A reader asked me about veggie burgers and faux-meats on Facebook. “Are these healthy?”
My answer is getting a lot of attention, and may make you question your Whole Foods’ purchases:
A reader asked me about veggie burgers and faux-meats on Facebook. “Are these healthy?”
Working mom-hood can suck.
Don’t get me wrong:
My son is the best kid I could have asked for, I love my career helping others feel well in their bodies, and I love my life: working from home 75% of the time totally helps me maintain my health.
I don’t usually complain about exhaustion and overwhelm, because honestly I feel pretty good most of the time, and my health is my top priority. But here’s what I’m feeling today:
Teaching a tele-class until 10pm pushed my adrenal glands to the max last night. After a welcome-home roll in the hay with my partner at 11 (totally worth it), I finally fell asleep about midnight; only to be woken up by my 6-year old son who sneezed in my face after padding into our room at 3am.
My 6:30am alarm was pre-empted by my early rising boy who poked me awake at 6 to ask if he had to go to school today.
So, yeah. I’m tired.
And most working moms can relate. We get pulled in several directions throughout the day, and our best efforts to maintain balance are often thwarted by a kid who needs to stay home sick, an opportunity to grow our business that requires late nights, or that networking event that could bring us the next big client.
How can a working mom keep her wits about her, and stay focused through the day?
In my 20s I would have powered through days like these with alternating hits of caffeine and sugar. Of course in my 20s I wouldn’t be tired because of teaching and my 6 year old, I would have been out all night barhopping.
These days I do my best to stay healthy, one bite at a time, and I know my old habits of a 2pm double mocha with whipped cream and a Mounds Bar after lunch aren’t going to cut it. Those old habits worked against me:
- I’ll break out with acne on my back and jaw line, which is oh-so attractive
- I’ll feel even more run down by 3:30pm
- I’ll have a harder time falling asleep and waking up, leading to more caffeine and more sugar the next day – a slippery slope
So I’m going to use specific energizing foods and techniques that I know will help my body and brain get through the day:
- Water. Yes, it’s boring, but fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration. Just a 2% water loss effects mental functioning, and I don’t need any help in that department today. Plus, it’s free.
- Green Tea. Yes, it’s caffeine, but it doesn’t give me (or many other people) the same jittery feeling as coffee. Plus, the polyphenols in green tea (aka antioxidants) known as ECGC, boost metabolism and promote fast fat loss, while the theanine provides calm for a long, stressful day.
- Green Juice. Mega doses of chlorophyll and vitamins in a fresh green juice are going to boost my energy just a tad.
- Lunch. A mega-salad and some lean and clean protein. Today will be shredded baby kale with arugula tossed with olive oil and a bit of ume vinegar, some marinated chickpeas and smoked wild Alaskan salmon. The greens give me uplifting energy and the fish provides a solid protein.
- Walk. I’ll have a 20-minute break in between clients and I’m heading outside. Instead of checking out Facebook or sending 5 more emails, I’m getting out for some fresh air. Moving in and looking at nature are naturally energizing. True, it’s Brooklyn so there aren’t rolling hills and forest paths to wander, but a tree grows here. If you work in an office where long breaks are frowned upon, take a 5-minute walk outside and take the stairs to get there. Every little bit helps!
- Napping. Never underestimate the power of the power nap. If you find yourself craving caffeine or sugar at 3pm, head to your car or sneak under your desk at 3:30pm for 15 minutes. The benefits of a 5-10 minute nap are amazing, and you’ll be surprised at your productivity and focus after.
No, I won’t be able to make up for the lost sleep with some pressed vegetables in a glass, but fueling my body with nutrients it needs rather than caffeine and sugar that will ultimately deplete me is my long-term strategy for health.
Tomorrow I will sleep in a bit while my son gets his weekend screen-time fix. Ultimately my goal is to continue to replenish my energy so that I can have a full weekend with my son.
That’s what this is all about really. Choosing foods on a daily basis that allow me to have the energy and life I want – full, big, varied, fun and productive. I can’t anticipate perfectly what energy-drains will show up, but I stay in touch with my body and want “she” needs. All of us need to keep listening to our physical bodies and what they need, and it’s usually pretty simple: adequate rest, invigorating movement, sex, great food with deep nutrition, play, hydration, engagement, and passion.
And in the end, eating for energy allows me to devote more fun and love to my son. Even though he wakes me up early, he’s the best thing in my life.
Keep the greens handy, get to bed, and keep going with your life.
Real Food Is Sexy!
Perfectly ripe berries and fruit are my snack of choice any season.
There is something romantic, bawdy, intoxicating about fresh, warm, dripping fruit.
Fruit is sex.
This guest post was written by my partner and friend, Bob Gower. It was too beautiful to keep to myself. With tears of joy and gratitude streaming down my face, I share it with you. XO, Alex
Today I’m giving up on perfection—on the idea that it’s possible, and on the idea that holding it as a vision is valuable at all.
For most of my life I’ve imagined the extremes. I’ve looked at war and wanted to end war, I’ve looked at agriculture, or culture, and wanted to envision a perfect system, a sustainable system, a system that would exist unchanging on into the future.
But perfection is situational. The job or relationship that was perfect for me at 20 is not the same that suits me now at 47.
And this vision of perfection just makes me crazy. It has me ask questions like “why can’t things be this way now?” But the universe always answers such conceits with “because it’s not.”
Now we may think it would be useful to imagine perfection to have some clear vision we are heading towards. And while I concede a vision is important a vision of perfection is not.
Our visions are bounded by time. Which means the vision I can imagine for myself now is far different than what I was able to imagine for myself a few years ago. Substantially different.
What’s useful is to know what’s important to ourselves right now. Not in 20 years but today. How much money do I need? How much time with my kids? How much sleep and leisure time? What are the things that make me feel full. And again, not far in the future but right now. Today.
Let’s start with sleep. How much did you get last night? How much would you like to have gotten? What’s the impact on your quality of life and quality of work when you get less than you need?
Lets say you got 6 but want and feel you need 8. Is it possible to get 8 tonight? What would have to change for this to happen? And what would be the impact if it did?
Can’t imagine 8? how about 6.25? Let’s get closer to the goal with the understanding that as the goal comes closer it will also come into focus and we’ll be able to se the limitations of this goal and will likely want to change it even before we get all the way to it.
But perfection. Perfection is a hard taskmaster. Perfections—like a world without war or a world without hunger, or a world of pure and easy abundance—are fantasies. Perhaps useful as some far off goal but they ignore that the poor will be with us always.
No perfection sucks. It slows us down it has us ban things because we are afraid they might change things. But to be alive is to change. And yes, change kind of sucks.
But static visions just piss me off. How many times have I not done something because I couldn’t do it perfectly or didn’t want to take the time to work hard and get to perfection. I can’t dance perfectly so don’t dance, I can’t act professionally so never even try out for community theater.
I used to play guitar and sing quite a bit. But recently my guitar has lived under my couch and get’s pulled out less than twice a year. But a recent request to video myself singing a song—a friend is editing together a montage for a dear friends memorial service—meant I had to pull the guitar out and tune it up.
I could have practiced for days but instead I practiced for an hour or so. My fingers got tired but I heard the heart of the song and just sang. I messed up the words, the melody, and the rhythm at times but in a single take got something that felt right. The years of practice fell away and all that was left was me and my feelings and the song. And the video had heart.
This is what we need—heart.
“Heart” means connection, presence and real-ness. Not some distant view of isolated perfection. Leave virtuosity to the professionals and never think of yourself as a professional.
Connect with your work, do your best and leave the results of your labor up to someone or something else. And don’t worry about where it all will end. Because it all will end someday. I will end, you will end, the world will end. Perhaps all to birth something new and perhaps not—but whatever your concerns right now, no matter how large, one day they will seem trivial and distant.
When I was a young man I found my father’s choices in life to be absurd. When I got older I saw he was doing the best he could, when I got older still I deeply appreciated the sacrifices and decisions he made and how much he taught me through is presence. And when I spoke at his funeral last year I realized that my father was perfect. All his flaws, all his foibles, all his skill and talent in all that he worked for—all this made him perfect. Just perfect.
I would not change a thing about him. In fact I can’t—he’s dead and his actions for good or ill are all in the past. As soon as you realize that you too are dead—that the person you were yesterday is gone and will never return and you are by definition perfect right now as you are, and the only question worth asking is “what next?” the sooner you will rise to your full impact in the world.
Perfection holds you back. Do your best, be present, and give the results up to a power far greater than yourself. You are but a small part of life. Play that part and let life take care of itself.
Follow Bob Gower and his upcoming book project on Twitter: @BobGower
This letter came in from Brenda about her frustration with learning how to cook.
She was so frustrated with food. She knows a lot about nutrition and thinks she should know how to cook more, but doesn’t!
I have some huge hurdles before I begin. The first is I’m 63 years old, & believe it not, I’ve never learned how to cook. I was married for 35 years & until my husband’s sudden death in 2000, he did all the cooking.
The problem for me is not learning about foods & nutrition, I literally have a library of books & knowledge on foods. I’ve studied health & nutrition for over 30 years but am only self taught. It’s my passion to do as you are doing, healing myself first & then helping to empower others to do the same. My point in telling you this is, it’s inconceivable to me how I could have learned all this & not know how to cook.
I am dealing with ADD & Hypothyroidism & know how vitally important nutritious food is.
If you can suggest what I can do to obtain help with the necessary steps to cook nutritious, delicious tasting meals, please let me know. Most all the people I know of that cook on TV don’t really go through each step & it’s usually not that healthy.”
I sense your frustration – that cooking feels complicated and choosing recipes that avoid the common food triggers is next-to-impossible.
Instead of overwhelming yourself with cookbooks and recipe ideas, I recommend watching healthy cooking videos on Youtube. Watch a lot of them.
Some of us are visual or auditory learners, which makes videos an easier way to learn new skills like cooking.
Don’t watch to take notes. Just watch and listen to get a feel for what the healthy chefs are doing. What ingredients they use, how they prepare and cut them, how long they cook them for, and how they season them.
Watch a whole mess of ‘em. Like 20 or more videos.
You’ll start to anticipate what the cooks are doing, and you’ll gain more confidence when you finally step up to your own stove.
You can try some raw foods recipes that don’t involve heat or the stove, just blending, cutting or mixing of raw ingredients to help you get comfortable in the kitchen.
Here are some videos to get started with:
Now, there are some other interesting blogs and books out there that talk about the ideaof intuitive cooking.
That you don’t always need to follow a recipe to make beautiful, simple, delicious, healthy food.
Read some of these:
Then try one thing.
Then once you’ve been successful cooking that one thing, try a local cooking class.
Or ask a friend who can cook to come over and help you make a simple rice dish with some steamed vegetables.
Keep it simple. Taste. Enjoy.
Did this inspire you to cook more?
What is YOUR top tip for making cooking easier and less intimidating? Write your comment below:
I admit it: I want to be like Oprah
I’m loving doing the interviews for my Ultimate Health Master Class Series! Interviewing other people about their lives and motivations is one of my favorite things. Put me in front of a panel of experts and throw out the cue cards – I immediately get curious about what makes the “experts” tick and how they got to where they are.
The first Ultimate Health Master Class interviews were so inspiring for me:
Holli Thompson, a sister-graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, is an expert in uncovering your nutritional style. We covered the benefits of healthy fats in getting glowing skin (even in winter), and avoiding inflammatory food sensitivities.
Latham Thomas, celebrity birth coach and yoga teacher, gave a beautiful, profoundly important lesson on “getting in touch with your animal.” As a guide for people (ok, mainly women, but men can get this too) who are going through major physical transitions, Latham shared strategies on how to listen to your body and honor its call.
This is the juicy stuff, people!
If you haven’t already, I invite you to join in on the master classes (they’re free to listen this week, folks!) – the guests are world-class and are really sharing their best tips and motivations with you on how to get back on the healthy horse this year.
Today’s Master Classes feature 3 profoundly important mentors and teachers in my life:
Ariel & Shya Kane and Marc David.
Ariel & Shya have been my personal coaches for several years and offer a new perspective on loving the body you’re in, ending your negative self-talk, and having a life you love.
Marc David is the award winning author of The Slow Down Diet, and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Marc’s understanding of how we are being when we eat, and how we can stop the madness of dieting and get the body we love is unique and has influenced how I work with clients today.
Let me know your thoughts on the new mental paradigm these experts are offering here in the comments!
Finally free of my sugar addiction.
Control of my cravings.
Loving my energy and how my body feels.
That’s what the Sugar Free ’til Thanksgiving Challenge is all about.
Over 100 people have raised their hands to join me in a public experiment: avoid added sugars until Thanksgiving.
It didn’t matter if you started 2 weeks ago or yesterday.
It doesn’t matter if you “fell off the wagon” for a day or a bite.
This IS NOT about perfection. This is about awareness.
This is about feeling your body and giving it a break from a powerful drug: sugar.
YES, I believe that sugar is a drug.
A drug is defined as “a chemical substance that affects the processes of the mind or body,” so in my book, sugar is a drug.
I’ve seen the addiction up close and personal – in myself, my family, friends and clients for years. I’ve “used” sugar to get through break-ups, stress, boredom, loneliness, and exhaustion. Other people may use alcohol, I used chocolate. OK, I’ve used alcohol too, but I’d take a raw dark chocolate bar any day of the week over a glass of wine.
And I’ve seen how this sweet drug causes a multitude of health problems, pain and mood challenges.
So for many of us, myself included, going without sugar for even a few days is a major accomplishment.
I honor and congratulate you if:
- you’ve just thought about going off sugar because you know it ultimately makes you feel bad
- you’ve gone off sugar completely for 2 weeks and plan on going further
- you’ve used WAY less sugar in the last week and just had a few little bites
- you’ve just read this for the first time and have decided to avoid sugar and alcohol until Thanksgiving (that’s November 22nd for all you non-US readers out there – join us!)
But quitting the white stuff is a challenge – that’s why I’ve named this experiment so!
I’ve offered tips and suggestions over the past two weeks, and I’m giving away products like SweetLeaf’s Stevia Drops to encourage the readers who really want support and another, non-sugar way to enjoy the sweet life.
This week, as we draw closer to Thanksgiving, I have another goodie to offer you -
Another form of support and inspiration. Because that’s what I’m always looking for.
Inspiration to do more.
Inspiration to eat well.
Inspiration to get un-stuck.
So here is another mega-hit of inspiration for all my Sugar Free ‘Til Thanksgiving challengers out there:
My friend, author and co-graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Connie Bennet, has offered two free copies of her best-selling book “Beyond Sugar Shock!”
This book is FILLED with inspiration, guidance, and recipes (some of mine, too!) that will support you on your sugar-free journey and towards a life of control, energy, and glowing radiance.
So here’s how you can get your free copy from me and Connie:
- I’ll choose 2 Facebook followers at random and will send you your free copy in the mail (sorry – only US dwellers can win this, but any foreign followers who are chosen will win my new Healthy Holiday & Winter Wellness package, worth $67- shhhh! No one knows about this yet!)
OR, leave a comment here on my blog about WHY you want to kick your sugar habit!
Here to support, inspire and guide,
Diabetic safe sweetener? Candida Cure searcher?
My public challenge to go sugar free till Thanksgiving is going great!
Over 80 people have raised their hands to join me in avoiding all added sugars -
whether you joined today, yesterday or 2 weeks ago with me, Congratulations!
Sugar is one of the most addictive foods out there, and it can be tough to stay away from
its sweet siren song.
The good folks over at SweetLeaf Stevia got excited by all the chatter online, and
offered to send me a bunch of samples of their flavored stevia drops. I’ve tried most of them out,
and they’re great!
If you don’t know about Stevia, here’s the scoop:
Made from a plant of the same name, Stevia is a non-caloric, natural sweetener that doesn’t change
your blood sugar. That means it’s safe for diabetics and people looking for a candida cure.
SweetLeaf Stevia has sent extra bottles, and I’m passing the sweet life on to you, dear readers!
To win a sample pack of all 6 flavors of SweetLeaf Stevia drops:
1. Just LIKE my Facebook page by Monday the 19th at 10am ET, and you could win all 6 flavors of SweetLeaf Stevia drops!
2. If you’ve already liked my Facebook page, leave a comment here on my blog about your biggest frustration or challenge with food cravings.
I’ll pick a winner at random from all my FB fans and comments here.
You can use these travel size stevia drops in club soda, water, tea, coffee, smoothies, or yogurt.
It’s a great way to kick the sugar habit while enjoying the sweet flavor of stevia.
And if you’re looking for more sugar-free foods and recipes, try some of my old favorites:
How sweet it is,