I have the fortune of coming across many amazing people in my life. These connections remind me that health, as we all know, come from many avenues and only creates a complete model of health from the combination thereof. On a recent occasion I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing woman who has inspired me and offered me a perspective on health that I forget about and yet it is a part of me and most likely you.
I wanted to share her perspective and ideas as a means of adding to the many ways in which health comes to us.
Live inspired: Be radically alive
As beings in constant communion with the world, all we need is to let our experience rush in and fill us up – to live richly in all the details and textures. The innate joy in the fullness of your presence is there, waiting for you to feel it. When you live in touch with the deep wellspring of lifeforce pulsing within and align with your soul purpose, you glow from the inside out. This is what it means to live an inspired life.
When what you do aligns with what you want and where you’re going, good things happen, as if the universe opens up to you. But all too often, I find people stuck in a fog of unknowing, often with ideas that need a place to land – or a plan for success.
“You always go for what you want. You’re so clear,” my mom would always say to me. “How do you know?” she would ask.
“I just know,” I would reply with little explanation, a shrug and a smile. The clarity was a full-bodied knowing – and a sense of the pull coming from where I was headed, bodying forth into a future that was calling me into it – even if I didn’t have a mental understanding of what that notion was.
Any artist will tell you that the impetus for creation comes from an ambiguous place and unfolds before them in the process – but it’s about trusting that first core gut intuition that creates space for great art. But you have to be listening and ready for the messages.
Knowing what you want requires clarity of thought and the ability to sit with yourself, to know yourself in a way that your heart’s song sings loud and clear, and you can trust your inner compass. It starts with getting in touch with everything in life that lights you up and turns you on and makes you come ALIVE.
Whenever I feel stuck or lackluster in the ‘zest for life’ department, I spruce things up with a subversively simple exercise of fearless creative play to let my whole self love what it loves by making a collage or vision board. When I look back through the big vision boards that I’ve made, I see notable themes – no matter what magazines are at my disposal. Each time, there is more refinement and more of a reflection of where I’m currently at – and what my hopes for the future are at that moment in time and space.
Since 2009, I’ve been keeping a manifest journal – starting with a black hardcover book with blank pages – and pouring into it all my thoughts, visions, dreams, fragments from the day, inspirations, to-do lists and mini-collages. This process has its own sort of magic that lends itself to the personal process of transformation – and the planting bed for grounding ideas in the world. In this way, the whole book (or set of books) becomes one continuous manifesting exercise.
The vision board process is nothing new. It is, however, a wonderfully accessible medium for fearless play in the creative space that can reconnect you to all that you love in the world. And if the intentions behind the experience are set, the process is fuel for igniting positive change. As a montage of clippings from magazines of images that grab your attention and text that speaks to you, vision boards can be a reminder of what lights your fire, can make you smile and light you up from the inside out.
Whenever I need to create something, to shift energy or get out of my headspace I always turn to the stack of magazines until I have collected enough images to make play in the pages of my journal. I’m always amazed at what happens just by giving myself time to listen to that inner voice. When I look back over the seemingly random collage of text and image fragments, I read it like a soul map with a regained sense of affirmation and clarity – and most often new insights that create a positive shift towards what I want or where I want to be.
Like life itself, the process of creating is what is important and can be used to facilitate a myriad of results.
– a space for creative play
– to shift or spark creative energies
– to create space for focusing on intentions
– to realign with what lights your fire
– as an exercise in starting and finishing a creative project, fearlessly
– to see just what the soul has to say in the space between…
There is much magic in that space of play and creativity if you allow your self to bask in that space often and give yourself the time to feel what makes you come alive as you tune into the rhythm of your own heart. As Howard Thurman said: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Your best life ever is waiting for you to step into it, to be filled with it and to dare to be radically alive. What are you waiting for? I put together The Inspiration Book to jump-start the process. You can download it here.
As I was speaking with one of my long time clients and friend, I realized that not everyone really knows about all the amazing things that Jack LaLanne brought to the world of health and fitness. He, my client, still runs about 5 days a week for an hour plus and just celebrated his 68th birthday. He too is a picture of fitness.
I told him about some of the amazing feats Jack did for his birthdays and he was astounded to learn that at the age of 70, Jack:
- Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.
This was just one of many!
In an attempt to inspire you yet again, I am offering you the following video:
Last, if you would like to see the list of feats Jack LaLanne accomplished, GO TO HIS WEBSITE NOW!!
To your health and happiness!
I was first introduced to health and exercise when I joined a Jack LaLanne Health Spa at 16 years old. In looking back I really don’t know what made me do that but it did start me on the path to health I have been on every since.
Over the years I would reflect on Jack and his teachings. As I have gotten older I have tried to motivate other people in considering to choose health as an alternative way of living. I had dreams of teaching health in corporations in hopes that people would see that eating well really isn’t that difficult and yet the rewards are great. I even emailed Jack LaLanne last year to see how he inspires others. I was told to just keep on the path.
I was struck, in going to his website at that time, by how he essentially was preaching the same basic nutrition advice 50 years ago that is still true today – eat real food and exercise regularly. Times really haven’t changed in what is healthy for us and yes it does take discipline but is so worth it!
So in honor of Jack and a life filled with the desire to motivate others to live a healthy full life, I salute him. Here are just two videos showing just how amazing he really was…
Suffer from joint pain?
Do you have chronic inflammation?
Want to lose a few pounds?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you might want to read on…
If you have read any of the articles in my blog, chances are you know about how I feel about carbohydrates – especially simple ones. By ‘simple’ I mean those items that have been processed to create a product such as scones, pasta, breads, cookies, cakes, and more. Let’s face it, these aforementioned foods are yummy and addictive! I know as I go through periods of time when I crave them just like the rest of America.
Usually I am pretty good at avoiding them on any regular basis but occasionally I slip. This last weekend was a perfect example. I was visiting my mother in California for a long weekend. She has been recovering from Ovarian Cancer and is doing amazingly well for an 89 year old woman – has regained 23 pounds, is back to all her social events, going to the gym and even walking her ‘old 2 mile route’ that she did for years. Yes, she is a trooper!
While in California, at the 1 mile marker of her ‘route’ lays a small town called Sierra Madre. On the main drag is a coffee shop called Bean Town. Well, they have the best cranberry scones ever. Of course a visit to see mom always involves a day of going to Bean Town but this time it got out of hand. We ended up going there all three mornings in a row! Now I did vary one day and have their cinnamon coffee cake instead but… well you get the picture.
By starting each day out this way, lead to wanting more carbohydrates throughout the day. Consequently I ended up eating bread as well as crackers rather than just the usual huge salads. I even had a cookie one day! This is a lot of these types of food in a very short period of time for my body. Normally having one of those things every week or two wouldn’t really make a difference but the quantity and frequency played havoc on me and it got me to thinking how this has such a huge impact on peoples’ health.
By the time I got home late Monday evening, my joints started screaming. By Tuesday morning, when I did my usual hike up Mt Sanitas, my knees were so cranky it took the pleasure out of the hike. At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on but then it hit me… all those simple carbohydrates!!! I had already started back to my usual eating habits of vegetables and protein so was on the right track yet it actually took until this morning (Friday) to start feeling normal again. So let’s look at what happens…
First, simple processed carbohydrates are acid producing. By this I mean that when they are broken down in the body, they create ash that is of an acid nature. Not only is all disease found in an acid environment but so is inflammation. Our bodies are always healthier in an alkaline environment and yet our tendency is to eat foods that are acid producing including all the refined foods I’ve already mentioned. Now the foods themselves do not cause the inflammation but rather it is our body’s response to them when they are broken down. Foods that have a high glycemic index and consequently convert into sugar quickly alter our body’s normal hormone balance. This imbalance can result in an overproduction of such things as C-reactive protein (CRP); a protein designed to be produced during acute stages of trauma, infection and inflammation. Although we need CRP produced in acute phases we certainly do not need it to be continually produced. Just this one protein has a huge impact on the health of our cardiovascular system. And this is just to name one of the many negative results of eating refined foods.
The picture gets even more involved as those same yummy foods lead to an increase in weight. When we eat foods that break down quickly into sugar our body MUST burn it off rapidly or it is converted into fat, especially belly fat. This belly fat in turn causes an increase in the production of CRP by the liver and the inflammatory response is again increased. As you can see it is a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately as our society gets more and more addicted to these foods our bodies become sicker. We begin to become accustom to our joints hurting. We think it is normal to carry around an extra 5 or 10 or 50 pounds of body fat. We tend to accept all of this as a normal process of aging.
Well for me, I don’t buy it! When I am eating a healthy, high alkaline diet and staying away from process foods most of the time, I feel SO different. I feel energetic and happier. My joints don’t ache. I don’t have an issue with excess weight because I am utilizing the foods I eat so they aren’t storing as fat in my body. Overall I am more vitalized.
You shouldn’t buy it either! I hope you will consider altering your diet to see how all this affects you. It won’t happen overnight if you’ve been eating poorly – even just part of the time – but it will change. I encourage you to give it a good 3 or 4 months and keep a journal of how it has created positive changes in your life.
As for carbohydrates, think of using vegetables as your main source. Vegetables, especially leafy green ones, not only contain a healthy amount of carbohydrates but they contain so many nutrients and antioxidants. They are our vitality foods. Our cells will be healthier, our hormones will stay more balanced and generally our bodies will stay younger. Of course there is also the benefit of keeping your weight down by eating vegetables. Just read Jim’s story here:
“I’m a 55 year old male. Since I was 25 I have worked out a minimum of five times a week for at least one hour per session. When I was younger, that meant running 40-50 miles per week. Now my workouts involve running three times a week and lifting weights 3-5 times. My total mileage is 13-18 miles per week. This has been my regime for the past ten years. I never worried about what I ate as my workouts kept me at my high school weight of 168 pounds. It’s true that the past decade has seen a pound or two increase in my weight each year. New Years Day 2010 was my epiphany, as the scale read 180+. I cut out all the non-vegetable carbs the first two weeks of this year and have limited my carb intake to less than 20 grams a day (all right so I cheated on Easter Sunday, I indulged with pastries at brunch and of course a Cadbury egg). Today I weight 168. I sleep better, my digestive system works much better and seeing the scale at 168 is a huge mental boost.”
So think about your diet and see if you too can’t offer your body the many benefits of eating foods that are more nourishing to your entire system. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Eat a minimum of 70% of your diet from the alkaline side of the food chart. For a copy of the chart, download this pdf.
- Eat at least 80% of the time healthy; saving the ‘not so good’ foods for special occasions rather than daily.
- Make a journal or chart of not only what you eat now but how you feel so you can track the changes. This is a great motivator when you are falling back into those bad habits.
- Even if you think you eat well, you might be surprised just how often you ‘cheat’ and eat some of those processed foods more regularly than you ever thought.
- Last, be gentle with yourself. It is not an easy thing to change addictive behaviors and even easier to allow them back in. When you fall off the health wagon, note it but don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply get back on the right track and move forward.
I hope this has motivated you to make choices and changes. You deserve it!
My long time friend Jeff Berman is a fantastic cook. Actually he and his wife Jan were the ones that inspired me to start exploring more gourmet cooking in the 80’s. Jeff’s dishes are always delicious, easy to make and nutritious. This dish is no exception. I made it for a picnic on Saturday and it was a big hit!
In addition to Jeff being a creative cook, he is a creative guy when it comes to the home and gifts. He just launched a web-based store dedicated to interesting and affordable gifts for the home and travel. You might want to check out his store here!
2 ½ C Fresh Orange Juice, divided
2-4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp Dried thyme
1-1 ½ # Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 whole
½ C Chicken Broth
1 ½ C Couscous
2 Green Onions, finely chopped
¼ – ½ C Dried Cranberries
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
3 TBSP Rice Wine Vinegar
3 TBSP Olive Oil, good quality
S & P To taste
In a large sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, garlic, shallot and thyme to a boil. Add the chicken and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken breasts. Reserve the liquid.
In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup orange juice and the chicken broth to a boil. Remove from heat and add couscous. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, fluff couscous with a fork and then add the green onion, cranberries and red bell pepper. Mix well.
Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the couscous mixture.
Meanwhile take the reserved liquid (from the chicken) and boil until reduced to half. Remove from heat and add the vinegar and olive oil. Toss into the chicken/couscous mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Note: The couscous portion can be made a day ahead. The chicken is best if made the day you are serving.
 Jeff says fresh juice makes the dish much better than when using pasteurized. If you are lucky enough to get it fresh it is worth the extra cost. You could also try squeezing your own but that might take a lot longer.
 I used fresh as I have it growing in my garden. I used about 1+ TBSP.
I have been traveling a great deal to Pasadena, California to take care of my mother this year. She has been battling cancer which I am glad to report seems to be in remission!
While I have been there I discovered there was a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays near where she lived. I was so delighted to find it since I am totally addicted to our Boulder Farmer’s Market and rarely miss a Saturday during season. I did notice when I went to the one in Pasadena that they had a big sign saying the produce was local but didn’t mention organic. Consequently I made note of which stands specifically mentioned organic or ‘not sprayed’ as in the case of one of the strawberry stands and purchased from them. It made me appreciate the Boulder market even more as I assumed it was totally organic.
This week my friend Rowan Rozanski from Jay Hill Farm, where I buy all my greens every week, sent out an email on the entire organic subject. I was sad to learn that not all is as seems, even in our Boulder Farmer’s Market. I have asked her to share the following with you so as to better educate you about your local farmer’s market. I hope you find it as enlightening as I did!
This last bit is… well… a rant. Feel free to skip it, but I think this is something that applies to anyone who tries to buy local and organic. :)
One of our long term customers, Christine, recently asked:
“On a completely different note, I read an article this morning about California Farmers’ Markets where the vendors are supposed to be growing their produce organically— but do not. There’s simply not enough oversight to ensure they are meeting organic standards. How does the Boulder Farmer’s Market ensure that all vendors are selling organic produce?”
She was referring to this article, which ran in the Huffington Post last week: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/california-organic-food-s_n_640654.html
She is not the first person to ask this question. While the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, as my father and other early board members envisioned it, was to be an organic and local vendor’s dream, much of the dream has disappeared for the sake of plentiful vegetables and fruit. While still local, there’s very little focus on Certified Organic growers. Many of the new vendors over the last few years have in fact been the antithesis of what my family and I stand for.
Please understand, this is not a rant about the market, it’s a problem of perception throughout many communities in America. Farm stands around the country have been known to prevaricate as well. “Family”, “Local”, “Home Grown” are all phrases that mean absolutely nothing. It is ILLEGAL to claim your produce is organic unless you are certified by the USDA and the state of Colorado or unless your yearly farm income is less than $5,000 a year.
Many of the farms at BCFM are NOT organic. ASK! When you hear a sentence like “we don’t spray”, that means absolutely nothing. You don’t have to spray nitrogen, miracle grow, or any other substance to add it to the soil, ground water and produce. Once of my biggest gripes with the market was that you can only use “Organic” on your sign if you’re certified, but nothing says you have to say “not organic” Most people simply assume it’s all good, and go for the lower priced items that are not organic. This is unfair and harmful to those of us who are certified. Yes, our prices are higher, but there’s a reason for that!
The organic certification process is over 60 pages of documentation, almost $1000 a year, and requires a 3-5 hour inspection by a certifier once a year. We buy organic seed (NEVER treated) when available at a high (sometimes more than double) premium, and make sure our compost and nutrients meet federal standards. It’s a grueling, expensive process that is necessary, and worthwhile, for your peace of mind and ours. *sigh*
If you would like to see what farms in Colorado ARE certified, you can check at:
http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1216022437979 (click on certified organic producers).
Please understand that this rant is not to inveigle you into buying more produce from Jay Hill Farm. Buy wherever you want! It’s so that folks understand the difficulties faced by those of us who give our word to you and your families that we are doing our best to grow locally, sustainably, and with as much care for the earth and our fellow man as we can.
Thanks for your understanding and time!