100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 3

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By Week 3 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and it might seem that the very little has changed so far. This is on purpose! Small, intentional shifts are more sustainable than massive transformations all at once. Keep trusting the struggle, believe that you are making progress, and practice all of the crazy healthy habits every day, no matter what. Talk with your friends about your commitment, and remind yourself that every choice matters.

For Week 3 we will stick with the morning detoxification routine, 5 daily Sun Salutations, and a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast. If you are traveling and can’t make a smoothie, substitute whole fruit and nuts (raw is best) for breakfast. The fat from the nuts helps you feel full, and the nutrients from the smoothie will give you sustainable energy throughout the day.

This week, we will add a vegetable snack and core work to our daily routine.

Daily Habits For Week 3

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Practice 5 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

5. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

7. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 1

100 Days of Crazy Healthy is a FREE health challenge that will transform your life!

This program is based on the daily habits that helped me reclaim power over my health, and how I teach my clients to get healthy without spending money unnecessarily, feeling deprived, or risking injury.

Good health is cumulative–a result of wise choices, made over time. I learned this through personal experience, and created 100 Days of Crazy Healthy as the perfect program to transform your mind, body and spirit, if you trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete your weekly habits.

The work itself is simple. We will move, breathe, stretch, and nourish ourselves naturally, every single day. It’s the every single day part that is essential, and makes it feel less stressful. Small changes add up over time, and help us reveal our best selves! Our attachments to what we have always done might make it feel difficult at first. Don’t let your brain stop your body from getting healthy. Remember that the secret to success is to trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete the work.

We will add a few new healthy habits each week, for the next 14 weeks. They are not meant to replace what you are already doing–this in in addition to other workouts. Over time, you may feel that you have to make some trade offs in your workouts, but you will do so with the information you need to make wise decisions. Don’t worry about it now, though.

You may start the challenge any time you like. Those who start today, will complete the challenge by mid-August, and you will feel fabulous by Labor Day. The goals are realistic, and founded in concepts that have kept people healthy for thousands of years. This week, we are focusing on movement and self care. We will get to food later, once you are in the yoga habit.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone…I am here to help! Reach out any time. I also highly recommend inviting a friend or family member (s) to join you. It will deepen your relationships, and leave you all feeling empowered to control your weight, moods, and habits. Just share the link to  100 Days of Crazy Healthy on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.

Daily Habits For Week 1

Practice these three habits, every day for 7 days. These habits are foundational, and will be built upon in the weeks to come. Do not stop doing your other workouts or other healthy habits, just add these three habits to your routine.

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing!  It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but just believe. These daily habits are the beginning of becoming the crazy healthy person you always hoped to be. So, grab a friend or family member, and get to work. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, if you need encouragement, and would love to know how it goes. Send me photos or notes about your 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and I will share them!

Good luck and namaste’!

Amber

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*To prevent injury, follow these guidelines: 1) Keep your tailbone tucked in standing poses, to prevent compression in the lower back. 2) Roll thighs inward and back in half lift and forward fold. 3)  Press into finger pads and lift the center of the palms in Down Dog.

Why Does It Take 100 Days To Get Crazy Healthy?

Summer 1998–After breaking my shoulders in a car crash, I could not lift my arms above my waist. I had to ask for help dozens of times each day, to reach things I needed. What I remember most, though, is not being able to wash my own hair. Hubby washed it for me, all summer long. It was frustrating, to not be able to do something so simple, that I had hardly thought about, until I lost mobility in my upper body.

It took years of consistent yoga practice to reclaim my flexibility in my shoulders. In the beginning, I thought the goal was to get back to where I was before the crash, but I was wrong. Something even better was waiting for me, when I embraced yoga as a lifestyle.

Little by little, I reclaimed my mobility. It made me happy, and made me thirsty for more. I wondered what would happen, if I kept doing the work, and kept trusting the struggle. Could I actually be more flexible than I was before the crash? Stronger? Happier?

The more I surrendered to the poses, the greater the rewards became. Learning the poses and reclaiming my flexibility was not the end game…something even better was beyond the goal.

This is why our summer challenge is 100 days long. The best things in life are cumulative, and earned little by little. Friendships, careers, faith, health, proficiency in the arts and sports, happiness–all of these have many levels that must be acquired over time. Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, says it best:

“It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.”

This photo, taken last month in Vero Beach, FL is a reminder of what happens when we practice crazy healthy for a long time, with awareness and commitment. There are no shortcuts to crazy healthy, only daily reconciliations with who we are, and what we want out of life.

Broken bones were my greatest barrier to reclaiming my health after the crash. What’s your greatest barrier today? No matter what it might be, there is a way to move past it. If I can do it, anyone can.

Join me for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and trust the process. You can start any time you’d like, but don’t put it off. Reject the voices that tell you it’s not important, it won’t work, it’s too difficult to change, or you don’t have time. These thoughts are founded in false beliefs, and bred by fear.

Seek the truth and believe that you can. Something bigger than your dreams is waiting on the other side.

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3 Simple Ways to Practice Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a big word that simply means “life science”. It is also the world’s oldest system of medicine, with many practical applications in our busy, modern lives. Here’s three simple daily practices that will help you begin to explore the benefits of an ayurvedic lifestyle:

1. Balance the skin. Toss commercial cleansers and lotions that interfere with your body’s natural oil production, and replace them with less expensive, holistic alternatives. Coconut oil, massaged into the skin (even the face!) and rinsed with warm water, clears toxins and leaves a healthy glow.

2. Balance the gut. Drink a large glass of warm lemon water first thing every morning, before eating. This practice stimulates elimination, essential for total body health.

3. Balance the mind. Close the door, set a timer, and sit in silence for five minutes each day. Listen to your breath. Notice what is happening. Are your inhales longer than your exhales? Are you breathing into your chest, or all the way into the belly? Let the breath get deeper, and allow the mind to quiet. It will seem like nothing is happening at first, but you will, over time, learn how to use this practice to heal your mind, body and spirit naturally.

Little by little, these practices will shift the way you think about food and self care, and open doors to the may other practical applications of this time-proven science.

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photo: kimberlysnyder.net

100 Days of Crazy Healthy

This summer, my family and I will take the 100 Days of Crazy Healthy Challenge! Are you in? We will take 14 weeks and 2 days to get our crazy healthy on, adding a few new habits to our lives each week. If you join us before the middle of June, by the end of the summer, you will have created your own personal daily yoga practice, and learned how to incorporate a nutrient-dense, 90/10 diet into your busy schedule.

Here’s how it will work:

Use the search tool or category cloud on my blog to find the posts for 100 Days of Crazy Healthy. I’ve posted the first four weeks’ assignments early, so you can get an idea of how it will work. I will post the rest of the assignments once a week, beginning June 9th.

The work will not seem like much for the first month, and that is on purpose. Some of it may seem too simple to make a difference, and some of it will feel boring. You will feel resistance, and that is normal. Your brain will say,

I don’t have time.

I don’t like this!

This is hard!

It’s not that important.

This isn’t going to work.

Reject those voices and do it anyway. I promise, 100 Days of Crazy Healthy will change your life, if you just do it.

Who should participate:

Everyone! It doesn’t matter if you are really out of shape, or if you have practiced yoga for 20 years, you will benefit from this challenge. It will force you out of your comfort zone, and breed curiosity about what is possible. I am going to do it with you, and I already know it will make me uncomfortable. The way I will teach you to exercise and eat is derived from my experiences getting healthy, but it’s not how I live today. It’s more basic and more repetitive. This will be hard for me, because my yoga practice and eating habits are more intuitive, than structured, these days. But I will do it, every day, because I know that getting back to basics will raise my awareness, and reveal new opportunities to be healthier.

How much time will it take?

Not much. The self-care and nutrition habits are incremental, taking only 1-5 minutes per day. The yoga practice will start out at 5 minutes, and build to 30-45 minutes (it will be up to you to decide how long you stay on your mat). Preparing meals may take a little longer at first, but you will learn to create efficiencies over time.

What do I need to participate?

All you need is a yoga mat, a music player (speaker, etc.), a blender, some coconut oil, an open mind, and faith that this challenge will change your life.

What are the rules?

1. Do whatever it takes.You must complete your weekly homework assignment every day, before you go to bed. It’s best to do your yoga first thing each day, but it’s ok to do it at night as well. Even if you forget, and only remember after you’ve turned off the light at bedtime, get back up and do your practice. If you miss a day, double up the next day. If you miss three days, triple up when you remember.

2. Trust the struggle. Listen to the stories in your head, and reject the ones that prevent you from completing the challenge. There is no legitimate reason you can not complete the homework (unless you are seriously ill or injured), don’t let your mind make you think that there is.

3. Believe that this is what your body is supposed to do. To get healthy and stay healthy, we must move, breath, stretch, resist, nourish and reconcile–every single day.

4. Stop thinking, worrying and analyzing. Just do it. You have nothing to lose!

5. Be a leader. Tell your friends and family what you are doing, and let them see your efforts whenever possible. Don’t hide your crazy healthy!

How will it work?

Here’s the schedule for adding new habits each week.

As always, feel free to email with your questions, or if you just need encouragement. Nothing makes me happier than sharing this crazy healthy life with you! And feel free to post your photos on my Facebook page.

You may start any time you like, but it’s best to start in May, if you hope to finish by Labor Day. The first week’s habits are offered here.

Get Healthy With Me!

ImageHow do we heal ourselves holistically? This is the question we will answer in my upcoming workshop at Evolation Yoga Atlanta on 4/26 from 3-5 PM. It’s going to be so much fun! I hope you will join us.

During the workshop, we will practice my Detox Flow Yoga Sequence, learn some new nutrition, immunity, and skin care tricks, and answer all of your questions about how yoga and Ayurveda can enhance your life. You will leave with a copy of the Detox Flow Yoga Sequence for home practice, as well as many innovative ideas and opportunities for better health and well-being. All levels are welcome, so please join us, even if you’ve never practiced yoga before!

Space is limited, so register soon by clicking here. And, as always, feel free to email any questions you might have.

Namaste~

Amber

 

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A Lot Can Happen In 6 Weeks

calendarThe are 6 weeks and 1 day left in 2013. Which means there is still time to make this the year that you got crazy healthy.

I know, I know. You’re thinking I’m just plain crazy to suggest such a thing. But the thing is, I know it’s possible, because I’ve done it myself. All I had to do was change what I believe.

The truth is that the last six weeks of the year used to be the most unhealthy days of my life. I gained weight, got sick, and felt bad about myself by the time January 1st rolled around. I didn’t understand why it kept happening, year after year. What was wrong with me, that I couldn’t control myself?

It turns out, I was asking the wrong question. The question is not “What’s wrong with me?” Instead, we must ask “What do I need to do, to break the cycle?” 

When I started examining my habits, I realized I was surrendering my power to things that are not worthy of power–food, alcohol, shopping. I told myself that I “couldn’t resist” this, or “I deserved” that. And of course I “just didn’t have time” to workout, because I had too much to do. All of these beliefs  added up and stole my power. By the time Christmas rolled around, I was sick and had gained ten pounds.

It was the same thing, year after year, for over a decade. I didn’t think it was possible to break the cycle, until I got into yoga. Yoga taught me to be more intentional, and helped me see that I always have a choice, and that every choice matters. By setting an intention, and making choices based on long term goals, instead of short term pleasures, I learned to change my habits.

These days, I rarely get sick at the holidays, and my weight stays constant throughout the year. I’ve reclaimed my power over food and exercise, and I feel so much better about myself! Best of all, the last six weeks of the year are pretty much the same as the other 46, from a health perspective. I make time to eat foods that boost my immunity, and ignore the voices that tell me I don’t have time to workout. I do allow myself to indulge in the treats of the season, but always with awareness and small portions.

The thing that helps me the most, during this busiest time of year, is making daily commitments. I have four disciplines that are non-negotiable, every single day, and they are my priority:

Start the day with warm lemon or lime water: Every morning, when I wake up, I drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a lemon or lime. It boosts my immunity, improves my digestion, and gives me energy.

Veggies first: I try to fill up on veggies whenever possible, every single day. The nutrients help me keep my energy levels high, and reduce sugar cravings. My favorite trick is to eat a can of veggie soup before I leave for parties. When I arrive with a full stomach, it’s easier to indulge in moderation.

Resist a lot: I do a minimum of 30 minutes of intense, resistance-based exercise, every single day, to help boost my immunity and clear my mind. I give myself grace if I miss a day here and there, but I never miss two in a row. For me, yoga is the best form of resistance, but it could also be running, weight lifting, or swimming if yoga’s not your thing. When I practice, I always do the hard stuff first–chair poses, warrior poses, planques, arm balances, and anything else I can think of to work against gravity and build heat in my body. Afterwards, when I have time, I stretch for 5 to 20 minutes. (If you’re not sure how where to begin, read my article about using yoga to build strength here.)

One is my limit: I never deprive myself from tasting the yummies at holiday parties. But I do limit myself to no more than one treat a day. If there are several goodies I want to try, then I will take a bite or two of each, and give the rest to someone else or throw it away (I know it’s a waste, but it’s not really food and it’s better in the trash than in my body!) No matter what, I always make sure my intake adds up to one serving of sweets, or less, each day. This can be challenging, because we are attached to eating what we want, when we want it. It gets easier, however, when we realize that what we truly want is to be fit, healthy, and happy, and sweets get in the way of that goal.

The clock is ticking, and 2013 is slowly slipping away. There is still time, however, to make this the year that you get crazy healthy.

Change what you believe. Create some new habits that boost your immunity, strengthen your body, and keep food in its proper place. I know it seems difficult, but that’s what makes it worthwhile. I promise you can do this! Resolve to get crazy healthy now, and make 2014 the happiest, healthiest New Year of all.

*And by the way…have you liked My Crazy Healthy Life on Facebook? Click here, and join the conversation about staying healthy through the holidays!

Photo: http://www.absopure.com

Spring Cleanse, Spring Break, and A Spring In My Step

Ok, ya’ll. I’m back, and feeling great after the Pranaful Spring Cleanse.

I didn’t mean to take so long to fill you in on the cleanse, but it was Spring Break last week, and I just couldn’t write. There were sandcastles to build, waves to jump, and dolphins to chase in the warm Florida sun.

I’m home now, though, rested and ready to chat about the cleanse.

First of all, I have to say a huge thank you to my friend and inspiration, Meredith Klein, and also to Dr. Siva Mohan, for offering this powerful experience for free. They worked tirelessly during the cleanse, to promptly reply to questions and comments about the protocol, and their insights were invaluable (join the Pranaful Spring Cleanse Facebook page to read all about it).

I also need to say that I am really glad I did it. I had a lot of reasons not to cleanse, but I did it anyway. And now my skin is glowing, my hair is shinier, I have more energy, and I’ve dropped a few unnecessary pounds. More importantly, I learned a lot from the experience, as I always do when I shake things up. Here’s what I took away from my week of green juice, kitchari, and aloe shots:

1. Cleansing is an emotional and spiritual exercise, as much as it is physical. It’s easy to just think about the food, and what we are missing, during a cleanse. The most important work, however, is happening at a much deeper level. If we pay attention, we start to recognize the stories (and untruths) we tell ourselves about what we need, deserve, and desire. We gain perspective about the role of food in our lives, and are empowered to make healthier decisions afterward. My mantras throughout the cleanse were “it’s only food”, and “I can do anything for a week”.

2. I don’t need as much food as I normally eat. I have toyed with the idea of calorie restriction for years, and have tried to practice it from time to time, but have not been particularly successful. In my head, I know that science says we need far fewer calories than most people eat, and appropriate calorie restriction can help prevent disease…but I have a tremendous fear of my blood sugar dropping, so I usually eat something small every three hours. On the cleanse, however, I purposefully stretched out the time between eating, and allowed myself to sit with that fear. It made me realize that the fear is more about my lifelong attachment to food, than avoidance of low blood sugar. As a child, I used food for comfort during my parents’ separation and divorce–a pattern that started when I was eight, and I don’t think I ever broke. I am attached to healthy food now, instead of junk food, but the dynamic is the same.

3. The first few days after the cleanse are as enlightening as the cleanse itself. As I started to reintroduce foods that I ate before the cleanse, I noticed that some foods made me feel bad, including soy lecithin, which is in a majority of the snack bars I eat on the run (KIND, Luna, etc.). I know soy lecithin is not particularly good for me, but it’s one of the compromises I have made along the way, in the name of convenience. But now I know that I have a soy lecithin sensitivity, and it’s harder on my body than I thought. So, I’m going to avoid it going forward, which is hard, because it’s used in a lot of products that are otherwise healthy. Admittedly, eliminating these foods from my already gluten-free, mostly vegetarian diet has been frustrating (especially on spring break, when we were in perpetual motion!). However, having eliminated foods before, I know that once I find substitutes, it won’t bother me for long.

4. I get stuck in food addiction very easily. I had never had kitchari before last week, but now I wonder how I ever lived without it. I am having a hard time letting go of just eating kitchari at every meal (seriously!). Everything else seems less clean, and less comforting.

5. I spend a lot of time thinking about, shopping for, and preparing food. I need to let go of the reins a little, and streamline some of my habits.  This cleanse actually showed me that life is easier when I prepare several days’ worth of food ahead of time, instead of cooking twice a day, like I normally do. Cleansing this way definitely changed the way I think about meal planning for myself and my family.

6. No matter how crazy healthy I become, I can always benefit from giving my digestive system a break every now and then. I felt great after the cleanse, and will definitely use the information, recipes, and techniques I learned for the rest of my life.

7. We can learn a lot of crazy healthy habits from Ayurveda. The more I experiment with this ancient Indian approach to food as medicine, the better I feel. This Ayurvedic cleanse was logical, insightful, and helped me feel more confident than ever in exploring the use of Eastern approaches to  healing my body.

There’s still a few weeks left to register for, and participate in the Pranaful Spring Cleanse. For those who have already completed the cleanse, please let me know what you learned, and what habits you have changed as a result.
Namaste,
Amber

The Saltwater Flush

ImageI’m on Day 5, of a seven day cleanse with Meredith Klein of Pranaful. Which means that, since Sunday, I have been eating the same things every day, with just a few minor modifications that add variety to my mono-diet (as Mer calls it).

Every morning, I make a juice from leafy greens, a green apple, and a daikon radish, with a splash of cayenne. For lunch, snack and dinner, I eat kitchari (kich-a-ree), which is a mixture of basmati rice, mung beans, coconut oil, seaweed, veggies, and spices. I can add chutney and spices to change the flavor, and make it soupy or more like a rice dish, to vary the experience each time. It is actually considered comfort food in India, and I am beginning to see why. I’ve fallen in love with kitchari this week, and know that it will be a staple in our house from here on out. It’s delicious and satisfying.

On days 3 and 5 of the cleanse, Meredith suggested a saltwater flush, first thing in the morning, to eliminate toxins from the body. I want to participate as fully as possible in the cleanse, so even though I have already done one flush (and did not enjoy it), I went ahead and drank my saltwater again. Which means I will be running to the bathroom a lot this morning.

To be perfectly honest, I almost skipped the second flush. I told myself it wasn’t that big of a deal, and I am too busy. I am leaving on a trip early tomorrow morning, and have a million things to do in the meantime. I need to register my girls for school next year, do a bunch of laundry, pack for the trip, get the house in order, and drive soccer carpool this afternoon. Somewhere in between, I also absolutely have to practice yoga and meditate, because I know I won’t be able to tomorrow (I try to never miss more than one day a week). So it feels like I don’t have time to sit around and wait for the flush to take effect.

I am also a little worried that the flush might wash away the medication I have just recently started taking for my hypothyroidism. After the flush on Wednesday, a lot of my symptoms returned, and I felt pretty bad for part of the day. It could be that I was just detoxing, or it might be that the medication never had a chance to take effect before I washed it away.

As all of these excuses ran through my mind, however, I asked myself if any of it was true. Do I really not have time for this? Could I find a way to work around the inconvenience? Can I adjust my supplements to minimize the thyroid symptoms, or just deal with them for one more day? (I’ve been battling hypothyroidism for six months…what’s one more day?)

I realized that I could find a way to work around the flush, and I was probably avoiding it because it’s not pleasant. But in my heart, I know that the flush will ultimately increase my energy, heal my body, and help me be a better yogini and teacher.

So, I decided to go for it. I took my yoga off my mat, surrendered to the experience, drank my four cups of warm saltwater, and told myself it would all be ok in the end.

It reminded me that, so often I create my own pain, by resisting experiences that, logically, I should embrace. All the times that I don’t get on my yoga mat, because “I am too busy”, the days that I don’t meditate because “it’s not that important”, the food I eat that I shouldn’t because “it’s not that big of a deal”.

In yogic circles, we call this phenomenon resistance. It’s a powerful thing, resistance, and once I became aware of it, I realized how much it guides my life. Yoga, however, has empowered me to overcome resistance. Most of all, it’s taught me that more often than not, we can, and should, do the things we resist the most…even if it means a saltwater flush…and trust that we are better for it in the end.

Photo: http://www.ilove-diet.com

Green Juice, Kitchari and Aloe Shots

photo copy 2I’ve dabbled in Ayurveda off and on for over a decade. I first learned about this ancient practice during my 200 hour yoga teacher training program, and have been both fascinated, and intimidated by, Ayurveda ever since.

I’m fascinated by Ayurveda because it all makes so much sense, and it has stood the test of time. Ayurveda has been around for thousands of years, and is the most widely practiced form of medicine in India. It stresses medical diagnosis through the use of the five senses, use of food as medicine, proper hygiene (internal and external), and eating seasonal foods that support our personal body constitution.

Even though I know it works, I find Ayurveda intimidating at times, because it’s so incredibly different from modern American practices and attitudes. It forces me out of my comfort zone.

It’s also not the kind of thing that you can just read a book and understand…Ayurveda is experiential. It requires patience, intention, and a lot of practice to assimilate it into our lives.

This is why I really wanted to participate in the Spring Cleanse with Meredith Klein, that I shared with you last week. It is founded in Ayurveda, and I knew it would deepen my understanding of the practice. Meditation and yoga are also highly recommended during the cleanse, and you know I’m all about that!

It hasn’t been easy, but as of right now, on day 3 of the cleanse, I feel great, and extremely grateful for what I have learned so far:

1) I am really attached to food, but not in the way that most people are attached to food. I rarely use food for comfort. Instead, I think of food as a drug, and use it to give me energy, alter my mood, and relieve pain. Not being able to eat some of the crazy healthy foods I normally use medicinally, such as bananas an chocolate, has been hard. I am also attached to eating small meals every 3 hours or so. Trying to eat less frequently on this cleanse brings up all kinds of stuff for me. Which is awesome, because awareness of my attachments always breeds progress.

2) I get hungry less often when I eat Indian comfort food, known as kitchari (pictured above). The word kitchari means mixture, and usually refers to mung beans, basmati rice, spices, and veggies. I now know that mung beans, which taste a lot like lentils, are highly detoxifying. Who knew?

3) I can make green juice from leafy greens and water in my blender. No juicer needed. Simply strain the juice with a cheese cloth or jelly bag. And just for the record, adding a green apple, lemon and ginger makes green juice more palatable.

4) Tumeric, cumin, and black mustard seeds taste awesome with cilantro, coconut and lime. I have, for a long time, been afraid to mix too many flavors in with my veggies. Most of what I cook is very basic, with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, cinnamon, honey and/or lemon as flavoring. Now, thanks to this cleanse (and being forced outside my comfort zone), I have a few more spices in my repertoire.

5) Aloe juice is good for reducing inflammation, and enhancing digestion, especially if you add tumeric and black pepper (Meredith calls it “aloe shots”). It also has a fairly pleasant taste on it’s own. Again, who knew?

5) Kombu seaweed adds a lot of nutrients (iodine is the most important!), but very little taste to kitchari.

6) Kitchari can be made in advance, and enjoyed for several days, with a different sauce and veggies every day…which makes my busy life a lot easier.

7) A salt water flush works a lot like an enema. You drink four cups of salted water first thing in the morning, and stay by the bathroom for a long while. Drinking that much salt water makes me want to gag, but I’m sure I’ll feel better later for it.

8) I can make digestive tea from cumin, fennel, and coriander. It’s not my favorite tea, but I have to admit it is comforting.

9) I can give up anything for a week, even coffee.

10) The more I learn about ayurveda, the more I question why I don’t eat this way all the time. I have to avoid some of the suggested ayurvedic foods, due to my allergies, such as dairy and wheat, but I do believe an ayurvedic diet might be the best choice for my constitution.

There’s still time to participate in the FREE Spring Cleanse with Meredith Klein of Pranaful. Just register on her site, print the materials, and start it on a day that works best for you. And, as always, let me know if you have questions, or need encouragement.

Also, please follow me on Facebook at Come On, Get Healthy, if you want to see what I have been eating this week!

 

Namaste,

Amber

Aside

5 Tips For Boosting Immunity Naturally

These days, many people are spending more money than ever, on supplements for better health. The thing the drug companies don’t want us to know, though, is that we don’t have to spend a lot of money to get healthy and stay healthy. We already have everything we need within us. Here’s six tips for boosting immunity and recovering from illness naturally:

1. Scrape tongue upon waking. This is an ancient ayurvedic practice for removing ama, a toxic by-product of digestion, that is harmful if swallowed. A tongue scraper or spoon can be used to clean the tongue, front to back.

2. Rinse sinuses with saline. This simple practice is also derived from Ayurveda. Saline rinse removes bacteria from the sinus cavity, and helps clear colds and viruses from the sinuses and back of the throat, where they tend to linger and create infections. You can buy neti pots, or sinus rinse kits at most drug stores.

3. Drink warm lemon or lime  water. Lemon and lime juices stimulate the digestive system, boost energy, and  increase immunity with the power of vitamin C.

4. Practice yoga. The flowing movements of asana (yoga poses) encourage movement of lymphatic fluid within the body. Lymphatic fluid is responsible for clearing toxins from our blood, but it needs encouragement to do its job, so we must move frequently and purposefully to stay healthy. This is why full body movement and lymphatic massage, in the form of asana, help expedite the healing process. Yoga also boosts immunity by encouraging deeper breathing that oxygenates the blood.

5. Practice self-massage with natural oils. This practice, known as abyhyanga, has been around for thousands of years, as a natural immunity booster. Self-massage and cleansing with oils is excellent for our health, helps restore our skin’s natural glow, and is a lot cheaper than commercial soaps and lotions. Before showering, cover the body with unrefined sesame or coconut oil, and apply pressure as you massage the entire body, paying special attention to the lymph nodes. Rinse with warm water afterward, and blot dry.

All of these little tricks are natural, simple and inexpensive to add to your daily routine. Give them a try, and remember that the most important strategy for long-term, sustainable wellness is a diet rich in whole foods, and daily resistance-based exercise.

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Photo: quickandsimple.com

Crazy Good Kale Salad

My friend, Angie, is a total foodie, a professional chef, and the best cook I know. Eating out with Angie is always fun, because she is really enthusiastic, and funny, about food. If she likes something, she calls it craaaazy good. Her enthusiastic use of “crazy” is one of the reasons I love calling this blog “My Crazy Healthy Life“.

Angie came to dinner last week, along with a few other girlfriends. I served bourbon salmon and roasted butternut squash with cranberries, along with this raw kale salad that I found at http://www.vegetariantimes.com. I only used half of the salt they recommended, because I thought it called for too much. It turned out perfect.

As I had hoped, Angie, and my other friends, also thought this kale salad was crazy good. They raved about it, helped themselves to seconds, and insisted that I forward the recipe. I’m pretty sure one of my other dinner guests, Lisa, is making this salad right now, as I type this post.

Because it was such a hit, I wanted to share this crazy good, crazy healthy recipe with you. It calls for grated raw rutabaga and grated raw turnips, which is AWESOME. I never would have thought of that on my own. I love that the veggies are seasonal, it’s easy to make, and the final product is the perfect combination of all six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent.

Give it a try, and let me know if you agree, that this might just be the perfect kale salad.

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Photo: http://www.vegetariantimes.com