Take the High Road

Mental Health, Stress

Take the high road. My stomach is churning, my hands are shaking, I want to shout at the top of my lungs in a raging fit. But I will take the high road. You’ve angered me, displeased me, infuriated me. You’ve hurt me, but I will take the high road. I will not succumb to this, this destructive, heinous, conniving way of thinking and living. I feel the rage, the fury, I feel it in full force as if fire-filled blood is rushing through my veins. It’s not fair, it’s not gratifying, it’s not positive or happy and at the moment it doesn’t even feel bearable. But it’s life. This is what we must go through, this is what God has in store for us as we tread through this wearisome life on earth. This is a test, a test of our faith, a test of our character, values and righteousness. Will we succumb to these feelings, these injustices lashed upon us? We say all the right things; “think positive thoughts,” “let the feelings pass,” “spread love, positivity, and cheer,” “be the bigger person.” But in the moment it is SO hard. It feels as though no ounce of my emotion is in my favor. It’s easy. It’s easy to fight back, to yell at the top of my lungs, to dig deeper until I feel that I have conquered. But while easy it is not right. It’s not right to fight back, it’s not right to get the last word, or any combative word for that matter. This is the time, this is when I must use what God has taught me, what I have been practicing, and what I preach to others. This is the time to face the fire head on and fight it with the light, my light, God’s light. So no, I will not fight back. I will not let the burning heat of rage and fury expose itself, and one day I will not let allow this grotesque anger a space in my heart in the first place. But for now, I will learn to cope, I will learn to lead with love, and compassion. I will be the bigger person, not for the gratification of being the bigger person but for the gratification of God, for it is he who is the real judge. I will love until there is nothing left to love, and I will give until I have nothing left to give. I will look you in the eyes and smile, showering you in my thoughtful compassion. Because you deserve it. You deserve to be loved, you deserve to feel important, you deserve my empathy. We all do, no matter how wrong, how nefarious, or atrabilious you are, you deserve respect. So it is respect I will give, and love I will show. I wish the world would be a better place, I wish there were no anger, no combative thoughts, no jealousy. But who am I to wish these discrepancies away? I do not have the power to do so, however, I do have power. I have the power to make my corner of the world a better place, to surround those who wrong me with my utmost respect and patience. To change the tone, change the vibe, and cultivate a space of kindness. I give you my love, I give you my blessing and I hope that one day you can feel the burden lifted off your shoulders, and peace that I have felt in coming to terms with letting go of this anger.

One month. No exercise. Here’s what happened

Uncategorized

Helloooo everyone,

As some of you might know, recently I decided to take a break from the gym. While to some this might not seem like a big deal and maybe even relieving not to HAVE to workout everyday, it was a much different experience for me. I couldn’t tell you the last time I took a B R E A K. Actually, I can it was when I was obsessively working out, not eating enough and needed to stop before my health went plummeting downhill. I’ll save that story for another time. This time was different, this time was because I simply wanted to experience ME. Not the me that depends on the gym everyday, not the me on a high from working out every morning. Simply me, in all my endorphin-less glory. 

So here’s the story- I started feeling super stressed with school and pressed for time to workout everyday. I took a few days off and decided maybe I’ll keep this up for a while, you know stay up a little later (studying, hanging out with friends, reading) and sleep in (meaning 8am HA). The first week was fun really, I didn’t have to wake up and meet my demanding daily 7am appointment. But then something interesting started to happen, I stopped focusing as much on my body and more on the way I felt. I ate when I was hungry and admittedly, I let myself eat “non-clean” food every once in a while. AKA PIZZA. And to be honest it felt great. I truly felt that I was tuning into my true self and not this person constantly masked by the effects of working out (good and bad). I believe there are positives and negatives to just about everything, working out included. As great as it is for the mind, body, metabolism, heart, etc. there IS a point of diminishing return. Meaning the constant pushing, mental and physical stress is doing more harm than good. While I have not been to this extreme in a few years, a break was fully warranted and FULLY beneficial. 

Fast forward a few weeks and everything began to go downhill. A little back story: when I was in middle school (and a litttttle bit in high school) I used to have SEVERE anxiety in classrooms, only at that time I had no idea what anxiety was. I would be in class and when the teacher closed the door I would feel trapped. I would get myself so worked up to the point where I thought I was going to be sick. I remember having to calm myself down and continually reassure myself that I was fine, and everything was fine. The class would be over before I knew it and I would be able to bask in the fresh air of a crowded middle school hallway (not as appealing now if you ask me). Anyway…the point of this is I haven’t had that feeling in YEARS and honestly I completely forgot about those minor panic attacks until recently. Recently because it happened again. About two weeks ago I was sitting in class, I had gotten up that morning walked to Starbucks and studied for a few hours instead of going to the gym. It must have been a combination of the unmatched strength of Starbuck’s caffeine and a lack of my daily endorphin release that sent me over the edge, but it was happening. I felt a lump in my throat, sweaty palms and a sudden feeling of sickness. I couldn’t stop my thoughts. Over and over I kept thinking what is wrong with me? Why do I feel this way? I’m going to be sick. I couldn’t stop the shaking, discomfort and 100000mph thoughts racing through my head. After a mental battle with myself I got the courage to get up. I walked out of the classroom straight to the bathroom where I looked at myself, took a few deep breaths and told myself I WOULD be fine. Needless to say I didn’t learn much in class that day. What’s even worse? It started happening more. Not just in that class but in all my classes. I was constantly having to leave the room, go to the bathroom and give myself a pep talk to make it through a 50 minute lecture. What was wrong with me? As time went on I noticed various changes in my thought process, the way I felt and most apparent, my attention span. 

After worsening anxiety and some contemplation I decided I needed to get back to the gym. What had changed since now and middle school? Well a lot, but one thing I know for sure is my healthy habits, particularly working out. Just a few days after being back in the gym I noticed a change in my attention span. I was able to concentrate for longer periods of time and I didn’t find myself daydreaming as frequently. Most importantly my mood shifted. I was reminded of the empowering endorphin rush I get just after a workout and how beneficial it is for my mental well-being. Not only that but WOW it feels good to sweat. My body was giving me signs that I needed to be back in the gym. I was craving that rush and quite frankly could use some release to tackle my anxiety. While a break was just what I needed at the time, it had run its course and  served its use. Moral of the story- workout addiction is real. It is a problem and there CAN be too much of a good thing. Taking a break has allowed me to come back with a fresh start, a new outlook and new goals to work towards. It has taught me that there are aspects of my workout routine I need to focus on and improve. One of the most important things I have learned is the importance of a break. Taking more days off than anticipated is okay. Staying up late one night to hangout with the people you love is okay. Eating that piece of pizza and having that extra piece of chocolate is okay. If the mind isn’t healthy there is no use in focusing on the body. Working out provides me with confidence, ease, and release. It gives me something to work for and something to indulge in other than studying. The benifits of exercise are immense, any research article will tell you that. But a little time off is important too. Know your body, listen to the signs and honor yourself with whatever your needs of the day might be. 

Do You KNOW Yourself?

Stress

When was the last time you let yourself truly relax? No, I don’t mean sit in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn, binge on Netflix for a day, or lay around the pool for an afternoon. I’m talking about TRUE relaxation, nothingness, complete silence. Have you ever let yourself do that? Just….be. In this day and age most of us haven’t. We’re constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life, living in big cities, surrounded by people all day long, looking for the next big thing to do. Not to mention the biggest player of them all, SOCIAL MEDIA. Even when we do allow ourselves to be alone, are we ever really truly alone? With the advent of social media, not really.

As I have recently taken up a more serious practice of meditation, I have come to realize the benefits of silence, being in the present moment, and simply being. Not worrying about the next thing on my list, not thinking about what everyone around me is doing, and not spending countless hours looking at OTHER people’s lives on instagram/facebook etc. Don’t get me wrong, to-do lists are important, and an active, working lifestyle is a healthy part of life, but from time to time we all need a break. Allowing ourselves to take this time for silence builds stronger character, patience, and a mindful demeanor. It allows us to approach those busy and stressful situations differently. It allows us to become familiar with ourselves, our thoughts, our values and morals. There is something to be said for pure nothingness. We are often so hyper-focused on everything around us and the sensory stimuli overwhelming our lives that we forget to look inward, contemplate our own lives and enjoy time spent with ourselves. What do your thoughts sound like when you’re alone? Do you look at the glass as half full or half empty? Do you talk to yourself in an uplifting, confident way or do you talk down on yourself and belittle your unique beauty? In many cases we are unsure of these answers, we do not allow ourselves enough time spent in silence to become aware of our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Introspection is a gift, you are your own person, unique, beautifully made, and not a carbon copy ANYONE else. I believe the overwhelming stimulation that has been thrusted upon our lives has damaged our sense of independent human beings. We see these images and videos of other people and in turn we try so hard to look like them, be as successful as them, and in extreme cases-to be “them.” Why? Why do we want so badly to mirror the image of another? Why do we want to spend our lives engulfed in the DRAMA of someone else’s life? What would it look like if we spent time with ourselves, connecting to our thoughts and bettering ourselves through quiet introspection.

I’m not saying it’s easy, my own troubles with this sparked me to write this post. At times when I sit down to have time to myself my heart starts racing, my mind wondering. I feel as though this is not right, I shouldn’t be sitting alone in silence. I have a to-do list, I need to be active, I don’t have time. But once I adjust and feel comfortable with myself in the present moment I am able to reach a higher state of consciousness, turning inward and watching my thoughts as they spiral through my mind. Reaching a higher level of consciousness allows for awareness of thoughts, and eventually the ability to cultivate control over the way you think. Introspection is important and for many it is a lost (or never present) art. It doesn’t have to be a guru-yogi experience. It can be as simple as setting your phone down 30 minutes before bed and not touching it for 30 minutes after waking up in the morning, or as extreme as spending a weekend alone, out of the city with no technology or distractions. Do what works for YOU, and maintain a conscious awareness of the types of thoughts and self talk you are feeding yourself.

 

 

Ginger Noodles

Food

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Pasta is always a go to throughout the long winter months, the problem is it’s not always the best for our bodies. These miso ginger noodles are perfect for a cold winter night and great for every pallet. You can make them as spicy or creamy as you desire and the ginger and miso offer great healing properties to fight that lingering cold or flu!!

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb carrots

2″ square piece of ginger

4 teaspoons coconut oil

4 teaspoons miso

2 cups cashews

water

12oz ramen/udon/noodles of choice

1 large red pepper

1 large yellow pepper

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup spinach

toasted cashews (optional topping)

cilantro (optional topping)

pepper flakes (optional topping)

black sesame seeds (optional topping)

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut and peel the carrots and ginger into about 1/2″ pieces (size is not necessary just a general guideline). Toss with coconut oil and spread onto roasting pan. Roast until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

While carrots are cooking begin cashew cream sauce. Puree cashews in food processor adding water as needed until it reaches a creamy light consistency.

Once the carrots are cooled place the cashew cream sauce, carrots, and miso in blender and blend until smooth. Again, add water to reach desired consistency.

Once the sauce is prepared, begin sautéing the remaining vegetables. Slice peppers and place into a pan with spinach and mushrooms with oil. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until peppers have a tint of golden brown and spinach is condensed.

Prepare noodles, following directions on the package.

Once the noodles are cooked and drained, add sauce and vegetables.

Add toppings as desired.

TIP- I used the amount of ginger the recipe calls for but I would recommend adding a bit more if you’re a fan of ginger to reach a stronger flavor. Cilantro and cashews are great options for toppings. The cilantro adds a refreshing kick and the toasted cashews make for a great crunchy mix!

 

Special Asian Salad

Food

If we’re being completely honest, from a nutritional standpoint, I could eat salad three times a day for the rest of my life. While my plate may not always resemble a traditional salad, it’s always there. I eat greens with everything, and I find that when I stray away from them for a day or two I start to feel a little off. Greens are a staple in the nutritional world and should be incorporated into EVERYONE’S diet. That being said, I often get bored with my salads, I find that I have a few staple bowls I always go to and a lot of the time I don’t really think about trying anything out of the ordinary. This year for Christmas I acquired a surplus of cookbooks. I’ve never been one to follow recipes but these new books have me eager to try a few. One that stood out to me was an Asian salad from Plant Based Paleo written by Jenna Zoe. This salad is a take on a traditional kale salad, with an interesting mix of flavors and packed with nutrition. The recipe is made for four but I decided to make it my own, doubling it and adding a few things. The best part about this salad is it STILL tastes good after being refrigerated!! No soggy lettuce or dull flavors.

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Ingredients

2 large heads of kale

6-8 tablespoons black truffle oil

2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt

2 sprigs fresh mint

2 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 scallions

freshly squeezed juice from 2 limes

2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

6 tablespoons hemp seeds

4 carrots

1 cucumber

OPTIONAL avocado

 

 

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Instructions

  1. Wash and dry both heads of kale. Once they are dry chop the kale into fine pieces. In a large bowl massage the kale with truffle oil and Himalayan salt. When evenly coated allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime thinly slice carrots and cucumber. If the option is available, spiralize the carrots and cucumber.
  3. Add carrots, cucumber, mint, cilantro, scallions, and lime juice to kale mixture.
  4. Toss salad and then add remaining ingredients.
  5. Top with avocado and serve.

Enjoy!!

Re-Grounding

Stress

I haven’t slept. Two weeks to be exact, I’ve been bombarded with the stress of finals, followed by excessive “de-stressing,” i.e. family time, late nights, lagging workouts, cheat meals, and Netflix. Yes, I push myself as hard as humanly possible throughout the semester, admittedly depriving myself of enjoyment at times, and this may be the reason for my excessive “de-stressing” as I call it. Throughout the past few weeks I have immersed myself in social media, socializing, and relaxation. While it has been a wonderful break on my drained mind, it has inevitably brought me to a stalemate. I’m stuck, I feel out of it, groggy, irritable, emotional, and malnourished. I find myself longing to just feel normal again and reevaluating what I need to do to get there. My solution; re-grounding. There are various versions of “self help,” “self medicating,” or “me time” if you will, all of which fall under my umbrella term of re-grounding. I consider myself an introverted extrovert, I love being around people and couldn’t survive without the help of my friends and family, but at times I just need some time to MYSELF. I haven’t gotten a lot of this lately, can you tell? The older I get (i.e. the more overloaded with stress I become) the less time I have for self nourishing. Sure, I workout everyday, I eat healthy, and I stick to a fairly regular sleep schedule, but with all of this in place I still need that relaxation time to stay sane. Before the overhaul of school fell into my life I had a lot of this time. I would take a night once a week and just read, or write, maybe take a bath and do some yoga. Recently these days are few and far between and now that I’m caught in this excessive relaxation stage I’m turning to these habits as a solution to the rut. I’m taking a few nights to myself to read, draw, embrace scripture, meditate and simply mindlessly listen to music. I’m turning off my social media, putting down my phone and allowing myself to nourish myself. Getting stuck in these ruts is extremely common for people today, particularly due to the constant “go! go! go!” attitude and persistent pull from social media. We’re constantly caught up in a world that is not our own and sometimes we just need some time to re-establish ourselves, re-connect to our bodies and allow ourselves to fall back into our true nature. For some people this might be a long bath on a Friday night, for others it might be a daily yoga class or picking up an old hobby. Whatever it is, I encourage you to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of this thing we call life and take some time for yourself to reestablish your sanity.

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Less Meat More…Hummus

Food

Recently I’ve been altering my diet a bit in terms of meat consumption. I’m always trying new recipes and adding new staples to my daily routine and the past few weeks i’ve been focusing particularly on eliminating excess meat. With the workouts I do I have always been convinced that I should be consuming meat based protein numerous times a day, in addition to meals. However, I am now coming to the conclusion that such an astounding amount of meat is not necessary and may even be harmful.
While I do still need protein (as does everyone) I have been leaning towards beans and plants significantly more often. I do still consume meat, and as I said in a previous post I do not plan on eliminating it from my diet, but I have found that I feel better when I don’t eat as much.
I have always assumed that the only way to acquire sufficient quantities of protein is through meat. This is not true. Plant based products, particularly beans, lentils, edamame, chickpeas etc. contain up to 18 grams of protein per serving.
Since I eat a big bowl of greens AT LEAST two times a day, I’m already getting a fairly decent amount. I just need a little extra boost to get me where I need to be. This is where I turn to beans and most importantly, HUMMUS. Hummus has always been a love of mine but I have never viewed it as a source of protein. Fortunately, a typical serving contains 8 grams and when combined with beans you’ll have the perfect amount.
Here’s a quick salad I made sans meat (with a few extra goodies).

INGREDIENTS
Mixed Greens
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Onion
Organic Blackberries
ORGANIC Black Beans- when purchasing canned beans ALWAYS buy organic and be sure to rinse them before eating.
Hummus

*I have also tried this recipe without the berries and with salsa instead, great flavor! You could always add some cheese and Greek Yogurt, as a sour cream supplement and turn it into a Mexican bowl!

Three Ways Yoga Has Changed Me

Stress

In today’s age of the millennial our society has blossomed an obsession with the health and fitness world, and with it has come a host of ever-changing fads. The most recent being Yoga and this concept of becoming a meditating, tofu eating, kombucha drinking “all is good” hippie. While I do admit it is a fad of the times and will likely come and go as it is destined, it does have a multitude of benefits if carried out to it’s fullest potential.

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I decided to adopt a practice of my own just over a year ago. I was (shocker) going through a difficult time and decided I needed something to change. One day I woke up and decided to drop everything I knew about working out and instead practice yoga for one hour every morning. I saw a world of a difference, not only in my physical health but in my mind. My thoughts, feelings and outlook on life dramatically changed. While yoga may not be the answer to everyone’s pain and suffering I will elude you to everything it has done for me.

   1. Cultivate Mindfulness

Whether you are overwhelmed and stressed or having a seemingly normal day just going through the motions it can be difficult to take a step back and approach situations with a sense of mindfulness. We tend to see life through our own eyes differently than everyone else. We hyper focus on situations and do not allow ourselves to look at things realistically, without expectations or judgment. When practicing yoga it is essential to be mindful of every move you make and breath you take in order to get the full benefits of your practice. As you start to do this more often it will carry over into other aspects of your life. For me personally adopting a practice of mindfulness has allowed me to look at life as a bigger picture. Instead of incessantly worrying about little things, or over evaluating situations I am mindful about the actions I take in my life and address situations with ease. I have learned to approach my life on and off the mat with breath and intention instead of judgment and anxiety.

  1. Just Be

When practicing yoga one of the many mantras you will hear is to practice living in the moment. When you step into a yoga studio and onto your mat you are expected to leave everything at the door and enjoy an hour to yourself. We are constantly caught up in our next task, our next meeting our next meal. Instead of harping on and obsessing over what is going to happen next or what has happened in the past we should be giving ourselves more time to just be. Just live in the moment, enjoy being where you are and who you are in that second. Yoga has taught me to let go of the idea that every action must have an outcome. I am doing something for myself, without any intentions or expectations, just to connect with my body and enjoy being me.

  1. Feel Accomplished

For as long as I can remember I have been searching for a sense of accomplishment. Not in a prideful sense, but in the sense that what I am doing will make me a better person, make me stronger and bring something better to my own or someone else’s life. Yoga is such an amazing practice when it comes to feeling this accomplishment. You step on your mat and forget about the rest of the world, yet when you step off you feel strong, physically expended just the right amount and mentally refreshed. Walking out of class or off your mat you have the assurance that you did something for you today and how often can we say that?

Yoga is such an amazing practice, and a habit everyone should adopt into their lives. Whether you’re a devoted marathon runner, gym junkie, businessman, or couch potato I guarantee yoga has something to offer you.

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