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Archive for the ‘self-care’ 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

Ready to get your fall detox on?

Join my proven 14-day online Total Body Reboot & Cleanse and be on your way to an energized, vibrant and younger looking you!

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The single most important thing you can do everyday to effortlessly release weight (and keep it off), boost mood, balance hormones and support proper detoxification is to engage in daily “renewal rituals”.

Renewal rituals are activities that allow the body to release the negative energy and emotions from stress that actually build up in your body’s tissues. These are the emotions that leave you feeling depressed, anxious, craving sweets or junk, and holding onto fat.

 

If you don’t “process” these negative energies and stress build-ups, then your body will intuitively find another way. Nine times out of ten this involves seeking comfort from food (especially sugar and carbs), alcohol, cigarettes or other “drugs”.

Your body and brain are craving what I call a “rebooting”, and if you don’t provide the “renewal ritual” to clear the slate, you will find yourself emptying the cookie jar, ice cream container, bon bon box or whatever your comfort of choice might be.

The sugar will give a temporary lift, but then you will be back to square one, wanting more and more, and feeling horrible about yourself for your lack of “willpower”.

 

Over the course of the day our bodies, minds and spirits are like  sponges that soak up the messages, energies, emotions and psychic toxicity of all those around us. You may feel you do really well with your eating and self care until the end of the day when all self-control seems to go out the window. It’s not hunger or lack of willpower that knock you off the wagon. It’s stress!

 

A renewal ritual is something that connects you to your breath, body and soul. In holistic medicine, it is  known that when you connect to the soul or spirit, you release positive endorphins and reduce stress hormones. And excess stress hormones are what make your body hold onto fat and age more quickly.

I suggest you partake in a “renewal ritual” at least 1 time per day (ideally 2 times per day – morning and before dinner) since the endorphin boost lasts for only about 8 hours.

 

Your assignment:

 

Make sure to schedule some ME time for yourself daily.  Put it in your calendar, make it a priority. No one will do this for you, and yet you will be a better mother, employee, business owner, lover, friend, sister, basket weaver, whatever, if you commit to this ritual.

Try some meditation, Yoga, walking, deep breathing, prayer, dancing, bath time, tai chi, or whatever your spirit is calling for. Even just 5 minutes will do the trick, but 15 or 20 is even better.

 

Leave me a note below to let me know how it goes!

 

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Jump in now and get everything you need to take years of your body and renew your soul, for less than the price of most spa treatments.

 

With much love and inspired health!

 

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In honor of Spring’s Transformational Energy, I wanted to share this excerpt from a book (see credits below) that I found inspirational. Spring is a great time to re-evaluate, clean out and start fresh. Now, you can create and nurture what you want to grow.

Wishing you a beautiful April!

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Follow the three R’s: respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone every day.
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation of your life.
In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the earth.
Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Approach love and cooking with the same reckless abandon.

From Life’s Little Instruction Book: 511 Suggestions, Observations, and Reminders On How To Live A Happy And Rewarding Life by H. Jackson Brown, Rutledge Hill Press.

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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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With just a week to go until we reach the spring equinox, the air seems to be filled with a sort of pent up anticipation for what the sights, scents and longer days of spring will deliver. You may notice that awkward phase of lingering winter stagnation mixed with boyant spring lightness. You may be feeling ready to shed some layers, be they physical, emotional or mental. As always, I invite you to set big goals, but remember to take small steps in working towards health, balance and feeling your best.

I am currently on the east coast visiting family and spending considerable time with my stepfather who has just had a stroke. He is certainly recovering with aggressive therapy, but the road will be long and full of hard work. He will get there by taking one step at a time. For me this has been teaching (or reminding) me of both the preciousness of self-care to maintain personal health, and the importance of taking one step at a time even when goals may seem too large to be real.  It is so important to see that grand vision, but stay present with today’s action steps.

I am, of course, a huge believer in prevention. In feeding our bodies fresh, delicious foods appropriate for each individual; moving our bodies as they were intended to move; and just generally being proactive in creating a life that feeds and nourishes in every aspect. We are not here to be lived by life, but to live our lives to the fullest. This includes diving to the darkest depths and rising to the highest highs, and then beginning to find our middle ground where the pendulum begins to swing less extremely.

Spring has traditionally signaled a natural urge to cleanse or purge. Perhaps we clean house, clean our bodies, or feel compelled to make a fresh start in other ways. With the Devana Spring Cleanse Workshop coming up in just a few weeks, I thought it could be nice to offer some small steps to begin moving in the direction of the larger goal. Below are some ideas to begin to infuse a little detox into each day without being too overwhelming. I hope you can all join us for this year’s cleanse whether you come in person or participate online.

Daily Detox
1.    Choose organic. Choosing organic as much as possible is a sure fire way to minimize exposure to the many toxic chemicals that can be used in conventional farming. The higher nutrient content that is in organic produce also assists the body more effectively in its daily detoxification processes. Now sometimes organic just is not available, which means simply staying informed and getting a little savvy. Perhaps you can buy locally grown without pesticides. Or if you do buy conventional, be sure to stay away from these 12 most pesticide laden vegetables and fruits: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach and potatoes.
2.    Get your greens! Dark leafy greens are loaded with cleansing antioxidants and toxic cleaning chlorophyll. Cruciferous vegetables stimulate the production of the detox enzyme glutathione-s-tansferases (GST), which binds to heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides, and eliminates them through stool. If getting these in daily still proves a challenge, try incorporating a green food supplement like Greens First (http://GreensFirst.com/4550). Although not a replacement for the real deal, it is loaded with beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals making it a wonderful “food-based supplement” that can benefit even those eating their greens.
3.    Pre-digest” your food. Our bodies work hard to break down the foods that we introduce into our systems day in and day out. When we blend or juice our food, these processes help break down the nutrients to make them more available. The result is more energy for other things! Remember though, that you should still chew even this liquefied food so that your digestive system understands this is food, not drink. (For a great offer on a Vita-Mix 5200 see my recommended products page.)
4.    Nourish your liver. In Chinese medicine, the liver gets the focus in the springtime, meaning we need to give this hard-working organ extra attention and care at this time. There are certain food and herbs that can be used to gently and effectively cleanse and boost the liver. Foods and herbs to try include: Artichoke and artichoke leaf herb, dandelion root and leaf, green tea (as a beverage or supplement), milk thistle seed, and turmeric root.
5.    Cleansing morning beverage. A simple ritual to try is 6-8 oz. lemon water in the morning. You can have it warm or room temperature. With stevia or straight. Lemon water in the morning gently stimulates digestion and elimination and helps alkalize the body. Be sure to rinse or brush your teeth after, because it can be a little acidic on tooth enamel.

These are just a sampling of easy and proactive ways to support you body in what it wants and needs to do. Remember to set your goals, get support, then step one foot in front of the other.

Blessings and Love!

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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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I subscribe to the alumni newsletter sent out by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition, which is where I received my training as a holistic health counselor. This school is quite unique in their approach to health and thriving in life. While most nutrition-based programs focus only on what people eat, IIN teaches about the importance of honoring the whole person. This means considering career, environment, spirituality and our relationships. These are the parts of our lives that feed our souls and give us our light. If you are eating the most pristine diet, but lack joy, love and quality connections with others, most likely your life may feel empty and you will not be truly healthy.
It has been shown that babies who are not touched will get sick and die even if they receive enough food nourishment! This means that although we certainly need to make sure to feed our children and ourselves the best food possible, without vitamin L it may not matter.

Below is an excerpt from the IIN newsletter with some interesting evidence on the importance of love:
“A University of North Carolina study found that hugging lowers blood pressure. The University of Iowa found that cancer patients with satisfying relationships had more white blood cell activity than those with few social connections. A study of Harvard students showed that only 25 percent of those who felt loved by their parents developed a major illness later in life, while more than 90 percent of those who didn’t feel loved developed a major illness.”

So, while it is absolutely important to ask the question of “how do I choose to feed my body?” it appears the question “how to do I choose to feed my spirit and heart?” is equally vital to our wellbeing.
On an early morning walk down to the ocean the other day, I passed a church with a placard out front that read “Welcome. Are you happy?”
How simple, and yet profound! Ask yourself this question, and if the answer is “yes” keep doing what you are doing. If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know”, perhaps it is time to assess what you may need to change to get your “yes”. The road towards change can feel a little uncomfortable, but the rewards are generally great.

So, as we contemplate and enjoy this holiday that is all about love, I invite you to consider and connect with the food that feeds your soul. Resolve to strengthen your primary relationships or create new ones.  Whether you are married, in relationship, living with friends or family, or single, reach out and let them know what they mean to you and make it a point to include this kind of nourishment into your daily life.

Quality connection (vitamin L) is our most potent nutrient!
Love heals all ills!
Share the love and be happy
!

A little mythical animal lore to share:

“Legend says that Hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.

Like Hummingbirds, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and celebrate the joy of everyday.

The Hummingbirds delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

Chocolate Love Dip

1 1/3 cups raw almonds (soak them 6-10 hours for a smoother consistency) or 2/3-cup raw almond butter
1 cup almond milk
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder or raw cacao powder *
2/3-cup dates, pitted

Blend nuts, almond milk, vanilla, cocoa powder and dates. Add more milk if necessary. Use as a dipping sauce for fresh strawberries, fruit slices or just your fingers. Serves 10.

For the smoothest, most luscious consistency I recommend the Vita-Mix 5200. Click here for free ground shipping and a 30-day risk free trial.

Optional, but delicious: It has been shown that peppermint has aphrodisiac qualities, especially for women. Try adding one drop (just one!) Young Living peppermint therapeutic grade essential oil to the blender towards the end. Visit http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com for info and ordering.

* Click the link below to order top quality raw cacao from Sunfood Nutrition
Organic Raw Chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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