The practice of mindfully observing silence in a world full of noise and distraction can be healing, grounding and so important for spiritual growth. There are many times when saying nothing, just listening, just being in the empty space of no-words is the best and highest choice.
We spend so much of our lives mindlessly gabbing and chattering, flinging opinions around thoughtlessly, impulsively spouting off. We would do well to learn to close the one mouth we have and stretch open our two ears and just be in receptive mode. Silence is often golden.
But there are times when terrible things happen. Times when we notice a great injustice. And we clam up, say nothing and go about our day of self-absorbed, desire-based activities. This silence is far from golden. This silence is negligent.
This morning I read an article written by Rachel Rice that woke me up. Challenged me to pull my head up out of my cozy little hole here where I have been focusing on de-stressing, green smoothies, morning yoga and self-esteem boosting exercises and notice there's a really horrible thing happening just a couple states away from mine.
Don't get me wrong. I truly believe in the work I am doing here to help women over 40 choose and create healthy habits so they can thrive in life. My typical client and customer is a woman over the age of 40 who lives a financially comfortable life, has many privileges and is able and willing to take action to get her own health (mental, physical and spiritual) in line. No apologies there and that will continue to be my mission.
But I also realized this morning in the throes of developing this online marketplace for women over 40, I've been hunkered down in this world of upper middle class women like myself so much I've not been paying enough attention to what's going on in this country so close to home.
So, I'm lifting my head up and getting off my lululemon-wearing fanny and setting my green smoothie down for a minute.
The events of Ferguson, MO are showing us that there is still a lot of injustice, hatred, and anger among us in this country. There is deep, hateful division. And each one of us can look at what has happened, what is still going on and step up and take responsibility. What can we do? How can we extend ourselves, give of ourselves in a way that is compassionate, giving, kind? How can we help overcome this terrible problem?
I, for one, will be keeping my head up and making an effort to extend kindness to others everywhere I go today. I will expand my mind's train of thought and look for where I can be of service not only for my fellow upper-middle class friends, clients and neighbors but outside of those circles.
What can you do? Begin with noticing when you are mindlessly gabbing - insert some mindful silence.
And when you notice someone being mistreated or you hear someone making a disrespectful comment, speak up.
It's all too easy to get complacent. Too easy to sink into our cushy, cozy lives and overlook the suffering around us.
While we all deserve to experience peace and rest, while it is good and right to take care of our bodies, minds and spirits so that we are able to show up in life in a meaningful way, let us not get so caught up in the feel-good process of body+mind+spirit work that we forget to be of service.
Seva in Sanskrit means "service" and it is a very important part of the path of Yoga.
We definitely need to learn to care for ourselves as women over 40. Many of us have dedicated our lives to caring for others. As we fill our own tank and begin to feel healthy and strong in every way, let's just remember to pass it on and continue to give of ourselves to others.
Okay ladies.... if you don't have time or interest for my DIY Skincare tricks just skip over this blog post and go shopping for my FAVORITE brand of all natural, mostly organic, simple products made by my friend Gilly....
BUT.... you've come to this article because chances are you want to:
- save money
- simplify the skin care routine
- put only the most natural cleansing, toning and moisturizing items on your face because you are into CLEAN health and lifestyle
So, I'm about to do the unthinkable and deliver the skinny on how to have beautiful skin without ever buying another cream, toner, or gimmick again....It's unthinkable because we could put some cosmetic companies out of business with this...
This is all you need:
- plain castile soap (16 ounces for $6 will last you 3 months worth of face washings)
- baking soda (get this at your grocery for pennies)
- witch hazel (pick this up at your drugstore for under $1 and it will last you 3 months)
- coconut oil (you can order it here or you can pick up a jar from Trader Joe's for $6 that will last you months!)
- organic plain full fat greek yogurt
- extra virgin olive oil
- lemons and/or limes
- OPTIONAL EXTRAS: Frankincense essential oil for anti aging, Lavender for soothing
You do NOT want to use petroleum, dimethicone and other chemicals on your skin because what you put on your skin absorbs into your whole body.
Here is my most simple formula and method step by step:
CLEAN YOUR FACE:
Just a dime size dot of castile soap and a bit of warm water is all you need... massage in circular motion all over your face and even removes eye makeup. Rinse with warm water.
EXFOLIATE, DETOX & BRIGHTEN YOUR FACE:
Take a teaspoon of baking soda and just a little bit of warm water and mix in your palm. Gently massage your face and neck in circular motion and rinse with warm water, pat dry.
CLEAN AND TONE YOUR FACE:
Half soak a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply. Allow to air dry.
All you need is a half teaspoon of coconut oil spread all over your face for moisturizing. Apply to neck and chest as well.
Once a week, create a mask by combining 2 tablespoons of organic, full fat greek yogurt, 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. Mix it well and after cleaning your face, apply mask and allow to sit and dry for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
In the case you occasionally get a blemish (a.k.a. "pimple" or infected pore) use the above cleansing treatment and spot treat the blemish with a special concoction I have discovered as follows:
- 1 apsirin
- 2 cloves
- dash cinnamon
- drop of witch hazel
Crush the first three ingredients with mortal and pestle and then transfer to a spoon and mix in a drop of witch hazel to create paste. Dab paste on blemish and leave overnight. Rinse in morning.
With these tricks there is no longer a need to have a cluttered bathroom counter full of lotions and products. You will save money and have a clean, beautiful face every day.
On the heels of "No-Shave November" I am declaring this month "De-Stress December." Who's with me?
This month I turn 48 and I've decided to be radical this holiday season. Instead of ramping up, I'm scaling back and committing to de-stressing this December.
Here is my plan if you'd like to join me:
- I will politely decline all invitations to holiday parties this year. I hope my friends will understand. This year I prefer to light a candle and do some Yin yoga instead of having cocktails and staying up late.
- I'm making a green smoothie every morning this month. Getting a mega-dose of organic, fresh phytonutrients in the morning helps start my day off on a healthy foot.
- I created a "dump list" of all things I have to do. I then arranged the items by urgency/time sensitivity. I've given myself a break and am postponing most of that list to January. Some might call that procrastination. I call it mindful postponing.
- I am going to the gym every day in December. Yes. This helps me de-stress I've discovered. Some days I do 30 minutes on the elliptical Some days I go to a yoga class. Some days I do some resistance training. Some days I swim. But everyday I am exercising in December.
- I delegated holiday decorating to my kids and their friends. I cooked a big meal and had my kids invite friends over. I fed them and then put them to work. I'll repeat January 2 for the take-down process.
- I'm doing ten minutes of simple, gentle yoga every evening before bed followed by ten minutes of meditation. It improves the quality of my sleep.
- For the first time in 10 years I've declared we are not traveling this December. We are staying home and I plan to spend a lot of time sipping on hot tea by the fire, reading a good book this year.
- I'm not sending out Christmas cards this year. Sorry everybody! We've got facebook these days that serves as a year round Christmas card of sorts. That's where we share photos of how the kids have grown and what we've been up to all year. No need for the hours of writing and signing and stamping holiday cards this year.
- I like to sing. It is very de-stressing for me. So, I'm going to join a holiday choir this year. I'm looking forward to this!
- There will only be one gift per family member under our tree this year. I have simplified the gift giving for friends and family this year so there will be no need to go to a shopping mall or spend hours upon hours hunched over rolls of wrapping paper. My gifts to others this year are going to be simple, small and from the heart. Already ordered and delivered. Done.
- I will reach out by phone to all family members and closest friends this December and have a meaningful, connective conversation. I want to hear their voices and tell them I love them.
- I will hug my kids, snuggle with my husband and love on my animals this December.
- I will breathe deeply, fully and consciously throughout each day. I choose to relax, simplify and slow down this December.
I hope you will find ways to de-stress this December too.... May your holiday be restful, relaxed and rejuvenating!
I was meeting with a client yesterday discussing her upcoming trip home for Thanksgiving. She was fraught with anxiety as she anticipated the typical tension of being around extended family and being faced with all the food.
She has worked so hard this year to groove new, healthier habits in her daily life body, mind and spirit and doesn't want to blow it.
Thanksgiving can be a time of communion with people we love; a time of feeling grateful for our many blessings.
Thanksgiving can also be a time that triggers old stress patterns including overeating to stuff feelings we don't want to feel and face. It's all too common to turn to creamy casseroles, cake and pie when uncomfortable emotions and feelings of stress arise.
This year, I encourage you to practice mindfulness on Thanksgiving in relationship with food and family.
Here are 7 tips for ways you can enjoy mindfully enjoy Thanksgiving without stuffing your feelings:
- BEFORE you gather with your family for Thanksgiving, give yourself dedicated alone-time to journal about all the anticipatory angst you may be feeling. Take a brisk walk and sit in meditation to just be with yourself.
- If you are on a healthy eating regimen, prepare your own healthy dish so you know there will be something there that jives with your healthy eating program.
- Remind yourself it's 2014, not 1974. Come into the present moment, remind yourself you are a full grown adult now and that your parents/siblings/grandparents are also adults on their own life journey. This will help you not to be hooked and reeled in to any painful or uncomfortable past events/memories.
- Practice the yoga of eating with mindfulness at mealtime. Be sure to pause before you put food to your lips and contemplate what it is you are eating taking time to smell, taste, slowly chew your food setting your fork down between bites. Allow yourself to enjoy a few bites of pie - just do it mindfully.
- Take a break. If you begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable during the Thanksgiving gathering, excuse yourself and go outside for some fresh air. Use this time to talk to yourself, again, coming into present time and remember you are choosing a healthy way of living body, mind and spirit now. Take this time to breathe deeply and feel the ground under your feet.
- If someone at the holiday gathering treats you in a way that is disrespectful, assert yourself by firmly but politely requesting they stop. Tell them their words are hurtful and you would prefer not to hear it.
- When you prepare to say goodbye to everyone, make it a point to look each person in the eye and say something kind from your heart. It's good for your spirit and well as their's.
Although Thanksgiving can be a stress-inducing time it also can be a wonderful time to practice an attitude of gratitude and forgiveness of the past.
It can be a time of opportunity to step fully into your present life, feel palpable gratitude for your body, breath, life just as it is and letting go of patterns of hurt and tension that are rooted in the past.
May this Thanksgiving be one of new-found freedom, ease and joy!
So you've released the weight! Congrats!
NOW.... for keeping the weight off
Once you have succeeded in losing that excess weight, it's important to have a plan to stabilize for life and not gain it back...
As many other reputable weight management programs report, there is a Plan for Life that observes something experts in fitness and nutrition call the 80/20 rule.
In order to maintain your healthy new weight for life, we eat "clean and lean" 80% of the time. 20% of the time we allow ourselves those indulgences we abstained from while on our weight release program.
Keeping the Weight Off: The 80/20 Rule
According to many of the health and fitness magazines, books, and blogs, many nutrition and fitness experts are recommending the 80/20 Rule – 80% of your food choices coming from whole, nutritionally dense foods (like veggies, fruits, lean protein, some whole grains) and 20% from the things you enjoy that might not be the best for your body (like birthday cake, milkshake, a martini, a beer, buttered white bread, loaded baked potato). There is a lot of reasoning to support approaching healthy eating in this way. Here are the values of this way of living in relationship to food:
- You don't set yourself up for failure by trying to be perfect. Psychologically you need some wiggle room in your relationship with food. If you don't have space for allowed/planned indulgence you might be setting yourself up for an emotional crash and binge followed by further emotional crashing. Terrible cycle to fall into.
- 80/20 Plan promotes lifestyle you can live with. Though 80/20 provides wiggle room it also provides structure. Structure allows for the wonderful thing called consistency. Consistency helps us get and maintain healthy results. When you don't feel deprived, you can actually live with this plan. Lifestyle not diet fad.
- No more crazed obsessing about weight loss, dieting and food cravings. This plan enables you to know there is room in your life to have those naughty foods and drinks. You plan for them though. You work them into your schedule and you stay on track. No more head-games. You indulge in a planned evening of Mexican food and margaritas and the next day you get back to your clean-n-lean eating way of life.
So what does 20% look like? How do you divide that time?
A good rule is to have a day of indulgence and get back to clean-n-lean for at least 3 days - preferably 5. Try never to have two days in a row of indulgence. 1 day of indulgence every 5 days is 20% of the time. or you could go out for Mexican or Italian and eat fatty, carb-laden foods with Sangria or wine every Saturday night and then one other day during the week have a piece of chocolate cake.
Do NOT make your 20% a binge.... If you're inclined to do that, you have some emotional issues around food that need to be addressed with a professional counselor (I can provide referrals to some excellent colleagues of mine!)
With this plan we do have wiggle room in our eating habits and we do not have to be perfect, but that we also must remain mindful.
Do what works for you, but remain mindful…so you can consistently give your body the best in a way you can do for life.
Following this plan will ensure you are successful in keeping the weight off!
We all experience stress. It’s a fact of life.
When we experience a life stressor there is often an emotional reaction that follows.
Then, there is some uncomfortable physiological sensation that comes next. It all happens so quickly we may not even notice.
Next thing we know, we are reaching for a doughnut, a bag of chips, a fast-food meal combo or some other unhealthy foods.
We reach for the unhealthy foods in some effort to soothe these uncomfortable feelings and sensations.
Those unhealthy foods are most often very high in empty calories, sodium and/or sugar. When life stressors cue us to reach for unhealthy food options we call this stress eating or emotional eating.
Dr. Edward Creagan of the Mayo Clinic advises us that in order to prevent weight gain during stress and reduce the risk of obesity, it’s important to learn how to handle stress.
Here are some stress management techniques that may help you in addressing stress-related weight gain:
- Learn to spot the physiological and emotion signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension. A mindfulness practice will help you stay tuned in. Meditation and releasing excess weight are complimentary. Learning to sit, breathe and rest in the being can have profound effects on lowering stress levels. I provide a free guided meditation to relax if you look over to the right of this article in the sidebar!
- Be sure you are getting your 3 square meals in every day and observe a schedule of eating so that your body is getting proper nutrition consistently.
- Research shows that sugar, the way many people are eating it today, is a toxin and could be a driving force behind some of this country’s fatal illnesses. Too much sugar will drive your blood sugar levels up and leave you crashing in short time. Stepping away from the sugar is not only because of the empty calories but it can cause your energy levels and your moods to be unstable. Read more here about why sugar is something to stay away from.
- Before you put food to your mouth, check in with yourself as to whether you are hungry or are you trying to soothe yourself because you are feeling uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, sadness or general unease.
- If you find that you are tempted to eat for emotional reasons, try to soothe yourself in another way such as going for a brisk walk, taking a warm bath, watching a funny show or video, or calling a good friend.
- Identify those foods that you turn to for emotional comfort and ban them from the house or office. Get them out of there!
- Keep a daily journal of your weight, your food choices and your feelings so that you can begin to identify patterns of behavior and emotions.
- Move your body every day! Get the heart and lungs pumping regularly.
- Learn how to practice relaxation. Take a gentle or restorative yoga class, go for a massage and learn how to sit with yourself and breathe. Sign up to receive my free guided relaxation over in the side bar to the right→
- Get a good night’s sleep. Create a bedtime routine for yourself to cue your body and mind that it is time to wind-down. Turn off all electronics one hour before you turn down the blankets and crawl in bed.
- Social connections are so important but surround yourself with people who are healthy in mind and body and who share your common goal to make healthy choices and manage stress positively.
If you try these tips and find that your stress is still getting the best of you, it may be time for some professional support. Please contact me for your free Connection Session so we can discuss options that can help you find a sense of balance and peace in your life.