Category Archives: meditation

Keeping Things Clean and Simple

I wanted to explain my hiatus from this blog for the last few months. I have taken on a new job as Chef of a local catering company.  We mainly work on a daily quota of corporate lunches, but we also have a retail space in Black Mountain, NC.  The shop makes salads and sandwiches for lunch, but also features take-home dinners, soups, casseroles, and other treats made from scratch.  We will soon be expanding our reach with these offerings, so stay tuned. You can check it out at here.

I am still offering my Personal Chef and clean eating services, so feel free to contact me with inquiries and questions. On to the blog…

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It’s difficult these days not to get overwhelmed by all of the information out there.  If you are reading this blog you are probably aware that I practice and preach clean eating.  I know that staying healthy involves daily exercise, and eating smallish portions of real food.  Make your food at home from scratch, and try and stay away from too much fat, cheese, alcohol, and sugar.  Simple, right?

I have been sucked into some of the latest health trends. I recently tried The Whole 30, and had good results. I felt okay on the diet, but I really felt like the “no grains” approach was not ideal for me.    As I often do, I got completely sucked in and obsessed.  Now I am asking myself, “Are grains really that bad?”  “Can I get the complex carbs I need without grains?”

I had also previously spent several weeks on the Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates.  This approach is all about healing the gut, and replenishing the ecology of microbes in the gut through diet, suppliments, and eating fermented vegetables.  I was telling a friend of mine about how I was really into the diet (this friend also happens to be a health coach), and she said, “Yes, it’s great, but isn’t the program designed to help people that are sick?”  “Yes,” I thought, and I asked myself, “am I sick?”  The answer was, “no.”

I asked myself, “On which diet did I feel the best?”  I knew the answer.  I felt the best simply staying on a clean eating diet as well as daily exercise and meditation. Which is EXACTLY what I specialize in, and provide for my clients (with great success) on my 21 Day Program.

I’ve realized it’s time to get back to basics. Follow a plan that doesn’t eliminate food groups, is practical, and is simply common sense. Below is an article written by Paige Johnson of LearnFit.org, where she outlines “6 Essential Lifestyle Habits to Increase Longevity.”  Reading this article made me realize that I needed to relax and go Back to Basics. Enjoy!

6 Essential Lifestyle Habits to Increase Longevity

If you want to live a long, healthy life, taking care of your body must be a lifelong priority. While there’s no single, magic bullet that guarantees you’ll live to reach 100, a combination of healthy lifestyle choices throughout your life will help your body build its immune defenses and maintain your youthful appearance and energy for many years to come. It’s never too late to start making healthy choices.

  1. Consume a balanced diet.

You’ve probably read about dozens of fad diets touting the benefits of cutting out one dietary source or another from carbohydrates to fats, sugars, or whatever the current trends indicate is the culprit behind weight gain and obesity.

Unless you’re on a specific diet due to a health condition such as diabetes or high cholesterol, tried-and-true is usually the best option when it comes to nutrition. A healthy, balanced diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts and grains, and healthy dairy choices.

  1. Keep your brain and body engaged.

Remaining active later in life has been linked to lower mortality rates. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid retirement altogether, consider part-time employment, volunteer work, or even continuing your education in mid-life and beyond to keep both your body and your mind strong.

  1. Exercise regularly.

In addition to maintaining hobbies, volunteering, or maintaining part-time employment throughout life, regular physical activity is essential for a long, healthy life. In fact, one study finds that regular, moderate exercise can lower brain age by as much as 10 years in some older adults – evidence that it truly never is too late to start making positive changes for your health and well-being.

  1. Get enough sleep.

Today’s hectic lifestyles make it ever-more challenging to get adequate, quality sleep, yet getting enough rest is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, lack of focus, mood swings, and other ill effects.

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, there are beverages that help promote sleep. Add a sleep-promoting beverage to your evening routine and start getting the rest your body needs.

  1. Commit to happiness.

Choosing happiness isn’t always as simple as deciding what to eat for lunch, but you can employ strategies that will contribute to a more content, satisfied life. Set realistic goals for your personal and professional life and continuously strive towards them, cultivate your ability to evaluate situations objectively, and practice controlled breathing and other techniques to help you better manage your emotions. There are many ways to cultivate a happier lifestyle; experiment to find what works for you.

  1. Cut the stress.

Stress is one of the biggest contributors to obesity as well as anxiety, depression, and even heart attack and stroke. Take intentional actions to reduce the amount of stress in your daily life such as meditation, taking up hobbies that you enjoy, surrounding yourself with positive people, and being mindful about what you’re saying “yes” to. That means turning down offers and invitations that you’re not passionate about and declining to spend time around negative, toxic people who tend to bring you down.

Living a longer, healthier life is achievable when you commit to developing healthy lifestyle habits and maintaining a positive outlook on life. Learning how to look at situations and circumstances, turning down invitations that don’t feed your soul, and finding ways to cope with stressful situations are just a few of the secrets that can contribute to longevity. Coupled with a commitment to a healthy diet and regular exercise as well as ample rest for your body each night, it’s a recipe for a long, fulfilling life.

Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org.

Image via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

 

 

Mental Health and Meditation

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I could not do a series on what inspires me in health and wellness without addressing meditation. A few years ago, we had recently moved from Vermont to a little town outside of Lake Placid, NY. Everything was going well.  Kirk had a good new job that he enjoyed, we found a great house to rent that was right in front of the school.  The kids had friends to play with, we had great neighbors, and we were fitting right into this wonderful little community.

The only problem was that we were having trouble selling our house in Vermont.  Paying rent and a mortgage was a lot.  We decided to rent the house, which resulted in even bigger headaches, causing me to never ever want to be a property manager.  Among other things, it was really difficult being two hours away.

I had this great life.  I had a great marriage, and great kids. I loved my work, and we lived in this idyllic little town with amazing mountains and great friends.  The house in Vermont, however, was causing me unbelievable stress.  I had heard of the book, The Secret.  I remembered seeing it on Oprah years earlier.  One day Kirk said to me,  “I know it’s a little hokey, but I’ve been watching this movie on Netflix.”  It was The Secret.  I watched it, and watched it again.

I was mesmerized by all of the experts in the movie. They seemed so knowledgeable, and so happy.  The movie is about the Law of Attraction.  The main idea that I took away from it is that you should train your mind to focus on what you want, and not what you don’t want. What you focus on grows.  So, if you don’t want more bills, don’t think about them.  Think about what you want and you will attract more of it.

I started looking up the people in the movie, and looking for their books and  teachings.  I have learned so much from these amazing teachers.  My favorites are Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale, LIsa NIchols, and Michael Beckwith.

They all contribute different ideas and methods, but here’s my little summary of what they all teach:

1. Try and stay as positive as possible.  Look at bad things that happen to you as life lessons that you will emerge from stronger.  Try and avoid negativity.  Distance yourself from negative people, and stop watching the news – it’s very negative.

2. Set goals.  Think hard about what you want in life.  Get clear on this.  Write it down.  The more detailed the better.  Do you want to make more money?  Write down exactly how much.  Do you want to travel to Paris?  When? What are you going to do there?

3.  Tap into source energy.  Source energy comes from the universe, or creator.  This can pertain to whatever deity or Deity moves you spiritually.  You might be thinking how to do this?  The best way is to get quiet and go inside yourself.  The best way to practice doing this is to meditate.

My Mom has been meditating since I was in High School.  She explained it to me, and I tried to do it, but it was really hard.  The thought of it haunted me for years.  It was always in the back of my mind.  “I should try and eat healthier…I should exercise more…I really should start to meditate.”

What exactly is meditation?  The best definition I could find comes from good ole Webster’s Dictionary – to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.  I like to think of it as exercise for your mind.  You basically try and focus your mind on one thing.  Your breath is the “anchor.”  Pay attention to you breath.  What does an inhale feel like?…going into your nose?…your throat?…your chest…?…your belly?  What does an exhale feel like?…going out your nose?…your throat?…your chest…? your belly…?  There are some other things that you can try and focus on, like sounds in the room or sensations in your body.  You can recite a passage or a mantra mentally, and focus on the words.  The goal is to truly be in the moment.  To try and have your mind focus on the present, and not what you have to pick up at the grocery store later. If your mind does wander (and it will), just release the thought and come back to the breath, or the sounds, or the sensations, or the passage. Don’t get frustrated if it is difficult at first. It is a meditation practice.

I started meditating consistently a couple of years ago, and it has changed my life.  My level of stress has gone way down.  My husband and family have noticed the positive change.  It’s also helped me to focus much better on my work, my exercise, and to sleep better.  Overall, it has taught me to live in the moment. and to be more aware of my surroundings.

HOW TO GET STARTED?

The best way to get started is just that, start.  Pick a time and a place where you will not be disturbed.  I wake up at 4:45 in the morning so I have my meditation time.  I recommend starting with some guided meditations.  One of my favorite websites, Fragrant Heart, has a little mini-course you can sign up for (it’s free!).  You get an email every day for five days, lengthening the time each day you meditate.  Elizabeth Blaikie’s sweet voice guides you through, bringing you back when you need it.  Another great website that goes a bit deeper with a meditation course, is Quiet Lotus.  The site offers a five week course, with each week following a theme, also free.

Some other great programs that are not free are Oprah and Depak’s Meditation CD’s.  There’s several themes that you can choose from.  They offer a daily lesson, and then you meditate with a mantra.  It’s hard to go wrong with Oprah and Depak.  Lastly, I want to mention Holosync, by Bill Harris (also from The Secret).  Bill has been meditating so long he is a bona fide zen monk. He has also done extensive research on how the brain works.  His audio program has cues and tones that are supposed to take you deeper than you just meditating on your own.

Now that I have been meditating for a couple of years consistently, it’s become like brushing my teeth.  If I don’t do it, my day doesn’t feel quite right. It’s sometimes difficult to get it in every single day.  Sundays are hard. I need one day to sleep in, but sometimes I can sneak away and find  a bit of alone time later in the day. Even if you can get in five minutes, it’s well worth it.  Overall, if you are a spiritual person or not, I highly recommend meditation.

A book that I’ve read recently, which really explains all of the above in a funny, easy to read, easy to digest book is You are a Badass by Jen Sincero.  I recommend getting the audio book, and listening to it more than once.