There comes a time in everyone's live when people start thinking about their health and wellness as an irreplaceable and most precious part of their being. For some, that moment comes from inspiration and for others it comes from an illness that casts a shadow on that person's life.
I had the privilege to read an advance copy of Jon Chandonnet's book - Shadow Summit - a memoir of Jon finding out that he had MS and his journey to healing. The book covers many details of Jon's life and builds rapport with the reader as he connects with everyday person who has their own struggles that may even originate in the childhood.
Now, I am a raw food chef and health coach. Why would he send me this book to review? What I loved about Jon's journey is the discovery of raw foods, wheatgrass shots and spiritual/emotional healing. It was the miracle of raw foods, which are full of enzymes and vitamins, that played a big role in his healing. It was letting go of conventional eating habits and false beliefs that played a big role in his illness.
I was happy Jon showed the challenges that he and his wife faced when learning about this way of eating and living. Many people may think that raw foods are "out there" and not for an everyone. So many men especially feel like raw food is "rabbit food" and is not manly enough. Well, guess what? The strongest animals like elephants and bulls eat this way and they have energy to blast through the day without getting tired. When Jon let go of old beliefs and gave these foods a chance, his body was able to heal and get its energy back.
I hope that Jon's story inspires others with similar health challenges to take an honest look at their food and emotions and try something new that they haven't tried before. I know that many people will be surprised how the body and mind shift and heal when you introduce yourself to the magic of raw foods!
When people hear the term “raw food” they often tend to think that it is a complicated way of eating that requires lots of discipline. Partially they may be right. Partially. But there is so much more to raw food and if you look at it from a different perspective, then perhaps you too would give it a try. And that perspective is through the lens of shopping.
Let’s side track for a minute and think of a special party that you were looking forward to attending, like prom or your cousin’s wedding. If you are like me, then you probably started looking for a dress months in advance. I remember that before my prom, my mom and I took a train up to New York for a weekend to find the dress that I loved. It took hours.
First we had to find dresses that looked good on the rack. Then we had wait in long lines to the fitting rooms in order for me to try them on. Then, we had to weigh the pros and cons of each dress as far as price and value. Once that was decided, we would put the dress on hold and go to another store to make sure we didn’t find anything better. Let me just say that it was one long weekend, but in the end, it was worth it – I did get the dress and I looked great at the prom.
So, how does that go with the raw foods? I think it is all about the value of discipline and figuring out whether you are worth the effort or not. It is a well-known fact that raw food has the enzymes and vitamins that your body needs to flourish. But when we cook our food, they are destroyed. Due to the lack of food enzymes, our bodies have to work extra hard on digesting the food, instead of sending nutrients to the cells and burning off extra fat. And because most of the vitamins are destroyed during cooking, our bodies crave more and more food, leading people to overeat.
But if you look at raw foods as something that will make you look and feel great for the entire life, not just a day, you will see how valuable raw foods are. And they don’t require hours like shopping does. I personally know many people who cured diseases, increased energy and lost weight on raw foods. And because there is no actual cooking involved, you have more time on your hands to do other things.
Lastly, I want to say that raw food takes LESS time to prepare than cooked food, simply because you don’t cook it! Yes, there are things that need to be soaked overnight or sprouted, but you don’t have to stand next to the stove for hours as you would with cooked foods. All that is required of you is to put the items in the water (takes less than 1 minute) and rinse the next day (takes less than 1 minute again). It does take remembering to do these simple actions, but then again, what doesn’t? We all brush our teeth everyday, twice a day because we want to avoid going to the dentist. So, why not introduce more simple raw foods into your diet if it will help you avoid going to the doctor?
Now, I don’t suggest that you should go on an all-raw food diet and forget about the simple pleasures of sharing a home-cooked meal with friends and family. I, myself, occasionally eat foods that are contain animal products because I found that with my bio-individuality that is what my body needs. However all ingredients are organic and from humanely-treated and raised animals and these foods are not the staples of my daily diet.
What I do advise my clients is to experiment with raw foods and to leave excuses behind. If you don’t like all raw foods, then it’s ok, as long as you gave it a fair chance. But you won’t know unless you try it, just like you have to look for a dress that has the right fit and color for you.
Your body is worth nourishing and pampering. It is worth receiving all the best foods available so you would look and feel great. I think that if we spend hours shopping for clothes that will make us look good for a special occasion, then we are definitely worth looking and feeling good during our entire lives.
I encourage you to give some raw foods a shot and see how you like them. You are worth having a healthy, beautiful body, and raw foods are an easy way to achieve just that. To begin, just start adding a banana to your morning donut or add some kale to a fruit smoothie. For lunch and dinner, add a big green salad and some of your favorite raw vegetables. Start small and you will still see the difference. Take a look at my "Getting Started" Tab for more ideas!
Cheers to your health!
You know the drill of a diet: You are committed. You are motivated. You are doing it. You lose the weight by avoiding red meat, extra fat and sugar. You exercise. You get to your goal weight. And then you face a simple question - What happens AFTER the weight loss?
Will you go back to your old eating habits, rewarding yourself with food for your success and ultimately getting back to the previous weight? OR will you be on a diet forever, counting each calorie and watching every ounce on the scale? Which one of these life options are you destined to live? To me, that's neither of those is a life. Eating foods that you know are not loving your body, that make you tired and weak is not fun in the end of the day. Eating dull foods that you despise is also not a very pleasant process. So, what's a girl to do?
I believe in life WITHOUT a diet from the beginning. I believe in choosing foods that NOURISH your body AND that you actually happen to love to eat. There is no "OR". There has to be an "AND." Only when you reach the perfect harmony of eating foods for pleasure AND health will you forget about the word diet and actually start to live. Your body will show you how beautiful it can be when you give it the foods it needs. Your spirit will soar with joy from eating delicious fresh foods that are bursting with energy.
In my experience life begins when you eat a lot of foods that are alive themselves - raw fruits and vegetables. I am not advocating to eat 100% raw vegan foods for everyone, but I do believe that eating a lot of them will change the way you feel and give you a lot of loving energy. Try it for yourself. Pick juicy fruits that you love. Try some new vegetables and you may be surprised that you enjoy their taste. If it is animal protein that gives you strength and pleasure, then chose the best quality, organic, humanely-raised meats.
You only have this one body in this life, so love it up! Don't waste time on diets. Pick fabulous foods, feel the energy and enjoy your life, starting this very moment. It is time to Let Yourself Blossom!
One of the biggest challenges my clients face when they start working with me is discovering that deep inside them there is a voice that sabotages their successes. Somewhere deep inside there is a voice that keeps telling them that they are not good enough, that they are not loved, that they are not worthy of love, that they are weak, that they don't deserve to be happy, that they are bad and that they need to change themselves in order to be happy. If this is something that you find yourself dealing with, then I would like to offer you one exercise that may help you.
Take a few minutes to imagine standing at the new-born room at the hospital, looking at the little babies that are only a couple of days old. Look at them, study their faces. Can you point out which baby you think should be worthy of having a great life and which baby should be doomed to suffer? Probably not. Most likely you are thinking that each baby deserves all the happiness in the world. Now, imagine that you are at the hospital where YOU were born and you are looking at yourself as a baby. Do you think that you were enough then? Do you think you were worthy of having it all at that moment? I say you did and guess what, you still do!
Now, you may be thinking: "But Alina, you don't know me. You don't know about all the bad things I've done, all the horrible thoughts I've had, all the terrible things I've said!" You are right, I don't know about those. But the truth is, that NOBODY is perfect. We are human. It is human to do bad things and to have bad thoughts. We all have faults and we all fail at times. However, shaming yourself and feeling guilty is not a way to redeem yourself. What you CAN do, is:
1. Write down all the things you think prevent you from feeling worthy
2. Read each one out loud and then take full responsibility of your actions by:
a. Accepting that you have done what you did and realize that it wasn't the right thing to do. Make a commitment to not
repeat that action.
b. If possible, do something to correct that action right now. Make a list of things that you can DO to redeem your
3. Look at yourself in the mirror and feel yourself be present in the moment. Realize where you are right now in time and space. Notice how your body feels. Give gratitude for your body and spirit. Take notice that you are the same being as you were when you were born and you are still worthy of happiness!
4. Make a list of actions you can do to create a vibrant future! Go for it! This is the only life you have to live in this body - make it a great one!
And if you still feel that there is something that is still holding you back, then email or call me to get support. I work with clients all over the world on the phone, via skype and in person and I will be happy to help you break free and achieve your the health goals. Remember that your essence is of a lovable, beautiful, worthy human-being and if there were actions to prove otherwise, then there are counter-actions that can bring you back to your true self. Let Yourself Blossom!
With all my love,
During a recent conversation with a client, she shared that she is constantly having strong hunger and she can't stop eating. She felt like she was a servant to her cravings and they were taking control over her life. Diets didn't work for her and she felt deprived and powerless. She knew she shouldn't be eating processed sugars, drink soda or eat fried foods, and yet she continued doing that. I know that many people have similar issues - they want to release extra weight and get in better shape, but they have challenges in control their food impulses. If this is your challenge, I invite you to explore another approach to gaining control and releasing weight.
A few days ago a friend of mine was staying at my house when he pointed out that my dog, Snoop, was out of control when it came to barking at the door when he heard any noise from the outside. Every time Snoop would hear anyone in the lobby, he would run and start his new rant. During his stay, my friend took time to train Snoop by a combination of distracting Snoop's attention, calming him down or just simply commanding him to stop with reasonable force.
When I started to feel bad for Snoop when he had to obey, my friend explained that it is better for Snoop than letting him do what he wants. By taking control, I allow Snoop to feel that he is safe and that I am in control. Also, it keeps him out of potential danger from strangers who may get annoyed with his loud bark. Essentially, by taking control of the situation, I make everyone happier - Snoop, myself and my neighbors.
If you want to release extra weight, determine who you want to control your life -- your hunger and addiction to processed foods or your heart and your determination to be healthy and happy. When you want to reach for fatty, sugary or processed foods, choose to either:
It is your choice, whether you allow your cravings take charge or you stop them immediately. Hunger and cravings need to be trained. Yes, it may take some time, but it will be worth the effort. After a few weeks, it will become a habit to care for your body and as a result you will feel amazing physically and emotionally. You will also feel empowered. I know for a If my dog can remain calm when he hears the neighbors in the lobby without running to the door with a barking fest, then anyone can easily pass by food displays without an urge to attack the french fries and the pastries.
I often hear that people want to increase their metabolism, but for many people it is actually better to slow it down. First of all, why do you want to have a fast metabolism? You are probably thinking that if it is fast, then you can lose those extra pounds. But what if you can get rid of them permanently by slowing down your metabolism, changing your lifestyle and as a side effect actually becoming happier?
Imagine you just bought a beautiful Ferrari. Would you be taking it out every day to run your errands? Would you be driving it as much as possible? Would you be putting extra miles on and shorting its lifespan or would you be saving it for special occasions so that it will last longer? But what about our bodies? Why do we feed them more calories than they need, then work out every day to get rid of the ingested food?
From the perspective of the dealership, they would want you to drive your car to the ground so that they can sell you a new one. From the perspective of food and fitness industries, they want you eat more so that you can exercise more. But is that what you actually want? Do you actually enjoy the vicious cycle of eating and exercising? Why do you put extra stress on your body with too much food and then with too much exercise?
Our bodies are more precious than any car in the world, so why do so many people want to wear them out so quickly? From the research that I have done on thousand-year old cultures, as such as India and Japan, it seems that people who live the longest don't eat too much, eat at the most three times a day and don't vigorously exercise to burn off the excess, simply because there is no excess. They eat and exercise in moderation.
They don't stress their bodies with too much food or too much activity.If you are tired of feeling like a hamster spinning the wheel, then try something new. Take a few weeks to retrain yourself to eat only until satisfied, not stuffed, and only three times a day. Don't snack. Don't punish yourself with exercise. Take time to find out what feeds your soul that's not food, such as hobbies, time with friends and family, relaxation techniques. Slow down the fast pace that you may be experiencing in your life and breath. You may find that those pesky pounds are melting away faster than you imagined and with less effort.
I know what it feels like when vendors or guests bring you delicious food that you know you shouldn't be eating. The smell of cookies, brownies, chips and other treats seem to call your name, especially around 3pm. I used to think: "Well, it's right there. I need a pick-me-up and this food is free. I might as well have a bite." And then one bite would lead up to 100 bites. With that in mind, I created 5 tips on how to avoid jeopardizing your waist line without feeling deprived. No willpower needed.
1. The FREE-GIFT-WITH-PURCHASE Trick
When you go to a department store and they offer you a FREE gift with purchase that you really don't need, do you still give in just because you don't have to pay for something? In the end, there is a price we pay for everything and when it comes to free fattening food, what you are really getting as a free bonus is high risk of discomfort, extra weight and health problems. Ask yourself if the food still looks appealing if you know what it will really cost you.
2. The BUDGET Trick
Give yourself an allowance. Just like you watch your monetary budget, do the same with food. Allocate 10% of your food to be simply for pleasure. That means 2 full meals a week or one small 150 calorie snack a day. If it is a 300-calorie cookie that you crave, then have ONE every other day. Don't jeopardize your budget and go into calorie dept when you don't have to.
3. The JOY Trick
Sometimes our cravings for free food are simply because we crave the joy of receiving a gift. We want to feel special and worthy of accepting it. In that case, why not spread that joy? Take the food and on your way from work give it to someone who doesn't have enough to eat, like the homeless, for example. They will be thrilled with the gift and you will get extra rush of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) from making someone else's day.
4. The EAT-MORE Trick
Look back at your day and remember what you ate. I know from my experience that when I am feeling satisfied with my breakfast and lunch, I don't have any desire to eat anything else even if it is free and is sitting on my desk. If sweets seem too tempting, that could mean that you didn't have enough good carbs, protein or healthy fat during the day. In that case, have a snack that is low in sugar but high in protein and good fat, such as hummus with brown-rice crackers or your favorite mixed nuts.
5. The GUILT-FREE Trick
If all fails and you find yourself reaching for the cookie, then make the best out of it. Brew a cup of tea or decaffeinated coffee. Put the dessert on a nice plate. Look at it. Take a deep breath in to feel the aroma. Take a small bite and chew it slowly, feeling every morsel. Take your time and don't rush. Let go of any guilt and truly savor the food. I believe that if you eat when hungry, eat with awareness and savor the flavor in every bite, then the food will not do the harm it would have if you inhaled it and then felt guilty about it. Remember, guilt and shame actually slow down your digestion!
Yesterday I came home from a 2 week trip to Europe. After exploring several regions in Italy I had a plethora of culinary experiences behind my belt. The foods that stood out the most during the trip were pizza, pastas and gelato. I will confess that I had gelato every single day and ate more pasta during the last two weeks than I did during the last two years. However, my clothes still fit the same. During the trip, I took notice of not only what I ate, but how I ate it. Here are top 5 tips that I learned from Italians.
1. Small portions. Yes, you can have a pizza or a bowl of pasta, but in smaller portions than we are used to in US. While I don't believe in calorie counting, I do believe in sizes. Just like you think about the size of you body when you are picking out clothes to buy, choose the size of your dishes keeping in mind the size of your stomach. While vegetables are mainly water, starches and meats should not be bigger than your fist, if you want to be truly comfortable afterwards.
3. Ingredients matter. In Europe there are no hormones and no antibiotics given to animals. Fruits and vegetables have less pesticides, if any. It is important to remember that lots of toxins don't leave our bodies and get trapped between fat cells and water. In shopping analogies, look at the toxins as clothes that you don't need, but have to create extra closet space for. Get rid of them all together and you will get rid of clutter that is not doing you any good. Try to purchase organic foods and you will see how your body responds.
3. Remember the reason for eating. Yes, we eat because we are hungry, but we also eat because it is a way to socialize. When eating with friends and family, focus on the company, not only the food. Let the people around you bring sweetness into your life, instead of cake. Just like in shopping, the satisfaction of a purchase is not only in the items that you buy, but also in the experience of the store.
4. Walk, do not sit. After a meal in Europe, we would take a stroll and enjoy the nature, instead of sitting glued to the TV. Short 15-20 minute walks can do wonders to your body. In shopping terms, look at a walk after a meal as you do at a walk in the mall -- an activity that gets you closer to your goal.
5. If you screw up, forgedaboudit. Life is about enjoyment and sometimes we do over-indulge. If that happens, don't dwell on the past, take it as a learning experience and focus on the enjoyment of the experience. The past is over, so it is how you spend your present that's most important. Choose to think about the happy moments that you experienced and enjoy la dolce vita!
Have you ever eaten the entire piece cake on your plate even though you were full half-way? Or maybe even went for the seconds or thirds? I know it has happened to me many times and I am not alone in this. It is not uncommon for people to think: "What the heck. I was good all day. I might as well let go and eat what I want while I can." Sound familiar?
The funny thing is the same people can be very good at going to shop at their favorite stores with credit cards in hand and not buy 30 sweaters in one trip. Why is it that we can control ourselves with not going over the limit of our credit cards, but we can over eat?
I believe the answer is in the word "restricting." If you focus on holding yourself back, then that's all you can think of. The voice in your head keeps saying "don't do this" and "don't eat that." And when the voice points to something, then it's all we can think of. Usually there is no such a voice when you go to the store. That's because knowing our monetary budgets can become a second-nature to us. We simply had to learn it and then it became a habit. Now we just take them as part of life and indulge accordingly. No guilt or shame.
If you are struggling with overeating, but you are good with credit cards, then see what shopping behaviors you can apply towards food. Notice where your attention goes. See what emotions are moving you towards overeating. If it to indulge because you were restricting yourself all day, then stop the restriction part in the first place and allow your body to tell you what nutrition it really wants. Most importantly, realize that if you are the one with the power to control your spending, then you also have the power to find balance in your eating habits.
One of the biggest challenges my clients face when they start working with me is discovering that deep inside them there is a voice that sabotages their successes. Somewhere deep inside there is a voice that keeps telling them that they are not good enough… Continue reading here.
One of my favorite Disney movies is Beauty and the Beast. Little girls from an early age are taught to look through the looks and love people for who they are. I think we all consciously try to do that. Except for one person. In my line of work I often see women who can't fall in love with themselves. Continue reading here.