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Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

Just in the nick of time to celebrate National Yoga Awareness Month . . .

Enjoy this simple yoga pose to tone your belly, energize your mind, open your lungs, cleanse your body, lengthen your spine . . . And so much MORE!

xox Ana

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Ah, sugar, sweet sugar.

It seems so benign and docile as a white powder would, but as a former sugar addict, I know what it’s capable of.

And a lot of it’s not that pretty.

Now, I don’t like to demonize foods, but if we look at the fact that most sugar is not a food, but a highly refined chemical produced from a food, I feel a little better about sharing its dirty truths. : )

“Mood-damaging, personality-bending, health-destroying, confusion creating – Research reveals that repeatedly overconsuming sweeteners, dessert foods and quickie carbs wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels, overstimulates insulin release, triggers inflammation, and could contribute to more than 150 health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, severe PMS, failing memory, mental confusion, Candida, sexual dysfunction, infertility, wrinkles, acne, depression, anxiety, migraines and early aging.” (excerpted from Sugar Shock, by Connie Bennett)

Whew! No wonder I felt so awful.

So rather than focusing on the negative, let’s move on to 6 easy steps to Stop Singing the Sugar Blues, shall we?

  1. Reduce or eliminate coffee – Yup, I know the coffee drinkers out there are not too happy about this step, but the truth is, the ups and downs of caffeine (especially from coffee), include dehydration and blood sugar swings, causing sugar cravings to be more frequent. Try DandyBlend or  Teechino, a great rich drink you brew just like coffee.
  2. Drink water – Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration, Before you go for sugar, have a glass of water and wait to see what happens. Bonus tip: add a drop of flavored stevia to satisfy the sweet tooth without upsetting blood sugar.
  3. Eliminate fat-free or low-fat foods – I ate tons of these in the height of my sugar head days, but these (fake) foods contain high amounts of sugar to make up for the lack of flavor and fat. Eat full fat whole foods and you will find you need less to satisfy.
  4. Eat sweet vegetables and fruit – They are sweet, healthy and delicious. Try winter squash, carrots, beets, yams, onions, parsnips and lower sugar fruit like berries, apples and grapefruit.
  5. Get exercise – Start with simple activities like walking or yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. Moving your body helps release feel-good hormones, which means you will be less likely to look to sugar.
  6. Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways! – Your body does not biologically need sugar, but it does long for hugs, time with friends, time outdoors, workouts, massages, etc. When life becomes sweet enough itself, no additives are needed!

If you are really struggling with sugar and cravings, check out my 10-week Body Transformation Virtual Group Coaching Program, which focuses on getting the sugar out and the sweetness into your life, so you can enjoy a slim, stress-free and energized body and life. Learn more here.

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Pura Vida

According to Wikipedia:

Pura Vida (POO-rah VEE-dah), used by Costa Ricans since 1956 [1], literally translated means “Pure Life.” Contextually, it means “Full of Life” “Purified life”, “This is living!”, “Going great!” It is used as a greeting, a farewell, and to express satisfaction. The expression was taken from the mexican movie “Pura Vida!”, which came out on February 29th 1956 (director: Gilberto Martínez Solares).

Some foreigners view the phrase as an expression of a leisurely lifestyle, of disregard for time and wanton friendliness. However, Costa Ricans use the phrase to express a philosophy of strong community, perseverance, good spirits, enjoying life slowly, celebrating good fortune, whether small or large.”

My purely Costa Rican experience began with the 2 plus hour taxi to the first destination, Playa Guiones in Nosara. The taxi driver, who spoke decent English, was eager to teach us some Spanish. Our first phrase was “pura vida“.

“When someone asks you how your trip was, say “pura vida””, he smiled. “When they ask you how your day is, say “pura vida”. When you wake up in to the sunrise, “pura vida”. When you watch the sunset over the ocean, “pura vida”.” Well, you get the picture. Pura vida is the way of life, and this way of life rubs off very easily.

We then continued to go over favorite foods – pina, aguacate – and  few lovely poetic phrases, but “pura vida” was what really struck a cord. Ahhh, enjoyment of and savoring of a natural way of being.

So many Costa Ricans (native and transplants) just oozed with genuine love of living and all living things. Environmental concern, fresh organic foods, connecting with nature and community are just part of life there.

The literal translation of pura vida – pure life – is what I look to create. This is not in the monastic sense, but in the sense of living with clarity, sincerity, joy, health and abundance of spirit, all of which leads to manifesting the right people, paths and experiences.

My trip seemed to be blessed with such people, places and experiences from the exhileration of surfing and ziplining to the simple majesty of the sun setting over the ocean. One seemed more inclined to live by the sun. Most of my companions and I were ready to quite by 9pm and ready to rise as the sun did, at 5:30am. And, of course if the sun did not wake you, then the howler monkeys surely would! Their eerie low roar became comforting and something I looked forward to.

On one afternoon I ended up scheduling a massage with a woman who did something called “harmonic healing”. This was a combination of several massage techniques coupled with sound. She began by whispering the words “inner grace” several times, then proceeded to make mesmerizing tonal sounds through out the rest of the session. Such a powerful experience to have the someone really draw you in towards this inner grace.

What I found myself enveloped in was a sense of peace, a joy of life and calm and serenity that I vowed would follow me back to my home in California. I write this to allow each one of you to follow your hearts and pursue your personal pura vida. Better yet, allow it to find you.

Allow kindness to be your default.

Meditate on the beauty that surounds.

Swim in the ocean.

Swing from the trees.

Listen to the animals.

Chant from the mountain tops.

Do something that scares you.

Wake up early to watch the sun’s rays bless us with another day of life on this planet.

Physically or energetically hug your fellow humans.

Talk to the plants.

Tread lightly and give abundantly.

Share your gifts.

Namaste,

Ana

p.s. To savor some deliciously pure creations a la Costa Rica, please see my newest blog Blended Bliss.

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Most people find that they may suffer from the occasional “funk” or bad mood. For others this funk can root deeper and present itself as mild to severe depression. All of us feel sad or anxious at times, and truth is this is fairly normal as long as it is not a long-term condition. There are so many factors that contribute to our mood and outlook, but often just by seeking balance through nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, attitude, choosing social and media environments, and taking appropriate natural supplements even the more chronic conditions may be healed.
There was a time in my own life when I believed that I had a “problem” with depression. I was not happy with myself, had a very bleak outlook on life, cried a lot, and often felt like I just did not belong. . . anywhere. At the time, antidepressants where not being passed out like candy as they are now, so I managed to avoid going down that path. Instead, I began to make changes – small changes, over time. A few years passed and all of a sudden I realized I was no longer depressed! I still had my “off” days, but I was balanced and motivated. I focused on all the good things in life and could function at a social level. What this taught me was that our symptoms are a wake up call, not something to be covered with a Band Aid.
Scientists are now uncovering some of the root causes of depression and much of this is pointing to deficiencies that lead to cell atrophy in the brain. So, although a prescription may help the symptoms, it comes with side effects and does not address the root issue. Below are some simple, safe and effective dietary and lifestyle strategies to help boost your mood and let you feel your inner glow.

1.    Breakfast for the brain. What are you feeding yourself after your nighttime fast? This is a critical time for giving the body’s cells some real food. Processed white flour, sugar, coffee or nothing at all can lead to mood and brain crashes within a few hours. It is important to go for unprocessed or complex carbohydrates and some form of protein. These provide fuel for the brain and stabilize mood as well as provide the building blocks for feel good chemical messengers, like serotonin. Experiment with what works for you. For some, a large breakfast of an organic egg omelet (make sure you eat the yolk as it is what contains mood-boosting EFA’s) or hearty steel cut oats may fit the bill. For others a smoothie with a high quality protein powder works. Not the breakfast eating type? Try a scoop of green powder and a scoop of protein in water and shake. I like Dream Protein and Greens First http://GreensFirst.com/4550. They taste really good and contain very high quality ingredients that mix well in just water.
2.    Get some rays. By going outside and exposing ourselves to sunlight we not only promote the body’s production of the brain food vitamin D, but also lack of sunlight will not signal the production of the correct levels of melatonin in the body. Try taking a daily 20-minute walk in the morning or early afternoon to reset the body’s production of melatonin so it increases, as it should, in the evening.
3.    Eat fat. Regular consumption of the right kinds of fats is critical to mood health. This was clearly demonstrated in a study by Anita S. Wells, MD, of the University of Sheffield, England. Wells asked 20 healthy men and women to eat high- and low-fat diets for several weeks. People following the low-fat diet developed greater feelings of depression, dejection, and anger. In contrast, those eating high-fat diets had improvements in mood. Now this study did not make a distinction between types of fats, but there is extensive research in support of consuming omega 3’s in particular. One study found that people who eat fish or seafood (our best source of dietary omega 3’s) less than once a week are one-third more likely to experience mild to severe depression. Although I feel strongly about getting as much of your nutrition from food, with our seafood populations being threatened by over fishing and pollution, this is one instance where proper supplementation is critical. A marine source of omega 3’s will give you the most usable form, but it is becoming evident that fish and krill oil are not our best choices environmentally and therapeutically. Please click the link to learn about your best choice for omega 3 supplementation: http://www.naturalnews.com/moxxor_health_benefits.asp?ID=ana.  Other good food fats to include are avocados, cold-processed coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds and olives and their oil.
4.    Get your B’s. B vitamins, particularly folate and B12 play a key role in regulating mood. If you choose refined flour products over folate-rich fresh leafy green vegetables you are most likely deficient in this key nutrient. Be sure to have a significant portion of your vegetables raw or lightly cooked for the highest nutritent value. Other fresh vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa are also good sources of B vitamins. Because it has been found that adults lacking adequate B12 are 70% more likely to suffer from depression, it is vital that you incorporate organic eggs, spirulina, lean red meat, fermented dairy and fermented vegetables in the diet. You may need to supplement.
5.    Move your body regularly. Evidence shows that people who exercise on a regular basis tend to be less depressed and anxious. This seems to be because of the ability of exercise to regulate neurotransmitter function much like an antidepressant, but without the side effects. The key to reaping these benefits, say experts, is to do it regularly and often. So, get a buddy, put it on your calendar and find what form of exercise inspires you.
6.    Choose positivity. This can take some practice, but it is so very important. Surround yourself with other positive people whenever possible, turn off the news, read and recite positive affirmations and pencil in something joyful into every day. Be sure to see a positive mindset as a journey rather than some unattainable destination.
7.    Oils to the rescue. Good quality, therapeutic grade essential oils can be an invaluable tool because their effects can be immediate. High-grade essential oils (Young Living is the brand I know, love and use http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com) go directly to the limbic system of the brain. Because this is the most basic part of the brain, we do not need to think or process this information, just simply absorb it. Our sense of smell has a profound affect on our state of mind and emotions. Some of my favorite Young Living mood boosting oils include: Joy, Valor, Bergamot, Jasmine, Lemon, Frankincense, Passion and Hope. Use these in a cold-air diffuser, apply them to your feet, temples or wrists, add a few drops to massage oil or body lotion, the applications are endless!

Go ahead and give some of these suggestions a try and see if the corners of your mouth don’t begin to curl up.

Affirmation from Louise Hay:

“Today I begin a new habit of really loving and caring for myself.”

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Budget-minded Healthy Living

“Health is wealth”, says the old Chinese proverb, and I have to agree. When we have our health we can live vibrantly, joyfully and creatively to best draw in the abundance that we need and desire. As the current economy may be posing challenges for many, it is really an opportunity to re-evaluate unsustainable personal and global systems.
In this article, I wish to address the issue of staying healthy without breaking the bank. As you will read below, there are many ways to eat well, live, play and work within a budget. It may take a little initial effort, but the rewards will be well worth it!
One note: I packed quite a bit of information into this article, it may be something to save and reference as needed. Remember to always take one step at a time.

Explore new ways of getting your needs met.

Can you darn your socks instead of buying new ones? Can you shop for whole food ingredients instead of packaged meals? Can you prepare your own foods instead of getting take out?
This aspect really encompasses all the other subjects below. Essentially, the first step is to be open to creating new habits, new activities, and new ways of thinking that will begin to support you in better ways than the old.

Freedom, not Fear

This is another fundamental guiding principal. Keep reminding yourself that you have the freedom to make choices, one of the most critical being to choose joy/love/optimism over fear.
This takes practice and discipline especially when the media and others are drowning in doom and gloom, but there is always opportunity and light to be had. Make conscious decisions about what you listen to, whom you spend time with, etc. As I said in the first principal above, these require some rewiring and perhaps discomfort, but ultimately will lead to freedom.

Simplify your lifestyle

Do you need to have the biggest, newest TV with 200 channels (180 of which you do not watch)?
Is it serving you to try to keep up with Jones’?
Can your family survive with 1 car instead of 2, or 2 cars instead of 3?
Can you include some well-rounded vegetarian meals to cut down on the grocery bill?
Can you make your own snacks instead buying pre-packaged ones?
Can you get a home filter instead of buying bottled? (The environment will love you for this as well)
Can you take a family hike instead of paying a premium at the movie theater?
(See free entertainment below)

Enjoy Free (or almost free) Entertainment

Hiking, beach walks, dinner parties, picnics, pot lucks, games around the fire, bike rides, bird watching, borrowed books and movies from the library, connecting with distant loved ones with Skype, mealtimes with friends and family, etc. These are all free or low cost ways to not just be entertained, but be interactive and just plain active.
Studies show children are overweight and getting heart disease and type 2 diabetes by age nine. Both children and adults are losing a connection with the earth and the abundant fun to be had in our natural world. Simple face-to-face communication is weakening for many.
Why not schedule time outdoors with family and friends. Be entertained by each other, stay fit, stay healthy and save your money.
When you do just want to curl up with some good ol’ passive entertainment, most public libraries have growing collections of VHS, DVDs, video games, books, magazines, etc. Many counties will even send specific requests from other branches to your’s.

Shop the local farmer’s market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Farmer’s markets and CSA’s have grown rapidly in the last decade. Here on the Monterey Peninsula we are blessed with four year-round markets per week. Although I keep myself plenty busy, I schedule in my weekly visits to the markets as a way to nourish and support my health and well-being. It is a chance to enjoy some community, take in the sights and smells and get some of the best prices on the freshest organic produce around.
If time just does not allow, consider joining a CSA. This is essentially purchasing a share of a farm. In return you receive a weekly box of fresh goodies. There are usually some options around delivery vs. pick-up and different box sizes to suit household needs. Just visit http://www.localharvest.org/, enter your zip code and instantly find out what is in your local area.

Educate yourself on drug and antibiotic alternatives

Herbs, plant medicines, essential oils and good quality supplements and super foods are usually less expensive and definitely less destructive when taken mindfully and appropriately. It is important to seek the guidance of an educated professional and discuss options with your traditional or alternative health care provider.

Below is a sampling of resources to get your feet wet.

Books – Click the titles below for more information:

The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs

Asian Health Secrets: The Complete Guide to Asian Herbal Medicine

Herbs and information:

Mountain Rose Herbs (mail order bulk herbs and more) has plenty of educational books and resources
Click here

The Best Day Ever
This is a membership site run by David Wolfe, a leader in the world of raw foods and herbal healing, that includes a massive media library, a vibrant and helpful community and a panel of health and longevity experts.
Click here

Young Living Essential Oils – the most healing oils on the planet!

These are the only essential oils I recommend therapeutically. Try Abundance, Longevity or Valor just for starters.

http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com

Young Living essential oils testimonials:
http://www.oil-testimonials.com/

Practice prevention to avoid disease – Evaluate diet, exercise, lifestyle, thoughts, environment, etc.

Rather than sticking with unhealthy habits simply because it feels easy, begin taking small steps every day to support and maintain ideal health and happiness. By making small investments now, you can save yourself from the resource depletion that serious disease or hospitalization can bring. The reality is that most disease can be avoided. It is only the catastrophic accidents that are truly beyond our control (or are they?).

Grow your own food and herbs

With a little dirt, preparation and care growing your own edibles can be a fulfilling and economical way to go. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the cost of seeds is cheap, cheap, cheap!
Do a little research into local growing conditions, seasonal crops and what is easy to plant and you can be on your way. It can help to do a communal garden to get some help.

Bring your own bags

Many natural grocery stores now honor those who bring their own re-usable bags. I have taken this to a new level and have recycled any plastic bags that make it my way for as long as I can. Once they are “dead” I will use only my cloth, mesh, silk, etc.
Whole Foods will give you a 5-cent refund (hey, every little bit counts) and Trader Joe’s will give you a ticket to enter their weekly raffle to win a bag of groceries.
In some European cities, you will be charged if you do not bring your own bags.

Buy in bulk

It is almost always cheaper to buy in bulk than in smaller amounts, especially when it comes to grains, nuts, seeds, beans, herbs, and even mail order organic meats.
At your natural foods store opt for the bulk section over prepackaged foods, although I do recommend price comparing as this is not always true. Also, check out case discounts on other items like beverages, oils, canned goods, etc. If a case is too much for your household, consider going in on a case with one or more other households.

I also find some good bulk options online and have listed some favorites below:
(Click each item for more information):

Nutiva Organic Shelled Hempseed, 5-Pound Bag

Larabar Fruit & Nut Food Bar, 1.8-Ounce Bars (Pack of 16)

Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa, Traditional, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

Quality over quantity

Opt for nutrient-dense foods, a fewer number of high-quality supplements instead of a high amount of cheap (ineffective) ones, and evaluate the “things” you really need.
Nutrient-dense foods are foods that give you a lot nutrition in a smaller volume and caloric load. Examples include raw nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables, grains, organic meats and eggs. When you fill yourself with these foods, you need less because they give your body what it needs. Consequently, you will crave less if you are eating appropriately for your needs.
I am a believer in searching out a select few quality supplements that are readily absorbed and supply real nutrition. Again, you will need less and get more. One of my newest discoveries is Moxxor, a concentrated omega 3 that is almost 300 times more potent than fish oil and processed in a sustainable manner. Please see http://www.naturalnews.com/moxxor_health_benefits.asp?ID=ana
For more info on recommended products see my recommended products page:
https://devanawellness.wordpress.com/recommended-wellness-products/

Try buying clothes and other goods from a good second-hand source if appropriate or even do swap with friends. Second hand stores can have some gems, so they can be worth visiting to do a sweep every now and again. Also, you may be sick of your sweater collection, but perhaps your friend has commented on liking what you have. If you are of similar size and taste, a swap could freshen both your wardrobes.

Cook at home

The less you eat and out and the more you prepare at home, the more you save. It is that simple. Always prepare enough for leftovers, so that you can . . .

Pack a lunch

This is just an extension of the above. You will not only save money, but generally those who pack a lunch from home make healthier choices when lunchtime rolls around.

Try a “stay-cation”, home spa day or mini-retreat

If you really set this up right, it can be quite restorative. A “stay-cation” is basically a vacation that you take at home. You carve the time out of your schedule just like any other vacation, but you do not worry about travel and arrangements. You can just plan on lounging and enjoying your home and book collection or take in the sights from an out-of-towner’s perspective. By choosing a stay-cation, you may even use the money you save to book a daily massage or other indulgence.
A home spa is like a mini stay-cation and can be done in a few ways. You may choose to purchase some products and do-it-yourself (facial, bath, body scrub, etc.), invite a friend to pamper each other, or hire a therapist to come to your home for a massage.
Another option is a one-day retreat. You can prepare your food in advance and devote the whole day to yoga, meditation, journaling, walking and relaxing. This is a very restorative, expanding and economical option.

Become a distributor or affiliate

Support your own health, share health with others and potentially earn additional income (or at least pay for your products). There are many health product companies who offer affiliate or direct sales opportunities. The one caveat is that not all the products are of a high quality. In my research, I have come across a few who have shown themselves to be of the utmost quality in products, manufacturing, business practices and environmental guidelines. Some of these I have chosen to become affiliated with and some I simply recommend. The wonderful thing about such a set-up is that you can have access to some of the top health products and if you share with others there is the opportunity to create a little or a lot of extra income. It is helping yourself through helping others.
Amazon Herb Company – http://amazon-herb.amazonherb.net/Default.aspx
Young Living – http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com
Moxxor – http://mymoxxor.com/ana

E3 Live – Click Here

Elements For Life – http://www.noblelifeelements.com/

Practice yoga/meditation/prayer

Whenever we are faced with change or uncertainty, there is nothing like connecting to spirit, our bodies and our breath. I admit that I am biased, but these are invaluable tools.

Invest in renewable resources and green businesses

I am not a financial advisor, but it would seem that to invest in the future could only give a handsome return in the end. There is a very real shift happening towards greener technologies and business practices that extends beyond just the counter culture. A worthwhile exploration at the very least.

Be generous

You cannot receive what you do not give. It is important to remember this even if you feel strapped. Remember that there are others who literally have nothing or very little. Give of your time, resources, energy, spirit, etc. There is always a return on such generosity.

Be Grateful

To be grateful for what we do have opens us up to receive more of what is working. By focusing only on lack, tends to bring more of the same. It is so simple and worth a shot

And most importantly . . .

Be Well,

Ana

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