• bite-sized challenge: feeling her weight

    June 15, 2010

    If you’ve been following V.K. (formerly known as Noelle) through her bite-sized challenges, you’ll know she is now a green-smoothie convert and that her desk is flanked by a beautiful bowl of fruit.

    Here’s V.K.’s third desired successful outcome:

    When I look in the mirror, I can say confidently, “My body is just right how it is.  I wouldn’t want to lose any weight or gain any weight.”

    When we spoke on the phone, V.K. told me she believes part of the reason she can’t seem to shift a couple of extra pounds is because she really can’t find a good reason to.  For me, that’s a good enough reason not to worry about those extra pounds.  But she’s worrying, so there’s something underlying that’s making her feel both guilty about the weight and resistant to doing anything about it.

    I want V.K. to start a simple meditation practice.  Every day for a week, she is to sit for five minutes in a quiet spot and simply be in her body – she should feel the weight of her body supported by the Earth.  The idea is to become very present and simply feel the sensations in her body.

    Then the following week I’d like her to add another five minutes to this daily practice in which she envisions her ideal weight and feels it in her body as if she is already that weight.  She should really imagine that she is her ideal weight right now – how her belly feels against her clothes, how she breathes feeling lighter.  She should also notice how she feels about herself in this new weight.

    For added inspiration, Kathy Freston has a series of guided manifestation meditations including one called Perfect Weight.

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  • v.k.’s a.k.a. noelle’s fruit bowl

    June 9, 2010

    On the heels of her coming-out pictures showing her caught in the act of the green smoothie, “Noelle” has also decided to reveal her real initials.  So, from now on she’ll be known as V.K.

    Her latent exhibitionist tendencies are now moving at a feverish pace as you can see by these new images.  Here we spy V.K.’s evolving fruit bowl at work – evidence that she is tackling her recent bite-sized challenge with gusto.  Isn’t it pretty?  I am equally impressed by the minimalist desk space.  Very Zen.

    2010 06 08 004

    2010 06 08 005

    Have you been following the bite-sized challenges?  Send me your fruit-bowl pics and I’ll post them.

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  • the world with the thorn in its side

    June 7, 2010

    One of my favorite books is Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds.  I read it when I was a teenager; and it still haunts me, especially during difficult times.  It is, in short, about the pain that can result from great pleasure.  It is a natural law, but as humans we are conscious of it and yet still choose to perpetuate it – causing the greatest pain to ourselves.  Here is the last paragraph of the book:

    The thorn bird with the thorn in its breast, it follows an immutable law; it is driven but it knows not what to impale itself and die singing. At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it…

    Why am I writing about this now?  Partly from personal circumstances and partly because of the terrible images of the seabirds on the news.  The birds are just going about their business being birds, and we keep going about our business of being anything but human.  In the end, we hurt ourselves.

    Follow this link for up-to-date information on current oil-spill relief efforts.

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  • the green-smoothie challenge in action

    June 6, 2010

    I was delighted to see Noelle’s enthusiasm in these pics of her in the midst of bite-sized challenge number one.  Here she is slurping a drink your greens smoothie.  She also made one for her flatmate who gave it rave reviews.  That’s definitely a smart move for Noelle: as with any effort, enlisting the help of a buddy is always worthwhile – for both of you!  And since these smoothies taste so good, it’s easy (and smart) to get someone else along for the ride…especially if they live with you.




    I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Noelle looks fantastic, which goes to show this isn’t about losing weight but about feeling good.

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  • bite-sized challenge: sugar SOS

    June 2, 2010

    I’m back with another task for Noelle, this one to challenge my ugliest, most stubborn food demon.  Here’s how Noelle would like to feel:

    I rarely eat refined sugar – my diet contains only natural sugars.

    Yep, me too.  Sugar cravings have plagued me for life.  I’d like to take the favorite cop-out and blame it on my family.  I was born into a Cuban American household, so this meant that as soon as I was weaned I went straight onto café con leche with generous spoonfuls of the sweet stuff – cue Beastie Boys: “I like my sugar with coffee and cream!”

    But here’s the thing: humans are born liking sweet stuff for a perfectly good reason.  It’s the form we choose that’s the problem.  Our sweet tooth is there to instigate an appetite for juicy fruit – and the natural sugars in them.  The natural sugars are of course diluted with the heavy water content in fresh, whole fruit – quite different from anything processed or even from dried fruit.

    So here’s Noelle’s challenge: she needs to keep a big, beautiful bowl in both her kitchen and office and make sure they’re always filled with whole fruit.  The more colors, the better.  The assortment should be as alluring as candy, and it should be in season if possible.

    Then she must allow herself to eat from them freely.  That’s right, if she wants to down a bunch of bananas in one sitting, go for it.  An entire tub of strawberries?  Eat up, girl.  It’s a free for all.  The only rule is that she allow the fruit to be as ripe as possible so that it’s also as sweet as can be.  Contrary to what one might think, eating lots of fruit (as part of a healthy lifestyle) does not cause unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar – again, the water content in whole, fresh fruit takes care of that.

    Noelle will be posting her feelings and feedback over the next two weeks in the comments section.  Hopefully, you’ll follow along, too.

    Ready?  Sweet!

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  • bite-sized challenge: a smoothie a day

    May 19, 2010

    And make it a green one.  If you look at Noelle’s list of successful outcomes, the first is:

    I rarely eat processed food – I almost always eat fresh food.

    The quickest way I know of to get more whole, plant-based food into your diet is to chug or slurp one large green smoothie a day.  I’ve written about the magic of green smoothies before, and you can try one of my favorite recipes here.  But you really don’t need a recipe at all: just lots of greens (spinach is flavor-neutral) and then fruit to sweeten it out.  I normally put a banana in mine to make it creamy and then top it up with any variety of chopped fruit I keep in the freezer.

    This one little change is a great kick-start and is really motivating since it’s so easy to do.  You can have the smoothie as a snack or even in place of a meal – it’s more filling than you might think.

    This challenge goes for the next two weeks so everyone has plenty of time to perfect their smoothie moves.  But keep checking the comments section, because Noelle will be posting her experience being a newbie to green smoothies.  And I know some of you are green-smoothie veterans, so please chime in to support Noelle!

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  • introducing the bite-sized challenge

    May 18, 2010

    A friend of mine in London recently asked if I would be up for coaching her on the path to healthier eating.  Noelle (not her real name to protect her privacy) is a productivity coach, so she was very clear about her goals.  I’ll quote her words:

    In my work, when we start a project we always recommend defining the “Successful Outcome.”  In other words, how do you know when this project is “DONE”?  The idea is that if you feel unhappy about something, you ask yourself, “Well, what would I like instead?”  That question is usually enough to get the ideas flowing!  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

    I rarely eat processed food – I almost always eat fresh food.

    I rarely eat refined sugar – my diet contains only natural sugars.

    When I look in the mirror, I can say confidently, “My body is just right how it is.  I wouldn’t want to lose any weight or gain any weight.”

    My stomach is flat and muscular.

    I know a lot about nutrition, and I make choices about what I eat that reflect my knowledge.

    I have a healthy body – inside and out.

    My body is almost always in great shape.

    I am a conscious eater – I know what foods have what impact on my body.

    I eat foods that give me energy (and not foods that zap my energy).

    Wow!  Are you as impressed with Noelle as I am?  My first thought was that she doesn’t need me.  But here’s where we all need each other: Noelle told me that a money-savvy friend of hers is giving her a bi-monthly money challenge, and it’s working so well that she wants me to give her the same kind of challenge when it comes to food.  And me?  Noelle’s helping me get better at being more decisive.  My successful outcome: to feel more confident in my decision-making and not stress myself out in the process.  We’ve created our own little barter economy!

    And the marker of any worthwhile goal is that it also benefits the greater good.  Which is where you come in.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll be taking each of Noelle’s “successful outcomes” and detailing a challenge she can do to make them a reality.  The idea, of course, is that it takes time to implement a change until it becomes habit.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Noelle will be posting her feelings and feedback in the comments section, so I hope you’ll follow along.  She’ll also post both a physical (weight) and emotional indicator of her progress.

    I’ll be doing each of the challenges along with Noelle – I need to coach myself every day to have the same successful outcomes, otherwise I’m bound to backtrack.  And here’s where the real beauty of coaching comes in: peer support.

    Feeling motivated to join us?  Take this as your first challenge to write down your own successful outcomes like Noelle did.  And please be sure to share your thoughts/progress/support in the comments section!

    The next challenge will be posted tomorrow.

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  • green find: the natural café

    May 11, 2010


    So there I was strolling down State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara for probably the eighth time in half as many days when my blissed-out gaze fell on The Natural Café.

    It took me a couple of minutes in the Mediterranean breeze to study the menu.  The Natural Café is, naturally, big on plant-based food sourced locally, although there’s a separate section for chicken and fish.

    I was initially swayed by names like Spiritual Spinach Salad and Buddha Burrito before the Natural Tamale put an end to any kind of indecision.  In I went.

    There’s definitely a Bohemian vibe here, and the place is overflowing with the college kids that call this town their crib.  You order at the register and then take a plastic number to your table – all the outside spaces were taken, so I nabbed one by a stack of The Independent, the city’s free local newspaper.

    Just as I was drooling at the event listings for the week – candlelit yoga, sailing lessons, organic wine tasting – my Natural Tamale arrived.

    I haven’t been this excited since I first laid eyes on Sharky’s two-taco combo late last year.  You can’t really see the scale from this photo, I know, but this was generous at $7.95 and tremendously tasty.  The brown rice was cooked perfectly, the beans were robust but not soupy, and the tamale – which was filled with chiles, pinto beans, ground peanut, and garlic – was better than any traditional one I’ve had.  I asked for it sans sour cream, which meant the ranchero sauce could shine on its own.  And then there was the perfect salad with crisp jicama.  Just beautiful.

    Check out The Natural Café’s Ten Easy Ways To Live a “Greener” Lifestyle.  Not sure what the quotation marks are for, but I can’t wait for my next tamale taste.

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  • heaven, i’m in heaven

    May 7, 2010

    I had thought about posting a series of these photos with a “Where Am I?” headline, but I’ll just cut right to the chase.

    I’ve had a long-standing, long-distance romance with Santa Barbara; and this week I got a chance to spend some quality time with my beloved.

    Not only does it have enough electricity to satisfy the city dweller in me, it’s the kind of country I crave.  Santa Barbara makes me feel good.

    And it knows how to push all my buttons:  I could be very happy indeed living life according to Santa Barbara Car Free…and buying everything I need from the farmers market in Old Town Santa Barbara.  It rivals any of the markets I’ve seen in Europe.

    To know, know, know SB, is to love, love, love it.  And I do.


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  • skin care that truly cares

    April 8, 2010

    I’ve always feared I’d go from pimples to wrinkles.

    Ever since I can remember, my face has been a bright stage for one red spot or another.  I’ve sampled what seems like every skin care product under the sun, which, incidentally, is one of the few things that have been able to clear my skin.

    To that end, I’ve also tried – gasp! – blasting my skin with a sunlamp while wearing plastic goggles, a course of Accutane, Retin-A, prescription creams, and chemical peels.  That’s in addition to the aforementioned products, from down-and-dirty Cetaphil to was-I-delusional-or-desperate Crème de la Mer.

    I also threw in some mail order “systems” like Proactiv.  And how can I forget the years and years of antibiotics?  I’ve probably suppressed them from my memory given I wound up with two ulcers as a result.  And a dearth of good bacteria in my gut.

    Oh yeah, and there have been colonics, Chinese Medicine, herbal teas, and the birth-control pill, not to mention at least a hundred cortisone injections for the cystic acne of my early to mid 20s.  By 30 the massive bumps had taken a hike, only to be replaced by more typical, concealer-dodging acne in the famous t-zone.  And last year, my skin decided it was time for acne rosacea, which the woman at the Dermatologica counter in London aptly described as “angry.“

    Finally, I’ve had to accept that heredity and hormones – and yes, stress – play a big part in my skin’s fiery temper.  And that it sure looks a lot better if I eat right and exercise.  I had nearly given up on the skin care aspect of it.  After all, can something coming from the outside really make a difference?

    Actually, yes.  Many of the products I tried triggered that dreaded cycle of stripping my skin of vital moisture, which in turn caused it to produce even more pore-clogging oil. Yet the so-called “gentle” concoctions left my face feeling unclean and too moisturized.

    And then, late last year, I stumbled on MyChelle Dermaceuticals at a health-food store.


    Everything MyChelle makes is cruelty-free and veggie-friendly, but it’s the products themselves and how they felt on my skin that really sealed the deal for me.  I was impressed enough by the sample sachets I tried that I emailed the company, especially as their philosophy is right in-line with mine:

    To offer pure, nontoxic, results-oriented skin care products made with therapeutic ingredients that do not compromise personal health or the environment.

    I explained my skin issues to MyChelle, and they sent me their White Cranberry Cleanser, Capillary Calming Serum, Fruit Enzyme Mist, and Oil Free Grapefruit Cream, which I’ve been using religiously for the past four months.

    Finally, I’ve met my skin care match.  I’ve used it in both the California desert and the high humidity of Florida, and my skin loves it.  The redness has gone down dramatically, pores look smaller, and my skin feels comfortable.  I love how I only have to use a tiny bit, and that the packages are small enough to travel in my carry-on (in a requisite Ziploc bag).  My only regret is that, on a recent trip, the Fruit Enzyme Mist spilled open.


    I’ve now run out.  On the bright side, it bathed everything in a soft, pleasant scent – yet another MyChelle perk.

    MyChelle Dermaceuticals is offering a free 2oz bottle of Pumpkin Hydrating Mist with every order over $100 when you buy before April 15th, 2010.  Discover your natural skin care match at MyChelle Dermaceuticals.

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