When I started on my journey to health, it felt a little rocky in the beginning. It was hard to figure out what to eat. Is animal protein good for you or bad for you? Is fruit healthy or not? What about dairy? Ahhhhh!!!!!
Did you know that nutrition is the only science where two opposing theories can both be proven to be right? After several years of going back in forth, I am finally feeling good about my choices and I want to share some insights that perhaps can help you in your own journey.
Having eaten mostly raw and vegan diet, I realized that I wasn't feeling my optimum best as I should have been given my regiment. Yes, it works beautifully for many people and I absolutely love raw vegan cuisine for its enzymes, vitamins and life-force, but I can't do it at 100%. I have said it many times that I am Alina, not "vegan" or "raw vegan." I don't believe in "labels" in food or fashion, but I do believe in creative designers and guess what? WE can be our nutrition designers!
Did you know that even Dalai Lama eats animal protein because it is necessary for his health? (Learn more here) Did you know that chimps eat other monkeys? I absolutely respect Dalai Lama and in no way want to compare him to a monkey, but I do want to point out that they don't eat animals out of cruelty. They do it out necessity for their health. I have been torn for many years on whether or not I should or shouldn't have animal proteins and I have suffered tremendously, both emotionally and physically because of it. I am now finally accepting myself as someone who needs to have eggs or fish for my physical wellbeing. I don't eat them for entertainment and I don't eat them often, instead I eat them as medicine for my body.
While some may disagree and show me many different sources to prove that I am wrong, I am committed to the internal wisdom of my body. What works for one person may not work for another and it is our responsibility to be as kind to ourselves and to nature.
With that in mind, I do choose the best quality eggs from chickens who are NEVER in cages, who are pasture-raised, fed with non-gmo feed and humanely treated and raised (Vital Farms is my favorite brand). As for the fish, I do my best to find wild-caught and sustainably harvested kind. I also bless the food I eat and give my gratitude for the sacrifice a being made in order for me to live.
Going forward I will be posting more pictures and recipes featuring organic, non-gmo, humanely raised animal proteins to share my journey and to inspire others. It will still be a small part of my diet as 90% of what I eat is plant-based and mostly raw and unprocessed. I am absolutely passionate about raw vegan cuisine and think that it is one of the most creative ways to make food and one of the best way to get nutrients. I will still be posting, talking and promoting the benefits of plant-based eating and detoxification, but devoting 90% of my posts to it.
I do want to say that it has been incredibly hard to come out and share that, hey, I am human and I am not 100% perfect. There has always been a deep fear of rejection if I don't live up to someone else's expectations. It has been such an honor to be welcomed into an amazing vegan community and a fear of not being a part of it has been holding me back from opening to who I am and what I need. But a life lived in fear is a life half-lived, so here I am sharing my journey and letting go of fear of not being perfect.
I hope that this inspires you to tune in to your body, listen to its voice and nourish it with what it needs. Choose the best quality foods and treat your body and our planet with respect they both deserve. You are one-of-a-kind. Eat accordingly and upgrade your health!
With love and gratitude,
First I want to give thanks and share some fabulous news - I have joined the team at DeliverLean.com, a gourmet food delivery company in Boca Raton, FL., and as the new Director of Public Relations it is my job to promote the convenience of healthy eating! DeliverLean's mission to help people get healthy is very much in line with my own beliefs and I am very grateful to be working with this company.
Right now we average about 70,000 meals a month and offer Traditional, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Organic and Vegetarian meal options. We even have a new line of 100% organic, cold-pressed juices and gluten-free desserts (talk about great work benefits when I get to sample them!) I will keep you updated on more news as we are launching some great products soon.
While right now I am working at DeliverLean part-time, I am still coaching clients and making Raw Vegan Food. So with that in mind, I want to share some November tips, especially on how to avoid that famous Thanksgiving Food Coma
When we think of Thanksgiving a few images may come to mind: roasted turkey in the middle of the table, family members gathering together, football game on TV and the often inevitable food coma. While we love our holiday traditions to repeat annually, this year I want to propose a new ending to your thanksgiving feast - a comfortable satisfaction and easy mobility. Here are our top 3 tips to avoiding Thanksgiving Food Coma:
1. The week of Thanksgiving: I often see people over-indulging at Thanksgiving because they deprive themselves in weeks before the holidays. To avoid overeating in one big meal, allow yourself small treats through out the month. For example, at DeliverLean we have guilt-less desserts that can be enjoyed any day of the week. Their low-calorie Spiced Pumpkin Pie muffins are a fabulous way to satisfy a sweet tooth which can help clients be less likely to over-indulge in a traditional pumpkin pie after the big dinner.
2. The Day of Thanksgiving: Make sure you eat small balanced meals through out the day, especially before the big turkey dinner. The impulse may often be to dramatically restrict your calories beforehand, however that may backfire when your eyes become bigger than your stomach. Instead of starving yourself, enjoy small, portion-controlled, balanced meals with your favorite holiday flavors. That way when dinner comes around you won't be anxious to dig in and instead will make the best food choices for yourself.
3. During Thanksgiving Dinner: When you find yourself sitting in front of all your holiday favorites, first thing to do is to take a deep breath and make a conscious plan of what dishes you would like to indulge in first. Fill up half of your plate with green veggies and salad, one quarter with your favorite starchy side dishes and leave a palm-sized space for the protein.
Slow down during the meal and focus on enjoying the conversations with the family and friends. Wait 20 minutes after you are done with your plate before you reach for the seconds. If you choose to get more food, eat it slowly and with gusto and pleasure. By taking your time to eat slowly, chewing every bite and enjoying every morsel, you will help your body do its best to digest the food and leave you happy and satisfied.
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,
Have you ever wished you could just stop dieting, eat whatever you want and be at your perfect weight? If so, then this blog entry is for you!
After many years of studying different dietary theories and detoxes, I decided to stop all of my experiments and just live, eat what feels natural to me and see what happens. In the last few weeks I found that most days I love fruit in the morning while sometimes I enjoy a cooked, warm meal. For lunch or dinner I either go for more fruit, have sushi, a big salad with beans or even fish and vegetables. I found that I love cooked sweet potatoes and sometimes enjoy some warm rice with beans. As for desserts, I realized that I am satisfied with 1-2 sweet treats a week. I even had a little bit of dairy products and loved them (gasp!)
I liked those foods taste, I felt great going out to eat and not worrying about my food options and ordering whatever I wanted. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling as light and energetic as I have before when I was eating 100% raw foods and mostly fruit. Once you try a certain way of eating and feeling, you notice the difference when you make a change. Because going out to eat is a big part of my life, I needed to find a new approach that worked in my social life and made me feel good at the same time. So, what's a girl to do?
The answer came to me when I was brushing my teeth. We all do that right? Twice a day, about 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes in the evening. Why do we do that? The answer is simple - we want our teeth to look and feel great, we want to look attractive, we want to dazzle others with a flawless smile. We invest time and money into buying a good tooth brush, re-stocking the toothpaste and taking the time every day to clean our pearly whites. So, why not use the same approach with food? Why not look at healthy food as the means to looking hot!
I realize that dark leafy greens may not be as attractive as a hot fudge sundaes and broccoli is not as tantalizing as cookies, but do they really have to be? After all, they can help you look hot in a bikini, what more would you ask for? I think there is time and space for everything and in appropriate amounts. For example, we choose teeth brushing to be a daily activity while clothes shopping is done more on weekly or monthly basis. That's pretty much common sense. We make these choices because we like the results they provide when done at the right times. So, why not use the same principle with food?
For me, I found that I thrive when I have greens with every meal. For example, I may have raw fruits for breakfast with a few supplements of chlorella or mixed greens, make a green smoothie or cook up some greens in a mexican-style breakfast. My energy level is very high when my lunch is a big salad with kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, dulse, sprouts and hummus. For dinner my best meal is fruit or big plate of cooked greens with Daiya cheese and tomatoes if I am staying in. If going out I love asking the chef to create me a plate of their best veggies and spinach. Funny thing is, greens are like brushes that clean your body inside while a toothbrush is cleaning your teeth outside! The key approach here is that I am not making these choices because I want to be on a diet and I am not at all depriving myself.
What it really comes down to is that I want to feel amazing. I want to wake up refreshed with lots energy early in the morning. I want to have a slender body and not feel bloated. And just like I choose to brush my teeth every day for 2 minutes at a time with the best Sonic brush my dentist can recommend, I am choosing to mostly eat the best foods for me every day -- fruits and vegetables. Then, if I feel like eating something else once a week or so, I can easily do that. I know that my body will be strong enough to digest it and not feel tired afterwards, just like my teeth can handle being brushed for only 1 minute instead of 2, once in a while. The goal is that you make the best choices based on how you WANT to FEEL and I hope you choose to THRIVE!
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.
We often hear people refer to a significant other, a person that they love and care for. But what about "significant self?" I thought about one of my clients that is struggling to lose weight because she doesn't think she is significant enough. She doesn't feel she can be her own priority. As a result, her body is constantly in an emergency, fat-storing mode and if you think of an emergency on an airplane, what does the airlines ask you to do? Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before putting it on a child! Let's see how it can be related to food.
First of all, I want to clarify what I mean by "significant self". Sure, if you are working on big project that a lot of people depend on, then you feel empowered by the "importance" of it and you feel significant. In that case you are more likely to stick to it. You feel needed, so that inspiration keeps you going. But what about being empowered and inspired to simply be in the best shape you can be? What about sticking to a healthy lifestyle and taking time for yourself on daily basis?
When it comes to being gentle with ourselves, we often shy away and don't think it is as important as taking care of your family. But think about it this way -- if you don't take good care of yourself, how can you take care of others? What kind of example are you setting for your family? Would you want your kids to grow up neglecting their health? Finally, when people don't allow themselves to regularly unwind, they end up waiting too long until only a cookie or a glass of wine will do the trick.
So, what's a girl to do? Whenever you have a thought that your self-care can wait, remember what every airline stresses in their pre-flight demonstrations: First put the oxygen mask on yourself, before you put it on a child. It's not about being selfish, it is about being loving and gentle with yourself so that you can take care of your other priorities.
VALENTINE'S MONTH CHALLENGE
Being gentle with ourselves doesn't mean taking time off at the expense of others. Instead it should be balanced with being kind to others. Being kind to ourselves will actually help you be kinder with others! So this Valentine's Month, take my challenge of taking 5 minutes out of your day and do something special for yourself EVERYDAY. Buy yourself flowers, smell your favorite candle or simply take time out for 300 seconds of slow breaths. Just simple 5-minute daily breaks can help your body get out of fat-storing mode into fat-burning. Remember your significant self and be fabulous!
So, I have a confession to make. Even though I know how bad sugar is for me, I was still eating sweets (although many were healthy-ish) more often than I would like to. Saying "NO" to myself worked once in a while, but then as most of us know, we usually give in to the craving. So, I spent a bit of time wondering why is it that even when we know something is bad for us, we still do it anyway?
A few blogs ago I talked about looking at sugar as you would look at an attractive significant other that physically abuses you. In that entry I suggested that we should simply break-up with this addiction like you would with a person. Respect yourself and stop the contact. Then find a healthy, kind-to-your-body replacement. So, I tried doing that. I let a healthy banana-coconut tiramisu into my life and we shared a few wonderful moments. Sure, it was great, but when that tiramisu wasn't available and I was out to eat, that old, familiar taste of a hot, gooey brownie with vanilla ice cream was just irresistible. Why in the world was I not able to stop getting myself involved with it?
All of a sudden, I started thinking about my friend who used to be in a relationship with a someone that wasn't very good to her. Yet, she couldn't help but go back to spend time together even after they officially broke up. She missed their times together and couldn't stop thinking about the past. Until she met an amazing guy who adores her and showers her with love. Then the old flame magically got extinguished and she focused on a new relationship.
Translating that into the world of food, at first I thought the right replacement for un-healthy sugars was a healthy alternative. However, I realized that solutions was still being too shallow and that all this time I wasn't giving complex carbs the time of day and attention they deserved. And it was in the hidden energy of grains like quinoa and brown rice where I found peace and ended my need to have sugar before it even started. The truth is, whether we like it or not, we need carbs to give us energy and if we aren't getting enough of the good ones, then our bodies will crave the sugary ones!
Of course in the beginning it was hard switching gears and getting used to this new relationship. I wasn't used to preparing and eating grains as often as I needed to. So, it took discipline -- 2 times a week for about 5 mins, to be exact (the time that it requires to rinse the grains and put them on the stove). But in the end, it was all well worth it. My body is now fully satisfied with the delicious purple rice (often known as forbidden rice), mutli-colored quinoa and millet. Turns out that they were exactly what I needed and now I am steadily forgetting about the dangerous affairs with high-sugar foods.
I hope that you take some time to think of what your body is truly craving and find the right foods that will satisfy you. They will be different for everyone, but trust me, your body isn't really craving brownies at 3pm -- it is craving energy. Unless you introduce a new food into your life, chances are you will be getting the same old result that is not making you happy. After all,if you want something you don't have, you need to do something you are not doing.
It is a well-known fact that what goes in must come out. For example, if you eat or drink, you will eventually have to go to the bathroom. Food and water nourish our bodies and keep us alive, but we must eliminate the waste produced from them or we will absorb the toxins and eventually die. What about our energy and emotions? Do they need to be digested and eliminated as well?
Today, someone said you need to get anger out of your system and it got me thinking, how does this system work? Does holding onto negative energy and emotions put our bodies at risk of absorbing a different type of toxin with its own deadly results? I have noticed that people who don't effectively communicate their feelings or hold onto what we would categorize as negative emotions or energy find that these held feelings manifest into physical ailments. For example, liver stones can be formed not just because of poor health, but because of unreleased anger.
We all have energy that we give and receive. There has to be a constant flow, otherwise it will stagnate and create imbalance. It is a fact that emotions affect our bodies --when you suddenly get excited your cheeks turn pink and when you get scared, they turn white. Our thoughts and feelings and the energy they create affect us and they need to be expressed. If one keeps holding on to negative feelings from your childhood, it is similar to holding on to the sandwich you ate when you were a kid. Can you imagine the pain and discomfort of a decades old sandwich still sitting in your stomach?
Many of us are dealing with the emotional equivalent of that sandwich. We hold onto feelings from the past instead of processing and eliminating them from our bodies, and in many cases when people get sick, these emotions are rarely analyzed to see if they caused the manifestation of the illness.
Take time and look deeper into your emotional body. Let the stagnation out by expressing your feelings. The best way to do so it to write a letter to someone. Whether that person will ever read the letter or not is not relevant. It is about the energy that you hold in your imagination. Let those feelings out on paper and then burn them. Watch the flames take away the discomfort you have been feeling and move on.
Why allow anger, resentment or fear to rule your life? Why chose to listen to the feelings from the past when they are not making you happy. Open yourself up to the abundance of this universe and let it take whatever is not supporting you. Just as we let the trees take out carbon dioxide that we exhale and then produce oxygen, let the universe take our your negative energy and create a positive one. Then, open up to other people around you and breath in their positive spirits.
Let the compassion and love of others make a change in your system to where you also give others your love and compassion. Try it for a while and you will see tremendous difference in your life and the lives of people around you. We can't live without food and we can't fully live without other people around us to help our energy flow.
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!
Why ask me?
- After many challenges and different crazy life experiences I am living my dream life and since my friends say I am pretty wisdomous and I think I am a little bit funny too, I want to share my life approach with you so you can live the life you love as well.
Here is a little bit about me:
- I am a creator of #1 Best Diet as selected by Harpers Baazar Magazine
- I started my career in the corporate world and didn't even know how to peel a shallot
- I have been a chef for celebrities for over 10 years
- I have a realistic approach to food and life
- I have a great relationship with food and can even let chocolate go bad because I simply forget I have it at home (something I wasn't able to do 10 years ago)
- I eat carbs whenever I feel like it without any guilt
- I used to hate to cook and now absolutely love being a private chef and a food relationship coach
- I wear whatever clothes I desire no matter what everyone is wearing or thinking
- I am in good shape and my body’s biological age is 13 years younger than the one in my passport
- I have experience being super poor, super wealthy and in between
- I’ve worked in corporate world and am now an entrepreneur
- I was married and divorced
- I used to cry going to work because I was so miserable with my boss
- I’ve had an emotional eating disorder
- I moved from Russia to USA alone at the age of 15
- I’ve lived in Russia, Europe and on both coasts of USA
- I have been super skinny and overweight
- I have been insecure and unhappy with reasons and secure and happy for no reason
- I used to wear glasses and healed my eyes with the power of thought and exercises
- I created "Couture Nutrition®" so you can have tailor-made solutions for your body and soul
- My brain usually comes up with jokes to soften stressful situations
- I think color coordination, sparkles and rainbows are underused