Archive for December, 2017

Vision boards, meditation, mantras, visualization, raising your vibration, crystal healing—we hear about using these techniques to change our lives for the better all the time. But I believe the missing X-factor for most people is self-love. Whether you are trying to find an ideal romantic partner, increase your financial abundance, launch your dream career, or improve your health, working on loving yourself more—right now as you are—is the most powerful thing you can do to improve your life.

As a professional intuitive I’m paid to help people discover what’s holding them back from living at their highest potential. These are some of the tips I share with clients to help them increase self-love and experience a positive shift. This shift may be only subtle at first, but in time working on self-love will create dynamic, lasting results:

1. Forgive yourself for something.

The angels and guides I work with in sessions with clients have told me that the way we treat others is a mirror reflection of how we treat ourselves. If you find yourself cold and judgmental lately with others, you are most likely being cold and judgmental with yourself. When we judge ourselves for past mistakes, we actually perpetuate the energy of that mistake and get trapped. This makes it much harder to move forward and make healthier choices.

Self-love action step: Pick something big (like staying in a toxic relationship too long) and something small (like wishing you’d tried harder to win a plum opportunity in your career)—and work on forgiving yourself for both. Imagine that this happened not to you but to a friend you love very much who is too hard on themselves. What soothing, loving, uplifting balm would you pour into their wound?

We are all capable of far more than we realize.

2. Quit playing small.

What you think you are capable of can have a direct effect on what shows up in your life. Playing small often means settling—for a job you’ve outgrown, a relationship that’s holding you back, a town you don’t want to live in, or maybe even a lunch you don’t want to eat! Sometimes we have to ride out a challenging situation like a job we really want to move on from. Yet the fuller your self-love tank, the quicker you will be able to change or at least improve your circumstances.

Self-love action step: Stop blaming or shaming yourself for your circumstances. Life can be really, really tough. If you’re reading this article, it means you have survived a lot! Think back on a time you pulled off something spectacular you never thought you could. When you have a moment, get out your journal and write down some of your greatest hits, or the occasions when you made your own miracle or really got to shine. We are all capable of far more than we realize.

3. Ask for what you need.

Many times in a session with a client I’ll be told by my angels and guides that the client’s throat chakra is tight. This means they are having trouble expressing their emotions and their needs. Often people do not express their needs because they are afraid their needs will not be met. But self-love is about honoring your needs by expressing them, no matter the outcome. Often simply admitting what we think we need to ourselves and others has the magical effect of bringing us what we truly need.

Self-love action step: Ask for what you think you need from a person this week, whether it’s asking a partner or roommate to help out more with chores or asking your boss to work one day from home. This should have an empowering effect, no matter the answer! Now ask the universe for something—light a candle and say a prayer or make a wish. Then watch for what shows up in your life this week. Asking the universe for things is a powerful act of free will and how we co-create our lives! The best part is the universe is always listening.

Photo: Lane Smith

4. Prioritize what’s important to you.

Do you ever feel as if you are marching in someone else’s parade? Unfortunately, people really will take as much as you are willing to give—at home, at work, in the larger world—until you set a boundary. This can take courage. If you’ve had a novel kicking around your head for a few years, make Saturday afternoons your sacred time to work on it—when no one is allowed to disturb you. Want to improve your health? Make a special trip to the store and buy the ingredients for the Whole30 diet. If the rest of your family wants to eat differently for the next month, that’s their choice.

Self-love action step: Find a quiet moment with your favorite cup of warm deliciousness, and write down your five top priorities for 2018. Five is a powerful number of change and action. Expect some pushback from people in your life on a few of these priorities when you start implementing changes. Stand your ground but also be ready to compromise.

5. Find out who wounded your self-love.

You probably have some subconscious programming placed in your head by loved ones or culture that is hurting your ability to love yourself more. Subconscious blocks can be tricky to uncover. But once you do, healing them can be absolutely transformative.

Self-love action step: The next time you are doing something repetitive that does not involve intellectual activity—like exercising or cleaning the house—ask your higher self, “What is my biggest subconscious block to self-love?” Once you feel your way to an answer, ask who put this idea that you are not good enough or smart enough or attractive enough in your head. Knowing where the information came from will really help you release this block.

6. Practice consistent self-care.

Self-love is a “show-me-don’t-tell-me” proposition. Take your supplements, get enough rest, laugh, and hang out with loved ones to increase self-love. This is a backdoor way to increase your confidence and the feeling of deserving more.

Self-love action step: Your own intuition knows what you truly need. The next time you feel the nudge to grab a kombucha or mineral water on your way into the office instead of your usual cup of joe, act on this impulse of self-love. Focusing on basic self-care should help curb self-sabotaging tendencies.

7. Observe your thoughts.

Persistent negative thoughts, my angels and guides have told me, are like a virus. And when these thoughts are directed at ourselves (“I can’t believe I did that!” or “What must he think of me?”), it can really wound and distort our self-perception.

Self-love action step: Fake it until you make it and feed your system with nourishing thoughts like, “My heart is always in the right place”; “I can give myself a pass on this one”; “I have something unique and special to offer the world”; or, my personal favorite, “I deserve the best!” Just like your body responds positively to being fed healthy food, your mind and emotions will respond positively to being fed healthy thoughts. This can affect the actions you take, the energy you give off, and what shows up in your life.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/boost-self-love?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171231

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Photo: @erikabloompilates

Exercise is a known mood-booster. It’s a healthy way to achieve long-term balance, get your blood flowing, increase oxygen levels, open up the heart, and lower stress. Instead of reaching for short-term fixes like sweets or a glass of wine, try exercise: It improves your mood in the now and going forward.

This series of moves combines inversions, chest openers, and stretches to the flight-or-fight muscles and fast-paced exercises to help boost mood all day long. Focus on finding deep and continuous diaphragmatic breath (allowing the space around the ribs to expand as you breathe in and fall back down as you breathe out) as you move through the exercises, for even more mood boosting. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to lower cortisol by aiding the cleansing of the adrenals.

You can do this series once a day or whenever you’re feeling like you need a pick-me-up.

1. Swimming.

Begin lying on your stomach with your arms extended overhead by your ears. Float your chest up into a long arch. Reach your arms and legs out to lift them off the floor while keeping your belly deepening in and up. Slowly begin to flutter the arms and legs like you are swimming. Inhale for four beats, then exhale for four beats for a total of 12 breaths.

2. Double-leg kick.

Begin lying on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your midback. Bend both knees to kick your heels toward your sitz bones. Keep the fronts of your hips pressed to the mat. Extend your legs straight as you reach your arms back and lengthen your upper spine into an arch. Turn the head to one side as you lower, alternating head turns with each rep. Perform eight times.

3. Telescope arms.

Lie on your right side with your arms extended forward on the mat at shoulder height. Slowly draw the left fingers along the right arm and across the collarbone to come in to a twist with your upper body. Let your gaze follow the left arm as it unfurls on to the mat to create a wide-open chest. Take deep, full, opening breaths.

4. Leg beats/ab scissors.

Start in a chair position with your hands behind your head. Lengthen your head, neck, and shoulders into an abdominal curl. Extend your legs outward to a 45-degree angle, or as low as you can keep your deep core connected and spine in neutral. Keeping the knees straight and the legs turned out, cross your thighs over each other in alternating beats 10 times. Repeat the set three times.

5. Dolphin.

Start in a forearm plank with your belly button pulled into your spine. Fold at the hips to reach your sitz bones up toward the ceiling to come into an up stretch position. Feel the length between your head to your tail. Allow your heels to drop to the floor for a calf stretch. Engage your abdominals to return to a forearm plank. Repeat eight times.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/at-home-workout-moves-for-when-you-need-a-mood-boost?utm_term=pos-3&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171230

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Photo: Cameron Whitman

If you’re feeling a bit more stuffed than you’d like, don’t fear—even registered dietitians sometimes overindulge! The difference? When they do it, they have an arsenal of weapons to fight off the bloated, sluggish feeling.  We reached out to steal their secrets.

Raw fruits and veggies.

Raw fruits and veggies! I make a point to limit anything packaged over the holidays since my meals tend to be less than perfect. You can find me snacking on a cold apple or sugar snap peas around the holidays!

Lisa Hayim, R.D., founder of The Well Necessities

Yogurts with berries and nuts.

If I’ve just had an indulgent night, instead of waking up miserable and full of regret, I wake up and set myself up for success with a clean, healthy breakfast. My go-to is Plain Siggi’s Yogurt with berries, raw nuts, and some high-fiber cereal. Skipping meals is never a good idea and is an unhealthy mental way to cope with indulgence. Not only does this breakfast give me the fiber, protein, and healthy fat I need, but it also helps me refocus my palate and mind to have a healthy day ahead!

Allison Aaron, R.D., founder of Nutrition Curator

A green smoothie.

A green smoothie! The combination of fruits, leafy greens, avocado, and other whole-food ingredients makes me feel instantly nourished, refreshed, and helps to detoxify my system. I also love to add in energy-boosting ingredients like matcha green tea powder and collagen protein.

—Cristal Sczebel, CHN, founder of Nutrition in the Kitch

I love my spa smoothie! This smoothie recipe contains lemons, greens, and cucumber, not only is it refreshing, but it detoxifies, decreases water retention and gets your right back on track first thing the morning after a big meal.

Kelly LeVeque, CHN, best-selling author and mbg class instructor

Fresh ginger tea.

I like to drink a strong, fresh ginger tea. It feels really warming from the inside—and it is! It helps boost metabolism and digestion. It feels instantly grounding and helps bring me back to balance when it’s getting particularly busy.

Kimberly Snyder, founder of the Beauty Detox diet and mbg class instructor

There is nothing more resetting to me than a kick of ginger. It wakes up all of my senses. If I am really feeling pokey, I will make beet-based juice with a boatload of ginger.

Kimberly Evans, R.D., founder of Whole Health Nutrition


Photo: Keilidh Ewan

Citrus. A plain bowl of a cut-up grapefruit or blood orange or even a little clementine out of the peel! It’s hydrating, which is helpful in winter (and with the abundant alcohol), refreshing, and super simple after lots of complex and typically starchy dishes.

Carlene Thomas, R.D., founder of Healthfully Ever After and Next Great Nutritionist winner


Water! Most indulgent meals are also pretty salty meals, so drinking a lot of water that night and the next day helps to cleanse the body and decrease bloating. Even though it sounds counterintuitive to consume more water to get rid of bloat (or water retention), it’s actually the best way to flush everything out of the system and start to feel healthier.

—Sammi Haber, R.D., founder of Nutrition Works NY and Next Great Nutritionistwinner

Bone broth.

I have to say a good mug of salted broth is my instant “feel-good” food. As someone with Celiac disease, the holidays mean risking sketchy ingredients that could possibly contain gluten. Broth’s healing power on the guts is perfect for making me feel my best.

Diana Rodgers, R.D., founder of Sustainable Dish


My favorite thing to instantly feel healthier is spirulina—that blue-green algae that has a host of health benefits including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and protein. This powder is easy to throw into a smoothie and makes me feel confident that I’m getting the vitamins I need, especially when I’m in the midst of the holiday buffet season.

Leah Silberman, R.D., founder of Tovita Nutrition

Herbal tea.

Herbal tea. I don’t go anywhere during the holidays without herbal tea of some kind. When I drink herbal tea after indulging in too much holiday food, I automatically feel less bloated and more balanced from the inside out.

Kim Suddeath, R.D., founder of Unrefined RD

Lemon water.

During the busy holiday season, I always reach for a cup of honey and ginger warm lemon water to feel instantly healthier during this busy time of year. At a time when sugar and salt consumption is at an all-time high, I like to help my digestive system perform at its best with plenty of water plus the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger and honey.

—Emily Kyle, R.D., founder of Emily Kyle Nutrition

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-to-eat-when-youve-overindulged?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171228

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Photo: Ivo de Bruijn

Human connection is more important now than ever. In this technological age, we’re more connected but disconnected—we literally have the world at our fingertips, but we’re not necessarily happier or healthier as a result.

Connecting with community is especially important for women. There are so many pressures on us to be “perfect” and “do it all” that we are often left feeling inadequate and comparing our accomplishments—and how we look, dress, and feel—to those of our peers, which is a recipe for unhappiness. However, when we can put aside our judgments and embrace our differences, we’re also able to support, uplift, and empower one another—in true You.We.All fashion. Spending time with a group of women, whether they’re old or new, can have an incredible effect on your health.

1. You’ll stress less.

Cortisol is our body’s main stress hormone, and it’s released when we’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This can happen in both the short-term (like during an argument with your spouse) or the long-term (for example, dealing with a stressful job). This is called our “fight-or-flight” stress response, and for years researchers thought that this was the only stress response mechanism. But new research shows that there’s actually an alternative stress mechanism—that is unique to women—called the “tend and befriend” system.

This alternative stress response is triggered when women can exercise their more nurturing side—like when they’re spending time with their children or families, calling up a friend, or gathering in a group of other women they feel connected to. Activities like this stimulate the release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which inhibits the release of stress hormones and even helps to calm the nervous system. In other words: Spending time with supportive women can increase stress resilience and soothe your nervous system. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

2. You’ll have an easier time staying motivated.

When it comes to eating well and exercising, we all know what to do, but sometimes it can be hard to follow through. But instead of feeling guilty when you can’t get motivated, try calling a friend. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, also helps to stimulate dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives our internal reward system and encourages us to learn, explore, and achieve psychological wellness. When it comes to behavior, it’s much easier to make healthier decisions because we want to rather than feeling like we “should,” which is exactly what dopamine helps us to do.

3. You’ll have more compassion for others—and yourself.

Something magical happens when women gather—especially those who are going through a similar health journey. It can be easy to get caught up and compare ourselves to others, but the truth is that no one’s perfect, and we all have aspects of our health that we struggle with! That is just one of the many reasons why I designed a six-week program that empowers women to identify the root causes of their health imbalances, while connecting them with women going through a similar experience. We often only think of success as us reaching our goals. But reaching our goals isn’t always a journey that comes in a neat little package. Social media is especially good at glossing over this fact and making us feel “less than” or “not good enough.” We always see the before and after photos, but what does life look like in between?

Gathering with our peers reminds us that we’re all on our own health journey. The path from point A to point B isn’t always linear—we eat healthy, we mess up, we get back on the healthy living train. Listening to how others progress and overcome obstacles is incredibly empowering because it reminds us that we, too, can achieve anything we want.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-health-benefits-of-having-kick-ass-female-friends?utm_term=pos-4&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171226

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Photo: @awoymatt

“I feel like I’ve been cruising all day and then bam, it hits me like a ton of bricks about 10 every night,” my 33-year-old patient Margaret told me during our initial consultation. To alleviate her bedtime anxiety that oftentimes left her a miserable, sleepless mess, Margaret’s former doctor had prescribed Xanax. He simply followed conventional medical thinking: To him, Margaret had a neurotransmitter imbalance that required medication to fix.

I get it: I’ve struggled with anxiety for years in the past, and it sucks. Chronic anxiety can feel debilitating, and using pharmaceutical drugs is one quick and very effective way to dial down that awful feeling. Trouble was that over time, Margaret needed to increase her dose get the same anxiety relief. While it somewhat helped calm her down, she awoke the following morning groggy and craving multiple cups of coffee to get moving.

As a doctor who helps women heal from autoimmune disease and balance their hormones, I take a different approach to anxiety. In functional medicine, we see anxiety as a symptom of something else. So rather than treat that symptom with medication, I look at what my patient’s body is trying to tell them. While anxiety can occur at any time, Margaret’s nighttime anxiety suggested her stress levels stayed up when they should be simmering down. Underlying that nocturnal anxiety was an imbalance of cortisol, a hormone your adrenal glands secrete.

Cortisol has a circadian rhythm: It should be highest in the morning and gradually taper throughout the day. When it doesn’t taper naturally, symptoms like anxiety occur.

To fix that, I began with Margaret’s diet. She often grabbed a large dark roast and a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt in the morning, sometimes worked through lunch, and snacked on what she thought were healthy foods like organic dried raisins. Her food journal revealed that when she skipped meals, her anxiety went through the roof. Because she wasn’t “a morning person,” Margaret hit the gym after work, yet by 10 p.m. she was “wired and tired.” When she couldn’t sleep and Xanax wasn’t kicking in, she would get up and browse social media on her phone or laptop.

Stress comes in many forms, and it often manifests as anxiety. For Margaret, it all piled up at night.

While your body typically handles stress well, almost constantly feeling overwhelmed and nervous can burn out your adrenals and create symptoms like anxiety. Numerous hormonal and metabolic imbalances besides cortisol can underlie these symptoms. During subsequent consultations, we discovered factors like HPA dysregulation (aka adrenal fatigue), insulin resistance (creating a blood sugar roller coaster when she skipped meals), and leaky gut affected Margaret’s anxiety. That’s why I recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner and why I developed a seven-day meal plan and recipe guide to balance hormones, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

At the same time, whatever time of day or night you struggle with anxiety, you want fast relief. Whether anxiety leaves you fidgety in the morning or tossing and turning at night, I’ve found these nine strategies can help dial down those feelings so you feel more centered and focused”

1. Reinforce circadian rhythm.

Finding her natural sleep-wake cycle dramatically improved Margaret’s anxiety. Here’s how to find yours. Upon waking, expose yourself to natural light. (You might need a natural light alarm clock.) About two hours before bed, wear amber glasses to drop cortisol levels and increase levels of your sleep hormone melatonin. Eliminate screen time—TV, laptops, phones, everything—about an hour before bed and take a hot bath. Then fall asleep in a completely dark room.

2. Nix sugar.

Margaret’s sugar sources were sneaky and included many “healthy” things like fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts and dried fruit. Yet any form of sugar is still sugar. Subsequent blood sugar spikes and crashes became a surefire way to increase anxiety. Margaret kept a journal to keep a consistent meal schedule and identify hidden sugar, including processed grains (that your body turns into sugar almost immediately). She also increased protein intake at every meal, which kept her full, steadied her blood sugar levels, and provided the amino acids to build neurotransmitters.

3. Meditate or practice mindfulness.

Find a practice that works for you. That could mean Transcendental Meditation, yin yoga, or deep breathing. Margaret spent five minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening closing her eyes and focusing on her breath. Without judgment, she sat mindfully with whatever she felt, observing her emotions and focusing on her breath.

4. Lower inflammation.

Beyond mental or emotional stress, chronic inflammation can imbalance your hormones, which creates a vicious cycle that keeps inflammation fired up and puts you in a state of panic. Margaret’s anti-inflammatory protocol included foods like wild salmon and freshly ground flaxseed as well as nutrients like curcumin and fish oil.

5. Move big muscles.

Your body wants you to move when you’re anxious. Big-muscle movement—stuff like jump squats, walking, lunging, and kickboxing—can dial down anxiety during the day. But exercising too late can have the opposite effect and wind you up when you should be winding down. I convinced Margaret to keep the gym to weekends and do a tough but time efficient 10-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine three days of the week in the morning.

6. Cut the caffeine.

This was Margaret’s biggest challenge since she loved her morning java jolt. But if you’re feeling anxious, giving your body a jolt is the last thing you need. You’d be surprised by how many women lower anxiety just by cutting that morning coffee. To transition, try organic green tea, which has a little caffeine but also calming L-theanine.

7. Address nutrient deficiencies.

Eating a restrictive diet for too long (including veganism or paleo) can put you at risk for deficiencies if you’re not being mindful about meeting your body’s needs. I also factor in nutrient-depleting medications—Margaret had been on birth control pill for years—that can manifest as anxiety. To cover the nutrients that she wasn’t always getting from whole foods, Margaret began taking a professional-quality multivitamin with additional vitamin D and magnesium.

8. Try calming remedies.

Nutrients that can positively affect your mood include magnesium, inositol, GABA, passion flower, lemon balm, and L-theanine. Margaret found that taking inositol powder with a small amount of melatonin about an hour before bed had a similar calming effect to Xanax, without the same side effects.

9. Fix your gut.

I realize this is more of a long-term strategy, but you can begin right away by pulling gluten and other inflammatory foods from your diet. If your gut is inflamed, your brain probably is too. Problems like dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), parasites, yeast overgrowth, leaky gut, H. pylori, and food sensitivities can impact inflammation and rev up anxiety. Mood disorders often begin in your gut because many feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin get manufactured there.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-time-of-day-you-get-anxiety-what-that-says-about-you

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1. It’s your brain

Habit-making is simply what our brains do. They’re designed to create neural pathways that provide the best results. So, when a desire triggers a reaction that in turn satisfies that initial urge, the brain takes note. The next time that desire arises, the brain calls up the circuitry that got the job done before. Part of this is neurochemistry, says psychologist and author Elisha Goldstein.

When an urge is satisfied—whether for soothing, attention, or any other response—we experience a rush of dopamine, the neurochemical associated with feeling good. After a few blasts of dopamine, we start to crave more, which then drives us to indulge in the triggering behavior, be it eating fast food, checking your phone, or lighting up a cigarette. Voila! You have a habit.

When we understand how a habit forms, we have a greater chance of catching it in the act, and take steps to make a more considered choice, says addiction psychiatrist Judson Brewer. Think about a nagging habit. Next time you feel moved to act it out, see if you can trace each step. Can you see how the habit reinforces itself?

2. Will, want, won’t

Recognizing the patterns of our habits—the trigger, the impulse, the brain’s learned way to satisfy that need—is just part of the process of unwinding them. There also needs to be an intention to do things differently, tied to something that deeply matters to you. Or as Stanford University health psychologist and author of The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal says, it means identifying the “I want” power that will reinforce your “I won’t” power.

“Willpower is the ability to align yourself with the brain system that is thinking about long-term goals— that is, thinking about big values rather than shortterm needs or desires,” she told TED blog. “So, I can feel the emotion, I can feel the craving, and at the very same time, I just make my awareness big enough to hold my commitment to make a different choice. Your ability to hold those opposites is what gives [you]willpower over time.”

Habit-making is what our brains do.

3. Remember HALT

When you get clear on your want—the deeply personal reason for wanting to make a habit change (hint: “I should” isn’t one of them)—then begins the work of strengthening your ability to choose differently (aka, willpower). But as anyone who has tried to diet or commit to exercise knows, saboteurs to our will abound. This is when psychologist Christopher Willard recommends employing the acronym HALT.


When you feel willpower slipping, Willard suggests, ask yourself if you’re feeling any of the following:

Hungry: Impulse control involves a complex dance between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, with a little help from other parts of the brain also involved in foresight and decision-making. Any shortage of calories will short-circuit this hub of activity, making it difficult to activate your willpower.

Angry/Anxious: When we feel angry or anxious our bodies can slip into fight-or-flight mode, where we start operating from the most primitive parts of the brain and nervous system. In this mode, some of the rational parts of our brain shut down, decreasing our ability to think and reason through things, or even consider the long-term consequences of our actions. When your emotions are running high, take a few slow, mindful breaths to quiet the nerves and activate your more rational brain.

Lonely: When we tell other people about a commitment to change a habit, we’re far more likely to follow through. Introvert or extrovert, we all need to strike a balance between solitude and socializing. Consider what is the best balance for you, and share your goals only as widely as you feel comfortable.

Tired: When we’re tired, our self-control and willpower slip away, an effect known as “ego-depletion.” (A poor night’s sleep can even knock you down a few IQ points.) Establishing healthy sleep habits is not only integral to your self-care, it’s also essential for your deeper goals.

illustration brain with hearts floating out of top

4. Try compassion

Research shows that when we criticize ourselves, it actually short-circuits the brainpower we need to unwind old habits and adopt new ones. Criticism (self or external) causes the same fight-or-flight impulse, limiting access to the higher functions of the brain, like being able to see the bigger picture, explains life coach and mindfulness instructor Carley Hauck. “Criticism makes us feel more anxious, more depressed, and more afraid of failure.” If you regularly tell yourself you “can’t” or that you’re not enough in some way, try using a more compassionate and understanding tone instead. Once we can be compassionate in our thinking, we can figure out the next best step to take toward the change we want.

5. See it, and believe it

Elisha Goldstein reminds us that mindfulness helps build the resilience to resist giving in to urges that foster unhealthy habits. Visualize the circumstances that typically trigger an urge. Notice what thoughts and feelings arise in the body. See if you can identify where you feel that urge physically, but don’t engage it. Instead, relax the body and tune in to your breathing, in and out. Staying with the breath, watch how the feeling grows, peaks, and eventually falls away. In doing this you’re training your brain not to engage the craving and to recognize the urge as impermanent. Start off with this visualization, and then bring it into the rest of your life.

Parting Thought

Over time habits can become so ingrained that we start to believe them, says author of The Here-and-Now HabitHugh Byrne. If you often lose your temper, you might tell yourself, “I’m an angry person.” If you smoke, you might say, “I can’t quit.”

But internalizing habits only perpetuates the behavior and limits your ability to see a different possibility. The next time one of your habit-derived identities pops up, challenge it. Ask yourself, Is this really true? Is it true that “I’m an angry person” or “I don’t have the willpower to quit”? Or is this a belief or storyline I’ve developed that isn’t solid, is not “me,” and can be let go of?

Source: https://www.mindful.org/5-ways-kick-bad-habits/

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Photo: Jacob Lund

When it comes to health risks, it doesn’t get much worse than loneliness and social isolation. Research shows that loneliness is strongly correlated with risk of heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and lower longevity overall.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a health risk that’s going anywhere anytime soon. The rise of technology and social media has given people a false feeling of connectedness through likes and comments and has led to unexpected phenomena like teens having sex later because they’re not actually spending time with peers (even when it feels like they are) and overall decreased social interaction.

“As a research psychologist, I have studied the impact of technology for 30 years among 50,000 children, teens, and adults in the U.S. and 24 other countries,” writes Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills in an article in the Wall Street Journal. “In that time, three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication, and smartphones. The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world—but communicate less with those who are in our real world.”

Happiness is other people.

Countless studies have been done on happiness over the years, and they point to helpful findings on how to get happier: Get more exercisegive back, eat in a way that nourishes your gutstart journaling. But the conclusion of 50 years of happiness research, according to Christine Carter, Ph.D., is that there’s no greater happiness than strong connections with people.

“Friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated,” she says. “People with many friendships are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping.”

Saying goodbye to the loneliness that is social media.

There’s no question that social media can act as a catalyst for connection. When we connect with an old friend online, that’s great for our happiness—but only if the interaction eventually happens offline in the form of a coffee date or even a phone call. If not, it will only make you feel lonelier in the end.

“While people often turn to social media for instant gratification or validation, connections formed online are typically superficial, and social media can have negative effects on mental health,” says psychologist Nathalie C. Theodore. “Scrolling through social media might make us feel isolated or lonely because we need the kind of support and intimacy that comes from connecting with people in real life. Spending quality time with friends and loved ones satisfies our human need for connection, boosts endorphins, and contributes to an overall sense of happiness and well-being.”

What to do if you’re feeling lonely.

If the news that happiness is other people comes as no surprise to you but you still experience feelings of loneliness, know that you’re not the only one. Quite the opposite: 43 percent of people report feeling lonely—and there’s a lot you can do about it.

“If you are feeling lonely, then take a step to boost your relationships. That could mean reaching out to old friends or acquaintances with whom you have lost touch, such as a text saying ‘How are you? Let’s catch up. Can we meet Tuesday for coffee?'” suggests Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., Author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. “Or it might mean reaching out to a colleague or neighbor. You might choose to invite them to an event (such as a local art exhibition or speaker). And if you want to meet new people, try finding a group of like-minded people. For example, if you love to cook, take a group cooking class. Or if you are passionate about the symphony, look for volunteer opportunities with your local orchestra.”

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-to-do-about-our-loneliness-crisis?utm_term=pos-2&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171224

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Photo: Otto Norin

Is there anything better than waking up Christmas morning to the smell of warm cinnamon wafting throughout your house? These make-ahead treats from healthy baking genius Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations cookbook are vegan and paleo, so people of all dietary preferences can enjoy a Christmas treat.  The protein and healthy fats will help keep your blood sugar stable, avoiding that inevitable 11 a.m. post-present crash—but they’re still sweet and indulgent enough to satisfy any child.  In other words?  Your Christmas breakfast is sorted.  Here’s how it’s done.  

Cinnamon Rolls

“I created this roll especially for everyone who is egg-free,” Danielle explains. She also offers nut-free substitutions (see Tidbits, below).

Makes 10 Rolls

Ingredients, Dough

  • 3 tablespoons white chia seeds
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 1½ cups arrowroot powder
  • ¾ cup raw cashew butter
  • ¾ cup finely ground golden flaxseeds
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons palm shortening, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grain-free baking powder (see below)

Ingredients, Filling

  • ⅓ cup ghee or coconut oil, melted
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • ⅓ cup light-colored raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ cups whipped cream (recipe below), chilled for at least 6 hours


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch pie plate or a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides of the dish.
  2. To make the dough, in a blender, blend the chia seeds and water until smooth and thick.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or using an electric handheld beater, combine the arrowroot, cashew butter, flaxseeds, coconut flour, coconut sugar, palm shortening, and baking powder. Add the thickened chia slurry and beat on high for 30 seconds until well incorporated. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb some of the moisture, then mix again for 30 seconds. Gather the dough into a ball, then flatten it into a disk. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper to a ½-inch-thick oval.
  4. To make the filling, in a small bowl, mix together the melted ghee, coconut sugar, honey, and cinnamon to make a thick paste. Spread the filling all over the rolled-out dough, then use the parchment paper to help roll the dough tightly, like a jelly roll. Gently seal the seam with your fingers, then reshape into a cylinder, if needed. Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 10 equal pieces each about 1½ inches thick. Place the cinnamon rolls cut side up in the prepared dish.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden on top and baked in the center. Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack, then spread the whipped cream over the top so it melts slightly. Serve immediately or leave at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

Make it ahead:

The dough can be made the night before and stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before rolling out. Alternatively, slightly underbake the cinnamon rolls, cool completely, then wrap tightly and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through. The whipped cream will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


For a nut-free version, substitute raw tahini butter or sunflower seed butter for the cashew butter. For a nut-free glaze, use the glaze for the Lemon Lavender Bundt Cakes (from the book) but omit the lemon and lavender.

Grain-Free Baking Powder

“Most commercial baking powders contain aluminum and cornstarch,” explains Danielle. “This homemade version allows you to control the ingredients and is quick to make.”

Makes about ¾ cup


  • ½ cup cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder


Mix together the cream of tartar, baking soda, and arrowroot powder. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

Whipped Cream

“Raw cacao butter gives this structure and causes it to melt in your mouth,” Danielle says. “Using expeller-pressed coconut oil here is important so the coconut flavor doesn’t overwhelm the taste.”

Makes 3 cups


  • 1 cup (about 150g) whole raw cashews
  • 1½ cups full-fat coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup melted expeller-pressed coconut oil, softened
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 ounce raw cacao butter, melted (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt


  1. Put the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Cover the bowl and soak for 4 hours.
  2. Drain the cashews and transfer them to a blender. Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, cacao butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend on high for 60 seconds or until very smooth. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 3 days.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric handheld mixer, beat the cream until it holds soft peaks when the beaters are lifted out. Serve immediately.
  4. The whipped cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; just rewhip before serving. It can be stored in the freezer, tightly sealed, for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then rewhip before serving. Leftover whipped cream can be used in coffee, to frost a cake, on top of pancakes or waffles, or spread on top of scones. I also love to dip fresh fruit into it.

Based on excerpts from Against All Grain Celebrations by Danielle Walker, with the permission of Ten Speed, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2016.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/healthy-cinnamon-rolls-recipe?utm_term=pos-2&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171223

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Photo: Kristine Weilert


My personal journey with migraines dates back to the early ’90s. I was working 12- to 18-hour days in my medical practice as a family medicine doctor. A throbbing headache with nausea would often strike late morning as I was seeing patients. My instinct told me these were tension headaches from the pressure of running my own practice and seeing as many as 30 patients a day. My self-prescribed treatment was to take half of a butalbital/aspirin/caffeine tablet (often referred to as Fiorinal) and a short nap in my office over my lunch hour. I would wake up feeling slightly groggy but relieved that the headache was better.

I knew my work-life balance was contributing to my headaches.

During this time I struggled to achieve better balance in my life, but it was elusive. In 1992 I was given the option of selling my practice and becoming part of a large family medicine group with a salary and a reduced work schedule of only four days per week. I took the job and thought my “stress” headaches would go away. Unfortunately, they continued. I had traded the stress of being a business owner for the stress of no longer having control over my schedule. I was booked with patients as often as every 10 minutes and struggled to stay on time while addressing everyone’s needs. Among the many health care issues I treated was migraine. In those early years of my practice, I did not enjoy seeing migraine headache patients, as treatment options were limited and often included a barbiturate like the bultalbital combination I was taking or a narcotic like hydrocodone. Treatments in a family practice setting often included a narcotic injection like Demerol and an anti-nausea injection. It was difficult to sort out which migraine patients were seeking narcotics versus legitimately suffering from migraines.

I discovered that my “stress” headaches were actually migraines.

In 1993, Sumatriptan injection for acute migraine treatment came onto the marketplace in the United States. This was a game-changer in the way migraines can be treated. Patients with migraine would come into my office, be given a 6-mg injection of Sumatriptan and would be 100 percent better in 10 minutes on average. Sumatriptan, unlike the injections we had been giving for acute migraine, was a non-narcotic, non-drowsy, and migraine-specific medication. I was thrilled and no longer dreaded seeing patients come in with a severe migraine attack. Sadly however, my own “stress” headaches continued. One day my head was throbbing, and I took an oral triptan. My headache and nausea were gone in about 45 to 60 minutes. I discovered that my headaches were actually migraines, too.

I listened to my body and learned to manage my migraines.

I began tracking my migraines and discovered that common triggers for me were hormonal changes, stress, travel, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and changes in barometric pressure. Over time, I was able to get them under better control. Here are the six things that finally helped me manage my migraines:

1. Moving my body.

For me there is no better way to reduce stress than to swim, bike, run, or play golf. Most mornings I exercise before going to work. It is not always easy to get up between 5 and 6 a.m. to get my run or swim in, but I feel so much more relaxed as I head into work and know that I am less likely to develop a migraine that day when I can move my body in the morning.

2. Changing my diet.

Instead of stopping at a fast food place to get a breakfast biscuit, I typically have a protein shake or yogurt with fruit to start my day. Lunch always includes protein and a generous amount of water. I like caffeine but try to limit myself to two cups of coffee per day, and I completely cut out diet soda.

3. Sleeping at least seven hours a night.

For me, this means trying to get in bed between 9 and 10 p.m. and getting seven to eight hours of sleep. I am much less likely to get a migraine the next day if I’ve had a good night’s sleep—the increased energy and alertness are just an added bonus!

4. Getting real about my stress levels.

Over the years I have slowly learned to say “no” to fitting in extra patients if I’m booked in my practice. I see fewer patients than I used to as I choose to now spend 30 minutes with patients coming in for follow-up appointments as opposed to 15 minutes. I brought on a younger associate to help with my workload and now take Wednesday afternoons off to play golf while she covers the practice. I have far fewer migraines as my workload has become more manageable.

5. Identifying triggers.

These include surprising factors like barometric weather change. Once I started identifying triggers, I learned that drops in barometric pressure could be a trigger for my migraines. I learned about a product called MigraineX and began using it to minimize a migraine attack during weather changes that are causing significant changes in the barometric pressure. I have the MigraineX app on my phone, and it alerts me so I can be proactive by inserting the ear-pressure-regulating device in my ears and having my migraine medication with me—just in case.

6. Treating my migraines early, with migraine-specific medication.

For me this means triptan, which I take orally at the first sign of a migraine. It is non-drowsy and gives me relief of all migraine symptoms including nausea, sensitivity to light, and headache pain. I have learned to always have my triptan medication with me in my purse so I can take it as early as possible. Typically, I am migraine-free in one hour after early treatment and can resume normal activity planned for the day.

Over the years I’ve learned that while migraine is a condition that may not be curable, it can be manageable with a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes and medication use when it’s necessary. My passion is to give my migraine patients their lives back—just as I now have mine.


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5 lessons I learned from Clark Griswold on how to have a Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas

I scramble around every December finding the perfect presents, baking perfectly blog-worthy goodies, and hanging perfectly themed store-bought ornaments onto my perfectly perfect artificial Christmas tree. I perfectly Christmas until I perfectly crash some time around 3 pm on the 23rd.

“Oh, Clark,” Tim chuckles as he sarcasticaly pats me on the back at the end of each exhausting stress-filled day.

It’s an annual tradition for Tim and I to pour a couple glasses of wine and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation alone together at the very beginning of every Christmas season. This might be the year I actually learn the right lessons from Clark Griswold’s holiday classic.

We all know that the movie opens with Clark tromping his family through the woods to find their Official Griswold Family Christmas Tree. When quizzed by son Rusty about why they are bothering with this effort, Clark responds they’re there because people have forgotten how to have a “Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas” and he’s going to make sure that doesn’t happen to his family.

I think Clark’s right. We have forgotten how to have a Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas. But, what does that actually mean? Do we even know what that looks like anymore?

5 lessons I learned from Clark Griswold on how to have a Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas

How to have a Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas:

1. Slow down. No, for real. I mean it.

There are more fun family traditions floating around on Pinterest than one family could ever possibly squeeze in during the 25 – 28 days of Christmas prep time. More traditions and activities does not a better Christmas make. There is no golden trophy for the mom who squeezes in the most festive fun in the shortest amount of time.

Decide what really and truly matters to you. Look at your calendar and make sure it is manageable. There is a difference between an activity you do with your kids and one you do foryour kids. If the tradition doesn’t allow you to spend more time with the ones you love most, is it really a family tradition?

Ask yourself who will be happy at the end of the activity. If you aren’t on that list, find a new tradition.

2. People matter more than things. 

Random acts of kindness and giving to charity are crucial elements of any Christmas celebration. But, what about taking a look at how the other holiday activities on your calendar involve people, too?

Look to the community outside your front door, how can you involve them in your festivities? It can be as simple as having a holiday breakfast at a coffee shop with a friend or as grand as organizing a cookie & hot cocoa tasting with the neighbors.

As you’re deciding which activities to keep on your calendar, always pick the ones that involve community over the ones that find you prepping a thing alone.

3. Embrace a perfectly imperfect tree.

I grew up with artificial Christmas trees. It’s been my family tradition forever. When I found this video by the folks at The Christmas Tree Association Board, I burst into tears.

It resonated with me because it perfectly showcases what tree decorating day usually looks like at our house: Tim struggling to wrestle the big plastic beast of a tree down the stairs from the attic and wasting time fluffing the branches and re-bending the trunk so it lines up perfectly straight while the kids are off playing at something else. It made me think–it is time for a change!

I’ve never had a real Christmas tree before, but we’re finally changing that this year. In September, I took a day trip out to the Cornett Farm in Sugar Grove, North Carolina to visit with a family of tree growers. I wanted to learn more about what goes into the heirloom craft of growing Christmas trees.

5 lessons I learned from Clark Griswold on how to have a Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas

I met the sweet folks of the Cornett family, the three generations that help run the farm– grandpa Clint, son Dale, and granddaughter Megan. My GPS accidentally landed me at the front porch of Mr. Clint’s home rather than the tree farm itself. While we waited for Dale’s crew to arrive and pick me up for the tour, I complimented Mr. Clint on the beauty of the valley. He beamed and proudly shared that, “It took God 6 days to create the world. He needed some place to rest on the 7th day so he created this valley.”

When I looked around at all the trees, I couldn’t help but believe him.

I spent the morning with Dale and his daughter Megan whose passion for their trees was evident.

Did you know it takes 12 years to grow a Christmas tree? This family is already preoccupied with  Christmases more than a decade away.

They spend every day of the year tending to and cultivating what will be the centerpiece of thousands of families’ holiday celebrations. It is grueling work through hot southern summers but their diligent care means that in a field of more than 1500 trees, I saw just one that didn’t look like it was going to make it. I can barely imagine the persistence and skill it takes to raise a crop for that extended period of time with such success.

I can hardly wait to take my girls back to the Christmas tree farm to meet the Cornetts and make memories picking out our own real tree this year — memories you miss out on making with an artificial tree. If you’re too far away to get to a real Christmas tree farm in your area, did you know that you’re supporting these amazing US farming families even when you shop at your local tree lot or big box store?

Megan talked about moving to Texas to be closer to her niece someday. When I asked how she felt about leaving the family business behind, Dale earnestly stepped in and answered that she’d run a tree lot there because “trees are in her blood.” I love that a faraway tree lot is considered just as much a part of the family business as driving around their own fields would be.

Now my only challenge is going to be picking out the just-right size of tree so I don’t pull another Clark and end up with broken living room windows!

4. Plant the seeds for memories with music and smells.

I cry with Clark every year when he finds the old video footage of his childhood in the attic. It’s not the visuals of the old photos that get me, it’s the music that plays in the background of the scene. Our brains are hardwired to capture and cling to the sounds and smells of the season.

Christmas music can get a bad rap for being overplayed and annoying. I love to make my own playlists with family favorites that are easier to listen to for weeks on end. Tim loves anything with a spiritual theme to it, the girls and I love the instrumental soundtrack to The Nutcracker, and we all have a few jazzy holiday favorites I add to the mix.

5 lessons I learned from Clark Griswold on how to have a Fun, Old Fashioned Family Christmas

This year, I’m thrilled to know I won’t have to burn a balsam-scented candle because I’ll have the real deal filling our home with the most magical smell of Christmas. Nothing beats the scent of a real pine tree. Now that I’ve seen the mountains where it grew, that scent will have whole new meaning to me. It smells even sweeter knowing the tree is 100% biodegradable and good for the environment, unlike the artificial trees that sit in landfills for decades. Who knew??

How can you channel the music and smells that mean the most to your family? Make them a part of your daily routine. Stream music gently over breakfast before school, simmer some cinnamon sticks on your stove top, and pause each day to breathe in that heavenly scent of your tree.

5. Feed your family, but don’t get trapped in the kitchen

This is my biggest downfall. I love to bake and create elaborate holiday meals for my family. Setting a pretty table brings me a festive sense of joy. But, this year I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m working hard on my cookbook, so the idea of cooking even more food for the holiday sounds more like a chore than a treat. The last thing I want is to slave away alone in the kitchen while my family enjoys time together somewhere else.

I’m going to slow down and make a very short list of the things I really want to make this season that will likely look like this:

  • 1 cookie baking day with the kids
  • 1 turkey for Thanksgiving and my mom will pick up the slack for the rest of the meal
  • 1 elaborate thing for the Christmas feast and the rest will be store bought or brought by family

We’ll be celebrating the season with popcorn for dinner on movie night and Chinese food on tree decorating day. Eating take-out off paper plates by the light of our freshly decorated Christmas tree sounds like the most perfectly perfect thing I can think of right now. As long as I’m surrounded by my family.

If you watch closely, you’ll spot Dale and Megan in many of them. I was standing behind the videographer when they were captured, such a fun day!

Source: https://www.peanutblossom.com/blog/2017/11/fun-old-fashioned-family-christmas.html/

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