One Plate

A few years ago I read a book written by Don Gerrard called One Bowl which leads the reader through mindful eating that nourishes the body and spirit; it’s a good book and worth reading if you’re working on understanding why we relate to food in the ways we currently do.

While I work with clients on a daily basis around their eating and lifestyle habits I think of the concept of one bowl. The majority of people I have either worked with, talked with or socialize with overeat, myself included much of the time. Why do we overeat? I can tell you that most of the times I overeat is merely because it tastes good and that sometimes it’s the pure enjoyment of the atmosphere, even at home, that keeps me at the table going in for seconds. I don’t do this every day/night but I take more than I need more than I prefer.

People overeat for many reasons. Some overeat because they eat out where most restaurant servings are enough to feed two people – an entire family of four and were taught from a young age to “clean your plate”. Others find that eating is their only enjoyment for the day, or some feel hungry even after consuming an entire meal; boredom, depression, loneliness, anger, sadness, self-pity, frustration, giving up and so many more emotions are reason why people overeat.

Those who feel hungry shortly after eating are often eating the wrong foods which leads to their body searching for proper nutrients - their mind is tricked into thinking they’re hungry. Eating too fast can lead you to overeat too by not tasting the food you’re eating nor giving your brain time to register that your body is being fed.

All of these habits bring me to my idea of “just one plate’. If you have a habit of eating more than your body actually needs and you’re frustrated that you’re either putting excess weight on or just not losing what you want, then I challenge you to having just one plate at every meal. Don’t cheat either, use a plate that is 7-8″ in diameter – if you don’t own one, pick one up and make it your ‘one’ plate.

Take the challenge. Be good to yourself, your body will thank you in many ways for it!

Feel free to share your challenge experience here.

Spring Cleanse 2014!

Each year I run two cleanses, Spring and Fall and my spring cleanse for 2014 is coming up quickly and in perfect timing!

The past winter has been a long, cold, snowy one for most of the U.S. and spring is trying to push its way through but old man winter is putting up a grand fight; yesterday the temperature was in the high 60′s and even low 70′s here in the northeast but this morning we woke up to an icy snow coating the ground and spring flowers!

Doing a cleanse is a great way to clean the gunk out of your organs and reboot your system. It can leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and re-awakened with a brighter outlook on life. A cleanse is different from a fast in that you can actually eat food as well as drink plenty of rehydrating, detoxifying liquids. A cleanse allows you to leave your house, go to work, play or whatever else you may have going on as long as you plan ahead by taking foods that are allowed along with you on your activities.

A cleanse of this level can safely and beneficially be done several times a year and even once a month if you feel inclined, it’s safe, it doesn’t deprive [too much ;)] and it’s pretty simple to follow.

If you’d like to know more on how you can cleanse, let me know and I’ll be happy to share with you!

In good health, long life and full happiness…gain momentum and keep it going forward!

Shepherd’s Pie the Initiate Wellness Way

Shepherd's pie cooked                    Shepherd's pie plated2

Who doesn’t love a comfort meal? Shepherd’s Pie might not be an elegant dish or a comfort meal for some but for me it is, especially the way I make it.

I love changing up my recipes depending on my mood or what I have on hand. Today, although it’s the day before the arrival of spring, it’s chilly so this simple and quick dish is dinner.

I hope you give it a try; if you like it or dislike it, let me know in a comment below!

Initiate Wellness Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb. ground turkey breast

4 medium carrots, chopped/diced

1 large onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 -2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4-1/2 cup quinoa (optional)

2 cups frozen corn

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. Bell’s seasoning or a mixture of thyme & sage or whatever you like best

1-2 tsp. salt

1/2 -1 cup water for simmering mixture so it doesn’t dry out

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

(I never measure spices unless I’m baking so amounts are estimates)

1 head of cauliflower, washed & stems removed

olive oil for drizzling and for cauliflower mashing if butter is not preferred

Brown turkey, add remaining ingredients except cauliflower and pepper.

While the mixture is simmering, put whole head of cauliflower into a deep pan, add 2″ water and steam until soft. Remove from heat, drain, sprinkle with a little salt and drizzle of olive oil or 3 TBS. butter and mash entire head in pan until it resembles mashed potatoes.

Add pepper to turkey and transfer turkey mixture to a casserole dish, spread cauliflower mixture evenly over top, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes.

For a vegetarian version, substitute turkey with black or white beans added after the vegetables have softened down, just before transferring to casserole dish. Use 1 lb dried beans, soaked and simmered until soft or 3 cans, rinsed well.

Healthy Shepherd's Pie filling  Mashed cauliflower  Shepherd's pie cooked

#1-filling, #2-mashed cauliflower, #3-ready for the oven!

Habit #4 – Cycling

I decided that I need to get moving! Winter is sort of long and messy where I live so walking, cycling, hiking etc. outdoors is a challenge. I decided to invest in an inexpensive stationary bike that both of us (significant other) can use. We did a little research and chose the Schwinn A 10 Upright.

My new habit will be riding this baby at least 6 out of 7 days without an end in sight! I plan to ride for a lifetime, indoors and outdoors!

Here’s a link to the exact model I bought:

What type of physical exercise do you enjoy? What exercise do you get daily? If none, What would be your favorite choice?

Stand Tall

Every so often someone says something to me that penetrates deeply into my soul. One such case happened in the latter part of 2008.

I had been searching for a new chiropractor, someone I could trust, who knew their stuff inside-out and who was professional. After some time, research and high praises from friends/acquaintances I found exactly the person I was hoping for. I found Dr. Guo; he is a chiropractor & acupuncturist with a strong belief in Chinese medicine – he was perfect for me.

During one session while he was placing his acupuncture needles in the exact spots for my particular issues we chatted. Something about holding tension due to trust, past emotional & physical pain & trauma, etc. he said two final words to me before leaving the room; “stand tall”. He left me there for the usual 25 minutes with soothing music, heat lamps and the acupuncture needles towering but gently resting just below my skin.

Stand Tall. My mind was filled with thoughts of stand tall. My posture? My emotions? My attitude? Stand tall. There are so many ways I can stand tall; there are so many areas I need to stand tall in. I closed my eyes, I rested for the full 25 minutes with his gentle words replaying in my mind…stand tall.

Upon leaving his office that day I went through the next two weeks repeatedly hearing his voice telling me to stand tall. I stood tall, I kept my posture in check, I kept my self-confidence in higher esteem, I was reminded in nearly every situation to stand tall. Emotionally and physically, I stood tall.

Two weeks later I returned to Dr. Guo’s office for my next treatment session. He went about his work while he asked how I was doing. I told him that just two simple words that he spoke to me last time hit me strongly in a positive way. I told him that I took his words “stand tall” in two ways, physically and emotionally, and that they made a positive impact on me and how I saw myself; he responded, “I meant them in two ways”.

Since then, those words have stayed with me. His advice was powerful. He often said things that I thought of as profound, but those two words were the most powerful for me at that time. I will forever remember and be thankful for Dr. Guo and his deep-rooted wisdom.

Let me state that the only reason I no longer see Dr. Guo is because I moved an hour and a half away from his office which I was traveling to for about 6 months after moving but it got to be too much and so I found a local chiropractic office.

Juggling & Keeping Up the Pace

We all know how to juggle – maybe not in the circus clown sense but in the sense of life’s responsibilities we do. Some juggle better than others and that’s perfectly normal; no two of us are exactly alike and that is what makes us all uniquely special.

Some of us juggle household & family responsibilities, some of us juggle work responsibilities, and some of us juggle all of the above while others juggle family, work, household and playtime. Whatever you’re juggling it’s easy to miss one task from time to time or worse, to let your juggling become toggling and then a crash where it all, including yourself, comes tumbling down! This is where life becomes a whirlwind that leaves your mind spinning, not remembering details of the things you did, not being in the moment to enjoy the sweet spots in your life.

When you juggle too many things at once for long periods of time it’s easy to get flustered and lose your comfortable pace. Often when this happens many of us turn to food to calm our nerves and reward us for all that we do. More often the foods that are chosen as rewards are junk foods, sweet sugary snacks, oil laden deep-fried foods, gooey, soft, warming or cooling foods, alcohol, soda, extra-large coffee latte oozing with whipped cream…the list goes on; you’ve seen it or done it, we all have. After we have our way with food, we feel like a failure. We feel like we cheated our diet, our plan to eat better, to clean it up, to eat less. We justify, testify and crucify our behavior. Then we start all over again.

Life doesn’t have to be this way. Sure we have to juggle things all the time but it’s important not to take on too much at once. Learn to scale back, say no, keep limits and stay within them and keep up a pace that is comfortable for you personally. It’s okay not to “keep up” with the next guy; it’s better, even healthier to keep up with yourself!

When your juggling act gets out of hand and you struggle to keep it all in the air, when you let go of one or more things…don’t give up. Put it all down, take a look at what you have and decide what things you will pick up and what you will leave for later – plan your pace and get back in your race! Your race isn’t about winning, losing or qualifying, your race is about making your life run smoothly for you personally.

Take time to breathe, dream, be.

When the Life You Imagined Isn’t the Life You’re Living

From a very young age we all, men included, had an idea of what our lives might look like when we grew up. We had dreams of what job we would be doing and those characters changed as we changed, as our lives changed. For some of us those dreams were just that, dreams – and for others, no one was going to stand in the way of achieving their dreams. Those are the ones who are most likely happiest and most successful in their lives and their work.

For the ones who could only imagine their dream rather than actually live it, I say, it’s not too late. I say go for it, start now to re-imagine and re-awaken your dream life! If something is holding you back, move it, eliminate it, or change it. If someone is holding you back, don’t let them – ask them to go with you or at the very least support you in your adventure for happiness.

Think about the life you imagine right now. Are you living it? What is missing? What is good? What one or two things can you change, add, remove or enhance?

What does living your dream mean for you? What does it mean for you not to live it? What is it costing you to abandon your dreams and keep doing what you’re doing today?

If your friend, your partner, your kids came to you for advice or support in helping them reach or live their dreams, what would you tell them? Would you tell yourself the same thing?

Re-imagine your dreams, ponder the questions posed. Decide that it’s not too late to follow your dream no matter how big or small. No one can change your life except you; no one can realize your dreams or goals except you. You have control of your destiny; you’re in the driver’s seat. Take the first step to improve and change what you’re unhappy with.

Live the life you still imagine!

Are You in a Mental Fog?

Lately I’ve been in a slight mental fog. I’m thinking/hoping maybe it’s just because of the lull after the storm called ‘the holidays’; maybe it’s the fact that a year has come and gone and the beginning of a new one is upon us? Whatever the cause may be, I need to – I want to get out of it!

Some simple common causes of mental fog, aka brain fog are things like stress, physical/mental fatigue, and depression, lack of sleep, nutrient deficiency, dehydration and allergy to certain foods. More intense causes range widely from heavy metal toxicity to poor gut health. If you don’t feel better after trying to eliminate common causes associated with brain fog, you might want to opt to have your blood screened for a more in depth diagnosis.

Now that you know what might be causing your mental fog and lack motivation, here are a few simple things you can do to improve your brain health.

Daily steps to calm your thoughts:

- Sitting quietly letting your mind wander and let it go – meditation

- Take a 10-minute walk, just a short walk alone can decompress and clear your mind

- “Fun 15”, take 15 minutes all for yourself every day, sound too easy? Try it anyway!

Drink enough water – half your body weight in ounces every day! (150 pounds = 75 ounces etc.)

Eat nutrient dense foods:

- Citrus, greens and other vegetables for vitamins C, E, & B, & rich in zinc

- Essential fatty acids – fish, avocados, flax and olive oils, other nut and seed oils, whole nuts & seeds.

Try the tips listed above and see if your fogginess improves.

Being in a mental fog isn’t normal nor healthy. Some people have felt this way for so long that it feels normal to them, yet uncomfortable. Temporary fogginess has become somewhat natural in the toils of daily life, but it should never last; the body should have ways of adjusting out of it, not to it. As we find gadgets intended to simplify our lives, we often find ourselves more stressed by these little distractions; it shouldn’t be that way – it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you feel like you’ve been constantly foggy for a while or even if it happens occasionally on and off, you can benefit from learning what foods and lifestyle choices influence how you feel or function through working with me.

Habit # 3

Ok, my apologies, I missed posting #2 which was using a smaller bowl or plate for meals.

For my 3rd new habit I will :

  • continue drinking water
  • continue using a small plate or bowl

# 3 – I NEED to take time to be quiet with my thoughts-meditate. My mind has been in a fog for a short while now and it’s driving me nuts! It’s time to practice what I teach. I will take 10 minutes for myself every day, no distractions, no excuses.

Haven’t meditated yet? Here’s a good way to start:

  • decide on the spot you will do it every day, make sure it’s quiet, comfortable and un-interrupted
  • set the time each day if you can – if you can’t, don’t worry, just do it when you get the chance
  • set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes so that you don’t have to clock watch – cell phones work well because they don’t make the ticking sound
  • sit or lay comfortably, close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing in and out paced slowly and let thoughts come in and let them leave
  • Relax

Love Sprouts? I do!

sprout in jarsmung bean sproutsZesty sprout mix

Sprouting is easy and extremely nutritious. When beans and seeds are sprouted they offer more nutrients than when they’re cooked. You can add sprouts to salad, soup, grain dishes, bean dishes or eat them as a nutritious snack as I often do. You know those times when you feel like nibbling but don’t want to make poor choices? Nibble sprouts!

All you need to begin sprouting is: A mason jar, a square of plastic canvas found at craft stores (if you decide to sprout seeds such as Jonathan or brocco-seeds you can buy a finer mesh plastic canvas) Lentils and Mung beans (aka Moong beans)

Cut a piece of canvas to fit inside the screw part of the mason jar to replace the solid top. Add 1/8 cup mung beans or ¼ cup lentils to the jar, put the newly designed cover on top, fill it with water to rinse the beans once then add enough water to cover the beans. Place out-of-the-way to soak 8-12 hours, over night works well. Empty and rinse the beans, drain well and lay jar on it’s side out of sunlight. Rinse and drain beans twice a day for 3-4 days until you see sprouts. When they’re fully sprouted, rinse and drain them then spread them out on a clean kitchen towel for about 1 hour to air dry well. After they’re dry store them in the refrigerator in a covered container. Enjoy eating them alone or in a variety of dishes!

plastic sprout canvas

If you find that you love sprouting you can find safe seeds to sprout here:

Important tip: You should never sprout seeds that aren’t meant for eating such as vegetable seeds from the garden center. They’re only used for gardening and aren’t safe to be used for sprouting in this manner.