Monday, April 26, 2010

A dog owner grows in Rhinebeck

It's growing season. The true signs don't revolve around the inordinate warm weather that showed up in the first weeks of March in upstate New York this year. Or even the notices from the CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) announcing the selling of farm shares for the upcoming season. I know growing season is officially off and running when my dog Troy begins eating newly grown spring grass as we take our precious morning walk together.

Most dogs eat grass when their stomachs are upset. Mine just simply loves the taste of the fresh leafy greens. When I first adopted him a few years ago I just thought that he was trying to gain points as he listened to me telling clients about the benefits of eating leafy greens. I would ask them to liken the greens to a feather duster going through their bodies (sweeping out all those toxins and moving the digestive process along well...) While I sometimes wonder if he ever got the meaning behind the visualization, and impressed as I am to have a dog that eats leafy greens daily, I mostly marvel at the overall adventure each morning walk brings.....greens both included and aside.

Troy notices every new scent, every flower that has come up out of the earth and all baby critters that scatter by. We make our way up a country road that is in a constant state of bountiful transformation. Trees, bushes, barns, horses and even mailboxes are illuminated in a show-stopping way because of the light, an element that makes the Hudson Valley so special. I notice the growth through Troy's eyes that are gently yet intently training my own to simply notice and appreciate. Breathing in the progression each day brings.

The phrase "take time to smell the flowers" is one that Troy takes very seriously. Once his sniffer is placed on something making its' way out of the earth he's like...well, a dog with a bone. However Troy actually cares more about the smell of the spring earth after a rainstorm, the aroma of a patch of grass after a baby bunny hops off of it and the fragrance of a flowering tree then that of a bone, ball or treat. He would be a great naturalist as he loves to spend time in nature exploring and sharing his finds with you, from a deep place of admiration and knowledge. He is never calmer or more at peace then after time outdoors, curiosity satisfied after recognizing the value and beauty of growth.

So as the days get longer and the leafy greens grow, I note my cravings for kale . (By the way it has the most calcium of all the leafy greens.) For my canine it's the roadside grass glistening with morning dew. Soon the farmer's markets will open their "doors" and we can stand in positive reception of the harvest magic that is made. I will.

If you want to know more about which (leafy) greens will best support your own body and/or if you choose to focus more on your health via your stress management aids, and would like some support, you can contact me via my website:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

(organic) Popcorn and Tequila

Sometimes you just need to crunch.
Usually I’m a sweet, creamy person when it comes to food and texture. When I’m looking for comfort or company or entertainment or fun it’s about the sugar. However every once in a blue moon I need to crunch. My crunch doesn’t have to be salty but it has to be plentiful (aka: LARGE bowl). I needed to crunch tonight. Oftentimes crunch is something we do to quell anger, abate anxiety….relieve tension. But it’s not often recognized as such. I recognized it though. It's that state of awareness I'm always talking about. Me attempting to walk my talk.

I wrote all of the above a week ago. At the time I stopped writing I hadn’t mentioned the tequila. You see I had made myself a large bowl of organic popcorn, popped in my favorite pot with some beautiful extra virgin olive oil because I just needed to crunch. Back in nutrition school they taught us what the crunch “craving” is representative of. I mentioned it above. Since I’m usually aware of the reason I turn to food, I understood that on that evening last week I was pretty darn frustrated about a plethora of things. Stomping around the house was doing me no good. And, I didn’t want to take my own wellness advice to go off and journal, run a bath, manicure my nails, watch a movie or call a friend. All of these activities oftentimes do make me feel better , give me the same sated feeling as the food would provide , and give me a chance to separate the forest from the trees, so to speak, in understanding where I was at.

So while I was waiting for the pop to occur to my corn I put a little tequila on ice and began to drink it. Yep, I was pretty frustrated. And I did think…hey I should at least try and blog on this while I’m in the moment. But by the time I got through the large bowl of popcorn and the (tiny, really) bowl of tequila—well, needless to say the blog post didn’t get completed.

So what makes us turn to food (and drink) when things get intolerable? Usually it’s a combination of not wanting to feel the feelings that are coming up inside of us and being uncomfortable, in general, with those feelings. So, we stuff them with food. We wash them away with drink. We numb and we veil.

What we really need to do is twist and shout. Yes, literally moving our bodies will help relieve emotional stress and strain. This can be done as The Beatles intended in their song… dancing an (aggravating) evening away. Or, it can be done by literally twisting/tightening our bodies and then releasing them, which will alleviate strain and strife.

And, really, nothing beats actually shouting. It took me a long time to use this one myself. I withdrew from anger for years and years because I witnessed the negative consequences of it growing up. But expressing anger in a pure and honest way really moves it right out of your body. What I will sometimes do is take my car to a quiet spot, turn it off, close all the windows and scream at the top of my lungs. I scared myself the first few times I did this. I’m generally not one to yell. Then once I got the hang of how GOOD it made me feel I started recommending it to clients. Try it next time you’re hopping mad. You’ll see.

Now the night of the popcorn and tequila I wasn’t mad. It was pure nuisance because I had a problem I had been attempting to solve for awhile and nothing I tried was working. The popcorn really was for my irritation. While the crunching moved me through the exasperation I really didn’t like the way I was feeling. In the moment I felt in the state of failure, malfunction and pure stoppage. I felt ashamed and shame is definitely a feeling that I haven’t learned to embrace. It’s a shadow. You know that saying about being afraid of your own shadow? Well, there it was. We all have ALL feelings. Those we are not in touch with and/or reject don’t go away. They lurk in the shadows, sometimes just waiting to pounce. So, I had some tequila which made the shadow evaporate for awhile. And I ended up having a relaxing night and a solid wellness blog post too. In the light of the morning things appeared much more encouraging. I felt optimistic and more assured.

Now before you stop reading this and go off to make your own bowl of (organic) popcorn and tequila and start telling people that the nutrition and wellness counselor recommended the combination as a sure cure for wiling away the worries please let me finish with two key elements: awareness and choice.

I was really clear about what I was feeling (like it or not) and choices that I had to deal with the feelings the situation brought about. In this instance, I chose the popcorn and the tequila. And I’m self-satisfied enough to write about it. More than a decade ago I may have made that choice but without the understanding and full comprehension of other options to connect and how food/drink can be used to fill a void. I also know that I do not have an addictive personality (a bit obsessive, yes, And with a number of friends and clients in 12-step programs, I have a deep respect for the choice to not drink (or drug) they make each day. If a similar situation were to occur for me next week, I may make that same choice with the same knowledge again. Or, I might choose the warm bath and conversation with a friend instead.

Staying in the moment—even when the moment sucks—affords options regarding next maneuvers. It also provides a more direct road of wellness in knowing yourself. I find that’s delicious.

If you'd like some support around it sweet, salty, one that is texture driven, etc., I offer telephone sessions and can be reached via my website:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Talkin' Bout A Revolution

I've come two weeks late to the "Food Revolution" that British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is in the midst of staging in a reality-based television show based on something I've over-the-moon passionate about--helping people understand that the food they eat affects every physical part of themselves as well as their thoughts, feelings and actions. Also that the US food system needs a complete overhaul. And, unless we wake up NOW and not only give up processed foods for non-genetically modified fresh foods but also have a keen interest and understanding of where our food supply is coming from it won't matter what health care reform Washington is able to put into place. It won't be enough to help the amount of people (and specifically children) who will be chronically suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, and other physical, emotional and mental dis-ease.

Okay, that was a bit of a rant and rave. But I couldn't help it. I recently watched the first two installments of the ABC-TV reality series back-to-back. At various junctures, it had me laughing, crying and mostly cheering Jamie Oliver on. In fact at one point I was so excited that I fantasized I had joined Jamie on his Food Revolution. When my breathing got back to normal I realized I had......only I was doing it through this blog, through my website, through my teleclasses and teleworkshops and all my in person groups and one-on-one work. I left the television series to him!

Anyway, the premise for this show focuses on the success Oliver has had in reforming the British lunch system in schools. His changes convinced the British government to spend one billion dollars to overhaul the school meal programs. His task at hand here in the US is to start a similar Food Revolution beginning with the town of Huntington, West Virginia, a city that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed as one of the most obese cities in the nation. The main challenge is to work on having fresh meals cooked--and even more challenging--eaten by the children on one elementary school. These kids, between the ages of 5-11, have taste buds already so trained on chemicalized, white-flour and sugar-laden meals that don't include many vegetables (unless you include french fries cooked in non-healthy oils) that these addictive, nutrient-depleted meals are the basis for their food/energy source 180 or so days of the year. And they like it. We learn that what they are eating outside of the school meal programs aren't getting much better points for quality. In tandem to this situation, Oliver is also working privately with one family comprised of a mother, father, two young boys and a four year old girl--all extremely overweight from their processed food diet.

From boxed potatoes (that have an inch of so more ingredients on the box after the word potatoes--most unpronounceable) to the serving of only sugar-filled chocolate and strawberry "milk"and including the ridiculous, militant USDA guidelines for things like two servings of bread to be included in every meal served at schools, it is a sad wonder to watch. My first thought was questioning how more people "in charge" aren't correlating hyperactive, attention-deficit and other learning and behavioral issues to all the foods made in a lab that the children are eating. Of course this questioning was rhetorical. The reason I believe that these correlations aren't being made is because the decision makers are eating poorly themselves. Simply, they no longer think clearly so they are not able to appropriately put two and two together. This is the stuff that really does bring me to tears. It's NOT rocket science, folks. It's common sense.

A few months back I blogged about an amazing documentary called "Food, Inc." (Which is now out on DVD and available for rental through Net Flix and your local video store.) Food Revolution is another step in this wake-up call regarding what we classify as food. The show is available to anyone with the ABC-TV network or a computer (You can stream episodes.) I urge you to check it out and expect it to be of particular interest to parents of school age children. But honestly it is my prayer that it is of interest to everyone who eats food and who shops at conventional supermarkets in the USA. It clearly and succinctly show where we collectively as a nation are headed if something huge doesn't change. A key needed change is in the way we are feeding our youth.

In the March 15th issue of Time magazine writer Vivienne Walt wrote a piece on French schools and the amazing time and care given around meal time. Her son, at age three, was being served meals that include an hors d'oevre, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert. In addition, parents were sent home menus so that they were aware of what the children were eating--with no repeat dishes over a 32 day period. Included with this were suggestions to the parents for evening meals to better balance out the nutritional values encompassed within a day. Voila!

This is the stuff that gets me excited regarding what I have the privilege of doing for a living these days. Jamie, I've not braved the school systems, I'm leaving that to you, many of my colleagues and First Lady Michelle Obama as she takes on the cause of childhood obesity. While I have a handful of young men and women that I work with, I am mostly taking on the adult population. It's my hope to continue to be the alarm clock waking up the decision makers today. Let's make a nation of healthier folks that aren't relying on pharmaceuticals to change their health status. Everything you eat becomes your tissues, blood, organs, thoughts, feelings and actions. Quality counts.

Before I step down from my soap box today, here are a few things you can do to easily make a change or two for yourself:

1. Make leafy green vegetables a definite menu choice in one, if not two, meals a day. They are like a feather duster going through your body, clearing out the toxins and keeping your body running efficiently and smoothly.

2. Stop the white stuff insanity. This means all the white flour items --pasta, rice, breads, cakes, cookies, pies. There are amazing brown rice, quinoa and other multi-grain pastas on the market. Brown rice and alternative flours--coconut and almond to name two--make for a more nutrient-dense and delicious baked good.

3. Eat real, live food that doesn't come in a box. This is bottom line. It doesn't get any clearer than this.

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I never can resist that one.

If you are interested in any of my in person or teleclass-driven workshops on common-sense driven nutrition and wellness, if you have a group you'd be interested in having me come and speak to on ways to shop, cook, eat and feel better and/or if you'd be interested in setting up a one-on-one in person or phone consult, please contact me through my website: