21 Days to Total Health: Take the Challenge!

What can you accomplish in 21 days?

You could de-clutter every room in your house. You could walk from San Francisco to Seattle. You could write a novel. You could break or start a new habit.

Or, you could transform your body and your life forever.

I’m going to do just that — and I want you to do it with me.

On October 31st, the UC Davis Integrative Medicine 21 Food Day Challenge begins. It’s a three-week journey of 100% whole food, plant-based eating. The best part? Not only do you get a huge network of support, full of people like you who are trying this thing out together, but you’ll get everything you need to plan and prepare your meals for all 21 days. That includes checklists to help you meal plan and shop plus recipes, recipes, and more recipes — plus, the chance to win all your meals delivered to your door for FREE. In fact, the entire challenge is completely, entirely, 100% free. Continue reading

Advertisements

What your body needs this fall (besides pumpkin spice)

Has autumn weather found you yet?

If Instagram is any indication, the entire Western world is blissfully sipping on spiced apple cider while crunching through the leaves in cozy knitted cardigans and knee-high boots, basking in the still-warm-yet-crisp fall sunlight on their way to the farmer’s market or pumpkin patch or even a college football game.

It’s not just the dewy pictures of Instagram and Pinterest that are making me long for the idyllic traditions of fall. Autumn is a transitional season — a season of change, and not just for the natural world but for humans as well. Instinctively our bodies know this and prompt us to prepare for the coming cold months ahead.

Autumn-01

According to Ayurvedic tradition, fall is a time to change our daily routines and our diets to keep in harmony with the environmental changes all around us. Ayurveda is an ancient science based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth, according to Balance & Bliss Ayurvedic Center in Tampa, Florida. “As the external environment changes during the vata (or fall) season, your internal environment can experience the same type of changes; dry leaves, dry skin; crackly leaves, crackly joints; shorter days, shorter attention span; colder days, colder extremities, windy days, windy bowels. … By observing the processes of Mother Nature, you can better understand the processes of your body, mind and spirit.”

To keep from being overcome by the negative effects of autumn, it’s important to strive for a sense of balance this time of year. This is done “by emphasizing lifestyle and food choices that are grounding, stabilizing, warming, moisturizing and softening,” according to Balance & Bliss. “You can stay calm and connected in this whirlwind season with a consistent practice that includes nourishing and protective measures.”

Continue reading

How do you find “balance” in your life?

Do you consider yourself a balanced person? Or is it an ideal you’re constantly chasing — or one you’ve abandoned all hope of achieving?

I think the answer depends on your definition of “balanced.”

I used to think that balance was all about finding the sweet spot and staying there. I thought that if I chose my convictions carefully then I could fearlessly hold to them, never caving or yielding too far to temptation, never shirking and slacking off so as to lose my footing. Balance, I believed, was also about cultivating a zen-like aura so that no matter how fiercely the winds of chaos beat about me, I could maintain my sense of calm and persevere through the storm.

What a load of crap.

Look, I’m not saying this isn’t possible; for all I know it is and I just wasn’t the kind of person who could achieve and maintain that definition of balance. But the more I get to know the world and the people in it, the more I realize I’m not alone in rejecting it. I don’t mean giving up and thinking I can’t achieve my dreams — I mean staring this ideal in the face and saying, “This is not the life I want. I choose a different path.”

Continue reading

Why I eat the way I eat

How do you know which diet is right for you?

I’m not using the word “diet” as it’s commonly known, in the way that means “eating less to lose weight.” I’m talking about “diet” in the traditional sense, meaning “habitual nourishment.”

Maybe you read a book or heard about the latest health & diet bestseller. Maybe you had a friend or family member who lost a ton of weight after changing her diet and she convinced you to give it a try. Maybe you watched a documentary or two or started following a few blogs that made you realize it’s time to re-think the way you view food.

Whether you follow a specific diet or not or whether you’ve even stopped to think about how you feed and nourish yourself, there’s one question we all need to ask ourselves: “Is this really the way I should be eating?”

Continue reading

What do I have to offer?

I have this terrible feeling that I’m not good enough for you.

That I’m not enough of an expert. That I don’t provide enough detailed information, or that I provide information with so much detail that nobody will want to read what I write. That I don’t provide enough insight and tools to actually be helpful. That the message I spend my nights awake thinking about, pondering over, writing and re-writing and re-writing so as to uplift and inspire and change lives — that it actually doesn’t matter to anyone else but me.

Most of all I worry that I’m not thin enough. Or more to the point, I worry that the way I live my life isn’t inspirational enough to get anyone to take notice. Despite what I’ve said about being skinny, and despite really really meaning it, I worry that nobody will bother taking my advice on healthy eating if I’m not a perfectly toned size 2. Because isn’t the thin, sexy, smiling woman on the cookbook cover the reason we buy the book? Sure, we want to be healthy and eat well, but what we really want is to look like that. Because even though I’ve made great progress over the past 11 months, even to the point where I actually bought a bikini and wore it for the first time in public in years, I still am only a size 8-10 and can’t seem to get below 140 lbs.

IMG_9219

Left, July 2014. Right, July 2015.

I really worry about all this stuff because somewhere inside, I feel that if I look like this and not like Giada de Laurentiis — if the way I eat and live my life isn’t as enticing as that teeny little package — then that what I have to offer isn’t valuable. That I’m not good enough to do this thing that I’m so passionate about it makes me skip through the house with glee whenever my daily page views go above 100. Or even 50, if I’m being honest. Because if I can’t offer you that thing that every woman in America wants, what do I have to offer?

Well let me break through the fear and self-pity and tell you what I’m offering.

Continue reading

7 reasons you should make ready-to-eat snack bags

When you’ve got little kids, snack time is a way of life. It seems like someone is always hungry or begging for a snack, which can mean countless trips for mom to the pantry or fridge each week. One of my favorite ways to streamline my life in the kitchen is to make ready-to-eat snack bags, all prepped and easily accessible for little hands.

Having snack bags is like meal planning for snacks. You don’t necessarily need to make a strict plan, but you do need to think ahead to have treats on hand. After that, it’s easy as pie.  Continue reading

What is a plant-based diet?

When people hear “plant-based,” they often think of piles upon piles of leafy greens. In fact, when I tell people that I have switched to a plant-based diet, I am pretty sure they imagine me eating bowl after bowl of raw broccoli or gigantic salads without dressing.

If that’s what people think, I can see why the idea of plant-based eating is so unappealing.

The truth, thankfully, is much different.

A plant-based diet is not solely based on vegetables, and you don’t have to go completely vegan or even vegetarian. A whole-foods, plant-based diet is made up of a variety of foods found in nature. The idea is to consume them as close to whole as possible, not processed beyond recognition — but not only eaten in their raw, natural state, either. These foods form the ingredients for some of your favorite dishes — soups, breads, burritos, you name it. When made from scratch instead of consumed in processed, sugar- and chemical-laden, ready-made, store-bought packages, your favorites become some of the healthiest foods you can eat. All it takes is a little slicing, dicing, blending, and sauteing, and voila!  Nature’s most delicious offerings become your new family favorites.

The other day, for example, I ate onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, vegetable broth, white beans, and kale for dinner. But I didn’t eat them like this:

veggies

Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

 

 

I ate them like this:

Soul-warming-1-Pot-Veggie-and-White-Bean-Stew-with-potatoes-kale-and-tomatoes-vegan-glutenfree.jpg

Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

Continue reading