MY LYME STORY | HEALING + OVERCOMING PART 3

health coach ayurveda boston

This is it - the 3rd and final part of my Lyme healing journey. If you haven’t yet, head over and read Part 1 and Part 2. Let’d dive in…

After I finished my 3 week round of antibiotics I went back on my herbal protocol feeling 80% better with a little ways to go. I was finally ready to start moving my body past my occasional short walks. My body was so deconditioned that taking a 60 minute yoga class required a lot more childs poses and a longer savasana. Slowly and surely I was able to increase my stamina as my energy increased and moving my body was a longed for pastime I came to cherish once again. My creativity and inspiration was sparked once again and I returned to my business. The amount of brain fog I experienced made me think I would no longer be passionate about my work - it was terrifying! Slowly but surely the heavy veil of brain fog was lifted more and more week after week and I remembered what I was put on this earth to do - to help people like you!

In February I started slowly coming off my Lyme herbal protocol. I’ve had a few bad days as my body adjusted but all in all I’m feeling better and better as time goes on. Chronic Lyme doesn’t necessarily go away but rather goes into remission (although bee venom therapy is said to be the only means of eradicating it completely - something I’m very interested in) so this is something I’m prepared to live with. I’m hoping I don’t relapse, which can and does happen to many Lymies so I’m prepared for that as well.

As a health coach I spend a lot of my time researching health-related issues for my practice so I spent a lot of time digging deep into Lyme and EBV on the internet and through trusted resources. Some might even say it was obsessive but it needed to happen. I felt like I couldn’t trust our healthcare system and I was all I had. I would read 10 articles a day for 6 months trying to figure out what was going on and how to cure myself. I created Facebook relationships with people who were going through the same thing. I met a girl who was healing her Lyme and EBV with the Medical Medium protocol. I tried it myself but in the end the Medical Medium protocol had actually worsened my symptoms again. It just goes to show that every body and journey is different. All in all I felt that my holistic approach and having a badass healing team on my side is what helped me get better so quickly. Healing healing from a chronic illness is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Neither are diets and exercise programs for that matter. We are individuals with different needs. My education in Ayurveda taught me to honor this and live a lifestyle rooted in this notion. We are all very unique and it’s truly a beautiful thing!

I want to share with you what I’ve been doing to support my healing journey. The healing work that I’ve done doesn’t stop at my herbal protocol and antibiotics. These are factors that will work for anybody on their own journey because they are about listening to your body and emotions. Healing truly begins in the mind.

  • Changing my diet by eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten (which I eliminated a decade ago), dairy, alcohol, caffeine (I drink matcha instead) and sugar. Did you know that our diet is responsible for 90% of our health?

  • Remove toxic household and personal care products. (Follain has amazing non-toxic beauty products. Code ref15_m2i7uh for 15% off onilne or mention me in store.)

  • Check for mold! Mold can make Lyme impossible to heal.

  • Following a daily routine when it came to eating times, waking time, bed time, etc. You can read more about syncing up to the Ayurvedic clock here.

  • Oil massage and/or dry brushing

  • Epsom salt baths for relaxation and to soak in magnesium (most people are deficient in this mineral).

  • Listening to my body when it required rest and giving it the self-care it needed with bubble baths, naps, short walks in the fresh air, stretching, meditating, journaling.

  • Meditation (I use Calm) and positive affirmations like I am healthy, I am strong, I am full of energetic light.

  • Aromatherapy (aka essential oils) I made my own Bye Lyme blend with DoTERRA’s cassia, thyme, on guard, oregano, melissa, frankincense, patchouli, and clove.

  • Taking vitamins I (and most people) am deficient in like a good multivitamin, B12, C, D, fish oil, zinc. When my immunity felt compromised I would also take echinacea goldenseal, Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis throat spray (code NATASHAWELLNESS for 10% off), turmeric + ginger, and elderberry syrup.

  • Taking L-Glutamine, digestive enzymes and collagen for my gut health.

  • Adaptogens like ashwagandha, astragalus and reishi.

  • Talk therapy. I found telehealth to be the best option for me so I wouldn’t have to leave the house.

  • Massages (1-2x a month) - careful not to get a deep tissue when feeling unwell as it leads to intense detoxing and flu-like symptoms

  • Chiropractic adjustments (~1-2x a week)

  • Acupuncture (~1x a week)

  • Far infrared saunas (~1x a week). Far infrared saunas work by raising your core body temperature, which, in turn helps kill bacteria and viruses that are living in your body. Sweat that sh*t out!

As you can see it took a village and I’m so grateful for my healing team. I truly believe that my knowledge and commitment to changing my diet and lifestyle with the addition of allowing myself to explore other alternative methods of healing is what got me to where I am today.

Unfortunately, Lyme treatment is not covered by insurance and all of the doctors appointments and supplements have been paid for out of our pockets. It’s a privilege to be able to afford treatment as I know there are many people out that that cannot. If you are struggling to afford treatment there are many low-cost things you can do right now to start feeling better. Refer to the list above for some ideas or reach out so we can talk.

If you are suffering from a chronic illness and need diet and lifestyle I would be honored to support you as a health coach. I provide personalized meal plans, customized prepared meal delivery in the Boston area, one-on-one virtual and in-person coaching, Ayurvedic and mindfulness coaching. Schedule a complimentary consult here if you need support with your chronic illness.

MY LYME STORY | HEALING + OVERCOMING PART 2

Dry brushing is one of my favorite ways to detoxify and get the lymph moving.

Dry brushing is one of my favorite ways to detoxify and get the lymph moving.

Welcome back for Part 2 of my healing journey. Thank you for taking the time to be here and witness my story. It means a lot to me to be able to share this with you. If you haven’t read My Lyme Story | Healing + Overcoming Part 1 I suggest you read it before reading this post. It will make a lot more sense. :)

Between seeing the doctor whose office I stomped out of, and my current Lyme literate doctor, I saw another functional medicine doctor in the Boston area. She sent me to get bloodwork for food sensitivities (which was a waste of time but I won’t get into it today), leaky gut, Lyme, and a few other major diseases. I tested positive for leaky gut and was put on this horrid expensive powder to drink daily for 4 months. I spent $200 on a gross powdered supplement, had one sip and poured it down the drain. Mind you I have a pretty high tolerance for foods that taste “different”. Let’s just say the taste of health food has come a long way, but this? This was next level disgusting. Let's just say something just felt off about this doctor and their recommendations, and I had to keep moving along.

The biggest news here is that I tested NEGATIVE for Lyme. I had heard about false negatives and was weary. (1) An article on LymeDisease.org states that the standard test for Lyme disease will miss many cases of disease-causing Borrelia. The Lyme disease test with the highest sensitivity is the Western blot alone, with a 62.4% accuracy and the accuracy for another popular test called ELISA is 62.3%. It’s no wonder so many of us get a negative reading on our Lyme tests! The CDC is way behind on this and Lyme organizations are fighting hard to improve standardized testing to be more accurate. I know a lot of people who have tested negative through their primary doctor and went on to testing positive through a Lyme literate doctor. As mentioned in Part I, most traditional doctors are less informed on Lyme disease, and I urge you to be proactive with your health and keep searching for the right professionals and protocols to help you.

My Lyme Protocol

I began treatment for Lyme in late August of 2018. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to finally be given a diagnosis that made sense to me. All my seemingly random symptoms pointed to Lyme and Epstein-Barr (EBV). I was elated, I was deflated, I was excited, and I was furious. I couldn’t believe no doctor had ever thought to test me for Lyme (!!!), which is not only extremely prevalent in the Northeast but all over the country and world. The healthcare system has a long way to go, in so many ways, but we won’t get into that. What I do want you to understand is that you are your biggest health advocate. If something feels off in your body and your doctor is either ignoring your symptoms or misdiagnosing you please do your own research. Look for online communities discussing the issue at hand, read as many articles and research papers as you can.

My chronic Lyme treatment (which overlapped with treating Epstein-Barr) consisted of a modified Cowden protocol developed by Dr. Lee Cowden and about 10-15 supplements to help support my immune system, balance my hormones, heal my leaky gut (L-glutamine capsules vs. the gross powder my other doctor prescribed) and help my anxiety. I won’t go into full detail about exactly what supplements I was taking because a) they are specially formulated by my doctor and can’t be found online, and b) this isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to healing Lyme. Like I said, Lyme manifests differently in each person and therefore needs to be treated differently.

September through November were really difficult months for me. I stopped taking on new clients and allowed myself to fully give into my healing process. I wasn’t able to fully coach my clients to wellness because of the place I was in. And by the way Lyme is not contagious for those of you wondering. It was ugly at times and manageable at others. When beginning any Lyme treatment there is what’s called a herxheimer reaction or die-off stage. (2) In a die-off reaction, there is a release of endotoxins, proteins, and oxidizing agents that results in an increase in inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-8. The symptoms of a die-off reaction are generally a worsening of the underlying symptoms of Lyme disease and its associated infections. A majority of Lyme disease symptoms are actually excess inflammatory cytokine symptoms. So in a die-off reaction there is a worsening of many Lyme disease symptoms including: fatigue, brain-fog, muscle and nerve pain, chills and sweats, and/or memory and thinking. There were some days where I couldn’t get up off the couch - days where doing the dishes felt like climbing Mount Everest. The couch was my BFF and I triumphantly finished all 9 seasons of The Office. I felt bad for myself, I thought I was weak, incapable of doing the smallest tasks and helping out around the house. I was home all day anyway, how could I not contribute in some way by doing the laundry, cleaning or walking the dog? Luckily I am blessed with an angel of a husband that was completely supportive and understanding of what I was going through. He would come home from work at 8pm and go straight to washing the dishes while I ate the dinner he brought home for us. I couldn’t have done it without his support and I am forever grateful for my Arthur!

Since I was diagnosed with chronic and acute Lyme I had the option of treating the acute Lyme with antibiotics. It took me a month to finally give in to “evil antibiotics” and at this point, I’m really glad I did. I was resistant to antibiotics. When misused or overused antibiotics are known to destroy the gut since they kill not only the bad bacteria but also the good. I took quite a few rounds of antibiotics in my childhood which I believe contributed to my underlying gut issues. Why did doctors not warn us about the side effects of antibiotic overuse or at least educate us on the importance of taking strong probiotics during antibiotic treatment? I digress. After doing research and speaking with my doctor antibiotics seemed like the best route so I was put on a high dose of doxycycline for 3 weeks in November along with a 30 billion CFU probiotic. During those 3 weeks I had nightly panic attacks that were so debilitating that I couldn’t make any plans past 6pm. The herxheimer reaction was in full effect. As painful as the die-off was I had to remind myself that this was a good thing, that the treatment was working and things would let up soon. I was right and I was so happy I was right. I vastly improved during my 3rd week on antibiotics. I was in Florida at the time so I attribute some of the ease I began to feel to the sunshine and warm weather. I still had pain throughout my body but the panic attacks went from daily occurrences to 3x a week. This was a big win for me.

Are you still with me? Now you know why I had to break my story into so many parts! Stay tuned for Part 3 where we will dive into the final stage of my story and how I am doing present day with my Lyme treatment. I will offer tips and suggestions for anyone struggling with Lyme disease and how you might begin your own path to healing to bring you to where I am today with my healing and progress.

Click here to read the rest of my story: My Lyme Story | Healing + Overcoming Part 3

Thank you for reading and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. So many of us struggle with an illness and I completely sympathize with you. There are countless routes of treatment out there and I can honestly say that diet and lifestyle saved me. It’s so so important to pay attention to the food that you’re putting into your body, staying on a low inflammation diet, and giving your body the right type of movement and lifestyle to be in a state of healing. If you are looking for healing support from a health coach with quite the journey of her own schedule a free phone consultation here.

Services I offer:

  • One-to-one coaching

  • Customized meal planning

  • Ayurvedic cleansing (no starvation here!)

  • Prepared meal delivery in the Boston Area

I can’t wait to talk to you!

Resources:
https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-sci-testing/
https://www.treatlyme.net/guide/herxheimer-die-off-reaction-inflammation-run-amok

MY LYME STORY | HEALING + OVERCOMING PART 1

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Hi friends!

If you already know me then you know that I was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease among other things. If you don’t - hi and welcome! This blog post will help you get to know me a bit better. :)

It’s important for me to share my story with you not only to give those of you struggling some insight but to be authentic and transparent with my community. I wanted to wait until I saw significant improvements before reflecting on my Lyme/overall healing journey. If you are struggling with Lyme or any other disease I am sending you so so so much love and healing energy. You will heal! Be patient and remember most of all to believe. Healing begins in the mind.

Remember that Lyme disease can vary person to person. There is chronic Lyme, acute Lyme, and both manifest differently depending on when you contracted the disease and where the tick bit you. Because most traditional doctors are less informed on Lyme disease, I urge you to do your research and find a Lyme literate doctor who can help you. Visit www.GLA.org for resources, research and education.

This is my story

Starting at age 15 my health started to decline. I was “fine” on the exterior but on the inside I was wrought with anxiety, depression, knee pain, weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, PCOS, acne and gut issues galore. All of these things were disrupting my ability to lead a happy and active teenage lifestyle. I met with countless Western doctors and each one of them said the same thing. You’re fine. Your tests look great. There is nothing wrong with you. Maybe you have anxiety? Here’s some Miralax. See a therapist. Take this SSR. Take this overactive bladder medicine. You know what this feels like if you’ve had a related experience.

At age 21 I moved to Western Mass in hopes of leaving my anxiety and depression behind and turning a new leaf. I said goodbye to my SSRI’s and enrolled in Chinese Herbal Medicine classes at the local apothecary (which to this day is one of the coolest experiences of my 20’s). There, I learned to read tongues and pulses. I worked with an acupuncturist/herbalist combining formulas for her patients in the back room whilst getting free treatment in return. Let me tell you, that room did not smell great. Ye ming sha showed up in a lot of the formulas. Do you know what that is? It’s BAT POOP.

Fast forward to last year. I had just turned 30 and was still struggling with some of the same issues from age 15 and then some. I had cured myself of a few of them with my own knowledge of nutrition and Ayurveda (which is exactly why I became a health coach by the way - so powerful! I’ll go deeper into this in the next post). My Western doctors visits turned into Eastern doctors visits and still no dramatic improvements. My functional doctor at the time decided to test me for Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) which tested high for igg positive (which means I’ve had it in the past and my body is still fighting it). His advice was to rest. That’s it. REST?! With all do respect sir I think I’ve rested enough and nothing is working. I was furious. I knew in my heart of hearts that there was something bigger going on and it frustrated me to no end that my functional doctor - someone who should seemingly know more about alternative medicine and view each patient from a holistic perspective. I stomped out of his office, ended my relationship with him and began doing my own research.

My Symptoms

Brain fog, memory problems, neck and back pain, jaw pain (TMJ), knee and other joint pain, headaches, extreme fatigue, sensitivity to sound and light, food sensitivities, nausea, bloating, parasites, heart palpitations, chest pain (landed me in the ER twice in 2018), panic attacks, costochondritis (inflammation of the intercostal muscles), body soreness, lack of motivation, sleep issues, night sweats, flu-like symptoms, chemical sensitivity, vision problems, weight fluctuations, tingling in extremities, cold extremities due to poor circulation, overactive bladder, hypothyroidism, low immunity which meant I was sick A LOT (and probably more things I’m forgetting right now). I had mono and the swine flu between ages 15 and 19 and contracted a fever every time I went on vacation.

Finding Community

I came upon The Balanced Blonde’s High Vibe Lyme and Chronic Illness Facebook group and was surprised to see how many people had a combination of Lyme disease and EBV. Finding communities of people who were in the same position made me feel hopeful that I was finding the right path for my healing. A month later I was introduced to a local Boston gal who has Lyme and met up with her for coffee. Right off the bat (poop hehe), she told me it sounded like I had Lyme and recommended her Lyme literate naturopathic doctor (LLND or LLMD) to me. The next week I was at this doctor’s office in Fairfield, CT listing all my symptoms in the span of 2 hours. I was so impressed. This doc was the first professional who actually listened, cared, and most of all believed what I was saying. Everything lined up - she clinically diagnosed me with Lyme, sent me for blood testing to confirm and see if I had any co-infections (it’s very typical for Lymies to have co-infections) and put me on a protocol.

Before I knew it, I was starting treatment for Lyme...

Click here to read Part 2 of my healing journey.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. So many of us struggle with an illness and I completely sympathize with you. There are countless routes of treatment out there and I can honestly say that diet and lifestyle saved me. It’s so so important to pay attention to the food that you’re putting into your body, staying on a low inflammation diet, and giving your body the right type of movement and lifestyle to be in a state of healing. If you are looking for healing support from a health coach with quite the journey of her own schedule a free phone consultation here.

I offer one-to-one coaching, Customized meal planning, Ayurvedic cleansing (no starvation here!), Prepared meal delivery in the Boston Area.

TRY THIS MINDSET SHIFTING EXERCISE WHEN YOU’RE FEELING STRESSED

A healthier treat this holiday. Chocolate chip cookie cake made with almond flour, cashew butter, coconut oil, flax eggs, high quality chocolate (with no weird additives), coconut sugar, vanilla, and salt.

A healthier treat this holiday. Chocolate chip cookie cake made with almond flour, cashew butter, coconut oil, flax eggs, high quality chocolate (with no weird additives), coconut sugar, vanilla, and salt.

I’m sitting at my favorite cafe in Brookline, digging into a hearty lentil stew, looking out a window obstructed by pine need garlands and twinkly lights. There’s a fresh bouquet of tulips and alstroemerias and moody music softly playing through the speakers. I may be working but this is my peace, my quiet, my escape. I’m excited to tell you about a little practice I use when I am stressed out. Read on to learn more.

Happy Holidays! Ah the smell of pine trees, the twinkly lights, and the feeling of overwhelming stress. The holidays can be a tense time for some. I used to find myself stressing over a time that I used to cherish and look forward to as a kid. Does this sound like you? It seems to be all part of getting older. At least that’s what everybody keep saying. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! I want to show you that you can start enjoying the holidays with childlike excitement again and all it takes is a perspective shift. First, let’s talk about some common stressors this season:

  1. Spending time with family - Not thrilled to spend time with Uncle Jerry because of his drinking habits? Worried about not being able to escape the questioning from Grandma about why you haven’t gotten married yet?

  2. Gift giving - You have to buy 15 gifts this year and don’t even know what to get half the people you’re shopping for. Also, bye $$$.

  3. Colder days and longer nights - Winter in New England is rough, traffic is terrible and the sun sets at 4pm.

  4. Food - This is a big one. Weight gain is a huge concern for many people during the holidays. There seems to be less time to workout and more time to eat treats and drink alcohol. Balance becomes way off and depression starts to set in.

Some or all of these things can be triggering but they don’t have to be. Life is all about perspective. How we see things and react to circumstances have everything to do with our experience of existence. Let’s reexamine these common stressors again...

  1. Spending time with family - Remind yourself that Uncle Jerry and Grandma both mean well. Everybody is dealing with their own “stuff”. It’s not always about you, actually it’s usually about them. Practice acceptance and gratitude.

  2. Gift giving - Remember what the holidays are about. Perhaps you can suggest a Secret Santa at your next gathering or think of some gifts that are from the heart rather than from your wallet. My favorite gift to give is homemade chocolate truffles. They’re made with love and are a hit with everybody. And who doesn’t love a homemade gift? (P.S. I just had a holiday truffle making workshop - stay tuned for more foodie workshops in the future).

  3. Colder days and longer nights - One of my November intentions was to remember what brings me light as the days get darker. Grab a pen and paper and start making a list of things you can do in the winter when you’re feeling stuck. My favorites: yoga, candlelit epsom salt baths, reading, calling a friend, bundling up and taking the pup out for a walk.

  4. Food - This is my favorite thing to work on as a health and wellness coach! You don’t have to shun away all the tasty treats, just go into indulgent situations with awareness and loving kindness. Before you head to a party, have a balanced meal so you aren’t tempted to fill up on the heavy stuff. Then, choose one or two things that you will allow yourself to have. Maybe it’s two glasses of wine or maybe it’s one cocktail and a cookie. Exercise is another big one here. Implement small exercises into your day. Lunge your way to the bathroom and back, do jumping jacks in the morning, or do squats while you brush your teeth. The small stuff add up and you’ll be able to maintain your muscle mass even if you don’t have time to hit the gym.

Hopefully this mind shifting tool has helped you have a fresh outlook on this holiday season. If you need more accountability than a blog post can provide please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to help you reach your goals whether you want to lose weight, heal gut issues, sleep better or increase energy. I offer my clients a free discovery call that you can book here. You can see a list of all the services I offer here.



TAKING A SOCIAL MEDIA BREAK

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Hello hello! I’ve completed my first social media detox! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a looooong time but …there was always something in the way. Mostly it was my own mind blocking this idea out for another day, another week, another month. I’m so connected to my Facebook and Instagram accounts, especially as a business owner/entrepreneur. Does your business even exist if it’s not on Instagram?

With my recent Lyme and EBV diagnosis and with the addition of my rigorous treatment plan I’ve had a lot more time to be on my phone as I bummed around on my couch trying to get better. My lack of going out and keeping busy led me to spend hours on my phone, mostly on Instagram. And then I hit a breaking point - oh my gosh the incessant scrolling has got to stop! I thought and thought about taking a break for about a month while my addiction persisted. And then one day I put my foot down and decided to take a social media break for a week. I shared it on my social media page and a lot of you joined in WHICH IS AWESOME. That’s what I call accountability (aka my jam). We had a solid crew running this experiment on their own and I can’t wait to hear how it goes for everybody.

Here’s why I did it:

  1. Break the social comparison cycle

  2. You’ll stop feeling so competitive

  3. Improve your overall mood

  4. Conquer your fear of missing out (aka FOMO)

  5. Reconnect with the real world

  6. Begin living in the moment

  7. Gain lots of free time

I think it’s fun keeping a journal during experiments so in light of this here is what my social media-free week looked like.

Day 1: It’s Monday. I got this. Wow my brain feels so much clearer. It actually feels like there is more breathing room in my own mind and home. I had a few things to do today but there were definitely times when I was sitting around when I would normally be on Instagram but instead what I found myself doing was grabbing my phone and refreshing my emails. Over and over. Baby steps right? I realized I had this need to be doing something, anything, on my phone so then came a few Amazon purchases and Thrive Market scrolling looking for products “I probably need.” I was FaceTiming with my brother (connecting with friends and family is one of my November intentions) and he asked me, “Is Reddit social media?”, to which we decided “maybe not.” Then began my Reddit scrolling, and after sending a few dog and cat videos to my mom and Arthur, Arthur made me realize Reddit was still social media. He was right. Bye Reddit.

Day 2: Ok, this is getting easier. I’m actually getting things done! I’m starting to feel better and it’s been a weird hurdle to get back into the flow of work/life after being very sick. I’m now using my free time wisely and feeling excited to produce content again. Like this blog for example. I haven’t written much in the past few months and here I am excited to write a post for you guys and not completely dreading it. There have been a few instances where I looked for my Instagram app - muscle memory is so real. Do you guys ever check your phone while you’re at a red light? That used to be me and I noticed that today, I am so much better, just listening to music and looking around at the beautiful foliage outside my window. I can’t wait to see how I feel after completing a week of this!

Day 3: I find myself thinking “ooh this would make a good Insta-story!”… stop it brain… stop it…

Day 4-7: Life happened and I disconnected… like REALLY disconnected. From keeping track of my progress too. These last 4 days were all pretty similar. It took me 3 days to get the compulsion out of my mind and the days following were pretty simple and seriously enjoyable. I found that I was soo much more present. Instead of reaching for my phone while I was in line, at a red light, in traffic (I know, ugh) and during commercials I practiced being present by looking out the window (and noticing things I have never noticed before), smiling at strangers, and playing with my puggle. The only struggle I faced was when I was with someone who was not detoxing with me aka my husband. He does most of his work from his phone so the moments where I wasn’t on my phone, he was. There were times where I got frustrated and said “hang out with me!” which worked sometimes, other times it didn’t. This was a good practice in non attachment and doing my own thing.

I slowly reintroduced Instagram and Facebook on Day 8… but gave it some time before diving in. I was loving not being addicted to my phone. It was so gratifying that I was nervous about returning. I wanted to make sure I kept what I learned in mind. I’m writing this about a week after coming back and I feel like I’m 75% better with my social media. I post only 2x a week and don’t update my stories as much. The hardest thing about this for me is that social media is all part of my business and I LOVE connecting with my followers aka you! This, I realize will be a constant balancing act.

In conclusion, I will be doing this again, and maybe even for longer. I find it to be integral to healing and growing. And for those of you that follow me on social you know that I’ve been actively fighting Lyme disease for the past 4 months. I love to share my journey but it takes away from my experience a little bit. I needed that week to focus on myself and my needs, without diving into others experiences. Social media isn’t all bad. Without it I wouldn’t have known I have Lyme. I use a variety of platforms to look up Lyme hashtags and accounts as well as read through the Lyme support groups on Facebook. It’s been so great to find a community to share this journey with. But it can get me into a hole and comparison cycle.

Did you participate in the detox? I want to hear about how it went! I think the next social media detox I take will be 2 weeks long. Would you want to join me? Even for just a day? Comment below and let me know!

If you don’t already you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Tell me, which do you prefer - Instagram posts or stories?

STAYING FIT ON VACATION

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You've heard me say it before and I'll say it again. We're #adult enough to know that it's not healthy or fun to lose sight of our wellness goals when we go away on vacation. Being hungover, exhausted, bloated and being off schedule ain't fun. Why would we put ourselves through feeling like crap during a time meant for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation? In this age of wellness and travel (basically Instagram's M.O.) there are so many tools available to stay on track while we're away from home. I'm sharing a few of my favorites tips and tricks. Check it out.

Let's Begin with the Obvious: Working Out

This is the most straight-forward way to stay fit. Wake up early and take a yoga class at your hotel or local yoga studio. When I was in Aruba I asked my hotel concierge where I could take a yoga class and the next morning you bet my bum was doing down dog on the beach. The next day, I was in the ocean practicing stand up paddle board yoga (SUP yoga). My hotel had a gym but I didn't bring workout sneaks. Thank goodness all you need is your body (and maybe some clothes) for yoga! If there's a gym in your hotel, get at least 20 minutes of working out in before breakfast. You'll feel energized all day and you can eat that gelato after dinner guilt-free. 

Workout apps!

There are so many low-cost and free workout apps in the iOS and Android-sphere. Even the membership-based ones (which tend to be the best) have free week-long trials. Check out Pear, Workout Trainer, Nike +, Jetfit, Daily Burn and more. You don't even need equipment for most of these which is a huge plus.

Arthur got a hold of some sweet teeth at the toy store. Once you see it you can't unsee it..

Arthur got a hold of some sweet teeth at the toy store. Once you see it you can't unsee it..

WALK OR BIKE

Depending on where you travel you can either take the lazy route or the healthy route. If you're going to an island, take a few walks up and down the shore throughout the day instead of being a 100% beach bum. If you're visiting a major city like Paris, Barcelona, or London I recommend taking a Fat Tire Bike Tour (my favorite company) on Day 1 or 2. It's the absolute best way to see a city. Most tours have a guide in the front, middle, and back so you can feel totally safe. Bike tours are great because you can stop for photo ops at any moment - WAY better than a hop on hop off tour. I used to go on those as a kid and would ALWAYS fall asleep on the bus, miss the scenery, and be sleepy once we were hopping off at our destination. My mom still teases me when she tells stories about churches we've visited. She says, "Remember Saint-Étienne-du-Mont in Paris? You know, the church you fell asleep at?". MOM!!!

If biking ain't yo thang there are tons of walking tours in each city. My favorite kind of walking tour is a food/walking tour. Obviously. When Arthur and I were in Barcelona we went on a Tapas, Taverns, and History tour which included food, drinks, history, and walking. The best of both worlds in my opinion. Do your research on TripAdvisor and find something that suits your style. The big plus of staying in a major city is that you can walk everywhere! We hit an average of 15,000-20,000 steps a day (experts recommend 10,000 steps per day) without blinking an eye and still managed to use the taxi system quite a bit. There are trains and buses in a lot of cities but sometimes the whole ticketing system intimidates me out of using it. I save money and I gain a tight butt. It's a win-win.

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Book a Wellness Trip

There are tons of vacation packages/retreats aimed toward wellness these days. Whether its a vegan yoga retreat in Mexico or a canoe and hiking trip in Costa Rica, you can find a vibe that suits your style. Check out Trip Tribe for retreat options. I did a SUP yoga retreat in Tulum 5 years back and it was just what I needed. We stayed in an eco-village and were fed delicious vegetarian food in between our 2-3 yoga sessions/day. I hear Yogascapes is a good resource, too.

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Eat GOOD FOOD

I get it, it's vacation, you want to let go a little and you absolutely should! I've heard so many instances of people tolerating foods on vacation that they normally can't touch at home. It's because you're on vacation and you're allowing yourself to indulge. Let that sink in for a second...

There are also numerous studies about the differences in gluten and dairy in other countries. The US genetically modifies so much of our food it inevitably becomes difficult to digest. I have been gluten free for a decade and found that my body can tolerate small amounts of gluten when I'm in Europe. That's because I'm intolerant not celiac. Celiac's need to stay away from gluten indefinitely. I still take it easy because gluten is still problematic and not healthy for me but it's fun indulging in a real croissant on vacation... even if I can only mentally make it through half.

Use Yelp, Foursquare and/or TripAdvisor to find restaurants that comply with your diet. I like to search "organic food", "plant based food", "gluten free food", "juice bar", "smoothies", "vegan food", and "vegetarian food". In my experience using these terms in the aforementioned apps directs me to healthy farm-to-table restaurants that have gluten free and veggie heavy options. Bookmark your findings and refer back often. I like to find my lunch spot during breakfast and my dinner spot during lunch. Call me crazy but knowing that I don't have to stress about getting a healthy or compliant meal eases my mind and let's me relax into vacation mode even more. Also, if you eat something that's unhealthy DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT beat yourself up. You're a human being, you will not ruin your entire diet or lifestyle if you have non-vegan non-gluten free pizza or cake. Live a little, within reason. Most of all follow your intuition! 

I'll pack a bag of chia seeds then stop at the local market to pick up dairy-free mylk, nuts and fruit. Mix 2 TBSP chia with 1/2 cup mylk, stir and stir again after 5 minutes. Refrigerate overnight and you've got chia pudding ready for breakfast!

I'll pack a bag of chia seeds then stop at the local market to pick up dairy-free mylk, nuts and fruit. Mix 2 TBSP chia with 1/2 cup mylk, stir and stir again after 5 minutes. Refrigerate overnight and you've got chia pudding ready for breakfast!

Pack the Essentials

Think about everything you do at home to keep yourself healthy and bring it with you! If you have a matcha ritual, bring the ingredients with you. Take advantage of tiny canisters, jars, or storage containers. If you take supplements, bring them with you. This is not the time to quit on vitamins. Take it from the girl who got super sick from traveling to Aruba, then directly to Colorado in a 3-week period. I thought I'd make it easy on myself and give my supplements a break (which is important to do every few months, just not while traveling) and I failed miserably. Your body is more susceptible to catching diseases while traveling. Think planes, bathrooms, restaurants, museums, subways, yada, yada. Yuck.

I've been doing quite a bit of traveling lately and these are the best tips I've picked up. If you have any questions or want more ideas leave me a comment below! I've linked all my favorite products for you. They're products I actually use and believe in so you can feel safe buying them. Safe travels. :)

Need a little more one-on-one coaching to keep you on track? Schedule a complimentary consultation with me here. Can't wait to chat with you!! XO

GLUTEN FREE BARCELONA GUIDE

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Hi loves! 

I'm back from beautiful Barcelona and I want to share all the food goodness we experienced with you. Barcelona is a beautiful city overflowing with history, gorgeous architecture (hello, Gaudi) and of course FOOOOOD. There's actually quite an array of plant-based food around they city. You just have to hunt a little. I like bookmarking everything on Yelp before I arrive so that I always have a list of restaurants I know are good and can provide gluten free food in the palm of my hand.

The last time I was in Barcelona I was 15 and things were a little different. Firstly, I was not on a healthy path whatsoever nor was I independent enough to explore the city and choose what I wanted to eat. That's not to say my last trip wasn't delicious- it was just different. This time, I was there with Arthur and luckily we have the same idea of what a bomb meal looks like. As you may already know I've been gluten free for over a decade. When I met Arthur he was dealing with debilitating migraines. He had tried eliminating a myriad of different foods one at a time and nothing worked until he removed gluten. Now we're a couple of gluten freeks and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

tomato bread at the W

My biggest dinner tip would be to either make a reservation or arrive right when the restaurant opens which is usually between 7:30pm-8:30pm. In Spain you'll find that instead of free bread servers will give you a little bowl of olives to munch on. The teensy ones are local and really yummy. You can ask for bread - a lot of restaurants had gluten free bread. Instead of butter bread is served with squeezed tomato on top. A traditional from when Spain couldn't afford butter. Don't knock it till you try it. I also HIGHLY recommend taking a food tour. We loved our Tapas, Taverns and History tour with Devour Tours. Our tour guide Pauline was adorable with her Spanish/Polish/Australian accent and little picture flip book. Who doesn't like listening to history while eating?

Breakfast

Avocado Toast at Green & Berry

Green Shots: An adorable Instagram-worthy vegan cafe with wellness shots, juices, smoothies and premade parfaits, acai/chia puddings and raw cakes. They also serve a tasty looking lunch here but we were never in the neighborhood during lunch time. We loved the ginger shots, pineapple juices, puddings, quinoa chocolate cake, and yogurt parfaits. 

Green & Berry: Vegan and vegetarian with a menu that rivals Life Alive. Even though they gave Arthur gluten-full bread accidentally I still would recommend this place. There are fun latte's, smoothies, smoothie bowls, sandwiches and bowls. I had a cacao latte and oatmeal bowl. Arthur had the avocado toast with a poached egg. Make sure you have them repeat back to you that you want gluten free bread. And ask then to toast it. 

Scallops at Singular

Lunch

Singular: Proof that you don't have to cross reference Yelp with Foursquare with Tripadvisor EVERY time. We stumbled upon Singular on our way to La Sagrada Familia and were STARVING. Yes, I did check the internet to see that the food would indeed be good. We had a lovely meal on the sidewalk patio. Scallops, lentil salad, and chicken salad. Beautifully plated and super trendy location with a view of La Sagrada. Surprisingly not packed and way better than the other touristy options nearby... like McDonalds and Five Guys.

Flax & Kale: There are a couple locations but we ended up at the one in the H&M near Casa Mila. It was a little confusing to find since we didn't realize it was inside the store. Once you climb to the 3rd floor, which feels like climbing a mountain after the 15k steps we did that day before lunch time, you are greeted by a huge fridge filled with juices, nut milks, superfood salads, sushi, sandwiches and more. Stroll over to the counter and you'll see gluten free and vegan donuts, cakes, and more. Heavenly! I got the superfood salad and Arthur got what I can only describe as a sushi sandwich. Think rice for your bread and slices of avocado, lox and cream cheese as your filling. We had to get the maple-glazed donut... yup worth it. Always. It was so moist and decadent yet light and just right for sharing.

Dinner

Chickpea Stew at La pancha

SomSacs: Completely gluten and lactose free restaurant. Skip the rice paper wraps. Get the burger and foccacia. Skip the wine (organic but not tasty). 

Cera 23: Arthur's mushroom risotto was delish. My sea bass was a bit too fishy for me. The carpaccio was outstanding. The big win here was the flourless cake with ice cream. ::wipes drool off face:: 

La Plata: We were taken here on our food tour. Around for over 50 years and serves only 5 types of tapas, wine from barrels, and vermouth. This is more of a before-dinner drink/bite locale. Very cool vibe stuffed with locals. It's very small so don't be surprised if you end up snacking while standing up at the little bar. We had anchovies, sausage w/o the bread, and tomato and onion salad

La Pineda Charcuteria: A gem of authenticity, offering a range of sausages, cheeses and bocadillos. Around since before 1930 and as authentic as you can get. A family used to live inside this little restaurant among the many legs of hanging jamon. We started with Spanish vermouth- a must have. Bonus points if you have it at "vermouth hour" aka 1pm before your siesta. When in Spain do as the Spanish do! We ate delicious cheeses, eggplant rotinis and charcuterie. Warning: the egg potato tortilla's here have flour in them. 

Eggplant and tomato salad at La Panxa

La Panxa de Bisbe: Traditional Catalan food. Lots of variety here and very farm-to-table. Arthur had the pork ribs and we shared the eggplant tomato salad, chickpea stew and scallops. Very cool restaurant vibe - kind of reminds me of Boston restaurants. The wine was delectable. I love Spanish wines, they're mostly mild but have quite a range. We didn't have one bad wine on the trip - well except at SomSacs.

Gasterea: An absolute gem. We stumbled upon Gasterea at 11pm after our "early" 6:30pm food tour for some wine. We scored two seats at the bar which apparently isn't very easy to do and decided we HAD to try the food since this restaurant was on my list of places to eat at. Very traditional tapas here. Get anything and you'll be happy. Food comes out fast and the older male bartender was a riot. He was pouring drinks from way about his head. From my perspective it looked impressive, from Arthur's he was actually missing the glasses completely. We had the house red wine, eggplant chips, and a bunless burger. The bartender literally wouldn't take our money. It was overall a pretty darn cool experience.

Cocktails

Mixologist at Tandem

Tandem Cocktail Bar:  No menu, just a few very talented mixologists ready to make you any drink your heart desires. Arthur requested something spicy and smokey and I requested something with bitters and citrus. We were not disappointed. This was a stop on our way to see the Bruno Mars show and it was just perfecto.

Places we didn't get to but wished we got to so now you have to go to them and tell me all about it

The Juice House, Casablanca Cocktail Bar, La Nansa, Lady Green, Dr. Stravinsky, Roig Robi, Cal Pep, Modore, Green Spot, Demasie, Nomo, Ferment 9, Madame George, Harlem Jazz Club, Old Fashioned, Bar Lobo, Razzmatazz (go there on Monday), Gourmet Tapas, NoNoNo, La Llavor dels Origens, La Pepita, Con Gracia, Biocenter, Sensi Bistro, Rasoterra, Veggie Garden, Bo de B, Ola Restaurant.

What are your favorite spots to eat in Barcelona? Let me know in the comments below!

THE BEST + WORST SUMMER COCKTAILS

copyright https://www.thetastesf.com/strawberry-mojito/

Summer is here which means longer days, BBQ's, night's out on the town aaaand inevitably a beverage or two (or three). I'd like to start off by saying that I am not suggesting that you drink alcohol as part of a healthy diet but I also believe in the 80/20 rule which means everything in moderation. HoweverI do suggest limiting your intake of alcohol in the summertime specifically. We are in Pitta season so drinking lots of acidic drinks like alcohol (and coffee!) will make you prone to drying out and will irritate and inflame the body's delicate mucous membranes where our good immune-boosting microbes live. Personally, I've been on the mocktail train as of late. Now that I'm 30 I feel like I get SO hungover which I honestly just don't have time for. I also find that I can have the same amount of fun as I used to while drinking with a tasty alcohol-free bevvy in my hands. I have more energy, don't drink my calories and don't feel crappy the next day. This doesn't mean I don't indulge every once in a while. The problem is that I love the taste of alcohol which is hard to copy with non-alcoholic drinks. I love negroni's, manhatten's and wine so I indulge in one or two at dinner (eating while drinking helps prevent hangovers) from time to time.

Summer cocktails are definitely a "thing" so I thought I'd compile a list of the healthiest and unhealthiest drinks so you can make the right choice for your health. First things first:

What is the "Healthiest" Alcohol?

  1. Blanco (White) Tequila - Clean and Low calorie. Minimal hangover. Blanco or repasado tequilas are healthier - darker tequilas are aged in barrels that contained other alcohols. Tequila has been known to give us more energy - not scientifically proven but I can definitely speak to it! 

  2. Red Wine - Red wine has has a high concentration of polyphenols, particularly resveratrol, which is found in the skin of grapes. These antioxidants may work to reduce inflammation in your body. If you don't want to be hungover aim for sulfite free (other than naturally occurring) and low tannins.

  3. Brut (Dry) Champagne - less caloric than wine and contains the same antioxidants as red wine, although a bit less due to the lack of grape skins.

 *If you want to prevent a painstaking hangover stick to high quality alcohols. It pays to pay for top shelf.

Summer Cocktails to Avoid

Frozen Drinks

Frozen drinks might be fun and super summery (hello, frosé) but they're also filled with sugary juices, high calorie mixers and tend to be served in oversized glasses. Not only are you getting a large dose of alcohol but you're getting hit with approximately 500 calories in that one drink vs about 120 calories for a glass of white wine.

Mojito

If there's herbs in my drink it's healthy, right? Wrong. Mojito's are rarely ordered at most bars which means the mint in your drink is probably old and could be carrying harmful bacteria. If you're at a specialty bar you're most likely safe but remember - mojito's are a hangover nightmare. Rum (made from cane sugar) and 2 heaping teaspoons of sugar are in a mojito. Oy, just writing that made me cringe.

Long Island Iced Tea + Grateful Dead (the sweeter cousin of the LIIT)

RUN FOR THE HILLS! Both drinks contain about 6 liquors and a splash of soda. Ouch ouch ouch just don't. Don't do it. Not only is this drink 780 calories but it's just not classy to be sh*tfaced from one drink. 

Healthier Summer Cocktails

Kombucha Mezcal 

Mix 1oz Mezcal (or blanco tequila) with 2 oz berry-flavored kombucha and 2 oz soda water. Serve over ice with a few berries for garnish.

Vitality Vodka Juice

Using a juicer, blend one cucumber, two celery stalks, one head of romaine lettuce, one lemon, one small piece of fresh ginger, and two green apples. Then, add vodka or tequila to taste.

Botanical Gin Martini

Muddle mint and/or basil at the bottom of a shaker with a couple slices of cucumber. Add a dash of dry vermouth and 2 oz high quality gin. Shake and strain into a martini glass with fresh or frozen cucumber wheels. Fancy this up by adding a botanical ice cube into your glass. To make it fill your ice tray with water and place a cucumber slice and a mint and/or basil leaf in each cube, freeze and voila! Now you're real fancy.

Natasha's Aperol Spritz

Do as the Italians do! Aperol Spritz's are making a come back. I replace 1/2 the Prosecco with soda water for a low-sugar version of the classic. To make this, fill a glass with ice and pour in 2 oz or Apero 1 oz of Prosecco. Garnish with an orange slice and an olive on a stick of you're doing it the way they serve it in Venice.

Watermelon Lime Mocktail

In a blender, blend watermelon and lime juice until smooth. Fill a glass of ice with 1/2 of the mixture and top with a splash of ginger beer, kombucha, or soda water. Ok, it's great with champagne too - better than a mimosa IMHO.

I love hearing from you so tell me - what's your favorite summer cocktail? Have you gotten super into mocktails lately? Tell me in the comments below! 

Want to take your health to the next level? Schedule a complimentary consultation with me here. I can't wait to chat with you!

https://lifespa.com/superfoods-summer-edition/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=summersuperfoods&utm_content=article&inf_contact_key=55d05aadb46780e3ef2f44d4c02f0ca928a1ed8361d79f1e1c967cda2837be1c
https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19539547/red-wine-health-benefits/
https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/11-new-healthy-cocktail-recipes

THINK YOU DON'T HAVE TIME FOR SELF-CARE? YOU DO NOW.

Hi Friends! Today we have a blog post by a special guest blogger named Sheila from www.fitsheila.com. She wanted to share some tips with my lovely readers on balancing life and self-care. You KNOW self-care is my cup of tea but for so many of us it can be hard to actually implement self-care practices when we have so much going on. Yes, I know you're busy. Yes, I know work is crazy. Yes, I know you might have kids and I don't so I don't get it. But listen up - if you don't practice self-care aka caring about yourself, you won't be as fun to be around, as big of a boon to your family and friends, or as involved in your community/work. My challenge for you is to do one thing this week that makes you happy. ONE THING. Bonus points if you do this one thing everyday for 7 days. Lately I'm getting back into abhyanga or self-massage because I can hear my body needing the nourishment from oil and touch. So I'll be doing 5-10 minutes of that everyday. What can you do? Leave it in the comments below! When you write it down it becomes more real. So post it, and do it. 

XO
Natasha

 

4 ways to balance life + self-care

It can sometimes be a struggle to find balance in our lives between our commitments to others and our commitments to ourselves. Getting to that middle ground is what self-care means. From our boss’s deadlines to making sure we get to Spin class on time, checking tasks off the to-do list shouldn’t come at the expense of our physical and mental health. If you need help balancing your fitness routine with overall self-care, these four tips can help boost your general sense of well-being.

  1. Get Good Sleep: You need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted quality sleep to perform as your best self. If you are uncomfortable in your own bed, check out your mattress and pillows. Explore different shapes, materials, firmness and even cultures. As Americans, we often load up our beds with a variety of pillows, but some cultures take a very different approach to sleep health. Take the Japanese, for example. Many sleep with one oblong pillow under the neck. If comfort isn’t an issue, then you may find that a white noise machine can help lull you to sleep, or blackout curtains can block excess light that is creeping in on your ZZZs.
     
  2. Make a Meditation Routine: When you are feeling stressed, what do you do? Keep a log for a few weeks every time you feel frustrated, stressed or upset, and be sure to document what happened before, during and after those moments. What you’re doing is starting a pattern of mindfulness—being aware of why you think, feel and act the way you do in the moment. Successful mindfulness often works in partnership with meditation. Once you’ve begun to realize the pattern of distress, practice techniques to let go of the stress. In your office, you can close your eyes and take 10 deep, slow breaths; in public, you can put in your earbuds and listen to a meditation app on your smartphone; and in your home, you can create a soothing meditation space. Creating a regular meditation practice isn’t just a benefit to self-care, but can improve your overall sense of well-being. Add some pillows and candles, and remove clutter and distractions in a spare room or an open corner away from the commotion of the house. Choose a spot with a soothing view or where you can hang a comforting picture or inspiring mantra.
     
  3. Pick Up a Hobby: Self-care starts with a focus on activities that improve mood, self-esteem and a sense of purpose. That’s why hobbies are a vital component to self-care, especially ones that sooth the mind and relax the body. Do you have a close friend with a birthday a few months away, or one with a new baby on the way? Try your hand at knitting. The internet has thousands of free tutorial videos, or you can take a class at your local fabric store. Do you need to zone out after work but also want to tap into your creative side? Pick up a pack of crayons and an adult coloring book. You can cultivate a state of creative relaxation by coloring zen-inducing mandalas and landscapes.
     
  4. Destress Exercise: Exercise is important for a healthy life—now and in the future. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 75 minutes of vigorous activity (where you sweat a lot and it’s difficult to have a conversation) and 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Sometimes, however, we become so fitness focused—especially in our American culture that is fixated on appearance—that exercise stops helping self-care and starts hurting it. Ways to avoid this include making fitness a part of your regular activities, like taking the stairs, parking in the back of the parking lot, or riding your bike to work. You can also make time to exercise with friends, like jogging together in the evenings or taking a dance class on the weekend. Friendship is another important component to finding balance in our lives. Making exercise a social outlet is just another way to boost self-care.

Self-care isn’t just important for your own well-being; it helps you care more deeply for others, too. We’ve all experienced times when our partners, children or friends need us and we are simply too tapped out emotionally, mentally or physically to be fully present. If self-care is a daily routine, you’ll have not only more time for love and compassion for yourself, but for others as well.

Still struggling to implement self-care into your daily practice? Click here to schedule a free 30 minutes consultation with me and we can come with a plan together. No strings attached! 

Until next time.

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T BUY THAT FANCY CAR

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Did I get your attention? Good. What are you investing in right now? A home? Good. You'll need that. Expensive clothes? A fancy car? A gym membership you never use? Not good. These investments will not pay off. Let me tell you about an investment that WILL pay off.

YOU. YOUR HEALTH. YOUR ETERNAL HAPPINESS. This is the best investment you can possibly make! I bet once you invest in yourself and become truly happy from the inside out, you're not going to need clothes or a fancy care to make you happy. These shiny objects are directed towards us to cover up the fact that was are deeply unhappy. I'm not saying you're deeply unhappy but I do want you to take a look at yourself and where you spend your money. I bet you 10 high fives you spend most of your money on random crap on Amazon... amiright? So how much do you REALLY invest in your spirituality? Your happiness? Your health? Your-SELF?

There are a myriad of excuses I hear from people about why they can’t (or decide not to) adopt a healthy lifestyle. Examples of excuses I hear for not living a healthy lifestyle:

  • “I don’t have time to cook / grocery shop / work out.”
  • “I don’t know how to cook.”

  • “I don’t know what foods are healthy for me with all the conflicting information and social media.”  

  • “My friends/family aren’t good influences and aren’t into being healthy”

Sound familiar? I’m going to educate you in this article, so you no longer can use these excuses and why it will pay off in so many ways to invest in yourself and your health today.

You might think you are initially spending a little more time, money, energy, and resources to invest in your health now, however, by truly giving yourself the self-care you need, it will greatly pay off in soooo many ways down the road.

Investing in yourself will affect your productivity and quality of living. You will have:

  • More energy

  • More strength

  • Greater ability to concentrate

  • Greatly reduce the risk for health problems - Arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.

  • If you invest in yourself now, you will take the burden off of your friends, family, loved ones. When we get sick, so do our loved ones.

Let's break down the top excuses on why you might not be investing in yourself. I'll give you actionable solutions so you can become the happiest, healthiest version of yourself.
 

#1... “I don’t have time to cook.”

  • Food prep every 3 days - cook in bulk. After 72 hours leftover food has very little prana or energy so try to schedule in 2 cooking days per week.

  • Schedule time in your schedule to go grocery shopping, cook, etc and stick to it! 

  • Make a grocery list.

  • Use the same staple foods for multiple meals For example, brown rice: day 1 breakfast can be brown rice porridge, day 2 lunch can be steamed veggies over brown rice, day 3 dinner throw the leftover veggies and rice in a satay pan and make fried rice. This way you're using your main ingredient in many ways but not eating it for every meal every day. I also love roasting a ton of veggies and swapping out dressings each day to spruce up my grain bowls or salads. I usually buy fish fresh the day of of day before I cook it on my way home from work and add that in as my protein.

  • Keep cooking simple. Complicated doesn't necessarily meal taster. Lately I've been making a tahini and lemon dressing for my arugula and topping it with broiled salmon. It takes 10 minutes to make... and even less to eat :X

  • Make smoothies and juices for breakfast - very time efficient and you can take them on the go. You can prepack your smoothie cup with all the ingredients and store it in the freezer/fridge. In the AM throw it in your blender, add liquid and boom - you've got breakfast.

  • Find an accountability partner to make sure you invest the time in yourself - a friend, family member, or health coach. Even health coaches have accountability partners!

  • Invest in a cooking class, meal plan, kitchen overhaul or one-on-one coaching session with me by clicking here.
     

#2... “I don’t know how to cook.”

  • Try one of my many recipes here. They're all really simple and delicious!

  • I can create a custom meal plan for you and your family and/or come teach you how to cook. Book a complimentary session here to find out which path is right for you.

  • Some of my favorite recipe developers to follow are RachLMansfield, Minimalist Baker and Love and Lemons. Check out their blogs and Instagram profiles for daily inspiration.

  • My meal plan/recipe book is in the works! Stay tuned ;)

#3... “I don’t know what foods are healthy for me with all the conflicting information and social media.”

  • Follow me on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest health news and get inspiration from what I cook for myself. I've gone down the food trend/dieting ways and have sifted through the crap to give you direct, legit information on healthy living.

  • If you are in need of a kitchen makeover or a private grocery shopping lesson you can book a complimentary call with me to find which is right for you here.
     

#4... “My friends/family aren’t good influences and aren’t into being healthy”

  • It's extremely important to surround yourself with good company. Did you know you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? My lifestyle has dramatically changed since my past days of partying and staying out late. I found that befriending people at my yoga studio and meeting friends for tea, juice, and lunch has helped me with the transition.

  • Sometimes you have to make new friends to support you, your health, and your goals.

  • Go to events focused on a healthy activity (yoga class, workshops, meditation class, run group, fitness event, intramural sports league) and meet new like-minded people who will better support you.

  • Check out my upcoming events here!
     

Hopefully you can now understand why it's so important to invest in yourself and some easy, actionable ways to do so. If you have any questions/comments/concerns please leave a comment below or email me! XO

Having serious troubles with your finances? Hit up my good friend and money pro Dimitry at www.90daymoneypro.com. He helped me get my finances down pat and is a fricken gem.

Resources:
 https://hackingyourbudget.com/invest-in-your-health/https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/4-health-investments-that-wont-break-the-bank
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21484/7-secrets-to-eating-healthy-when-youre-short-on-time-money.html
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14257/how-to-live-the-good-life-on-a-shoestring-budget.htm
https://foodbabe.com/how-to-eat-organic-on-a-budget/

MY SPRING CLEANSE MENU

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Spring is upon us! If you’re interested in cleansing you can read more about my 7 Day Ayurvedic Whole Food + Self Care Cleanse here. Learn what past cleansers had to say here. Want to connect and learn more about it? Schedule a free consultation call here.

Seasonal cleanse round 2 has just ended and WOOF that was a trip! Not in a bad way, but in a super amazing holy-wow-I'm-learning-so-much-about-myself way. And this is coming from a chick who's been cleansing for years. I learn something new each time I cleanse.

All of my cleanses are whole foods and self-care based. You're able to pick your level of cleansing: beginner, intermediate, pro or traditional Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse. I chose something between intermediate and pro. I eliminated: coffee, grains, gluten, dairy, sugars (except maple syrup, honey, and stevia), and animal products (including eggs).

The food aspect is delicious and lightening but once I integrated self-care into the food cleansing, my world changed. Of course, it makes SO much sense to take care of myself holistically in a time of cleansing. Dry brushing and oiling my skin helped detox and nourish my skin, muscles, and joints simultaneously while scraping my tongue showed me what's going on in my gut while cleaning out toxins, improving oral health, and stimulating digestion. FYI I tongue scrape every day now. It's the most rewarding practice because it's impossible to forget and fun to see how my tongue changes morning to morning.

We cover so much in 1 week that I'm thinking this cleanse should last for longer. What do you think? Maybe 2, or 3 weeks? I feel like once 1 week goes by there's so much more work to be done!

A lot of people suspect a cleanse to be filled with gross, boring, tasteless food. I wanted to give you a peek at what a Natasha Wellness Spring Cleanse menu might look like. Here's what I ate for 7 days. P.S. I DID NOT STARVE. I was actually more satisfied than I have been in a while. I got to experiment with new recipes and taste new food combinations. My new favorite thing is adding herbs into my smoothies and using my Vitamix to puree soups. Last week was a real treat. I feel lighter, less bloated, less agitated, have less cravings, more energy, better digestion, and I'm more deeply connected to myself and the world around me. I always hear about how vegan yogi's are so enlightened which made sense but I'm an occasional cheese and meat eater so I didn't totally get it... until now. I actually feel connected to something more expansive. I hope you join me next time.

This cleanse is running all season long so hit me up if you want to start feeling amazing this Spring!

*Side-note: I got my period on the 5th day of the cleanse and had NO symptoms before or during which is unheard of. This is because I cut out sugar and coffee (I was still drinking matcha) and upped my leafy green intake. PMS is common but not normal. If you're having PMS symptoms, eliminating these foods will help you with tender breasts, cramping, mood swings, and cravings. 

Key: B - breakfast, S - snack, L - lunch, D - dinner

Monday
B - matcha, green smoothie
S - dried strawberries (sweetened with applie juice)
L - zucchini soup and a kale, beet, cucumber, avocado, vegan cesar salad
D - Miso soup w/ zoodles, snow peas, and bok choy
S - 2 dates w/ almond butter
 

Tuesday
B - matcha, kapha's best smoothie (grapefruit + greens)
S - raw cacao latte (dandy blend, maple, almond milk)
L - Adventure Bowl (no grains or cheese, add avocado) from Life Alive
D - pea, broccoli, asparagus thai soup w/ zoodles
S - 1 date w/ almond butter

Wednesday
B - matcha, kapha's favorite smoothie (grapefruit, apple, greens)
L - Sweetgreen avocado + lentil salad, 3 dates w/ almond butter
D - leftover soup, roasted carrot "fries" w/ spicy brown mustard
S - golden mylk latte

Thursday
B - matcha, kapha's best smoothie
S - pre-yoga ceremonial cacao drink (thanks to my yoga teacher)
L - leftover Sweetgreen salad and leftover Whole Heart Provisions bowl
S - 2 dates w/ almond butter
D - leftover soup, black bean pasta w/ tahini, garlic, lemon, basil

Friday
B - matcha, green smoothie w/ greens, frozen zucchini, 
L - roasted fennel bulb, carrots, brussels over arugula w/ avocado, sauerkraut, tamari almonds, lemon + EVOO
S - 3 of Alison Wu's golden chip bliss balls - SO YUMMY
D - Life Alive GF Adventurer demi (no cheese)

Saturday
B - matcha, green smoothie w/ greens, frozen zucchini, 1/4 banana, grapefruit, 2 tbsp flax seeds, mint, parsley, water, stevia
L - daikon ginger salad w/ avocado
D - mexican quinoa salad cups w/ creamy cilantro lime dressing

Sunday
B - matcha, green smoothie w/ spinach, grapefruit, 2 tbsp flax seeds, water, stevia, bee pollen
L - detox salad (veggie packed!)
D - peruvian quinoa stew w/ avocado

 

Curious about cleansing but don’t know where to begin? I offer complimentary consultations to new clients. Schedule yours at www.natashawellness.com/appointment. <3

THIS IS HOW THE NEW YEARS DETOX WENT DOWN

THIS IS HOW THE NEW YEARS DETOX WENT DOWN

I asked one of my detox-ers, Anna Cardoso, to write up an honest review of her experience of my 7-day whole food and self-care New Years Detox from a couple weeks ago. She was a very active participant in the cleanse which helped her dive deeper and gain insight on herself which helped her grow through the process two-fold. I should share with you that this is not solicited or edited in any way. Here's what she had to say!

THE CHATTER ABOUT CHARCOAL

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/boost-your-health-5-healthy-uses-for-activated-charcoal/

First off—we aren’t talking about the black rocks thrown on the grill to cook our burgers. Thank goodness! Unlike regular charcoal, which is a well-known carcinogen, activated charcoal is medicinal, commonly known as Carbon. Often in the form of a fine black powder (derived from bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits or sawdust), activated charcoal has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine and the Ayurveda millennia.

Recently, it’s been making its debut in the “superfood status” class due to its potent alkalizing detoxification properties and health benefits.

FOSTERS A HEALTHIER DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

One of the top uses of activated charcoal is its power to heal and protect our digestive track. There are SO many toxins in our environment, from the chemicals in the water we drink to pesticides on foods and pollutants in the air.

Toxins in your digestive tract can lead to oxidative damage, a weaker immune system, allergic reactions, and other health problems. Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in the gut and preventing their absorption. In doing so, it boosts our energy levels, improves mental function, and relieves joint pain. Bonus fun fact: this process also helps to alleviate gas by eradicating foul odors in the colon or intestinal tract.

WHITENS TEETH

Carbon has a cleansing and brightening function that goes beyond any chemical teeth whitening product on the shelves. It ultimately changes the pH balance in the mouth by absorbing acidic plaque and microscopic compounds that can stain (think: coffee, tea, red wine). So it not only whitens teeth, but also promotes better overall oral health by preventing gum disease, bad breath, and cavities.

To use on your teeth, put a little toothpaste on your toothbrush, dip it in some activated charcoal powder, add a bit of water, and then brush (note: your mouth WILL turn black due to the Carbon—this is normal (and ironic), so don’t panic!

REDUCES CHOLESTEROL

Activated charcoal may also help reduce cholesterol levels. How so, you ask? Carbon can bind cholesterol and cholesterol-containing bile acids in the gut, preventing the body from absorbing them. I think it’s safe to say we can add this to the list of its superpowers!

TREATS FOOD POISONING

Activated charcoal can also reduce the effects of several human drugs and other toxins, making it a leading poison and drug overdose antidote since the early 1800s. Who knew?! Its effectiveness is due to a chemical process known as adsorption—which is the reaction of elements like chemicals, toxins, and nutrients that are soaked up and assimilated in the bloodstream—before chemicals and poisons can cause bodily harm.

PROMOTES A GLOWING COMPLEXION

Let’s move from the internal applications of activated charcoal and look at its uses outside of the body—starting with the skin. Activated charcoal is often used to treat rashes, insect bites, acne and even relieve body odor. It’s also used as a “detox” for the face to build more beautiful skin (think: a cheap substitute to costly face masks).

To craft it, mix the ingredients below and gently smooth it across your face. Allow the mixture to dry, and then rinse it off:

FIGHTS PREMATURE AGING

Our skin is exposed to a lot of toxins on an everyday basis; from the foods we eat to the make-up we wear to the homes we live in. Long story short: the environment inevitably escalates the natural aging process. With that said, activated charcoal can serve as a shield to these harmful effects by supporting healthy adrenal glands and preventing cellular damage to the liver and kidneys.

Detoxing with activated charcoal helps cleanse the body inside and out by flushing out the chemicals and pollutants that can lead to increased risk of illness, disease, and damaging signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots.

To use activated charcoal as an anti-aging treatment, simply take two capsules each day to increase overall health and well-being. Take note to add this to your health and beauty routine now!

EXTRA NOTES TO SELF

Keep in mind that not all activated charcoal is created equal. Make sure you look for a food-grade charcoal derived organically. And chit chat with your doc if you have questions or concerns.

Try to drink 10 — 12 glasses of purified water daily when you’re detoxing with activated charcoal. This will ensure you’re flushing out toxins ASAP and will prevent constipation.

Consider taking activated charcoal at least 90 minutes to two hours before meals.

 

If this charcoal chatter has sparked your thoughts about detox (body and mind), now is the perfect time to check out my latest cleansing courses: New Years Detox and Whole Body Balance.  There’s no better time than now to nourish yourself and shift into a deeper, more meaningful life. YOU deserve it!

Learn more and sign up @ https://www.natashawellness.com/healthcoaching/. Limited space available!

 

Resources:
http://www.naturallivingideas.com
https://www.healthline.com
http://www.foodmatters.com
https://www.shape.com
  

 

 

FALL FOR YOUR BODY

My snuggle puggle enjoying the fall display in Cambridge, MA.

My snuggle puggle enjoying the fall display in Cambridge, MA.

Well, Fall has suddenly moved in, and Vata season is in full force—colds, sore throats, and the flu begin to lurk in the air around us. So fun right? As we transition seasons, we shift from a Pitta (fire)-dominated summer to a Vata (air)-dominated autumn. In the fall, the air element is prominent. While our bodies have accumulated plenty of heat in our tissues through the summer months, fall forces the leaves to change color and the wind to brush our face. As a result, Vata takes the stage, which is often marked by change, instability, and anxiety---often throwing us off balance and out of our element.

When the stored heat of Pitta is cooled by Vata, it makes sense how this effect can trigger mental and physical burnout, stressing our adrenals and nervous system and restricting some of the body’s natural detoxification processes, resulting in body pains, coughs, colds, allergies, chest congestion, fatigue, or even depression. Think: adding a blast of air to fire—it would burn even stronger, right?

As Vata dosha increases, the dry, rough, cold, and windy qualities of fall can also take shape in our bodies. As the air element increases in our external environment, we might notice that our skin becomes dry, our energy drops, our thoughts feel muddled, our joints feel stiff, and our digestion suddenly sluggish. In other words, we feel in total disarray. Ugh. Why?!

As temperatures drop, so can motivation. The cold weather makes it harder to get up in the morning and get moving. Meanwhile, tis the season that our days feel rushed again. So what’s a Vata to do when life speeds up but the body slows down?

EAT WARMER FOODS

Increased air and wind can have a drying effect on the body and environment, drying out the digestive system. This can leave us feeling bloated or heavy after eating due to the reduced heat and increased dryness. But there’s a catch! Less blood in the skin means better circulation in the core, allowing the stomach to gain access to more blood. Thus, we experience this as a craving for starchy and heavy foods.

When the temperature starts to drop, the body scrambles to protect itself from heat loss. In Ayurveda, nourishing foods are called ojas. Warm, oily, heavy foods build ojas and provide the nourishment our body needs to build a layer of protective, insulating fat to prepare for winter, while also calming anxieties. Flavors of sweetness is nourishing and grounding to help build strength, while the taste of salt keeps us hydrated and moisturized.

To prevent the buildup of toxins and build resilience for the fall, increase your fluid intake in the form of water, soups, and stews. Eat foods that contain a bit more butter or foods that are sweet and salty to increase fluid levels in the body.

  • Add generous amounts of good quality oils like ghee to your dishes

  • Vegetables: Avoid cold/raw veggies and cold salads—these are foods that can dampen Agni, our digestive fire. Include warming veggies like baked squash, sweet potatoes, and lightly cooked leafy greens.

  • Soups: Soups are an ideal choice during this time of year. Easy to digest and oh so nourishing.

  • Spices: Keep your insides warm with spices like cumin, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, coriander, oregano, thyme, sage, fenugreek, and fennel, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon.

DRINK TEA WITH CINNAMON & ASHWAGANDHA

Another way to encourage the body to stay active and healthy during the fall is to drink teas that cleanse the organs, keep the body lubricated, and flush out toxins to keep the digestive fire active. In Ayurvedic terms, immunity is synced with digestion. When digestion and appetite are strong, then immunity is strengthened. And whatever weakens digestion, weakens immunity.

Keeping the nervous system stable throughout the fall is one of the most vital tasks for maintaining strong immunity and staying healthy—a central herb for Vata-type anxiety.

  • Use warm and sweet spices like cinnamon to promote the calming of inner air.

  • Cinnamon has a stimulating effect on the circulation, warming our blood and body into a state of ease with its sweet taste.

  • Ashwagandha, an adaptogen, will help you adapt to the extra stress as the seasons change

GET YOUR CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING

The fall is a great time for inspiration and new ideas, as its pattern reminds us that it's time to turn in from outside and begin to feed our inner light. Ah, bring on the hygge 😊. As blood flow to mind increases, Vata provides us with movement of thought, impacting our imagination and creativity. Wind, sudden temperature shifts, and the vacation-less season can also prompt higher levels of stress this time year.

PRACTICE SELF-CARE AKA TREAT YO'SELF

While the summer season keeps us busy enjoying warm days and active living, the Fall arrives in a seemingly sudden fashion, and the windy days can leave us feeling restless and out of sync with not just our routine, but also our inner-self.

Fall is a great time to start spending time nurturing our spirit and reflecting on the beauty that surrounds us. This helps us to stay grounded by rebalancing our minds and bodies.

  • Take a quick power nap or meditate during breaks. Reduced blood flow can cause our muscles feeling fatigued. Taking frequent breaks throughout the day can help to level out our energy.

  • Practice Yin yoga

  • Eat meals on time and at the same time every day

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. An Ayurvedic ideal would be going to bed by 10:30 p.m. and awakening by 6:00 a.m.

DRESS WARM AND COZY UP

Vata types especially also have a tendency to feel cold and have cold hands and feet.

  • Dress in layers to be prepared for the fluctuations of heat and cold between inside and outside temperatures

  • Cover your head and ears when outside

  • Drink warm liquids throughout the day

Throughout every season, Ayurveda reminds us to sync our bodies with the waves of nature instead of going against them. Autumn is an opportunity to slow down, restore the body and mind, and prepare our system for winter wellness.  Learning to recognize when an element needs balancing is the secret to great overall well-being. Keep Vata balanced and stay centered throughout the fall by listening to the signs in your body and mind—dedicate time to adjust your diet, support digestion, and focus on routine.

To discuss more about this topic with me one-on-one, schedule a free chat with me at natashawellness.com/appointment.

 

RESOURCES

http://ayurvedanextdoor.com/fall-health-5-elements-ayurveda/
https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/season-of-change https://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/article/Ayurvedic-Diet-for-October/5622https://yoursingoodhealth.me/2017/10/http://www.chopra.com/articles/a-vata-pacifying-routine-for-fall

BEAT STRESS WITH ADAPTOGENS

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What are adaptogens you might ask?

Concepts surrounding adaptogens are rather new to the modern Western wellness guru, but is fundamental to Ayurveda. While adaptogens have been used by herbalists for thousands of years, you are probably hearing more and more about the remedies behind these naturopathic herbs, or “healing plants,” as you dive deeper into the world of wellness.

In short, adaptogens are compounds found in certain plants—such as herbs and some mushrooms—that function to regulate the adrenal system, which controls the body's hormonal response to stress. Yet, these guys have a long list of even more health benefits! Adaptogens work to balance, restore, and protect the body, helping it adapt to an array of life’s stressors. Largely, they have gained global attention for:

  • systemically supporting the body to be more resilient to stress

  • systemically supporting the body’s ability to stay in homeostasis

  • being innocuous and not impacting normal body functions more than required

In addition to their general ability to calm the nervous system, adaptogens can reduce the risk of inflammation and autoimmune disease, boost energy, regulate hormones, increase digestion, promote weight loss, and even inspire better moods.  

Adaptogens come many different forms, including pills similar to vitamins, solutions that can be mixed with water, powders, which can be used in smoothies, and teas. There’s no right or wrong way to get your fill—so sip, mix, or stir to your liking! Gaia does recommend that you take a day off from your adaptogens each week; if you're using them for more than six weeks, to also take a full week off; and if you're using them for six months, to take a full month off. (These little breaks are said to let the herbs really take effect in your system).

I sell Sun Potion products and am giving my readers 20% off! Click here to get started.

MY GO-TO ADAPTOGENS

CORDYCEPS

Cordyceps, reishi, shiitake and maitake mushrooms contain all the benefits of antioxidant foods, making cordyceps known for its anti-tumor and immune-enhancing properties. In addition, these shrooms also help our bodies use oxygen more efficiently, meaning that the muscles are then able to work harder for longer—which then can help power up the length of your workout by improving your strength and speed.

ASHWAGANDHA

Research has found consistent use of this super-root has the power to regulate the immune system, lower anxiety, and significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Since high levels of cortisol has been linked to belly fat, ashwagandha can aid in shedding extra weight. In addition, this little herb enhances endocrine function and supports an underactive thyroid. Due to its high levels of iron, it also alleviates heavy periods. Yes, please. 

RHODIOLA

Rhodiola, often called rhodiola rosea or golden root, helps to increase mental stamina and physical endurance, boost the immune system during winter, and support fertility and endocrine health in men and women. Rhodiola also protects the heart and liver, increases use of oxygen, and improves memory. And thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it also can boost your recovery time after a long workout (even more reasons to add extra minutes to your next yoga sesh!).

CHAGA

Chaga mushroom is a legendary tonic food. It has been acknowledged in traditional medicine and in modern scientific studies to have magnificent healing properties. Historically, Chaga mushroom has been known as the "King of Plants" in China, "Diamond of the Forest" in Japan and is the cornerstone of the Siberian shamanic healing tradition.

Chaga is particularly special in that it grows on living Birch trees taking 15-20 years to reach maturity. Over this time it concentrates many important nutrients and enzymes from the tree and brings them into a form we can consume to support our bodies health. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chaga is considered a Chi Tonic and is reputed to contain adaptogenic qualities which modulate immune responses.

Chaga has high levels of B-Vitamins, flavonoids, enzymes, minerals, and phenols and contains some of the highest known concentrations of antioxidants of any food, such as Melanin. Chaga is also a rich source of Zinc, an essential nutrient for cell growth, differentiation and survival as well as Germanium.

TURMERIC

In the Ayurveda world, turmeric is considered “tri doshic,” meaning it’s suitable for all dosha types (hooray!) When combined with other activators—such as cardamom, cinnamon, or pepper—it’s known for increasing ojas, or the body's vital strength. During both acute and chronic experience of stressors, turmeric supports healthy skin, liver function, healthy levels of body weight, blood glucose, cholesterol, corticosterone, memory, and reduced glutathione. I love Jarrow's golden milk powder (not vegan) or Gaia's golden milk powder if you're vegan.

REISHI

Reishi Mushroom is perhaps the most beloved of all precious foods. Called Ling Zhi - "The Mushroom of Spiritual Potency" in Traditional Chinese Medicine, It holds its place as an essential ingredient in a healthy life. The Chinese have traditionally claimed that Reishi promotes calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness and inner strength. They have used it to improve meditative practices and to protect the body, mind, and spirit so that the adept could attain both a long and healthy life.

other faves: astragalus, lion's mane, He shou wu, yin power, matcha

I sell Sun Potion products on my shop page for 5% off ALWAYS because I love you all and want to share health with you without emptying your wallets. These powders are my favorite additions to matcha latte's, bulletproof coffee, smoothies, and golden milk. Also, be sure to check out Tamim Teas for delicious adaptogenic tea blends!

Think about your daily habits and sense of wellness:

  • Are you sleeping well?

  • Do you have a healthy appetite?

  • Do you have healthy digestion/elimination?

  • Are you feeling your optimal self?

If you’ve been trying to improve your overall well-being, adaptogens might be worth exploring. Want to learn more about the benefits of adaptogens and how they relate to the practice of Ayurveda? I’d love to chat with you one-on-one about your health goals. Reach out to me for more details @ https://www.natashawellness.com/appointment

 

RESOURCES
http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-health/adaptogens-why-you-need-these-super-herbs-in-your-diet-20170306-gus6g2
ttp://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/why-adaptogens-are-worth-health-hype https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/adaptogens-explained/slide/4/
https://www.sunpotion.com

NOT DIGGING YOUR DIGESTION?

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I don’t know about you, but mealtime is a sacred part of my day. Whether I eat in, dine out, or pack a brown paper bag, feeding my body is a special experience I savor every time.  And so there’s nothing worse than enjoying your favorite meal only for it to be spoiled by the subsequent discomfort of bloating—or gas, stomach pain, constipation, heartburn, fatigue, etc. And bon appetite soon becomes just blah. Been there? We all have.

Deep breath, don’t panic—there’s a solution to this suffering.  But first—literally take a deep breath! Next time you sit down to eat, make sure your stomach is in a relaxed posture and your awareness is focused on the taste, texture, and smell of the food. This simple form of mealtime meditation can greatly improve you digestion. Now that’s some food for thought 😊

According to Ayurveda, agni is the "digestive fire” in charge of breaking down food and other things we ingest from the environment, absorbing what is useful and eliminating the rest. Think: your body's tool for "cooking" your food. Without this fire, our system cannot digest anything we consume. The goal is to keep your agni burning gradually throughout the day.

To maintain a resilient digestive fire, Ayurveda recommends incorporating a variety of practices into your daily life that can strengthen agni—while also facilitating weight loss, improve the metabolism of food, and minimize those unpleasant GI symptoms.

So without further adieu, try these simple, natural, medicine-free Ayurvedic remedies to help your belly feel flat, calm, and balanced:

Upon waking, drink apple cider vinegar: add warm water, some good maple syrup or honey

When we wake up in the morning, our digestive fire is naturally low. Hot water mixed with ACV gives agni a jumpstart, both preparing it for food and stimulating the bowels. Do this every day if you can, not only when you’re feeling bloated or gassy. And then chug a huge glass of warm water with 1/2 a lemon.

Be mindful when you eat!

In other words—slow down! Sticking to a regular eating in a relaxed environment where you can focus on your food prepares your body for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Think: your yoga practice to your plate.

Don't drink a lot of liquid during meals—take small sips

Many people like to drink tea after dinner but this still disrupts digestion. Wait 30-60 minutes before drinking your tea. Ginger is best if you want to help your belly out (more on that below).

Avoid gas producing foods.

Cabbage, peas, potatoes, cauliflower, beans, broccoli and brussell sprouts are all foods most likely to give you gas. If you’re having issues, try cutting them out of your diet, and then reintroducing them one at a time. Notice how you feel afterward. If they make you bloated or gassy, either cook them with lots of digestive spices (see below!) or avoid them completely. Soda water is also full of gas (see: bubbles) and is not the best choice if you need extra help digesting your foods. Go for flat water with lemon.

Don't snack

The truth is it takes your body 3–4 hours to properly digest food—so grazing throughout the day tends to overload your system. By allowing between meals, your food can fully digest, giving proving you with more energy. Note: it is not true that you need to eat 6 smalls meals to increase your metabolism.

Eat raw fruit alone

Raw fruit in its whole goodness digests more quickly than other food. If eaten with other food, it starts to ferment in your belly. Note: cooked fruit is okay, especially when cooked and combined with other foods. That way it has time to assimilate.

Take magnesium supplement before bed (CALM is my fave)

Drink 1-3 tbsp in 6oz of warm water about an hour before bed. Don't chug right before bed if you have a small bladder or you'll be running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Been there, done that. Magnesium not only helps your digestion but it also relaxes your muscles and gives your body a chance to recoop after a hard workout.

Drink ginger tea or juiced ginger

Ginger can help to counteract your food’s gas forming tendencies, Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping. Ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne are renowned  favorites for nurturing your digestive fire, while also boosting your immune system. Side note: Ginger is known in Ayurveda as the universal remedy due to its many benefits for the body. It’s been used for over 2,000 years to treat digestive issues. To make: steep ginger in boiling water for about 10 minutes. If you don't have fresh ginger root at home, ginger tea will work too. (My favorite is Rishi Tumeric Ginger or Yogi Ginger tea.) Viola. PS: wait 30 minutes to drink tea after meal so there's time for your body to focus on food digestion (drinking lots of liquid dilutes).

Do some form of daily movement

Whether it’s a bit of yoga each morning, a daily walk, or light stretching before bed. A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that a short 15-minute walk after each meal helped to control sugar spikes after eating. These short post-meal walks were more effective than taking a longer, 45-minute walk once daily.

When our digestive system is strong, we create healthy tissues and produce a subtle essence called ojas. In relation to Ayurveda, ojas is the innermost vital essence; the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. In contrast, if our agni is weakened by improper eating, lack of activity, negative emotional energy or unhealthy daily routine, our digestion will be weakened and prone to producing toxins that get stored in the body. In the world of Ayurveda, this toxic residue, known as ama, is known as the root cause of disease.

To learn more about how you can get good with your gut, reach out to me for a free consultation @ www.natashawellness.com/appointment

WHAT'S YOUR DOSHA?

You’ve probably heard the word “dosha” in relation to Ayurveda being thrown around a bunch. I’m going to dive into the doshas a little bit as they relate to food (lifestyle, and exercise will come later).

As an ancient system of healing, Ayurveda (the sister science to Yoga) examines ways to preserve our health by maintaining a balanced mind-body state, centering its philosophy on five elements: earth, fire, water, air and space. It’s very similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, just in another language. Ayurveda bases its practice on the principles of three doshas—vata (air and space), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth and water). Doshas are energies that perform different physiological functions in the body, which, in turn, influence our overall personal well-being.

You may want to go take this dosha (prakriti) quiz and then come back and read the rest of this post - https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/

According to Ayurveda, when we’re balanced, we crave foods that are good for us. However, if our mind, body or spirit is out of sync, our connection to our body’s inner intelligence goes haywire. You may notice after taking the quiz that you are drawn to foods that throw you out of balance. Like increases like! As we move through life, the proportion of each of the three doshas constantly fluctuates due to things like our environment, diet, age and the climate. As they move in and out of balance, the doshas can affect our health, energy level and general mood. I like to retake this quiz about once a year to see if there are changes.

Foods are linked to doshas both in their composition and in the types of biological reactions they cause in the body. If you are high in a dosha, avoid the foods related to it. For example, if you are predominantly pitta, it might be best for you to decrease spicy burrito’s and jalapeno margaritas and drink more aloe juice. If you are predominantly kapha, increase light crunchy vegetables and decrease heavy foods such as rice and grains. If you are predominantly vata, increase ginger tea and decrease crackers, chips, and cold smoothies.

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Pitta: Food/drinks that are spicy and cause fire-based, energy-consuming reactions. If your Pitta is high, avoid Pitta foods, such as caffeine, spicy food, garlic and ginger.

Kapha: Foods that are heavier in nature and earth-based. Kapha foods come from the earth, like grains, rice, flour and starchy vegetables.

Vata:  Foods have an airy nature and cause air-based reactions, such as belching. Includes: popcorn, crackers, nuts, raw vegetables, fruits, melons, milk, yogurt and coconut water.

Food should provide energy and clarity. A "good" diet may appear very different from person to person. However, determining if a certain diet is working well for you can be proven by a simple universal truth: when you feel energized, sleep well and have strong digestion supported rather than depleted as you go through everyday life. It’s all about experimenting with what works best for you and BALANCE.

The truth is that most people are not solely one type of dosha, but in fact are a blend of at least two types. I’m actually equally all 3! Knowing your dosha(s) can help you maintain balance for lasting health and peace of mind. That being said, it's important we find a personal balance of foods to suit our own unique constitution. As you learn about and apply the foods that fit your personal dosha(s), you’ll craft a food system that best supports your mind-body balance.

Each dosha body type thrives on different kinds of foods to support its overall function. Focus on adding these foods to bring yourself back into balance:

Vata types need grounding foods like oils and grains.

Pitta types are supported by cooling foods, such as salads and sweet fruits.

Kapha types benefit from heating and invigorating foods, such as cayenne and other hot peppers.

In the practice of Ayurveda, diet and lifestyle routines are the most important medicines for fostering our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Start by choosing foods that help you balance your doshas, and then see what feels good in your body both as you eat them and long after the meal is over. Pay attention to patterns in your digestion, sleep cycle, breathing and energy level after eating. A food diary can be helpful tool for tracking these patterns. If you're feeling unhealthy or unbalanced at any time, review your diary and consider what you've been eating that could be triggering the problems. Next, adjust your eating habits until you begin to feel improvements.

There is SO much information about Ayurveda and doshas so I’m just skimming the surface here. I wanted to share a few basics to help you get started on your path, if that’s something you’re interested in doing. I offer nutritional, physical, spiritual support through one-on-one coaching with your dosha in mind. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have! Just leave a comment below or send me a private message at info@natashawellness.com. Click here to set up a free consultation to see if health coaching is right for you.

If you want to get yourself dosha-specific massage oils check out my shop page. You can also find a link on there to purchase a Kitchari kit on Amazon. A great value so you don't have to go searching for all the ingredients separately!


Sources:
Image borrowed from http://www.ayurvedanice.com/en/the-doshas/ 

SYNC UP TO THE AYURVEDIC CLOCK

"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man happy, healthy, and wise." We're all pretty well-versed on importance of ample sleep. But how exactly does this habit keep us happy and healthy? I always considered myself a morning person; waking up before the rest of the world to read, check emails, or just enjoy my coffee on the patio in silence. Until I learned about Ayurveda, did I realize that my morning routine didn't quite measure up to the natural circadian cycles of nature. If you suddenly lost me at Ayurveda and circadian cycles, fear not and read on. But, first—note to self—waking up early to sit down and sip caffeine, as it turns out, is not very wise. 

Ayurveda originated in ancient India over 5,000 years ago as holistic system of natural medicine, striving to create natural harmony between body, mind, and spirit, through diet, herbs, exercise, meditation, yoga, and massage/bodywork. As it made its way to the West, Ayurveda continued to have a strong presence in the world of alternative medicine. Serving as an integrated practice of self-care, Ayurveda is used to achieve optimal health by reconnecting our bodies to the natural circadian rhythms: morning, midday, and evening routines of self-care, or dinacharya.

Imagine your body's internal clock moving with the rising and setting of the sun. Sounds a bit surreal, right? Yet, modern research has been proving the importance of our bodies living in sync with the natural circadian cycles-- and the benefits it has to enhance our health and vitality. 

You may be thinking such a concept sounds bizarrely impossible, considering most of us are on-the-go all day long; rushing to and from work, eating ­in the car, running errand in between, and squeezing in a half-ass workout before getting home to--ugh--make dinner from scratch because we were too tired to prepare the night before. And the viscous cycle continues.

However, there is nothing natural about this routine; rushing, forcing, and eating our way into exhaustion. And, unfortunately, the chaos of everyday life feeds into this pattern. Luckily, there is a way to beat the system—with a new system. An Ayurvedic daily routine—living in sync with nature's cycles—gives us the energy we need to both start and end our day with the same amount of stamina and motivation (think: swimming downstream instead of upstream).

In nature, there are two 12-hour cycles (6AM-6PM and 6PM-6AM) that are each separated into three sub-cycles. Each of these 4-hour cycles is linked to certain functions of the body controlled by the following three elements:

Vata (air), which governs the nervous system

Pitta (fire), which maintains digestion and metabolism

Kapha (earth and water), which controls immunity and physical strength. 

The practice of Ayurveda beings by understanding how to connect to a daily routine that is in tune with these cycles. Again, imagine moving with the rising and setting of the sun. Check out the following flow to get a better idea:

FIRST 12 HOURS OF THE DAY: 6AM-6PM

Sub-cycles:

6AM-10AM: Kapha increases

  • This is the best time for exercise and other forms of physical activity
  • The sun is at its peak heat
  • Kapha is heavy and supports greater muscular strength 

10AM-2PM: Pitta increases

  • This is the best time of the day to eat your largest meal
  • Pitta (aka digestive fire) is the strongest in the middle of the day

2PM-6PM: Vata increases

  • This is the best time for mental and creative energy
  • The nervous system is more active
  • We often crave highly-processed snacks at this time, indicating exhaustion, blood sugar fluctuations, or poor digestion

 

SECOND 12 HOURS OF THE DAY: 6PM-6AM

Sub-cycles:

6PM-10PM:  Kapha increases

  • This is the best time to begin settling down for sleep. 
  • Kapha is heavy, causing cortisol levels to drop during this time
  • This explains why you begin to feel tired around this time-frame 

10PM-2AM: Pitta increases

  • This is the best time to be sleeping
  • The liver (pitta) starts to detox your body 
  • If you are consistently awake or toss and turn during this time, the detox can be disturbed

2AM-6AM:  Vata increases

  • The nervous system starts to activate during this time
  • This is the best time to sleep deeply and naturally wake up before sunrise

While our personal agendas may not always run on time, the earth's schedule is constantly on the same wavelength with how it functions. By creating a daily routine in tandem with the natural circadian cycles, we can use our minds and bodies, collectively, to live a more balanced and productive life; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Our lives really can be less stressful and more enjoyable when we move with the current, not against it.

Think about your day from start to finish. How did you practice self-care? What would you like to improve about your daily routine?

To learn how to kick-start your morning by incorporating an Ayurveda routine, stay tuned for next week’s post. You can also schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with me. Just head to www.natashawellness.com/appointment and pick a time!

START YOUR MORNING RIGHT

How many late nights and groggy mornings does it take for us to feel crappy? For me, only one. As our youth slowly fades and our quarter life crises (also slowly) end, we approach a chapter somewhere in between always feeling tired and compelled to discover our best selves. Nevertheless, our habits are often what make or break us when trying to defeat exhaustion. The common routine of staying up late and rushing when we wake is a hard habit to break. And so, as habits go, we become accustomed to our patterns, continuing to push, promising that "tomorrow we will do better." 

Imagine waking up to the natural feel of your rested body, instead of the dreadful sound of your alarm. Envision feeling refreshed throughout your day, your routine guided by the cycles of the sun (waking, moving, eating, working, resting when the earth does). Sound dreamy? 

Most of us are unaware of our body's innate craving to function in sync with the earth's natural circadian rhythms. In other words, most of us function by the flashing settings on our phones, not by the earth's natural moving clock. In the world of wellness, this is known as Ayurveda. 
When we connect our bodies and minds to align with nature's schedule (the circadian cycles of morning, midday, and evening), we become more balanced and mindful; physically, emotionally, and spiritually (details about the practice of Ayurveda on next week's post @ www.natashawellness.com/blog). 

Back to feeling crappy. How many times do we vow to change before we actually do make a change?  "Tomorrow we will do better." If you've said this to yourself before, you are not alone. The good news is you can break the cycle! The even better news is that you can start to improve your energy and motivation TODAY through simple, yet powerful exercises, beginning with your morning routine. 

 

To jump start your morning, try following this practice:

  • Wake up before sunrise (Vata time). And go to bed earlier. Waking up past 6am makes it harder to wake up (as Kapha increases)
  • Stretch in bed to wake up your body
  • Scrape your tongue with a copper tongue scraper (separate blog post on reading tongue) 
  • Rub your body with your hands from head to toe to wake up your cells. You can use a dry brush if you have a lot of ama or silk gloves (http://www.azulfit.com/dry-brushing-daily-ayurvedic-self-care-for-glowing-skin/
  • Flush your system out with 1-1.5 liters of water. If you're nauseous in the morning, you can use tea water--add lemon or lime to alkalize. CHUG, don't sip. The purpose is to flush and eliminate.
  • Move for 20 minutes (walk, yoga, stretch, workout). Let your body move and wake up before you sit down in front of a screen. 
  • Eliminate. Drinking water and moving your body will both help this process. The goal is to remove all waste, all the way from your transverse and descending colon--that's 18 inches of waste! You'll feel like a badass b.
  • Don't check email right when you wake up. Try to leave your phone and computer alone until after your routine. You'll a notice a huge difference and feel prepared for the day if you do this.
  • Reflect on how you can incorporate this practice into your morning routine. Maybe you don't have time for all of these steps in the morning, and that's ok. Try one step at a time, one day at at time if you need to. Start by finding what works best for you and your schedule and what fits best for your body. It's all about EXPERIMENTING!  Have fun with it! 

 

For more fun (and more tips) join me for yoga and smoothies at my Bend & Blend workshop on 8/26/17 from 2-4PM. Details @ https://www.natashawellness.com/bend-blend

 

MINDFULNESS: GET HYGGE WITH IT

computer plants tea.jpg

Most of us understand that mindfulness is a way to quiet ourselves and find some sort of peace. We may think of blue skies, soft winds, or our quiet, slow breath--the perfect sounds of silence. We are taught that mindfulness is an awareness experienced by paying attention on purpose. While it may sound like an obvious and natural task, mindfulness is more than a flawless moment of stillness and calm. It occurs by engaging in a being state of mind: a way to experience the quality of the present moment by intentionally connecting directly with life.

Being mindful (emphasis again on being) allows our minds and bodies to tune in to the world around usfocusing on what we are doing while we are doing it, instead of dwelling on our scattered thoughts about the past or futureIt's not about being still, but finding stillness in midst of all the noise. Mindfully living in the moment--nonjudgmental to way things are--allows us to gain insight into our lives. 

Picture this: After a long winter, you step outside to feel the first sun on your skin and, in that moment, pause just long enough to feel its warmth, thinking of nothing except for the way it wakes up your soul. But as you step back inside, your mind suddenly scatters, immediately taking note of the clock racing forward and the loud sound of lawnmowers outside. Post-it's hang loosely from the fridge, pantry, and mirrors. You're sitting in the kitchen, staring at the clock, wandering about nothing and everything at the same time, irked by everything that needs to be finished, fixed, and figured out. Sound familiar? Your being state of mind suddenly hijacked by mundane messes of everyday life.  

In moments like these, I ask myself, “if mind is able to connect so deeply to a place of stillness, then could its same power function to disconnect from a state of stress?" Learning how to be more mindful amidst some of life's less quiet moments begins with, first, learning how to be mindful

  • Pause long enough to know where your thoughts are at in that moment

  • Let go of what's on your mind

  • If your mind wanders, recognize it-- but don't give yourself a hard time.

  • Gently bring your attention back to your breath 

  • Connect fully to your senses. Notice the natural scent of freshly-cut grass, the soft feel of clothes from the dryer, the sweet taste of your favorite meal.

Along with learning how to be mindful, also consider where to begin your practice. Yes, you can curl up in the comfort of your own home. In fact, nestling in highly recommended. 

You may have heard some hype about hygge last winter: a Danish concept honoring the art of all things warm and fuzzy. Hygge literally translates to "coziness," representing a sanctuary of well-being, created by surrounding yourself with a soothing atmosphere of warmth, comfort, and safety. Light a candle. Display your favorite photo. Grab your best blanket. Seep the tea. Wrap yourself up in a gentle space that breathes peace, pleasure, and ultimate presence. Savor the healing power of hygge.

While mindfulness can't magically erase life's distractions, it can help us to respond to them in a way that is more kind to ourselves and our surroundings, as opposed to endlessly focusing on the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Translation: You --in this present moment--are enough.

While the outside world is not always a place of clarity, mindfulness teaches us that it is possible to find a place of peace and insight within ourselves. To feel joy where we are right now. The best part? We can go there whenever want, if we allow our thoughts to guide us. I suppose our minds are kind of magical after all. 

In a haste-driven culture of doing, how will you be more mindful?

If you’re a morning person (and mostly if you’re not), stay tuned for next week’s post on techniques for starting your morning off right @www.natashawellness.com.

RESOURCES

The Mindful Way Workbook| by John Teasdale, Mark Williams, Zindel Segal
Spirituality and Health Magazine| Global Wellness Institute |https://www.globalwellnessinstitute.org/ 
Wellness Evidence| http://www.wellnessevidence.com/wellnessevidence/meditation/\research?learn-more=1