Monday, August 31, 2015

The Autumn Smoothie

What better way to glide easily into the next season than combining fruit from the tropics with the colors of fall?

The Turmeric Smoothie   

Used for over 2500 years in India, Turmeric has had a notable reputation in the culinary world for being the elite source of curcumin, an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, antibacterial, and antiviral agent. 

A relative of the ginger plant, this spice and medicinal herb, commonly used in many sweet and savory dishes, also helps flush out dietary carcinogens, boosts liver detox and treats depression.

Enjoy this delicious smoothie and the multiple benefits of turmeric.


-1 cup hemp or coconut milk
-1/2 cup frozen pineapple or mango chunks
-1 fresh banana
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric (can be increased to 1 tsp)
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ginger
-1 teaspoon chia seeds
-1 teaspoon maca (optional)
Process these ingredients in a blender until smooth

Monday, August 24, 2015

The 7 Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

A slew of scientific studies suggest that mindfulness meditation offers some powerful holistic health benefits. And while researchers caution that no one study should be interpreted as a prescription for treatment, mindfulness is increasingly being considered a viable complement to conventional health care. Here are just some of the ways it can help you:




1. Stay Focused

Learning to sustain one’s attention through mindfulness seems to improve overall ability to focus and maintain attention during everyday tasks. In a 2012 study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers evaluated individuals with no previous exposure to meditation. Some of them received three hours of mindfulness-meditation training and were asked to meditate for 10 minutes each day for up to 16 weeks. During tasks that involved attention to detail, those who meditated showed more control over executive functions involving attention than non-meditators. The research suggests that even “low doses” of meditation training can significantly change neural function related to processing conflicting stimuli.


2. Manage Anxiety and Depression

In a 2014 meta-analysis, Goyal and his partners at Johns Hopkins found that mindfulness meditation might be on par with antidepressants in treating depressive symptoms. In a 2014 study in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, researchers examined 15 participants with no prior meditation experience. Over the course of just four days of mindfulness-meditation training, participants experienced significantly less anxiety. Essentially, mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety by improving mood and enhancing cognitive control mechanisms.


3. Reduce Stress

Research suggests that mindfulness-meditation training not only reduces stress and anxiety following a stressful episode, but that practicing it can actually help mitigate stress in the moment. In a 2013 study, Kirk Warren Brown, PhD, a psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues reported that mindful individuals showed lower brain arousal in response to highly unpleasant images compared with controls. This suggests that mindfulness changes how stress-related emotion centers in the brain are activated. As a result, not only do these brain areas get less active when provoked, but the reaction may be easier to regulate because it’s not so strong, says Brown.


4. Ease Pain

In a 2011 study, Wake Forest researcher Zeidan and his colleagues showed that after just four days of mindfulness-meditation training, meditating during episodes of 
pain reduced the unpleasantness by 57 percent and participants’ pain-intensity ratings 
by 40 percent. The researchers also identified specific brain regions that appear to 
be involved in the experience of pain and how it is modulated through meditation. 
By altering the context for pain via cognitive control and emotional regulation, 
meditation may change the way we perceive pain (i.e., viewing it as fleeting).


5. Boost Gray Matter

By spurring the growth of gray matter in various brain regions, mindfulness may improve learning, memory, and emotional regulation, several studies over the last decade have shown. In a 2011 study published in the journal Psychiatry Research, for instance, researchers scanned the brains of participants who had little or no previous experience with mindfulness training. The study participants then completed an eight-week MBSR course, and researchers scanned their brains again. Individuals who took the meditation course showed significant increases in gray matter.


6. Fight Alzheimer’s

Mindfulness might slow the brain degeneration that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. In a pilot study published in 2013, Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, at Wake Forest and her colleagues reported that in adults with mild cognitive impairment (a transitional stage between normal aging-related memory loss and full-blown dementia), participants who practiced mindfulness meditation showed less atrophy, or shrinking, in the hippocampus, a brain region that is altered in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, compared to the control group. The study also revealed that an area of the brain called the default mode network, which is involved in activities like daydreaming and thinking about the past and the future, shows greater neural connectivity in meditators than non-meditators. Larger studies are still needed to confirm these early-but-promising results, says Erwin Wells.

7. Avoid Colds and Flu

Mindfulness meditation may help boost immune function. In a 2012 Annals of Family Medicine study of adults aged 50 or older, researchers showed that mindfulness meditation is about as effective as exercise for reducing the occurrence of acute respiratory infection, which includes colds and seasonal flu. This bolstered previous studies which showed that mindfulness meditation can help fight illness by reducing stress and therefore helping to support a healthy immune response.

Monday, August 17, 2015

7 Days of Mindful Eating

Enjoy this 7 Day Mindful Eating Plan (part of a 10-week Mindful Diet Plan) c/o Yoga Journal.

For the next seven days, focus on tactics that’ll help you hone the mindful-eating practice.

Days 1 & 2: Eat without distractions.

Choose one meal that you’ll eat alone—and not with the TV on, at your desk while working, or with your smartphone next to you, says Peláez. “It’ll force you to really focus on how your food feels, smells, and tastes—and make you realize how rare it is that you bring this kind of attention to what you’re eating,” she says.

Days 3 & 4: Take three big, grateful breaths before a meal.

And before any snacks, even if it’s a handful of chips or a leftover croissant from your breakfast meeting, says Kay. “Simply breathing mindfully immediately inspires you to be more present, which prompts you to be more intentional about the food choices you’re making.”

Days 5 & 6: Slow wayyyyy down.

Your taste buds actually get duller and duller after every bite of food, says Kristeller, so savor each bite. Find it tough not to shovel in your food, especially when you’re hungry? Put your fork down between bites. “It sounds excessive, but it’ll force you to really chew each bite and take a mini-breather before you take another,” she says.

Day 7: Have another cheat day.

Today, try to be as mindless as possible at every meal. Chow down on a take-out lunch while you work at your desk; eat from the bag of chips as you watch TV tonight. Then, check in with yourself and compare this “cheat day” to the one during Week 1. “Odds are, your mindful-eating practices are so set in stone at this stage that your ‘cheats’ aren’t as enjoyable as they used to be,” says Kay.

See entire 10 week program

Monday, August 10, 2015

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

Healing the body from the inside out naturally begins with changing your diet.  Introducing delicious smoothie recipes (like the one below) into your daily routine will assist in attacking inflammation - the root of many illnesses - and reduce your risk of developing inflammatory diseases...

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1 romaine heart, de-stemmed
1/2 cucumber
1/2 fresh jalapeno, de-seeded
1 cup watermelon
3-4 fresh mint leaves
1 lime, freshly squeezed
pinch of sea salt
raw honey (optional)
watermelon balls for garnish

In a blender, combine coconut milk, coconut water, romaine, cucumber, jalapeno, watermelon, mint, lime juice, and sea salt. Puree. Add honey and sweeten to taste, if desired. Serve with watermelon balls for garnish, if desired.
In addition to your diet, you can also add the following to reduce inflammation in your body...
Exercise, Reduce Stress, and Get Plenty of Sleep!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Positive Thinking Is Not Always "Positive"

That's not to say positive thinking is bad. It's fundamentally important to living a happy, fulfilled, engaged life. However, the lie and myth is that positive thinking is all that's needed.

The reality is that we have difficult and painful emotions for a reason. They arise out of a self-protective compassionate need to SERVE our selves more effectively. Like physical pain, emotional pain is a compass that helps us see when things aren't quite working right inside ourselves.
When we ignore physical pain or mask it over with over medication, our body degenerates and ultimately finds more pain (not less).

The same is true when we use Positive Thinking as a form of "over medication" for our spirit & emotions.

By not honoring and owning our emotional pain, then our soul... our heart... our spirit... call it what you will... ultimately will degenerate. Our psyche isn't designed to repress and suppress pain indefinitely.

That's a big reason why some highly successful people have emotional breakdowns. They just keep over medicating (or ignoring) until finally they can't do it anymore.
The flip-side is equally as dangerous. When we completely identify with the negative painful thoughts, when we allow them to run our lives, to make us forget how magnificent we inherently are, then we also breakdown. We aren't designed that way either.

Instead, I suggest accepting and acknowledging painful emotions as a compass - like a thermometer - to help you more effectively focus your attention and energy. Notice the "warning signs" that negative thinking presents to you. It's not like I never have negative thoughts. I have them every day!
The thing is, I don't take them so seriously. I strive to see them for what they are: helpful information that can point me TOWARDS living a happier and more positive life. They show me where more attention and self-care is needed in my life.

By using negative thoughts and painful emotions in that way, then the positive thinking is no longer a crutch - it's no longer an addictive medicine that silently degenerates us until it's too late.

Instead, positive thinking becomes a support to help you through the negative thoughts and ultimately take your happiness to the next level.