How much will you take? Are pleasure and power dangerous for women?

Over the years I’ve come to believe that women’s capacity for joy and pleasure is smaller than our capacity for difficulty and pain. We can handle the daily tribulations of life’s stress, suffering and dragging under the weight of the pressure of work, family, caring for others, and “going without” until our martyr mindset crushes us.

 

But how much pleasure, joy, fun, freedom, power, and self-care can you take? When was the last time you had pure, unadulterated pleasure, at a long stretch, guilt-free, just for you? Something that didn’t involve chocolate cake or a bottle of wine, that is.

 

We try. We give ourselves a semi-annual spa day, splurging on a pedicure and lunch out with a trusted friend. But after those two hours are through, we’re right back into begrudgingly serving, rushing, going, doing, doing, doing.

 

Why is it so challenging for women to own our capacity for pleasure? 

 

It begins with our birth. From young years girls are told to do for others more than they do for themselves. While third-wave feminism and the realities of the global marketplace have brought more and more women into medical, business and law schools, we are still brought up as the caretakers, and perhaps our natural evolution as a species makes women slightly better at the childrearing and home keeping skills.

 

Taught to care for others first, putting our needs last, we feel incredible guilt and no agency around claiming what we desire. Being labeled as smart and powerful is still second place to being considered pretty or popular. 

 

Are we masochistic? No. I believe we are afraid. Afraid of being singled-out, cast out, put in the spotlight of shame. Afraid of being labeled selfish, a bitch, or unfeminine in any way. And I believe that fear is very old, and very deep rooted in our cultural psyche.

 

Somehow, along the way, being known as a powerful woman changed into something else, someone less demanding for herself.

Witch

 

Perhaps it began with the great witch trials in Europe in the 1500-1700s. Tens of thousands of independent women, healers and midwives, were tortured and burned for their power and position.

 

Before the witch trials, women held a special place and power as healers and midwives, dispensers of natural medicine and knowledge. We were respected individuals who provided valuable services to the community.

 

Are we still afraid that we might be burned at the stake for taking a place in the sun? For demanding the freedom to take our pleasures where we may? I believe our culture was branded with fear from those hundreds of years of terror.

 

It’s no wonder women have been afraid to assert their rights to power, knowledge, and pleasure all these years. In her classic history Witches, Midwives & Nurses,  Barbara Erhrenriech shows the early European history of women as healers, and practitioners of all medical knowledge.

 

After the witch-hunts wiped out the female medical experts, known as witches and midwives, the male-dominated medical and religious systems were able to take complete control over the physical and spiritual well-being of Europe and the American colonies.  

 

Women became beholden to “experts” and doctors, and lost touch with their power as healers, medicine makers, and respected members of the culture. Women who knew too much were cast out, and the female body became subject to dangerous, and unnecessary medical practices including ill-conceived hysterectomies, heavily-medicated childbirth, and barely tested contraceptives.

 

Being a woman became a disease.

 

Not only did we lose the power of being the medicine women of our clans and villages, we weren’t trusted to know anything about our bodies, or to participate in our own care. Natural childbirth not only fell out of fashion, but women who wanted to birth at home, or stand or squat rather than be forced to lay down to make delivery easier for the doctor were treated as unreasonable and uncooperative.

 

As much as things change, they stay the same.

 

The medical profession is no longer at the 90/10 ratio of men to women, as it was in the 1970s. In fact, it’s almost evenly 50/50. Still, women remain afraid of their bodies, and sure that there is something inherently wrong with our natural state of being. We will never be perfect – far from it. We can never be good enough. And the roots of these beliefs are ancient and pervasive, encoded in our cultural memories.

 

We women have been active participants in the human history of medicine. There is an old, institutionalized sexism at play here, but it’s barely understood or acknowledged. Knowing the history of the present moment gives us a deeper awareness of possibility. If you knew you came from a line of midwives and healers, would you be more apt to trust your intuition, body, and opinion when it came to matters of your own health?

 

We simply need to see how history has played out in the modern marketing, messaging and entertainment around us that we consume, get clear that the icons of femininity aren’t all that’s true, and that we are perfect. Our bodies are strong, magnificent, and capable of powerful healing. And we women have the right and power to trust our own inner wisdom, heal our bodies and live any way that feels good and pleasurable.

 

What do you think about all this? Leave your comments and questions below…

The Accidental Muffin

Gluten-Free, Vegan Ginger-Date-Cherry Muffins

 

OMGFM.

(That’s Oh My, Gluten-Free Muffins for everyone who’s not in my head)

Gluten-Free, vegan, ginger-date-cherry muffins

We hosted a brunch last week in our little Brooklyn apartment last weekend. In case you didn’t know, brunch is my favorite meal. If you look back through my recipes I’ll bet you’ll find that 90% are brunch related.

Why do I love brunch so much? Because you can have anything you want and it’s all perfectly acceptable brunch fare. Sweet, savory, raw, paleo, and vegan dishes all happily co-habitate the table and everyone gets the taste combinations they desire. 

Plus, it’s the only meal where drinking alcohol before noon is totally acceptable.

So last weekend I declared that I would bake. Then I forgot to look up a new recipe to test out. I got to the cupboard at 10am on Sunday morning and decided to wing it. I discovered some bits and pieces of dried fruits that were too small for a fruit cake, but once combined became the perfect amount for a dozen muffins. 

Sometimes forgetfulness is the mother of tasty invention, and this is a great example of a lemon situation turning into delicious lemonade.

Except it was muffins. 

Ginger-Date-Cherry Muffins (Gluten-free & vegan) 

 Yield: 10-12 muffins

½ cup dried fruit (mind was a combo of candied ginger, Medjool dates and dried cherries)

2 tablespoons hot water

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 cup almond meal

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ cup Sucanat sugar

1/3 cup melted coconut oil + 2 extra teaspoons for oiling muffin tins

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 Gluten-Free, vegan, ginger-date-cherry muffinsGluten-Free, vegan, ginger-date-cherry muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Drip 1-2 drops of coconut oil into each hole in a muffin tin. Use your fingers to lightly oil all around each hole. Set aside.
  3. Chop the dried fruit into 1/4-inch pieces and combine in a small bowl. Drizzle hot water over top and set the bowl aside.
  4. Combine the flour, almond meal, salt , baking powder, and sugar to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
  5. Measure the coconut oil and vanilla extra and combine with the water and fruit. Pour into the dry mix and stir until just combined.
  6. Using a medium ice cream scooper, scoop even amounts into each muffin hole.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating after 7 minutes.
  8. Serve hot or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Not that ours lasted through the afternoon…

 

Xox,

Alex

 

 

End Stomach Bloating Video

How to end stomach bloating…forever

I had a beautiful autumn weekend in Pennsylvania Dutch country – Amish buggies, classic car shows and we even tried some homemade cider donuts! I loved that they were small, not very sweet, and freshly made.

Cider & Donut

 

Now, I don’t eat these foods a lot – they’re a sometimes food, as my son calls them. If I eat too much sugar or gluten, my body starts to rebel. I’ll get bloated and tired. But I know what to do to avoid getting bloated, and how to stop it if it happens.

I get this question a lot – in fact it’s one of the top concerns for my clients and readers:

“I’m bloated and I’ve tried everything – what can I do?”

That’s what my friend Rebekah wanted to know, so I made a special video with my top tips on how to end stomach bloat. Watch it HERE:

 

In my short & sweet video you’ll discover:

  • Which toxic 7 foods cause MOST stomach bloat that you can cut out
  • Which condiment you can add to your meals to stop the bloat before it starts
  • HOW you’re eating may cause the bloat, and how to do it better
  • My favorite tool for ending stomach pain at home or work
    Use a hot water bottle after meals
  • AND my top supplement trick – and how you may have been doing it wrong all these years

If you like the video, please share the link with your friends!

XO,

Alex

 

When “Healthy” Food Isn’t: The Truth About ULTRA Processed Foods

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:

6 Energy & Healthy Must-Haves For Working Moms

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:

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Green Juice. Mega doses of chlorophyll and vitamins in a fresh green juice are going to boost my energy just a tad.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your healthy picnic or BBQ plan this holiday weekend?

Fail to plan,
and you’re planning to fail!

Real Food Is Sexy!

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.

Real Food Is Sexy

Fruit is sex.

Guest Blog: “Today I’m giving up on perfection”

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

What to do if you don’t know how to cook?! Like, not even a little bit!?

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!

 

“Hi Alex,

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.”

A:

Hey Brenda,

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpVwPTAYlMw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEJSDGVRQow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVyPue3qx7o

 

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:

http://marysnest.com/2012/02/01/intuitive-cooking-how-to-cook-not-what-to-cook/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-turner/intuitive-cooking-how-to_b_657563.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/intuitive-cooking-five-ways-to-find-your-inner-chef.html

Start watching.

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.

Repeat.

XO, Alex”

Did this inspire you to cook more?

What is YOUR top tip for making cooking easier and less intimidating? Write your comment below:

 

 

Have you heard? These women have their health figured out

I admit it: I want to be like Oprah

Alexandra Jamieson & Morgan Spurlock on 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.

Latham Thompson & Alexandra Jamieson

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.

Get the full line up of experts and sign up for the entire series for free: 

Let me know your thoughts on the new mental paradigm these experts are offering here in the comments!

xo,

Alex