Tag Archive | Health

Emily Can B Fit: Deed Develops into Habit

Last night was a rough one: between my children being waking sick and myself being blue about the journey ahead of me to get back to where I once was, I couldn’t sleep. My partner arrived home early from his nightshift and immediately set about building me a fort-nest.
The fort-nest is my way to find peace and sanctuary when a hug isn’t enough. It takes the kitchen table, several blankets (with a chair atop the whole mess for support) and every available pillow to construct – which my husband did without being asked. Crawling inside fort-nest is like crawling back into the womb. There is something quiet and calming, even within my own noisy city apartment. Of course, it is not a complete fortress of solitude and soon my peaceful retreat was pierced by the meek noises of an ill three year old, but I find fort-nest is made better by nursing, the release of oxytocin helps magnify the calming effect.
After three hours of sleep I was awoken by my another child who preferred I walk him to camp, a regular feeling of his and actually a blessing in disguise. His personal desire for my presence on the morning walk forces me to get up for a morning walk (this could be made more manageable if the other ones let me sleep – this morning he shouted “wake up mom!” while we were crossing the street, I can’t be sure that I wasn’t dozing while walking).  Deeds become habits and the same thing kept me feeling healthy while I was completing my M.ed, I walked two and a half miles to and from campus daily in the sweltering Baltimore heat.

Blue Lotus Chai

Blue Lotus Chai

Arriving home I decided to make my Super Quick Vegan Dal for breakfast and eat half of a gluten-free ginger coconut muffin. I am trying to eat fitter by eating half of what I normally do, with the knowledge that if I want more I can have.  After years of battling eating disorders I have found that my sense of satiation as well as hunger is not reliable. Half a muffin was actually enough and I finished it all off with my new favorite local made, chai tea – it’s good plain (which is what is healthiest) but it is fantastic with rock sugar and vanilla flax milk.

Next were basic chores around the apartment and making salt dough for the little tyke.  This is the children’s favorite and keeps them creatively occupied for hours.  I even took a nap.  Awaking feeling…well, rested somewhat, I made a Super Quick Vegan Mock Ham Salad and scooped it atop two pieces of my favorite local gluten-free bread, open faced. Open-faced is my trick for eating slower and visually being more full – it looks like more sandwich.

The day started to wind down as we headed to pick E up from camp and drop the little one off for a gym class. Another great chance to walk with the family.  I love living in Portland, everything is easily accessible via walking or biking – it was one of the reasons I moved here and I am finally taking advantage of this.

My nightcap? A 7 pm yoga class only 700 feet from my front door at the local health club. Looks like my fitness is on the right track!


You Could Be Pain Free in 75 Minutes for Less than 20 Bucks

Seriously, you can be.  I am and no I am not going to one of those crappy big chain massage places.

While I have been a yoga teacher for over 1o years I have not always taken the best care of my personal yoga practice.  Running a fitness studio, being a doula and parenting three children did not leave me enough time for my own personal effective yoga practice.  Well, that is a little bit of an untruth.  The real reason I am in pain is because I had not yet let go of ego.

Yes, I said it.  I have in the past had a larger ego than I currently do. Not the healthy type of ego either that keeps us alive and choosing the path of self preservation.  I indulged in the type of unhealthy ego that many individuals with body image disorders do – that ego that compares you and your self worth with everyone else around you.  My ego in particular liked to prey on my feelings of insecurity around my weight and being in an industry fraught with lean, toned, almost impossible to attain bodies bending into ridiculously compressed positions.  So for me, the more I pushed myself into poses, the harder I worked my muscles, the more I ached after a class, or the further I went into a pose the less I worried about people perceiving me as “less than” because of my fuller figure.

I also ran my own business which required me to teach until 40 weeks pregnant, and go back to work less than 2 weeks postpartum in order to pay rent, instructor’s salaries and for groceries.  I wasn’t the type of newly liberated woman who could make the statement  “I’m skipping maternity leave because my job is important” – I would have loved to stay home and relax with my newborns for even a full six weeks, I can’t imagine saying no to a paid maternity leave of any type.

The stage was set for pain.  Ten pound babies, 40 classes a week teaching aerobics and power yoga with hundreds of planks takes a toll on the pregnant and postpartum body.  Sixteen months after my daughter was born I was still experiencing searing pain in my SI Joint (posterior near the hip) and buttocks, my inner groin (I suffered through diastasis symphysis pubis, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone) and my lower back.  I made old man sounds every time I got off the couch, so many that my little sponge of a daughter started to grunt when she would stand up in solidarity with me.

What changed? I started teaching a prenatal yoga class at Yoga-Rhythms in Lisle, IL.  Years ago I used to take Svaroopa yoga with the same owner at a different location, many pounds, children and years ago when I was youthfully flexible and in class just to relax after a workout.  Now I attend classes every two days to manage my pain and release anxiety. And it works. Really works. If you let go.

Letting go is supposed to be a big part of yoga – letting go can’t truly occur if you are getting dressed up with $150 yoga pants to go to class for whatever the reason – because you can, because everyone else does, because your butt looks great, because you saw an ad for them – you are possessed by your possession still. You haven’t let go if you intensely stare at yourself in a mirror while instructed to push yourself as far as possible while your body goes through the stages of heat stroke – and shocker – the teacher leading you isn’t teaching yoga. I’m sorry to say this and I know some people will disagree ardently with me on these points but there is nothing to argue about.  If you care how you look in a pose, if you care about being seen in class, if you care about how far you can go or if you are addicted, drawn to a certain name on the marquee, only feel like you get something out of the practice if you look like you escaped from somewhere, are drenched, red faced, sore – you get the picture – you aren’t practicing true yoga. You are stagnant, stuck within the Annamaya kosha. I was once there too so I know it can seem as though you are truly practicing yoga and you may be going through the motions, making a good show, even living a very yogic life – I was but I wasn’t truly practicing.

blnk Yoga is about “removing the root cause of suffering and pain.” The first sign that my yoga practice wasn’t authentic were anxiety and panic attacks.  Then came pain. I could also say then came some medical conditions (tumors, gallstones, questionable skin tags, etc) but that may not be a fair assumption.  To those on the outside I had a steady yoga practice and taught daily but to me I was missing something – missing that feeling of bliss.  Sure, I took classes where I felt good at the end, felt like I stretched or got a workout, learned something new – but the bliss was missing.

Then I started taking Svaroopa classes again and the bliss blew back into my being it rode in on a stack of blankets.  I left the first class a little sore and if you saw the class from the outside looking in you would have a “What the? How could that be?” expression on your face.  The style is beyond gentle, it involves lots of blankets and propping – lots of letting go and even more self awareness.  You can’t get through more than 5 minutes of a class without hearing “Do you notice the difference?” or “Does it feel different?” or “How do you feel now?” you get the idea, teachers want you to contemplate your practice, something that is missing in many of the fly by night certifications out there. Teachers in this lineage receive a great deal of training I can attest as a yoga instructor with a great deal of training behind me that I had to let go of.  It isn’t that Svaroopa Yoga (now in its 21st year) is that far removed from “ normal yoga” – it is truly ingrained in the heart of yoga – it just isn’t as capitalized or commercialized and that may be why you haven’t heard of this amazing answer to pain problems.

For me it has been a journey of letting go not just of pain but of that evil ego.  Every time I mention this in class a teacher will say “Why do you have an ego about this?” or “why wouldn’t you want to use more blankets, don’t you want to feel bliss?” I do, I do! But my ego has a hard time admitting that all of these years I have been over stretching ligaments and tendons, listening to instructors tell me to go “more straight” or “deeper” into a pose and all the time piling on more pain for myself.  Its hard to look around a class and see “normal students”, average sized men and women of all ages not pushing themselves.  There is no-one to be “more flexible than” no-one to compare myself to and that was the hardest part – realizing my self worth isn’t tied to anyone else’s.

This revelation couldn’t have come at a better time – I’m ready to move on from teaching yoga and start a new/old career in academic teaching.  I have been practicing Vipassana meditation more seriously and learning to wish peace and loving kindness to others in situation where I once may have compared/judged myself. I’ve taken it a step further into wishing happiness to others in their situation instead of feeling jealous or dejected and it is very liberating to be detached. 

Four, maybe five weeks have passed and each class I attend I find new areas to release, I come up against new blocks now that I am getting into the muscles instead of stretching superficial tissues and I am pain-free. The potential to be pain free in one class really does exist, but the more you go – the more you let go. 

Get Your Family Plate Fit with Tips from @weeklybite

A great guest post, and tomorrow March 14 a great Twitter Party.

Produce for Kids will be giving away four (4) $25 grocery store gift cards during the Twitter party. Earthbound Farm will also be adding prizes to the gift cards that PFK will be giving away. Prizes TBD. Winners will be chosen at random during the Twitter party. Prizes from PFK and Earthbound Farm will be sent to winners separately.

National Nutrition Month

By: Estela Schnelle
March marks the beginning of National Nutrition Month. National Nutrition Month is a month long campaign promoting nutrition education and information. “Get Your Plate In Shape” is this year’s theme and encourages consumers to remember to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day. Get your plate into shape and test out some of Produce for Kids Ideal Meals® for balanced, complete meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Here’s how you can get your family’s plate into shape:
Think before you eat. Before your family sits down to eat, think about what goes on their plate. This can easily be accomplished by putting some time aside to plan your family’s weekly meals. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products and lean protein foods contain the nutrients we need without too many calories.
Divide your plate. Take your plate and divide it into four sections. One for whole grains, one for protein, one for fruit, and one for veggies. A low-fat dairy choice such as milk, yogurt, or cheese can be added on the side.
Choose 100% whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole grain foods.
Switch to low fat or fat free dairy products. Fat free and low fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.
Vary your protein choices. Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.
Don’t forget about physical activity. Incorporate daily activities your family can do together. Pick an activity everyone enjoys. Every bit adds up. Combine physical activity with smarter food choices and you and your family will be well on your way to getting your plate in shape.

Teach kids the importance of nutrition! Join @weeklybite @EarthboundFarm @produceforkids 3/14 @ 9pm ET:http://ow.ly/hXklx #HealthyKids

Bring 12,000 Year Old Pasta to Life: Einkorn from Jovial

imageAs a vegan mother of two vegan boys I am always looking for new ways to introduce B vitamins, and protein in to our diets.  We are a big pasta family and up until now purchase a wheat pasta at the grocery store from a well known company.  It is the least ropey we have found, since wheat pastas tend to be thick and taste like cardboard.

I was contacted by a rep for Jovial who offers Einkorn Pasta, made from a grain our Bronze Age ancestors would have eaten.  Sound odd? Sure, the name looks weird, and the pasta itself when dry has an oddly textured feel and a marbled look, but judge a pasta until you try it is my motto.

All I can say is yowwy! Yummy and Wow. As I said we are a family of pasta lovers, myself included at the top of the list.  It is seldom that I feel full or satisfied with my 2 ounces of pasta, but Einkorn is different.  I believe the texture is part of the appeal and appetite suppression.  Most wheat pastas as I said are ropey, and when cooked become slick, sauces slide off of them, they wind up getting quickly chewed (maybe not fully even) and sliding down the throat without a thought.

Einkorn pasta seems almost “barbed” the sauce gets stuck in all the texture and the hearty feel of the food requires you to sit and chew it.  I tried a few pieces without sauce to get an idea of whether or not I would enjoy my meal.  The pasta alone is very interesting with an earthy, grainy taste a bit outside of traditional “wheat”.  I would also say it has a “meaty” substance to it, unlike other pastas it comes across the same way a portabella mushroom does, its filling.  With a garlic pesto sauce and some tofu the taste was simply divine!

Disappointed that I may never be able to find Einkorn pasta once my sample ran out I slowly rationed it to myself, and hid it from my boys.  Nothing slips by my hubby who mentioned, “You know you can pick more up at Whole Foods, right?”

Well, that is just what I plan on doing.  Calorie wise Einkorn has the same as 2 ounces of regular wheat pasta, it has 9 grams of protein which is far better than most pastas on the market, here’s a chart of other comparisons:
imageThe First Ever™ Whole Grain Einkorn Pasta is made from the world’s most ancient wheat, first cultivated 12,000 years ago at the birth of agriculture. The resulting products are wholesome, nutritious and surprisingly delicious. Einkorn was lost in time when new varieties of wheat with much higher yields were created by natural and commercial hybridization. “Jovial had its official start in 2010, but was idealized for many years,” said Carla Bartolucci, co-founder of Jovial. “It is our dream to change the future of agriculture by creating consumer demand for the purest, most ancient varieties of food. Our sustainable economic model focuses on farming first and then considers the entire process all the way through to the shelf. We believe the purest food we are all seeking can only come from the purest seed.”
Jovial Whole Grain Einkorn Pasta is available in five varieties: Rigatoni, Penne Rigate, Fusilli,  Spaghetti and Linguine. The pastas range from $3.39-3.69 per 12 oz box and are available at retailers nationwide.
Ancient grains are inherently more nutritious than modern varieties. Einkorn is the most ancient wheat. It is more nutritious on many levels than modern organic wheat, and even outperforms other “superfoods” including the blueberry in its nutritional value.  Packed with protein, B vitamins and minerals, a meal with Einkorn pasta is very sustaining.
Einkorn Nutritional Highlights

  • High in Thiamin, essential dietary and trace minerals.
  • Good source of protein, dietary fiber and a number of B Vitamins.
  • Higher Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC-antioxidant capacities) twice that of durum and bread wheat.
  • Higher content of tocotrienols than other species of wheat, a potent form of Vitamin E.
  • Lower percentage of nutrient loss during processing
  • One 2oz. serving contains as much of the antioxidant Lutein as a whole egg (which provides nutritional support to our eyes and skin).

Einkorn’s starch is so different from modern durum wheat, it does not crush during milling and does not absorb as much water during mixing, resulting in a superior finished pasta. Einkorn is innately rustic, with a hardy root system that overpowers weeds, eliminating the need for herbicides. It grows well without fertilization, making it ideally suitable to small-scale, organic agriculture.  Jovial works with a growing network of organic farmers in rural areas of Italy and other parts of Europe to grow 100% certified organic einkorn.
The First Ever™ trademark on Jovial products is the company’s guarantee of the purest Einkorn product and the purity commitment extends from “Seed to Shelf.”  Jovial Einkorn Pasta is packaged in a carton made from 80% recycled cardboard and is 100% recyclable. The window is certified 100% compostable, made from FSC certified wood pulp.
“We believe that the future of our food is a thing of the past,” said Bartolucci. “We were so excited to discover that a food from ancient history was preserved in time and could still be grown today.”

I received no compensation for this post, the opinions expressed are entirely my own and given freely.

Yoga is Like a Handbag Which Will You Purs-ue?

Occasionally I am asked what styles of yoga I teach, or I get a call looking for me to teach a certain style of yoga.  I am inevitably pressed with the question, “Well what’s the difference between X and Z Yoga?”

Honestly, there is really not that much of a difference between any style of yoga, at their cores.  Skeptical? Well look at it this way.  You are shopping for a purse (for yourself or a partner, I don’t care) and your options are as follows:

  1. Louis Vuitton Shopper Monogram Etoille $3500, a delightfully large shoulder bag with the signature monogram canvas design
  2. Coach Coated Canvas Large Leah Tote $358, another wonderful purse with room and the signature C’s
  3. or you can head over to Target and pick up a Limited Edition Perforated Large Tote $39.99, no monograms, no logos, but a large bag none the less.

There are obviously superficial design differences such as material, where the bag is made, who made the bag, color, etc.  In the end I have chosen bags that are relatively the same size and perform the same basic function – they carry your stuff.  So where is the difference? Perception, price and pride.

Are you someone who takes more pride in owning a bag that costs as much as some people make in two months? Do you want the perception of others to be that you can afford something better? Do you perceive the more expensive bag as being higher quality, or do you perceive the less expensive bag as a better deal – and a myriad of other things in between.  Can you afford the price of all, or only some of these bags?

Some people may be called to rationalize – “The Louis bag is better because it is double, triple, whatever stitched…” and I can’t argue what I don’t know about to be honest – but again I call to your attention perception, or lifting the veil on the little reality to see the big reality – they are all going to carry your stuff.  If any one of these bags gets left behind in a fire – they are each going to be incinerated, and in the end when you no longer want them, and if you don’t recycle them, they will wind up in the same landfill (well maybe not in the same zip code but you get the idea).

Yoga is the same way.  Yes, a Hot Yoga class will make you sweat, dehydrate you and push you to extremes, but the poses are the same ones I can teach in my Open Hatha Yoga class, and if we focus on muscle awareness, holding the posture longer, etc.  students get worked to the point of fatigue just the same.

All of the asanas are the same – certain schools may call them by different names, they may even emphasize a different focus for each posture, but it boils down to the same exact asana – I promise.  With yoga, as with purses, the 3 P’s prevail again. 

What is your perception?  Of yourself – do you think of yourself as a driven person who loves to push the envelope.  How about those around you – would you never be caught dead in a Gentle Yoga class because that is for out of shape oldies or a Chakra Yoga class because that is for New Agers? Do you perceive studios with expensive decor and yoga celebrities teaching classes as better than a local small studio with community names teaching the classes?

Price?  Does what you pay for a class directly effect your perception of the worth of the class.  Does what your instructor paid for their certification make them a better teacher? Would you never go to a class at the YMCA? Would you only pay for private lessons or lessons at a high end studio?

Pride? Do you take a certain amount of pride in saying I am a “XYZ Yoga Addict”, or “I practice at Teacher Z’s Studio”, or even “I have taken workshops with LMNOP”?  Would pride keep you from trying a studio in a less desirable neighborhood or from enjoying a class with a teacher if you found out they were certified through an online or weekend course?

I mention all of these things because I have had direct and indirect experience with them.  I have had other yoga teachers relate to me how they were enjoying a class with a teacher only to find out after the class that she had a weekend certification – which appalled them.  They had to then question all they knew about yoga because this teacher had seemed to have done a good job but was obviously not qualified – perception and pride spoiled their experience.

I have also personally, for years, shied away from classes led by men, only later to discover that just like women, there are wonderful male teachers out there, and there are some I would never go back to.

In the end, none of this really matters – scary right? If you believe you had a worthy experience, then you did.  If you believe you need to practice in an ashram or a swank studio in order to have a good class – then you do.  I have always been a realist – to me there is no difference between someone who enjoys a German Opera, or someone who enjoys Nude Mud Wrestling – as long as they both truly believed themselves to have a wonderful experience – who is to say which is better?

So why all the different styles? The same reason we have all the different purses.  Entrepreneurs and pioneers in certain industries see that there is a desire for something different, a desire on the part of the consumer to set themselves apart and a desire by the manufacturer to make money – pure and simple Yoga is entrenched in Capitalism (which appears to be the antithesis of yoga).  Why else would people pay $3500 to go to Mexico with the same teacher they take weekly classes with – does the teacher change once the weather hits 75 degrees? Again, we can rationalize and say it is a vacation – or a learning opportunity – but in the end you have only just changed the scenery (and I am sure it is lovely).  Or how about the $150 rhinestone encrusted yoga mats, and $200 leather bound yoga mat carriers? Maybe people honestly believe the bag will carry the mat better, or the rhinestones will somehow make you shine to your instructor – I don’t know and I honestly don’t care. Huh?

Yes, I own more than one yoga mat and a few novelty ones (a dragon mat, a Chocó kitty mat and a Hello Kitty mat – and all have matching bags) – but my perception of them is nothing more than a tool to get my job done and a cute/functional present that I asked for).  Yes, I have opinions and certain likes – but I try not to let them rule me or ruin me.  There is nothing wrong with choosing a certain style of yoga, a certain yoga mat, or even a particular purse.  Having an opinion is not a bad thing – but having a closed mind and a rigid idea about yoga can be.