5 Easy Habits to Get Healthier Now

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Tongue scraping

This is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that Western medicine is beginning to acknowledge as productive to oral health. Did you know that a coating of residue (including toxins and yucky bacteria) on the tongue is what leads to bad breath? You may have learned to brush your tongue, but I have bad news for you. All that does is push the bacteria around. Tongue scraping eliminates it. Getting rid of the coating on the tongue also leads to greater sensitivity of the taste buds; meaning, your food will be tastier. Wouldn’t it be nice to be satisfied with less food? Less food = less unnecessary weight on the body. We all know this. The process of tongue scraping is so quick and simple, there’s really no excuse to not do it. You simply take each end of the tongue scraper in your hands, start at the back of the tongue, and add gentle pressure, scraping from back to front, rinsing in between. Repeat about 5 times. I’m telling you, your mouth will feel cleaner. You can buy a tongue scraper here.

 

 

Switch to Whole Foods

 

No, I don’t necessarily mean the grocery store. You don’t have to drive to another town to find a Whole Foods market. A whole food means a food that is in its complete form, with no additions. Ingredients: 1. An apple is a whole food. A carrot is a whole food. An almond is a whole food. I like what author Michael Pollan says: “eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” What he’s saying is, avoid stuff with a million ingredients. Actually, more than 5 ingredients and you’re going down a road leading to nothing good. If this is too difficult for you, at least start reading the Ingredients on your box o’ food, and avoid anything with the words “hydrogenated”, “palm oil”, “carrageenan”, “maltodextrin”, and “aspartame”. That’s a solid place to start.

 

 

Drink Organic, Fair Trade Coffee (ditch the K-cups)

 

If you’re like most Americans, you drink coffee. If you’re like me, you have a slight obsession that borders on unhealthy. Nevertheless, we’re not here to judge. Coffee is delicious. However, I encourage you to do the environment a favor and stop using the disposable K-cups in your Keurig. I’m not saying to throw out your Keurig…that would be wasteful. Instead, buy a couple reusable, refillable little cups. Buy a bag of high quality, organic coffee. You’ll find that the coffee will last a lot longer, you’ll save money, and you’ll feel good about helping the planet. You can buy some on Amazon here.

Better yet, get yourself a French press.  You’ll feel like a badass, and the coffee honestly does taste better.  I got this adorable one that I take to work with me – it’s enough for one cup (there are larger ones as well).  Check it out here.

 

Begin a Daily Gratitude Practice

 

Get a cute little journal. Find 5 minutes to yourself either in the early morning or before bed. Grab a cozy spot, a cup of tea, and light a candle. Create a sacred space, and get to writing. Write what you’re grateful for. If you’re having a difficult time and grasping at straws, start with something very basic and primal. “I’m grateful for shelter and warmth”, might be a nice a place to begin, particularly if you live in New England like me, where the winters are bitter cold. “I’m grateful that my body carries me through the day and moves me from place to place.” It might seem silly, but it has been shown that gratitude and joy are directly correlated. This is no coincidence. The more we acknowledge all that we have, the more satisfied and fulfilled we can feel.

 

Incorporate Yoga into your Life

 

If you’re a seasoned yoga, or know the basics, try to fit 30 minutes in a day. No need to go to a yoga class, or pop in a DVD. Just roll out your mat and flow through 10 sun salutations, surya namaskar A (see photo below for instructions). If you have no clue what I’m talking about, click the menu at the top of this website and go to “private yoga instruction”, and schedule a session with me (if you live in CT). Even if you don’t live nearby, feel free to email me and I’ll give you some personal recommendations. So, 10 sun salutations, followed by 10 dirgha breaths, followed by 10 minutes of nadi shodhana, and finally, 5 minutes of meditating on the breath.

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Sat Nam,

Steph xo

How I Stay Fit

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A friend I grew up with, a gorgeous young mother, asked me today if I have any other workout regimen other than yoga, and how do I stay fit. This opened up a can of worms, at least in my own mind 😉 To answer that question: I mostly practice yoga and walk our 2 doggies for exercise. A jog once in awhile is a nice supplement, but that’s pretty much my cocktail of exercise right there – yoga and walking.

So, I decided it might be helpful to provide a list of tips that I use for maintaining balance and a healthy lifestyle, without restricting myself. Disclaimer: this is by no means a comprehensive list! But I’ll throw out some ideas that help me find balance, and add more in future posts as they become available to my memory (haha).

Keep an abundance of healthy foods in the house.
This may seem self-explanatory. But if you allow yourself to become ravished, chances are you’re going to go for the quick and convenient, which often means fatty, sugary, salty snacks. I always have oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit, peanut butter, carrots, apples, and more on hand in my house so that I have the opportunity to fill up on healthy stuff. Alternately, and this is important, do not keep crummy foods in the house! By crummy foods I mean processed gunk. Packaged cookies, cakes, and snacks are typically a no-no in my house. Just check the ingredients. If there are many ingredients you can’t pronounce, or high-fructose corn syrup, or trans fats, chuck ’em. Or don’t buy them in the first place. If you have a sweet tooth, try making oatmeal with bananas, cinnamon, and some pure maple syrup. Another favorite of mine are smoothies! Or make your own dessert from scratch. Pinterest has tons of amazing recipes for healthy desserts made with pumpkin, applesauce, greek yogurt, black beans, etc. Give them a whirl!

Use Cinnamon.
I don’t know how I missed the boat on this for so long, but cinnamon is truly a miracle spice. Cinnamon is my new bestie. I put it on EVERYTHING. Well okay, maybe not everything. But truthfully, I use it in my coffee, chai or spiced tea, on cereal, oatmeal, rice cakes topped with peanut butter & banana, apple slices, you name it. It is so warming and comforting. It tastes delicious. And I haven’t even told you about the benefits yet. It has been known to stabilize blood sugar and reduce sugar cravings, and may be effective in treating Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar. It can be a remedy for headaches and migraines. In Ayurveda, it is believed to aid in proper digestion. It fights E.coli and inhibits bacterial growth, which means it’s a preservative. Honey and cinnamon together are said to alleviate arthritis pain. Simply the scent of cinnamon can boost memory and cognitive function. Isn’t that unbelieveable?! I know, I really nerd out when it comes to nutrition. But seriously. Start using cinnamon.

Eat Mindfully.
This is one of my favorite practices, and quite frankly it’s probably the most potent for stabilizing weight and staying fit. Most of us have busy lifestyles, I totally get that. But eating without paying attention to our food is wreaking havoc. I invite you to at least try mindful eating once. Maybe start on a weekend morning when you can actually sit and enjoy breakfast. Begin by sitting with a long, tall spine. Posture is important. Next, observe the food in front of you. Really look at it – colors, textures, elements. Where did the food come from? Did you prepare it yourself? Think about where the fruit/vegetables/eggs came from. Are they local? Think about all the effort it took to get this food to your plate, from cultivation to transportation, to you buying it, chopping it, etc. Now smell your food. Really take in the scents wafting into your nostrils. What feelings do these scents evoke? And now taste your food. Chew it slowly. Take sips of water or juice in between bites. Be with your food and the experience of eating it. Give thanks. This is a simple practice of mindful eating. It makes such a difference to eat this way, than to gobble our food down…sometimes not even remembering what we consumed. A consistent practice of mindful eating will naturally allow you to eat less, and actually be more satisfied.

Nix Liquid Calories.
The primary beverage we drink should be water. And a lot of it. Like, more than you thought possible. Our bodies need and want it desperately. If you hate water, try flavored seltzer. There are some pretty delicious flavors out there…black cherry is my personal favorite. If you need to have beverages with calories, let that be a special treat. Like a cup of hot cider or chai in the fall, hot cocoa in the winter, an occasional glass of wine, a freshly-made margarita with only tequila, lime, and triple sec (sour mix is the sugar devil!), or whatever your poison is. Just let it be in moderation. (Hmmm, where have I heard that before?) Seriously though. I like beer, trust me. It takes awhile to wean off. But now I can have one beer and be truly satisfied.

Well my friends, that’s all for now (this post is getting quite lengthy). I do have many more ideas and practical ways to stay healthy and balanced, I’ll post more soon!

Namaste, Jai Bhagwan, Om Shanti –

Steph
xo  (P.S. for more fit tips and to follow my journey/be in the journey together, enter your email address below – thank you!)

4 Day Cleanse

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Happy Monday friends! I hope you’re ready to kick Monday in the rear and keep that positive momentum going throughout the week. Buds are budding, flowers blooming, and warm weather on the horizon. Spring is the perfect time to cleanse your body, mind, and spirit. So to honor myself and rid it of the toxins I’ve likely accumulated from the long winter, I’m doing a 4-day kick-start cleanse.

I’ve done this cleanse before, and will tell you exactly how to do it and where to find more information so you can always have this effective method of healthy eating at your fingertips. It’s gentle, and fantastic for beginners or those who have never tried a cleanse before. Disclaimer: you WILL be hungry. But if you space out the allotted foods throughout the day and drink a massive amount of water, you’ll do great and 4 days will go by in a flash.

Credit: I found this cleanse in a book by Dr. Ian Smith (you may remember him from the TV show Celebrity Fit Club) called The 4 Day Diet. He calls it the “Induction Phase” in his book, which you can find on Amazon or at your local bookstore. The first time I tried this cleanse, I lost 8 pounds in 4 days and felt brand new. It really works if you follow it precisely. This time, I will be making some slight modifications, and will let you know the result of those adjustments and whether it’s as effective.
4daydiet

DAY 1
-2 cups of coffee. Limit sugar to 1 packet and cream or milk to 1 tsp per cup
-2 cups of raw or cooked green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard)
-1 cup of freshly squeezed lemonade with no more than 1 tbsp sugar
-1 tbsp psyllium husk powder*
-4 servings of fruit (1 apple, 1 banana, ½ cup berries all count as 1 serving)
-One 6-oz low-fat or fat-free yogurt
-1 medium-size green salad (about 2 cups – veggies only) with 3 tbsp low-fat dressing
-1 cup of cooked beans (chickpeas, lentils, etc.)
-1 ½ cup of cooked brown rice (measured after cooking)
Unlimited water or seltzer. Be sure to drink 1 cup before each meal
Exercise – 40 minutes of cardio (can break up if needed with a 20 min session in am and 20 min session in pm)

DAY 2
-2 cups coffee
-2 scrambled eggs or egg whites (can add ¼ cup veggies if you want)
-1 cup of freshly squeezed juice (I substitute Naked juice I got at the grocery store since I don’t have a fancy juicer…sad face)
-3 servings of fruit
-1 large-size (3 cups) green garden salad with 3 tbsp low-fat dressing
-2 cups of green leafy vegetables
-1 cup of vegetable juice from the cooked vegetables
-1 cup of cooked brown rice
Exercise – 40 minutes of cardio

DAY 3
-2 cups of coffee
-One 6-oz low-fat or fat-free yogurt
-3 servings of fruit
-2 cups of green leafy vegetables
-1 cup of freshly squeezed lemonade
-1 tbsp psyllium powder
-1 medium-size green garden salad with 3 tbsp low-fat dressing
-1 cup of cooked beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc
-1 cup cabbage soup**
-Unlimited water or seltzer. Drink one cup before each meal.
Exercise – 40 minutes of cardio

DAY 4
Unlimited fruit of any kind
-1 cup of green tea or regular tea
-1 large-size (3 cups) green garden salad; add garlic, and 3 oz. of walnuts, cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds; also 3 tbsp low-fat dressing
-1 cup of freshly squeezed carrot juice (can substitute pear, apple, or orange juice)
-1 tbsp psyllium husk powder
-2 cups of cooked brown rice
-1 cup of cabbage soup**
-2 servings of cooked or raw vegetables
Unlimited water or seltzer.
Exercise – Rest Day

*Psyllium husk powder can be found at Vitamin Shoppe. It can be mixed with water or lemonade. I recommend trying to get psyllium-enriched cereal instead. I believe Whole Foods carries it. I personally hate the powder version, it can kind of be difficult to get down just because of the texture. But it definitely works and is known to mop up and remove toxins in the body.
**Cabbage Soup:
1 tbsp oil 3 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium onions, diced 1 ham hock (can omit if vegetarian)
1 medium green cabbage, shredded 3 tbsp wine vinegar
1 ¼ quart chicken broth ½ tsp sage
3 small potatoes, cubed ½ tsp thyme
In a large pot, heat the oil and cook the onions until softened. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, ham hock, vinegar, sage, and thyme. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper as desired.

So there you have it. The 4-Day Cleanse. I will let you know how it goes…wish me luck!!

Why Go Veg?

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What do the above celebrities have in common? Other than being insanely rich, of course.  If you guessed, “they are all vegetarians”, you’re right!  Others include Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brandon Boyd of Incubus, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton, Natalie Portman, Alanis Morisette, and Fiona Apple, to name a few.  How cool is that?  I mean, Andre 3000?  He may be the coolest example of a vegetarian.

I was a vegetarian for many years, including my high school years.  I have to be honest with you, the reason I became a vegetarian wasn’t because of animal rights, or environmental issues.  Frankly, it was because I had an eating disorder, and becoming a vegetarian allowed me a valid, respectable excuse to cut out many foods. 

Now that I’m older, and have recovered from my eating disorder, I can focus on what I believe in.  In an earlier post, I wrote about how important it is for us as human beings to stand for something.  BE what you believe in, rather than just talking about it.  So because of that, I’m going vegetarian again.  I’m not going to get into the cruelty of animals, because many of us already know so much about that.  But, if you’re interested, I highly, highly recommend watching the 2008 documentary Food, Inc.  Be prepared for some extremely disturbing images.  It’s real life, and it changed mine.  If you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian or changing your eating habits, I also highly recommend Michael Pollan’s books In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

I texted my boyfriend about going vegetarian, as I would for anything I’m really jazzed up about.  His reaction, which typically would be incredibly supportive and proud, was actually one of disappointment.  Now, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because I know he loves his chicken wings, and bacon, and steaks, as most men do. 

My question for you readers, especially the vegetarian ones, is how do I stay strong in my convictions without seeming all high and mighty?  I’m not pushing my beliefs on anyone else, but I want to be able to have an eloquent but firm answer for when people find out I don’t eat meat, or that I’ve transitioned to a vegetarian lifestyle.  Please comment, I’d appreciate your thoughts and personal experiences!

xo Steph

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