The Vegan Post

Fitness/Health, Food

Let me start by stating that I am not vegan. I feel compelled to write this post because of a documentary my family watched which caused my parents to go cold-turkey on all animal-based foods.

Before we watched the film, my parents loved fish, chicken, cheese, milk, ice cream… you get the idea. Now? They are doing their best to eat a “whole foods, plant-based diet” and trying to convince everyone they know to do the same. (As for me, I’m choosing vegan and vegetarian options more often, but I can’t bring myself to give up cheese or milk in my coffee quite yet.)

The movie is called Forks Over Knives and it’s currently available on Netflix. “Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.” (read more here)

Basically, these two doctors spent their careers experimenting (independently… they didn’t meet each other until later in life) and each came to the conclusion that people who eat a plant-based diet with no animal-based products have a significantly lower chance of getting cancer. The film even features some patients who were able to survive their cancer death sentences by changing their diet. And it’s not only about cancer. The film also interviews patients who got rid of diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems by switching to a vegan diet.

You’d think this would be all over the news, because we are always searching for a magical cure to cancer, right? Well, here’s the thing about this possibly magical cure. It’s easy, and it’s cheap. No one is getting rich off this breakthrough. There’s no fancy pharmaceutical drug that a company can charge millions for. It’s just a lifestyle change that anyone can make, with or without the help of a doctor. Frankly, it’s cheaper to eat a plant-based diet than an animal-based one.

“It is time to let food be our medicine.”

What do you think? Are you familiar with this film or with the claims it makes about a plant-based diet? Have you made the switch to veganism?

-L

Anxiety

Advice, Fitness/Health

Sharing time: I used to think I was a very calm person because my emotions were pretty even-keeled. I thought I didn’t even know what anxiety was. But in the last year it has been brought to my attention (by a mental health professional) that anxiety is my baseline. I am pretty much always anxious, and have been my entire life. So my emotions might be even-keeled, but not necessarily in a good way.

Most of us struggle with anxiety — if not all the time, at least once in a while. Life can be stressful, and that’s why it is important to know how to take care of yourself.

Here are some easy ways to show your anxiety who’s boss.

Watch TV. Work out.
Both of these activities take your mind off your worries and force you to pay attention to something else. Whether it’s Mary’s gorgeous wardrobe on REIGN or feeling the burn while trying not to drop free weights on your toes, giving your brain a break for an hour or two will make you feel like a new person.

Take a hot bubble bath.
A hot bath relaxes your muscles, which in turn relaxes you. If you have trouble sleeping at night, soak in the tub before bed to calm down. Epsom salts and scented bubbles are always a good idea, but if you don’t have any the hot water will do you good on its own.

Clean your apartment and light scented candles.
I’m not suggesting a deep clean of every nook and cranny (unless you’re in the mood for that), but never underestimate the power of a quick tidy-up. Take five or ten minutes to put things away, wipe down tables and counters, maybe sweep or vacuum. Then light some candles. This is a great thing to do for your mental health because you are actively taking control of your environment and creating a positive change that you can enjoy immediately. It’s so much easier to relax when your place looks and smells pleasant.

Say what’s on your mind.
Literally, state your worry out loud to yourself. It helps you focus instead of freaking out, and puts your fear in perspective. Sometimes I find it hard to pinpoint exactly what I’m anxious about, so just the act of trying to form it into a sentence helps me realize I’m anxious about… well, nothing.

Now say the worst that could happen if your fear comes true.
For example, “if I don’t accomplish ___ then ___ might happen.” Often your next thought will be, “in which case I would…” and it helps you see that even if things get really bad it won’t be the end of the world.

Breathe.
It sounds cheesy, but it helps. I find that when I am anxious or stressed I tend to hold my breath. Taking some long deep breaths can help you relax instantly. Next time you’re anxious, take a deep breath for 10 seconds and then let it out slowly.

~

Do you have any tips on dealing with anxiety? How do you relax?

-L

The Perks of Moonlighting

Dance, Fitness/Health, Quick Read, Tech Industry, Workplace

For someone in the tech industry, I have a very rare moonlighting gig. After a 40 hour week, I moonlight as a dance teacher at a studio about 30 minutes outside of Seattle. I teach little munchkins how to do plies, shuffles, and cartwheels. I choreograph jazz, lyrical, and musical theater dances for the competition team. I only officially teach one evening a week, but I sub for other teachers, help at the recitals and picture-days, and cheer on our team at competitions throughout the year. 969668_10151447406541087_657398746_n Some people think I’m crazy and my friends complain that I’m never free. But after five years of teaching on the side of school or work, I can’t imagine ever giving it up. I want nothing more than to be dancing around a large room after a day of sitting at a desk. I get to laugh at my students who are five and try to tell me the most ridiculous stories. I don’t have to use my brain, my body just knows what to do. What’s even better, I get to share my love of dance with a whole new generation. Moonlighting allows you to do what you love, but not necessarily make a career out of it. Not every employer supports it, but if yours does, see if you can fit it in to your busy schedule! — J 1614231_10152041678261087_4325678024252608073_o Quick shout out: Last weekend my studio competed at Rainbow Dance Competition in Seattle. One of our routines was chosen to be a part of the Video of the Year competition. Whoever gets the most likes on the video posted to their Facebook page, wins a promo video for the studio. If you would like to support us, please click here and like the video “Let’s Go Crazy!” So proud of our young dancers!

The 411 on Acupuncture

Fitness/Health

Acupuncture has a stigma. The same stigma that plagues alternative types of medicine. However, acupuncture is not the same in different parts of the world and not every practitioner practices the same, but there are key similarities. Let me share what brought me to acupuncture, what you need to know about acupuncture, what to expect if you decide to try it, and why I still do it! Even if you are scared of needles, you can benefit from acupuncture!

Why I tried acupuncture

Working in tech has ravaged my shoulders. Sitting at a desk all day paired with my over-exaggeration of “lowered shoulders” while teaching dance caused some major damage to my shoulders. At one point, I had a knot so large in my shoulder blade, I physically couldn’t move my shoulder because it was stuck. This pain also traveled up my neck and once I started getting migraines in the middle of the work day, I decided I needed to do something. I discussed it with my doctor and she said to talk to my physical therapist (who I was already seeing for a foot injury). My PT gave me some exercises and stretched my shoulders but really didn’t do anything to fix it. He did inform me that I was missing many ligaments in my shoulder blades which means my muscles have to work even harder to keep my shoulders in place. The curse of the naturally flexible.

Foolproof Smoothie Recipes

Fitness/Health, Food, Recipes

Whether your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthier, you got a blender for Christmas, or you just love smoothies, check out our favorite smoothie recipes.

These are super simple and foolproof because they only contain a few, easy-to-find ingredients, and don’t require exact measurements.

(image source)

My Berry Green Smoothie
spinach + berries + banana + Greek yogurt

  1. Blend up a couple handfuls of spinach with a little water.
  2. Add a couple handfuls of berries and blend. I usually use strawberries and blueberries (frozen or fresh depending on the season).
  3. Add a whole banana and a big dollop of plain, whole fat Greek yogurt for delicious creaminess, and enjoy!
    4. Extras: In the summer, add fresh pineapple, kiwi, or any other fruit you have on hand. You can also add some avocado for extra green color and creaminess. Add a scoop of protein powder if using as a meal replacement or after a workout.

My Strawberry Banana Smoothie
milk + strawberries + banana + oats + peanut butter

1. Blend about 1 cup of milk, a handful of strawberries (fresh are best), one whole banana, a sprinkle of dry oatmeal, and a scoop of peanut butter.
2. That’s it! This is such a quick, delicious, and comforting breakfast smoothie.
3. Extras: Feel free to swap out an alternate milk or nut butter. You could also add protein powder if desired.

My Tropical Smoothie
almond milk + spinach + frozen pineapple and mango + protein powder

1. Blend a couple handfuls of spinach with about a cup of almond milk, plus a scoop of protein powder if desired.
2. Toss in some frozen pineapple and mango and blend.
3. Extras: Add some coconut, papaya, or banana.

~

Yum! Enjoy!

What are your go-to smoothie recipes?

-L

Gluten-Free Eating For Those Without the Allergy

Fitness/Health, Food, Recipes

The “Gluten-Free craze” has really taken off in Seattle and I’ve heard the trend is catching on in other parts of the world too. Even naturally gluten-free foods are starting to advertise the fact they are gluten-free (I’m looking at you Chex cereal). I grew up with my Grandma having celiac disease so she would bring her own disgusting, crumbly bread to Thanksgiving and usually had few options at restaurants. Now I have lots of friends and family who are at least gluten sensitive, there are gluten-free menus at restaurants, and whole aisles of alternatives are sold at grocery stores.

There is some controversy over this craze. People do it to be healthier but some food has to make up for the fact it is missing gluten by adding other ingredients that actually make the food less “healthy” (whatever that means). You can definitely find gluten-free foods at Whole Foods, your local natural markets (PCC in Seattle), and even most larger chains are starting to carry gluten-free foods. When starting off, make sure to try everything and look at what they put in to make it not taste “gluten-free”.

I myself have tried a month of gluten-free eating (twice) and have tested a lot of my sister’s and roommate’s gluten free options. Now, I try to do gluten-free whenever I can even though I don’t have a strong sensitivity. But, I only eat things that I believe taste good so I decided to compile a list of recipes and items you can get at the grocery store that I enjoy. They are good options to try if you want to give gluten-free eating a try. I chose ideas that traditionally have gluten like pastas, breads, and cakes! Some of these take a few tries before it seems normal so don’t give up on the first try!

Overnight Eggnog French Toast Casserole Recipe

This is not a gf recipe, but we made some with gf bread and actually preferred it to regular!

Most Everyting Udi’s

GF breads, cookies, brownies, and lots of other options!

Bionaturae Pasta

Between my sister, my roommate, and myself– this is our favorite GF pasta from a grocery store!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Most people couldn’t tell it was gf!

The Cravings Place Allergy-Free Mixes

Brownie and Pancake mixes are amazing!

Spaghetti Squash

I don’t use a recipe for this– just cook and add a little bit of marinara sauce and veggies. I cook whole and in the oven– takes about an hour but it is worth it!

I am no expert on gluten-free eating but these are some great suggestions. If you guys have favorite grocery store finds or recipes let me know! — J

The Four Agreements

Books, Fitness/Health, Quick Read

At a yoga class I did last year with my dad, the teacher read this at the end of class and it really resonated with me.  I hope it can provide some inspiration to others as well!  It’s from the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

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Be Impeccable With Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the world to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

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I like to remind myself of these Four Agreements from time to time, and there is no better time to get back to being your best self than in the New Year.  They are all quite simple, but I find they are harder than they seem to apply on a daily basis.  It takes concious effort when interacting with others to stay true to ones own feelings and emotions and not let other peoples slither their way in.  I find myself very affected by the people surrounding me and tend to let others’ thoughts and ideas into my head in such a strong way that my own are stamped out.  This is a quality I would really like to work on this year as I am finding my own, unique, voice.  And I’m going to kick ass in the big city when I move to Capitol Hill next month!  2015 is going to be a great year filled with new, exciting, changes!

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-S

Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy

Fitness/Health

Yea, yea, that’s what everyone says.  But really, I can lose my belly pooch in 10 days!  And make healthy meals in minutes every day!  No, no I can’t.

When I decided to apply this saying to my health and fitness habits, it enabled me to wade through the bull s*** I hear and read about.  If being in tip top shape were easy we’d all be doing it!  This is not a new concept, and to some it may be obvious, but for me it takes saying this in my head some days to get through my work out or make a healthy dinner at the end of the day.

I hope with this post I can spread the word and knowledge that putting time and effort into a healthy body will have long lasting benefits that are worth achieving!

The top two healthy habits I have picked up this year are strength training and home cooking.  Muscle is so under appreciated, when in fact it aids in weight loss because muscle burns more calories than fat.  Along those lines, doing strength training before cardio will contribute to burning more calories during your cardio workout.

The home cooking part is a great way to cut out unnecessary calories.  You just never know what goes into your food at most restaurants and portion sizes tend to be bigger than anyone needs.  When grocery shopping I aim to get mostly produce, and only products that don’t have a long list of ingredients that I’ve never heard of.  Being conscious and aware of what you are putting into your body will hopefully lead to healthier food choices.

Here is one of my favorite body weight workouts:

Source: POPSUGAR Studios

 

Please take this all with a grain of salt as I am no expert, just trying to find my own way!  And I’d like to think it’s the right way 😉