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It’s Not All about the Food

13 May

My Aunt and I

After over 8 years in the path to health, I can safely say it’s not all about the food. The more I learn, the more I understand that one thing alone is not going to make a difference. It can start the way to a healthier lifestyle, but it’s not the ticket for sure.

My favorite Aunt passed away last year. She was a happy woman who drank coffee and smoke for a very long time and yet she was in good physical health. She was surrounded by friends and family who loved her. She also kept herself very active and had a great memory and would tell me great stories about her family and friends. She worked hard and enjoyed her life very much.

I was lucky to spend a few summers with her and was able to learn so much from her. In fact, my love for romaine lettuce started because my aunt would eat them for dinner everyday. I didn’t know there were different kinds of lettuce back then, but she taught me and inspired me to eat them. We also eat a lot of candy and coffee, but we had a great time!

She taught me to reuse and not create garbage before it was trendy. She was creative and the first marketing guru I learned from. She taught me how to count money backwards and how to clean windows the right way. She took me for my driving test when I first got my license and helped me pass the test. She was very charming and polite to even the hardest people and customers ever and that’s something I apply in my life everyday. She always smiled and kept herself busy and up to date with news and trends.

She was 90 years old when she passed away a year ago, and that’s how I know it’s not all about the food. She was happy with what she had, her work, her daughter, her dogs, and friends, and of course her favorite niece, ME! 🙂

I miss her very much, but I know that she’s with me in my heart and that what I learned from her will stay with me forever. I want to honor her memory with this blog but also share that there is more to life than food. We all need love, purpose, exercise, food, happiness, friends, pets, plants, air, ocean, candy, and more to live a healthy life.

I’m not endorsing smoking or drinking coffee or eating candy, not did I changed my believes about raw vegan organic food. I simply believe that food alone is not the key to a healthy long lifestyle. So today, I encourage you to see what is missing in your life to make it complete, and to remember that one thing alone is not enough. Healthy food is not the only solution!

Get Rid of Clutter Now! I mean it!

21 April

Is this what your house looks like?We were living in a small 3 bedroom/3 bathroom house for over four years. When we first moved in, we had nothing and most of what we had was furniture that other friends or family didn’t want. We also had a one-car garage that basically stored boxes and shit from friends and family. It was a disaster that garage!

The Problem

I didn’t enjoy living in such a big space (to me), I grew up in a city in a small apartment, so houses are not my favorite. Plus being paranoid about break-ins doesn’t help when you live in a house with many entrances and windows. So needless to say, I hated the house. I wanted badly to get rid of everything and move to a small space.

Denis had bought me two books on Feng Shui and Clutter by Karen Kingston but I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. It was stressing me out to read the books because I had a cluttered house at the time. The first time we went to Sedona, I decided to take one of the books with me to read in the plane. Of course I didn’t read it on the way there because I was so excited to go hiking in the red stones that I decided to read about Sedona instead.

I  had one of the most spiritual experiences there while in guided meditation and also with a spiritual consuler. On the plane ride back home, I decided to read Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui and couldn’t put it down. When I got home, I decided that I would make the best of the house since we had to stay there to save money for traveling, and once I had a taste of traveling, there was no going back. So I did what a crazy paranoid Scorpio would do, I cleaned the garage.

Where to Start?

I called my uncle and aunt to help me clean and get rid of everything. We made three piles, one for donations, one for recycle, and one for garbage. Oh yes, that one for what HAD to stay. But I was merciless… I donated and recycled away. It took the four of us six hours to clean the one-car garage, but it was done. And once I had finished, wow… what a feeling. It was like I lost 50 lbs. And I was hooked!

Within the next few days, I had cleared a couple of closets that were holding gifts and things people had given us that we had no place for. The next week I moved to our bedroom and clean our closet. Donated clothes we were not using or had never worn. Then it was the dresser and all its drawers with more clothes and things to donate or throw away. After the bedroom, I moved to our bathroom, and this went one for the next few months. Every weekend or so, I would unclutter a small part of the house. One drawer at the time and even our backyard!

Benefits

As I cleared clutter, I opened space for new things in our lives. Wonderful and amazing things began to happen. The energy flow in our house was better and my attitude and mood improved. I actually stopped hating the house and starting enjoying our space. I also enjoyed having less stuff, less clothes, less shoes, less crap to worry about and collect dust. I became less attached to “things” and open my heart to important things in life.
After living in that house for six years, we finally moved to a smaller space in our “dream” location, the beach. Our new home is so small that it took me 1 month to prepare the move. From a 3/3 we relocated to a 1/1! So I had to use all my un-cluttering skills to ensure that I would only take what was needed to our new space. And even after the move, we still wind up having to get rid of more things.

 5 Tips to Keep it Up

  • I do a routine clutter clean up without even thinking about it or scheduling it
  • I get rid of something if I buy something new or if I receive a gift. For example, my friend gave me purple purse as a gift, so when I got home, I found a purse and donated it. I apply this rule to books too (these are most precious possessions)
  • I committ to detach myself from possessions by understanding that when that object would be loved by someone else who needs it and will cherish it more than I do
  • I abstain from buying unnecessary things that will not contribute to my path… unless they are purple of course! Just kidding!
  • I say to myself and other (as a mantra or affirmation) that I’m a minimalist and will continue to open space for wonderful things in my life

I wanted to share this story with everyone because I strongly believe that when one clears the clutter in our lives, one receives more beautiful things in exchange. Clutter is dead energy sucking the good energy out of life. And one way I measure how uncomplicated my life is is by looking at how many keys I have in my key-ring. At this time, I have three keys, car, home, and office… How many keys do you have?

Blessings!

Garage Photo by Irish Typepad

Feng Shui Photo by Samu73

Exercise and Motivation: Get Back on That Mat!

03 April

I wanted to start a brand new blog site dedicated to excuses I come up every day when is time to exercise. It would be call 365 reasons to not exercise and it would be one per day so you would have an excuse for each day of the year! But I figured why spend all that energy that goes into creating a new site/blog and instead sit and blog about why I choose to be lazy instead when I can actually put that energy into the exercise itself.

One of my biggest problems is that I need motivation and discipline and/or consequences if I don’t exercise. For example, when I was paying for a gym membership I was going at least three days a week and taking the classes offered to get my money’s worth. That motivated me to go and workout because it would be lost money from my bank account making some corporation rich!  

So on the Blue Moon I decided I was going to sign up for a bunch of classes to get me going again. I signed up for a weight lifting class and Anusara yoga class. I was also planning to take Belly Dance classes again, but found that my favorite teacher had moved and was unable to find another class that would fit into my new tight schedule. The weight lifting class was two days a week, yoga was two days a week as well, and that left me with only Friday night free. My weekends are pretty busy as it is with all the socializing I do at the farmer’s markets and raw foodist hang-outs so weekend classes were out of the question.

The first week of classes everything went great. I was feeling great and both classes seem to be working in sync with each other. Almost as if both instructors had called up each other and agreed on what they were going to be teacher me. I was flying and very happy! My yoga practice (after 8 years) was improving and I was getting strong enough to do hand stands. My arms and my breathing in weight lifting improved so much that my coach was very proud that in such a short time he could see great progress.

At the start of the 4th week, I began feeling the pressure. I was getting stressed out by my busy exercise schedule. So I started skipping class and coming up with all sort of new excuses. I debated and concluded I had gotten my money’s worth for both classes and that I needed more time to concentrate in work and my blog. And I quit both classes and stopped exercising completely.

After about a month, my size 4 jeans were not fitting anymore. I knew it was not the food because I was not eating differently. That motivated me to begin exercising again and I signed for iyengar yoga and even began an online 100 pushup challenge.

Once I got back on the horse, or better yet, on the yoga mat again, I felt so much better. Even though I’m not using financial reasons to get me motivated this time around, the size 4 jeans are. I also decided to keep my weights around my very small living room so that while I take breaks from my busy “online life“, I can workout. In fact, Denis and I made a pact, if we want to watch TV (which is one of my worst addictions), then we will workout while we watch TV.

I’m loving it now, but I know eventually (probably once the challange is completed) I will be bored again and will have to find a new way to motivate myself to get back to exercising. But for now I won’t stress about it and keep going.

Photo by cowbite

Schedule me in, please!

29 March

Every month I find myself complaining that I don’t have enough time to take care of myself. Every weekend I make a promise to spend time on me… what that means is: no cleaning, no chores, no Facebook or twitter, no reading… just a little girl time for me.

In a perfect world, I would enjoy to be able to get a massage, manicure, pedicure, wax, etc weekely. However, I cannot only afford it, but also I can’t find the time to drop everything else I do on weekends (or week nights for that matter) to take care of me and do those things.

I watch Oprah shows about women who let themselves go over the years because of children and other things in their lives, and I always wonder how they got there. But I find myself doing things for everyone else, working from home, preparing food for Denis, Facebooking, and doing chores and no time to take care of me.

At the beginning of the year, I had decided to start doing more for me. I took a weight training class, went back to yoga, and started a Full Moon Liquid Fast. Well it didn’t work out. It made me more stressed than relaxed because I had to leave work on time (yes, I’m not those people who “clocks out” at 5pm, I’m a workaholic and so is Denis) and I still didn’t have time to remove my nail polish at the end of the week! How sad is that? So I decided to quit the classes and concentrate in one thing at the time. But I still didn’t know how to manage my home time.

If you think about it, this is how much time we really have:

Work – 8 hours (but if you are me or Denis 9 to 10 hours), sleep 8 hours (if you are lucky!), commute to work 1 to 2 hours round trip (1 hour for me), time getting ready in the morning – 2 hours (1 hour for me,  I’m quick!). If my math is correct, that leaves us with an average of 4 hours every night. That’s not counting making dinner and getting ready for the next day… and forget it if you have kids! I’m single and only have a cat so I’m lucky I get about 2 hours every night after making dinner and other chores… and that’s with a helpful partner!

A few weeks ago, Denis was listening to the WISH Summit and related some of the information to me, because I myself didn’t find time to listen to the talks. He heard from one of the speakers (sorry I can’t give proper credit, we don’t remember the speaker!) that women should schedule time in their routines or busy lives to themselves. That was my aha moment! So immediately I decided to block two hours a week to do my own version of spa time.

So after careful consideration on what day would work out best for me and moved things around, I squeezed myself in for two hours every Thursday night. So Thursday night came and went and I only managed to get 1 hour to myself. So today I was able to get another hour squeezed in. Got my nails done and other things that I don’t need to share here *wink*. But the point is that it was a great effort in my part to get it going.

I hope I can continue to do this every week and will soon become part of my routine and at least get my nails done! But I hope that by sharing this, you can also find a way to schedule yourself in for time for you alone.

Blessings…

Picture by Nick J Webb

9 Fun Ideas to “Spice Up” your Exercise Routine

10 January
Biking

Biking

One of the most common New Year resolutions is to exercise more often, sign up for the gym, or loose weight. But after the second week or even a month it is very hard to stay motivated. I can actually write a list of my top 20 excuses to not exercise. However, I know that exercising helps me not only to stay healthy but also be happy. Once I get myself going, I enjoy whatever physical activity I’m doing.

Another reason I tend to loose focus on my exercise routines is that I don’t enjoy doing the same type of exercise over and over. I don’t like to just go to the gym, or be outdoors or just do cardio or take classes. So here are some of types of activities that I do to stay motivated to exercise daily.

Free Activities

Since I moved closer to the beach and the ocean, I’m now able to exercise for free. Here are some of the free alternatives to exercise and keep it interesting.

Walking & Running

I used to run at the gym on a machine. Now, I try walking and running on the sand or by the ocean on the paved road around my house. It doesn’t require a lot of preparation, I just put my shoes and go out for 15 minutes and done! No need get the gym bag, get in the car and drive, check in, etc.

Bicycle & Rollerblading

I’ve been rollerblading since I was six years old. And now that I’m by the beach is very easy to get the rollerblades and head out and exercise. I also was given a bicycle years ago and never used it. Now, I have two bikes and go almost every other day so that I exercise different muscles I don’t get to exercise doing other physical activities.

Swimming

swimming

Being by the ocean helps immensely, specially living in Florida since the temperature of the ocean is almost always warm. But years ago I had a pool in the house I lived, and I used it every day for months until after a year I got bored. When I had a membership at the gym, they had a pool too and was swimming at least two or three times a month so that I wouldn’t get bored just working on machines.

Hiking

This is new to me. I started hiking in 2008 right before I went to Sedona. I had done some “mild” hiking when I was in high school but nothing like the rocks in Sedona. In Florida is hard since there are no rocks or mountains, but we have trails.

Home activities

Activities like bouncing, watching workout videos, etc help to keep exercising fun. Especially in the winter when one can’t get out and do free outdoor activities. I have Netflix and often will add work out videos, Belly dance, yoga, etc and watch them at home and exercise. But I’m quite shy, so I wait until my hubby is out or sleeping to do it.

Paid Activities

A few years back, the only way I could stay motivated to exercise was knowing that I was paying money and that if I missed a day, that way money lost. So if you are like me (years ago), these are some of the paid activities you can do to keep you motivated and not bored with the same type of activity.

Sign up for a Gym

I had a subscription for many years and I truly enjoyed it until I was not able to afford it anymore. I went three or four times a week and took advantage of everything they provided from the machines to classes, the pool, the trainers, everything. That helped me enjoy exercising.

Take a Class

Whether is a yoga class or a dance class, sometimes if one lacks the discipline to stick with something, it helps to have an instructor that will keep you focused. I strongly recommend belly dance classes for women and yoga for men.

Winter Sports

Snowshoeing1

Not everyone lives in sunny Florida where even in the coldest night we can still go out for a run. So if you live near a mountain or even a hill, paid winter sports such as skiing or snow shoeing is fun and keeps the diversity on physical activities during the winter.

Water Sports

Canoeing & snorkeling are a few that are fun to try at least once in a life time and can get your heart rate going.

So hopefully by the time you’ve finished reading this blog you have new ideas for fun physical activities that you can do to keep yourself motivated in exercising.

yoga-hiking

Hiking and doing yoga in Mt. Shasta, CA.

10 Tips to Begin Transitioning to a Healthier Lifestyle

16 August
Fruits

Fruits

I believe health has many meanings and we all have a different definition of what being healthy is. At every stage of my journey I felt I was healthier than before. I believe that being healthy is a cycle of different parts of one’s lifestyle. I believe it’s not just about food and exercise, but also about state of mind and the environment we live in. However, food and exercise have a huge impact on the other elements of one’s lifestyle.

Therefore, I will start with answering one of the most common questions I get asked, what are some of the things a person can begin to do to change their lifestyle to a healthier one? I’ve summarized what I believe are the top 10 first steps to start transitioning.

Eliminate

I read and did tons of research when I started my journey. I began by eliminating the following from my diet and lifestyle.

High Fructose corn Syrup

It’s almost in everything! Reading labels is very important and you will find that high fructose corn syrup is in everything you are used to eating and drinking. Why is it bad for you? Well I will need almost another page to write about that, but instead, I would suggest to read Dr. Andrew Weil’s explanation

Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Oils

Once again, reading labels is very important. Even though some packaged foods may say “No Trans Fats,” they may have hydrogenated oils. They are not the same, and I will let Dr. Weil explain that in his article.

Coffee

I loved coffee! It took me two weeks to quit. I replaced it with black tea, green tea, and white tea. These teas have caffeine but lack the toxins that coffee has and will help you begin the transition from coffee. How is that something so tasty can be bad for you? Well the studies conducted recently contradict each other leaving us with only the side effects to judge. Side effects according to Dr. Weil may include “anxiety, insomnia, tremor, irregular heartbeat, irritate the digestive system, bladder and prostate.”

Junk and Fast Food

Have you ever wondered why fast food is so inexpensive? Why junk food is so addicting? Well if you read the labels you can see the answers to those questions. Most contain trans fats, hydrogenated oil, and high fructose corn syrup. If you eat it everyday, start small by cutting any fast and junk food two days a week the first week, three days the next week and so forth.

TV

Why is TV bad for you? Well not all shows are bad, but the more time we spend on the couch watching TV, the more time we loose on other activities that can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. I would suggest cutting down the amount of time spent on the couch watching TV and playing games to 30 to 45 minutes a day and begin replacing that with other activities. This is one addiction I’m still battling.

Add to your Lifestyle

So we remove bad things and replace them with good things. Here is a list of things one can begin to add to help the transition.

Whole Grains and Foods

Replace white rice, white bread, white pasta, with whole grains and foods such as brown rice, whole wheat breads and pasta. I developed a love for Soba noodles, rice noodles and past as well as long brown rice and whole grains.  Most grocery stores carry these nowadays and have reasonable prices.

Vegetables and Fruits

Organic Vegetables

Organic Vegetables

Probably one of the most important things to add to one’s new healthier lifestyle. At the beginning I would recommend to start with frozen vegetables that way you can experiment and find what you like and then replace them with fresh vegetables. Many times, if one is not used to eating certain veggies, buying fresh and not using them in time can be discouraging. Replace the afternoon snack-machine-candy-bar for a fruit or the morning on-the-go frozen-breakfast for a fresh fruit smoothie. You will be adding tons of vitamins to your diet without having to spend money on additional vitamins.

Water

Drinking Delicious Ionized Water from Reusable Bottle

Drinking Delicious Ionized Water from Reusable Bottle

Drinking water is very important to help the body eliminate toxins. Start small if you are not used to drinking water. Replace two of your preferred drinks with a bottle of water everyday until you are able to drink water without thinking. I prefer Essentia water because it has the highest pH available in bottled water, but I also rather carry my reusable bottle and fill it up with water from my own filtered kitchen sink. I later bought a water Ionizer which I prefer.

Spending Time with Nature and Doing Outdoor Activities

So even though I’m a TV addict and can spend up to 6 hours straight in front of the TV without even blinking, I feel much better when I go outside and spend time with nature. I don’t pay for being outdoors; I find activities or recreational sites that are free. For example, going to the beach, taking a walk in a park, hiking in local parks, going for a car ride, riding a bicycle around the block, or simply sitting in my backyard reading. Even if you live in a city, there are parks and sites. If not, use your balcony or roof to spend time outside your living area away from the TV.

Exercise for 30 minutes three times a week

I know… I know… this is the hardest thing to do! I love and hate exercise. I love it when I’m doing it, and I hate it before I begin. I can come up with all sorts of excuses to getting out of exercising. So I’ve decided now that as creative as I get with the excuses, I can be creative on how I get my 30 minutes of exercise a week. I recently started going to the beach and swimming in the ocean three times a week after work and swimming for 30 to 45 minutes a day. I also have a rebounder that I moved near my computer and started to jump for 15 minutes before I begin to check my email or go on Facebook, etc. While Denis works on the computer I may do some yoga poses while I wait for the computer or lift some weights. I belonged to a gym and loved it, but we had to cut out our budget for the gym to save money. Now, I look for ways to exercise for free.

Walk on the Beach

Walk on the Beach

Every person is different and I suggest beginning very small. Pick one thing from each list to begin with and see how it works for you. It also helps to have the support of others or people who can do it with you. I’ve read many books and done research before I started. I also do a general check up every year and get my blood work done too.

It’s important to have the help of a doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.

Here are some of the books I would recommend reading before getting started:

8 Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body’s Natural Healing Power by Dr. Andrew Weil

Eating Well For Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Bringing Health and Pleasure Back to Eating By Dr. Andrew Weil

The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young
The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins
Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins
The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That benefit You and the Place You Live by Nell Newman

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman

For more books on health, food, and exercise, visit the Books Tab.

Healthy Life Style – Tips and Tricks!

08 February

Welcome to my website for healthy living!

I believe that life is a full circle… being healthy, eco-friendly, vegan, fun, caring, loving, and happy. Living fully is all a circle of life changing actions. I also believe that one has to have a complete circle of these elements to achieve our best life ever! I believe that one can’t be a environmentalist and eat animals, one can’t be healthy and not be green, one can’t live fully and not be healthy… it’s all a complete circle.  Love the time we have on earth and take care of it by living a full circle.

Enjoy this site!