Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Muffins

This is such a yummy, moist recipe for muffins that are healthy too!

1/2 c raisins
1.5 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c brown sugar ( I used the organic brown sugar replacement-cane sugar)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs ( you can use egg replacer as well)
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 canola or coconut oil ( I used less and added some ground flax meal)
1/2 c honey ( I have used brown rice syrup and they are plenty sweet)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 12 c muffin pan or use liners. Place raisins in hot water and let them plump for 2-5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, spices, and baking soda/powder. Make a well in the center and add eggs, pumpkin, oil, and honey. Mix only until dry ingredients are absorbed. Drain water from raisins and add these in along with the walnuts. Spoon into muffin cups about 2/3 full.
3. Bake for about 18-22 minutes until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan before removing.


Nutrients in Pumpkin
Pumpkin is low in fat and calories and rich in disease-fighting nutrients such as:

•Vitamins C and E
•Pantothenic acid

Health Benefits of Pumpkin
The alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are potent antioxidants found in pumpkin and are pro-vitamin A carotenoids, meaning the body converts them to vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and ensures proper immune function. The beta-carotene in pumpkin may also reverse skin damage caused by the sun and act as an anti-inflammatory. Alpha-carotene is thought to slow the aging process and also reduce the risk of developing cataracts and prevent tumor growth. Carotenoids also boost immunity and lessen the risk of heart disease.

Read more at Suite101: Health Benefits of Pumpkin: Nutrient-Rich Fruit with Anti-Aging and Disease-Fighting Properties

Monday, September 13, 2010

Knee Care

Maintaining healthy knees is so important for those of us with an active lifestyle. Knee pain and knee injuries are quite common and can take us away from the activities that we enjoy. The knee was designed for forward and backward motion so it is easy to understand how imjuries can occur when knees are torqued or twisted. Yoga is a great way to strengthen and create suppleness in the knee joint. Yoga provides a nice approach because it allows you to also strengthen and support the areas of the body that can cause knee pain. Weak ankles puts more compression on the knees. Standing poses in yoga can help with strenthening the ankles. Focus on lifting the inner arches of the foot and pressing the outer edges of the feet into the mat. Tight hips and glutes can also lead to knee pain and ankle instability. Our hip muscles stabilize us as we walk so tightness here can affect even the most basic activity. Tight hips and glutes can also cause the knee to rotate inward during lunges. Focus on tracking the knee right over the ankle in lunge positions.

Here are some great poses to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the hips, glutes and ankles so that you can keep your knees healthy!

1. Viraana (Hero Pose): Keep your feet parallel to one another and right up against your outer hips.
2. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side angle pose): Press the outer edge of your back foot down firmly, lift the inner arches of both feet and keep your front knee aligned with your ankle.
3. Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose): Lift the inner arches of both feet, lift your inner knee and knee cap.
4. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose): Lift the knee cap of your standing leg and activate the arches of both feet. For help with balance use a block under your hand or press your back heel against a wall.
5. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose): Use a block under your hips and ensure your hips are neutral. Press the top of the back foot into the mat to align the back knee.
6. Viparita Karani (legs on the wall pose): To align knees, you can use a strap around your thighs.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yoga Pose of the Week- 9/10/10 Wheel

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow or Full Wheel Pose)

* Expands chest and shoulders

* Stretches hip flexors and core musculature

* Stretches wrist flexor muscles

* Strengthens muscles that control the shoulder blades

* Strengthens gluteus muscles of the hip and hamstrings at the back of the thigh

* Strengthens low back musculature

* Relieves some forms of low back pain

* Therapeutic for asthma, opening accessory muscles of breathing

* Traditionally thought to stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands, counteract depression, and aid in infertility.

* Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or tendonitis of the wrist

* Low Back pain aggravated by extension

* Shoulder impingement

* High Blood pressure

* Headache

(OORD-vah don-your -AHS-anna)

urdhva = upward

dhanu = bow

1. Lie on your back with the soles of the feet on the floor, close to the sitting bones, feet hip width apart and parallel to the sides of the mat. Place your hands on the floor just above your shoulders with fingers spread wide, finger tips pointing towards the shoulders.

2. Take a moment to set your foundation. Root all four corners of the feet evenly. Activate the inner thighs so that they are energetically moving towards each other, but remain hip width distance. Send the arms bones (humerus) into their sockets so that you feel the shoulder blades come on to your back. The elbows are energetically moving towards one another but remain shoulder width distance.

3. Press evenly into the feet and lift your hips and lower back off the mat, coming into a baby bridge. Pause. Press into the palms evenly and lift your upper torso off the mat, bringing the crown of your head to lightly touch on the mat.

4. Reset your foundation (inner thighs and inner upper arms drawing towards each other, firmly rooting hands and feet) and press into the palms once again to straighten the arms and lift the head off the floor.

5. Let the neck be long, relaxing with gravity. Breathe.

6. To come out of the pose, slowly begin to bend the arms and legs, tuck the chin towards the chest, and lower the spine to the earth.

* The most common deviation from our foundation is the feet turning outward as we lift up into the full version of the pose. Ensure the sides of your feet are parallel, which may even feel a little pigeon toed. You may also use a prop (below) to ensure your feet stay parallel.

* Similarly, the elbows like to wing out to the sides as we attempt to recruit more strength to lift up into the full version. The strength actually comes from the engagement of the shoulder blades on the back, with elbows isometrically drawing towards one another. You may use a prop (below) to aid in this sensation.

* As you transition from baby bridge to the crown of the head, do not put a lot of weight on the head itself. It is merely a balance point and you should not feel compression in the neck or skull.

* Using Props:

To keep feet parallel: If your proportions match the width of a block, you can place a block the long way between the inner soles of your feet, pressing the edge of the big toe as well as the edge of the inner heel into the block to keep awareness to parallel feet. Be sure that the block is wide enough to keep you at least hip width distance with the feet.
To keep elbows parallel: Make a loop in strap that is as wide as shoulder tip to shoulder tip. Place the strap around both of your arms, above the elbow (in the direction of the shoulder). Enter into the pose as above, using the strap as guidance to keep elbows parallel. You may also press out into the strap to get extra lift.
To draw inner thighs towards one another: Place a block between your upper inner thighs (narrow width) and transition through the pose without releasing the block.
To aid in opening the chest and shoulders: At the wall, place two blocks shoulder width apart with the narrow side in contact with the wall. Set up for the pose, placing your hands onto the blocks so that the fingers are draping over the edge with the palm and balls of the hand firmly on the block. This will give you extra height that may be missing if you are tighter through the shoulders and chest. If you are using wooden blocks, create slack in your yoga mat first so that you can wrap the end of the yoga mat over the blocks to prevent sliding.
To aid in opening the hip flexors or low back: At the wall, place two blocks hip width distance apart with the narrow side in contact with the wall. Set up for the pose, placing your feet onto the blocks. This will give you extra height that may be missing if you are tighter through the hip flexors. If you are using wooden blocks, create slack in your yoga mat first so that you can wrap the end of the yoga mat over the blocks to prevent sliding.

Beautiful Skin the Natural Way...

I found this article and found it to be interesting so I will pass it along...

Best Health Foods for Radiant Skin

By Michelle Gelok, RD • August 16th, 2010

If you rely on a concoction of expensive creams, lotions and serums to keep your skin looking radiant, you may also want to take a look at what’s on your dinner plate. Not surprisingly, research continues to show that the foods you eat can play a vital role in keeping skin looking its best.


Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, may be small in size, but pack a powerful punch when it comes to keeping skin looking healthy. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that after just twelve weeks of receiving a daily dose of flax seed oil, women not only experienced better skin hydration, they also had significantly less red, rough and scaly skin. Often touted for their link to heart health, flaxseeds are loaded with alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that keeps skin hydrated and healthy looking.

Green tea
Green tea continues to make its mark as a superfood thanks to study findings suggesting it may contain potent skin healing properties. This of course is in addition to the long list of other health benefits that green tea has to offer, including boosting heart health by protecting against heart attack, and protecting against arthritis. As for healthy looking skin, green tea can’t be beat. It’s easy to prepare, inexpensive and loaded with powerful disease fighting antioxidants called polyphenols. Studies have shown that green tea has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and may even play a role in the prevention of skin cancer caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Enjoy it hot, or make a pitcher of green tea iced tea with a squeeze of fresh lemon for an ultimate hot weather pleaser.


This tropical fruit gets two thumbs up when it comes to younger looking skin thanks to its exceptional vitamin C content. In 2007 researchers studying the association between nutrient intakes and skin aging appearance found that women between the ages of 40 and 74 years who consumed the most vitamin C had the least wrinkles. The findings aren’t entirely surprising seeing as vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in the synthesis of collagen, a protein responsible for skin elasticity, often used in cosmetic surgery. Researchers found that women with the highest vitamin C intake also experienced less visible dryness of the skin. Aside from papaya, other excellent sources of vitamin C include kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes, red bell peppers and oranges.

Green leafy vegetables

In case you need another reason to eat your greens, research findings from Australia suggest that a high intake of fruits and vegetables, specifically green leafy vegetables, may protect against skin cancer. In the study, researchers followed over 1300 people for eleven years and found that the people who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were half as likely to develop skin cancer, compared to those who skipped out on their daily servings. Researchers found that the protective effect was due in part to a high intake of green leafy vegetables. The benefits of green leafy vegetables don’t stop there – they are packed with vitamins A, C and K, contain a hefty dose of folate and are known to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as promote brain health. Green leafy vegetables aren’t just lettuce and spinach, this family of vegetables also includes kale, Swiss chard, rapini, collard green and beet greens.

Almonds are hard to beat when it comes to healthy looking skin. That’s because they are rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against damage caused by free radicals. Some studies have shown that vitamin E may actually help prevent damage to skin cells caused by ultraviolet rays. Almonds also have the added benefit of being a great source of essential fatty acids, which can help keep skin hydrated and supple and a good source of high quality protein. Other sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, wheat germ, olives and spinach.

No surprise here, drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest, least expensive and most effective ways to keep skin looking its best. From flushing toxins out of the body, to transporting important nutrients – water wears many different hats when it comes to keeping the body in top form, and skin health is no exception. Drinking water keeps skin cells hydrated and plump and can also prevent dry, flaky skin.

Prevention is key
The bottom line is that while some foods may reduce wrinkles, protect against sun damage and keep your skin looking its best, nothing can replace proper skin care, including sun protection and staying out of the sun when it’s at its strongest.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

This is a great recipe for you to use with your farmer's market tomatoes...
Serves:8 (10 cups)
2 lbs ripe heirloom tomatoes, cores and cut intp 1/4" dice (5 cups)
1 English seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4"dice
1 small vidalia or other sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4"dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup best quality Spanish sherry vinegar
5-6 cups Knudsen's Low Sodium Very Veggie Juice,chilled
2 tsp Cholula hot sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion and bell peppers and garlic in a non-reactive bowl.
2. Stir in salt and pepper, vinegar and veggie juice and hot sauce. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours (or up to 24 hours).
3. Just before serving stir in olive oil.

Per serving:
142 calories, 7.5 g of fat (1g saturated), 3g protein, 17.5 g carb, 3 g fiber and 425.5 mg sodium

Taken from Natural Health Magazine, July/August 2010

Smoothie Solutions

Combat some of the season's health challenges with a first-aid refreshing smoothie:

Health Challenge: Dehydration/ Smoothie Solution: Nectarines
Nectarines have lots of potassium, so they naturaly restore your electrolytes. These electrolytes are lost when you sweat. Keep the skin on for a fiber boost. These are great to pair with almonds, vanilla, raspberry juice and ginger!

Health Challenge: Fatigue/ Smoothie Solution: Soy
Soy is a complete protein so it will help you sustain your energy especially on hot days. Use silken tofu for a creamy texture or vanilla soymilk to add sweetness without aditional sugar.

Health Concern: Sunburn/ Smoothie Solution: Watermelon
Watermelon is a source of lycopene. Lycopene neutralizes some of the free radicals produced by the body during sun exposure. Slice it into cubes and add right in the smoothie. I would use seedless for less work! :)

Information taken from:
Natural Health Magazine
Big Green Cookbook, Jackie Newgent, R.D.,C.D.N

Here are just some other fun smoothies that I got from my yoga teacher, Tiffany...

Ginger Detox Delight:
Half Banana
1 /4 of an Apple
Handful of fresh Spinach leaves
Stalk of Celery
1/4 of a small Avocado
Handful of Blueberries
1-2tsp of fresh sliced Ginger
1tbls Hemp Seeds
Whey/Rice Protein
coconut water to desired consistency
Paleogreens, Earths promise or other favorite greens powder- (optional)
or small amounts of other veggies you have on hand (cucumber, mint, kale, sugar snap peas, chard, collards, peppers, spirulina, seaweed...)

Peanut Butter & Jelly with Celery:
1/2 Banana
Handful of Blackberries (or berry of choice)
1-2tbls of Peanut Butter
2 Stalks of Celery
Handful of Spinach Leaves
1tbls Hemp Seeds
Whey/Rice Protein
Coconut water to desired consistency
other Veggies you have on hand (optional)
Paleogreens, earths promise or other favorite greens powder- (optional)

Who said smoothies have to be in the morning, if you're craving sweets try this!

Sweet Tooth Rx:
Peanut butter or almond butter
Berries (optional)
Just a little honey & a dash of sea salt (optional)
Protein powder
Coconut water

Recipes by Tiffany Cruikshank

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quote of the Week-8-16-10

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, nor to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

I truly feel that our emotional health is tied to our physical health. It is often when I am stressed about something or I have overcommitted myself or extended myself too far that I get sick or feel a physical decline. It should not surprise us that this connection exists. Our mind can play a vital role in the hormones our body releases and what state our nervous system operates in.

I have found that the first step in achieving physical wellness is to evaluate my mental and emotional state and make changes there if necessary. The easiest way I have found to start is to remind myself daily (hourly sometimes) that the past is finished and the future is unknown. How many times do we stress over something that is not a fact and may never occur? It is a waste of our life energy. If we stay present we stay in what is reality and we deal with things as they are dealt to us. I am not saying do not plan ahead or anticipate outcomes but watch how you anticipate. We often get what we fear.

When I feel my emotional health and mental state are at their best, I seem to have more energy and vitality. I choose better things for myself and I enjoy everything more. The best way to enjoy life to the fullest is the enjoy the present as it unfolds..otherwise you may miss it!

Have a super week!

Yoga Pose of the Week: Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose 8-16-10

The pose I selected this week is Supta padangusthasana, or reclining hand to big toe pose. This is a great pose for low back pain. It can relieve compression and tension in the back. I also like this pose because it allows you to stretch your hamstrings while on the floor without stressing the vertebrae. This pose also helps balance asymmetries along the back. We all have dominant sides and this pose can help balance the tightness that may exist on one side of the back. If you have tight hamstrings a strap can be used. Variations of this pose are extending the leg across the body for a nice twist or abducting the top leg to the side of the body to stretch the adductors. Don't forget about the bottom leg in this pose. Think about reaching both sides of the hip into the earth and reaching out through the bottom heel to ground the pose. The pose is not only about stretching the top leg.

Here are some other benefits from practicing this pose:
-alleviates stiffness in lower back
-stretches hamstrings, calves and inner thighs
-relieves arthritis pain in hips and knees
-aligns pelvis
-helps recovery from a cardiac condition
-prevents hernia
-relieves sciatic pain
-helps relieve menstrual discomfort
-improves digestion
-stimulates the prostate gland

Note: If you have high blood pressure, place a blanket under your head.
Do not practice this pose if you have a headache.
Check out the link above to find out how to get into the pose.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The multiple uses of the coconut

Some of you may not be aware of the many benefits of the coconut. Coconuts can get a bad rap for the "fat" they contain. I wanted to let you know some of the cool uses of the coconut and its oils and water that can benefit you.

The coconut is a natural water filter that takes almost 9 months to filter each quart of water in its shell! The clear coconut water that results is one of the highest sources of electrolytes found in nature. ( A much better choice than gatorade or propel!)Young coconut water is identical to human plasma. Plasma makes up 55% of human blood, and the remaining 45% of our blood is hemoglobin which is essentially transformed plant blood (chlorophyll). So, if you could consume a drink of about 55% coconut water and 45% green leaf juice it is like getting an instant blood transfusion. I have made many of these with my juicer and felt an amazing energy boost. You can purchase coconut water at some health food stores and some grocery stores like New Seasons and Whole Foods. You can also buy young coconuts (white, flat on one side and cylindrical around the edges) at some asian supermarkets. You just crack open the shell and pour out the delicious coconut water. Coconut water is great to drink after a hard workout to replace electrolytes. If you find some thai coconuts at the supermarket, you can scoop out the soft flesh and eat that as well. This meat is pure, saturated fat which is great for rejuvenating oxidative tissue damage and improving the functing of the nervous system. I have purchased my coconuts at Uwajimaya Store in Beaverton.

Coconut oil is another one of my favorites. Coconut oil contains mostly medium chain fatty acids that the body can metabolize efficiently and convert it into energy quickly. Most animal sources of fat are high calorie, high cholesterol and consist of long chain fatty acids which are harder for the body to break down. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil provide energy quickly so people who suffer from poor digestion would benefit from eating this oil as it does not burden the liver or gall bladder. Here are some other nice benefits of coconut oil:
*can be used topically to treat psoriasis, dry skin and chapped lips, stretch marks
*no cholesterol, and helps to lower cholesterol
* reduces the need for vitamin E
*doubles the body's ability to use antioxidant, omega 3 fatty acids
*normalizes blood sugar levels

I use this oil instead of butter in cooking and baking. I also spread it on bread and almost anything. It tastes wonderful. The recommendation is 1-4 tablespoons daily for a dietary supplement. When you buy it look for cold pressed and packaged in a dark glass container (it is light sensitive). I have found it at Fred Meyer, New Seasons,and Whole Foods.

Another one of my favorites is coconut milk. My daughter is dairy intolerant and I do not consume much dairy at all. I give her coconut milk because of the great fats and the taste. I also love hemp milk and almond milk but coconut milk is a little thicker and creamier so I use it for baking as well. There is even coconut ice cream, kefir, and creamer made from coconut milk and it is 100% dairy free. Coconut milk does not have all the same benefits as coconut water or oil but it does contain the medium chain fatty acids.

Hopefully, now you will never look at the coconut the same! Try it!

More information:
"The Coconut Miracle" by Bruce Fife, ND
"Eating for Beauty" by David Wolfe

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Sunny Side

I recently read a fascinating article in a newsletter I received. This article talks about the truth about Vitamin D and sun exposure. I found it quite useful and wanted to pass it along..

Keep On The Sunny Side
by Daniel I Newman, M.D., N.D., M.S.O.M.

"Sunshine has been praised in so much literature, poetry, songs, aphorisms, and even religions, that you would think our society would encourage people to have as much fun in the sun as possible. While that was true in the past, nowadays sunshine is demonized as the envoy of premature skin aging and, most menacingly, skin cancer.

But sun exposure provides functions essential for our health. It sparks Vitamin D production in the skin. There is burgeoning evidence that most people are Vitamin D deficient, which increases the risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to cancer to diabetes. And, since it is virtually impossible to get enough Vitamin D in your diet to achieve optimal blood levels without eating inordinate amounts of foods that most people find objectionable (like sardines, mackerel, and herring), sunshine is the only option save supplementation.

Sunshine also enters the eyes and stimulates melatonin production in the pineal gland, which aids sleep and has anti-cancer properties. These pathways also enhance serotonin levels in the brain, which staves off depression (particularly seasonal affective disorder).

So what is the solution to this dilemma? Like most things in life, it is moderation. Just as too little food leaves you undernourished, and too much leads to obesity, too much sun can cause skin damage, and too little leads to other health problems.

How much sun exposure is too much? That depends upon where you live, the color of your skin, and your personal history with skin cancer. If you are a dark skinned individual with (likely) no history of skin cancer, living in Alaska, you would be well served by spending as much time outside with as little clothing on as you can stand whenever the sun rears its head. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are very fair skinned and living on the equator, you better not be out in midday without shielding every patch of skin from direct sunlight.

On a more practical level for most people, use nature's sun overexposure indicator: the sunburn. Unless you have already had skin cancer, or evidence for pre-cancerous lesions, you should get as much sun exposure as you can without turning pink. As this threshold of sun tolerance, called the 'Minimal Erythema Dose' varies not only by geographic location, but also time of year, you will have to get to know yourself enough to figure this out. Obviously, it is better to err on the side of caution, especially with children who tend to be oblivious to their limitations.

But let's back up and examine the original premise that has led so many experts to damn sun exposure: Does sun exposure cause skin cancer? Skin cancers, like all cancers, arise when there has been enough DNA damage to the cells that the cells begin to proliferate without regard to the community in which they live. (I will resist the temptation to use Wall Street metaphors here).

Sunshine contains ultraviolet radiation of two types: UVA and UVB. UVA is far more prevalent, but UVB is stronger. Both have been implicated in causing sun damage leading to skin cancer. Since UVB is most intense April through October (in the northern hemisphere) and from 10AM - 4PM, either cover up or avoid the sun during these times, if you are particularly prone to sunburn.

But what about sun exposure short of sunburn, does that lead to skin damage and skin cancer? The answer, as is often the case with other health issues, seems to come down to diet. Greece has one of the lowest incidences of melanoma (that most dreaded and lethal of skin cancers) in the world. However, when Greeks move to Australia, and forsake their whole foods diet for the refined, processed Western diet, their melanoma incidence and mortality skyrockets.

Aside from eating a healthful whole foods diet, (as I harp on incessantly for many reasons), several nutrients have been shown, especially in combination, in both human and animal studies, to offer protection against sun damage from UV radiation. These include: Vitamin A, methylfolate (an active form of the B vitamin folate), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, β-carotene, fish oil, olive oil, lutein (from tomatoes, watermelon, etc.), EGCG (in green tea), theaflavins and thearubins (in black tea), citrus bioflavinoids, proanthocyanodins (such as in blueberries), caffeine (coffee drinkers rejoice), and polyphenols (in grape seeds, wine, and cocoa). And, a 2006 Italian study found that patients with melanoma had double the risk of metastasis if their CoQ10 levels were low.

Some of these nutrients you can get in your diet, but others, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Fish Oil, you will need to supplement to get adequate UV protection levels. Make note here that I am talking about taking these nutrients orally, not rubbing them on your skin!

What about topical skin protection, i.e., sunscreens: should you use them and do they protect against skin cancers? While most experts suggest using sunscreen for UV skin protection, there is no consensus that sunscreen prevents skin cancer. You see, while there are studies which indicate that sunscreen users have a lower incidence of squamous cell skin cancers, other studies suggest they actually have a higher risk of deadly melanomas. Even the FDA says that it is "not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer." Further, while blocking UV rays, sunscreen can reduce the conversion of Vitamin D in the skin.

Therefore, don't depend upon sunscreen as your hedge against sunburn and its consequences. Primarily use physical barriers, like shade and cover-up clothing when you have had enough sun. Restrict the use of sunscreen to areas you cannot easily cover, like your face and hands. And, if you are going to use sunscreen, there are some things you should know, because not all sunscreens are created equal.

First and foremost, most sunscreens contain ingredients that are potentially harmful: some are carcinogens; others endocrine disrupters which impair the body's hormonal functions; and some may even increase the risk of skin cancer! Even natural ingredients, such as Vitamin A, when applied to the skin, may increase the risk of sun damage. Also beware of 'nano' forms of sunscreens such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium dioxide. While these substances may be preferred sunscreen active ingredients, when they are made into nano-particles, they penetrate too deeply into the skin, and have raised safety concerns in some studies.

A recent study by the independent, non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 84% of 785 sunscreen products had potentially toxic ingredients! You can go to the EWG database @ for details about specific brands, and also find information about specific ingredient toxicity issues on their website. (We carry one of the EWG's top rated brands here at Rising Health).

Second, many sunscreens have exaggerated claims about their efficacy, or SPF (Sun Protection Factor). According to another study by the Environmental Working Group, sunscreens claiming SPF 50 protection only offered 1.3% more protection from the powerful UVB rays than SPF 30 sunscreen. Once you get to SPF 15 - SPF 30 and above, how heavily and how often you smear on the sunscreen (especially after sweating or aquatic activities) is much more important than the claimed SPF protection rating. For example, most people rub on one-half to one-fifth the thickness used in the SPF studies. Applying an SPF 30 sunscreen at one quarter thickness (about 0.5gm/cm2, a normal amount), exponentially decreases the protection down to a little over SPF 2!

In summary, the traditional notion that sunshine is good for you is correct: we need it to be healthy and happy. (Just ask my wife during the dreary days of January if the latter is true)! Unless contraindicated for medical reasons, sunshine should not be avoided, but rather sought out in places where it is limited, like here in the northwest. The trick is to modulate your sun exposure so you avoid getting burned. This is accomplished by appropriately limiting your duration of exposure, and by consuming protective foods and supplements. Skin protection should be primarily accomplished by using shade and protective clothing, and only secondarily by using sunscreen. If you are planning to use sunscreen, get one with non-toxic ingredients, and apply it liberally. Then go out there and enjoy my favorite time of year - summer! "

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yoga Pose of the Week-Bharadvajasana Twist 8/2/2010

The pose I selected this week is Bharadvajasana, which is a wonderful twisting pose. I am craving twists so that I can focus on my digestion after a week of poor eating. This pose also have nice benefits for the neck and shoulders and after a long plane ride, this felt wonderful.

Here are the benefits to this delicious twist:
-Relieves pain in the neck, shoulders, and back
-Helps keep the spine and shoulders supple
-Eases a painful, stiff,sprained or fused lumbar spine
-Reduces discomfort in the dorsal spine area
-Increases the flexibility of the back and hips
-Massages abdominal organs, improves digestion
-Reduces stress
-Wonderful for the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, carpal tunnel, and sciatica.

To get information on how to enter the pose and other fun details check out:

Quote of the Week-8/2/2010

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but what it still possible for you to do."
~Pope John XXIII

Do you ever want a do over? I find myself sometimes being frustrated with what is going on in my life rather it be my relationships, my physical fitness, my catch my drift. Maybe at this point I should have completed that iron man I said I would do before I hit 30. Sure, I would love to have invented some new form of exercise that was "all the rave" by now, maybe that relationship should have worked....
It would be easy to just sit and think on what didn't work and to give up and assume it is impossible or highly unlikely or to beat myself up for not making all my goals a reality. Easy does not mean it always the right choice or path. Sometimes we have to fail first in order to see the better path, or to truly appreciate achieving that goal. Sometimes it shows us how bad we want it.

Instead of recounting our failures and assuming it is just "not meant to be" why don't we focus on the possibilities that lie ahead and the time we have to work towards the new and improved goals. We can do anything we choose to do and everything is possible but as my old running coach would tell me " You gotta start to finish."

So instead of wanting a do over, pat yourself on the back for trying and go for the do again but even better and with more passion and persistance this time! You will never know if you do not try.

Have a great week!

Why am I eating?

I am finally back from vacation! I am very eager to get back into my fitness routine and my normal eating patterns and food. It is hard to stay true to your healthy eating lifestyle when you are with family with vast differences in eating. I found that when I was with my family I ate more and most of the time it was not the most healthy choice. It seemed like I was eating just because it was there..and believe me there was plenty food there ALL THE TIME.

This whole scenario reminds me of an article I read recently about why people diet and why diets do not typically work. Did you know that each year 45 million Americans go on a diet? I have found that most diets fail because they focus so much about what you eat instead of why you are eating. I have found that the best success for long term weight loss is to develop a healthy relationship with food and to go for making new long term habits that serve you. Roller coaster diets really do not work for long term results.

Here are some signals to evaluate to ensure you are actually hungry before you dive into a meal or snack:
- Time: Are you eating just because you normally eat at this time and ignoring the fact that maybe you had a large breakfast just a couple hours ago.
-Visual Cues: Are you eating due to watching the food network, a food commercial, walking by a bakery, bowl of candy on someone's desk, because someone just told you about a delicious recipe?
-Emotional eating (girls, this one is for us): Are you bored? (This was me last week), Are you lonely? Are you depressed? Are you eating because you think you deserve this?
-Self-Restriction: Did you tell yourself that you cannot have chocolate or carbs or something that has now backfired and caused you to crave it?
Mindless Consumption: Did you eat half that bag of chips while you were watching tv and distracted?

Before eating ask yourself these questions:
Am I hungry? This will cause you to stop and evaluate body signals such as stomach growling, headaches, difficulty concentrating rather than boredom, stress, or time of day.
What do I need? If you are hungry ask your body what is appropriate for you at this time. You may be thirsty and really all you need is a glass of water. Maybe you need an apple or some almonds. Most of us do not need chocolate but if you do then have it. I find that sometimes I am so hungry so I wil eat a quick bowl of cereal only to find that 30 minutes later I am hungry again. Really what I wanted was protein and I could have made a fresh fruit smoothie with some protein powder and been satisfied.
What do I have to eat? Set yourself up for success and have healthy snacks and food at work, in the car, and at home. Nothing is worse than really being hungry and having nothing to choose from. I keep some almonds in my car so that when I am starving after teaching for a while I can have a quick snack before I get home. Keep plenty of fresh veggies and fruit to snack on at home and at work. Choices make or break you. The more options you have the better chance you will not fall on the old standby that is not what you reall want or need.

I think if we just stop and evaluate why and what we are eating we will all make better choices. I should have written this article before my trip. :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Total Body Challenge- Home Workout

I did this workout this morning and felt it was challenging yet fun. There are no gyms near where we are so I am left with my imagination and a big yard. I did this in 10 minute blocks so along the same lines as the "Work out Quickies" post you could do just 1 block and call it good. I had more time so for me the whole, workout took an hour with stretching. I needed a good workout after sitting on a plane and riding in a car the previous day. Enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions!

Warm-up: Jog around the block. On the way back, add in 10 second sprints every 15 seconds. Total time around 7-10 minutes.

Circuit #1: Legs, Legs, Legs
Suicide Sprints on the driveway x1 (Pick 4 points along a straight path, evenly spaced. Sprint to the first point and back to the start, sprint to the second point and back to the start and so on.)
Walking Lunges with Rocks up and back the driveway (you could use soup cans or dumbells)
* Repeat this for 10 minutes. I think we did it twice.
** For an extra arm challenge: Add overhead press with the lunges up the driveway, and a bicep curl down the driveway.

#2 Cardio Blast
30 seconds of burpees followed by 30 sec of pushups followed by 30 sec recovery
30 seconds of mountain climbers followed by 30 seconds of tricep dips, 30 sec recovery
30 seconds of Jumping Jacks followed by 30 seconds of lower trap dips (similar to tricep dips, but you do not bend your elbow, just let you shoulders come towards youe ears and then press them dowm, 30 sec recovery

#3 Lateral Moving
30 seconds yard side shuffles/ 30 seconds of side leg lifts in side plank/30 seconds hold the top leg up. * We used a bench for this.
Repeat with other leg leading
High Heel Jogs around the house (jog with heels to butt)/30 seconds of 1-leg squats
High Knee Jogs around the house/Plank with knees in toward chest (1 leg)

1 minute of Double Crunches
*with the plank you can come to all fours if you wanted. Really squeeze the kneee in as if you had a hook you were trying to loop around a hole in the middle of your chest


I did my favorite yoga poses for a nice stretch. Target all your big muscles like quads, hamstrings, glutes, etc.

Drink some water and enjoy a good workout!

Email me if you have any questions.

Workout Quickies

Yesterday,I was traveling across the country to visit family. What fun that is! :)Needless to say, it is hard to get in a workout. I did manage to get in a quick 10 minute cardio workout and a 15 minute yoga workout before heading to bed. It made me think, how many of us end up skipping a workout because we think we do not have time? The ACSM states that 10 minute quick bouts of exercise accumulated throughout the day is just as effective as 30 minutes of continuous exercise. The ACSM recommends atleast 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Moderate is defined as anything that causes you to break a sweat or elevate your heart rate. So, here are some quick 10 minute workout ideas:
*If you have more time you can string them together to make a longer workout.

1. Yoga Sun Salutations
You can do 5-6 Sun A Salutations and 5-6 Sun B Salutations. This can be a great yoga routine if you are not sure of how to string some poses together. Sun Salutions have some of everything!

See picture at the top for what these look like.
2. Stairs at the office: Perform some stair intervals at work. Speeding up to the top and jogging down. Add some Jumping Jacks or Pushups at the bottom if you want more.
3. Run around the block with speed intervals. Jog or walk around your block and every 30 seconds add in a 10 second sprint. This really gets your heart rate up.
4. 1 minute each of: squats, push-ups (maybe modified to your knees), plank, double crunches (bring knees to chest and chest to knees, and lunges. Repeat again!
5. House circuit: 20 reps of each:Soup can or dumbell aquat and overhead press, Bicep curl with lunge, couch tricep dips, prone body lifts (lay on an ottoman with your toes tucked on the edge or your kid/partner holding your legs and lower and lift your chest, kid presses (lower and lift your kid while laying supine on the floor (chest press)if you don't have a kid the anything heavy you have laying around will work, Soup can or dumbell reverse flys (sit on a chair with your chest bent towards your legs and lifts arms out to the side like airplane wings. Repeat until 10 min is up!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fall Yoga Retreat in Cannon Beach Oct 15-17 2010

I am so thrilled to announce my "Fall Yoga Retreat" in Cannon Beach, OR on October 15-17, 2010.

Enjoy a weekend of yoga, meditation, and delicious food in the beautiful backdrop of Oregon’s magnificent coastal beaches. This weekend will facilitate letting go of the hustle and bustle of our everyday life while allowing you some time to unwind, reflect, and rejuvenate through the power of yoga. Daily meditation and pranayama (breathing) sessions will start your day and clear your mind. A morning yoga practice will invigorate your body and leave you feeling refreshed. Healthy meals will sustain and nourish your body. Fill your day with massage, ayurvedic treatments, a private yoga therapy session, or go for a hike or run. Perhaps just walking and reading on the beach will give you the stillness you need for quiet reflection. An evening yoga practice will help you go deeper into your physical and emotional body and prepare you for the next day. The nighttime pranayama and meditation session will ease you into a restful slumber. This weekend is your opportunity to explore and to nurture yourself.

Costs: $340 per person
Includes all meals, lodging, yoga and private 30-minute yoga consultation
**Early bird discount: $290 if registered by 8/21

Accommodations: Guest house, 4 miles south of Cannon Beach
Upgraded Accommodations: next door to Guest House at “At Oceans Edge B&B”

Zen Retreat Suite (based on dbl occupancy) $365, Early bird $315
Ocean Spa Suite (dbl occupancy) $450, Early Bird $400

Meals: Organic, and vegetarian with option for fish at dinners. Dietary restrictions are honored.

*Yoga Therapy sessions, massage and ayurvedic treatments will be offered at an additional cost.

* A 50% non-refundable deposit is due by 8/29 and the balance due 9/17.
· Email with questions or to register.

What do you want to see?

Hi everyone! I want to know what information and topics you would like me to research and write on. Send me an email at with your ideas.
This blog is for you and I want this to be as useful as possible!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Raw Deal

I had a member of my class this week ask me about the raw food diet. I have spent a lot of time researching this diet and learning about it over the last couple years. The premise of this diet is to eat all foods in their natural state. Followers extol a diet rich in fruits, nuts, and vegetables served raw or not heated over 114 degrees F. The benefit of this type of diet is not only how you feel but that you receive enzymes from the food. When you heat food over 110, its natural enzymes are destroyed. We need these enzymes to digest our food and get the nutrition from the foods we ingest. With additional enzymes your digestion can operate optimally. A lot of experts think that the immune system heavily resides in our gut. We are born with an abundant supply of enzymes but through aging, our normal eating habits ( processed foods), prescription drugs, and consuming antacids, our enzyme supply is depleted. Unless you take an enzyme supplement or replenish your body with natural enzymes found in food, you lose them for good. Many experts claim that eating raw food cures lots of modern illnesses and disease.

I found that when I did eat raw, I felt amazing. I had more energy, clarity and overall I felt more fit. I found this diet to be easier to follow in the summer when all the fruits and veggies are out and you crave that type of food. When fall and winter rolled around I found I wanted hot dishes likes soups so I felt like it was harder to follow. It is not an all or nothing type benefit though. Just starting by adding some raw foods can give you lots of benefits. You don't have to switch to 100% raw. Here are some tips to get started:
1. Keep it simple. Start by adding a fresh fruit smoothie or a fresh salad once a day.
2. Stick with the seasons. Try going more raw in the summer when your body craves more fresh and raw foods. Maybe even do a raw food 3 day cleanse.
3. Consider how you feel before comitting. Listen to your body and if you are not feeling good eating mostly raw, then scale back. Our bodies are all different and some people do not function well with so many cold foods.
4. Plan to succeed. Plan your meals so that you are not always grabbing what is quickest. Ensure you consume plenty of nuts, greens, legumes, etc so that your diet is varied.
5. Go organic if you can. Eating more fresh fruits and veggies exposes your body to more chemicals. Go organic when possible..especially if you are eating skins.
6. Enjoy it! If you are not feeling great and enjoying the benefit then why bother? The diet may not be for you.

Some restaurants in the area that specialize in raw options are:

The Yummy Tummy Oasis : 5816 SW Hood Ave Portland, OR
They even offer raw cooking classes! This is my favorite place to go for delicious treats! You will be hooked!

The Blossoming Lotus: 1713 NE 15th Portland, OR

Prasad: 925 NW Davis Portland,OR

Let me know if you have any questions!
I can recommend several raw food recipes, books or resources.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yoga Pose of the Week- 7/19/10 Legs on the Wall

The yoga pose I selected this week is called Viparita Karani or Legs up the Wall pose. It is a gentle inversion that packs a lot of therapeutic benefits. I like to do this pose right before bed or when I need to calm my mind.

Here are some of the benefits:

-regulates blood pressure

-helps treat cardiac disorders

-helps treat ear and eye ailments, stress related headaches, and migraines

-relieves palpitations, breathlessness, asthma, bronchitis, and throat ailments

-alleviates arthritis and cervical spondyosis

-relieves indigestion, diarrhea, and nausea

-helps treat kidney disorders

-prevents varicose veins

-relieves tired or cramped feet and legs

-calms the mind

-relieves mild backache
The link above gives you more information about the pose and how to get into the pose.
Here is a summary: Place a mat against the wall. Lay on your side and curl your knees into your chest and wiggle your tailbone against the wall. Roll onto your back and extend your legs onto the wall. Relax your legs. If your legs are rolling outward, use a strap just above your knees to keep them stable. Breathe deeply and close your eyes. Stay in the pose for atleast 5 minutes. You may wish to place a bolster or rolled towel under your buttocks and let your upper back and shoulders drape onto the floor.

Quote of the Week-7/19/10

"First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. Then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could return to work. Then I was dying to retire. And now I am dying and suddenly realized I forgot to live."
-Author Unknown

This quote puts it all into perspective doesn't it? We spend so much of our life "dying" for the next stage. This quote fell on reality for my this week. I had an old friend in town and we spent much of our time reminiscing about the "good old days". Funny thing is that when all those times were occuring I was not sitting around thinking how great they were but wishing for them to pass so I could move onto my next phase. It is sad when you think about it.

It can be like training for a marathon. You spend all this time training and working toward this one single event. It could be easy to wish all those training runs to hurry on by, but then you get to the marathon and is over before you know it. Do we savor each run and enjoy our time in nature and with our friends, and the good feelings we get after the run? For me sometimes not so much. There is nothing wrong with having future events to look forward to and dreams to aspire towards but the question is are we happy right now and enjoying where we are right now? The past is behind us the future is unknown and all we really have is the present.

Why not take a step back this week and reflect on what is great about where you are right now? Include your health and fitness in this reflection. Maybe you want to train for a marathon or 5k or lose 5 pounds but what is great about where you are now? Maybe compared to last year you are more active or maybe you have started attending group fitness classes and you have met some great people...or maybe you have started being more conscious about your food choices. All are steps in a great direction and you should enjoy them-now! I am sure you will uncover some great things as you pause and say, why not enjoy my life-NOW!

Healthy Bites-Crispy Quinoa Cookies (wheat free)

My friend had these amazing, healthy cookies on her desk this morning and I could not believe how good yet nutritious they were. I am not sure if you are familiar with quinoa. It is my new favorite grain. It is wheat and gluten free yet packed with protein and minerals like calcium and iron. It is easy and quick to make which is also a nice benefit. I bought the quinoa flakes for this recipe at Fred Meyer. Enjoy!

1/2 c honey
1/3 c brown sugar ( I use the fair trade organic raw version-also at Fred Meyer)
1/2 c margarine ( 1 stick)
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c rice flour
3/4 c quinoa flakes (comes in a box in the breakfast area-check the organic section)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 c nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Beat honey, brown sugar, margarine, peanut butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl until creamy. Combine rice flour, quinoa flakes, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to mixture and beat until well blended. If desired add nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, until light, golden brown. Cool one minute before removing from cookie sheet. Yield about 3 dozen cookies!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hike and Flow

Join me on, Sunday August 15th at 10:00a for a hike in SW up to Council Crest followed by an outdoor yoga practice. The cost is $25 for members of the Riverplace Athletic Club and $35 for non-members. Meet at the Riverplace Athletic Club to carpool over to the hike. The hike is 3.3 miles with 820 feet of elevation gain.

For more information email me at

Post-Workout Nutrition

Have you ever had a great workout only to find that you are energy zapped the next day? Ensuring that you have the proper recovery snack after a workout can be key to ensuring you are ready for your next workout. Here are some great tips for your snack:
  • Go for high glycemic index carbs: These will enter the bloodstream faster. Examples include bananas, mushy fruit and honey. Research has shown that 0.8g o carbs per 1kg of body weight is recommended for speeding up muscle carb replenishment while preventing excess fat after 1 hour of intense exercise.
  • Include a protein: To stop muscles from wasting away, researchers suggest 0.4g of protein per 1 kg of body weight after exercise. You can adjust this number up or down depending on how hard you exercised.
  • Eat as soon as you finish working out!: If you wait too long, carbohydrate replenishment and protein repair are compromised. You will get the biggest return on your efforts this way.
  • Keep it fat free or low fat. This will help you digest the carbs quickly and more effectively.
  • Grab a shake. A liquid meal is easier to digest and can be fully digested within 30-60 minutes. A solid meal may take 2-3 hours. When you exercise, your digestive system takes a break in order to fuel your muscles.

Note these recommendations are for healthy, lean individuals. If you are overweight or trying to lose weight then consult a health care provider or nutritionist.

For more info check out:

Email me at if you have any questions!

** To calculate your body weight in kg, multiply your weight in pounds by .45. For example, a 100 lb person would weight 45 kg. This person would want a snack of 36 g of carbs (45x.8) and 18g (45x.4) of protein.

Protein Bar Recipe

Here is a good recipe for home made protein bars. I would sub in real maple syrup instead of sugar free or you could try agave nectar. It has about 1/3 of the calories. I usually stay with substances in their natural form. I also recommend rice protein powder over whey, soy, or casein. Rice protein is very gentle on the digestive tract and is generally tolerated better by most people. Enjoy!

3 1/2 cups of quick oats
1 1/2 cups dry non-fat milk
4 scoops protein powder (chocolate is yummy)
1/4 c flax seeds
1 cup sugar free maple syrup
2 egg whites (or egg replacer)
1/4 c orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c natural applesauce (you can try 1/3 for a different consistency)
Note: You can sub nuts, dried fruit, etc instead of flax seeds

1. Beat egg whites in a bowl.
2. Mix egg whites with orange juice, applesauce, syrup and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, mix the dry milk, oats, protein powder, and flax seeds.
4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. It should look like cookie dough.
5. Add the mixture to a greased 9x13 pan.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees.
7. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.
8. Store in a freezer or air-tight container.

Each bar contains:
187 calories, 27 g of carbs, 15g of protein, 3g of fat, and 4g of fiber

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Natural Allery Relief

I don't know about you but I am still struggling with allergies. For me, I like to look for more natural ways to approach my allergy symptoms rather that taking the common OTC meds. Here are some approaches that I have found helpful:

*Neti Pot or NeilMed Sinus Rinse: I prefer the Sinus rinse. I was a little apprehensive to try this but it works beautifully! This is a great daily practice to prevent colds and to help with nasal congestion. I bought mine at New Seasons. I am hooked. It really helps you breathe better.

* Stinging Nettles supplement (300 mg)
*Activated Quercetin (750mg)
I take one of each 3 times a day when I am feeling itchy eyes, and congestion and I get immediate relief. These don't work for everyone but for me it is magic. These are natural antihistamines and are commonly prescibed by naturopathic physicians for allergies. You can find these at Fred Meyer, New Seasons, Whole Foods, or at NCNM (naturopathic clinic in Portland)

*Yoga- There are many yoga poses that can help with nasal congestion. A sequence that I found helpful is:
Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
Downward Facing Dog
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide leg forward fold)
Headstand (against a wall) or Supported Shoulderstand
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Halasana (Plow)
Supta Baddhakonasana (Lying butterfly pose)
Janu Sirsasana (fold one leg in and forward fold)
Pascimottasana (seated forward fold)
Bridge (can use a block under sacrum)
Legs on the Wall

Try to hold poses for 5-10 breathes. Stay in savasana for as long as possible.

If you are unsure about the poses listed above see:
and you can look up poses and how to get into them. :)

Hope this helps you!
**Please note that before taking any supplements you may want to check with your health care provider. I am not a doctor or a licensed health care provider.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Banana Walnut Muffins

From my cleanse and detox recipes...these are not bad! Wheat/Sugar/Gluten Free!
2 1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 c date sugar
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix above in a large bowl.

Puree 4 ripe bananas until smooth and measure out to 3 cups. Add 1/4 c coconut oil (melted) and 2 tsp vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix. Gently fold in 1 ripe banana chopped and 1 c of chopped walnuts. Spoon into oiled muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

P.S. You can find all these ingredients at Whole Foods and New Seasons.

Summer Cleanse and Detox

The start of summer for me meant cleanse and detox time! I was in a bad eating rut where I was going for quick snacks and most of the time that meant something that was not a great choice for me. I was beginning to feel tired and heavy and just not my best. My acupuncturist, Devon recommended a cleanse.
In this cleanse you eliminate from your diet wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, corn and its products, peanuts, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and meat and legumes for a period. The thought behind this is to give your liver a break from all the allergens that can cause an immune reaction that leads to inflammation in the body. I seems like there is nothing left to eat. Not true! You supplement with the rice protein shakes throughout the 3 week period. The cleanse comes with recipes and some menu suggestions so you do have some ideas. For me this has meant, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, salads and brown rice! I tried some of the recipes and found them to be pretty good.
What I found interesting was my reaction to this whole thing. Week one was hard. I craved sugar and wanted to bake cookies all day long. I was not hungry but I found that I wanted sugar anyway. Interesting how the mind works. Physically I felt great. Eating so much fresh and raw foods was so nourishing. I slept better and had so much energy. By the end of week 1 the cravings were gone.

Week 2 was a breeze. No cravings and I felt so good. I was full faster with the fresh food and I found that I craved the fruit and that was satisfying. I even did a 54 mile bike ride (1st one in 2 years) and felt I had more energy than before when I was trained to ride that far.

This is the start to week 3 and I am not even anxious to return to eating all the foods I have had to stay away from. Thank God I live in Portland. The Blossoming Lotus, Prasad and the Yummy Tummy Kitchen, which all offer raw, vegan food have provided me with treats from time to time to allow me to eat in luxury and not have to cook. This has been a good mental practice for me I think. I would have been easy to tell myself one week was enough and that it was not practical to try to sustain this diet for three weeks. So far, I am making it and I am glad I tried this. I am not sure if my liver is cleansed or if I reduced any inflammation but I feel better, I am eating better and I guess overall I am a better reflection of the me inside! :)

Bodyweight Circuit

Now that the weather is nice here in Portland, what better way to get a workout in than to be outside in the sun? You can soak up some vitamin D as well as enjoy the fresh air. You don't need anything for this workout but you! Try this workout in the park, around your neighborhood or anywhere you like.
Jog 1 minute/Power Walk 1 minute **alternate this for about 6 minutes to warm up

Walking Lunges x 20 *Try this up a hill or down a hill for a fun challenge
Mountain climbers x 20 *Tap your toes if you don't want to jump
Push ups x 10 *Drop to your knees or use a park bench for your hand to modify
Side plank leg lifts ( Use a park bench or a chair for your hand to rest, feet on the floor and stacked, lift and lower your top leg for 1 minute)
Tricep dips x20
Side Plank leg lifts (other side)
Skips (Bring back memories and skip like a kid) 1 minute
Chair or Bench 1 leg squats x 1o per leg (Lifting one leg in front and keeping the other leg on the ground, sit back onto the chair without touching down and then raise back up to a stand. Stay balancing on one leg!)
Crab Crawls (crawl like a crab..look for a hill, you are on all 4's with your chest facing the sky) 1 minute
Laydown stand up (no hands! lay down and then stand back is harder than it sounds) x20
Sprints * Take off for a fast 100 yard dash and then or walk for an active recovery (30 seconds)-3 minutes total
Lateral Lunges x 20 (lunge side to side)
Plank to forearm plank x10 (start in plank and come down to your elbows for forarm plank while trying to keep your body still)

Repeat as many times as you can! Bring along some water!

Yoga Pose of the Week

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

This is a great pose for the desk workers or those that bend forward for long periods of time. This pose has lots of other benefits like: helping to correct posture, increasing lung capacity, improving blood circulation to all organs, toning the muscles of the back and spine, removing stiffness in the shoulders back and ankes, relieving abdominal cramps, and regulating menstrual flow. Those are just a few...
I picked this pose because after a long bike ride yesterday this was just the pose for me. I could feel my hip flexors stretch and it felt great to open my chest.
For how to get into the pose see:
You can modify this pose by taking your arms to the small of your back and reaching your elbows toward one another.
For a variation, try taking one arm back towards the opposite ankle and leaving the other arm stretching towards the sun. You will get a nice twist in addition!

Quote of the week

"A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes" -Buddha

This quote is a great reminder of how our attitude can shape our entire experience. With our health it is easy to say that we will be happy if ...we run this race in this amount of time, lose x number of pounds, do this certain yoga pose, or look like ? When really what we need it the right attitude to allow it all to come to fruition. What if this week instead of looking at your health from the judgement of where you are and where you want to be, you look at how you can have the attitude and thoughts of the person that is already looking, feeling and doing the things you aspire to. Feel it first and let your action follow the attitudes of someone who is at the peak of their heath!