Body Healing Journey: Going Off Antidepressants

It was just few months ago when I was taking my antidepressant and anxiety medication – just as I did every morning before leaving the house for the past year and half. Prior to stopping I’ve had several conversation with my physician, and every time I was scared as shit by the idea of going completely off. A morning after another visit and discussion with my doctor I found myself analyzing my new thinking about all of this in the moment, as I swallowed it down, I wondered: had it become a habit, or even a crutch in my life, rather than a necessity for a serious depression. In my case, the answer was an absolute yes – yes this thing has become a crutch in my life.

While recognizing that some people might need a mood-deregulator or a SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) for chemical reasons, this was not the case for me. I needed the antidepressant for environmental reasons. The situation that I was in prior to taking the antidepressant has changed significantly. I was in a “happy place!” I was close to family, friends, had great friends, job,  and doing my teacher training to become a yoga teacher. Things were being checked off the box, and falling in place, and for once the future seems promising. But despite all of that, I still felt that I needed the meds.

On the other hand, while I was feeling mentally great, and my external reality was reflecting my mental state, the side effects of the meds on my body wasn’t great. Physically I felt like shit every day. In just few months I went from 110-115 pounds to 138 pounds (the heaviest I’ve been in my adult life), stopped running, and working out completely. To make things worse, I developed some horrible digestive issues, which I later found out was related to milk intolerance and other food sensitivities.

In late October I finally got some confidence, and decided to go off my meds, number of factors contributed to this decision – I finished my teacher training and was teaching already, I submitted and scheduled a time for my thesis defense, and submitted my last paper. I felt in control of the big things in my life that seemed out of my control for a while now.  This seemed like a logical transition to another stage in my life – living without the crutches called “antidepressants”.

A morning after another discussion with my physician, I knew that it was time to stop taking it. I took my supplements that morning, and spent the remainder of the day researching natural ways to deal with depression or post-depression naturally. That research led to me to three ways to heal with depression. While there were countless suggestions I narrowed down to three that I am currently using on a daily basis. It’s been over four months now since I last took my meds. So I thought I share my experience and journey with going off my meds and how I am dealing with not having thatcrutch in my life anymore.

But before I list them, there are few things to consider before you make the decision, the decision to go off should be considered thoughtfully and made with the support of your physician or therapist to avoid a risk of recurrence of depression. Once you decide to quit, you and your physician should take steps to minimize or avoid the withdrawal affects. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is my solution – meaning that it’s a solution that worked and is working for me. So, just because it worked for me, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you as well. Lastly, my decision wasn’t something that happen overnight, it’s a result of months of discussion with my physician and having REAL talk with myself, like asking myself whether the environment that I was in is likely to trigger me again. With that being said here are some of things that I had to incorporate into my daily routine:

Exercising Daily – Whether it is 30 minute or 3 hour, I always find a time to exercise. Research have found that regular exercise, and the increase in physical fitness alters serotonin levels in the brain and leads to improved mood and feelings of wellbeing. Also, several studies have shown that exercise promote mental health and reduces symptoms of depression. The ant-depressant effect of regular physical exercise is comparable to potent anti-depressants like Sertraline.

“Exercise has a powerful antidepressant effect. It's been shown that people are far less likely to relapse after recovering from depression if they exercise three times a week or more. Exercise makes serotonin more available for binding to receptor sites on nerve cells, so it can compensate for changes in serotonin levels as you taper off SRIs and other medications that target the serotonin system” Harvard Women's Health Watch

Yoga – Doing yoga every day – My lunch hour, evening (if not at the gym) and weekends are spent at the yoga studio. I do yoga everyday during my lunch hour and weekends.  Yoga is not only a physical exercise, but it can be a relaxing and healing process. Practicing yoga can also alter your brain chemistry – some position are effective in stimulating the release of endorphins and reduces the level of stress hormone cortisol. Number of studies have been done and support this use of yoga for depression, and specific yoga posture that increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which may alleviate depression.

Taking Supplements – Taking supplements that are known to help with mild to moderate depression. For example, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe is a synthetic form of an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression. Another one is 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and tryptophan, both are natural alternative to antidepressants. When the body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. The evidence suggests 5-HTP and tryptophan are better than a placebo at alleviating depression.

Full disclaimer, despite doing all of these things, and constantly keep myself busy, I still have my days - there are days where i feel completely hopeless, helpless , anxious, sad, and have terrible mood shift. Sometime it gets so bad, that I try to talk myself into going back on my meds. But I don’t want to develop that dependency again - so instead I’ve decided to take each day as it comes, and accept that not everyday will be perfect. But most importantly, remaining myself that I am doing the best that I can and I have to be gentle with myself.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel

Post Ayurvedic Cleanse

It’s naturally that after the reset your first instinct is to go out for celebratory pizza, burger or wine. But avoid if possible because it could shock your system and undo all the hard work. Continue the reset for couple of days after you finish the plan, so go easy on your body and mind as you transition back to your regular routine. To allow for a safe transition, for 2-3 days post the reset follow the following rules to ensure long-term benefits:

·            Eat Cooke foods, as they are easy to digest particularly during vata season  of later fall

·            Avoid heavy food that require more digestive energy – red meat, hard cheese, and pastas

·            Drink warm lemon water in the morning to stay hydrated.

·            Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night

·            Make your way back to regular routine slowly

Day 5: Why an Ayurvedic Reset – Routine and recipe

Now that you have some knowledge and understanding of Ayurveda, let’s talk about the reset (cleanse). This four-day Ayurvedic reset is based on a reset (cleanse) designed by Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT, a yoga teacher and dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

An Ayurvedic reset (cleanse) emphasizes gentleness, sustainable routines, and equal attention to both body and mind. This contrasts with other, harsher detox plans, which, although often effective for deep cleansing via laxatives or enemas, can actually shock, exhaust, and deplete your digestive and nervous systems. Ayurveda cleanse focuses on resetting the digestive fire (known as agni) which allows it to reset and strengthen the digestive fire. The detoxifying nature further supports the body’s own natural mechanism to remove built up toxin from the body.

During the cleanse you will eat easily digestible foods, so your body can put more energy toward eliminating toxins, but you’ll also maintain enough variety and flavor in your diet to keep you from losing interest or feeling hungry. As a four-day program, the cleanse is just long enough to strengthen the digestive fire and purify the mind without going so deep that it’s necessary to have a personal Ayurvedic practitioner oversee the process. And though Ayurvedic dietary and lifestyle recommendations can be specific to your dominant dosha—your unique physical and mental constitution that influences your well-being—this cleanse is tri-doshic, meaning it works for everyone, according to Carlson.

This is not a full cleans (known as panchakarma), a panchakarma should be done under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. This is simpler version of panchakarma which can be done at home, but can offer the resetting and rejuvenating benefits that a full panchakarma provides.

Things to keep in mind: 1. Kitchari diet for four days – for the four day of the reset you will only be eating a kitchari diet. Kitchari is an easy to make and easy to digest meals, made with rice, yellow mung dal, clarified butter and vegetable. You will have kitchari for all your meal (lunch and dinner). Ideally for breakfast too, however if the idea of having something that heavy in the morning is repulsive to you (it does to me) you can replace it with simple oatmeal.

2. Avoid Snacks – Avoid snacking – instead, sip warm water throughout the day. However, if you’re hungry between meals, don’t deprive yourself.

3. Sip hot water and detox tea in the morning and throughout the day – This will help with resetting the digestion and cleansing toxins. Stay hydrate by drinking water room temperature to ensure you get plenty of fluids. Make sure to avoid ice, cold drinks and caffeine.

4. Do a daily self-massage with warm oil – Self-massage can help with facilitating the removal of built-up toxins so they can be eliminated as waste. While the warm oil can also calm and rejuvenates the nervous system.

Daily Routine while on the Cleanse:

Morning 6 am – 11am

Drink warm lemon water

Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper

Prepare a cup of warm water and lemon and drink it while you begin to prepare your kitchari and tea for the day.

Meditate (5-10 Minutes) or practice gentle yoga (10-20 Minutes)

Breakfast: Breakfast should ideally be kitchari, but if the idea of having kitchari for breakfast is repulsive, you can eat a simply prepared grain such as oatmeal or quinoa. Warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom would be good additions, just don’t put fruit in your oatmeal, as you will want to be diligent about food combining on your cleanse. Fruit is best digested alone!

Breakfast ideally between: 7–8 a.m

Optional:

Complete the 5-senses purification 

Do channel-cleaning breath work

After Noon: 12 – 6pm

Lunch: Eat a large, satisfying lunch

Lunch should be kitchari (Ideally between 12–1 p.m)

Sip 1 cup of tea as desired

Practice yoga for 60 minutes

Evening to night time: 6 pm – 10 pm

Dinner: Dinner should be eaten before 7 pm to give you plenty of time for digestion before sleep (2-3 hours before bed time) - (Ideally between 5–6 p.m., but no later than 7 p.m.).

Wind down by reading inspirational books, writing in a journal, or meditating.

Go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep.

Oil massage

Things to Keep in mind while on the cleanse:

Practice eating mindfully.

Walk in nature.

Drink 1 cup of tea as desired.

Avoid snacking. Instead, sip warm water throughout the day. However, if you’re hungry between meals, don’t deprive yourself. Snack on peeled almonds that have been soaked overnight—these are easily digestible.

 

 

Ayurvedic Reset: Day 3 Doshas

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The three Doshas and the five elements that create them 
According to Ayurveda, the five elements of nature found on earth (Space, Air, fire, Water, and Earth) combine in the body as three components known as Dosha (vatta, Pitta, and Kapha). The three doshas relate closely to the element of nature and to specific functions of the body. For an optimal health, it essential that all the doshas are balanced.

Everyone is sort into one of three doshas or constitutes (Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha). While we all have elements of all three doshas, in most people, one dominates, influencing physical and emotional health, behavior and more. Doshas are determined at the time of conception, also relates to an individual’s physical makeup and personality. Most people are considered to have a combination of doshas, with one type usually being predominant.

These Doshas are energies used to describe your body, food, mind, environment and everything else. They are also used to help identify, customize and prescribe lifestyle changes and remedies that will balance your energies, prevent diseases, and preserve health.

Dosha Quiz: Eat Feel Fresh Dosha Quiz: 

1. Vatta (Air and Ether)

Characteristics: 
·Vatta is made up of the elements air and ether. Air gives it characteristics such as mobility and dryness, while their makes it subtle and light. 
·It is the most important dosha in the body and mind. As it is the force of all movement (e.g. blood circulation) and sensation. The main seat of vata is the colon

Function: 
·Providing movement, such as for breathing, circulation, transmission of nerve signals and elimination of waste/providing all sensation in the body, igniting agi (digestive fire)/supporting memory, drive and understanding.

Mind and Body: 
·The vata mind is influence by air and ether, giving it properties of movement, lightness, speed, irregularity such as being able to understand and learn, but also quickly to forget. 
·A person with a Vatta makeup tends to have a small, thin build and wispy physically, lively, chatty, and always on the move (all over the place). On the other hands, people with this dosha are more expose to insomnia, anxiety, and the inability to focus.

Imbalance Symptoms:
·Emotions such as anxiety, fear, or nervousness 
·Dry, rough, or chapped skin
·Gas or bloating after meals 
·Dry or dry stools 
·Feeling uncomfortably cold

2. Pitta (Fire and Water)

Characteristics: 
·Pitta takes on characteristics such as heat and sharpness from fire and fluidity and oiliness from water. 
·In the body, it is the source of transformation (digestion) and provide internal heat. The main seat of Pitta is the stomach and intestine

Function: 
·Digesting food and Fueling agni (digestive fire)/producing blood and coloring the skin/providing intelligence and self-confidence/provide insight

Mind and Body: 
·The fire and water give them properties of penetration and transformation such as a sharp intelligence and a proneness to anger. 
·The pitta body style is more of a medium, and muscular build; and tend have a fire burning within. Persons with Pitta dosha are often intense, intelligent, goal-oriented, excellent leaders and public speakers. However, too much of pitta leads to compulsive, obsessed behavior, irritability and heartburn.

Imbalance Symptoms: 
·Having an overly sharp, highly critical or uncompromising mind 
·Experiencing hyperacidity, burning sensations, tightness in the belly, or inflammation in the gut 
·Acute inflammation

3. Kapha (Earth and Water)

Characteristics:

·Qualities received by Kapha from earth include heaviness and stability; and from water include illness and smoothness. 
·It gives the body substance, strength, cohesion, lubrication, cooling, and immunity. It is also responsible for healing. The main seat of Kapha is the stomach and chest.

Function: 
·Providing moisture to food in the stomach 
·Providing strength and cooling to the heart and the sensory organs 
·Stabilizing and lubricating the joints 
·Providing taste

Mind and Body: 
·The earth and water give Kapha mind properties stability and endurance, such as cool headedness and good memory. 
·The Kapha appearance is usually bigger and well-developed. Kapha tend to have their feet firmly planted on the ground. They are strong and muscular physically, and are emotionally stable, calm and patient. Unlike vata, Kapha are prone to holding grudges, sluggishness, and weight gain.

Imbalance Symptoms:

·Excessive sleep or difficulty waking up
·Over-eating, or turning to food for emotional comfort 
Carrying extra body weight

Ayurvedic Reset: Day two

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What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient type of healing system and traditional medicine that has been used in India for thousands of years (5,000 years). It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a dedicated balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Each of the components must be in state of harmony – neither too strong nor too weak – for the body to remain healthy.

Ayurveda further emphasizes good health and prevention treatment of illness through lifestyle practices (e.g., yoga, meditation, massage, and dietary change) and the use of herbal remedies.

In Ayurveda medicine, optimal health and even one’s spiritual growth starts with prevention. Prevention is based on a balance lifestyle that is in harmony with the cycle of nature.

Origin:

Ayurveda is a Vedic Science. Another Vedic Science, often called Ayurveda’s sister science, is Yoga. All Vedic science are primarily teaching for the development of full human physical, mental and spiritual potential.

Ayurveda’s base of knowledge was recorded in a large body of Sanskrit literature that originated in India, called the Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be the oldest written recordings that describe, often in metaphors, ancient principles, practices and spirituality

The Meaning of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a science of life – the word Ayurveda origins from two separate Sanskrit words (Ayur-Life, Veda = science or knowledge).

Ayurvedic medicine is holistic, which means viewing the body and mind as a whole – Ayurveda treats not only the physical body, but also changes lifestyle practices to help maintain or improve health.

The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda:

1. The mind and the body are connected 
2. Nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind,

According to Ayurveda, the five elements of nature (Space, Air, fire, Water, and Earth) combine in the body as three components known as Dosha (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). The three doshas relate closely to the element of nature and to specific functions of the body. For an optimal health, it essential that all the doshas are balanced.

*Doshas will be further discuss tomorrow*

Ayurveda and yoga:

Ayurveda is often refer to as the sister science to yoga, as such if yoga is the path to achieving wellness and enlightenment, then Ayurveda is the system that supports a healthy body and mind for yoga’s practices.

Both practices come from the same philosophy, however Ayurveda focuses mainly on the goal of dharma (living the right way), while yoga focuses on the goal of moksha (enlightenment). Both are practical system with a holistic perspective - persons are seen as being with a unified body, mind and consciousness.

Summer Solstice

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Today we celebrate the summer solstice—a powerful planetary event when the Earth’s cycle shifts and our relationship to the sun changes; and it's also the longest day of the year. Make the most out of today.

This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around

This is where the past would come undone
and the spinning earth will mark a new beginning
Let’s go back in time, to when it all began

To the breaking of new dawns
Where moments bright with fire, would light the chanting song
Where pagans worshipped sun, and danced among the trees Wore strange masks of covered straw, and blessed cold ash with awe Wreaths hung upon the door against all spirit’s, dire
and when the winter’s grasp let go, the sun reversed the pyre
This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around So that spring arrives, and seeds will sprout and grow
Oh, radiant sun, stretch the day, shorten night
Return earth’s darkness into light
This is where the light will turn around
And this was where the past has comes undone

-Carrie Richards

My Mindful Morning Routine

6:00 -6:10 am // wake up - check email and social media

I know this is a big no no! but I still do it, the first thing I do when I get up is walk to my kitchen and grab my phone (I charge my phone in my kitchen because it;s recommended to not have your phone in your bedroom) and lay on my bed, and scroll through emails and social media (Instagram for cute cat videos to give me a cuteness boost)

6:11-6:13 am // get up and drink a big glass of lukewarm lemon water + take supplements

After going through my social media and motivated by cute cats videos, I like drinking a glass of lukewarm water with lemon, and take all my supplements (to make sure I don't forget to take my supplements, I usually place all my supplements on my kitchen counter the night before).

6:15 - 6:25 am // Sun Salutation, Meditation and Intention for the day

Doing a simple sun salutation and mediation before I start the day allows me to be intentional with my day and be present.

"Today, accept what is instead of resenting what isn’t"

6:30 - 6:50 // Take shower, brush, do hair, make up

 I usually have a full shower the night before, which allows me to have a quick shower in the morning and put my make up while listening to my favorite podcasts (Ear Biscuits, Why Won't You Date Me, POD Save America, POD Save the World, Congregational, etc.). Getting ready doesn't take that much because my closet is super minimal,  so I often don't encounter the morning paradox of going through my clothes and saying "I have nothing to wear".

6:54 - 7:15 // Eat breakfast, and prep lunch

Given my tendency toward habit, my breakfast is always oatmeal - Last month and this month is Bagel with cream cheese. While eating breakfast I might catch up on the news, or watch clips from my favorite late nigh show (e.g. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, John Oliver etc.), as well as prep my lunch if I haven't done it the night before.

7:30 // Leave the house - ready to tackle the day

I always leave the house at 7:30is - this gives me enough time to drive and park my car, and then walk another 1 blocks to my work.

Journey to Health and Wellness with Becca Shern: Minimal Wellness

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This is another of my favourite feature because combines three things that I love talking about, health, wellness, and minimalism. Before going into the post, I just wanted to thank Bex (Beeca) for being so patient and understandable through this whole process. This post was supposed to come out five months ago, but due to heath issues, I had to postpone and took a little break from blogging, not knowing when I'll be back again - but five months later and Bex still agree to do this, which I am forever grateful for. 

That being said, down below shares her journey to minimalism, health and wellness and how she incorporate minimalism into her healthy lifestyle. This is a two part feature, in the upcoming days Bex will be sharing her favourite recipe with us. 

Tell us about yourself (Who you are, what you do for living, where you’re from, anything interesting fact about yourself)

Hi, I'm Becca — I'm a mom, partner, registered dietitian, recreational athlete, and wellness nerd. For the past decade, I’ve been working and studying as a Registered Dietitian, with a particular interest in public and environmental health. I started and run Minimal Wellness, a nutrition coaching business to help people find, navigate, and enjoy the simple path to optimal health. My partner, Joshua, our four year old daughter, Ella, and I currently live in Missoula, Montana — Big Sky Country. Although we currently live in Montana, I’ve been a bit of a nomad — living in Alaska, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Most of my family still lives in Minnesota, where I grew up on a small hobby-farm outside of Minneapolis.  

What does minimalism mean to you? 

For me, minimalism means living with the essentials to enable vibrant health and allow pursuit of my passions. It means that I continually evaluate the things, activities, and relationships in my life and curate them to allow me to be the most optimal version of myself — meaning that I am the best mom, partner, and member of society that I can be. What is essential to me, will not be what’s essential to someone else, but I think it’s helpful to consider minimalism as a mental and physical framework that helps us continually grow and evolve into better people.

When did your journey to minimalism begin? And what or who inspired you to pursue this life style? 

I grew up in a household that believed in simple living. I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by family and friends that valued someone’s contribution to the world more than how big their house was, what kind of car they drove, or how stylish their clothes were. But, I began jettisoning unneeded material things in earnest a couple of years ago after I realized my life was not headed in a positive direction.

Three years ago, I was a salaried professional working mom, a student trying to complete my master’s degree, and was in a mismatched marriage. My then spouse and I bought a house, in part because I thought home ownership — the missing component of the American Dream I’d completely bought into — would cure my discontent. Unsurprisingly, the house wasn’t the answer, and my marriage ended shortly thereafter. At the same time, I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by two guys living here in Montana, called The Minimalists. Since then, I’ve been paring down and honing in on what is essential in my life.


When did your journey to health and wellness begin? How do you incorporate your minimalist lifestyle into the meals you create?

I've been interested in health and wellness for two decades. Our family was fortunate to have my mom shape our eating habits — she's an outstanding cook who always grew a garden and prioritized making delicious healthy meals for us every night. As a kid and teenager I was an athlete, so being fit and healthy became part of my identity. When I entered college, I drifted away from many of my healthier habits. But luckily after a couple of years, I stumbled upon an intro to nutrition course and found my way back to loving wholesome food, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.

The recipes I create at home and for Minimal Wellness focus on simple, real ingredients, and easy preparation methods. I try to decoct healthy eating for people and make it as straightforward yet delicious as possible. The recipes emphasize the essential components of any diet — tons of vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and fruit. The recipes don't require complicated equipment or a pantry full of millions of ingredients, they minimize unnecessary grains (I believe some grains for some people are fine, but the standard American diet places far too great an emphasis on grains), eliminate gluten, and contain as little added sugar as possible.


As a minimalist mom, what has been the biggest challenge of raising a child in minimalist household?

Our daughter is four, so I realize that difficult times might come in the future, but in all honesty, minimalism hasn't posed any direct challenges with parenting — it's only made life raising a child easier. There is far less mess, we have fewer distractions, and we're able to enjoy more time with one another.  Our small issues arise occasionally around gift giving with friends and relatives. We encourage experiential gifts over physical items, but that's not always possible, so we try to be flexible. 


How are you teaching your daughter (Ella) to lead a minimalist lifestyle? 

We lead by example. When she has questions, we talk to her about why we live the way we do and its benefits. We include her. Quarterly, we go through her closet and toys together and discuss the items she uses and the ones she doesn't. She identifies the things she doesn't use or wear and decides what she wants to donate. We don't have friends in town with children younger than Ella, so most of the things she grows out of get donated instead of given to friends. When we do purchase an item, we specifically buy the most durable goods in order to pass them onto someone else when Ella's no longer uses it. 

If I had one recommendation to make to others considering minimalist parenting, it's to eliminate the TV from your home. Ella still watches a few select shows from a tablet, but she's spent her young childhood without the outsized influence of a large light-emitting rectangle on a wall. Not having a TV does a few things for our family, first and most notably is the lack of direct advertising — she simply doesn't see the vast majority of stuff that other kids see and therefore she doesn't ask for it. Second, not having a TV eliminates that large volume of time that adults in the family often choose to watch shows while the children are still awake (Josh and I do occasionally watch something in the late evening), so we have more time together as a family. 


Is Minimalism for everyone?

I think we can all benefit from being intentional about what we purchase and how we spend their time and attention. Our society dictates what we "need" and what we "should" do — it makes sense to question this template and determine for ourselves what we want out of life. Often when we start questioning and searching, we find that we need far less and are happier and more fulfilled by creating our own path.    

Take us a through a day in life of Bex.

5-7am Wake up. I don't use an alarm and I wake up when I'm rested, usually that's after 7-8 hours of sleep. 

7:30-8am Ella wakes up and makes her bed. Then we get her ready for pre-school (get dressed, brush teeth, take vitamins & probiotics, have a snack (usually nuts or a hardboiled egg and some fresh fruit). 

8:30-9am Drop Ella off at pre-school.

9am-5pm Work. I'm fortunate to have a flexible schedule and the ability to work from almost anywhere, but client sessions require privacy, so I usually work from our home office. 

10am Breakfast. My mealtimes aren't set in stone and I let my hunger cues determine when I eat, but these times I list here are pretty typical. I do a type of intermittent fasting that extends the overnight fast to 14-16 hours. This means I usually finish eating for the day before 7pm and don't eat the next morning until somewhere between 9am and 11am. You can read more about my eating pattern here

1:30pm Light lunch or substantial snack.

3pm Workout. Like mealtimes, my exercise time is fluid, I do some type of purposeful movement everyday, but never on a routine. I've been doing at least 15 minutes of daily yoga lately which I enjoy in the early morning as a wakeup or in the late evening before bed. If I do cardio or weight training, that usually happens sometime in the middle of the day.  

5pm Ella home from pre-school.

6pm Dinner

7:30-8:30 Bedtime routine for Ella: a bath with lavender epsom salts, reading, rocking in her rocking chair, sleep by 8:30 at the latest. We're strict with her bedtime and nightly routine. 

8:30-9:30 Unwind time: clean up, get things ready for the next day, make nighttime tea. 

10-11pm Reading and sleep.


When do you feel best in your body?

I feel best about my body when I take care of myself by consuming nourishing food, enjoying frequent movement, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep. For my 35th birthday, I donated my bathroom scale which did far more for my ability to love my body than just about anything else (beyond the four pillars of health I mentioned above) I've ever done. It's always been relatively easy to not let the number on the scale determine my self-image or worth, but the scale had become a mild source of negativity. For the better part of a decade my weight had been stable within a small five pound range. I was used to that range and felt good about my body within that range. I started doing some weight training this year and put on a few pounds of muscle. Although I still felt great in my body and clothes, which has always been my primary barometer of health, seeing a different number on the scale was hard to reconcile. So I got rid of that input. It's not that I deny my weight, I just realized I don't care what my weight is as long as I feel great, which I do. 


What’s your workout routine? And how do you remain motivated? 

Honestly, with the exception of 15 minutes (or more) of daily yoga, I don't have a workout routine. I know I need to exercise to be able to do the things I enjoy in life and to feel the way I want to feel. I want to be able to keep up with Ella and set a good example for her of how we can live healthy lives without feeling compelled to exercise. Removing the obligation from exercise and finding your "why" seems to be the key to being happily active for life. My why is simple, I enjoy being fit. There are many times I don't "feel" like exercising, but as with lots of things, if you wait for the times you're in the mood, it doesn't happen. Sometimes you have to act your way into right thinking, and not not wait for illusive motivation. Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is catchy because it's the distillation of many active people's view of exercise, including mine. I want to be fit, it's important to me, so I exercise.  


How can minimalism help one lead an optimal and healthy life?

We live in a world that profits from confusing health messages. Massive industries — food, healthcare, fitness, even alternative medicine — all have different and often opposing motivations, which unfortunately results in information that is frustratingly conflicted.

Health is not a commodity, but that’s often how it’s treated in modern society.

Applying minimalism to our lifestyles can help us achieve a healthy life in a simpler and more enjoyable way. Filtering out the thousands of conflicting messages helps clarify the path and focus on a simple framework makes a healthy life more tangible, accessible, and achievable. For me that framework is: eat nourishing whole foods, move your body, get sufficient sleep, and manage stress. Focusing on and committing to continual improvement in those four areas of our lifestyles leads to a healthier life.


Balance is the key to healthy living, what are some tips to creating and maintaining balance? 

Indeed, balance and moderation are central to healthy living.  It's important to understand that everyone's balance point is different and will shift over time. What feels balanced to us now won't necessarily be what works in the future. Conversely, what worked in the past won't necessarily lead to balance today. One way we create balance is by understanding that 180 degree changes don't happen overnight — we’re unlikely to be successful with a drastic diet plan, or a very intense exercise routine if it’s significantly different than our current routine. Those enormous shifts are destabilizing and unbalanced. Instead think of change in terms of committing to small and realistic pivots from our current habits —  with time and effort, we end up in a radically different but balanced place, living a beautifully healthy life.

What advice would you give for anyone who wants to become a minimalist? 

My partner, Joshua likes to say minimalism isn't a radical lifestyle, it's a practical lifestyle. Getting rid of the excess in our lives helps us focus on what's truly important and that's different for everyone. For anyone contemplating the minimalist approach to life, understand that it's not really about the stuff, it's about being intentional with all of our resources — money, time, attention — it's about living more deliberately. When I started down this path, I played The Minimalism Game a few months in a row, which ingrained the habit of evaluating the physical items in our home and jettisoning the stuff that wasn't necessary. Since then minimizing been a continual process without an endpoint. I didn't cross a threshold of "having less stuff" and suddenly become a minimalist, it's been an evolution.


What’s next for Minimal Wellness? 

I'm offering a web-based program in October called the 23-Day Priorities Reset. This will be the third "class" of the Priorities Reset and I love coaching these small groups of highly motivated, like-minded people. I also plan to do more writing this fall and am looking forward to seeing where the creative process takes me.


Where can people find you?

Minimalwellness.com is the source for blog posts, recipes, information on coaching services, and my contact information. I'm also active on social media (@minimalwellness), my preferred platform is Instagram, but I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

2018 Top Five Books

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 People that know me, know that I stick to one genre when it comes to my reading, which is fiction. I love my Russian and American Literature, from Steinbeck, Melville, to Dostoevsky, or Nabokov, and all the other greater writers. But in 2017 I found my self experimenting with self helping books (why self-helping book is long story), I read two self-help books and found myself bored and finding every excess in the book to not read them. Based on a advise of a friend I decided to read, the Power of Habit, and absolutely loved it. So I decided to read Smarter, Faster, Better, and eventually Mark Mason's The Subtle Art. Long story short, in the span of two months I read 5 books that really changed how I approach my life, from my career to health. I think these are five books that everyone should read because it will change how you live your life. For those who want change how they are living their life, or are uncertain about their career etc.. reading both Charles Duhigg books can really help you. With that said, please find below my top five books that I read in 2017 and if you're uncertain what to read in 2018, these are great start.

1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good
by Mark Manson

"There is a subtle art to not giving a fuck. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an asshole, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively – how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values. This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life."

2.Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

“No one can predict tomorrow with absolute confidence. But the mistake some people make is trying to avoid making any predictions because their thirst for certainty is so strong and their fear of doubt too overwhelming. If”

“When we start a new task, or confront an unpleasant chore, we should take a moment to ask ourselves "why.”

3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

“The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can't extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it."

“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

4.The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it's no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”

5. Woman Code: Perfect Your Cycle by Alisa Vitti

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2018 Vision Board

Every wellness junkie knows about vision board, and thanks to Oprah Winfrey, most people are now obsess with it. These goal-manifesting collages have become a very powerful and creative tool loved and used by life coaches, wellness junkie, and others. Why? because they totally work, according to many that have used it. While I am still not completely convinced or sold on it yet, I am keeping an open mind and decided to create my own vision board for 2018.

As a believer of law of attraction (LOA), which according to the book The Secret,  "is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. When you are visualising, you are emitting a powerful frequency out into the Universe” -  it's only logical that I try vision and see what happen.

So what is vision board anyways? 

"A vision board is a visualization tool which refers to a board of any sort used to build a collage of words and pictures that represent your goals and dreams."

As newbie to this vision board thing I am probably the wrong person to be giving advises on how to make one, what you should put on it or what you shouldn't include. But while doing my research for my own vision board I came across articles that I think provided good advise on creating your first Vision board. Here are some things to consider if you're planning on creating your vision board: 

"Your vision board should focus on how you want to feel" Huffpost

"There is only one major rule to creating a vision board that works, and it’s that there aren’t any rules." Huffpost

"By creating a vision board and placing it in a spot you see every day, you create the opportunity for consistent visualization to train your mind, body and spirit to become acclimated to the reality of your desires." Mindvalley Blog

"In other words, pictures alone aren’t going to move the needle." Well and Good

26 Things I’ve Learned In 26 Years

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Today I am 26, but it doesn't feel like it and I don't look like it either!! I generally don't celebrate my birthday, given that it's on New Year and the focus is always on New Year and less so about my birthday. This year was a little different, I feel the need to celebrate it, but I am not sure how - until then I thought I'd share few things I've learned by 26. These are in no particular order, and trust me, I could probably go on and on but I don’t want to bore you - 25 was one hella hard year, it was an age of learning things the hard way and having life teaching me some hard life lessons the hard way. But all that aside, I am thankful for all the things that happened and to get to continue living and learning. Wishing all my Capricorn a Happy Birthday Month, sending you lots of love. 

1. Take care of yourself. I cannot stress this enough, and its something thatI think we are not told enough of. Realizing that you're responsible for your own happiness, not your partner, friend or family. You know yourself better than anyone else and what makes you happiest. 

2. Make sure you know what you're willing to struggle for. Often we give too much fuck about things that are pointless and meaningless. Knowing what you're willing to struggle for allows you to give fuck about things that really matter (From: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson

3. I know it's hard to say this, but hard work sometimes doesn't work or pay off, but it doesn't mean you should give up. Keep working and pushing yourself, it will eventually pay off

4. Be kind to others, it cost nothing to be nice to people

5. People will disappoint you, but that's okay - you move on and don't hold it against them

6. Be comfortable with saying NO

7. Speak up!!! even if you think your idea is stupid!! 

8. Be patient and everything will follow- you don't have to rush everything, take your time

9. You CANNOT control WHAT happen to you, but you CAN control How you respond to it

10. Being vulnerable is NOT a sign of weakness!

11. Your flaws, weakness, imperfections and scares make you who you are!! be proud of them

12. Always have an open door

13. Everything happens for a reason, even when the reason doesn't seem clear at first

14. Sometime life can be one mean montherfucker bitch!! but it's for a good reason, to make you see what you've been avoiding 

15. Intentional distance is necessary sometimes in relationships

16. A glass of wine may make you feel better today, but you have to face your problems tomorrow, so find a productive and healthy way to deal with your issues

17. Seeing a therapist doesn't make you weak, sometimes we all need a stranger to talk to and hear us out 

18. Be intentional 

19. Take time off - go on vocations whether it's a long or short vocation, get out of town for a day or few hours

20. Life is now!! not yesterday or tomorrow - stop living in the past and live in the present, tomorrow cannot happen if you don't live today 

21. Your work matter - no matter how insignificant or unimpressive you believe your work to be, there is value in it. Take pride in what you do and others will too. Commit yourself to a high level of quality work in your occupation, continually learn & improve yourself, and embrace failure as part of the process.

22.  Isolation is avoidable. For us introverts, it's easy to fall into this self-inflicted trap. Make it a priority to surround yourself with people who are good for you. Even if it is just a few trustworthy comrades. No man is an island!

23. Be careful who you surround yourself with. Choose your influences wisely. They say you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Don't be too careful though or you'll just start hanging out with your succulents like one of my friends  

24. Try new things!!! being a creature of habit is great, but it's dangerous when it prevents you from learning or trying new things 

25. READING!! always have  book that you're reading

26. Be open to change. Especially when it comes to people in your life.

 

 

Monthly Intentions: December

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New Month, who dis? Tis the season to be jolly!! it's December and I am already exicited by the idea that Christmas is in 25 days. This month intentions is all about the holiday season and preparing for the upcoming 2018 (i.e. paying my credit card bill). In addition to getting into the holiday spirit my intention for this month include paying more attention to my inner voice, embracing all my feelings and speaking to myself with more passion and love. On top of the list is getting back into blogging again, which begins with this post.

Journey to Health and Wellness with Kyra Ann: Overcoming auto-immune disease & Leaky gut

IG: kyrholistics

IG: kyrholistics

Kyra is a Utah native with a passion for health and wellness. When she's not blogging or posting amazing photos on her Instagram page, Krya loves spending time in nature, hiking, creating beautiful food, buying excessive amounts of plants, and most importantly spending time with her husband Michael & playing with her baby boy Shilo. Below, Kyra talks about her journey to health and wellness, and overcoming an auto-immune disease and leaky gut.

This is a two part interview, make sure to check out the blog for the second part of the interivew in the coming week. 

"I am so grateful to be a stay-at-home mama & spend every moment with my little one. It’s the best job ever! Although, it’s also been one of the most difficult things I’ve done, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually…  I wouldn’t ever change that, because it’s caused me to grow, learn, and ultimately help me attain so much knowledge about myself, and about holistic healing – which is my passion" 

When did your interest in wellness relating to food begin?

I became interested in a healthy whole food diet once I became pregnant with my babe because I wanted him to grow into a healthy little sprout. However, that passion accelerated a few months after he was born when I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease & leaky gut. I was determined to heal naturally using food. From this point it became a large part of my life and I spent countless hours learning as much as I could about the benefits of eating whole foods, especially through experience. Once I saw that I was healing and how much real, healthy food was changing my life, I knew I had found my passion!

How would you describe your diet now?

I would describe my diet as a real, whole foods diet. I do eat primarily plant-based but I focus more on intuitive eating and listening to my body than I do on labels.

Do you avoid anything?

I do have some food intolerances and foods that seem to cause inflammation for my body. The foods that I avoid are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, refined sugar, anything processed, vegetable oils (canola oil, etc), and most grains & legumes. I don’t think that everyone needs to avoid these foods, this is just what I’ve learned through trial and error are the foods that cause me to feel bloated, inflamed, fatigued, or cause an allergic reaction.

Can you tell us a little about your auto-immune disease & leaky gut experience and how it influenced your current health and wellness lifestyle?

Like I mentioned briefly before, 3 months after my little son was born I started experiencing systematic inflammation. My throat would close off, I was fatigued beyond belief, and I was bloating after every meal. After meeting with a gastroenterologist I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE). This is a chronic, incurable disease that is in the same family as asthma. Basically what it is, is an auto-immune reaction to what your body perceives as “toxins”. When I eat certain foods, my body will try to protect itself by sending little eosinophils (anti-bodies) to my throat to fight off the toxin. Unfortunately my body helps out a little “too” much, leading to my throat closing off not allowing me to eat until the inflammation is somehow reduced. It was so scary. I was choking on my food and not able to breathe on a regular basis. I was prescribed medications, steroids, and basically told I would never heal. At this time I was also experiencing extreme bloating after every meal, gas, excruciating bowl pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, etc. but no tests confirmed anything. I self diagnosed leaky gut based on hundreds of hours of reading on the condition. I did NOT want to take pharmaceuticals for the rest of my life and submit myself to the idea that I just had a disease and that there was nothing I could do about it. That is when I completely changed my life style, started eating whole foods, herbs, and super foods… and implementing yoga and meditation into my life. My disease helped me realize that I needed to make a change and start taking care of my body. My body was trying to tell me something – that something was off. I listened, and through the listening process I was able to heal. It completely changed my life.

What are specific changes you were forced to make because of that experience?

Here are the biggest changes I made:

1. My diet. I stopped eating junk and started fueling my body with vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of high quality animal foods like pastured eggs and wild caught fish.

2. Adjust my type of exercise (more gentle and mindful) which includes yoga, walks, stretching and light weight lifting. I had to stop focusing so much on losing weight and more on what my body needed.

3. Getting enough deep restorative sleep. Going to bed early, stop using electronics and tv late at night, winding down, and blacking out my room.

4. Taking time for self-care

5. Adding supplements/herbs to my diet. My favorites are adaptogenic herbs like maca and medicinal mushroom extracts.

6. Having a positive outlook/never losing hope. Positivity is everything. I had to put myself in control of my situation and learn to manage stress by being optimistic.

 7. Meditating daily and just always expressing gratitude for all the amazing good I have in my life.

What is currently your favorite workout?

Definitely restorative yoga. I feel my best after a practice that includes a lot of balance practice & twists.

Can you tell us a little about your blog and why you were motivated to start?

My blog shares some holistic tips I’ve learned for healthy living as well as plant-based or gut friendly recipes. I wanted to start a blog to help me to be excited about my change in lifestyle and also to help other people who are struggling with the same health setbacks as I have, and hopefully find the same healing as I have as well.

What are some of your favorite holistic remedies?

When I was experiencing a lot of digestive problems I loved starting my day with warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar. It also helped to soak in a warm bath with Epsom (magnesium) salt and lavender oil in the evenings.

Drinking bone broth or bone broth protein powder when my leaky gut symptoms start acting up also help to reduce bloating and inflammation.

Tumeric latte. Coconut milk, tumeric, black pepper, and Ceylon cinnamon sweetened lightly with raw honey or monk fruit extract help to reduce inflammation in the body.

 Peppermint oil rubbed on my temples to relieve headaches or help increase energy on a day I’m feeling particularly fatigued. I do not drink caffeine, and this helps.

How do you stay motivated (health, wellness, fitness)?

My greatest motivation is a sincere love for myself and my spouse/son. Once I learned to truly love myself then that was and is now the catalyst for my motivation. I also want to be my best self for the ones I love and I know that I’m not when I’m not making healthy lifestyle choices.Staying motivated includes a practice of constantly trying to love myself and who I am. True love is the greatest motivator.

Take us through a day in the life of your food?

Wake up: I drink an herb elixir that usually contains cacao, maca, reishi mushroom & he shou wu mushroom OR bone broth. Breakfast: A superfood smoothie. Usually packed with frozen veggies like cauliflower, sweet potato, zucchini, spinach… fruits like banana, blueberries and avocado. Then I throw in sunflower seed butter, hemp hearts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and almond milk. Then whatever toppings I feel like…. I spoil myself there hehe. Snack: Handful of nuts or an RX bar with a drink of kombucha. Lunch: Usually some kind of salad. Greens like romaine, spinach, arugula, then some zucchini, cabbage, carrots, strawberries, sprouts, pasture-raised chicken breast and one of my homemade dairy free dressings or just some oil & balsamic vinegar. Snack: An avocado on rice cakes or with an egg & saurkraut. Dinner: One of my favorites is zoodles with a homemade tomato or dairy free “cheese” sauce with some wild-caught salmon. Before bed: I’ll drink some “natural calm” magnesium drink or bone broth if I’ve had a bad digestive day.

How do you decide what to make, day-in-day-out?

I just listen to my body. I wake up and try to tune into what I’m craving, and what sounds good to me that I know will nourish my body. I try my best to balance my day with a variety of foods and nutrients. That is basically it! Just intuitively trying to nourish my body with what it needs, which changes all the time.

When do you feel best in your body?

Right after a good yoga class I feel amazing. I also feel my best when I have spent my day being active (walking, running errands, cooking, cleaning) and especially when that day includes serving others. I get depressed and feel sick when I am too idle or not doing anything important.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

“Eating evolved” dark cacao chocolate bars (drooling)

Where can people reach you?

I am the most active on Instagram, my tag is @kyrholistics. You can also check out my blog at www.kyrholistics.com or email me at kyrholistics@gmail.com

Holistic healing: Guide to Crystal Stones

Photo IG: alison__wu

Photo IG: alison__wu

I've recently gotten into Crystal stones and I am extremely fascinated by it. Perhaps it's the recent hype that has brought crystal stones to the forefront of every health/wellness enthusiast view is the reason, but it seem like healing crystal stones are having a moment and everyone is interested in what crystal stones can do for them.  I am by no means an expert, but I am happy to share with you to hopefully inspire you to work with crystal or start collecting your own. I use my stones for variety of things - holding a crystal stone in my hand during my meditation , aligning it on body as it correlates with the different Chakras, or one specific chakra that I want to focus on during a practice. I have one on my table desk which I use for focus and creativity, and one that I carry everywhere with me to help me with my anxiety.

I am the biggest sceptic out there, and it took me a long time to get into crystal stones, before getting into it I told myself to keep an open mind and see what happens. Realistically I have nothing to lose, if anything I’d have more to gain from experimenting with them, and if all fails, I’ll have a rad collection of beautiful rocks that I can use in my bedroom and around the house to bring pops of colour and sparkle, as well as add a sense of ease and cool bohemian style to the house.

Down below is a selection of my favourite stones along with some of the healing beliefs link with them.

Amethyst:

Amethyst us a natural stress reliever that encourages inner strength – it is a stone of spiritual growth and protection. It brings clarity to the mind and helps you to become more in tune with your feelings so that you get to know yourself on a much deeper level. Amethyst repels negative energy and attracts positive energy.

Hematite:

Stone of protection; grounds emotions and anxiety – it absorbs negative energy and calms you in times of stress. It helps you feel balanced, calmed and centered.

Moonstone:

Open creativity, perception and sensitivity. It’s good for increasing one’s intuitive abilities and humanitarian love. It is believed to be a stones od destiny – it’s connected with the common and the divine feminine. It helps to align the hormone production, metabolism, and reproduction.

Tiger’s Eye:

Relieves uncertainty, encourage integrity and helps provide ability to see clearly. It helps to rebalance the body on all level, while encouraging optimism and trust in the future. It brings brightness and light into all situations and shines insight onto all problems. Tiger’s Eye brings good luck, abundance and prosperity to its wearer. 

Smokey quartz

Smokey quartz help you let go, its known to transmutes negative energy and act as a protective shield against unwanted energy. It helps with letting go of old patterns/habit and belief systems that are holding you back. It also releases all blocked, old and stagnant energy in the body.

Ways to cleanse/clean your crystal

There are different ways of cleaning or recharging crystal stones. One way is recharging them in the light of a full moon, which allows them to return to their full frequency after being used for long time. The other options is holding them under running water or placing them in a bowl of water, and then add two drops of crab apple remedy for cleansing.

Here are few source - book and website for all things healing stones. 

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Journey to wellness with Melyna Amyot

Melyna Amyotc (@melynaamyot) is a Toronto based Instagramer, whose journey to wellness began 3 years while going through a difficult time. What started as a 30 day challenge has now turn into a lifestyle. Here Melyna shares her story of how she got into wellness, how she stays motivated and and favor work out.

When did your interest in wellness begin?

I'd say my journey began roughly 3 years ago. I had just dropped out of Art School and was going through a difficult time which resulted in fostering this really negative relationship with my body and food in particular. I was sick, tired and unmotivated. A friend suggested I try going Vegan for a month and that's all it really took ! I had to really research what I was putting into my body to fuel it properly and the more I learned the more I became passionate about cooking and understanding the power of plant based food. 

From there it was only natural that as I felt better internally, I could only keep improving externally. And that part I'm still figuring out.

How would you describe your diet now?

Plant based/Experimental are the words I would use. I'm always very curious to understand people's  specific allergen restrictions or food sensitivities so I myself will personally go without wheat, soy, or whatever it may be to really identify and understand how to build proper meals around these modifications. As well as try and educate myself and introduce certain diets out there such as Keto or Paleo for instance while staying true to my plant based roots.

What is currently your favorite workout?

Circuit training and Boxing ! I'm obsessed with the inclusiveness and energy of group training but also love that empowering feeling of one on one time with my boxing coach.

How do you stay motivated (health, wellness, fitness)?

Set a schedule and stick to it ! Holding yourself accountable for your own progress is really what motivates me the most. Reminding myself that no one is going to make the changes I want to see  really puts me in that positive mindset.

Takes us through a day in life of food?

My day starts with half a litre of water and a coffee. Always.

Unless I have a prior morning engagements I practice fasted cardio, meaning I don't eat my first meal till right after my workout.

Breakfast is typically a Smoothie Bowl, loaded Oats or Chia Pudding. Often a  second coffee.

Afternoon snack is a protein shakes with almond milk and Sunwarrior protein.

Lunch is usually Raw. Weather it be a salad or some kind of concoction of whats left in my fridge.

Mid day snacks are veggies and hummus or rice cakes with avocado and nutritional yeast.

Dinner is more often then not some type of stir fry. Whatever is fresh and whatever is available. Usually over brown rice / quinoa or some type of spiralled vegetable. 

I usually end the day with some type of snack.

Where do you go food shopping?

I prefer to stick to local markets (Dufferin Grove is my fav !) but I also know how difficult sourcing locally year round can be so when I do shop at major grocery store I tend to pick up organic produce.

Who is (are) your favorite Food instagramer that you follow?

@ErinIreland ! Erin has been such a role model to me over the last few months. Her passion for food and vegan advocacy is so refreshing and inspiring. She seems like she has it all figured out.

How do you decide what to make, day-in-day out?

It's always a surprise. I never follow recipes and because I enjoy sourcing locally it's whatever's in season that hits the table. Sometimes it's a disaster but often then not I end up with something new and different.

Where do you get recipe inspiration?

Mostly Instagram. Obviously visual representation doesn't always mean it will taste good so I try and take inspiration from beautiful dishes and try my best to make them really flavourful and put my own vegan twist on them.

Favor dish to make?

Smoothie Bowls & Vegan Mac & Cheese !

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

1000% Chocolate. Zimt & Fitzy's are my favourite. (Both Plant based & Canadian !)

Favorite place to get  healthy food  in Toronto?

Hibiscus, One Love vegetarian, Calii Love & Sweethart Kitchen.

Advice for anyone struggling with getting into health and wellness lifestyle?

Whenever and wherever you decide to start, do so at your own pace. Listen to your body. Thank it everyday for deciding to begin, for being strong, for being able. Be patient and kind to it. It's your forever home.

Favor self-care ritual?

STRETCHING ! I often avoided this step when I first got into fitness and trust me I learned quickly to never skip a stretch again. 

When do you feel best in your body?

I feel best in my body those minutes following a tough workout. My face is red, Im struggling to catch my breath, I feel my heart racing in my chest, my hair has taken on a new life, my body is dripping with sweat and those are the moments you need to be thankful for. You brought yourself to that exact place. There is nothing more gratifying and beautiful to me. 

You can find more of Melyna and inspiration on her Instagram. 

 

Good Food for Good Mood

Photo by:  @leefromamerica

Photo by: @leefromamerica

What if I told you that we’re going to spend the next little while talking about blood sugar management and how what we consume in a given day makes that blood sugar spike and drop? How excited would you be on a scale of 1-10? Probably about a zero, right?

But what if I told you that we’re going to talk about mood balance, stable energy, and better sleeps? Now you’re listening, right?

A little about me: I’m a Holistic Nutritionist practicing and loving life living in Guelph Ontario.  But before getting into the world of natural health, a few years ago, I started to develop some health problems.  Most of them physical in nature: skin rashes, hair started to fall out in chunks, acne on my face and back, and fatigued and sick all the time.  I would go to doctors only to be told that all my test results were “normal” and that I was okay. But the reality was, I didn’t feeeeel okay. Eventually, I discovered natural medicine and went to go see a Naturopathic Doctor.  Let me tell you, after a couple of months of sticking to a specific diet protocol to strengthen my gut, my physical symptoms started to disappear. But even better, my mood started to change: I was hardly ever cranky pants, and I had energy that was more stable throughout the day with no dips and crashes.  These were all side effects that I didn’t expect, because I had sought help mostly for the hair and skin stuff.  From there, I started to discover the amazing power that food can have on our bodies: both healing and destructive, depending on what we’re putting in it.  I was so fascinated by my own experience and healing journey that I decided to quit my full-time job as a Child and Youth Program Supervisor to pursuit Holistic Nutrition full time.  I absolutely fell in love with the concept that we are not just physical beings and we need to address the mental, emotional and spiritual side as well in the healing process, and that finding the root cause of an issue is key, so that we don’t continue to treat symptoms and patch things up with band aids left right and centre!  And here I am now, as a Holistic Nutritionist, and always always still learning and loving it all!

Let’s Start from the Top

So let’s talk about food. There’s a common notion that we need to eat constantly throughout the day in order to keep our metabolism active.  Well, in my opinion, that doesn’t have to be entirely true. Here’s what we’re going to do: I’m going to tell you about how blood sugar works, and you can make your own conclusions.  Here we go…

Whenever we eat anything throughout the day, blood sugar levels go up, and a few hours later, they go back down again because the food that we consumed is passing through our system.  The cycle continues like this for as many times as we consume anything throughout the day.  Blood sugar is a measure of how much glucose(or sugar) is in our blood due to the consumption of carbohydrate foods(anything from veggies, fruits, to grains, breads, and pastries).  Ps. I promise, this is as sciencey as I’m going to get…just bare with me here!

So let’s imagine that we woke up in the morning and decided to have a nice fresh, blueberry muffin for breakfast.  Because a muffin is predominantly a carbohydrate food, blood sugar levels will increase super quickly after consumption.  As a response to that, the body releases a hormone called insulin.  Insulin’s job is to partner up with all the little glucose guys, and help them to get in to the cells. They want to get into the cells as fast as possible, because ultimately the cells are using that sugar to give us energy!  But in the case of the muffin for breakfast, it was WAY too much sugar in comparison to the other nutrients, so the body freaks out and releases WAY too much insulin to pair up with that glucose and get it out of the blood stream.  The body is in a state of major stress at this point.  So because there was just tons and tons of insulin released, the blood sugar doesn’t gradually go down and enter the cells the way it’s supposed to, but instead, it comes crashing down.  When it crashes down below the level that we need to function, the body once again freaks out and is in a major state of stress again.  

At that point, the body releases a bunch of stress hormones that send a signal to the brain to crave more sugar.  Seems kind of odd, right? But think about it this way: the body is stressed out, as if it’s being attacked by a bear.  The only way it can think of to get the blood sugar back up to normal levels is to send a signal to crave more sugar.  And thus, the cycle continues in this way throughout the day, with constant cravings and loads of internal stress as the body deals with this.  Now think about this: what’s the result on our mood as all of this is happening on the inside? Probably not great, especially during the crashing phase.  And often times, if we’re eating in this way later in the day, it starts to affect our sleep with all of these dips and crashes happening through the night. 

So what are we supposed to do? Obviously stop eating blueberry muffins forever! Totally kidding! I love blueberry muffins! 

The Ideal Plate

The key is to make sure each meal is balanced with appropriate amounts of proteins, healthy fats, fibre from green veggies, and carbohydrates with less of a sugar content(low on the glycemic index).  An ideal plate composition for blood sugar management should consist of:

1/8 protein source: organic chicken, grass-fed beef, fish, nuts and seeds(especially pumpkin seeds), lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, and raw cheeses. ** note: some vegan sources of protein also contain carbohydrates, so we have to be careful with how much we consume. 

1/8 carbohydrates: **and here’s where we’re going to choose the sources with less of an effect on blood sugar as often as possible: sweet potatoes, brown rice, lentil or black bean pasta, whole grain breads(not whole wheat), chickpeas, apples, peaches, cantaloupe, berries(especially blueberries). 

¾ green leafy veggies: **these foods have little to know effect on blood sugar, so you want to load up on these guys: kale(cooked or raw massaged with sea salt and olive oil), romaine lettuce, collard leaves, parsley, cilantro, broccoli, etc. 

1 Tbsp of a healthy oil(or ½ an avocado): **healthy fats in our diet also help to prevent that crash from happening and they keep our cells nice and round and ready to receive the pair of glucose and insulin when they want to enter.  Try pouring a little flax oil, hemp oil, olive oil, or walnut oil over top of your cooked or raw food(you don’t want to cook with these oils because they will go rancid at high temps).  If you are going to be cooking your food, try coconut oil(for 350F or less) or avocado oil for temperatures up to 400F. 

Going back to the Beginning

So, let’s go back to the original question: is it good for our metabolism and our bodies to be constantly eating throughout the day?  Or is it more of a quality over quantity type thing?  I’ll leave that up to you to decide what works for your body.  Think about it this way though: every time we eat, it’s another opportunity for our bodies to release insulin.  There are a lot of health concerns, including diabetes that result from insulin resistance: meaning that our cells just become resistant to the signal and sugar can’t properly get out of the blood stream and into the cells the way it’s supposed to.  So perhaps a minimalist approach to how often we eat is best here. What I do to manage my blood sugar is I make sure that each meal is balanced with proteins, healthy fats and fibre, enough to keep me full and satisfied mentally and physically for at least 4 hours.  When a given meal doesn’t provide that satisfaction for that amount of time, I know that something in that proportion was missing.  Maybe not enough protein. Maybe too little healthy fats.  Either way, I want to make sure that those proportions are balanced for my body’s needs so that my body doesn’t have to keep releasing insulin over and over again, creating more of a potential to become resistant.  Makes sense, right?

Ultimately though, it’s your body and you will learn to listen to the cues it’s giving you.  I’m not here to tell you what to eat and when to eat, but instead, I want to encourage you to listen to the signals your body is giving you.  Did the food I just ate make me feel energized, or drowsy? Do I feel full and satisfied after this meal? Do I have physical symptoms of gas, bloating or constipation when I eat certain foods? Ask yourself and see what works for you.   

Connect with me on Instagram or Facebook @healthybymarjan to get all my healthy and balanced lifestyle tips.  I’m always up to chat about food and health!

Happy eating and living everyone! J

post by: @healthybymarjan

Mother's Day from Abroad

Photo/posts: Ana Steinberg

Photo/posts: Ana Steinberg

What a better topic for my inaugural post at The Minimalist Yogi than one of my favourite things on earth? Ma mom. My mom is a fantastic, devoted mother; she’s my best friend, and one of my biggest role models. She is hilarious, stylish, creative, caring and sensitive (all qualities I like to mention so I can then humble brag about having inherited). She is witty and always the life of the party, and I actually just straight up like her as a human. If I met her out in the real world I would want to be her friend, and I think that’s pretty damn sweet.

Another thing about this lady is that she’s best gift giver and incredibly generous, and she instilled this attitude in me without even realizing. It’s important for her to make everyone else feel wonderful on their big days. I see how happy she makes her friends, her family, myself - and since a very young age, I internalized this behaviour. I learned to enjoy being the person making a kind, loving gesture to those that mattered. I wanted to be able to give back, and she was one of my first victims. The gesture? Making her pancakes on Mother’s Day. I particularly recall this day. I had a family friend teach me how to make them the week before. For that Sunday, I was so nervous to mess up that I set the alarm at 5 am to start preparing said breakfast. Unfortunately, I didn’t nearly mess up as much as I though I would and had a whole batch of pancakes, orange juice and fruit served by a quarter to six. I did feel bad about the fact that it was too early for just a little bit. But the pride of my achievement blinded me with excitement and realizing that the pancakes were cooling down rearranged my priorities, so of course, I woke my parents up and brought it to their bed. I mean who needs sleep anyway? As an adult I now know the best gift I could have given her was rest, I want to cry at the thought of a child waking me up on a Sunday at 5:45 am. But motherhood is rough I’ve heard.  

The one bummer in this whole love story is that my mom and I now live about 3000 miles away. Gladly we live in a time where distance is shorted significantly by the blessings of technology, and we still pretty much live attached at the hip. But then special days come around, and not being able to be there is not great. Still, we always make sure to be there for each other on these big days. So to celebrate the woman I love the most, I’m going to share my top tried and tested ideas on how to pamper your mommas across the world. I mean, you gotta figure out something to make up for not being able to wake her up with cold pancakes before the sun even rises.

Send flowers, it’s a simple but powerful gesture. Many florists take online orders and though it typically requires a little planning ahead, you may be able to score a nice arrangement the day of. If she has a favourite kind of flower go for it. If not, carnations are said to be the traditional flower to gift on Mother’s Day, but it’s also the perfect season for some tulips, and you can never go wrong with light coloured roses or a beautiful orchid.

Have her favourite dessert delivered. This surprise is a lovely treat. Call up her favourite bakery or pastry shop and check for delivery options. If nothing is available it’s also okay to enlist a local. I had my best friend do this for me once, picking up the dessert and dropping it off at our place. Needless to say my mom thought it was the sweetest, pun intended.   

Leave a gift hidden in the house. This is an option for whenever you get a chance to go home next. For her first birthday since I moved to Canada, I left notes and gifts hidden throughout the house in places I knew she would never check. Then, on the day of I had her find them one by one. Keeping the secret of the gift can be rough, but it’s worth it.

Have an activity skype date. I absolutely love doing this! We’re big on talking on the phone, so sometimes weeks or even months go by without sitting down in front of the screen and actually seeing each other. It’s crazy because we could be speaking daily but then getting to chat face-to-face is always exciting. Set a date, grab a glass of wine, and get up to something you’ve both been meaning to do. It can be your own version of paint night, book club, or DIYing. We once made terrariums together and let me tell you wine and cacti don’t necessarily mix but it was cute and hilarious.

Book a spa for her. You know she deserves a little time off. Major spas offer gift cards and you can make sure to send one her way. Have her book the massage for herself or wait for the next time you’re in town to go together: win-win.

Send her this little article about famous women talking about their moms and add your own contribution.

Just call and say you love her. It matters.


To all the great moms out there happy mother’s day, you rock. And to my mom: te amo mami! Feliz día de la madre!

 

Let's Chat About Menstrual Cups

By now I am sure most people have read, watch or heard something about this ubiquitous thing called menstrual cup.

In our daily life we spend so much thinking about what we put on our face, skin, hair, our food and what we wear - yet little attention is often given to product to handle our period. Such as much it cost or what toxic chemicals are used in the product. We all know about the toxic materials that are used in tampons and the risk with using tampons because Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), and chances are you've heard of horror stories of women getting TSS, yet the majority of the population appears to not give it a second thought.

Am not stranger to use tampons and like many despite hearing and reading the horror stories of women getting TSS I continue to ignore and continued with my use of tampons. Seven months ago I decided to try this menstrual cup that every environmentalist seem to be talking about. Since I am all about using natural and/or organic products I think menstrual supplies are one of the final frontiers of the eco-and body friendly product movement.

Menstrual cups are a reusable bell-shaped cup of medical graded silicone that holds menses, instead of absorbing it. Instead of throwing it out once it is full, one simply pours out the content (blood) - when inserted right, the cup circular rims forms to your body by suctioning to the vaginal wall - so it leaks less than a tampon (Yay!! to no leakage). When you're done your period you can clean it by boiling it.   

If you're squeamish about blood, menstrual cup might be something that you should avoid and stick to other non-toxin menstrual products because the menstrual cup requires a lot of contact with your period than you would typically have with using a simple tampon. But my experience with menstrual cup has been very positive and somewhat empowering at the same time. Aside from the embarrassing story of being drunk while empty my menstrual cup, only to have the cup fall in the toilet and then using my beforehand to get it out, wash it and then use it (I know, pretty gross) - aside from that I have no complains with using it.

While my experience has been extremely positive with using menstrual cup, it is important to recognize that it is not for everyone because we are all shaped differently. After having read a number of articles on this it seems that most women who have used it find that their cramps are more menaeable with a cup than with tampons. I can testify to this fact. Yes, changing the cup can be a little messy and if you're drunk it's even ten times messier. Whereas getting the cup in right is another challenge. But with all its challenges and the blood messy scenes that you are bound to experience, it beats having to purchase a box of tampon every one or two months. Having to purchase one product that only needs to be replaced every few years seems like a good deal to me. The major brands of menstrual cups include DivaCup, MoonCup, Softcup and Lunette - I've been using the DivaCup and I absolutely love it and cannot speak to the efficiency of the brands.

With that being said, here are my top four reasons why you should consider trying the menstrual cup next times aunt flow comes to town.  Before going ahead of purchasing it I strongly recommend doing further research and if you are dreading the process of having to insert it, there are number of YouTube videos on how to insert it.

Save that Money ($$)

In the long run menstrual cups are more economically efficient than disposable one; in the long run a user will save money by using a menstrual cup. Considering that a menstrual cup cost ($30 USD) a year will cost you much less than a box of tampons or pad each month.

Decrease chances of TSS

The health benefit of menstrual cups are significant from less extreme cramps to decrease chances of getting TSS.

Convenience

If you hate changing your tampons, menstrual cup is your dream product because you only have to change it two or three times a day and it's a leaked-proof all night, allowing you to enjoy your sleep without worrying about any leakage

Environmental sustainability

Save earth one cycle at a time, since menstrual cup are reusable they can help to reduce waste. Some disposable sanitary napkins and plastic tampon applicators can take 25 years to break down in the ocean and can cause a significant environmental impact. So why even bother right.

Managing Social media Addiction

 

Avoiding social media distraction can be difficult and often we think that avoiding the different social media sites we will be missing something very important, life-changing event. But often times we value these social media sites but we might actually have few helpful use for them. Often at work or even at home, we catch ourselves browsing Instagram, Facebook or other social media sites simply out of boredom. In the process personal interactions, home chores and work tasks are ignored as our endless news feeds occupy our attention. Today we depend on social media for everything and being online is essential not only for keeping in contact with distance friends but also for our careers and professional development.

While there is nothing wrong with being online, or watching endless cute kitten videos, or having a Facebook page, it becomes an issue when you are constantly being distracted by these social media, or your lives comes to be revolved around being online. Like anything, when done in moderation social media can be an effective and meaningful way to connect and learn things, but when abused, it can be very destructive.

With a number of studies coming out saying there is a problem, it is clear that there is a problem and it’s growing an since social media and social media networks are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, there are some precautions that high-frequency users might take to keep addiction in check, accordingly leading a more productive or fun time available for real-life activities.

These are my top three strategies that I used to keep media addiction at bay. While these strategies works with me, it does not necessary means that it will work for you too, so I’d recommend trying what I’ve offered and see how it works and if you find that this technique is not working, there are many sources and article online to help you with your journey overcoming media addiction.

Social Media blockers

If you’re finding yourself spending time browsing social media sites or even spend a lot of time browsing meaning fewer videos on YouTube, you likely nee to find a way to limit your usage smartly. If you use Google Chrome there are different ways to prevent the social media distraction. One of my favorite right now that I use often is Forest Stay Focused, be present. This is a fantastic app because you can set your own focus times from 10 minutes to 60 minutes. The one that I use for my phone is Freedom, it’s also compatible with, Mac OS X 10.8 - 10.12, Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 and iOS 9+ (iPad, iPhone). I really like this app in particular because it doesn’t block all access to social media and Internet, but only a list of site that you can create. You can create unlimited lists of websites and apps that distract, assign blocklist to any device or schedule.  Add websites and apps to custom lists use our pre-defined blocks, and block the entire internet - for times when you really need do not disturb. The one thing that I really enjoy about this App is that it does not allow you to modify Freedom sessions when running. In other words, once you’re set your unblock time to be 10 pm at night, you have no choice, but to wait until 10 pm to be able to have access to your list of social media block.

Turning off your notifications

Turning your notification may seem somewhat insignificant, but it makes a big difference. When you stop notification from distributing your normal routine, you might find it easier to focus on your daily tasks and not get distracted so easily every time someone likes your photo, or you receive an email. Notifications are a constant reminder that something is happening in the online world and you might feel like you’re missing out. There is something also somewhat rewarding to being able to avoid media all day and then having to go online again and seeing what’s happening in the online world – it’s like accomplishing something. Not only that but when you come around to checking your social media, you may have a build up more notifications which will make it more exciting and will make the experience more rewarding. Personally, I find this strategy to be the most effective for me, and ever since I started using it I have noticed that the time I spend on social media has declined significantly, particularly for Instagram.

Schedule Social Media Time

This technique has not been the most effective for me for certain social media sites such as Instagram, but I have found that with social media such as Facebook it has worked significantly. Also, it’s been effective during the school period, where I am able to take social media breaks. Set a timer on your watch or phone to limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Choose a limit depending on the severity of addiction, i.e. an hour, and every time you go on any of the social media site set your timer, once you’ve reached your limit. In addition to setting a timer for social media spending time, the other option is schedule your use of social media. Unless there is an overwhelming reason, don’t leave any social media site open in a web browser tab all the time. If you schedule one hour, stick that time. I was introduced to this idea while listening to the Minimalist Podcast, where Josh Fields Millburn talked about how he overcame his media time by setting a time for it during the day, for example, an hour or two hours at night to binge watch YouTube videos and others online crap to get it out of his system.

These are my three strategies that I always use to undermine my social media addiction and these techniques have been effective for me, but again it does not necessary that it will also work with you. Find a system that works for you and helps you in your journey to overcome social media addiction. It's easy to feel hopeless and like there is nothing you can do, but always ask yourself whether the social media is actually contributing something meaningful as Josh and Ryan from the minimalist would say. You are in control! Don’t let social media and the Internet control you, and when in doubt ask you is this useful?

For more helpful tips, I'd recommend listening to The Minimalists Podcast on media