Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dreams, Desires, and Diets?

With the onset of the new year comes the information overload regarding new year's resolutions and diet. The use of the word "diet" is becoming less about a quick fix and more about a "lifestyle change." While it sounds like a cliche, I have realized that most cliches exist in large part because they are true. There are some great resources to help sift through the diet debacle including diet television or soon to be launched Natural Path for alternative perspectives to diet and health. Frontline also featured a great piece recently featuring the top diet experts from South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers and the politics of the diet culture.

IMHO, a key ingrediant to achieving results rests in your desires. Growing up in a very strategic oriented family, I have been articulating my goals since birth, so the new year always presents a golden opportunity to visualize my future and create the tangible steps and milestones to achieve it. Last year, I felt more stifled by the prospect of goal setting and vowed that my one resolution was to have no resolution. At first it was as if I had to rewire my brain to not think according to goals, but it helped me to live more in the moment with intention and less focus on outcomes.

When I started studying feng shui, the power of intentions was brought to a heightened perspective in my eyes. With further study into the law of attraction and now movies detailing this phenomenton such as The Secret, it is more clear than ever the amazing power our thoughts and words have on our realities. So however you choose to think about the new year ahead, let it start with your intentions and how you want to feel this year.

Here are some sample intentions as related to the Bagua in Feng Shui regarding the health and family sector of your home. They give a good example of using verbage in a positive manner.

• I am a vibrantly healthy person.
• My health is excellent in every way.
• I enjoy wonderful relationships with my family.
• I enjoy harmonious relationships with my friends.
• I am blessed with vibrant health and loving relationships.

At the end of the day, it is about feeling your desires and letting the magic unfold. However you choose to dream your dreams, they are waiting to be fulfilled - just ask my friend Brian.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hanukkah Harry Saves Christmas!

I can't remember exactly when I first became aware of Hanukkah Harry, but I seem to remember descriptions of Hanukkah Harry from my early childhood years as really being the strategic mastermind behind the whole holiday gift giving concept with Santa as the front man. Regardless, the SNL portrayal of Hanukkah Harry saving Christmas (and of course Hershel, Moshle, and Schlomo the reindeer) is a classic that every jewish man, woman, and child should have reference to.

I will be OOT for the next 8 days which just happens to coincide with Hanukkah. So as the exemplary Holiday Jew that I am, check out the official Hanukkah history.

Whether it is the entertaining folklore of my people or the deep seated inner persecutaion issues I clearly experience arouind this time a year via a negative "gut" reaction every time I see garland, Hannukkah is about miracles. And for me, a miracle is having a deep seated faith in ourselves and the people around us that we are part of a goodness bigger than we could ever imagine. So this holiday season, take a moment of pause to look at your life experiences and the people around you as a reflection of what you are manifesting, and choose to see the miracles, they are happening every day.

If you are looking for a last minute gift idea, choose a Kiva Gift and give someone the power to change lives.

Happy Holiday to you all. In health, happiness, and light!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Insights of a Packing System Convert

My father has three brothers and they all have this odd obsession with luggage or now more modernly termed "packing systems." It is entertaining to watch them share insights and compare different features on their most recent purchases. This obsession has existed for years, and while I caught inklings of it growing up through enthusiastic purchases around school backpacks, I never really got what it was about.....until now.

As I prepare for 10 days of international travel, I decided to casually explore the whole world of packing systems. It didn't take but 5 minutes at REI and I was hooked. Good lord, the technology and special features in some of these systems that ensures the most efficient use of space is simply amazing. And I am a Feng Shui professional, so when it comes to good use of space, I have the official word:-)

It doesn't stop with the actual piece of luggage, there is a whole world of packing accessories. The compression sac for instance is beyond amazing, it reminds me of the food saver infomercial, but for travel. I realize my enthusiasm is bordering pathetic. But I have 8 days worth of clothes in a carry on system with a detachable backpack, and there is simply no other word than thrilling. Is this a genetic obession? Perhaps, or maybe it is simply a sign that I need to get away and get some perspective. But, if for nothing else, I hope this blog reaches my father and uncles with my deepest apologies for the mockery, sarcasm, and banter I have thrown at you over the years for what I now clearly understand is not simply a quirky obsession. At the end of the day, it is about simplifying our lives and if it takes a piece of luggage to remind us of this, so it goes.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh What A Beautiful Body!

What do you get when you gather 9 pilates trainers, 5 significant others, and a holiday get together? Answer: Alot of left over food and wine. This past holiday season has been especially busy for me, and the truth is, I simply can't pull my party weight like I used to. This seems to be an epidemic that is spreading amongst my friends and colleagues. Granted many are in the health industry and I have worked long enough to realize that many people who choose this profession are completely neurotic and obsessed with their looks/weight. But what do you expect when people are working in mirror walled rooms all day looking at themselves.

Regardless, it begs the question - Is there such a thing as being too healthy? Has our committment and discipline to our health and weight alienated our right to indulge every now and then? It all comes down to body image and becoming aware of how are thoughts affect our actions. Body image is clearly related to many psychological disorders and a cultural obsession with fad diets and and exercise trends.

Now to be completely fair, I am making a living based on this cultural obsession, but our number one goal when we opened our pilates studio was that no matter what, we wanted people walking out of our studio at the end of their session feeling better than when they walked in. While most times it is about the amazing work of pilates which speaks for itself, it is also about encouragement and empowerment.

The point is there are two sides to every story and living a healthy lifestyle simply makes our body more pure and less likely to crave things like alcohol and sugar that often accompany the holiday spirit. However, when it becomes to be less about what your body is actually feeling and more about control and fear, that is when we need to back up the bus, and check in with ourselves. Take this quiz to find out more about your body image.

If you are seeking some ways to be more positive and understand the connection of your thoughts to your body, check out Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life.

Tis the Season, so enjoy yourselves. And frankly, a splurge every now and then is not going to kill anyone. When all else fails, take the example of my 3 year old nephew who says "Oh What A Beautiful Body!" pretty much everytime he sees himself in the mirror:-)

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Drama of Soy - Part I

I received an ad in my google web clip today for a Tofu Bear. Seriously, is this for real? The soy drama is almost overwhelming to me. Perhaps I need to gain some perspective, but I am almost bitter about it. First it was good for you, then too much was bad for you, then only in small amounts and mixed with certain other foods, then only eaten on its own, and now they are making freakin' teddy bears out of it! Give a girl a break - what is one supposed to do with all this confusion around soy? In order to turner my angst into enlightenment, I set out on my quest to understand soy in all its dimensions. So I thought I would start with the basics including what is soy and what are the various sources of it?

The FDA explains the most common sources of soy protein:

1. Tofu is made from cooked puréed soybeans processed into a custard-like cake. It has a neutral flavor and can be stir-fried, mixed into "smoothies," or blended into a cream cheese texture for use in dips or as a cheese substitute. It comes in firm, soft and silken textures.

2. Soymilk, the name some marketers use for a soy beverage, is produced by grinding dehulled soybeans and mixing them with water to form a milk-like liquid. It can be consumed as a beverage or used in recipes as a substitute for cow's milk. Soymilk, sometimes fortified with calcium, comes plain or in flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and coffee. For lactose-intolerant individuals, it can be a good replacement for dairy products.

3. Soy flour is created by grinding roasted soybeans into a fine powder. The flour adds protein to baked goods, and, because it adds moisture, it can be used as an egg substitute in these products. It also can be found in cereals, pancake mixes, frozen desserts, and other common foods.

4. Textured soy protein is made from defatted soy flour, which is compressed and dehydrated. It can be used as a meat substitute or as filler in dishes such as meatloaf.

5. Tempeh is made from whole, cooked soybeans formed into a chewy cake and used as a meat substitute.

6. Miso is a fermented soybean paste used for seasoning and in soup stock.

To better understand the benefits of soy, check out Susan Calvert Finn Phd on Disocvery Health. And to confuse everything you just read, check out Dr. Joseph Mercola.

It is my guess, that the answer with soy most likely exists with ALL THINGS IN MODERATION. However, I encounter enough questions and debate from people that I will continue my quest to turn my bitterness around soy into a better understanding so ultimately I can make the appropriate food choices and educate others as well.

For now I feel a bit more peaceful. And upon further research of Tofu Bear, he is quite cute and evidently has the softness and smoothness of cashmere but isn’t hazardous to the environment. SOLD!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Spin Spa or Sleep?

I am a sucker for a good commercial. While I stated fuel efficiency as the primary factor in buying my volkswagon jetta diesel, it was really the commercial that initially got me - "Safe Happens." I don't know why, I should be smarter than that. For god's sake I used to work in marketing/advertsing, so I understand the psychology that goes behind these ads.

Nonetheless, whether it is the Folger's commercial with Peter coming home for Xmas or the "can you hear me now?" commercial from Verizon, I love a good piece of messaging. Which brings me to the long lost art of the infomercial, or perhaps not so lost. I come from a long lineage of infomercial addicts. I am pretty sure my father was the first person ever to purchase the Nordic Track over 20 years ago. And frankly, it changed his life. To this day he will claim it is still one of the most effective pieces of exercise equipment on the market - and he would know. All this from a sleepless night and an effective infomercial campaign. This addiction has translated in many ways for my sisters and I. I recall a vivid memory when I was 7 years old and my sister and I watching a Sally Struther's Save The Children infomercial. Overwhelmed with the need to help, my sister ordered me to go get our mom's credit card. I did and ordered a child we did. I can only hope that this had some impact on our lives and committment to act as socially responsible individuals. What I have realized is that the common thread and perhaps success of the infomercial industry is pretty much contingent on "the sleeples night."

Luckily we have all learned to tame our infomercial addiction both through perspective and adopting effective sleep strategies. Sure I find myself reaching for a pen and paper every now and then after seeing the Yoga Booty Ballet infomercial, but I am reminded of lessons learned and am able to turn the tv off.

So, the next time you find yourself about to purchase the spinspa or cutco knives (both recent purchases from members in my family), take a deep breath and try some of these relaxation techniques or sleep aids that will help you get that much deserved night's rest. Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Oprah Goes Green

I will be the first to admit that I am borderline Oprah obsessed. Back before the days of Tivo, I literally positioned my jobs so that I could be home in time to watch Oprah. Well, thanks to technology and a little perspective, I learned to tame my Oprah cravings. But lately, its as if she and I are aligned (go girlfriend!), with yesterday's show featuring Muhammed Yunus and the concept of micro-lending and today's show featuring Al Gore and his documentary "An Incovenient Truth" (now available on DVD), it is clear that Oprah is going green. The green blogosphere has been highlighting this show for weeks thrilled that the "O" factor would be touching this movement.

I just finished watching the show and basically it was a plug for the DVD and ultimately Al Gore should he decide to position himself for future political endeavors (but I am not a politico, I will leave it to the experts to advise that effort). For better or worse there is no denying the "O" factor which we can only hope will translate into a heightened awareness of the green movement and global warming.

One of the skeptics on the show stated that Al Gore is trying to "scare us green." I think this is a relevant point because when we see evidence that is shown in "An Inconvenient Truth," the steps to take action can seem paralyzing. And while fear may be an initial response, it is our duty as citizens to take that moment of pause, and connect with that deeper message so we are not acting from a place of fear (which will only create more fear), but from a place creating lasting change for the future.

In true Oprah style, she leads us in this effort in giving some excellent recommendations to go green this holiday season. Check it out. And if you have seen the DVD, perhaps buy it for someone who you feel could use some education, and if not, buy it for yourself - Oprah says so.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Belly Meet Brain, Brain Meet Belly

I glorify the importance of trusting yourself and listening to your gut quite frequently. The truth is, much easier said than done. However, there are clear moments when our gut literally speaks to us. It is the butterflies of meeting someone for the first time or the knots in our stomach before a presentation. And thanks to a really fascinating book by Marc David called "The Slow Down Diet - Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss," he explains this phenomenon on physiological terms. All of these physiological disturbances are tied to the ENS - Enteric Nervous System which is often referred to as the brain in the belly. It is literally your nervous system talking to you. Your ENS has its own metabolic rules which are your rules. He states that "the expert within you will help you choose which experts to follow outside of you."

In a time when experts are a dime a dozen, this is sound advice in moving through the information trenches and empowering ourselves with the relevant advice and information that makes sense for us. Check out the book for an insightful and innovative approach to weight loss. And to all my skeptic peeps out there, now that you physiologically understand your gut, TRUST IT.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Let Go!

December 4 marks the official last full moon of 2006. Different from a new moon that symbolizes a time of new beginnings, a full moon is a time of releasing the past. Since this is the last full moon of the calendar year, it is an opportune time to reflect upon this past year with gratitude (including the hardships) and let go of the past in order to make room for the new year ahead. When stating intentions, possible phrasing might include: I now release _____ from my life. I now end my preoccupation with______. Remember, think and envision as though you have already let go of what you have released.

While I could rant on about the spiritual significance, I thought I would provide some interesting factoids/mythology from some full moon enthusiasts. "The human body is made up of 94% water. It would stand to reason then, if the moon affects huge oceans, that it would have some influence over us. Although scientists have been inconclusive in finding that criminal behavior rises during a full moon, people working in the medical and law inforcement professions report higher incidences of 911 calls, increased rates of violent crimes, murder, vandalism, arson and suicide, while emergency rooms swell to full capacity. There are also more reported cases of sleep disorders such as sleep walking. People become more restless and agitated during a Full Moon. They feel a strange intensity or connection with it, as if an unexplained serge of energy were rushing through them, and are apt to do bizarre things that is totally out of character for them." But this is just one perspective and plenty of skeptics could argue otherwise.

(Ir)Regardless, whether you need an excuse to act loony and howl at the moon, or are simply in a place to let go of those things no longer necessary for your growth and are ready to make room for the serendipitous events waiting to be revealed, capitalize on this December full moon to support you.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Do Good Often

I have a t-shirt that says "Do Good Often." It is bright pink with orange letters, so clearly it stands out. When I am running on the trail, I get the most interesting looks from people. While I can't necessarily read their minds, my intuitive nature enjoys interpreting the expressions. Everything from big smiles, to thumbs up, to looks of confusion. Now keep in mind, the wording is on my chest, but I choose to give people the benefit of the doubt and that they resonate with "Do Good Often" and not simply looking at my chest.

Recently, I had someone come up to me and ask, "What does that mean?" It broke my heart. Granted it was in an upscale colloquial area of town, but for the first time in my life, I found myself speechless. While it is easy to judge such naivete, the truth is that to "Do Good Often" will have a different meaning for each of us. But the power of our words when we translate them into action can be amazing. And when all else fails, turn to Oprah.

This Monday, December 4th she will be featuring Muhammed Yunus who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for developing the concept of micro-credit and founder of Grammeen Bank. His work and the work of amazing organizations like Kiva are literally providing people a tangible way to "Do Good Often" and have a direct connection to empower others in developing countries. So while you don't have to wear your intentions as literally as I do, at least articulate them in your heart and whatever it means for you, "Do Good Often."