Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Courage to Make a Change

Yesterday I posted the following as my Facebook status:

Ok Mommas. Indulge me in a little market research here: What is your biggest obstacle to achieving excellent health? Assuming you know what you need to do to get and stay healthy, what prevents you from doing it? Looking forward to hearing your responses...

Thanks to all of you who shared. In truth, the responses were predictable, and yet they were also quite enlightening. You shared that the most common obstacles to achieving and maintaining excellent health are: lack of time, lack of money or resources, and lack of motivation. I hear you; I’ve been there and said all the same things. These are all real obstacles; thankfully, they all have simple and practical solutions. I can address these solutions in future blog posts. Or, I should probably say “review” them, because most of you have heard me say them before, or else, you already know them.

The fact is, most of you already know what it takes to be healthy.
You are all smart, well-read, and very informed. You’ve read strategies for creating quick and healthy meals, or you’ve talked about this a great deal with your real and virtual friends. You’ve been told how to create an exercise schedule, and pored over magazines for ideas and inspiration. We all have excuses for why we’re not putting this knowledge into action. It’s interesting what transpires between theory and reality, isn’t it?

Here’s what was really enlightening. When you spoke about your lack of motivation, or the challenges of being consistent, some of you called yourselves “lazy”. Really? Lazy? These “lazy” women, I happen to know, are CEOs of successful businesses, or run busy households, or spearhead community programs, or all of the above. Lazy you are not, my dears.

You have commitment issues. Yes, you. Me, too. It’s not challenging for me to commit to a regular yoga practice or exercise routine. I’ve been, thank G-d, eating healthfully for so long that it’s not a hurdle; it’s just what I do, who I am. But, I have plenty of reasonable excuses for other things, such as why I can’t seem to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I know, intellectually, that I require a certain amount of sleep. I feel, physically, the effects of asking my body to perform at a high level on insufficient rest. I know my family also feels these effects, and believe me, it isn’t pretty sometimes. But I haven’t been able to commit on a consistent basis. I share your struggle.

As I was contemplating how to convey this message without sounding overly harsh, I came across yoga teacher Christina Sell’s recent article in Yoga International. In the article, Christina talks about “sustained commitment”, meaning the non-negotiable commitments we make, guard carefully and practice consistently. We are committed to something, she says, when we do it “continuously, over a long period of time, with reverence and devotion”. In other words, make it holy, people.

Here’s my challenge to you:
pick ONE thing that you know would make you a happier, healthier person. Maybe it’s, as some of you said, committing to exercising x times a week, or spending an hour or two every week preparing healthy foods to have on hand for those hectic evenings, or taking an honest look at what fuels your emotional eating. Sanctify that commitment to yourself by carving out the time and space for it to happen, and then stick to it. Just do it, for one full month. We might never have “enough time”, or “enough money”, or a personal chef, or the perfect yoga pants, but we ALL have the integrity to create actions that match our highest visions of ourselves.

When we approach ourselves in this way, then, as Christina Sell says “our commitments…become promises we make to ourselves—intentions we set toward a nobler aspiration—instead of simply tasks we perform or rules we follow without much thought.”

Please keep me updated of your progress. Share the challenges as well as the triumphs. And, as one of my earliest yoga teachers used to say: Have courage.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Late Summer Special: 3 Potent Sessions of Nutritional Counseling to help you and your family improve your diet, health and immunity.

Have your children been eating fruit and ice cream all summer?
• Have you been downing iced coffee and slushies?
• Have you all been slacking on exercise and skimping on sleep?
• Have traveling and vacation skewed your routine and schedule?

If you answered YES to any of the above, pay attention to what I’m about to tell you. You may be thinking “So what? I feel great now!”, but these seemingly benign things can insidiously wreak havoc on our health.

But, wait! Don’t despair. There’s still time to get back on track before the fall. Believe it or not, NOW is the time to build your health and immunity for winter! NOW is the time to make changes to your diet and routine that will keep you grounded during the chagim and out of the doctor’s office come winter.

In 3 potent sessions, we’ll work together to make relevant, lasting changes that work for you and your family. Here’s the plan:

Session #1: All about Ima.
We’ll assess your current situation and create a guided plan to make realistic improvements to your diet and exercise routine. We start with Ima because, as we all know: “If Momma ain’t happy [healthy], ain’t nobody happy.”

Session #2: Get the kids and husband on board. Gently shift your family towards eating whole foods and wean them off sugar and processed food. How?? By incorporating doable strategies and delicious foods.

Session #3: Your Unique Self. We’ll address any chronic or acute health issues that you or your family may have, including but not limited to: food allergies or sensitivities, weight loss, autoimmune issues, etc. This is your chance to personalize your program to get the results you desire.

For details and pricing, or to schedule your first session, call me at 054 204 4773or email kislev17@gmail.com now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How I Finally Got on the Raw Food Bandwagon

I first heard about Raw Foods back in 2005 when I was studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. You can learn more about IIN and my nutrition training by clicking here. One of the unique things about the school is it’s philosophy: there is no one diet that is right for everyone. And so IIN aims to educate its students about a variety of dietary theories (versus other schools that focus on teaching one specific way to eat). Raw foods was but only one of the dietary theories we studied.

For three hours, David Wolfe, the darling of the Raw Food movement, inspired us all with the amazing health benefits of eating raw. For the uninitiated, a raw foods diet consists of unprocessed raw vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). "Raw foodists" believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost their enzymes and thus a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body, whereas uncooked foods provide living enzymes and proper nutrition. Proponents of a raw food diet claim that there are many benefits to eating raw foods, including weight loss, more energy, clear skin, improved digestion and improved overall health. Who doesn’t want that??

But it was December, in New York. It was cold. I was pregnant at the time. I just could not fathom skipping soup, or cooked quinoa, or black beans, or tea. Or chicken on Shabbat. Among my other reasons for resisting going raw: I don’t normally eat a lot of fruit. Eating a lot of exotic fruits and superfoods from far away places went against the “eat locally” philosophy. And I felt like I was cheating on my macrobiotic roots. (Macrobiotics is a dietary theory stressing the importance of cooked foods!)

So, I added some raw cacao and goji berries to my diet (not much of a sacrifice-let me tell you!) and that was about as far as raw foods and I went.

Fast forward almost three years: my husband and I are headed off to Miami for a much needed mid-winter weekend getaway without kids. I’m feeling burnt out by winter; run down and frazzled. He buys me a few magazines for the journey, one of which is a raw foods lifestyle mag. All the folks featured in the magazine looked radiant; they were so healthy they were practically glowing. I was totally inspired and intrigued by raw foods, but not yet completely won over.

Fast forward another year and a half. Now we’re living in Israel, enjoying warmer weather year round. The shift to include more raw foods in my diet feels natural, organic, and inevitable. Suddenly, opportunities to learn hands-on techniques for incorporating more raw foods into my diet present themselves. Not nursing or pregnant for the first time in nearly 10 years, I do a major detox, eating mostly raw foods for a month. I start sprouting, pickling and fermenting, and juicing. I make smoothies, soak nuts and seeds and and turn them into nut milks and raw pates. While I would never claim to be a raw foodist, I can say now that I eat a high percentage of raw, vegan, unprocessed food, most of which I make myself. And, I feel great.

This slow acceptance of more raw foods into my diet was the right way for me; perhaps it’s more your style to go full throttle straight away. But for me, the changes I adopted feel right, and more importantly, like they are here to stay. I still eat cooked food, and I’m not at all a vegan, but I’m grateful for the folks who taught me about raw foods the techniques to prepare them simply at home.

In my effort to pay it forward, and share the raw food love, I invite you all to a hands on workshop at my house this Sunday evening, March 13th. Join me at 8:30pm to learn why sprouts are a great first step to eating more “live” foods, how to make sprout in your own kitchen, and how to serve up sprouts so even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy them. Your investment: 55 nis.

Feeling intimidated by raw foods? Click here to clear up any myths about a raw food diet.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Too Much On Our Plates…

We’ve all heard this phrase before (or the related expression “my plate is too full”). Mostly we’re referring here not to our literal plate, though it’s often the case that indeed, we do have too much to eat. I’ll come back to the food later; for now, I’d like to focus on the metaphor.

When we say we have “too much on our plates”, we really mean that we are inundated, often drowning, in our responsibilities and obligations: work, family, household, community, relationships, etc. We simply can’t handle one more thing; there is literally no more space, no more energy to spare. We’re overworked and overwhelmed, and for many of us, this leads to overeating!

I first heard this idea several years back from Hale Sofia Schatz. If you’ve not read her excellent book If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body and Awaken Your Spirit I highly suggest you do so soon. Reading the book and participating in a cleanse with Hale was transformative for me personally and professionally. She’s one of those gentle, soft spoken powerhouse women. Check her our at http://www.heartofnourishment.com/

Anyway, recently this idea of too much on our plates came around again when I stumbled upon the website of Dr. Melissa McCreery. Dr. McCreery specializes in emotional eating and offers solutions for women “struggling with food, weight, and overwhelm”. Last week I listened to a free teleseminar entitled “3 Emotional Eating Triggers You May be Overlooking”. Wow. Powerful stuff. You can visit her site www.toomuchonherplate.com and dowload the teleseminar. Dr. McCreery specializes in emotional eating and to get access to the teleseminar and other free goodies, but I’ll summarize the 3 main points here.

According to Dr. McCreery, the three things that trigger many of us to overeat are:
1. perfectionism
2. anger
3. lack of sleep
Allow me to elaborate just a little bit on each of these three triggers.

Perfectionism is seeing things in “black and white”. We’re either good enough, or we’re awful. We’re eating really well (“being good”), or we’re grabbing the leftovers off our kids’ plates and scarfing sweets late at night. When we’re in perfectionist mode, we are judging ourselves all the time, and we don’t allow ourselves to experience our innate goodness. This rigid view can keep us stuck from making lasting changes in our eating and our lives. Her solution for moving beyond perfectionism? “Acknowledge it, look for it, label it, and start reminding yourself that it is not helpful.” Perfectionism is not a virtue, and there is no such thing as a “perfect diet”!!

We’re not speaking here about rage; but rather the low-level, insiduous irritation, frustration, sense of unfairness, or anxiety that many of us experience on a daily basis. We’re often uncomfortable with these feelings, and unsure of how to process them. So, we use to food to soothe ourselves; we literally swallow our anger! If we learn to cope with and express our anger directly and with compassion and kindness, then we won’t need to turn to food.

Lack of Sleep
Wow. As someone who has been fairly consistently sleep deprived for over a decade, this one blew me away! According to Dr. McCreery, sleep deprivation (which she defines as 5 hours of sleep or less a night) contributes to us being less effective, less focused, more irritable, more stressed, more overwhelmed, more hungry and weighing more!! Simply put, lack of sleep drives hunger. When we’re tired, we often turn to unhealthy foods to give us energy, lift our mood, or simply keep us awake!

Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in levels of the hormone leptin, which tells us we are full, and increases levels of a hormone called grayling, which tells us to eat. Not only that, sleep deprivation can predispose us to gain weight by affecting our metabolism, regardless of what or how much we are eating. Startling facts, indeed. But the resolution is simple: getting 7 ½ to 8 hours of sleep a night can help us transform our relationship with food permanently.

Which one of these 3 emotional eating triggers affects you the most? I’d love to hear about your experiences, your goals, and your successes.

To close, a quote from If the Buddha Came to Dinner:

Not only are our plates to full, our bodies are too full, our houses and calendars and just about everything else in our loves are too full…This excess creates confusion. Anytime there’s excess, we can’t think straight, feel straight, or know what kind of nourishment we need to receive from moment to moment. To receive nourishment, we need to make space, and making space means perpetually letting go of that which is no longer necessary.” Hale Sofia Schatz

What can you let go of right now??

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Fascinating Practice of Mindful Eating

As a health counselor, I’m provided a window in to how people feed themselves and their families. While my clients are diverse, there are commonalities that unite them. Most are women: daughters with food histories passed down from their families (usually mothers), wives who are often responsible for most of the household cooking (minus those lucky ones whose husbands love to cook), and mothers tasked with providing food and nourishment all day, every day. So I see a lot of patterns and trends, and in general get a pretty good picture of what’s going on with people around their food. Putting the nutritional aspect of food aside for a moment here, one thing that strikes me is how many of us, myself included, have unconscious food habits. Allow me to explain.

Few things can be as challenging as trying to make changes in the way that you eat. Food is always available and it’s so easy to reach for food or to overeat without really knowing why. Most people trying to be more conscious about their food choices have experienced a disconnect between intention and reality. How many of us have started the day with good intentions (eat more veggies, smaller portions, drink more water-you name it) only to discover at the end of the day that we’ve eaten more than we wanted, binged on junk food, or picked away at the birthday cake someone brought into the office? Turning to food when we are stressed or overtired or even bored can be an automatic response that happens before we’re even fully aware that we’re doing it.

The best way to break this cycle is to eat mindfully. It amazes me how many people multitask when they eat. When is the last time that you were fully present with the food you were eating? Fully present means that the TV wasn’t on and you didn’t have a book or a computer in front of you. You weren’t working or making lists of things to do. You weren’t driving somewhere or talking on your cell phone. When is the last time that you were fully aware—with all your senses—of each bite that you put into your mouth? When you truly savored every last morsel? Probably it was a long time ago.
Mindful eating can be the key to breaking old habits with food and creating new ones. Because we eat every day, we’ve plenty of opportunities to refine this practice. And you can get started almost instantly—as soon as you sit down to your next meal.

The Fascinating Practice of Mindful Eating. Take a deep breath or two and allow yourself to notice what sensations are present for you. Really notice. You may have gone hours without paying attention. What’s on your mind? What emotions are you experiencing? How does your body feel? Are you tense or relaxed? How hungry are you? Where do you feel it in your body?
Put your food on a plate and sit down somewhere where you can enjoy your food without being distracted. Take a few more deep breaths. Give thanks and bless your food.

Eat slowly and chew thoughtfully, fully experiencing every morsel of your food. Savor it. Use all your senses. Slow down. Notice your food before you put it into your mouth. Smell it. Really taste it. Stop and consider what you taste. Put your fork down between bites and breathe some more. Take your time. Begin to recognize signs of satiety; that you’ve eaten enough. Give thanks, again, for your nourishment.

Be aware of how it feels to slow down and savor. You might be surprised at emotions that come up. Some people discover that they’ve developed a pattern of eating mindlessly in order to numb their thoughts and feelings. Ouch. You might feel bored, or even impatient and irritated by eating more slowly. What’s truly fascinating is that as you practice mindful eating, you are likely to notice things about your eating and your relationship with food that aren’t really about the food at all.

It’s not necessary (or, I fully realize, realistic) to practice mindful eating every single time you eat, but it can be a very worthwhile to engage in regularly. When we shine light on things we do unconsciously, transformation occurs. Please share your thoughts and experiences with this one. We all have a lot to learn!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why am I giving a workshop about smoothies?

Many people have jumped on the smoothie bandwagon; just Google “smoothies” and you’ll get a ton of hits. It seems too simple an idea to have to teach; just throw a few things in a blender and there you go. But it’s quite easy to make a nutrient-void smoothie (overloaded with dairy and sugar) and more of an art form to create a blendable meal that meets your nutritional needs on any given day.

A few years ago, I became inspired to add smoothies into my diet after reading Spent, by Dr. Frank Lipman. Spent explains why many of us are exhausted, depleted and suffering from chronic autoimmune illnesses, and offers simple lifestyle and dietary changes for healing. (Dr. Lipman has since changed the name of the book to Revive, which I like, as it reflects a more optimistic outlook.)

Dr. Lipman suggests starting each day with a morning smoothie. We’ve all heard the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I‘m not going to go into all the reasons why that’s true now, but I will say that most people would feel a whole lot better if they improved their morning meal. Many adults, and, unbelievably, children too, skip breakfast all together, or eat a nutrient-poor breakfast that can actually do them more harm than good. Think about it: processed, sugary boxed cereals, loaded with preservatives and food coloring, + cold milk = guaranteed low blood sugar and fatigued in about an hour!

Smoothies are ideal in the morning because they are easy to digest; because the contents are blended, the body does not have to work so hard to break down the food and nutrients. It’s also easy to load up your smoothie with nutrients, both in the form of food and supplements.

An ideal smoothie contains high quality protein, some good fat, plus some fruits and/or veggies. Fruits and veggies can vary with the season; protein can come from either the “base liquid”, such as almond milk, from food, such as peanut or almond butter, or from a powdered supplement, in various forms, such as whey or hemp.

Once you get the hang of making smoothies, you’ll know how to customize them to meet your body’s needs on any given day. So, join me on Sunday, January 23rd to learn how to prepare your own non-dairy milks and use them as a base for sensational smoothies.

Again, here are the details:

DATE: Sunday, January 23rd
TIME: 8:30pm
LOCATION: Slav 12B, Yad Binyamin
INVESTMENT: 55 nis for this workshop, 150 nis for the series (see previous post for details about the series)
TO REGISTER: email Arlyn kislev17@gmail.com

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter 2011 Wellness Workshops


First, a huge thanks to all who attended the Fall series of workshops and helped make them such a success! We continue in 2011, moving to a more experiential format and getting our hands dirty in the kitchen!

We’ll offer three hands-on, interactive workshops to build your repertoire in the kitchen and expand your healthy eating tool kit to go beyond basic cooking and learn to prepare healing, super-nutritious foods.

January 23rd: Non dairy milks and smoothies.
Whether or not you are dairy-free, you and your family will benefit immensely from adding non-dairy “milks” to your diet. We’ll make a few non-dairy “milks” and use them as a base for super-food green smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to start your day; you get powerful nutrition that’s easy to digest and assimilate. You can easily adapt these recipes at home to your family’s individual tastes and nutritional needs.

February 13th: Fermented Foods: with fermented foods expert Erika Mizrachi
Learn the benefits and traditional techniques of lactic acid fermentation. Supplementing our diet with fermented foods can help to reduce high cholesterol levels in our blood, and strengthen and support our digestive and immune systems. We’ll learn how to make kefir and sauerkraut; two easy treats that will make your digestive tract very happy!

Erika is a certified nurse who helps people identify food allergies and intolerances, and heal their GI tracts by adding fermented foods into their diet. She is also the former head medical editor of www.grannymed.com.

March 13: Sprouts and raw living foods

You already know that there are tremendous health benefits from eating raw, fresh vegetables and organic foods on a regular basis. Sprouts are a ‘live food’ that offer some essential nutrients and minerals that you won’t get from processed foods and even some fresh vegetables. Sprouts contain several compounds that improve digestion and are rich in antioxidants. While you can certainly buy sprouts, you can sprout at home to create a fresher, more nutritionally potent food. We’ll learn the simple process for sprouting various legumes and seeds and sample some yummy ways to eat sprouts.

Boltax residence, Slav 12B, Yad Binyamin
Time: All workshops start at 8:30pm
Investment: 55 nis per class, pre registered
150 nis for the whole series (all 3 workshops)
Questions or to
Contact Arlyn 054 204 4773 or kislev17@gmail.com