If you're constantly searching for more knowledge to empower yourself to help you find YOUR health and wellness, read on:
There’s an event coming soon that’s going to have people talking. It's a 9-part Docuseries called The Thyroid Secret.
It’s going to open people’s eyes to a prevalent, but hidden disease.
That disease is thyroid disease and an estimated 30% of the population may be diagnosed in their lifetime… and most of them won’t know why they’re so sick.
The charge is being led by thyroid expert, Dr. Izabella Wentz, a renowned pharmacist and thyroid disease survivor. I've heard her speak on telesummits in the past and I really like her.
(If I didn't, I wouldn't be promoting her event.)
Izabella has assembled an amazing army of health rebels, including some of the most respected health experts today and patients who have overcome their thyroid conditions to bring us a groundbreaking series that debunks the myths surrounding thyroid disease.
In this groundbreaking 9-part documentary series they’re going to take western medicine head-on and reveal the truth.
The Thyroid Secret’s mission is to raise awareness about thyroid disease and empower people to implement natural alternatives and therapies to get their health back.
The series contains everything you could ever want to know, plus so much more.
What You'll Learn
Diagnosis – Many people are misdiagnosed with other conditions and never get the proper diagnosis. Could you be one of them?
Medications – Did you know that most people are not getting the right medications for their thyroid conditions and that recommended medications can often be harmful?
Thyroid cancer – So many people receive a misdiagnosis of thyroid cancer! Find out what you could do to reduce your chances of being a statistic.
Fertility – Sadly, many women needlessly experience infertility, miscarriage and have children that are born with disabilities because of thyroid disease. Find out what you can do about your own fertility and the health of your children.
Hashimoto’s – People often receive a misdiagnosis and mistreatment for this condition. Find out how to address and reverse this condition.
Graves’ disease – You don’t have to accept the status quo of barbaric treatments here. There’s a better way to recover your health!
There are complementary treatments that can restore thyroid function!
Nutrition – Did you know that food can be your worst enemy and your best friend in healing? Find out how to optimize your nutrition.
Supplements – Some supplements can subdue thyroid symptoms. You’ll discover the ones you can use to help yourself.
Toxins – Learn about the environmental toxins that are wreaking havoc on your thyroid.
Triggers – Know which triggers bring about thyroid disease and what to do about them.
Symptoms – Learn which symptoms are thyroid related and how to get better!
Healing – Yes, there are case studies and best practices so that you can recover your health.
Adrenals – These tiny little glands can sabotage your thyroid health if ignored.
Success stories – Celebrate with the many patients and individuals that have suffered from hypo and hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s and Graves, and other related conditions, and who reversed their conditions through root cause protocols!
Mark your calendar for March 1st and get ready for the World Premiere of The Thyroid Secret, then get ready for one brand new episode every single night over the next 9 days.
Last week I talked about self-care and the routines that help keep me mentally healthy. Let's call today Mental Health Monday.
I've been keenly aware of mental health for a long time and in addition to the routines, the yoga, the meditation etc. that I discussed last week, there are some other key elements to mental health. I'll discuss some of them briefly, departing from my usual verbose style. Note, none of this is a replacement for advice from a healthcare practitioner:
Light Therapy consists of exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light. Basically, it simulates day light. Some studies show that it's as effective as antidepressants at treating SAD. Light therapy makes up for lost sunlight exposure and resets the body's internal clock. Also, sunlight generally improves mood.
Light therapy lamp Philips HF3319/01 Energy Light. Light intensity compared to daylight (circa 11.00 a.m.). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here's some information that might be new to you: Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D isn't really a vitamin, it's a hormone. It's made on the skin when UVB from sunshine hits the skin. Only the UVB wavelength of light makes vitamin D. So now it will make sense when I tell you that pork from pastured pigs – pigs that spend a lot of time outside in the sunshine – has the highest amount of Vitamin D of any land animal. If you're a pork eater, eat lots of pastured pork in the winter.
Staying active increases the production of feel-good chemicals. Even a walk outside. Try a walk around the block, then see if you can keep going. Or walk to where you need to run errands, because you have to go anyway (unless you have a lot to carry or the errand is filling the gas tank). A walk to pick up a few groceries or to the laundromat is a good kind of multitasking.
Borrow a dog if you don't have one
This one is part exercise (dog walk), part pet therapy. My dog sometimes gets borrowed. Cuddling and playing with a dog is highly therapeutic.
Borrow a baby or child if you don't have one.
Same idea. One of my favourite things about babies: When you smile at them, they smile back. It's hard not to feel something. Also, children are inspiring. They're full of wonder and innocence.
St. John's Wort
According to this book, it's Nature's Blues Buster. The fact that the author is one of my family members is tremendously helpful. St. John's Wort is one of those subjects with conflicting study results – some studies say it doesn't work at all, that it's a placebo, some say that it works on mild-to-moderate depression. It works on mine, so whenever people claim that it, or anything else, is a placebo I say, “That's fine with me!” I'm all for a placebo that will keep me from feeling like shit.
St John's Wort
Ashwaganda, Astragalus, Rhodiola, Schisandra
I'm lumping these together because they're part of a class of herbs called “adaptogens”. Adaptogens help balance, restore and protect the body and modulate your response to stress. They go to work where you need it. Dr. Frank Lipman provide one of the best descriptions I've ever read:
Adaptogens work a bit like a thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down; when the temperature is too low it brings it up. Adaptogens can calm you down and boost your energy at the same time without over stimulating. They can normalize body imbalances. By supporting adrenal function, they counteract the adverse effects of stress. They enable the body’s cells to access more energy; help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process and help the body to utilize oxygen more efficiently.
I use them when I'm starting to feel symptoms of adrenal fatigue. One of the symptoms that I tend to notice most (as opposed to those I don't notice) is physical anxiety without mental stress. Not all adaptogens are listed here, only a few.
Even the word makes me feel better. I really enjoy saying “ashwaganda”. To me, it sounds like the name of a place inhabited by natives, referred to as “ashwagandans”. Ashwaganda is considered one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing. As an adaptogen, it helps the body adapt to stress. Furthermore, ashwaganda is anti-inflammatory, it protects the immune system and the brain and nervous system, and it improves learning, memory, and reaction time.
Say it: Ashwaganda.
Astragalus, also fun to say, is used in Chinese medicine to boost immunity. It helps reduce stress and aging by protecting cells and DNA. Astragalus is found in some adrenal support formulas.
Also known as roseroot, Arctic root or golden root. It's long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, in Scandinavia and in Russia. Like the others, it enhances the immune system. A study published in 2007 in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, showed that patients with mild-to-moderate depression who took rhodiola extract reported fewer symptoms of depression than those who took a placebo. It's long been used to treat anxiety. A small human trial of rhodiola at UCLA published in 2008, reported significant improvement in 10 people with generalized anxiety who took the herb for 10 weeks. Rhodiola appears to work faster than conventional antidepressants. (Source: Dr. Weil) Some studies have concluded that rhodiola is neuroprotective against toxins. It's also used to reduce the effects of prolonged and physical exhaustion that leads to fatigue.
Schisandra is a berry used in Traditional Chinese medicine. It helps balance hormones and improves the ability to deal with physical and psychological stress. It also reduces inflammation, improves cognitive function and is neuroprotective.
There are 2 adrenal formulas that I've used and like:
Finally, Take advantage of the sunny days! Don't let yourself stay inside because it's cold, bundle up and go get your face in the sun. Take a brisk walk, maybe with a borrowed dog. Go sledding or skating, and follow that up with a hot beverage of your choice such as a hot chocolate with milk or golden milk. You might feel better.
This is a departure from Finding Health and Wellness, but bear with me: Through elementary school and high school I wrote a lot of fiction, a lot of stories. I had imagination and told stories with dialogue and narrative. I didn't need to “shut up and write”, I just did because I had stuff to say. My parents still have a copy of a short story I wrote called “The Elephant's Party” with 2 friends in Grade 3. I remember working on it in the school library.
When I was applying to universities I applied to both a Creative Writing program and a Journalism program. I ended up in Mass Communications, where I did a lot of report & thesis writing and fell in love with that in a way that I didn't in high school. The essays I enjoyed most in high school were reports on books I enjoyed and on topics I enjoyed researching, and then in University when I was more often allowed to choose my own topic, I thrived. I spent hours in the library pouring through books noting THEIR sources and going to secondary sources in both my university's library and the library of the “competing” university (both universities had cheer songs that mocked the other). The internet was JUST coming of age and so internet research wasn't as robust as it is now.
I thought of this yesterday as I was completing a 10-day challenge called the Shut Up And Writeathon, a free 10-day program for coaches, healers & self-employed professionals. It does what it says, encouraging participants to Shut Up And Write!
Mailing Lists Galore & Lack of Inbox Chaos
One of the many people whose newsletters I subscribe to is Stella Orange, leads these challenges. I've been subscribed to her newsletter since September 2015 and it appears that I'd signed up for some of her free classes and workshops in the past but I honestly don't remember sticking with them. I tend to get overwhelmed. I can tell you that I'm an email pack rat.
In Gmail, I assign a label to everyone whose newsletters I subscribe to and then do one of three things: Read and delete, read and archive with the label, or don't read but archive with the label anyway. I have 82 of Stella's emails. Eventually one of her programs had to stick. Stella has lead the Shut Up and Write challenge (minus “athon” it's my SEO keyword here) at other times in the past but I never signed up before because it didn't resonate.
“The Shut Up And Writeathon is a free 10-day program that takes you to the heart of whatever is NOT WORKING in your marketing, so you can face it, defuse it, and come up with your own original solution to creating great clients!“, says her website.
It didn't seem right.
Then this time I thought, “What the hell?”
And, as it turned out, this time the Shut Up and Writeathon complemented the work I've been doing on myself to get over my fear of using my voice and being visible. Maybe that's why I was guided to do it.
I didn't do 10 consecutive days of Shut Up And Write, but I did every prompt. Sometimes I skipped a day, then wrote two, or I'd do two days in a row, catch up and miss a day.
I struggled with day 1, but not so much because of the starting part, but the prompt: Freestyle write, then burn it.
My response to that was, “But, I journal every day, and I don't want to write anything I'll want to keep if I've got to burn it.” I thought about taking a photo of my writing but I thought that wouldn't count, and would defeat the purpose. It reminded me of the concept of the “Shitty first draft”, which Brene Brown wrote about in some of her books, crediting Anne Lamott's book Bird By Bird.
Shut Up and Write – Write Now
I found that some days the prompts seemed tricky, and that's one of the reasons I didn't write every day. I needed time to let it marinate.
The day 10 writing prompt is this, here, now. I wrote much of it in my head yesterday, when I chose family time over writing. The prompt was this:
Write a 500-word blog post telling a story about your Shut Up And Writeathon experience, with a headline and bulleted list with 5 things you learned.
The prompt is brilliant. See, by writing this, I'm promoting Stella to my readers. And by posting a link to this post in the Writeathon Facebook group later, I'm getting more eyes to my blog. (Hi Writeathoners, please sign up for my newsletter.)
Here I go, starting the assignment “for real” (after 800 words):
Spaceballs:Shut Up and Write: The Screen Shot. How meta is this? I might miss my old Macbook, but the Snipping Tool on Windows comes in handy often enough.
What I learned from the Shut Up and Writeathon
I learned that business writing isn't completely unlike the creative writing that I used to love doing. This series of writing prompts got me back in touch with that.
A reminder that writing is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Bring some fun and joy into it, even if it's not fun. In your own writing you can choose enjoyable topics. In writing for others, ask yourself where you can find joy in it.
I learned that I still have a knack for dialogue, evidenced in Day 8 when I was to have a conversation, on paper, with my “mean wolf” (you could call it your ego or the devil on your shoulder). Big Bertha made 3 pop culture references. Not quite Gilmore Girls cadence (see what I did there?). I also referred to improv “Yes, and” rules. I've never taken an improv class, but I read a lot and know about it. “Yes, and” should be an important part of the writing process. Consider open-ended words and be open to possibilities. Use your inner dialogue.
Use your inner dialogue!
When you keep pen to paper and don't overthink it, marvelous, unexpected things can appear on the page.
I used my notes from Day 9 + reflection for this. The prompt: “In the dance with your mean wolf, what’s been the most helpful to you? What hasn’t been helpful? What are 3 new disciplines or instructions you have for yourself when it comes to dancing with your mean wolf, going forward?”
On Day 5 I ended up with some ideas for this website. Writing while seated on my couch next to my bookshelf on Day 4, I pulled Amy Poehler's Yes Please off the shelf. opened to the following bookmarked page, and transcribed a paragraph. Then I shared the page with my SUAW Facebook group.
It was a wonderful experience, and now I'm over 1200 words, so I'll leave you here.
(Next challenge: Self-editing.)
On Monday I hit DAY 50 of consecutive meditation. 50 days is a lot. My previous longest streak of consecutive days meditating was around 50 days, hit in October 2015 (Insight Timer shows milestones) and it says that my “best” consecutive days – my personal best – is the current 52. I'm quite pleased with this. When I hit 60 it will be 2 months. When I hit 90 it will be three. These are milestones I'm looking forward to.
My new current favourite guided meditation in the Insight Timer app is called, Awaken Your Inner Light and Wisdom, by Melody Litton. It clocks in at just 17:35 but it's powerful. I left the following review after the first time I did it:
A new favorite. This will go in my regular rotation. I feel lighter, taller, more creative, more optimistic, and inspired. Thank you. ❤
My previous new favourites, and still in rotation, are three Kabbalistic meditations by an LA-based teacher. I wrote about the Good Morning Soul meditations in a previous post, and then added Awaken Heart opening Meditation to the rotation. The way I choose a meditation is to ask myself what I need that day and then I go to my go-tos, I search for what I want (e.g. by style and/or time), or I search a list. Before Insight Timer I did this with YouTube but Insight Timer has nearly 4,000 guided meditation. Not all of them are in English – at least 4 other languages are represented, but most are.
The guided meditations that I've been drawn to use intuition and souls. That might not be for you, but one of the cool things about meditation – regardless of whether you're guided or not – is that there's something for everyone, whether you prefer religious or secular, science-based, psychology-based, mindfulness, focusing on breath, or spirits, angels and souls.
If you're looking for good meditation tools, I recommend Insight Timer (free), or the 5-week Master Your Mind program, or the Calm app for mobile or desktop (I sometimes use the desktop interface during the day).
(Clicking won't take you there. This is a screen shot.)
My yoga practice has been consistent too. One month ago yesterday I committed to daily yoga practice. Except for missing one day near the start, I've done every single day. My practice lasts from 10-25 minutes, although now that I'm consistent with it and my body is adjusting, I feel more comfortable starting 40-60 minute videos, which is closer to the amount of time that studio classes last (90 minutes is usual but in the past, 75 minutes was my limit). When I say that my body is “adjusting”, I just mean that I'm used to the consistency and the movement, though it's still challenging. My body is constantly sore, in a good way. Five days ago, I made the following comment on the YouTube page of Brett'sYoga for Core Strength & Flexibility | Abs & Core Workout for Women:
I did this one this morning. It made me angry because my body was having a tough time with it and my wrists were hurting, but my anger isn't necessarily a bad thing. On another day I will love it. Sometimes the workouts that make me angry are my favorite ones because I like the challenge (if I'm complaining it's hard, I'm often loving it simultaneously). Today, I sat out in child's pose a few times, just as I would in a yoga studio. Not being in a studio, I was free to whine and swear out loud. 🙂
It was hard. And the next few were hard. This core strength session reminded me of the gym classes that I used to take that were lead by a former gymnast who had long blonde hair and perky everything, who kind of looked like a Barbie doll, but healthy and in proportion. She instructed like a drill sergeant, which is a style that I respond well to, though I acknowledge that this style is not everyone's preference. She had perfect form – I remember her perfect plank – and her classes were so hard that I'd grunt and complain and she liked when I did. Even when I hated it I liked it. My continued simultaneous love and hate for a challenging workout remind me of those great workouts. My muscles are constantly sore now and I feel grateful for that because it's a sign that I'm working hard for it and getting stronger. I'm grateful for my sore muscles and to myself for working them, and for the person who instructs via YouTube – and all those who help her do it.
I realized something on the weekend: The habits and routines that I've cultivated since the beginning of the year are essential for my self care and several of them are non-negotiable. They're helpful for a variety of reasons, including…
Overall health & wellness, prevention & treatment
Many of these activities are beneficial to physical and mental health.
Many of my habits/routines/activities keep me mentally healthy. Making the bed and reading a hardcover book are at the bottom of that list, but above it is flossing and at the top are meditation and yoga. They're among the tools that keep me from losing my shit, from lying on the floor sobbing. I've got a post about my mental health issues rolling around in my head. In the meantime, I threw together this quick infographic:
Related to mental health, they give me a sense of control. I'm not a control freak, but there's only so much one CAN control. I can't control a lot of what's not working in my life, but I can take 10-20 minutes to do yoga – even if it's in bed – and I can stop and breathe and have a 10 minute meditation. I can take 5 minutes to make the bed. I can take a few minutes to floss my teeth every night when I'm way overdue for a cleaning. I can read a few pages of a book. I can (mostly) control my time.
I have 2 major priorities in my life right now. Self-care is one of them. The two depend on each other.
I also like that I'm achieving these goals and that makes me achieve other goals. It's putting life into sync. It's helping me fulfill my 2017 theme, “Perseverance”. I am persevering. I'm doing it.
I'll put together a post about mental health. I've been thinking about it since a national mental health awareness day on which mental health stories were shared, for one day. I decided that in order to keep the conversation going, wouldn't have one day of discussion because mental health shouldn't come out of the closet for one day only. It should be be taboo for 364 days of the year. It should always be okay to talk about. Right?
For years, the Paleo diet has been one of the most popular diets. However, as of December 3, 2016, more people Googled the Ketogenic diet (aka “keto”) than for the Paleo diet. The popularity of keto is only growing.
In this post, you'll read why the keto diet has become so popular and the many benefits you can get.
This post is a combination of writing by the folks over at The Keto Bundle (which you'll read about below), and my own writing.
The Basics of Keto
A ketogenic diet focuses on using “ketones” and fat as fuel for your body – rather than glucose (sugar).
Whenever your body doesn't have much glucose, it naturally produces more ketones by breaking down fats. This is how your body adapts to periods when sugary and starchy foods aren't available.
A ketogenic diet causes your body to rely more on ketones – and it does this primarily by limiting the amount of sugars and starches you eat.
The result is that your body burns fats rather than sugars (carbohydrates), you feel full more of the time, and you gain greater energy and mental clarity.
Explaining that further assuming that the words “ketones” and “ketosis” are meaningless to you:
WebMD says, “Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones….when you cut way back on your calories or carbs, your body will switch to ketosis for energy.”
Ketone bodies are produced by the liver during fasting, carb-restricted diets, prolonged periods of intense exercise and starvation.
Is a Keto Diet Effective?
The main reason why the ketogenic diet has gotten so popular is because it works for so many people.
In fact, for quick weight loss and increased energy, a keto diet is often better than any other diet. This is particularly true for folks with high blood sugar or with a lot of weight to lose.
But it's also true for anyone seeking more productivity and higher energy levels.
While keto is a great tool for fast and effective weight loss, many people like it so much, they end it doing it for years at time.
And it's not just weight loss and mental clarity that people rave about. Keto diets also tend to give you better moods as well as better sleep.
You can read more about the ketogenic diet on my friend Fawn's website and check out her page of epilepsy resources. Some might call the change in her daughter Jade's health “miraculous”. It didn't happen overnight, it took years, but it did happen.
What Do You Eat on a Keto diet?
For the most part, a ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate version of a Paleo diet.
You eat real foods but avoid the really starchy or sugary ones like many fruits (think pineapples and bananas), tubers (like sweet potatoes and parsnips), and sugars (like honey or maple syrup).
Instead, you eat lots of healthy fats (like coconut oil, ghee, tallow, lard, olive oil, avocado oil) and non-starchy vegetables, along with berries, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, and other seafood.
How does the ketogenic diet differ from similar diets?
Other diets don't focus on being in a state of ketosis. Keto is similar to paleo, except that paleo is based on the belief of what our ancestors ate. Really, though, “ancestors” came from all over the world, and hunters and gathers ate different food depending on where they lived. My summary of the paleo diet: Eat real food. I often say that “paleo” created an entire industry that's way more lucrative than the “just eat real food” message. The ketogenic diet addresses medical issues.
A Sweet Keto Opportunity
Perhaps you've tried many diets before and you know that it can get expensive to buy new foods, new books, and new cookbooks.
That's why I want to tell you about the 2017 Keto Diet Bundle. It's only available for 5 days this year – February 7th to 11th, 2017.
This event includes pretty much everything you need to get amazing results on a keto diet…
There are over 84+ weeks of meal plans and 11+ Keto cookbooks (from awesome experts like Maria Emmerich, Mellissa Sevigny, Martina Slajerova, Leanne Vogel, Patricia Daly, Tasteaholics, and Vivica Menegaz). That's hundreds and hundreds of delicious recipes to keep you going.
There's also a ketogenic ecourse as well as beginner keto ebooks explaining step-by-step what you'll need to focus on.
There are even discounts on various keto foods – including discounts to Fatworks, Keto Krate, Keto Kookie, and even a free 16.9 oz carton of bone broth from Kettle & Fire. And if you need help with sleep or fitness, there are ebooks to help you with those aspects too.
Plus, the first 500 US-based purchasers will get a free sample of Perfect Keto's ketone supplement (with free shipping). Not being US-based myself, I feel like I'm missing out.
If you're on a keto diet (or are thinking about trying it), then please check this event out before it's too late.
You won't regret it, and you'll save countless hours and hundreds of dollars.
Just as I recently jumped on the smoothie bowl (with gelatin to make it mousse-like) train, I've also recently jumped on the Golden Milk train. As a wellness nerd, I've been a dabbler in Ayurvedic medicine for years. I can't spell “Ayurvedic” and “Ayurveda” (I always want to swap the first y & u) but I have a good foundation of knowledge in it. I took my first workshop in Ayurveda about a decade ago, and 3 or so years ago I treated myself to a day at a Ayurvedic spa for my birthday. So, Golden Milk fascinates me and I feel like I should drink more of it because it's good for me.
What is Golden Milk?
It's milk with turmeric and other spices. Turmeric makes it golden color.
Why Golden Milk?
Golden Milk has been used in India and China for centuries. It's a staple in Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine for its health benefits.
Curcumin, one of the bio-active ingredients in turmeric, has over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as shown by research studies. Some studies have concluded that curcumin is effective in treating arthritis. Turmeric can be used to treat wounds, cuts, rashes, bruises, insect bites, and swelling. One study shows that it helps wounds heal faster.
Golden milk has lots of fantastic ingredients. Here's a basic recipe that I recently posted to Instagram:
A post shared by Andrea Toole, CTNC (@findinghealthwellness) on
I've since changed the recipe a bit, adding a few more ingredients. I've made Golden Milk with almond milk, coconut milk and dairy (cow) milk. I didn't like it with almond milk at all. Coconut was my favourite. I made one cup with my favourite greens powder, but it tasted so bad that I threw it out. I've made it with cardamom, even though I'm not a fan of cardamon.
More information about health benefits follows the recipe:
My favourite mug is a Peet's coffee mug that my aunt bought me when I was visiting her in Berkeley a few years ago.
Other Golden Milk ingredient benefits
I was hesitant to add pepper for awhile because I didn't want my golden milk too “spicy”, but now I add a few grinds because I was reminded that piperine, the alkaloid compound responsible for the pungency of black pepper, increases the bio-availability of curcumin. This means that it maximizes the benefits of curcumin. With a recent review of the scientific research showing that turmeric and curcumin might NOT be as beneficial as several studies suggest, I especially want it to be as bio-available as possible.
Coconut oil: This is one of my favourite ingredients ever. Coconut oil is one of my “deserted island” items. It's anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, and anti-inflammatory. If you want to learn more about coconut oil from me, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get my “5 superfoods” e-course. Or, you can buy the full e-book for $9.
Cinnamon: It's heavy in polyphenols (anti-oxidants). It's anti-inflammatory. It helps lower blood sugar levels. Like coconut oil, it's anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. There's been some research done that shows that cinnamon can prevent and treat cancer. It's got vitamins, minerals and amino acids. A half teaspoon can have positive health affects.
Ginger: Ginger is part of the same plant family as turmeric. According to Ayurvedic medicine, it's an immune-booster. It's good for digestion and can help nutrients absorb better. It's anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal.
Honey: Honey has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antimicrobial and antioxidants properties and high nutrient value. It's another one you can read about in “5 superfoods”. (I've just given you 2 of 5.)
So there you go. Golden Milk. I've been adding turmeric to other things too, such as rice and oatmeal. I'm on a turmeric kick. It might be helping me recover from soreness from daily yoga sessions and when I work on my feet for several hours.
Further Ayurveda resources:
To avoid overwhelming you, here are just a few that I reference most often:
-Yogahealer.com/Cate Stillman: I enjoy the website, the mailing list and the podcast. You can listen straight from the website. I listen to the podcast while walking the dog but then read the show notes on my computer. Look for it in iTunes, Stitcher or whatever other podcast app your phone uses. (I use Stitcher for Android.)
I wanted to update you on my meditation journey and also provide you with more tools for your practice.
Insight Timer's 365 Challenge is going great! In an audio recording that Insight's leader posted to the app on Friday, he said that the app was about to hit 1.5 meditators and gave these numbers abut the collective experience:
3 million minutes of meditation in 24 hours, which is
just under 50,00 hours of meditation, which is the equivalent to
5 1/2-6 years of meditation.
Collectively. In one day. Those are great numbers to take to potential Insight Timer app investors. I can envision them in a spreadsheet on a PowerPoint or Prezzi presentation.
My meditation practice
I meditate at least once a day, often twice. It's the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before I sleep. At the start of the month I downloaded a habit tracker called Fabulous and this one has actually stuck. Now, my mornings look like this:
Open my eyes
Say a couple of short Hebrew prayers if I remember to (yes, this bacon-eating Jew has restarted this practice – I like the ritual)
Go to the living room and lie or sit down on the couch and meditate for 10-20 minutes.
Drink a glass of water
Walk the dog
Do 20-40 minutes of yoga
Make a cup tea, take my supplements.
Make and eat some breakfast.
I've meditated for 37 consecutive days since December 19.
About my practice & inspiration for yours
-My current favourite guided meditation is called A Kabbalistic “Good Morning Soul” Meditation, lead by Alison Serour, a teacher at the Kabbalah Centre in LA. I'd never done a kabbalistic meditation before, but had participated in some kabbalistic prayers during synagogue-ish services. I wasn't/am not particularly connected to Kabbalah (do you – personally – pronounce it so that the “a”s sound like “up” or like “ka-bawl-uh”? I use the former.).
Insight Timer has two versions of Good Morning Soul: The short one that's nearly 8 minutes, and the long one that's 21 minutes. I like them both. They speak to me. They feel good. Sometimes they inspire me. They make me ask questions of myself and so facilitate some self-learning and personal growth. The longer one includes a prayer in Hebrew, which might or might not work for you. That said, there are meditations for everyone. If you are 100% atheist and don't believe in anything you can't see and anything that science hasn't proven, do breathing meditations. Science has proven those work. Do what works for you. Forge your own path. (That's this website's tagline.)
New meditations daily for 365 Days
-With the 365 challenge, new meditations are being added daily to a specified playlist that participants can use if they choose. I didn't do the first set of guided meditations because it was a series that started at 1 minute and built to 20. Great for some people, but not I. This week I've been following along more, but also doing some other ones too. It really depends on what I need. The mediation added to the playlist today was Alison's “A Kabbalistic Awaken Heart Opening Meditation”, created based on a Hebrew prayer called “Patach Eliyahu“, Prophet Elijah's prayer-meditation from the Zohar. It was nice. A large section of it resonated with me and made me feel empowered. It reminded me of the saying that things happen for you, not to you.
If you want to join the 365 Day Meditation Challenge, download the Insight Timer app from your device's app store and do it.
Meditation for beginners
In another post I'll discuss styles of meditation because there are so many. Some focus on the breath. Others take you on journeys through your imagination. Some have you craft your ideal day or life. Others take you to past lives. Some use mantras. Even if you don't believe in some of those things (past lives, for example), I think they're worth experiencing. There is so much that we as humans don't know and understand and we tend to disbelieve what seems impossible.
No time? No problem
Don't have the patience to meditate? No problem. Meditation increases your ability to keep focused in spite of distractions but you only need to start for a few seconds at a time. You can start with 5 minutes a day. If you add just 1 minute per week, you'll be up to an hour in a year (if you want to be). Just sit down and start. Don't overthink it. Read the following, and follow the instructions:
Stop reading right now. Close your eyes. Breath in for 4 counts, out for 8. Open your eyes.
There, you've meditated.
Tips for beginners
Some people find it challenging to build a daily habit. Maybe it's lack of time, discipline, motivation, etc. Here are some tips to create a strong meditation practice:
Start small. It's better to start really small, so there is absolutely no excuse for you to skip your practice. Again, starting with just 5 minutes a day can hep.
Recommit. At the end of every session, commit to show up for your practice the following day.
Never zero. This means that every day you will practice, even if only 5 minutes. Make it a non-negotiable part of your life. This is how I treat my yoga practice and why I've been able to practice daily.
No expectations. Nothing kills motivation quicker than unmet expectations. Most of the benefits from meditation come only after months or years of daily practice. So letting go of expectations sounds like a smart strategy to me. Go easy on yourself! There's no “failing” in meditation. It's not a test or a competition. “No expectations” also means that you don't need to meditate on a cushion on the floor. In my recent post that announced the 365 Day Challenge I gave the Dr. Seuss version of examples of where you can meditate.
Be prepared. Sometimes you will feel tired, busy, or “not in the mood”. Be mentally prepared to meet those challenges with the “never zero” idea, and do the practice no matter what.
Joyful attitude. Meditation is not a task, but a precious moment to go deep inside yourself. Enjoy the practice, and it will be easy to keep it up.
Master Your Mind
If you're a beginner, I recommend a meditation course called Master Your Mind. It's a 5 week program with lessons and guided meditations that helps build the habit. You're provided with 35 short daily lessons, organized by week – each with its own unique themes, goals and insights. The program is self-paced, and the techniques are presented in a way that both secular and spiritually minded people can connect to. No particular belief or worldview is required for following the lessons.
Full disclosure: I signed up as an affiliate, after I'd read the associated website, Live and Dare and tried some of the lessons. This is NOT why I chose to post today, it simply integrates well.
Develop the habit of meditating daily. You will start with sessions as short as 2 minutes, and increase gradually, up to 15-20 minutes. It's built in a way you cannot fail.
Find the ideal technique for you. Each week you'll be introduced to a new practice, such as mantra meditation, breathing awareness, chakra meditation, etc. By the end of the course you will be well equipped to choose the technique that best suits your needs.
Have an optimal attitude towards meditation, so that you can enjoy the process as well as the result, and keep meditation as a lifetime habit.
Deepen your meditation and enhance your mind.
Integrate mindfulness into your daily life, through reminders, exercises, and daily challenges.
Here's how the course goes:
When you sign up you get lifetime access with 5 weeks of daily lessons (audio and PDF), mediation cheat cheat, private forum, 60 days of email support, and free updates for life. There's a one time fee. It's not a membership site.
Snippets of testimonials:
“The course was easy to follow, and every day I had a small taste of success, step after step. The entire approach matched my understanding of best practices for establishing a habit.”
“…it helped me learn to forgive myself and accept my limitations. I also learned to have some compassion for myself and others.”
“…gave me skills to deal with negative emotions.”
“I found a calmness within me that I didn’t know existed. There is a sense of peace seems to follow me through the day. My anxiety also calmed down. Now I can’t imagine not doing it every morning.”
“With your course I could successfully build the habit, one small step at a time. You were asking “less” from me which made it non-negotiable and doable, while others always asked “more” from me which left me feeling inadequate in my practices.”
In 17 days I've missed just one day of yoga. Sometimes I run out of time but before bed I take 10 minutes to do some stretching and breathing. It counts. It's the “never zero” rule above. I also created a video today to append to last week's post about yoga so watch for that. I didn't end it with “namaste” because I thought that was too cliche, but sometimes I end my own yoga or meditation practices with a silent, “Namaste, motherf****r!”, 'cause I'm quirky like that and sometimes I'm moved to.
Be well and feel free to comment if you've got something to share.
During Winter of Wellness, you’ll discover leading-edge solutions to your personal health objectives — with esteemed teachers, doctors and practitioners sharing their proven methods that address YOU as an integrative, interconnected WHOLE.
An extension of That Vitamin Movie, with more content. It's a 7-day free online event that brings together the unedited interviews that were used to make That Vitamin Movie AND the full interviews from That Vitamin Summit AND a brand new course from Andrew Saul, all being streamed free of charge for seven days.
Some of these experts had never agreed to be interviewed for anything like this before. They will share their tips and strategies for using vitamins and supplements to put your health journey back on the right path.
The average lifespan of someone with an autoimmune disease is 10 years shorter than a healthy person. It’s time to achieve greater health and improved happiness so you can break the cycle of pain and start living again! Join The Autoimmune Revolution, online and free from January 30 – February 6, 2017!
If you want to buy the series to add to your resource library, it's the least expensive before the summit starts. Here's the price schedule.
I almost always recommend buying summits – at the lowest price if you get there in time – because many of the lifetime access packages such as this one include transcripts (for those who learn best through reading, and perhaps want to highlight and annotate), along with bonuses that are sometimes worth in the $100's of dollars. The bonuses in the Autoimmune Revolution bundle are worth over $600!
A photo posted by Andrea Toole (@findinghealthwellness) on
I'll keep this introduction brief, because when I find a recipe on someone's blog via Google I don't want to read through their entire narrative, I just want the recipe.
As I said in that Instagram post on Tuesday of last week, I craved a warm smoothie after a snowy dog walk. I usually cringe at the idea of a “smoothie bowl”. It's a trend that I don't understand. Why put a smoothie in a bowl when you can drink it from a nice glass and a glass straw, like the ones from Strawesome? (I own around 4.) I prefer my smoothies more liquid than thick. I don't want to eat smoothies with a spoon. That's like soup.
And yet, rather than a regular hot chocolate smoothie, I wanted to try something new and be adventurous. I also wanted to use “superfood powders” that I've had in my cupboard for years, because I don't use them anymore and don't want to throw them out. For many years I was a hoarder of superfood powders. Now I'm over it.
(If you subscribe to my newsletter you might get a free ebook called, “5 Superfoods That You Might Already Have in Your Kitchen” and if you don't, email me. I'm working on updating the book with updated links and don't know if it's automatically sending with newsletter subscription confirmations anymore. Updates to the book and such are on my to do list.)
Brief explanations about the superfoods used follows the recipe.
Two days after making the first hot chocolate smoothie bowl I made another one that was even better because I included the ingredients that I'd forgotten in the first round.
No one from Genuine Health knows I'm posting this. They haven't sponsored it. I'm not being obsequious. I haven't been to a GH promotional event in a long time. However, it was around this time last year that I was introduced to Greens + Extra Energy (as I posted one year ago yesterday- with my introduction to fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ being five months later). This recipe finally killed my big container of greens.
Something cool about this recipe which I discovered after (as you'll read below): It contains many mood-boosting ingredients! I could call it “The Anti-Anxiety Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie” or “The Mood-Boosting Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie” or, if you consume it in its “after” stage, “Mood-Boosting Chocolate Almond Smoothie Bites”.
As a smoothie, it will be thin liquid at first but with the gelatin, it will thicken as it cools and no longer be “hot chocolate”. (More on that below the recipe.) If you want it thicker, add the suggested oats.
Yield: 1 serving
It's gluten-free, sugar free and can be made with or without dairy.
Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie
(A prettier, printable version with less detail follows.)
1 C milk of your choice (dairy, almond, rice, etc.)
2 Tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder (I like the Organic Traditions brand)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp grass fed gelatin powder (I use the one by Great Lakes)
1/2 Tsp vanilla powder (also Organic Traditions) or a drop of vanilla extract.
Optional: 1/4 C rolled oats
Banana (definitely), cocoa nibs, hemp seeds – if you want/have.
Add the gelatin powder to your measuring cup where you pour the milk. Stir and let sit for one minute. It will be smooth.
In a small pot, combine milk-gelatin powder mixture with chocolate powder, coconut oil, vanilla, and oats (if using). Whisk as you bring it to a boil.
Transfer to a blender (I use a Vitamix) and add the almond butter, protein powder, chaga mushroom, maca and slippery elm. Put the lid on tight. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Pour into a bowl and top with banana, hemp seeds and cocoa nibs, or pour it in a nice glass and drink it.
(Brands of hemp seeds I prefer are Manitoba Harvest and Ruth's Hemp. I'm not too brand loyal with cocoa nibs but am currently enjoying a big bag of Giddy YoYo.)
Instead of heating the milk/gelatin in a pot you could heat it in the microwave alone and then transfer it to a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend. I suspect that using a stick blender in the pot would work too instead of a whisk + blender.
Please don't go out and buy all of those powders, unless you want to, and unless you're going to use them again. Use what you've got. You can omit them all if you'd like. I recommend always having vanilla powder, cacao (obviously), coconut oil (my favourite head-to-toe oil) and almond butter around, but save your money and don't buy the rest just for this. I do always like to have the Collagen Hydrolysate on hand, but that's because I use it to make my own Bulletproof-inspired coffee.
Don't worry if you get globs of gelatin in the pot. The blender will break it up.
A brief description of the superfood powders used is located at the bottom of this post.
After initially posting this I made it again & took this photo. A few pinches of ginger made it in this time. Click to see it bigger.
IMPORTANT: IF YOU HAVE LEFTOVERS…
Put the bowl in the fridge (or transfer to a container). When you remove it, the gelatin will have transformed the smoothie from liquid to solid snack that's between a pudding and a Jello – a creamy Jello.
If you've ever made Jello or cooked with gelatin you know that it dissolves in hot water and sets to a gel when it cools. I wasn't thinking about that when I put my smoothie in the fridge. I knew it would thicken, and it certainly thickened as I ate (I eat slowly), but I didn't anticipate how thick it would be after refrigeration. How thick? It went from this:
To this… Ta da! I present to you Chocolate Almond Energy Pudding Bites:
I like how the banana looks. Imagine if I'd transferred the smoothie to a container, and then either sliced into squares or used a cookie cutter.
Yes, I should choose a name and stick with it.
If you want a chocolate-almond butter pudding-like snack…
…make the recipe above, immediately put it into a container and chill.
I will use a 1/2 Tbsp of gelatin next time and report back.
If you use Greens+ Extra Energy, and you're affected by caffeine, don't consume later in the day. You could use another greens powder but I think that here, cappuccino flavour was key. I've had to remind myself not to sneak bites later in the day. It looks like dessert. The next time I make this I probably will omit the Extra Energy for this reason.
A cool observation:
On Monday morning my mental state was in rough shape. I was having an existential meltdown after finding an old journal/workbook that, upon reading some of it, upset me and made me question my life. After eating a few squares of this I felt so much better. It was like I'd taken an anti-depressant. It could be coincidence, but here's my theory:
Chocolate is mood-boosting. Cocoa boosts the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood, anxiety and happiness. Further research lead me to a CNN article with this information: “According to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in May 2013, those who drank a chocolate drink once daily (the equivalent of 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate) reported feeling calmer and more content than those who didn't.” Here's the study.
Some of the ingredients in the Greens+ Extra Energy are mood boosting/balancing. I went to have a look at the ingredients to check that theory and found a lot of mood-boosting ingredients in there, including:
Ginseng, a powerful adaptogen that helps your body cope with stress. A study published in Human psychopharmacology in August 2010 found that 200 milligrams of ginseng for eight days slowed the fall in mood. The 400 milligram dose improved calmness. This wouldn't have affected me after a few bites, but it's worth noting.
Rhodiola, another adaptogen, which I sometimes take as a supplement to help with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies have shown Rhodiola to significantly reduce symptoms in patients with mild to moderate depression
L-Tyrosine, an amino acid used to produce dopamine. Tyrosine improves mood and stress response and supports energy and motivation. According to WebMD, People take tyrosine for depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other issues.
A little bit of research told me that one banana contains up to 10 milligrams of neurotransmitter dopamine.
…Now, I'm not sure that small amount I ate would affect my mood, but there is an indication that it could have.
A brief explanation of the superfoods used
Chaga mushroom powder
Among chaga's potential heath benefits: Supports the immune system and balances it, has high antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, could help protect your cells
Maca is rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. According to various studies, maca helps balance hormones in both women and men, is beneficial for libido (female and male) and fertility. Black maca has positive effects on sperm production. In addition to that, and related to it, maca has a positive affect on mood (as does increased libido), energy and stamina. Yes, sexual stamina too. People call it the “sexy root”.
Slippery elm Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines while also absorbing toxins that can cause intestinal imbalances. It soothes inflammation in the stomach and small intestine.
So, go on and make this mood boosting drink/pudding-like snack.
Tell me: What would YOU call the smoothie and the chilled version?
First off, I've gone and done something out of character for me:
I've created… wait for it… a blog content calendar. It's true. After blogging for about 20 years, since before blogging was called that, I've finally done it. I'd been hearing about content calendars for years and even had a related WordPress plugin for awhile that I didn't use. After reading a couple of articles on Problogger, I decided to give it a try. It's a work in progress spreadsheet. Every day has a theme and I might or might not blog daily Monday to Friday.
Yesterday I gave you Promotion Monday, what's coming up in summits, webinars and other events. Today I give you Spirit Tuesday – posts related to yoga and meditation.
On to today's share….
My yoga journey
I'm no beginner to yoga.
I've been practicing yoga on and off for a long time. On and off.
In 2010 on my old blog I had a blog series about the 40 day yoga challenge I was doing at a local hot yoga studio (and other studios). The way I remember it, I'd get up before dawn, wait for a streetcar and go to a 6:30 a.m. class before work. Coincidentally, 6 years ago today I was on day 3, as I discovered when I jumped over to my old blog while writing this post. Before that I regularly attended classes at another hot yoga studio near where lived.
I attend The Toronto Yoga Conference & Show almost every year. I own multiple yoga mats (one specifically for hot yoga), a yoga block, a yoga towel for my hot yoga mat, and a yoga bag.
I haven't had a consistent yoga practice in a few years, though.
Recently, with my commitment to meditate every day for a year, I decided to throw yoga into it. Classes at a local studio (and there are many local studios) aren't in my budget right now so I turned to home practice. Home practice also has the benefit of being time efficient. I do yoga right before or right after I meditate, or I meditate, walk dog, yoga, and I meditate twice a day. In the last 10 days I've only missed one day of yoga.
At first I was doing my own routine, going with the flow, so to speak. Doing what moved me (pun unintended there, too), letting memory and intuition guide me. Then I got curious and went down the rabbit hole of Google, which took me to the website Greatist, where I found Brett Larkin and then went down the rabbit hole of her YouTube channel. I've watched a fraction of her videos. There are so many. (More on that below.)
I was familiar with other prolific yoga teachers – the yoga celebrities – and had some of their DVDs back when I used to use DVD, but Brett is new to me and I think I get what she's doing overall as a yoga business, because I've been watching the online business world for years. I've been on the periphery of it with blogging, content marketing, social media, working with startups and staying connected to the tech world.
Into yoga? Want to start a home practice?…
Why you should check out Brett
There's a lot I like about her. For example:
Yoga in bed.
Yes, she has videos in which she does yoga in bed. Morning yoga, bedtime yoga. In bed.
Yoga for everyone, all levels
I appreciate that a lot of her videos are suited to all levels because I might be a “level 1” in some poses but more advanced in others. I'm familiar with the poses, but my body is pretty tight and inflexible so I need modifications. Some days I feel like the tin man. I've almost been tight and inflexible so I can't blame age, but generally after doing yoga for awhile I see improvement.
She has videos specifically for beginners, that are accessible and welcoming.
Over 30 playlists on YouTube. 22 videos under the “Morning Yoga Classes ” alone. 50 videos under the playlist “15 Minutes or Less (Yoga for Busy People)”. 9 videos under the playlist “Free 20 Minute Yoga Classes”, including a video called, “Yoga for Constipation Relief, Cramps and Fatigue”. Playlist “Yoga for Beginners” includes a video “How to Modify Common Yoga Poses (Yoga Modifications)”. There's a video called How to Do Yoga in the Car, which is great for road trips. In other words, it appears that she has a yoga routine for every conceivable situation.
Ones I've done include yoga/meditation combinations that last under 20 minutes. That's efficient.
18 of 32 playlists
Brett Larkin's Facebook group seems fairly engaged. I've posted/commented a few times already today and the community was helpful.
In September and October she had the Chakra Challenge. Currently she's doing Yoga Sculpt. Her challenges include emails with yoga classes, meditations and podcasts.
I've done about 5 of Brett's videos and enjoy her instruction a lot. I feel challenged when I want to be and I feel safe because the instruction is thorough. She takes time without feeling slow. Her cues make a lot of sense. Her metaphors have metaphors and alternative metaphors. Sometimes instructor metaphors can be a turn off, like the instructor who once told the class, in a breathy voice, to make the pose feel “delicious”, causing me to consider my exit strategy from the small room.
She's got the knowledge, like and trust value. She creates high quality, valuable content. Her knowledge seems to extend beyond yoga into the areas related to yoga.
It's not just yoga instruction either. She answers fundamental questions such as, what to wear under your yoga pants.
A true online entrepreneur, she also has a monthly membership, which is really smart, and the price is low, which is also smart.
At $12.95 paid monthly, or $129 for the year (save 15% and get 2 months free), It's WAY cheaper than visiting a yoga studio and more convenient. You can't even attend a single class at a studio for $13. At least, not in my city.
I'm considering joining despite my moratorium on spending money on American products because of the exchange rate. (Sorry, Americans, but this Canadian is on a budget.)
Monthly membership includes
Member-Only Training Guides & Challenges
Early Access to Content
VIP Discounts on her specialty courses and more.
I've learned a lot about online marketing in the last few years and I can imagine what technology she uses for each part of her business. Her landing pages (Lead Pages), her sales funnels (ConvertKit?) her shopping cart (WooCommerce), etc. She's an amazing content marketer – or has an amazing team that does it.
Another reason she's a great content marketer: I feel that she gives so much away for free that you have to give her money for stuff out of the goodness of your heart. The exchange and knowing how much goes into each video. That's an excellent example of content marketing.
There's a distinct evolution of quality in her videos, from an empty studio with minimal equipment to professionally-looking shoots in her home. I like that. This is how it's done, people. And, being the content marketing nerd I am, I find myself wondering if she batched all her videos – recorded them in a short amount of time – or did it over a longer period.
The other thing that makes it convenient isn't really related to Brett: It's our home theatre set up with the Roku. The living room is my yoga/meditation space in the mornings and his man cave/entertainment room in the evenings. In the recent old days, I'd put a YouTube video on my laptop. When I started this current yoga practice I was watching YouTube videos on my phone in the living room – until this morning when I remembered that Roku has YouTube and now I can watch the YouTube videos on our big-ass projection screen.
My day-after-posting attempt to get a better photo than the one originally posted, possibly to be replaced tomorrow (again).
I'll report back when I've done more.
P.S. This was my breakfast after, because I was craving a green (pink) smoothie with frozen greens and frozen berries and Genuine Health Fermented Greek Yogurt Proteins+.
*To be clear, I am not affiliated with Brett and I'm not being compensated in any way. I found her videos on my own and am telling you about them because one of my missions is to connect people with quality stuff.
Update: I create a YouTube video to go with this post: