Sometimes it seems impossible to drum up the time and energy needed to cook a healthy meal. And what happens to dinner when mommy (or daddy) has had a long day? In our house, we usually end up ordering a less than nourishing take-out dinner. What if there was a way to embrace cooking, even on the challenging days, and actually find contentment in it? Recently someone at in my mom's group mentioned Mindful Cooking. My ears perked up! I am a big advocate of mindful eating, so why I had I not thought to bring mindfulness to the kitchen as I prepared the food? As I started to read up on it I realized I already was practicing mindful cooking in many ways.
Mindfulness in its self is the state of being aware and present in the given moment. It is in those moments, when we allow ourselves to let go of that constant babble in the mind, we can find true contentment. “Be here now.” I often repeat this mantra to yoga practitioners when I am teaching. It’s easier said than done, but those moments of mental stillness can help us slow down and appreciate what is right before us.
The kitchen is the perfect place to practice mindfulness. There are so many opportunities to keep the mind actively engaged in the here and now. By tuning in to the smell of the food, the heat of the oven, the sounds of chopping, and the sight of our creations we can learn to enjoy the experience of cooking. Instead of feeling burdened by a meal, one can actually find it therapeutic and relaxing!
Try these simple exercises in the kitchen.
*Before you get started on any of the exercises below, put all screens and electronic devices out sight. ;)
This one works well if you have a lot of prep involved in your meal. With each
ingredient whether you are chopping, seasoning, mixing, try to visuals and
acknowledge the origin of that food. Did it grow from the ground? Or in a tree?
Did it walk or swim? Breathe? When we see our food as having an existence other
than on our plate we can truly appreciate it. Take a moment to express gratitude
for the nourishment that each food will provide.
Use Your Senses:
If you are cooking something on the stove or in the oven take a few minutes to
sit quietly nearby. Experience the
fragrances, sounds, and sights of your food as it cooks. Notice the subtle
changes in the room. Notice how those changes affect your body.
If your mind starts to wander off, gently
bring it back to your cooking meal without criticism or stress. Allow yourself
to appreciate the sensations that the impending meal drums up in your body and mind.
Infuse With Love:
Have you ever noticed that a home cooked meal prepared by a
loved one just tastes better? Your mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing? Or your grandfather's apple pie? It’s almost
as if you can taste the love. Many people believe that food can take on the
energy of the person preparing it and then be passed along to those who
consume it. Next time you are cooking for your family acknowledge how each food
will nourish those you love the most in the world. If you want to take it
further, create a mantra to go along with it… “I am cooking with love.”
If you are interested in learning more about Mindful Cooking, read "The Mindful Cook: Finding Awareness, Simplicity, and Freedom in the Kitchen" by Isaac Cronin.
There are major incentives to using your buttocks properly....not just to look good in your favorite jeans. If your glutes are firing properly
they can improve posture, increase pelvic floor strength, and protect your
joints. We live in a very "seated" society which tends to create "dumb"
asses. They just don’t know how to engage because we have not taught them to do
so. Sitting for long periods of time can re-position the natural tilt of the
pelvis and stretch out already weak gluteus muscles. Compare the tribal poteriors
below to a typical western booty. It is easy to tell which one is going
unused. I am just being cheeky and overgeneralizing a bit, but keep reading to find out if you have a dumb ass...
Test Your Ass
While walking normally, place your right hand on your right
butt cheek. Ideally your gluteal muscles will be working while you are walking.
If you do not feel the muscle engaging as you walk, then your buttocks is
probably not firing properly. Most likely you are pulling yourself along with
the front leg and putting most of the work in the quadriceps (front of the
thigh). Repeat on the other side. You also may notice that one side is much
better at engaging than the other. You can use the same touch test when
doing a lunge.The gluteus muscle of the
back leg should feel firm and engaged to the touch.
Another thing to note is the position of your pelvis. In our seated society we
are often tilting the pelvic bowl backwards and losing the neutral tilt of the pelvic bowl. This not only takes the work out if our glutes, but puts strain on
the pelvic floor, the lower back, and the hip joint. The illustrations below
show the correct, "neutral" position of the pelvis. If the pelvis is positioned
correctly, then your glutes will be properly firing.
Cultivating a Smart Ass
If you feel your ass needs some educating (many people’s
do), then you can start by consciously engaging your glutes on a regular basis.
When walking or running think about pushing off the back leg instead of pulling
yourself along with the front leg. If
you work out or practice yoga, engage the glutes of the back leg whenever you are
in any lunging pose (Front/back lunge, warriors, high lunge, low lunge). When
doing squats (or simply standing up from a chair) put your weight way back in
your heels, don’t over tuck the tail, and imagine your sits bones are pulling
away from one another. You should feel
your buttocks engage!
You can also work on finding the neutral curve of your lower
back. Make sure you are not super tucking your pelvis on a regular basis. If you have to sit for long periods of time
at work, take breaks to stand and walk around.
Try some cow/cat tilts by extending and flexing your spine. You can do this movement seated, standing, or
on all fours. If you stand sideways in
front of a full length mirror you will be able to observe the tilt of your own
pelvis. The goal is to have a slight curve of the lower back. Try not to over
tuck or over arch.
With time and patience a dumb ass can be taught! And a smart
ass looks good in jeans too… so fire up that booty.
January is almost here! Have you decided on a resolution for 2016? If so, maybe you can bulk it up to
see lasting change in the new year. Folks often feel disappointed in themselves come spring (or sooner) for failing to be resolute. Maybe it’s
not the person who is to blame, but the resolution itself? Lose weight, eat better, make money, stop
drinking, start saving… These are common (and empty) resolutions that do not
lead to success. I often talk about how
specificity is key when establishing and reaching goals, so when came across this resolution exercise I just had to share! It solidifies goals and
allows the individual to truly define what their ideal vision of the future should
Here's what you do…
Write a letter to yourself to be sealed and opened on
January 1st, 2017. Make sure to store it in a safe place. In this letter
outline everything you wish to accomplish this year. Try to write down your
goals AND the actions you are planning to take to reach them. Get detailed = Big
goals, little goals, fears, excitements, obstacles.
Then describe what the ideal outcome would be. What is your
ideal vision of YOU? And how does it feel to be living that ideal? Create a
clear picture of what you want your life to look like by this time next year. Again,
be as detailed as possible!
When you are finished, your letter will act as a map. You
have to have a route to get where you are going before you set out on a
journey, right? This exercise can propel you past the general “lose weight” or “eat
better” goals and set you up for concrete results. There is also the added
pressure of knowing you will be the one re-opening the letter next year. Don’t let your future self down! Give it a
try and happy new year!
Once upon a time I was an actor. I worked hard, networked, created, studied,
and struggled along with all the other actors in the industry... But gradually,
like the slow tearing off of a band aid, I gave up performing. I found that my
work as a personal trainer and yoga instructor was not only paying my bills,
but it was a more rewarding path for me personally. Part of me thought that I
was about to let all those years of dedication to the performing arts go to
waste. But as I built a business, I realized that the skills I used as an actor
were helping me succeed. I attribute my business’ success on the principles I learned
as an actor (and hiring others who share the same principles). What is it that
translates from the performing arts to the fitness industry so well?
As an actor I was taught that if you are not 5 minutes early, then you are
late. I had 50 other talented and qualified actors waiting in the wings to take
my job, so I was sure to professionalism a priority. Performers are, in fact,
running a small business. They carry marketing materials such as head shots and
business cards everywhere they go. Their style, attitude, and commitment to the
profession is key. They have to be on time, organized, and ready to execute on the
task at hand. Either that or they are replaced.
This way of thinking has benefited
me as I have grown Mind Body Fitness from the ground up, and this level of
professionalism is what I look for in the people I hire. That's why I can
proudly say that we have grown from a one woman show to a 11 person cast in a
few years. We could not have done that without being hyper-professional.
For any performer, the body is your
instrument. It needs to be fine-tuned. Health, self-care, fitness, and
nutrition are priorities to the intelligent performers. If the body is not functioning
correctly, then the performer is out of work. Not only do they know how to care for
themselves, but they also know how to carry themselves, move through space, and
use correct alignment. When I am teaching a yoga class I can always spot an
actor or dancer before they even mention it to me. They have true body awareness. This is an essential trait for anyone
working in the health and fitness industry. Our clients look to us for guidance
and inspiration. The ability to demonstrate
and lead by example is a must.
Ability to connect
The beautiful thing about actors,
dancers, and singers is that they often have the ability to genuinely connect
to those around them. They make friends
with others. They make people feel comfortable, and they create an atmosphere
of acceptance, collaboration, and encouragement. I truly believe that’s why a majority of our
clients stick with their program. They enjoy the time spent with their
trainer. It is not a chore. It is not
torture. Instead, it is an enjoyable part of their weekly routine. They are working together with their trainer
to create a work of art… Themselves!
I am so grateful for all my life experiences, and how they help me to grow. There are some things I miss about
my previous career. One day I may
revisit the stage, but for now the work I am doing is fun, rewarding, and a
continuous learning process, much like life as an actor.
I love me some steak (and chicken, turkey, ham, fish…and
BACON!). I always have and always will,
but over the last few years I have made a conscious effort to cut down on my
meat consumption. I don’t eat meat for
breakfast or lunch. I also plan for 1 dinner with meat and 1 dinner with fish
each week. Red meat is reserved for a once a month indulgence. Why have I cut back? There are real
benefits of eliminating meat from our diets (at least some of the time). For
the meat lovers out there like myself it might seem like a daunting task, but being
a part-time vegetarian is a good way to help your body, your bank account, and
Here is why I am a part-time vegetarian…
People who eat little to no meat have a decreased risk of obesity, heart
disease, high cholesterol, and certain cancers. Studies of more than 900,000
women done by the Archives of Internal Medicine have shown that women in
their 20, 30s, and 40s who ate red meat or processes meat on a daily basis were
more likely to develop breast cancer. And even more recently the World Health
Organization announced a direct link between processed meats and colon
cancer.Although the effects of meat
consumption are not thought to be as harmful as say cigarette smoke, the
findings are enough to make me cut down, especially with the processed meats! Bye
consumption can totally break the bank, especially if you are trying to eat
organic, grass fed, free range products (the “healthy” meats). Compare a $14 organic chicken breast to a $5
package of tempeh or beans. Or a $29/lb cut of organic beef tenderloin?! If you
opted for the plant based protein, you would be cutting out a major chunk of
change from the grocery bill. I save a minimum of $50 per week eating the way I do. Sorry,
Whole Foods, but you already take enough of my money. I am going to sauté some
Word is spreading about how the livestock industry is one of the leading causes
of global warming on the planet. There are a lot of percentages being thrown
around by environmental experts. The
facts seem to differ depending on who you talk to, but one thing they all agree
on is that meat consumption is harming the planet and will continue to do so if
we don’t change our eating habits. According
to World Bank environmental advisor Robert Goochland, it has been estimated
that up to 15% of the worlds greenhouse gases are produced by livestock and 61%
of those gasses come from cows. With a growing population and demand for more
food it is estimated that the world’s carbon budget will be exhausted by 2050. What?!
That’s terrifying. According the US Department
of Agriculture each American eats 125 lbs of meat per year, so I try do my part
by making meat a once in a while indulgence. At the risk of sounding super
corny and idealistic here… Just think of the difference it would make if we all
cut back just a little bit?!
said… The part-time vegetarian life style has worked for me so far. Could it work for you? I have some really great recipes for plant
based protein meals if anyone is interested.
Contact me anytime! [email protected]