On Mondays

I'll admit it- I'm not usually a Monday person. I love what I do- and anyway, there is no real significance to Mondays in the life of a self-employed yoga teacher- so it's a completely irrational dis-like. 

On any day or with any occasion though, it really only takes a few things to make a "bad" time more pleasant. Often it's a shift in attitude, or meditation, or some nutrition to boost mood, or exercise, or journaling or something like that. 

Today was sort of an "all of the above" morning. It was a day for

  • lemon water
  • meditation (just 10 minutes today)
  • coffee 
  • a long run with a dear friend
  • good tunes on the way home
  • a delicious protein and nutrition-packed smoothie, so pretty I had to take a fancy photo of it (recipe below) 
  • some time writing

Often any one of these is enough to shift me from energy-draining inaction and negative thinking to increased focus, purpose and whole-heartedness. Today I was lucky enough to start the week on a light note and able to do them all. It sure ain't always that way! 

The aforementioned smoothie: 

1/2 frozen banana 

3/4 cup filtered water

1/4 cup raw almonds

3 large organic strawberries

big scoop Vega protein powder, chocolate

2 tbsp chia seeds (I've written before about my love for them

Blend all of the above til a smooth puree, pour into a pretty glass and top with raw cacao nibs and coconut flakes. Vegan, protein packed and super delicious. 


On Chia

I'm the type of person to get really hooked on one food and eat it so often I can't stand the thought of it anymore. It's been that way since I can remember. I was thinking the other day how as a kid I used to eat Tang (powdered, before it's been added to water) by the heaping spoonful in secret. Or I'd heat up tuna fish in tin foil with melted cheese on it and eat that as a snack. I have always had a weird relationship with food. I blame it on the addict's DNA I was born with. We simply seem unable to feel, comprehend, and follow natural urges to feel satiated. 

I write in present tense here-- just the other day I was eating peanut butter by the heaping spoonful right before bed. Old habits die hard-- when I was a heavy drinker especially back in my 20's, we'd hit the Hardee's drive thru after midnight for half price burgers. I now cringe at the thought of fast food meat co-mingling in my belly with Jaegermeister. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same-- isn't that the saying? 

A few years ago when I started looking really closely at my diet and how food affects everything-- mood, digestion, elimination, skin clarity, hair and nail growth, muscle tone, stress, brain function-- everything-- I started trying super foods. These nutrient dense and protein-packed edible wonders make healthy eating more of a no-brainer and for someone like me, that's a pretty enticing proposition. 

I think chia seeds were one of the first super foods I got hooked on. I put them in and on everything. Then it was cacao powder, acai, goji berries, kale... the list grew. I got bored of all of it but chia is something I have circled back to over and over again. They add protein (almost 5 g per ounce) plus they are rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron and add 10 g dietary fiber per ounce. 

I use chia seeds most often in small quantities in smoothies or on oatmeal or cereal. Although I had heard about it for years, I'd never tried chia pudding until recently. So on a whim and with an abundance of bananas and chia seeds I made banana chia pudding. It makes a yummy snack or dessert. Here's the recipe I used which was just off the top of my head-- makes two servings: 

2 bananas, blended till a thick liquid with an immersion blender

4 tsp chia seeds, added by stirring into banana (if you blend with blender they will break down and the dish will not have the same consistency, but no harm is done) 

2 tsp raw local honey (optional- only necessary if you prefer more sweetness), mixed in 

Pour the above into two glasses or cups or small dishes

2 tbsp raw cacao nibs (which also contain protein and magnesium), divided in half and sprinkled on top of each serving (in the photo below, I drizzled honey on top too because why not? 

Let sit for about 30 minutes. Refrigeration will speed up the process. 

Finding foods that make me feel clear headed, strong and balanced-- especially when they are delicious-- is something of a super power. When I indulge in too much starch, refined sugar, salt, or dairy (which I don't eat very much of these days-- slowly weaning off) I feel foggy, lazy, achy, bloated, and irritable-- not exactly my most kick-ass state to be in. It's a process of trial and error to find out which foods have that rock star effect on my psyche and body. I only know it when I feel it. Have fun exploring and enjoy! 

Photo Mar 06, 8 00 50 PM.jpg

This is so delicious I can't even stand it. 


On Food

I recently started traveling a lot. It's wonderful work. I get to connect with other Yoga teachers, studio owners, counselors, and students all interested in the intersection of addiction, trauma, and Yoga and how they can deepen their understanding and application of recovery principles and practices to help support and heal not only themselves but a very vulnerable and unfortunately very large population (of which I am one-- there are a LOT of us). 

My work with Y12SR (The Yoga Of 12 Step Recovery) is taking me all around the East Coast these days-- Maine, West Virginia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida-- and on the road, easy, healthy, affordable food options are not always readily available. I skip breakfast sometimes, even at home, and that's a big no-no for me. Low blood sugar makes me a little crazy-- and when I'm a little crazy it doesn't take long for me to start missing important things going on in my day-- or worse, to royally start screwing things up. 

When teaching a weekend full of often very intense, complicated discussions of a pretty personal nature, I need to be my fully present best. Ideally there's a kitchen, and if not a kitchen, then a small fridge, and access to hot water. 

I think I nailed it this past weekend, finally. It didn't hurt that I had an extremely gracious hostess, Courtney, and her sweet husband Matt and their awesome dog Tootsie (photo at the end)-- a crazy-comfy bed, private bath, and a bright lovely kitchen-- all just a couple of blocks from the wonderful Space Yoga Studio where I was teaching. So convenient. But even with all of this, I will often have such full days of teaching I'll just eat whatever is available, and really screw up my insides-- not to mention my brain. Not ideal. 

I got in so early on Friday that I had time for a sweet nap (such a luxury! and so needed after getting up at 3 am to make a 5:30 am flight)-- then we hit the grocery store. For the weekend, I bought: 

1 container salad mix

1 large avocado, ripe and ready to go

1 container cottage cheese (accidentally bought the kind with pineapple-- but so good!)

1 lemon (to squeeze on the greens as a dressing)

1 bag fresh peas (which have 5g protein per serving)

1 container fresh cut watermelon (such an indulgence in February, but needed)

1 bottle raspberry chia kombucha

The above cost about $21 and made something like six meals, and I had left over food at the end of the weekend. If you're vegan you can substitute all sorts of things for the eggs and cottage cheese-- sometimes I will do just that. And I forgot to buy six eggs to hard boil, but Courtney had a bunch and shared with me. 

With this combination I could make several delicious, protein-rich salads, especially when I added the trail mix I brought along with me. 

For snacks, I had brought along two apples and because I can't resist, a chocolate bar and some protein bars. So for snacks and lunch, I was set!

But the real kicker was what I had planned for breakfast. 

I usually do not have time to cook breakfast. It takes me a while to get hungry in the morning and by the time I do I often have to be out the door anyway. So this time, at home, I packed three zip lock bags each with the following: 

1/3 cup organic quick oats

1 tsp ground flax seeds

1 tsp flaked coconut

1 tsp chia seeds

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch sea salt

1/4 c freeze dried blueberries and raspberries

1/4 c slivered almonds

I dumped a bag in a bowl each morning, and added a couple of cups of hot water, letting it sit for a minute or so. Delicious, healthy, filling, and good for the brain!  

I have not figured out good coffee options yet. I usually have to rely on the kindness of the strangers I'm staying with for that. I have those Via instant coffee packets from Starbucks as a last resort, but I have not been able to bring myself to use them. I do bring my own Camomile/Lavender tea bags for evenings so I get good rest. 

I'm getting the hang of this traveling thing. It feels good to be able to say I'm not sacrificing my health and wellness for an increased work load. I know that's the case for a lot of people-- I get it. But as I often say, "We can't give away what we, ourselves, don't already have to give." I also remember the quote from Audre Lorde (which I'm paraphrasing): "Self-care is not indulgent, it is self-preservation-- and that is an act of political warfare." The self-care we do on the inside makes us better able to do what needs to be done "out there" (though I really believe there is no separation there-- it's all the same work). I'm rambling now-- so, eat well, rest, do you, and kick butt! 

Oh-- and love on an animal, like Tootsie, if you get the chance.