Ayurvedic Reset: Day 3 Doshas

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The three Doshas and the five elements that create them 
According to Ayurveda, the five elements of nature found on earth (Space, Air, fire, Water, and Earth) combine in the body as three components known as Dosha (vatta, Pitta, and Kapha). The three doshas relate closely to the element of nature and to specific functions of the body. For an optimal health, it essential that all the doshas are balanced.

Everyone is sort into one of three doshas or constitutes (Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha). While we all have elements of all three doshas, in most people, one dominates, influencing physical and emotional health, behavior and more. Doshas are determined at the time of conception, also relates to an individual’s physical makeup and personality. Most people are considered to have a combination of doshas, with one type usually being predominant.

These Doshas are energies used to describe your body, food, mind, environment and everything else. They are also used to help identify, customize and prescribe lifestyle changes and remedies that will balance your energies, prevent diseases, and preserve health.

Dosha Quiz: Eat Feel Fresh Dosha Quiz: 

1. Vatta (Air and Ether)

Characteristics: 
·Vatta is made up of the elements air and ether. Air gives it characteristics such as mobility and dryness, while their makes it subtle and light. 
·It is the most important dosha in the body and mind. As it is the force of all movement (e.g. blood circulation) and sensation. The main seat of vata is the colon

Function: 
·Providing movement, such as for breathing, circulation, transmission of nerve signals and elimination of waste/providing all sensation in the body, igniting agi (digestive fire)/supporting memory, drive and understanding.

Mind and Body: 
·The vata mind is influence by air and ether, giving it properties of movement, lightness, speed, irregularity such as being able to understand and learn, but also quickly to forget. 
·A person with a Vatta makeup tends to have a small, thin build and wispy physically, lively, chatty, and always on the move (all over the place). On the other hands, people with this dosha are more expose to insomnia, anxiety, and the inability to focus.

Imbalance Symptoms:
·Emotions such as anxiety, fear, or nervousness 
·Dry, rough, or chapped skin
·Gas or bloating after meals 
·Dry or dry stools 
·Feeling uncomfortably cold

2. Pitta (Fire and Water)

Characteristics: 
·Pitta takes on characteristics such as heat and sharpness from fire and fluidity and oiliness from water. 
·In the body, it is the source of transformation (digestion) and provide internal heat. The main seat of Pitta is the stomach and intestine

Function: 
·Digesting food and Fueling agni (digestive fire)/producing blood and coloring the skin/providing intelligence and self-confidence/provide insight

Mind and Body: 
·The fire and water give them properties of penetration and transformation such as a sharp intelligence and a proneness to anger. 
·The pitta body style is more of a medium, and muscular build; and tend have a fire burning within. Persons with Pitta dosha are often intense, intelligent, goal-oriented, excellent leaders and public speakers. However, too much of pitta leads to compulsive, obsessed behavior, irritability and heartburn.

Imbalance Symptoms: 
·Having an overly sharp, highly critical or uncompromising mind 
·Experiencing hyperacidity, burning sensations, tightness in the belly, or inflammation in the gut 
·Acute inflammation

3. Kapha (Earth and Water)

Characteristics:

·Qualities received by Kapha from earth include heaviness and stability; and from water include illness and smoothness. 
·It gives the body substance, strength, cohesion, lubrication, cooling, and immunity. It is also responsible for healing. The main seat of Kapha is the stomach and chest.

Function: 
·Providing moisture to food in the stomach 
·Providing strength and cooling to the heart and the sensory organs 
·Stabilizing and lubricating the joints 
·Providing taste

Mind and Body: 
·The earth and water give Kapha mind properties stability and endurance, such as cool headedness and good memory. 
·The Kapha appearance is usually bigger and well-developed. Kapha tend to have their feet firmly planted on the ground. They are strong and muscular physically, and are emotionally stable, calm and patient. Unlike vata, Kapha are prone to holding grudges, sluggishness, and weight gain.

Imbalance Symptoms:

·Excessive sleep or difficulty waking up
·Over-eating, or turning to food for emotional comfort 
Carrying extra body weight

Ayurvedic Reset: Day two

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What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient type of healing system and traditional medicine that has been used in India for thousands of years (5,000 years). It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a dedicated balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Each of the components must be in state of harmony – neither too strong nor too weak – for the body to remain healthy.

Ayurveda further emphasizes good health and prevention treatment of illness through lifestyle practices (e.g., yoga, meditation, massage, and dietary change) and the use of herbal remedies.

In Ayurveda medicine, optimal health and even one’s spiritual growth starts with prevention. Prevention is based on a balance lifestyle that is in harmony with the cycle of nature.

Origin:

Ayurveda is a Vedic Science. Another Vedic Science, often called Ayurveda’s sister science, is Yoga. All Vedic science are primarily teaching for the development of full human physical, mental and spiritual potential.

Ayurveda’s base of knowledge was recorded in a large body of Sanskrit literature that originated in India, called the Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be the oldest written recordings that describe, often in metaphors, ancient principles, practices and spirituality

The Meaning of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a science of life – the word Ayurveda origins from two separate Sanskrit words (Ayur-Life, Veda = science or knowledge).

Ayurvedic medicine is holistic, which means viewing the body and mind as a whole – Ayurveda treats not only the physical body, but also changes lifestyle practices to help maintain or improve health.

The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda:

1. The mind and the body are connected 
2. Nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind,

According to Ayurveda, the five elements of nature (Space, Air, fire, Water, and Earth) combine in the body as three components known as Dosha (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). The three doshas relate closely to the element of nature and to specific functions of the body. For an optimal health, it essential that all the doshas are balanced.

*Doshas will be further discuss tomorrow*

Ayurveda and yoga:

Ayurveda is often refer to as the sister science to yoga, as such if yoga is the path to achieving wellness and enlightenment, then Ayurveda is the system that supports a healthy body and mind for yoga’s practices.

Both practices come from the same philosophy, however Ayurveda focuses mainly on the goal of dharma (living the right way), while yoga focuses on the goal of moksha (enlightenment). Both are practical system with a holistic perspective - persons are seen as being with a unified body, mind and consciousness.

My Mindful Morning Routine

6:00 -6:10 am // wake up - check email and social media

I know this is a big no no! but I still do it, the first thing I do when I get up is walk to my kitchen and grab my phone (I charge my phone in my kitchen because it;s recommended to not have your phone in your bedroom) and lay on my bed, and scroll through emails and social media (Instagram for cute cat videos to give me a cuteness boost)

6:11-6:13 am // get up and drink a big glass of lukewarm lemon water + take supplements

After going through my social media and motivated by cute cats videos, I like drinking a glass of lukewarm water with lemon, and take all my supplements (to make sure I don't forget to take my supplements, I usually place all my supplements on my kitchen counter the night before).

6:15 - 6:25 am // Sun Salutation, Meditation and Intention for the day

Doing a simple sun salutation and mediation before I start the day allows me to be intentional with my day and be present.

"Today, accept what is instead of resenting what isn’t"

6:30 - 6:50 // Take shower, brush, do hair, make up

 I usually have a full shower the night before, which allows me to have a quick shower in the morning and put my make up while listening to my favorite podcasts (Ear Biscuits, Why Won't You Date Me, POD Save America, POD Save the World, Congregational, etc.). Getting ready doesn't take that much because my closet is super minimal,  so I often don't encounter the morning paradox of going through my clothes and saying "I have nothing to wear".

6:54 - 7:15 // Eat breakfast, and prep lunch

Given my tendency toward habit, my breakfast is always oatmeal - Last month and this month is Bagel with cream cheese. While eating breakfast I might catch up on the news, or watch clips from my favorite late nigh show (e.g. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, John Oliver etc.), as well as prep my lunch if I haven't done it the night before.

7:30 // Leave the house - ready to tackle the day

I always leave the house at 7:30is - this gives me enough time to drive and park my car, and then walk another 1 blocks to my work.

Journey to Health and Wellness with Becca Shern: Minimal Wellness

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This is another of my favourite feature because combines three things that I love talking about, health, wellness, and minimalism. Before going into the post, I just wanted to thank Bex (Beeca) for being so patient and understandable through this whole process. This post was supposed to come out five months ago, but due to heath issues, I had to postpone and took a little break from blogging, not knowing when I'll be back again - but five months later and Bex still agree to do this, which I am forever grateful for. 

That being said, down below shares her journey to minimalism, health and wellness and how she incorporate minimalism into her healthy lifestyle. This is a two part feature, in the upcoming days Bex will be sharing her favourite recipe with us. 

Tell us about yourself (Who you are, what you do for living, where you’re from, anything interesting fact about yourself)

Hi, I'm Becca — I'm a mom, partner, registered dietitian, recreational athlete, and wellness nerd. For the past decade, I’ve been working and studying as a Registered Dietitian, with a particular interest in public and environmental health. I started and run Minimal Wellness, a nutrition coaching business to help people find, navigate, and enjoy the simple path to optimal health. My partner, Joshua, our four year old daughter, Ella, and I currently live in Missoula, Montana — Big Sky Country. Although we currently live in Montana, I’ve been a bit of a nomad — living in Alaska, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Most of my family still lives in Minnesota, where I grew up on a small hobby-farm outside of Minneapolis.  

What does minimalism mean to you? 

For me, minimalism means living with the essentials to enable vibrant health and allow pursuit of my passions. It means that I continually evaluate the things, activities, and relationships in my life and curate them to allow me to be the most optimal version of myself — meaning that I am the best mom, partner, and member of society that I can be. What is essential to me, will not be what’s essential to someone else, but I think it’s helpful to consider minimalism as a mental and physical framework that helps us continually grow and evolve into better people.

When did your journey to minimalism begin? And what or who inspired you to pursue this life style? 

I grew up in a household that believed in simple living. I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by family and friends that valued someone’s contribution to the world more than how big their house was, what kind of car they drove, or how stylish their clothes were. But, I began jettisoning unneeded material things in earnest a couple of years ago after I realized my life was not headed in a positive direction.

Three years ago, I was a salaried professional working mom, a student trying to complete my master’s degree, and was in a mismatched marriage. My then spouse and I bought a house, in part because I thought home ownership — the missing component of the American Dream I’d completely bought into — would cure my discontent. Unsurprisingly, the house wasn’t the answer, and my marriage ended shortly thereafter. At the same time, I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by two guys living here in Montana, called The Minimalists. Since then, I’ve been paring down and honing in on what is essential in my life.


When did your journey to health and wellness begin? How do you incorporate your minimalist lifestyle into the meals you create?

I've been interested in health and wellness for two decades. Our family was fortunate to have my mom shape our eating habits — she's an outstanding cook who always grew a garden and prioritized making delicious healthy meals for us every night. As a kid and teenager I was an athlete, so being fit and healthy became part of my identity. When I entered college, I drifted away from many of my healthier habits. But luckily after a couple of years, I stumbled upon an intro to nutrition course and found my way back to loving wholesome food, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.

The recipes I create at home and for Minimal Wellness focus on simple, real ingredients, and easy preparation methods. I try to decoct healthy eating for people and make it as straightforward yet delicious as possible. The recipes emphasize the essential components of any diet — tons of vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and fruit. The recipes don't require complicated equipment or a pantry full of millions of ingredients, they minimize unnecessary grains (I believe some grains for some people are fine, but the standard American diet places far too great an emphasis on grains), eliminate gluten, and contain as little added sugar as possible.


As a minimalist mom, what has been the biggest challenge of raising a child in minimalist household?

Our daughter is four, so I realize that difficult times might come in the future, but in all honesty, minimalism hasn't posed any direct challenges with parenting — it's only made life raising a child easier. There is far less mess, we have fewer distractions, and we're able to enjoy more time with one another.  Our small issues arise occasionally around gift giving with friends and relatives. We encourage experiential gifts over physical items, but that's not always possible, so we try to be flexible. 


How are you teaching your daughter (Ella) to lead a minimalist lifestyle? 

We lead by example. When she has questions, we talk to her about why we live the way we do and its benefits. We include her. Quarterly, we go through her closet and toys together and discuss the items she uses and the ones she doesn't. She identifies the things she doesn't use or wear and decides what she wants to donate. We don't have friends in town with children younger than Ella, so most of the things she grows out of get donated instead of given to friends. When we do purchase an item, we specifically buy the most durable goods in order to pass them onto someone else when Ella's no longer uses it. 

If I had one recommendation to make to others considering minimalist parenting, it's to eliminate the TV from your home. Ella still watches a few select shows from a tablet, but she's spent her young childhood without the outsized influence of a large light-emitting rectangle on a wall. Not having a TV does a few things for our family, first and most notably is the lack of direct advertising — she simply doesn't see the vast majority of stuff that other kids see and therefore she doesn't ask for it. Second, not having a TV eliminates that large volume of time that adults in the family often choose to watch shows while the children are still awake (Josh and I do occasionally watch something in the late evening), so we have more time together as a family. 


Is Minimalism for everyone?

I think we can all benefit from being intentional about what we purchase and how we spend their time and attention. Our society dictates what we "need" and what we "should" do — it makes sense to question this template and determine for ourselves what we want out of life. Often when we start questioning and searching, we find that we need far less and are happier and more fulfilled by creating our own path.    

Take us a through a day in life of Bex.

5-7am Wake up. I don't use an alarm and I wake up when I'm rested, usually that's after 7-8 hours of sleep. 

7:30-8am Ella wakes up and makes her bed. Then we get her ready for pre-school (get dressed, brush teeth, take vitamins & probiotics, have a snack (usually nuts or a hardboiled egg and some fresh fruit). 

8:30-9am Drop Ella off at pre-school.

9am-5pm Work. I'm fortunate to have a flexible schedule and the ability to work from almost anywhere, but client sessions require privacy, so I usually work from our home office. 

10am Breakfast. My mealtimes aren't set in stone and I let my hunger cues determine when I eat, but these times I list here are pretty typical. I do a type of intermittent fasting that extends the overnight fast to 14-16 hours. This means I usually finish eating for the day before 7pm and don't eat the next morning until somewhere between 9am and 11am. You can read more about my eating pattern here

1:30pm Light lunch or substantial snack.

3pm Workout. Like mealtimes, my exercise time is fluid, I do some type of purposeful movement everyday, but never on a routine. I've been doing at least 15 minutes of daily yoga lately which I enjoy in the early morning as a wakeup or in the late evening before bed. If I do cardio or weight training, that usually happens sometime in the middle of the day.  

5pm Ella home from pre-school.

6pm Dinner

7:30-8:30 Bedtime routine for Ella: a bath with lavender epsom salts, reading, rocking in her rocking chair, sleep by 8:30 at the latest. We're strict with her bedtime and nightly routine. 

8:30-9:30 Unwind time: clean up, get things ready for the next day, make nighttime tea. 

10-11pm Reading and sleep.


When do you feel best in your body?

I feel best about my body when I take care of myself by consuming nourishing food, enjoying frequent movement, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep. For my 35th birthday, I donated my bathroom scale which did far more for my ability to love my body than just about anything else (beyond the four pillars of health I mentioned above) I've ever done. It's always been relatively easy to not let the number on the scale determine my self-image or worth, but the scale had become a mild source of negativity. For the better part of a decade my weight had been stable within a small five pound range. I was used to that range and felt good about my body within that range. I started doing some weight training this year and put on a few pounds of muscle. Although I still felt great in my body and clothes, which has always been my primary barometer of health, seeing a different number on the scale was hard to reconcile. So I got rid of that input. It's not that I deny my weight, I just realized I don't care what my weight is as long as I feel great, which I do. 


What’s your workout routine? And how do you remain motivated? 

Honestly, with the exception of 15 minutes (or more) of daily yoga, I don't have a workout routine. I know I need to exercise to be able to do the things I enjoy in life and to feel the way I want to feel. I want to be able to keep up with Ella and set a good example for her of how we can live healthy lives without feeling compelled to exercise. Removing the obligation from exercise and finding your "why" seems to be the key to being happily active for life. My why is simple, I enjoy being fit. There are many times I don't "feel" like exercising, but as with lots of things, if you wait for the times you're in the mood, it doesn't happen. Sometimes you have to act your way into right thinking, and not not wait for illusive motivation. Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is catchy because it's the distillation of many active people's view of exercise, including mine. I want to be fit, it's important to me, so I exercise.  


How can minimalism help one lead an optimal and healthy life?

We live in a world that profits from confusing health messages. Massive industries — food, healthcare, fitness, even alternative medicine — all have different and often opposing motivations, which unfortunately results in information that is frustratingly conflicted.

Health is not a commodity, but that’s often how it’s treated in modern society.

Applying minimalism to our lifestyles can help us achieve a healthy life in a simpler and more enjoyable way. Filtering out the thousands of conflicting messages helps clarify the path and focus on a simple framework makes a healthy life more tangible, accessible, and achievable. For me that framework is: eat nourishing whole foods, move your body, get sufficient sleep, and manage stress. Focusing on and committing to continual improvement in those four areas of our lifestyles leads to a healthier life.


Balance is the key to healthy living, what are some tips to creating and maintaining balance? 

Indeed, balance and moderation are central to healthy living.  It's important to understand that everyone's balance point is different and will shift over time. What feels balanced to us now won't necessarily be what works in the future. Conversely, what worked in the past won't necessarily lead to balance today. One way we create balance is by understanding that 180 degree changes don't happen overnight — we’re unlikely to be successful with a drastic diet plan, or a very intense exercise routine if it’s significantly different than our current routine. Those enormous shifts are destabilizing and unbalanced. Instead think of change in terms of committing to small and realistic pivots from our current habits —  with time and effort, we end up in a radically different but balanced place, living a beautifully healthy life.

What advice would you give for anyone who wants to become a minimalist? 

My partner, Joshua likes to say minimalism isn't a radical lifestyle, it's a practical lifestyle. Getting rid of the excess in our lives helps us focus on what's truly important and that's different for everyone. For anyone contemplating the minimalist approach to life, understand that it's not really about the stuff, it's about being intentional with all of our resources — money, time, attention — it's about living more deliberately. When I started down this path, I played The Minimalism Game a few months in a row, which ingrained the habit of evaluating the physical items in our home and jettisoning the stuff that wasn't necessary. Since then minimizing been a continual process without an endpoint. I didn't cross a threshold of "having less stuff" and suddenly become a minimalist, it's been an evolution.


What’s next for Minimal Wellness? 

I'm offering a web-based program in October called the 23-Day Priorities Reset. This will be the third "class" of the Priorities Reset and I love coaching these small groups of highly motivated, like-minded people. I also plan to do more writing this fall and am looking forward to seeing where the creative process takes me.


Where can people find you?

Minimalwellness.com is the source for blog posts, recipes, information on coaching services, and my contact information. I'm also active on social media (@minimalwellness), my preferred platform is Instagram, but I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

2018 Top Five Books

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 People that know me, know that I stick to one genre when it comes to my reading, which is fiction. I love my Russian and American Literature, from Steinbeck, Melville, to Dostoevsky, or Nabokov, and all the other greater writers. But in 2017 I found my self experimenting with self helping books (why self-helping book is long story), I read two self-help books and found myself bored and finding every excess in the book to not read them. Based on a advise of a friend I decided to read, the Power of Habit, and absolutely loved it. So I decided to read Smarter, Faster, Better, and eventually Mark Mason's The Subtle Art. Long story short, in the span of two months I read 5 books that really changed how I approach my life, from my career to health. I think these are five books that everyone should read because it will change how you live your life. For those who want change how they are living their life, or are uncertain about their career etc.. reading both Charles Duhigg books can really help you. With that said, please find below my top five books that I read in 2017 and if you're uncertain what to read in 2018, these are great start.

1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good
by Mark Manson

"There is a subtle art to not giving a fuck. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an asshole, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively – how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values. This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life."

2.Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

“No one can predict tomorrow with absolute confidence. But the mistake some people make is trying to avoid making any predictions because their thirst for certainty is so strong and their fear of doubt too overwhelming. If”

“When we start a new task, or confront an unpleasant chore, we should take a moment to ask ourselves "why.”

3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

“The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can't extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it."

“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

4.The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it's no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”

5. Woman Code: Perfect Your Cycle by Alisa Vitti

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Good Food for Good Mood

Photo by:  @leefromamerica

Photo by: @leefromamerica

What if I told you that we’re going to spend the next little while talking about blood sugar management and how what we consume in a given day makes that blood sugar spike and drop? How excited would you be on a scale of 1-10? Probably about a zero, right?

But what if I told you that we’re going to talk about mood balance, stable energy, and better sleeps? Now you’re listening, right?

A little about me: I’m a Holistic Nutritionist practicing and loving life living in Guelph Ontario.  But before getting into the world of natural health, a few years ago, I started to develop some health problems.  Most of them physical in nature: skin rashes, hair started to fall out in chunks, acne on my face and back, and fatigued and sick all the time.  I would go to doctors only to be told that all my test results were “normal” and that I was okay. But the reality was, I didn’t feeeeel okay. Eventually, I discovered natural medicine and went to go see a Naturopathic Doctor.  Let me tell you, after a couple of months of sticking to a specific diet protocol to strengthen my gut, my physical symptoms started to disappear. But even better, my mood started to change: I was hardly ever cranky pants, and I had energy that was more stable throughout the day with no dips and crashes.  These were all side effects that I didn’t expect, because I had sought help mostly for the hair and skin stuff.  From there, I started to discover the amazing power that food can have on our bodies: both healing and destructive, depending on what we’re putting in it.  I was so fascinated by my own experience and healing journey that I decided to quit my full-time job as a Child and Youth Program Supervisor to pursuit Holistic Nutrition full time.  I absolutely fell in love with the concept that we are not just physical beings and we need to address the mental, emotional and spiritual side as well in the healing process, and that finding the root cause of an issue is key, so that we don’t continue to treat symptoms and patch things up with band aids left right and centre!  And here I am now, as a Holistic Nutritionist, and always always still learning and loving it all!

Let’s Start from the Top

So let’s talk about food. There’s a common notion that we need to eat constantly throughout the day in order to keep our metabolism active.  Well, in my opinion, that doesn’t have to be entirely true. Here’s what we’re going to do: I’m going to tell you about how blood sugar works, and you can make your own conclusions.  Here we go…

Whenever we eat anything throughout the day, blood sugar levels go up, and a few hours later, they go back down again because the food that we consumed is passing through our system.  The cycle continues like this for as many times as we consume anything throughout the day.  Blood sugar is a measure of how much glucose(or sugar) is in our blood due to the consumption of carbohydrate foods(anything from veggies, fruits, to grains, breads, and pastries).  Ps. I promise, this is as sciencey as I’m going to get…just bare with me here!

So let’s imagine that we woke up in the morning and decided to have a nice fresh, blueberry muffin for breakfast.  Because a muffin is predominantly a carbohydrate food, blood sugar levels will increase super quickly after consumption.  As a response to that, the body releases a hormone called insulin.  Insulin’s job is to partner up with all the little glucose guys, and help them to get in to the cells. They want to get into the cells as fast as possible, because ultimately the cells are using that sugar to give us energy!  But in the case of the muffin for breakfast, it was WAY too much sugar in comparison to the other nutrients, so the body freaks out and releases WAY too much insulin to pair up with that glucose and get it out of the blood stream.  The body is in a state of major stress at this point.  So because there was just tons and tons of insulin released, the blood sugar doesn’t gradually go down and enter the cells the way it’s supposed to, but instead, it comes crashing down.  When it crashes down below the level that we need to function, the body once again freaks out and is in a major state of stress again.  

At that point, the body releases a bunch of stress hormones that send a signal to the brain to crave more sugar.  Seems kind of odd, right? But think about it this way: the body is stressed out, as if it’s being attacked by a bear.  The only way it can think of to get the blood sugar back up to normal levels is to send a signal to crave more sugar.  And thus, the cycle continues in this way throughout the day, with constant cravings and loads of internal stress as the body deals with this.  Now think about this: what’s the result on our mood as all of this is happening on the inside? Probably not great, especially during the crashing phase.  And often times, if we’re eating in this way later in the day, it starts to affect our sleep with all of these dips and crashes happening through the night. 

So what are we supposed to do? Obviously stop eating blueberry muffins forever! Totally kidding! I love blueberry muffins! 

The Ideal Plate

The key is to make sure each meal is balanced with appropriate amounts of proteins, healthy fats, fibre from green veggies, and carbohydrates with less of a sugar content(low on the glycemic index).  An ideal plate composition for blood sugar management should consist of:

1/8 protein source: organic chicken, grass-fed beef, fish, nuts and seeds(especially pumpkin seeds), lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, and raw cheeses. ** note: some vegan sources of protein also contain carbohydrates, so we have to be careful with how much we consume. 

1/8 carbohydrates: **and here’s where we’re going to choose the sources with less of an effect on blood sugar as often as possible: sweet potatoes, brown rice, lentil or black bean pasta, whole grain breads(not whole wheat), chickpeas, apples, peaches, cantaloupe, berries(especially blueberries). 

¾ green leafy veggies: **these foods have little to know effect on blood sugar, so you want to load up on these guys: kale(cooked or raw massaged with sea salt and olive oil), romaine lettuce, collard leaves, parsley, cilantro, broccoli, etc. 

1 Tbsp of a healthy oil(or ½ an avocado): **healthy fats in our diet also help to prevent that crash from happening and they keep our cells nice and round and ready to receive the pair of glucose and insulin when they want to enter.  Try pouring a little flax oil, hemp oil, olive oil, or walnut oil over top of your cooked or raw food(you don’t want to cook with these oils because they will go rancid at high temps).  If you are going to be cooking your food, try coconut oil(for 350F or less) or avocado oil for temperatures up to 400F. 

Going back to the Beginning

So, let’s go back to the original question: is it good for our metabolism and our bodies to be constantly eating throughout the day?  Or is it more of a quality over quantity type thing?  I’ll leave that up to you to decide what works for your body.  Think about it this way though: every time we eat, it’s another opportunity for our bodies to release insulin.  There are a lot of health concerns, including diabetes that result from insulin resistance: meaning that our cells just become resistant to the signal and sugar can’t properly get out of the blood stream and into the cells the way it’s supposed to.  So perhaps a minimalist approach to how often we eat is best here. What I do to manage my blood sugar is I make sure that each meal is balanced with proteins, healthy fats and fibre, enough to keep me full and satisfied mentally and physically for at least 4 hours.  When a given meal doesn’t provide that satisfaction for that amount of time, I know that something in that proportion was missing.  Maybe not enough protein. Maybe too little healthy fats.  Either way, I want to make sure that those proportions are balanced for my body’s needs so that my body doesn’t have to keep releasing insulin over and over again, creating more of a potential to become resistant.  Makes sense, right?

Ultimately though, it’s your body and you will learn to listen to the cues it’s giving you.  I’m not here to tell you what to eat and when to eat, but instead, I want to encourage you to listen to the signals your body is giving you.  Did the food I just ate make me feel energized, or drowsy? Do I feel full and satisfied after this meal? Do I have physical symptoms of gas, bloating or constipation when I eat certain foods? Ask yourself and see what works for you.   

Connect with me on Instagram or Facebook @healthybymarjan to get all my healthy and balanced lifestyle tips.  I’m always up to chat about food and health!

Happy eating and living everyone! J

post by: @healthybymarjan

Mother's Day from Abroad

Photo/posts: Ana Steinberg

Photo/posts: Ana Steinberg

What a better topic for my inaugural post at The Minimalist Yogi than one of my favourite things on earth? Ma mom. My mom is a fantastic, devoted mother; she’s my best friend, and one of my biggest role models. She is hilarious, stylish, creative, caring and sensitive (all qualities I like to mention so I can then humble brag about having inherited). She is witty and always the life of the party, and I actually just straight up like her as a human. If I met her out in the real world I would want to be her friend, and I think that’s pretty damn sweet.

Another thing about this lady is that she’s best gift giver and incredibly generous, and she instilled this attitude in me without even realizing. It’s important for her to make everyone else feel wonderful on their big days. I see how happy she makes her friends, her family, myself - and since a very young age, I internalized this behaviour. I learned to enjoy being the person making a kind, loving gesture to those that mattered. I wanted to be able to give back, and she was one of my first victims. The gesture? Making her pancakes on Mother’s Day. I particularly recall this day. I had a family friend teach me how to make them the week before. For that Sunday, I was so nervous to mess up that I set the alarm at 5 am to start preparing said breakfast. Unfortunately, I didn’t nearly mess up as much as I though I would and had a whole batch of pancakes, orange juice and fruit served by a quarter to six. I did feel bad about the fact that it was too early for just a little bit. But the pride of my achievement blinded me with excitement and realizing that the pancakes were cooling down rearranged my priorities, so of course, I woke my parents up and brought it to their bed. I mean who needs sleep anyway? As an adult I now know the best gift I could have given her was rest, I want to cry at the thought of a child waking me up on a Sunday at 5:45 am. But motherhood is rough I’ve heard.  

The one bummer in this whole love story is that my mom and I now live about 3000 miles away. Gladly we live in a time where distance is shorted significantly by the blessings of technology, and we still pretty much live attached at the hip. But then special days come around, and not being able to be there is not great. Still, we always make sure to be there for each other on these big days. So to celebrate the woman I love the most, I’m going to share my top tried and tested ideas on how to pamper your mommas across the world. I mean, you gotta figure out something to make up for not being able to wake her up with cold pancakes before the sun even rises.

Send flowers, it’s a simple but powerful gesture. Many florists take online orders and though it typically requires a little planning ahead, you may be able to score a nice arrangement the day of. If she has a favourite kind of flower go for it. If not, carnations are said to be the traditional flower to gift on Mother’s Day, but it’s also the perfect season for some tulips, and you can never go wrong with light coloured roses or a beautiful orchid.

Have her favourite dessert delivered. This surprise is a lovely treat. Call up her favourite bakery or pastry shop and check for delivery options. If nothing is available it’s also okay to enlist a local. I had my best friend do this for me once, picking up the dessert and dropping it off at our place. Needless to say my mom thought it was the sweetest, pun intended.   

Leave a gift hidden in the house. This is an option for whenever you get a chance to go home next. For her first birthday since I moved to Canada, I left notes and gifts hidden throughout the house in places I knew she would never check. Then, on the day of I had her find them one by one. Keeping the secret of the gift can be rough, but it’s worth it.

Have an activity skype date. I absolutely love doing this! We’re big on talking on the phone, so sometimes weeks or even months go by without sitting down in front of the screen and actually seeing each other. It’s crazy because we could be speaking daily but then getting to chat face-to-face is always exciting. Set a date, grab a glass of wine, and get up to something you’ve both been meaning to do. It can be your own version of paint night, book club, or DIYing. We once made terrariums together and let me tell you wine and cacti don’t necessarily mix but it was cute and hilarious.

Book a spa for her. You know she deserves a little time off. Major spas offer gift cards and you can make sure to send one her way. Have her book the massage for herself or wait for the next time you’re in town to go together: win-win.

Send her this little article about famous women talking about their moms and add your own contribution.

Just call and say you love her. It matters.


To all the great moms out there happy mother’s day, you rock. And to my mom: te amo mami! Feliz día de la madre!

 

Let's Chat About Menstrual Cups

By now I am sure most people have read, watch or heard something about this ubiquitous thing called menstrual cup.

In our daily life we spend so much thinking about what we put on our face, skin, hair, our food and what we wear - yet little attention is often given to product to handle our period. Such as much it cost or what toxic chemicals are used in the product. We all know about the toxic materials that are used in tampons and the risk with using tampons because Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), and chances are you've heard of horror stories of women getting TSS, yet the majority of the population appears to not give it a second thought.

Am not stranger to use tampons and like many despite hearing and reading the horror stories of women getting TSS I continue to ignore and continued with my use of tampons. Seven months ago I decided to try this menstrual cup that every environmentalist seem to be talking about. Since I am all about using natural and/or organic products I think menstrual supplies are one of the final frontiers of the eco-and body friendly product movement.

Menstrual cups are a reusable bell-shaped cup of medical graded silicone that holds menses, instead of absorbing it. Instead of throwing it out once it is full, one simply pours out the content (blood) - when inserted right, the cup circular rims forms to your body by suctioning to the vaginal wall - so it leaks less than a tampon (Yay!! to no leakage). When you're done your period you can clean it by boiling it.   

If you're squeamish about blood, menstrual cup might be something that you should avoid and stick to other non-toxin menstrual products because the menstrual cup requires a lot of contact with your period than you would typically have with using a simple tampon. But my experience with menstrual cup has been very positive and somewhat empowering at the same time. Aside from the embarrassing story of being drunk while empty my menstrual cup, only to have the cup fall in the toilet and then using my beforehand to get it out, wash it and then use it (I know, pretty gross) - aside from that I have no complains with using it.

While my experience has been extremely positive with using menstrual cup, it is important to recognize that it is not for everyone because we are all shaped differently. After having read a number of articles on this it seems that most women who have used it find that their cramps are more menaeable with a cup than with tampons. I can testify to this fact. Yes, changing the cup can be a little messy and if you're drunk it's even ten times messier. Whereas getting the cup in right is another challenge. But with all its challenges and the blood messy scenes that you are bound to experience, it beats having to purchase a box of tampon every one or two months. Having to purchase one product that only needs to be replaced every few years seems like a good deal to me. The major brands of menstrual cups include DivaCup, MoonCup, Softcup and Lunette - I've been using the DivaCup and I absolutely love it and cannot speak to the efficiency of the brands.

With that being said, here are my top four reasons why you should consider trying the menstrual cup next times aunt flow comes to town.  Before going ahead of purchasing it I strongly recommend doing further research and if you are dreading the process of having to insert it, there are number of YouTube videos on how to insert it.

Save that Money ($$)

In the long run menstrual cups are more economically efficient than disposable one; in the long run a user will save money by using a menstrual cup. Considering that a menstrual cup cost ($30 USD) a year will cost you much less than a box of tampons or pad each month.

Decrease chances of TSS

The health benefit of menstrual cups are significant from less extreme cramps to decrease chances of getting TSS.

Convenience

If you hate changing your tampons, menstrual cup is your dream product because you only have to change it two or three times a day and it's a leaked-proof all night, allowing you to enjoy your sleep without worrying about any leakage

Environmental sustainability

Save earth one cycle at a time, since menstrual cup are reusable they can help to reduce waste. Some disposable sanitary napkins and plastic tampon applicators can take 25 years to break down in the ocean and can cause a significant environmental impact. So why even bother right.

Should You Take Nutrition Supplements?

The question of whether to take nutrition supplement is no-brainer for most vegan, or vegetarian - when I decided to become vegetarian and an uncommitted vegan I did little research regarding taking supplements. This is due in large part because of lack of research prior to becoming vegetarian and on the other hand driven by my unwillingness to taking medicines that seems unnecessary when I can obtain the nutrition from fruits or vegetables.

Over the years I’ve had physics recommend I take supplements, particularly for my low iron level - while I respected their opinion since they are the expert, it only lasted for two to three months, and I usually stop taking it. 

I always thought it was unnecessary because I eat enough fruits, vegetable, got decent exposure to the sun, get my 6-7 hours of sleep every night, stay well hydrated and workout often - so the idea of taking supplements seemed like a waste of money, and unnecessary. However, last year while training for another half marathon I found my self experiencing sharp pain in my chest while breathing, whether I was running or stop running, I had difficulty breathing constantly, and some days it felt like I had rib fracture, or someone was stepping on my chest , while I am trying to breath. At first i took it as sign of over training, so I took few weeks off. However, the symptoms continued. After much thinking, I decided to go see a doctor about it - after a number of breathing test, they could not figure out what was wrong with me. So they sent me to get a chest x-ray and blood tested. After few days of waiting, I finally heard back - and to my surpriseall my sympathies were caused by the lack of B12, iron and others nutrition that I am lacking my diet. 

Against my belief and values I realizes that I needed to try and help myself as much as as I can . So, against my strong belief on taking medicine for nutrition that you can find in fruits or vegetables I decided to take supplements again. From Omega-3, vitamins B12, calcium, to Zinc. Whether the supplement are working is open to question, I guess I won’t know until i start training again. Despitetake supplements again I am still of the belief thata whole-food, planet-based diet can easily meets all the daily nutrient requirement, provided you plan your diet out and consume the necessary greens on a daily basis to make up for the deficit - one of my biggest mistake is that I sometimes don't consume as much as an average person, so it's natural that I find some weeks where I might consume food that may not have the necessary nutrition.

So, should you take supplement? this is a question that I cannot answer or give you a justification - The first thing to ask yourself is whether you need them in the first place. I also recommend consult with your physician before taking any supplement because if you take the wrong one it can have adverse impact to your health. If you are planning on changing your diet by becoming vegetarian or vegan make sure to consult your physician and have a discussion on how to supplement for the missing nutrition that your diet will be depriving you of. Your diet should not cause you more harm, so make sure to do your research before deciding to take any supplement, but most importantly make sure to get an expert opinion.