Monday, March 29, 2010

What Would Jesus Do?

I am not very religious. I have my own special blend of spirituality but it doesn’t really fall under any organized religion. This however, has never stopped me from celebrating all major Christian holidays, and Easter is one of them.

I love ham and chocolate and parties and the Easter bunny. I love dyeing eggs and then hunting for them. I love Martha Stewart’s crafts for Easter specials. (I am aware that those really have nothing to do with the origins of Easter but I love them anyway.) I realized as I was putting the finishing touches on my “eggs disguised as bunnies and chicks” centerpiece that I have no idea why people celebrate Easter. I immediately asked my good friend Mimi. Mimi, who despite being devoutly Catholic, I still love tremendously, and even more amazing is that despite me being devoutly confused, she loves me tremendously too. Anyway she sent me back an email explaining Easter to me.

Turns out (as many of you will already know) that according to the Christians it is the day everyone realized that Jesus had gone ahead and done what he said he would. He rose from the dead in order that we would all be forgiven for our sins. As Mimi so eloquently put it, “he took a big one for the team”. I think that might be the best way to put it. That being said, it seemed like this week should be the week to forgive. I mean Jesus made it possible for all of us to be forgiven so maybe we could do a little helping out with the giant task and forgive a little too. Even if you don’t celebrate Easter or you are an atheist/agnostic/Muslim/Buddhist or other Religion that I have not mentioned you could still benefit from forgiveness.

Have you ever held a grudge so long that it actually made your chest hurt? Or been so mad that it consumed your thoughts and you couldn’t concentrate on anything else? Have you ever avoided situations or experiences because someone you were mad at might have been there? Have you ever messed up on something and felt unable to let yourself off? Have you ever stayed mad at yourself or someone else for so long that you ended up forgetting why you were mad in the first place? I have. I have been so mad that I felt the anger rising up in my chest and it actually felt like I might explode. I have messed up so many times, on a test, on a diet, on a deadline and then I have beaten myself up until I felt completely deflated and depressed and upset. How many of you know that feeling?

In every situation when I felt mad, or angry, or regretful or distraught, me holding onto that emotion didn’t do anybody a lick of good. You know what it did? It made me feel worse, though I didn’t always know it at the time. When an ex broke my heart and I sat crying for days, I was ecstatic the moment the anger kicked in and I finally stopped sniffling. The anger felt so much better than the sad. Little did I know how good it was going to feel when I finally forgave him. That was the moment when my chest let go and I realized that I hadn’t been using my lungs to their full capacity. Breathing tends to be much easier when you aren’t upset.

This whole forgiveness thing works really well with small petty stuff too. If someone cuts you off on the highway, you could spend the rest of your commute cursing the heavens, or you could relax, put on some tunes and say to yourself, “it’s cool, mistakes happen, I forgive you green Honda with the WWJD bumper sticker.”

Because that is exactly what Jesus would do.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sweet Dreams

A girlfriend and I went out for a drink last weekend and she looked amazing; she was peppy and bright and the color in her cheeks was lovely. I commented on her glowing appearance and inquired what might be the reason.

“I slept and ate ice cream for a week and I feel great, the definition in my arms is better and I have lost weight.”

I know, I know, calm down ladies. I mean who does she think she is eating ice cream and sleeping and losing weight? Why the absolute cheek of her, right?

Wrong. Without sleep we will never achieve the results we want.

When we are emotionally or physically stressed our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. When we haven’t slept this hormone is released in double. Cortisol will make us feel hungry even if we are full so that means sleepy people may eat more.

The more sleep you lose the more “deep” sleep you lose. The deep part of our sleep is what restores our energy levels and increases our growth hormone levels. Without this growth hormone our bodies reduce their ability to lose fat and gain muscle.

A lack of sleep can also lead to a slower metabolism. That statement alone makes me want to crawl back into Bedforshire. If our bodies are not getting enough sleep they will begin to have trouble metabolizing sugars, which leads to a higher storage of fat and increased insulin levels.

Lastly, sleep as we all know gives us energy, the less energy you have the less you are going to accomplish and the fewer calories you are going to burn. Without sleep, weight loss and muscle gain are much, much harder. Plus, as mentioned above, it makes your eyes clear and your skin glow and it’s FREE!

The body needs about 7-9 hours of sleep a night but some rare folks only need about 5. If you feel drowsy during the day then you are probably not getting enough sleep.

I know it is difficult in our busy and hectic lives to get enough sleep but as mentioned above, it is necessary. Stop thinking about the endless and overwhelming things you have to do. They will be there in the morning, and your increased energy level will make them easier to accomplish. Trust me.

Put the book down, turn off the T.V., clear your mind of the days stresses and think about something that makes you smile. Now close your eyes, sink into your pillow and have the sweetest dreamings.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

The Fountain of Youth

As I write this I am sick in bed with the flu. Yuck is right. Luckily because I have so much love in my life I have been getting texts and calls asking about my health and offering to bring me soup and water and juice. Fluids they say. Fluids and sleep: that’s how you’ll get better. Well fluids and sleep isn’t just for us sickies. It’s what keeps the sick away when you’re well. And since it was not so very long ago that I impressed upon you the glorious goodness of a little shut-eye, today I will be giving my full attention to water. What with all the energy drinks and gator/power-ade, drink this and you will be stronger, more powerful and more liked by your peers water supplements, plain old water can sometimes get pushed off to the sidelines. Let’s bring water back to the game where it belongs. Read on to learn of all the things that water can do for you.

Water is essential for life. I am sure you knew that but did you know that a person could survive for up to 60 days without food, but only 10-18 days without water? And those people who can survive 18 days are few and far between. I bet I wouldn’t last a week. Water is what we are made of. It is our life force. It can actually heal you. Who hasn’t come home after a long day and felt better after a hot shower or bath? It does the same relaxing and healing things for our insides. It regulates body temperature, removes toxins and wastes, cushions and lubricates joints, decreases the risk of kidney stones, protects tissues, organs and the spinal cord from shock and damage.

It keeps us from getting tired and helps make our skin radiant. It curbs our appetite and keeps us from binging. Plus, get this; it has absolutely no calories. What else is such goodness?

Many people substitute a sports drink or juice for water but they are usually filled with sugar and in my expert opinion, not as good as plain old-fashioned H2O. Even the flavored waters that are nothing but water and “natural flavor extract” are not as good as water. If there is an ingredient list on your water bottle, then you are better off with just water.

The original reason that sports drinks were invented was so that high endurance athletes could get a quick burst of fuel/recharge/energy in order to keep going or replenish what they have lost. Same goes for energy bars by the way. Are you doing any high endurance exercising? If you answered yes, then by all means, have a little Gatorade during your workout, other wise my friends, you are going to be just fine with the original thirst quencher and your regular meals.

I know it is cliché but I keep a water bottle with me at most times and I drink out of it constantly. When I am on the bus, walking home, at the coffee shop, I drink. When I am window-shopping or actual shopping, I drink. Today at the supermarket I held a water bottle in my hand as I pushed my cart along the aisles. Not only did I end up finishing 1/2 a liter, it also kept me from wanting to rip open the trail mix while I shopped.

I know that the recommended 8 glasses of water can be pretty intimidating if water ain’t your thing and so I propose to start slow. Today simply pay attention to your water intake? Did you have one glass, two? Did you have any at all? Now tomorrow simply add one on. There you go, already well on your way to a more vibrant life. How about on Thursday you add one more, you could add it on in addition to your other drinks or you could be really crazy and replace a regular drink with water. Do you need a diet coke/2nd cup of Joe/wine/glass of juice? Try the water first. If you still want the wine, tuck in and feel good that your water intake is rising.

If you absolutely detest the non-taste of water and you simply cannot drink any more, please, before you run to the vending machine, try my soon to be patented drinking technique.

Put a straw in the glass and get it over with. It goes faster with a straw. Hell, why not do it twice.

The fountain of youth does in fact exist, and you can drink from it every day.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Courage Under Fire

I am uber inspired by my boyfriend right now. He has recently begun the process of opening up his own bicycle shop. Well recently is an understatement; he has been working at it for a couple years and the grand opening is in only a couple weeks. As anyone who has his or her own business knows, it’s a bit scary. It’s always a risk but it’s a risk worth taking because it’s your dream, your company, and your livelihood. I have immense amounts of respect for people, the BF especially, who are willing to follow their dreams like that and take a risk. It reminds me of something Eleanor Roosevelt said,

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.

I think Eleanor was really onto something with her whole, do something that scares you attitude. It’s good for the soul to face your fears and then overcome them. It’s also good for the body to overcome obstacles that the mind thinks it cannot do.

Pushing yourself to exercise in a way you may not have thought possible is scary. Exercise, even something as simple as walking is a little scary. It’s not scary like, “oh my goodness, I could be mugged or break my leg” but it can still freak you out, because it’s hard. The very nature of exercise is about doing something that’s difficult. Even when you get good at something, you are supposed to make it harder in order to progress. When you can walk a mile, you are supposed to try and walk a mile and half. When you can bicep curl 5 lbs, it is suggested that you try 6. The idea is to do it enough that it becomes easier and then to make it harder. That’s scary. When you are walking up a hill and it seems like you might not make it, that is looking fear in the face. When you power through it and you make it up that hill and you realize that you did it, that is what Eleanor was talking about. Doing that which we think we cannot.

What do you think you can’t do? For me, it is running. I have been procrastinating out of fear all month because I don’t want to go for a run. I signed up for a race on April 19th and I am supposed to run that race and I am scared. I haven’t been practicing because I am afraid that I won’t be able to do it: that I will get out of breath, or my muscles will be sore or it will hurt, so instead I just don’t run. This week I am going to face that fear. I am making all of you my witnesses and I am going to start running.

I want you to face your fears too. I am not suggesting that you go crazy here. I do not think that if you have been walking a mile once a week for three months that you should put on your sneakers and go for a run. Nor do I think that it is a good idea to do any kind of weight lifting exercise you have never done before with a weight you have never used. If you are doing bicep curls and you’re not challenged, then by all means, up the weight a little. If you have no idea what a dead lift is, then please don’t try it with weights. First learn how to do it and let that be the scary thing this week. Maybe your scary thing is asking a trainer at your gym for help. Or maybe it’s going to a class you have never been to before but have been eyeballing in the catalogue for months. Maybe you should try a new walking route, a longer one. Take a yoga class, buy a fitness magazine and do the suggested workout. Push yourself a little even if it scares you. Your body was meant for this. It is strong and capable and amazing and it deserves a little fear every now and then. That’s the only way it can eventually overcome its’ fear and grow stronger, more courageous and more confident!

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brain Fit

I am constantly talking about exercising your body and so today I am going to ask you to exercise your mind. We are going to start right now. Everyone reading this I want you to switch the mouse over into your non-dominant hand. For the next few minutes while you read this, and then hopefully for a few minutes after I want you to use that hand to steer your mouse. Feels weird doesn’t it? Not quite the same as going for a walk but just as healthy: healthy for the brain.

All this stuff that I write about every week, is provided to help you move towards a healthier and happier life. Therefore I couldn’t possibly leave out the most important piece of the puzzle, the brain. Our brain is what makes us who we are, what we think and how we do and think the things we think and do. It is so amazing and powerful and special, it really should have it’s own holiday. I mean, come on, if you really think about it, it’s almost incomprehensible. The thinking about the brain that you are doing right now, you are doing with your brain and you don’t even realize you’re doing it. The motivation you have to be healthy (or not) and work out all comes from your brain, the motor skills you are using to scroll down the page with your un-dominant hand is all your brain! When you look out the window and see our beautiful city of San Francisco, it is because your eyes sent a message to your brain letting you see it. Your brain organizes and balances all of the information going on around you and helps to keep you from being over-whelmed. The brain controls your impulses and moods, happiness and excitement, it’s all in that little 2 and a half pound piece of fat and protein. Man, the brain kicks butt!

Ok, so now I have clued you in to what the brain is capable of but were you aware that in order for it to fulfill all these wonderful functions it needs help from you? I know there is nothing for free anymore.

Ok, get this, in order for you to receive all the benefits of a healthy brain: increased memory, cognitive functioning, quicker reaction times, deeper creativity, advanced sensory awareness and many more, all you have to do is eat healthy, breath deeply and exercise. Who knew it could be so simple?

The brain needs fats, proteins, carbohydrates and micronutrients in order to function. Essentially, fats build your brain helping you to think and feel. Proteins unite it, making the neurotransmitters that communicate with the rest of the body. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, and micronutrients defend it.

Does that mean that because French fries are full of fat I am helping to build brain function?

No. Unfortunately the fat found in fast food French fries and many of the other foods we eat today are full of trans fats. Trans fats disrupt brain communication and can lead to cell death, loss of brain flexibility and diminished brain function. Yuck! Does there need to be a better reason for staying away from processed foods?

Just like our bodies we need healthy foods in order to stay healthy and the same goes for exercise. The brain needs to be exercised in order to stay healthy. Unfortunately there is no machine in the gym for the brain but if you were to change up your routine or take a new exercise class you would be killing two birds with one stone. Stimulating your mind to work in ways it isn’t accustomed to will help build it’s strength. Reading, learning, puzzles and games all help to stimulate the brain. Travel stimulates the brain because it takes you out of your routine and your normal life. In order to travel you need to experience new things and in doing so you are working out your brain. Walking also happens to increase your brain function! Now I know that some of you might think I am just throwing this one in there to promote the walking group but I swear to you, I cannot tell a lie. Don’t quote me, quote UCSF,

“When the cognitive abilities of elderly women were compared, those who walked regularly were less likely to experience age-related memory loss and other declines in mental function. University of California at San Francisco researchers measured the brain function of nearly 6,000 women during an eight-year period. The results were correlated with the women's normal activity level, including their routine walking and stair climbing. "In the higher-energy groups, we saw much less cognitive decline," said neurologist Kristine Yaffe, MD. Of the women who walked the least (a half-mile per week), 24% had significant declines in their test scores, compared to only 17% of the most active women (17 miles per week). It wasn't a matter of all or nothing. "We also found that for every extra mile walked per week there was a 13% less chance of cognitive decline," said Yaffe, who is Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center. "So you don't need to be running marathons. The exciting thing is there was a 'dose' relationship, which showed that even a little, is good but more is better. “In the higher-energy groups, we saw much less cognitive decline" – a protective effect amounting to as much as 40% – according to Yaffe. "This is an important intervention that all of us can do and it could have huge implications in preventing cognitive decline."”

What that means if you (like me) speak English and not Scientist is, “Walking rocks for your brain! It even rocks if you can only do a little of it, so whether it’s 20 minutes or 5, your brain is loving it!”

This week I would like everyone to take good care of his or her brains. That means you should be eating healthy, walking and partaking in exercises that challenge and engage you. Try doing a crossword puzzle. If you are already a Sunday Times wiz, try sudoku. Brush your teethe with your eyes closed, turn off the T.V. and read a book, explore a new neighborhood, learn a new word or if you have some free time at your computer try some of these brain games from Word bubbles is my personal favorite.

May your hearts be healthy, your legs be strong and your brains be big!

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you live

Biggest Fan

I am blessed with some of the mot wonderful friends in the world. I feel so lucky and I am in constant awe of how amazing they are. Why just this past weekend I went out of town with my BFF to celebrate 25 years of friendship. There was a moment when we were getting ready to go out to dinner that we both started gushing over each other. “Wow, your arms look so amazing”, she said. I love the way that shirt shows off your back”, I said. “You are so good at putting on make-up, will you show me how?” Your legs look fantastic in those shoes, have you been doing calf raises?” “Wow, I love your skirt…your hair looks absolutely stunning…you are a goddess in every way!” Ok, maybe we didn’t get quite that mushy but you get the idea. All weekend we were constantly pushing the other one up, showing off each other’s best attributes. It was a great weekend for the ego that’s for sure.

Or so I thought.

How come when someone tells us something good about ourselves we say thank you, have a moment of elation and then promptly forget it, but the moment someone says something negative we ruminate on it for days, weeks or even years?

I have an ex boyfriend who used to tell me I was too sensitive. Every time I gushed over a sappy movie or cried during a Hallmark commercial, he would roll his eyes and say, “Here come the waterworks, jeez you’re so sensitive.” In his defense, he’s right, I am sensitive and I let him convince me that my sensitivity is a bad thing. How come his negative comments didn’t roll off me like all the times he told me I was intelligent, witty, or beautiful? I have moments of pause every time I start to cry and I am sure it is because I still have feelings locked away telling me it’s a negative emotion. He told me I was sexy and beautiful all the time too, probably more than he told me I was sensitive and yet I don’t wake up every morning and say, “Wow! I am smokin’ hot!”

I would bet that everyone has something negative they ruminate on, something that a friend, lover, enemy or society told you is bad. And I would also bet that there are a million things that friends, lovers or society have said that are good about you. This week I would like everyone to ruminate on the good.

When someone compliments you on your presentation. Swim in it, soak it up like sunshine and then write it down “My presentation was spectacular.” Say it over and over to your self all day and all week. When the kids like the dinner you made, jump for joy, pat yourself on the back and repeat it constantly in your head. “I rock, I make a freaking awesome tuna casserole!” When your loved one tells you that he/she likes your outfit, relish it. Swirl it around in your head and love it. Take the good and make it as big as we often times make the bad. I don’t care if it’s something good about the way you look, the jokes you told, the work you did, the grocery item you remembered, the dry cleaning you picked up, the conference you aced, the sparkle in your eyes, the big grin on your face, anything!

It doesn’t necessarily have to be something someone says to you either. We all have unconscious beliefs about how “good” we are based on societies beliefs. I know many a woman who thinks her body isn’t great because of something she learned at the movies. Find something society does praise and ruminate on it! You have the power to think good things about yourself. Just keep focusing on the positive. Shout it from the rooftops, sing it in the shower, stare at yourself in the mirror and praise your straight teethe or your long fingers. Write your ambition a love letter. Compose a sonnet for your math skills, gloat about your speedy typing skills, whatever. If you ruminate, it will grow. And the more it grows, the less room you will have for feeing bad about your sensitivity (or whatever yours happens to be).

Be your own biggest fan!

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you live

My Life is my Workout

Recently I have become unbelievably busy. I felt like I was already a pretty busy lady, but it turns out I didn’t really know what busy meant. I even had to arrange a girlfriend to give me a lift to school so we could hang out in the car. During said car ride, my girlfriend said to me, “This is great Sarah, now you are in the same boat as all your clients, it’s your turn to see how easy it is to work out every day.” Sometimes this friend drives me crazy with her truths but this time, I had to concur. Turns out I am in the same boat as many of the people I work with; I am tired, stressed out, overworked, underpaid, sleep deprived, hungry and without even a shred of motivation to work out in the evenings. Sound familiar?

Well guess what? I have found a solution and I invite you all to join me. Get ready for it: I am making my life my workout.

Who ever said that working out has to be in a gym, in certain clothes, with a certain kind of music and a certain kind of energy? A workout is anything that gets you in your body, and gets you moving. Sure it’s great to go to a spin class or run in the park or lift weights in the gym but some weeks that just isn’t gonna happen, and you are doing yourself no good sitting around and whining about it. I certainly wasn’t doing me any good.

I know that right about now you are wondering whether the rest of this article is going to consist of me imploring you to take the stairs and yes, that is part of it, but it is so much more than just the stairs. First you have to want it. That’s that hardest part, it’s way harder than just parking farther away or doing push-ups during commercial breaks. Think about how difficult it is to get to the gym, it’s going to be just as hard to garner up the moxie to do squats in the elevator, but if you’re struggling with time, then you best get over that real quick. In the good old days (thousands of years ago) people didn’t workout, they lived and life made them fit. Take example from your ancestors and join me in making your life your workout.

The following are a list of little habits that can build up to make a big difference.

Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier and stretch in bed before you wake up. Hug your knees, drop them side to side, hold behind your legs and try to straighten them, roll over and cat/cow etc, etc. The list is endless. If it feels good, do it. Get the blood moving in the morning. Here is a link to get you started.,0,0

While brushing your teeth, stand on one foot, practicing your balance.
Lower yourself slowly onto the toilet, pressing through your heels. If you are in a public toilet and don’t want to sit down, then lift your arms, tighten your core and hold in the yoga pose, uttkatasana (chair pose).

Take the stairs EVERYWHERE. At the MUNI station, the BART station, the mall, the movies and the office. It’s been said before, because it works. The reason you hate walking up stairs is because it’s hard. It’s hard because you don’t do it. If you did it more, it would get easier and you would get fitter.

Walk everywhere and anywhere you can. Walk to work, walk to get coffee, walk to drop off the dry-cleaning, walk to the restaurant. Try and add it in whenever you can.

Drink water all day long so you have to pee lots and are forced to WALK to the bathroom and SQUAT over the loo.

Offer to restock the copy paper in your office. Walk to the storage room and use proper lifting technique to make trips with stacks of paper.

Don’t bring all your groceries into the house in one trip. Walk or jog back to the car and take one bag at a time, lifting slowly and using your muscles.

Use cues. Every time I see a red car, I remind myself to drop my shoulders, stand up tall and engage my core muscles. Every time spam mail pops into your inbox, take three deep breaths and contract your abdominals or walk around your office.

Move during the commercials. You could do push-ups, dips, lunges, squats, crunches etc. Who hasn’t seen an article in a magazine at some point in their life telling them to try this?

In the car every time you are stopped at a stoplight, squeeze your butt muscles. Try and lift your butt off the seat just by tensing those muscles.

While waiting for the bus or spacing off in a meeting, visualize using your muscles, tighten up the muscles in your arms or legs or back or abs and imagine flexing them. Just cueing our minds into using our muscles will make us stronger, less prone to injury and more prone to using them in the future.

When you are making lunch or dinner and you are waiting for water to boil or the microwave to buzz, do pushups or the plank against the wall.

Stretch in your chair, RIGHT NOW. Lift up your arms over your head, inhale feeling every muscle in your body and exhale bringing everything back down. You feel better already, don’t you?

I am sure you can all come up with about a million more things you can do in order to make your life your workout and I would love to hear about them. Please email me and let me know what you’re doing.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you live

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Because I am in school all year round I have not had a chance to take any really long vacations this year. I have mostly stayed in the weekend away territory. However because I live in such a glorious city I have the pleasure of playing hostess to many a visitor from far away. Now, while I love playing tour-guide (riding the Powell Cable Car will never get old for me) I have to admit that eating out as often as my visitors want me to, leaves me feeling like I need a vacation. And I don’t think it’s just me who feels this way. My boyfriend’s stepmother said to me yesterday,

“Oh my goodness Sarah, I feel like I have been doing nothing but eat for 7 days straight, by next week I might not be able to fit into any of the clothes I brought.”

I felt the same way and I’m not even on vacation! This got me thinking about summer and vacations and how half the time I come back from a holiday more exhausted, out of shape and stressed out than when I left. That’s why I am going to propose something crazy in today’s article. What if we actually did things that were good for us on our vacations so that when we returned from them we actually felt better, more alive and more willing to take on our day-to-day lives? I know, I am out of control.

“But, Sarah”, you say, “I need to over eat, drink and laze around watching pay per view! That’s how I know it’s a vacation!”

Ok, ok but hear me out. Our every day lives are so jam-packed full of things to do, people to see and laundry to wash that we often don’t have time to really take care of ourselves. People don’t get enough sleep, they eat on the go, they let stress get the best of them, they’re too tired to work out, they’re too busy to relax, and on and on the excuses go. Trust me I have heard every single one of them and I have used them all plus more. So, since we are unable to do all of things that we know will make us feel better (I do know by the way. These things will make you feel better. It is not scientific but I know, you will just have to trust me) in our daily lives why don’t we do them on vacation when we have all the time in the world and we are supposed to be taking a break in order to feel better.

Wouldn’t it be great to come back from a holiday feeling excited to go back to work? Generally the reason we’re not excited or happy to resume our daily lives is because we didn’t actually get a break. We used and abused our bodies just like in regular life. We stayed up late, ate too much, had one too many drinks, rushed from museum to museum, etc. etc. Understandably there may be people reading this who just hate their job and no amount of broccoli, hiking in the Sierra’s or relaxing by the pool will make them excited to come back to work. Unfortunately there is little I can do for you in the confines of this particular article but I do truly believe (as noted above) that a healthy lifestyle will make you less unhappy in your career. Plus what’s the worst thing that could happen? You feel good?

I am not proposing that you plan your vacations only to remote beach towns without radios or T.V. and that while there you eat only steamed fish and vegetables. I am proposing that you customize your vacations to suit what you need most. Are you constantly snoozing in the morning, never able to get up on time? Well you ought to sleep in. Have you been kvetching about never being able to work out? Well, why not do it on your vacation? You haven’t got to work so you might as well make use of that extra time. Do you hate that you never get the opportunity to eat a healthy breakfast? You know what I am going to say, don’t you?

The point is, try to do the healthy things you always say you don’t have time for during your every day life.

I understand that with kids this is a little bit harder because Disneyland is not the most relaxing hot spot for adults (my father excluded) so you will have to be creative. Stop at the grocery store and pack healthy snacks in baggies to eat while at the park. Then you won’t feel bad about having eaten nothing but churros and corn dogs all day. Maybe you are the healthiest person in the world, weighing all your food and exercising every morning before work. Perhaps what you need is to let loose, have some ice cream and skip a week of running.

Look at your life and your regular activities and try to plan a vacation that will actually make you feel better, not worse. Even if you aren’t traveling any time soon, it certainly doesn’t hurt to plan. Maybe if you start thinking about what you really need, you will be more apt to give it to yourself. The Stones had it backwards for today’s society. More often than not people can get what they want, but have trouble actually getting what they need.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you live

You are what you eat

Have you ever heard the quote; “you are what you eat”? I am pretty sure you have. Possibly like me you have never put much stock in it, thinking that to be an ice cream sundae would be far more fun than to be a plate of broccoli. I know if I think too deeply on what I have ingested in the past, I can get pretty grossed out. Nobody wants to think about being a giant Twinkie or a bacon chili cheeseburger with extra pickles. Unfortunately and fortunately, everything we put into our bodies helps to make us who we are. Whether we are energetic or sleepy, whether we are in a good mood or bad. If you down a coca cola first thing in the morning, you are not going to be as sweet come noon.
“In wine it is called terroir: the peculiarities of the soil, the water, the very angle of the sun, the land that makes a wine distinctly itself.”
We are all like terroir. We have the land that we come from, which helps to make us who we are, we have the food we ate as kids and the food we eat now; we have the amount of sun we ingest and the amount of exercise we take, we have the water we drink. We are the land. I have been saying this for ages, your body is where you live, and I mean it. You are the soil, so feed the soil well. That doesn’t mean that your wine wouldn’t benefit from some cupcakes or apple pie. Maybe your wine could use a little sugar. Maybe you are in need of a bit of salt or spice or savor.
You need to think about what would be the best wine for you. What does your body need to be the best it can be? To be the best is different for everyone. If you want to be the best long distance runner then you are going to have a different recipe than someone who just wants to be the best she can be at playing with her kids. What would create the healthiest, most robust, most delicate and sweet but also spicy glass of you? Because that’s what we’re doing folks. We ARE what we eat. We are growing ourselves. Every day, we have the choice to be healthy.
So this week think of yourself as the terroir. What kind of wine do you want to be? Put together a recipe of foods and activities that you want to be a part of you. Then add a little bit of sunshine, a dash of hard work and a sprinkling of love.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

One Day at a Time

Last week I was having a bit of neck pain. You know that kind when your neck is so stiff that you can’t actually turn to the left or right? It started last Thursday morning and when I had an unexpected cancellation I used the free time to see Deborah (the best massage therapist at UCSF as far as I am concerned). Deborah said the pain was caused by an extreme tightness in my neck, chest and upper back. She informed me that my scalenes and my sternocleidomastoid (fancy words for the neck) were unbelievably tight and then she proceeded to dig with what felt like an axe into my upper body. She worked on my neck in a way that made me feel like I might die, but when she was done and for many days since (it is now Sunday night) I have been pain free. She was so knowledgeable about everything having to do with the body. She said I was having pain because of the way I am holding up my head and how little I have been stretching my neck.
After the pain subsided I was more than thrilled with the massage. But the thing that really had me reeling was how much we can know and yet how much there is still left to learn. How can I fit stretches of the neck into my already packed daily routine?
I love learning new things about my body or about health in general. I mean I really love it. I scan newspapers for the health section. I goggle blogs constantly to find out what other people are talking about. I ask questions and I am not afraid to not know something. However even with all that determination it can get really frustrating when there is one more thing that I am supposed to focus on with my own body. I mean, come on. If I followed all of the instructions of all the things I want or am supposed to do in order to be healthy, I would have no time to work or write this article because I would spend my days doing tai chi, yoga, learning to cook with middle eastern spices, cultivating gardens, enjoying tea with friends, reading, taking vitamins, meditating, stretching every single part of my body especially my neck, strengthening every single part of my body, going for long walks, swimming, petting dogs, writing thank you cards and helping the elderly cross the street. Sounds like my perfect retirement. Fortunately and unfortunately depending on whom you talk to, most of us are not retired yet and therefore cannot possibly think about all of our health needs every single day.
I was musing on this idea last week when one of my clients gave me a Berkeley wellness handout titled “365 tips for better health”. I figured I could read one every morning and that would be the thing I would think about that particular day. This works in theory until I woke up on Friday and read self-care #309: “Think twice before buying an iguana.” Not much of health goal for the day. That’s when I put two and two together.
We all need to make our own daily list of tips for better health. I want everyone to make a list of all the things you have been trying to do for your health. I will start you off with some of mine.

• Drink water
• Exercise
• Take the stairs
• Meditate
• Stretch
• Eat vegetables
• Eat healthy fats like omegas
• Say please and thank you
• Deep breathing
• Volunteer
• Learn something new

You get the idea. Now, focus on each thing on your list one at a time, one day at a time. Tomorrow I am going to think about drinking water all day long. That doesn’t mean that I will want to throw all my other healthy things out the window. I’m not going to skip work, watch Jerry Springer and eat Cheetos all day with the deluded idea that because I am drinking water I am the messiah of health. Do all the things you would normally do in your healthy day. You can still make it to that stretch class or walk at lunch or take your vitamins or whatever, but just pay extra attention to drinking more water. On your vitamin day, maybe you can focus on trying to get all your vitamins from your food. On exercise day, you could try an exercise you’ve never done before. This way instead of becoming overwhelmed of all the things you feel like you need to work on to be healthy, you can just take it one thing at a time. Today I am going to work on stretching out my neck and in order to do that better, I am going to turn off the computer.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live m

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Worth a Million Bucks

I was listening to a radio program yesterday about medicine. It was a comedy show discussing all the advances and ancient techniques for healing and helping. It was extremely funny and I found myself laughing out loud on the treadmill as I listened to it. There was one thing in particular that struck me and that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. One of the men on the show said,

“People treat their plasma TV’s better than they treat their own bodies.”

And we do! I live with a man and a plasma TV and I have the evidence. My BF, whom I love and who is probably reading this, is constantly telling me to stop touching the screen of the TV.

“Sarah, don’t touch the screen, you’ll get finger prints on it and it might get scratched.”

This is the same man who goes kite surfing even though he has a bad back. The kite surfing is doing to his back what my fingernail is doing to the TV screen. Ouch!

There is a man who lives down the street from me who owns a gorgeous vintage Rolls Royce. I see him all the time polishing his car with a pristine white cloth. He lovingly makes sure every inch of his baby is sparkling. He makes sure to drive the beauty a couple times a week to keep her in tip-top shape. He even has a little hand held vacuum cleaner just for her. I don’t know this man at all. I only say hi to him as I pass by while walking my dog, but I always ponder whether or not he takes care of himself just as good.

I am pretty good to me but even I am not that loving to me all the time. I pick at my nails, I eat too much sodium, I let stress get the best of me and I often don’t get enough sleep.

Now I am the queen of moderation so I don’t expect you to treat yourselves like a vintage rolls Royce all the time but when it comes to our health I think we could all try a little harder.

Everyone close your eyes and imagine that you are an expensive work of art. (You are by the way) Imagine that you just bid ten million dollars for yourself in a Sotheby’s auction (In this dream you have an extra ten million so please don’t let this sum stress you out) and you won. The Auctioneer presents you with your body and soul all wrapped up in tissue paper and silk and sends you on your way. So how do you treat your parcel? Do you sit on the sofa all day eating Cheetos? Do you smoke? Are you negative and self deprecating? Or would you take your body on walks because you know that exercise is good for you, drink water to flush out the toxins, sleep more in order to refresh your cells? Would you do things that make you feel good inside and out? Would you make sure to have regular doctor visits and once in awhile a massage? If you just paid 10 million dollars for your body would you drink soda for breakfast or tell yourself your not good enough? Hell no! You would do everything the instruction manual says. You would eat well, exercise, send your brain cells positive messages, smile, take vitamins, forgive, love, laugh, sleep, and the list goes on and on. You would take care of yourself the same way my neighbor takes care of his Rolls Royce and the same way my boyfriend takes care of his TV. You would treat yourself like ten million dollars.

It’s time you took a look at all the things you treat well in your life; the dog, the kids, the TV, the car, the jewelry, the laptop, the heirlooms from Grandma or the Franklin Mint Princess Diana collector’s doll and try to treat yourself a little more like the precious gift you are.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Food Rules

I am not sure if you’ve heard of it but there is a new book out called, Food Rules, an eater’s manual. The book is a book of, um, well rules, 64 to be exact of how we should, could and probably would, like to eat. I have yet to read the book but it has been ordered on Amazon so more will come I’m sure. I have however read a few of the more important rules and I have to say I am hooked. I am not normally the kind of gal who falls for food rules as I think that even in the making of a food rule we somehow manage to make ourselves believe that if we don’t break the rule we will surely die an unhappy death.

Take for instance when I tell myself that I am not allowed to eat gelato. That little rule comes slamming back in my face when for some reason I am forced by power much stronger than I to pull the car over to the side of the road and run (not walk) to Holy Gelato (my gelato of choice) to eat that which I have so solemnly sworn will never grace my lips again. What do you call that? I think it’s called the white bear.

If I say to you, “don’t think of a white bear!” What are all of you thinking about right now? Yep. Just what I thought, you are thinking about the one thing I told you not to think about. It’s the exact same thing as me saying to myself,

“Sarah, you are not going to eat gelato I mean it. No gelato for at least two weeks.”

What do I want more than life itself the very moment I say that? Copa mista gelato.

This principle/idea/psychology is why I am not always a fan of food rules. I do however think that this Michael Pollen is onto something and his rules do actually make sense. The trick is just to figure out how to make it seem like less of a rule and more of a decision.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorites:

“Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients.”

Ok, this is a tricky one. This means that I am not allowed to eat salad dressing or Yoplait yogurt or almost anything that is sealed in a package.

Many of you may be thinking, “but Sarah, that sounds like the kind of rule that would make me begging for Yoplait?” Yes, you are right, it does. And that is why I am only half endorsing it.

I thought about this rule for a while. How can I incorporate this into my life? How could this be something I did, because believe me I would love, love, love to be the kind of person who only ate food with less than 5, I just don’t think it’s very realistic.

That is why I have switched the rules around a bit. Here is Sarah’s new and (I think) improved rule number 65:

Every time you are about to eat something that comes from a package, say out-loud or read loudly in your head the entire ingredients list.

You think this sounds so easy my friends? Well please; I invite you to join me. All I am asking is that you read them all. All of them. Even the ones you can’t pronounce, sound them out.

Often times I will look at the nutrition label on the back of my food and I will start to read it, then get bored, upset, annoyed or whatever and not actually read it. So I am going to actually read it and I want you to too. Read every single ingredient and think about eating it, then eat it. By all means, please. I am not a maniac and I am not suggesting you cut foods out this early in the game of rules. I just want you to pay attention to what you eat. I mean, don’t you want to know what you put in your body?

So, everybody clear? This week we are going to read more. Pay attention to what you put in your body and then maybe after you know a little bit more about your diet will you be able to make an informed decision about it. How can I expect you to stop eating something when neither one of us even know what it is?

My hope is that paying attention to what you eat will be like inviting the white bear over for tea. You will then have the power to choose whether the bear will stay or go.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Body Awareness

Something terrible happened yesterday. A client of mine came into the gym, lifted up her shirt, and pinched the skin on her belly, begging me for help. “Please Sarah, I am disgusting. This is horrible. I have to get rid of this fat. It makes me sick. I am so ugly.”

This makes me sad.

Would you ever say this to someone else? You are disgusting. You are so fat. Nobody loves you. I hate you. I wouldn’t even say that to my worst enemy. I can barely write it without feeling bad. And this is the way we speak to ourselves. This is how we choose to treat our bodies and our hearts.

Now this is just an opinion, but I honestly believe that this bad body talk is far worse for us than Nutra-sweet, nicotine, and cholesterol. The worse we feel about ourselves, the worse we treat ourselves because hey, we don’t deserve any better, right? We are fat, lazy losers who aren’t perfect and don’t deserve love. What in the hell is perfect anyway? Who made up this ideal? This ideal is different for everyone but its damage is the same. It makes us feel like we are supposed to be something we aren’t instead of helping us embrace who we are. It is a picture we have created that tells us when we are allowed to let go, smile, and feel good. Except we will never get there because the more we tell ourselves how horrid we are the less likely we are to obtain any kind of goodness in any area of our lives.

I know a girl called Sophie.

She is beautiful. She is healthy. She has fantastic skin. She is fit. She does not have a six-pack but sometimes you can see the definition in her arms when she works out. Her heart beats strong every day. She has an unbelievable amount of love to give. She is a really fast typer and she tells great jokes.

Sometimes Sophie wakes up and stares at herself in the mirror for fifteen minutes dissecting how ugly she is. She will sometimes cry because she feels so bad about her body.

When this happens, Sophie loses all her fire. She becomes listless. She can’t work out and all she wants to eat are Cheetos. She craves a cigarette and will live in a pretend world where she smiles to everyone and on the inside she is screaming out hate. Imagine the kind of stress that a behavior like that comes with.

That stress is what is keeping Sophie from finding happiness. This is the stress that makes her stomach hurt and gives her the flu. This is the stress that is eating her up, and all because she never tells her body how beautiful and capable it is. The more she tells herself she isn’t worth it, the more she will spiral downward.

I would like everyone reading this who can relate in any way at all to complete the exercise from The Body Whisperer by Martha Beck.

“For a day, consciously observe the stream of thoughts you direct toward your body. (I need Botox. Why am I so dense? I hate, hate, hate my nose.) Once you’ve noticed your own abusive mantras, begin countering each one with some sort of genuine praise, no matter how lame it may seem. If you loathe your upper-arm flab, make yourself think about the fact that your arm, flab and all, can participate in procedures as delicate as threading a needle or as powerful as shifting a car into gear. Praise it for its abilities, as you would praise a horse you wanted to train: Good arm! You’re so coordinated! Wow, look at you go!

This may feel absurd at first, but if you pay attention, you’ll find that countering abuse with praise has a powerful effect on your body. I learned this at a seminar for chronic-pain management. The instructor asked us to focus on a part of our body that was continuously in pain (I chose my back) and then offer those body parts the affection we would give the person we loved most. To my embarrassment, I found I couldn’t do this without crying—but as I did, the muscle spasms in my back loosened perceptibly. My body had been hurting because of illness, but also because I hated it. Offering it affection tangibly changed the momentum that was taking me further into disease, and began the process of healing.

The same strategy can take you from decent health to splendiferous well-being, make you so satisfied you forget to smoke, drink, or binge, and allow your birthright of self-confidence to replace any body shame that may darken your life. If praising your body feels awkward and artificial, too bad. Do it anyway. Gradually, as you feel the beneficial effects, this exercise will come naturally and automatically.”

I propose that in order to honor our bodies, the bodies that take such good care of us, we all try to be a little more aware. This does not mean that we become more anal about the perceived negative, it means we pay attention to what our bodies need. What does your body need?

Mine needs love, and vegetables, and long walks in Golden Gate Park, and lots of sleep. Most of all—my body needs to be reminded how perfect it is to me.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Success is Yours

Let us imagine a woman—a real woman or at least a model of one that I’m sure you’ve all met. She worked her way up the ladder going through years and years of tough times, making less money, fighting for more respect, a corner office, her own secretary, etc., etc. She gave her time, her much needed sleep, her relationships suffered, her stress level rose, her feet hurt, her back hurts, she developed carpal tunnel and tennis elbow (without ever playing tennis).

She worked on Saturdays and gave her weekends away; she has weeks of vacation time she may never use. She did all of this while also finding time to get married, have children, buy a home, volunteer for the PTA, volunteer at the soup kitchen, make Halloween costumes, and send the kids to college.

OK, maybe you don’t know this exact woman, but you probably know a variation of her or maybe you are a variation. This person has worked, slaved, given blood, sweat and tears to create a life they are happy with. Now, they have found themselves unhappy with a certain aspect of it; their health, weight, cholesterol, whatever. So tell me why is it that for money and “success” we will work like maniacs, give up everything “good” and work hard for what we want but when it comes to longevity, health, weight loss, more energy, higher self-esteem, lungs that don’t wheeze, clearer eyes, better sleep, glowing skin and a massive endorphin high, we bitch and moan and cry about how hard it is, how we haven’t got the time, how we just “can’t”.

I absolutely REFUSE to believe that you (you who will work like a demon to succeed in other aspects of your life, be it relationships, career, family whatever) “can’t” do anything. You CAN do anything as long as you set you mind to do it. So for the love of everything you work so hard for, work hard for your health.

It isn’t easy! (I’m hoarse from saying that) It sucks, it’s hard, it hurts, you may be sore in the morning, you may be tired, you may hate sweat and gyms and movement and weights and treadmills and bikes, and pools, and stability balls and yoga and Pilates. You may get ill at the mere mention of vegetables and fiber and lean chicken. You may have a bonafide addiction to chocolate and sugar and ho-hos and big macs. You can either find something you enjoy doing/eating or you can suck it up and work hard like you do for everything else in life. It isn’t a holiday so stop expecting it to be.

Eventually, you might find a healthy lifestyle to be fulfilling and actually quite easy. It’s always the hardest to begin; remember how difficult your first job/kid/mortgage/credit card/relationship was? Do you remember anything in your life being difficult? How did you manage to get through it?

If you slacked off at work, left early, spent too much time emailing friends, turned in reports late and generally messed about, well it wouldn’t be a surprise when someone else got that promotion. Why does it surprise you that you aren’t losing weight if you eat whatever you want and never work out?

I am normally not this harsh but sometimes a Drill Sergeant is what people need.

Think about what you want, and what you have done in the past to achieve things you want. Now apply that same determination to your health! Stop moaning and get it done.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Feel Good Food

A few weeks ago, I urged everyone to pay more attention to the food they were eating while they were eating it. I am not sure how everybody else did, but I know for me it was a bit of a struggle. I am a gal on the go and in between clients and on the way to school, I am constantly having urges to just cram in whatever snack food I can find. But I have also noticed that I am much more aware when I am eating. On several occasions I have even made it home from the supermarket before ripping open the string cheese. Of course I will still eat and run, but I am definitely a lot more conscious and I hope you are, too. I think that simply paying attention to our behaviors can really help us to be healthier. That is why I would like you all to join me this week in paying better attention to our bodies and how we feel when we are eating and after we eat.

I was out to dinner with a BFF of mine the other night and we were discussing our favorite feel good foods. Now I am not talking about the age-old feel good foods. The “I am so hung over and all I want is pizza and mac and cheese” feel good food. Nor am I referring to an “I am in such a bad mood, I know what I need, it’s some ice cream” feel good food. And I am also not suggesting that you go right out and order a salad because it’s “oh-so-healthy and I am being good to myself even though I hate lettuce” feel good food. What Anna and I discussed were the foods that actually physically make us feel good. The foods that when we eat them make us feel healthy, warm, and nourished. When we eat these foods we don’t feel bad afterwards (unless of course we are overeating them). While we are eating them, we truly enjoy them. On the whole before, during, and after these are the feel good foods.

For example when A eats a big plate of angel hair pasta with vegetables, she feels amazing. She feels healthy and grounded, full and warm. Alternately, when I eat a plate of pasta, I feel full and bloated. My tummy doesn’t feel amazing. And I am not talking about my head saying beware carbohydrates. Pasta may very well be the thing that nourishes you. You need to be the one to figure out what’s right for you.

When I eat roast chicken, mmm, I feel great. I feel energized and healthy and my body feels good. I feel nourished and warm. It’s the same for me with yams or apples and string cheese, chicken and vegetable soup or toasted peanut butter and berry jam sandwiches. The point is that you need to pay attention to your body. Just like how we were paying attention to the food we were eating, I now urge you to pay attention to how that food is making you feel. If you are focusing on the sandwich at lunchtime and really enjoying it, then you will be better prepared to notice how it makes your body feel.

Once again I am not talking about how it makes you think you feel. We are bombarded all the time with what is healthy, what is good, what will make you feel this and that, and what is she eating. If you were reading a health magazine from ten years ago, it would be telling you to eat bagels for breakfast and tuna for lunch. Now, I am almost surprised that the bagel companies are still in business with all the bad press the poor bagel gets. And tuna, I think it’s now advised that you should only eat once a week because of all the mercury. What I am saying is don’t listen to everything you read. (Except this.) The health experts have been known to change their minds. Listen to your body. It will tell you what feels good. Okay, now I know there is going to be someone saying, “But Sarah, when I eat Twizzlers, afterwards I feel amazing. I have the energy of a twenty-three-year-old. That is because sugar is a drug. If you are paying attention after you eat those Twizzlers you might notice that it won’t be long before you start to drop. This is the sugar come down and it generally doesn’t feel good. So if this is happening to you then you may now notice that sugar doesn’t actually make you feel good. You may also say, “Sarah, I do listen to my body and it tells me that a super-sized quarter pounder with cheese and fries is the feel good food for me.” And I will say to you, “If you eat anything that says super-sized, you will face the consequences.”

So now, my friends, let’s all take this week and beyond to find what our feel good foods really are.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Forgive Yourself

Once upon a time there was a girl who I shall call Lisa. Lisa was trying to lose weight. She was doing everything by the book; measuring out her portions, eating whole grains, choosing healthy lean meats and monitoring her alcohol. She exercised three or more times a week, had a personal trainer, walked the dog twice a day and drank 8 glasses of water. Lisa felt great about herself. She had energy, she was confident and she was losing weight.

One Saturday evening Lisa went out with some friends. She got rollickingly drunk, ate three bags of crisps at the bar and drunkenly ordered a pizza at 2am.

Sunday morning, staring at the empty pizza box while nursing a tremendous headache, she felt ill. She made herself a fried egg sandwich with bacon, skipped the gym and watched TV all day long.

Sunday evening she stepped on the scale and had gained a few pounds, she felt bloated and had drinkers remorse.

The feelings of self-loathing spiraled their way into her psyche and by Monday morning she thought that muffin at star bucks seemed like a good idea. Perhaps lunch with a co-worker at McDonalds instead of her afternoon run. She had already failed, right? So what does it matter.

This mentality, I have found, is actually quite common. We assume that one brick falling topples the whole building. Well, that, my friends, is NOT true.

Everybody has moments when we fall off the wagon. Everybody has days when we just can't work out, when pizza at three am seems like a good idea, when we are physically unable to stop ourselves from eating the entire bag of crisps. This is normal, and human, and it does not, I repeat, does NOT make us bad people. It does not mean that we have failed or in any way suggest that we are not still on a good, perfect path towards the health we strive.

One day, weekend, week, whatever, does not mean that we have to start over, it doesn’t have to be the hurdle we make it out to be. It's just one moment in life; one silly, meaningless moment. Let it go.

I understand. I have had my own fair share of moments that seem like I have messed it all up and that perhaps starting over is going to be even harder than it was the first time. Well, it won't be. Perfection doesn't mean never eating chocolate or drinking wine, or eating pizza or skipping a workout. Perfection is being able to say, "I am doing great, I am doing everything I can to be the healthiest happiest person I can be. I love me and I am proud of my effort."

I would love for everyone to be able to forgive him or herself when these moments of self-judgment creep in. Say to yourself, "Okay, so I didn't work out or ate something that made me feel bad or whatever it was I did, and that's OK because that happens and I forgive myself, and now I am going to drink a big glass of water or go for a walk or get some more sleep and I am going to pat myself on the back for recognizing that I am trying and I am doing a great job."

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Sit Down to Eat

Have you ever ordered the large popcorn at a movie and scoffed, “This is so much popcorn! I will never be able to eat all this.” Then found yourself fifteen minutes into the movie with most of it gone?

Maybe you’ve eaten an entire bag of chips while driving and not remembered doing it?

Has anyone ever asked you, “What did you eat for lunch?” and you were unable to answer because your mind drew a blank?

Have you ever tried to eat something with a fork … while walking?

I have done all of these things. My guess is you have done at least one.

There are all these issues surrounding food. Is it good for me? Will it lower/raise my cholesterol? Do I eat carbs or not? Is low fat or no fat better? We seem so preoccupied with food. We give it so much attention. We pay extra for the organic kind and make sure our chicken is free range. We are meticulous about asking for the dressing on the side and to forget the croutons.

I am so adamant about not eating high fructose corn syrup at breakfast that I will go out of my way to buy special “healthy” yogurts and organic (nothing bad for you, only filled with flax and God-knows-what-else seeds) granola bars. I then proceed to eat them in five minutes flat while walking to work. I use the granola bar as a spoon. I am obviously not enjoying my overpriced yogurt. How could I? There is no way to properly enjoy a meal while walking. Even a power/fitness so-called health bar. Those bars and on-the-go fitness foods were invented for people who are working out so much that they need more fuel in order to continue exercising. They are not made for me to eat for breakfast because I can’t find five minutes to pay attention to my food.

I apologize if you find the taste of a Luna bar intoxicating. If you are that person then by all means go ahead, slowly tear the foil off your dried yogurt covered bar and ravenously devour the bits of non-fattening nougat and lemon. Just make sure you pay attention while you’re doing it. Enjoy your food. If you find that the breakfast bar isn’t as satisfying when you pay attention to it then you should probably eat something else. And I don’t mean that if you end up not enjoying your breakfast you should high-tail it to the nearest I-Hop for whip cream waffles. Do not use this week’s wellness update as an excuse to order chocolate cake every night.

“But Sarah, you told me to enjoy my food.”

If you eat a pound of cheesecake for breakfast, you will suffer the consequences.

What I am suggesting is that you sit down and pay attention to your food. I do not want you to become any more neurotic than I already am about what you eat. I am saying eat what you would normally eat, but do it well. Taste it. Chew it. Enjoy the act of eating. If you pay attention to your food while you eat it as opposed to before you eat it, you will probably eat less. And yet you will feel more satisfied because you were present in the act.

Bon Appetit!

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live