We made it you guys! Another year, another election, a non-mageddon, and a whole lot of clean beauty. :) Don’t know about you, but we’re feeling pretty excited about what 2013 holds—and not because we’re wearing rose-colored glasses. This life stuff continues to be hard, but we’re of the mind that the more you work through your crap, with each passing year, the more rewarding the challenges become.

Anyways, on my very long drive back from Utah, where I spent the Christmas holiday, I listened to a lengthy (and kind of boring) interview about New Year’s resolutions. It turns out something like 46% of them actually stick, and that when you take the time to make a resolution on a chosen day (it doesn’t have to be New Year’s), it has a way better chance of surviving than just having an intention to make a change.

According to the piece, certain things really help make a resolution real. First off, you have to be serious about and truly ready for the resolution. It’s better if the resolution is clear and measurable, ie. instead of saying, “this year I’m going to be a better friend,” you say something more specific like, “this year I’m going to make an effort to call my close friends at least once a month” or whatever it may be. The buddy system seems to help too, or some kind of accountability to someone (your bud doesn’t need to have the same resolution as you). The expert also says that most people usually slip up pretty early in the game, but as long as you don’t let the slip be a fall, you’ll be fine. Last but not least, it’s important not to make too many resolutions at once—one is best, but two can work if they’re compatible.

Keeping all of this in mind, I am going to share my resolution for the year with you guys. Siobhan and Rebecca will share theirs in the comments, and we hope you tell us yours as well! That way we can all be accountable to each other here.

My resolution for 2013 is to become an intuitive eater. The good news there is that I’ve already started this practice! But I want to make sure it sticks for, well, my whole life. What do I mean by intuitive eating? I might have to save some of it for a longer post, but for most of my life I’ve been a pretty restricted eater in some way or another. While on the surface, this appeared to be very healthy—and was often done in the name of health—I’ve finally acknowledged to myself that it’s an obsessive type of behavior that has more to do with control than health. Some of the tenets of intuitive eating are: Eating when you’re hungry. Asking yourself what you truly want to eat instead of eating what you think you should eat. Stopping when you’re full, even if that means there’s still food on your plate. Not using food as a reward (or a punishment). Not really thinking about food unless you’re actually hungry—I come from a family that plans dinner before breakfast is even finished!—and so on. This book on intuitive eating has been really helpful to me, so if any of you feel a bit out of touch with your natural rhythms when it comes to food, I highly recommend it!

I have other intentions for this year, too, like being a better listener, and nurturing my spiritual practice. But as some of you surely know, the obsessive day-to-day stuff really detracts from the higher-self goals. So that’s where I’m gonna focus my energies for now.

Can’t wait to hear what you have planned for 2013. Happy New Year everyone!!!

11

Before You Eat… Do You Give Thanks?

Do you pray or in some way acknowledge/give thanks before you eat?  A long time ago I read an article about a man travelling with companions, and when they got hungry there was just this little hole in the wall restaurant.  The only food available was not particularly healthy, not something they would normally eat.  But they prayed over the food, and felt nourished when they ate it.*

Appreciation and ritual are really important to me, and I feel like taking a moment to express gratitude actually affects the way I assimilate my food.

When I was eating meat, I used to acknowledge the sacrifice of the animal and appreciate that another life was feeding my life.  I’m doing the vegan thing these days, but still have a little something I say to myself before I eat.  I try to remember to do it every time.

I started this over the summer when I was doing a cleanse, and I liked it so much I’ve kept up with it.  I’m a little embarrassed to be specific, I guess it will sound hokey to some people.  “May this food nourish my body, mind and spirit.  May it purify and cleanse me.  Blessed Be.”  As a good pagan girl, I always throw in the blessed be.  I’ve just spent too much of my life scarfing down food without being conscious of it.  I feel like that’s unhealthy for me spiritually and physically.  I’m trying not to eat on the run any more, or while I’m doing another task.  Eating that way makes me feel like I’m mindlessly scooping in food just for basic survival.  Busy, busy, busy, right?  But I’m trying.  I’m really trying to take joy in every bite.  My little saying helps me do that, and I actually feel more physically satisfied after a meal.

What about you? Do you take a moment before a meal to acknowledge it in some way?

*if anyone knows where this story comes from, please comment!  I think I read it in a yoga magazine.

12

Do You Have a Bedtime Ritual?

When Alexandra and I get together, the conversation naturally (and frequently) goes like this…

Food, psychology, health, exercise, beauty, ayurveda, sex, stress, and sleep. (Oh, and astrology.) Those are like the basic-cable channels we flip between: once we get to sleep, we go back to food. Cycle, repeat, cycle, repeat.

I’m of the mind that feeling your best really requires a combination of all of these things, but if I had to pick a single one as the most important of all, I’d pick sleep.

The data on the importance of sleep is incontrovertible: We need it, we need it consistently, and there are specific things—like a routine, black-out blinds, white noise, cool climes—that optimize it. In the absence of good sleep, science says we are at the mercy of cascading hormones that trigger food cravings, cause irritability, lack of focus, emotional fluctuations, and sap our energy—making it harder to do all those other things we know help us feel our best.

A few years ago, I realized I’m one of those 8-hour people. I need my 8 hours, and a disruption of more than a couple days tends to result in undesirable consequences like bad skin and an even worse mood. As such, I try as best I can to be consistent—without forsaking things like, you know, enjoying myself.

I’m not a crazy person about it, but it does take discipline and rigor to keep it up because as anyone who loves a good time knows: there’s always more fun to be had, always one more hour of Housewives, one more chapter to read, one more glass to raise, one more hour of conversation to indulge in.

So in order to keep my sleep consistent, I seem to have, over time, created a bed-time ritual. There are like five things I do every night, and they’re kind of corny and a little embarrassing, but suffice to say somehow, without even noticing it, I’ve created a ritual that totally works! I guess it’s my way of telling my brain: There’s time for activity, and there’s time for sleep. This is the latter.

Some of the things I do every night: I power down all my electronics and turn off the power strip connected to my internet and my giant television; I turn on my fan (even in the winter—homegirl likes her white noise!); I drink some water; I send nice thoughts in my head to people I love or to people who need it.

So now I ask you: What is your non-negotiable-if-you-had-to-pick-just-one-ticket-to-health habit?

And when it comes to sleep: Do YOU have a bedtime ritual?

Image via

Today’s inspiration comes Beka Meyer, of Caldwell, Idaho. Not only does this vegetarian paella sound delicious but it came with a testimonial from someone slowly shifting their diet to be more vegan—and loving it! (That’s a picture of Valencia by the way, this dish’s city of origin—do any of you have similar success stories?)

Here’s Beka’s email:

I’ve been eating vegan-ish since I read The China Study (-ish because I still have tons of chicken in the freezer that I am slowly getting through!) a few months ago and I am loving it!  I’ve lost 18 lbs so far and I’m not hungry at all, I stopped counting calories too!  Even my husband is on board with being vegan-ish and he is well known for his love of hotdogs and quesadillas!  My 4 year old is loving that we always have spinach and tomatoes, apples, and oranges on hand, but being her father’s child, still needs her hotdogs.  I found the following recipe in a book called The Vegan Handbook that I checked out from the library and it is so good!  It is a bit of work to do, but so worth it!  I made it for my in-laws (who buy their beef by the cow, not the pound) and they loved it and asked for the recipe!

Vegetarian Paellla:

1 tablespoon oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups white rice

3-1/2 cups water

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

½ cup chopped green olives

1 medium sweet pepper, finely chopped

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

A few threads or pinch of pure saffron

1 cup lightly fried sliced mushrooms

1 cup asparagus, chopped

½ cup toasted blanched almonds

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a frying pan, then saute onions and garlic over medium heat for 12 minutes. Add rice and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer frying pan contents to a 9×13 inch pyrex dish. Stir in water, peas, olives, sweet pepper, oregano, salt, pepper, saffron, then cover. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Combine mushrooms, asparagus and almonds, then spread evenly over top. Recover and bake for a further 25 minutes or until rice is well-cooked. Serve hot from pan.

Image of Valencia via

I’m at a conference hosted by Dr. Andrew Weil, a kind of hero of ours who, at 70, embodies the idea that if you eat an antiinflammatory diet, get a lot of sleep, exercise, meditate and eat mushrooms, you’ll be just fine. (Not that kind of mushrooms, you guys! Though, hey.)

This is the Nutrition and Health Conference in San Francisco, where doctors, nurses, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals (with a few journalist interlopers) come together to learn from the best of the best in integrative medicine.

It’s like being in college and taking classes with all tbe best teachers, back to back to back, in two packed days.

Some topics came up over and over: plant-based or mostly plant-based diet. Another? The idea of food and good nutrition as…medicine. “Eat your medication,” one guy said.

So we want to know from you. Do you believe that proper nutrition is nature’s best medicine? And further, because nothing looks better than health: Do you think food and nutrition affect your looks?

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