Archive | Food For Thought RSS feed for this section

Practicing Gratitude

19 Oct

Science shows us that grateful people are happy people.

This seems obvious, but let me reframe it. How often do we look inside of ourselves for happiness? How often to we believe that all we need for a happy life lies within us? If you are like me, your answers to these questions are probably “rarely” or “never”. We tend to put all the focus on our problems. Our problems consume our thoughts, our conversations, and alter our perspective on life. The “good” things- as big as a career you love and as small as a sunny afternoon- go unrecognized, undiscussed, and unappreciated.

Much of how we experience life is based on our perspective. Research estimates that our chosen perspective on life comprises 40% of our happiness. Perspective is a choice- something we have complete control over. If you can shift your perspective, you can control your experience. If you can control your experience, you can have happiness.

The best method I have found to remind myself to maintain a positive perspective and therefore cultivate happiness in my life is through a gratitude practice. A friend gifted me a gratitude journal several months ago. In the introduction, this journal gives a few valuable pieces of advice:

1) When things are at the very worst, it is the most critical time to cherish moments of joy. For example, if someone you love dies, there will be pain and grief. Allow yourself to feel it. But also allow yourself to feel and appreciate the glimmer of happiness that comes from telling stories about this person or a moment of unrelated laughter with a friend in the midst of your grieving period.

2) Always look for the “why” behind your gratitude. This will help identify and reinforce habits that cultivate happiness. For example, I am grateful for my yoga practice. Why? Because I am making time to care for myself and my wellbeing even on the craziest days. We relentlessly analyze the negative, so why not analyze the positive too?

We have started a habit in our house that we call “5 Things”. Each day JWD and I take turns listing 5 things we are grateful for. They can be anything from a delicious apple we ate at lunch to a meaningful moment with a friend. On some days 5 will feel hard- not because you lack 5 things to be grateful for, but because your perspective is blocking your view. Some days, 5 won’t seem like enough.

Today as we were walking in our neighborhood, JWD said “Ok babe, 5 things. Go.” Here is what I said:

1. I’m grateful for the warm cup of coffee I enjoyed as I started writing this post this morning. JWD brewed it and my gratitude stems from feelings of being cared for and feeling safe and relaxed in our home.

2. I am grateful for the dear, special friends we shared breakfast with yesterday. They are the kind of people who offer thoughtful conversation, genuine laughs, and the inspiration to better yourself. We’ve built a bond that feels more like family than friendship.

3. I am grateful for my health. Staying healthy is hard in our sedentary, stressed out, “SAD” (Standard American Diet) culture. I am grateful for workouts and sound sleep and nourishing food and that I have the means to make these things priorities.

4. I am grateful for fuzzy socks and hot tea that keeps me cozy on cold fall nights.

5. I am grateful for this smoothie. It’s the result of a very fun writing assignment that I will share soon.

IMG_2891

Today is a day when 5 is too few.

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

The Power of Putting Relationships In Motion

5 Oct

Yesterday JWD and I went for our first tandem bike ride, about 30 miles roundtrip to a microbrewery. For those who aren’t familiar with tandem riding, here’s a quick lesson (the sum of my knowledge when our adventure began): a tandem bike is built for two or more riders. The person in the front (the captain) pedals and steers and the person in the rear (the stoker) only pedals. I quickly learned something else about tandems: the tandem experience depends greatly on the state of the riders’ relationship.

Maybe some would advise against such heightened activities when your marriage is still in its fragile infancy, but we decided to take the risk ;). As we took off, I began to doubt our decision. As the stoker, I had to relinquish control to JWD, my captain, something I am not very good at. My obstructed view, limited mainly to JWD’s back, left me clueless to the treacherous terrane ahead (pebbles, puddles… you know, the really dangerous stuff). Admittedly, I started out as a pretty annoying backseat driver- giving tips on gear shifting and steering (things I know nothing about- this was, after all, my first time on a tandem), delivering a swift pinch to my captain when I thought he needed to slow down, gasping and swaying my body every time he took a turn…

After several miles of white-knuckling my breakless handlebars, I decided that the only way I was going to enjoy this day was if I let go of my desire to be in control and put my trust in my captain. Most of our twelve riding companions had been on a tandem before- many of them, in fact, were experts. I admired their trust in each other as they rode fluidly, communicated almost telepathically, and told wild stories of their tandem adventures. As I settled in to my stoker role, I felt JWD and I begin to fall into a similarly fluid rhythm. Based on the fact that he hadn’t killed me yet (and the culmination of our entire relationship’s history) I decided that he deserved my trust.

IMG_0013

Maybe it was the pints of pumpkin beer or maybe it was my decision to trust our relationship, but the return trip was was even more enjoyable. We rode along smoothly, feeling very much on the same page. Our strengthened connection with each other left us more able to enjoy the company of our riding companions. We only knew five people in the group at the start, but we walked waddled (saddle sores…) away with seven new friends and a deeper connection to those we already knew.

IMG_0015

Yesterday’s tandem fun left me with two thoughts:

  1. If you want to see what a relationship is made of, put it through an exercise test. Tandem riding (or really any type of group exercise) is a great metaphor for the requirements of a relationship. You must be in sync with your companion in a way that can only arise from trust. Maybe you will hop on the bike with an already established trust or maybe you will have to work to earn each other’s trust. Trust is built on communication, another key requirement of a relationship. If JWD fails to tell me that there’s a big bump coming or he decides to zig or zag without warning, he weakens my trust. Mastering trust and communication with someone delivers a great reward- human connection built to last.
  2. Building activity into your everyday life can be more sustainable and enjoyable than a structured exercise program. I’m not saying we should ditch structured exercise altogether (going to the gym, yoga class, etc.), but there is much to gain from exercising for fun with friends, family, and even strangers. Research shows that when we socialize in a context that requires nonverbal mimicry (pedaling along on bikes, flowing through the same yoga poses), we walk away from that experience with a stronger emotional connection with our companions. In short, moving together creates a bond. Also, as you talk, laugh, and share an endorphine-rich experience, the time and the miles will fly by. You get layers of life’s moments wrapped in one experience: spending time with your significant other, socializing with friends, exercising, decompressing, and self-care. Thirty miles felt like a breeze and we walked away from our riding companions feeling a little closer and a little more connected than when we started.

So if you want to put a relationship to the test, build a new one, or strengthen an existing one, put it in motion. Your relationships will be happier and healthier for it… and you will be too.

IMG_0016

 

You have until tomorrow to win those 20 free LARABARs! To win: share a link to Running on Sunshine via social media and sign up True Food updates here.

Thanks for reading

Art, Science & The Meaning of Good Food

28 Sep

I used to hate science.

In high school I was in art club. I had dreams of becoming an artist. A designer, a painter, maybe even a sculptor. I made my own clothes and wore them to school. I entered my drawings and paintings into contests and actually won on a few occasions. I made my own jewelry, I sewed quilts and gave them as gifts, I painted polka dots and palm trees on my bedroom walls. I was a creator.

Fast-forward 6 years. Imagine me sitting in a large lecture hall surrounded by pre-med students desperately trying to decipher what the professor was scribbling on the blackboard: organic chemistry. This was the worst of my science-heavy academia, but many similarly technical courses ensued: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, medical nutrition therapy… you get the picture.

As I was cooking the other day- carefully examining a recipe in one of my new cookbooks while simultaneously improvising with a dash of this and a substitution for that- I started thinking about the opposing forces of art and science. Some of us naturally sway more in one direction than the other. But these are not “gifts”, they are skills, meaning we can become adept at both no matter which way we tend to lean. And, in my opinion,  we all need a little art and a little science in order to be balanced. As I half-followed that recipe, I realized that this opinion is also a perfect description of my philosophy on food.

IMG_1391

Food is fuel. (True). Food is memories, connection, and creativity (Also true).The sciences get us what we want (lower blood pressure, weight loss, faster race times). The arts are ends in themselves (the warm fuzzies from a bowl of soup on a cold night, the comforting memory of your grandma’s signature pie). Our relationship with food needs the sensibility of science to keep us healthy. It also needs the expression of art to make us feel alive and connected to our culture, to the people we break bread with, and to ourselves. I’ve seen how things can go awry if either of these aspects is forgotten. Ripping the art out of food leaves us with carbs/protein/fat, calorie counting, chugging lemon/cayenne/maple syrup concoctions, and obsessing over ways to “rev our metabolisms”. All art and no science ignores the compelling research that proves food really can be our medicine. Our disordered interpretation of how we should view and experience food has left us with a broken and abusive relationship with the thing that is meant to nourish us on all levels.

I am cooking much more now (for myself and for True Food clients). The creator in me revels in the vibrant colors, endless flavor combinations, and the reassuring act of producing nourishment for myself and others with my own two hands. The scientist beams with pride knowing that each ingredient, recipe, and final meal was carefully crafted with the intention of improving and supporting health.

IMG_0010

Wherever you fall on the science-art spectrum, I encourage you to seek out balance, especially when it comes to food. Without science, we are merely floating into an abyss. Without art, we live a rigid life. As for food, make choices based on what you know will nourish your health (I am confident your intuition will lead you to the right stuff), but don’t forget to create, play, savor, share, and enjoy what’s on your plate.

A soup recipe worth trying:

African Peanut Stew

(adapted from Peas and Thank You)

The Science: a meal of soup will fill you up (fiber- and water-licious!), fuel you up (nice balance of complex carbs, healthy fats, and plant proteins), and make you feel great (loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants up in here).
The Art: a blend of the vivacious colors of nature, varying textures, and punchy flavors will have you smiling and “mmm..”-ing until the final spoonful.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger (or 1 t. ginger powder)
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils
  • chopped fresh greens (kale or spinach work nicely)

How-To:

  • Combine all ingredients except greens in a soup pot on the stove or in a crockpot and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Right before serving, stir in greens until wilted. 

IMG_0008

In the end, we all need a little of both worlds. The scientist must engage creative thinking to solve his hypothesis and the artist must learn technique to master his medium.

Psst… you still have one more week to win 20 LARABARS! All you have to do is share this post and sign up for the True Food newsletter.

Thanks for reading.

Dancing In The Rain

8 Aug

Many of my most significant life events have happened in the rain.

I came to this realization on a particularly stormy bike ride yesterday. I was trekking up a steep hill, wind and rain hammering my face, clothes clinging to my soaked skin. I was consumed by a mix of panic and hastiness that rain provokes. And then I remembered that just over 2 months ago I got married in the rain. And not just rain- black clouds, vicious lightning, and clapping thunder. In a long white dress. Suddenly, feelings of true joy washed over me as I pedaled up that hill. My drenched ride became playful, laughable, and… enjoyable. I felt more alive, more plugged in to the moment.

Why do we allow a little rain to shift our perspective so much? In life, it rains. Not only does it rain, but it storms, hails, tornadoes, tsunamis… Think of all the joyful moments you might be missing because you choose to cry along with the rain instead of dance in it?

It rained the day James proposed to me…

DSC02191-2

It rained the day we got married…

IMG_5388


IMG_0060

IMG_5435

 

It rained the day I graduated college…

226911_1894328969648_2991174_n

It rained the last time we moved…

IMG_0644

It rained the day I ran my first marathon…

90e_3855_2

 

It rained the first time I summited a mountain…

DSC01510

I handle life’s rainstorms pretty well. I credit this to my belief that we are the masters of our own experience. We get to choose how we experience and remember each precious moment. I was surprised by the number of people who complimented me on my calm and happy demeanor the day 100 of our nearest and dearest gathered under a gazebo during a downpour, soaked and soggy, to watch me and JWD honor our love. To me, it was an easy choice to take it in stride. I didn’t see a rainy day, I saw a day on which my heart was overflowing with love and gratitude for JWD, our families, and our friends.

I think rain is good for us. It teaches us that perfection is highly overrated and is, in fact, something to reject rather than strive for. It teaches us that the imperfections are what make life exciting, make us feel truly alive, and connect us with each other. It conditions us to stop sweating the small stuff and to stop waiting for the sunny days to smile. 

A positive outlook is not just good for your soul, it’s good for your health too. One study found that hospital patients with a positive outlook were 58% more likely to live longer than their glass-half-empty counterparts. Aside from longevity, positivity is also linked to better heart health, strong immune systems, and less stress. Those who are positive tend to be exercisers, which is also proven to boost mood, health, and lower stress.

As everyone filed out of the gazebo after our wedding ceremony into the then sun-drenched park, one of our friends said the most incredible thing to me. He said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” So dig deep and create your own sunshine. It’s not always easy, but it gets easier the more you practice.
IMG_6030

We’ve all been rained on (both literally and figuratively). Do you cry or do you dance?

 A song from our wedding day…

Simple, True Food

29 Jun

For many (maybe all?), food is a battle. What to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, where to eat….. these are the questions of our time and the topics of many prestigious research studies.  I have a new question to add to the list: how? How did we get so out of tune with feeding ourselves? Eating is one of the most basic pieces of being human, yet it’s gotten so complicated. I have seen this first-hand through my work with those who have eating disorders, who are trying to lose weight, who are trying to run faster, who are trying to restore the health of their hearts/kidneys/digestive tract/etc. To take us back to simpler times with a simpler relationship with food is a big job, but it’s one I’m willing to chip away at. Why not start right now? There is no time like the present.

Here are 3 food-related notions to start letting go of today:

1. Food is just fuel. No it’s not. And if you go through life trying to convince yourself of this, you will be flooded with guilt every time you enjoy a slice of your own birthday cake or find yourself warm with comfort as you break bread with friends. Food is fuel, but it’s also enjoyment and connection. This is called “feeding the soul”. It’s a real thing, not just metaphysical nonsense.  IMG_1704

2. Food should be cheap, fast and easy. No it shouldn’t. Think about it: you have ONE body and it relies on food to carry out all of its miraculous functions. This is a hard one to grasp because our food society says quite the opposite. As a nation, we spend less of our income on food than anyone else. Respect yourself, respect the body you reside in, and respect the food you eat. This process is truly one of the most incredible in the world.  IMG_1498

3. “Superfoods” are mandatory. No they aren’t. We don’t need acai berries and cold-pressed green juice from a fancy health food store to be healthy. This is clever marketing, not hard data. Instead, try apples, sweet potatoes, spinach, walnuts, watermelon. Back to the basics.   IMG_1656

One way I’ve decided to contribute to the task of health simplification is by starting a healthy meal delivery company. Instead of just telling you, I want to start showing you. Check it out and get on our mailing list, it’s exciting stuff. True Food Company True Food logo IMG_1391

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

2014: A Year in the Kitchen

7 Jan

As JWD and I scribbled down our 2014 goals last week, one goal really stuck out for me: cook more and cook better. Goal writing is not a long-standing tradition for us (2013 was the first), but it proved itself worthy of a repeat. Before we talk cooking, let’s talk goals.

Thinking, writing, and talking about goals can be a powerful catapult to actually achieving them. The more time you spend with your goals, the more REAL and POSSIBLE they become. We like to write ours down, talk about them together, and then post them on the fridge for all to see. This keeps them front and center in our lives, constantly reminding us of what we value. This is key because goals are easy to forget in the daily bustle of life. Out of sight, out of mind. You must make an effort to keep them integrated into everyday life.

Now, back to cooking! Yes, I already cook quite a bit. It’s probably safe to say I cook much more than the average person. However, what many would categorize as “cooking” I do not. When I wrote “cook more” on my goal list, I meant actually cook. Chop things, knead things, sauté things, braise things, follow recipes, and most of all, enjoy and connect with the food while I cook. “Cooking” in 2013 was on auto-pilot… the same things on the menu every week and a lot of non-cooking type of cooking (ex: a bag of frozen veggies + tofu = stir-fry). So what’s the big deal about cooking? Why is it goal-worthy?

IMG_2201

The heart and soul of cooking is about connecting with other humans, sharing, expressing love, nourishing our bodies, unleashing creativity, and taking it upon ourselves to fulfill one of our most basic needs. Cooking is now optional in our society. I am even guilty of fueling this notion. When I sit down with clients for our initial assessment I ask “Do you cook?” as if it is elective.

IMG_1475

However, eating is not optional. At about the same time Americans excused themselves from the kitchen, obesity and chronic disease rates started to rise. We’ve passed off the important responsibility of food preparation to the food industry and they’ve proven themselves untrustworthy for the most part. It’s time to reclaim this duty. And by doing so we will also reclaim our health, our families, and a deeper appreciation of what we are capable of. Magical things happen when you use your five senses and raw ingredients to create something tasty and nourishing for yourself and people you love.

IMG_1801

Cooking every day is not always realistic in our fast-paced jam-packed lives, but doing it whenever you can find the time will be therapeutic. Start small. Here is how I plan to reach my goal:

  1. Read more about cooking (I’m starting with Michael Pollan’s Cooked).
  2. Continue planning weekly meals and include new (and intimidating) recipes.
  3. Cook for others (watch for your invite in the mail (: ).
  4. Encourage others to cook more by sharing my kitchen adventures and teaching people what I learn about conscious cooking (keep your eyes on the blog!).

IMG_1807

Think about your goals. Then write about them, talk about them, and display them for all to see. Map out a plan to make them happen.

And also think about getting your hands dirty in the kitchen once or twice this week.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Go Nuts! A Handful of Nuts a Day May Help You Live Longer

21 Nov

Good news this week for nut fans! A new study found a strong link between regular nut consumption and lower risk of death. Over three decades participants who ate a 1-ounce serving of nuts every day had a 20% lower all-cause mortality risk compared to those who did not nosh on this healthy snack. In addition to decreased death rates, nut eaters were 25% less likely to die from heart disease, 10% less likely to die from cancer, and 20% less likely to die from diabetes or lung disease.

We have long known that nuts are chock-full of healthy unsaturated fats, fiber and protein. In fact, in 2003 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended eating 1.5 ounces of nuts per day for their heart-protective benefits. Nuts have also been linked to weight control.

My favorite part of this new finding is that the health benefits apply to ALL nuts. Study participants consumed an array of nuts including cashews, almonds, walnuts, and more. So no matter what your nut of choice is, you can reap the benefits. Many clients will ask “Which is healthier, walnuts or pecans?”, or my least favorite “Is it true that almonds are lower in carbs than other nuts?” No need to split hairs- the most important thing is to choose nuts you enjoy so you will actually eat them! Also, it’s best to avoid nuts and nut mixes drenched in sugar and/or sodium.

Serving size is a little different for each variety, but one serving is roughly  ¼ cup. Nuts are definitely nutrient dense, but they are also calorie-dense, meaning it is easy to over-do it. Try pre-portioning them into snack bags for perfect portable snacks.

Here’s some inspiration to put this nutty news into action now…

In Larabar form (digging this seasonal flavor right now- HIGHLY recommend!)

snickerdoodle larabar

Walnuts on my cereal

IMG_1609

Pistachios paired with a piece of fruit

pistachios and apple

Homemade candied almonds  (add a dash of cayenne for an unexpected kick!)

IMG_2603

A variety mixed into fiber-rich trail mix

IMG_2675

Pecans in my salad

cran pecan salad

Cashews in my stirfry

Recipes-Cashew-Tofu-Broccoli-Stir-Fry300_0

Caution when interpreting this good news- it is not realistic to think you can simply add a serving of nuts to a couch potato fast-food lifestyle and expect to add years to your life. Researchers did their best to control for various lifestyle factors, but it is not likely that nuts single-handedly improved peoples’ health. It is possible that nut eaters have healthier overall habits than non-nut eaters.

The bottom line: regular nut consumption should be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet active lifestyle. Not sure how to make that happen? That’s what a registered dietitian nutritionist is for 🙂

What are you waiting for, go nuts! Thanks for reading 🙂

Dietitian vs. Nutritionist- What’s the Difference?

14 Mar

Since I am a registered dietitian (RD) and am lucky enough to have befriended many fellow dietitians along the road, my social media channels were blowing up with “Registered Dietitian Day” posts yesterday. That’s right, yesterday was National RD Day, conveniently located smack in the middle of National Nutrition Month.

I meet many people that have no idea what a registered dietitian is or does. In short, a dietitian is a food and nutrition expert, the food and nutrition expert. It’s a long and challenging road to becoming an RD. First, you get a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Then you apply to an (unpaid) internship program, an application process that is extremely competitive (~50% match rate nationwide) and matches you with only one program. Internship programs vary depending on their strengths and emphases, but they all have minimum requirements that must be met. It is similar to clinical rotations for medical students- interns spend their days working under the supervision of dietitians in various settings. My internship program at Saint Louis University was 10 months of working in a new site every 2 weeks by day and taking graduate classes by night. I was in a program that emphasized physical performance/sports nutrition, so many of my rotations focused on athletes, gyms, and wellness. However. I also paid my dues working in hospitals and foodservice. The best way I can describe my internship experience is that it was the “best worst year of my life.” The learning curve was very steep, but rewarding. Every single day was a new experience full of new information to learn!

301565_612400921674_45477245_n302413_2036824761543_317642263_n

After graduating from an internship, you are eligible to sit for the national registration exam. If you pass, you can finally call yourself a registered dietitian. I studied and studied for my exam. It was the type of exam that when I clicked “submit” after the last question, I was 50/50 on whether I passed. When the woman handed me my results (after the computer stopped working, the power went out, and the printer took 10 minutes to reboot…) and I saw “Congratulations, you passed”, the most incredible feelings of relief/achievement/happiness flooded over me. I can honestly say I put my blood, sweat, and (a lot of) tears into earning those two letters- RD. Our trip to Colorado was a great way to celebrate 🙂 To maintain RD status, dietitians are required to accumulate continuing education hours throughout their career to stay fresh on the ever-changing area of nutrition. 

photoIMG_2052

I tell you all of this so you can understand what separates a registered dietitian from a nutritionist. Anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist”. This label tells you absolutely nothing about the person’s expertise. If someone calls themselves a registered dietitian, you can rest assured they successfully completed the rigorous credentialing process I described above. They really are the nutrition experts!

If you are looking for credible nutrition advice, it’s best to get it from a registered dietitian. If someone calls themselves a nutritionist, be sure to investigate their education and credentials before taking the advice. Like I said, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Traditionally registered dietitians use the “RD” credential, but recently a new credential option was introduced for dietitians to use “RDN” which means “registered dietitian nutritionist”. So look for the RD or the RDN- they mean the same thing! And remember that every dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist is a dietitian!

I celebrated National RD Day with a fun stability ball workout, play in the kitchen, and an insightful chat with my favorite RD.

rdday

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings recipe will be up on the blog soon!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Beat Boredom Gym Cardio Workout + Life Lessons From My Yoga Mat

8 Jan

Hello my friends! Hope you are having a great week so far. Mine has been pretty low-key: working, studying, and a good dose of self-care 🙂 Today I want to focus on a few recent workouts.

I am such a baby about the cold. My standard state in our apartment in the winter is a giant sweatshirt (with the hood up of course), fuzzy socks, slippers, wrapped in a blanket, with a mug of hot tea in hand. JWD is a gem for putting up with this 🙂

The only thing worse than sitting inside when it’s cold is thinking about exercising outside. It takes all of my willpower to make this happen. So, when the outdoors looked less than appealing on Saturday I ventured to the gym to knock out my cardio. I get bored pretty easily on gym cardio equipment, so I came up with this workout that mixes things up by utilizing 4 pieces of equipment:

PicMonkey Collage

This workout is easily adjusted to the time and equipment you have available. Short on time? simply cut out one of the 10 or 15 minute machine segments to meet your needs. Don’t have all the equipment? Do the same prescription on a different machine. The 50 minutes flew by and I had fun bopping around to the different machines.

Now on to the second workout. Yesterday I took my favorite hot yoga class. This class challenges me like no other workout. I am always amazed by the growth that happens and the lessons that I carry off my mat and into my life. Before class I came across this article that I shared with my Facebook friends today. (read it, it’s short and sweet!)

Why Being Uncomfortable Is A Sign You’re On The Right Track

Being Uncomfortable

The lesson this article teaches us is priceless. There is enormous power in learning to stay calm in the face of discomfort. To feel it, acknowledge it, and just let it be. Because just beyond this discomfort is where the magic happens. It’s where you grow, change, and get to know the best you you can imagine. I think it’s human nature to avoid discomfort at all costs. We do it everyday- when we decide to go to the same old restaurant because what if the new place isn’t as good? When we stay in a job we hate because finding a new job would mean putting ourselves out there for others to judge. When we avoid trying something new because what if we fail? When we travel the same routes everyday because what if we get lost on the new route?

I am such an introverted creature of my comfort zone (hence the hoodie-socks-tea routine), so being uncomfortable is.. well, very uncomfortable for me. Over the past 5 years I’ve changed cities once, schools twice, college majors three times, homes four times, jobs five times, completed a 10 month internship that required me to immerse myself as an employee at a new site every two weeks, and went through the divorce of my parents. Talk about uncomfortable. I think I’ve lived most of the past 5 years outside my comfort zone. BUT I’ve also grown, achieved, and discovered and fell in love with my “true self” over the past 5 years.

So I take this idea of “getting comfortable being uncomfortable” onto my yoga mat and practice it. I acknowledge the discomfort, I focus, and I breathe through it. I remind myself that no matter what happens, I will be okay. During last night’s class my teacher asked us to practice kicking up into our handstands with both feet at the same time. This is challenging for me because the comfort of having one “safety” leg near the floor is gone. You are literally “jumping in with both feet”. I acknowledged my fear of falling, my fear of knocking over one of the yogis next to me, my fear of failing, and my fear of looking silly. And then I did it anyway. It doesn’t matter whether I succeeded or not. If I fall, I grow. If I succeed, I grow. All that matters is that I allowed myself to feel the discomfort and breathed my way to the other side of it. And that, my friends, means I’m on the right path 🙂

This week I challenge you to jump in with both feet and face discomfort head on. Do one thing outside your comfort zone, big or small, and take in the gifts that wait for you on the other side.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Rest {n}:

20 Sep

Straight outta Webster’s…

Rest (n):

  1. a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
  2. freedom from activity or labor
  3. peace of mind or spirit
  4. a rhythmic silence in music
  5. something used for support

-at rest: free of anxieties

Basic need or luxury? Metabolically, a basic need. In day-to-day life, sadly, a luxury.

For me, the act of rest is both. I need it- my mind, my body, my soul- to function at an efficient stratum. However, in the whirlwind that is my current existence (and probably yours too), rest is a rare luxury I am surprised to stumble upon. Did you know France has almost double the amount of paid vacation days per year than the U.S.? The French don’t get fat and they value rest. I’m booking a one-way ticket.

Like planes, trains, and automobiles, the body can only run on empty for so long. At some point, we must refuel_recharge_renourish.

When you stumble upon an opportunity for rest, it must be seized. And taken full advantage of. Sometimes we blink and let that window for rest slip away. Zoning out to Season 25 of American Idol (obviously not a fan of mindless television), obsessing over to-do lists, worrying about tomorrow.

Resting doesn’t just refer to the physical act of lying down and closing your eyes. Rest is about slowing the cadence. Being present. And turning your gaze inward. As the above definition variations say, it’s about allowing yourself freedom and peace. It’s about supporting yourself. And in a perfect world, rest would be a rhythmic silence- a repetitive piece of our overall rhythm.

This year of my life is shaping up to be a meticulously scheduled rhythm- a pattern that is repeated with slight variations every two weeks. And I think rest must be a steady part of that rhythm, for survival’s sake. I just wrapped up two weeks of studying diabetes, and after a weekend of much-needed rest, I’m heading off to an unconventional bakery where I will be for the next two weeks. Good things to come, my friends.

How I rest:

lavender bath salt, French music, yoga, reading.

Steaming veggies, boiling beans, stirring pots of ancient grains on a rainy Sunday; preparing for the week ahead.

Running in the rain.

I strive to someday be this skilled at the act of rest.

How do you rest?

Thanks for reading 🙂

{Van Gogh’s Noon: Rest From Work}

%d bloggers like this: