making vision boards for a few years now and I find the process is always uplifting and helps to sharpen my goals and clarify my intentions.

Here is what you’ll need to create your Vision Board:

-Old magazines- all kinds, don’t just go for the ones you always read.

-Scissors

-Removeable Glue Dots (available at Michael’s or craft stores)

-Thick poster board

-Your Imagination!

I start clipping days before I am ready. It takes my mind time to let go of inhibitions, doubts, and other distractions in order to be really freely creative.

vision boards

Clip EVERYTHING that catches your eye, you can go back and sort through them later. Don’t over-think it- if you like it- Clip it!

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Once you’ve gathered a good messy pile of clippings begin placing them on your poster board in any order that is pleasing to you. You can categorize things, or just go by what feels good or looks good. Chances are they will take on some type of order without your help….

vision boards

This is the fun part when your aspirations really begin to come into view and you are able to move things around depending on how it feels. Feeling is a big part of creating a vision board.

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Use pictures as well as words that inspire or motivate you

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The removable glue dots can be placed on the back of the photo and allows you to move them around rather than sticking like glue.

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After I’ve assembled everything I will let it sit for a day or two and go back to look at it. I might shift things here or there or add or remove an image. I always somehow “know” when it’s done!

It’s so interesting to see how my boards have changed over the years. They are like visual journals.

vision board

Once you’re happy with your vision board be sure to put it somewhere you will see it everyday, that’s how the “magic” works! Most importantly, it should make you feel AMAZING and EXCITED when you look at it. That energy is what creates the movement of those things into your life.

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.

Clean Eating Vacay Part 2

The beach in Mexico was full of interesting offerings- check out this fresh fruit cart with cucumber, jicama and melons:

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And this beautiful photo I got at the end of the day…..wish I was still there….

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While in Mexico I tried to eat small meals spread throughout the day. I loaded up on bottled water and perused the markets for local ingredients to try. I got freshly made corn tortillas at the local supermarket the first day there and made my own chips rather than eating the packaged greasy ones.

I cut them into triangles while they were still warm and soft.

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Then spread on a cookie sheet to go into an oven at 325

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I checked often to make sure they didn’t burn

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The guac was easy with such fresh ripe ingredients: Avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and pepper

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I added a fresh squeeze of lime after mixing. Perfectly Clean!

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I may or may not have had a fresh lime margarita with these chips and guacamole……….

I was completely spoiled with fresh fruit everyday for breakfast

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And enjoyed delicious local fish tacos one night

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I actually had a bite or two of these as well. They were so pretty!

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Back to reality and the gym!

My Clean-Eating Mexican Vacation

I’m back after a beautiful, sun-filled week in Manzanillo, Mexico! I’m lucky enough to have family with a beautiful home down there and am able to visit whenever I want! I prepared well by packing some of my own food. You never can be sure what items  will be available in another country and I didn’t want to be stuck without my favorites;  oatmeal, almonds, herbal tea, dried cranberries, peanut butter, and rice cakes. I packed all these in my suitcase along with my bathing suit and shorts.

I was greeted by the sight of this pineapple top that I had planted the last time I was there. It had grown tremendously and now had it’s own baby pineapple!

grow your own pineapple

The first morning there we went to the weekly open air market and I was overwhelmed by the displays of fresh, local produce! It was a shopping frenzy for me as I stocked up for the week on vegetables and tropical fruit that I would never get at home.

These fresh fruit cups were less than a dollar each

These fresh fruit cups were less than a dollar each

I kept saying “At Whole Foods, this would be $7.99!” “At Whole foods that would be $9.99” It made me sadly realize how long and far produce has to travel -only to be marked up to an exorbitant price- before it ever hits our mouths.

The busiest stand was the freshly picked blueberries and strawberries, and for good reason- they were incredibly sweet and juicy!

Pick and bag as much as you want

Pick and bag as much as you want

I wanted to a huge hefty bag full of these beauties!!

I wanted to a huge hefty bag full of these beauties!!

There was more tropical fruit around the corner- mangoes, pineapples, papaya, watermelon…..

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The local mexican pineapples are a bit smaller and MUCH sweeter than the ones shipped in unripened from hawaii to the grocery.

mexican pineapple

I got some tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion and plenty of avocados to prepare guacamole later. I also found white sweet potatoes which are difficult to find where I live. They are sweeter than yams and used a lot in island cooking. No fresh corn tortillas at this market but we scored some the next day and more a few days later. I could LIVE off of the freshly made tortillas from Lulu’s……

mexican peppers

The last time I was in mexico I picked up some type of bacteria that my system couldn’t tolerate so I was really careful what I ate this time. I didn’t eat any animal products except a little bit of yogurt once or twice. I stayed away from meat and eggs entirely which wasn’t hard since I’m not eating meat lately. I also took digestive enzymes the first few meals to give my system some help with breaking down all the different foods. I felt amazing the whole time and enjoyed the produce and much more healthy eating all week long!

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!

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