The insidious power of cravings

stinking thinking at work

stinking thinking at work

“One of the reasons people consume anything too much is because they don’t consume other things enough.” (Marianne Williamson, A Course In Weight Loss, 74).

When people ask me what they can do about their sugar cravings, I usually suggest that maybe they could look at where in their lives “sweetness” is missing. Some of them nod in recognition of a truth they had been avoiding, others become defensive and sometimes angry. Either way, I know I hit a nerve.

Although sometimes fighting cravings seems an unwinnable battle, these desires are actually not good nor bad. Cravings are instead wonderful indicators that something inside of us is out of balance. As emotional eaters, we have used food to numb out our feelings, so when they suddenly start calling our attention, we become scared and we fall into the automatic response that we have learnt to comfort ourselves in these cases: we go to food. We will invent one thousand excuses and justifications of why it is good to go ahead and use food to calm us down.

Whenever you are having cravings for those “comfort” foods you tend to go to when there’s some emotional stuff happening, take a deep breath and some time to think about what is triggering those cravings. Even if you do indulge in them, don’t miss the opportunity to understand yourself and identify what’s beneath them. Deconstructing cravings is a magical way to develop mastery over them. When you experience a craving, ask yourself, what does my body really want and why?

Some causes of cravings are:

1. Lack of “primary” food, that is to say, nurturance beyond food. For example, relationship issues, an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), boredom, stress, an uninspiring job, or a lack of a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Food can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill a void.

2. Water. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced. For more tips on this topic, please go to my previous blogs “Our Bodies Many Cries for Water,” and “Please Stay Hydrated.”

3. Yin/yang imbalance. Certain foods have more expansive qualities (yin) while other foods have more contractive qualities (yang). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang).

4. Inside coming out. Often times, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s ancestral or childhood foods.

5. Seasons. Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like raw fruit and veggies, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog or sweets.

6. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine and sugar.

7. Hormones. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.

8. De-evolution. When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood-sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

As we become more aware of the underlying emotions below the cravings–stuff repressed for so long–, that crystallized energy starts to melt down and bubble up to be released. Exactly the same as when we detox. Addressing our stored emotions IS a way of detoxing! Thus we de-program ourselves from years of automatic behaviors around emotional eating. That is why staying conscious and paying attention to the indicators that something’s out of kelter is so crucial. Stay aware and enjoy the journey!

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Please stay hydrated!

Front image_drinking-waterIt’s been HOT! The end of the summer in Los Angeles usually tends to gift us with the high temperatures we missed earlier in the season. I hear people can’t sleep, are irritable, and can’t even do mental work in this heat. This extreme weather takes a toll on our bodies, and we need to be aware of that. The most important thing is to stay cool and hydrated.

I have already talked about the importance of keeping our bodies hydrated in a recent post “Our bodies’ many cries for water.” . In it I mentioned how F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. considers that water is the cure to many of our ailments caused by modern life, as most of us are chronically dehydrated.

Personally, when it’s so hot I scale down my Bikram Yoga practice and swim every day. There is something very cooling and refreshing about soaking in water and splashing in that fluid, all-embracing motherly element. But even then, it’s important to rehydrate after swimming, as the chemicals used to keep the water clean, the sun and the sweating (yes, we sweat when we swim!), dehydrate us. I replenish the lost electrolytes with coconut water. It’s also good to add electrolytes to our drinking water, if we exercise and sweat a lot.

In addition to drinking lots of filtered water, raw fruits and veggies are very hydrating foods. During this warm weather we usually feel less hungry, so go ahead and substitute some meals with delicious veggie juices and smoothies. You can find some easy recipes here and here.

If your diet is composed mainly of processed and mostly cooked foods, you will need more water to hydrate. Also keep in mind that coffee, teas, alcohol, sugary sodas, cigarettes and other irritants are dehydrating and you’ll need to drink more water to counter their effect.

These simple tips will help you stay healthy and at your best even during this torrid season. So, enjoy the end of the summer and stay cool!

 

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Update on my weight loss journey: 6 down and counting

My daughter Paloma and I flanking super master teacher Marianne Williamson after one of her Monday night lectures at the Saban Theater

My daughter Paloma and I flanking super master teacher Marianne Williamson after one of her Monday night lectures at the Saban Theater

Ever since my last post about my weight loss process “A course in weight loss: a confession and an invitation” where I described my inability to lose weight and fit into the dress I had bought for my daughter’s wedding, I have released 6 pounds and I’m feeling really good about it, as I finally fit into the dress. No sense of deprivation here, just becoming more conscious about what I eat, even within the parameters of an “impeccable,” mostly raw plant-based diet.

The results are really due to a change in consciousness prompted by the exercises I have been doing daily from Marianne Williamson’s book A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Principles for Surrendering Your Weight Forever.

By means of that daily practice I was pushed to really look into myself and those places I was not addressing honestly. And as I did, and cleansed those parts of myself that were resisting change, I started to pay attention to resources that were right in front of my nose. For example, several months ago I had bought Alejandro Junger’s book Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, (reviewed in a previous post “Are you ‘inflamed’?”), but had not had the time to look at it. It had been patiently waiting on my table for me to open it, and during this time of releasing resistances, it popped right in front my consciousness for me to read it. When I did, I decided to follow meticulously the “elimination diet” it proposes (see my previous post for a list of the most common allergenic and inflammation producing foods), I tweaked other aspects of my diet, and the pounds started to drop. Amazing!

As a health coach, my approach to weight loss or the jump-starting of a healthy way of eating is usually to invite my clients to start “crowding out” the unhealthy choices with nutrient-dense foods, mainly in the form of green veggie juices, smoothies and raw soups. I have found that many of my clients make astounding changes in their health by just adding these delicious drinks to their diets. (For recipes, please go here). As their bodies start receiving their quota of intelligent nutrients, their cellular memory wakes up after a slumber induced by chemicalized, processed food and other addictive substances and the cravings shift towards the fuel meant to make our bodies operate in an optimal fashion. Slowly but surely, cravings for non-supportive choices start melting away, as the body begins to crave natural, whole, clean foods.

I will be sharing this experience and offering personalized recommendations in my next program: A Course in Weight Loss: A Phone Group Coaching Program, a series of 8 phone sessions starting August 21, that will look deeply into the personal roots of excess weight and other body issues by following the principles presented in Marianne Williamson’s book. This phone group coaching program will support participants in developing a healthy relationship with their body that is honoring and respectful of its sacredness. For more information, please go here.

Register by August 15 to receive the savings!

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Are you “inflamed”?

Clean-CoveI know that this question might elicit different responses at this moment. Today we could feel “inflamed” due to another example of how the justice system in this country has shown one more time that we are really not all equal under the law. And I would say that is a very justified way of feeling, and at some point, I promise I’ll write a post about this.

But what I really mean when I ask this question is if you have stopped to think whether your body has created an inflamed environment that is prone to disease, which eventually could become chronic. Some of my clients complain about digestive issues, for example, and this condition is a result of inflammation.

I am reading an excellent book that explains the relation of inflammation and the need for detoxification, Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself. Author and fellow rioplatense Alejandro Junger, M.D. explains this condition

…inflammation is a survival mechanism of great complexity. [It] occurs when a set of chemicals in the blood are activated by something foreign or broken. These chemicals attract defense cells that protect tissues against whatever is injuring them, from a thorn to a disease-causing microbe. The repair system is also activated by calling in different cells to fix the damage. Normally, inflammation is self-regulated, which means that as soon as it is triggered, it will start reactions that will stop further inflammation. However, if the body is constantly exposed to irritants, the inflammation response is switched on all the time—not just at small specific sites, but systemically all over the body and throughout the blood. This is what happens when exposure to toxins is high: modern humans are chronically inflamed. Inflammation (from the Latin word inflatio, “to set on fire”) becomes to the body’s environment what wildfires are to the planet’s” (92).

Only now modern medicine has recognized that inflammation is the common condition underlying chronic ailments like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. So, how can we prevent inflammation? We need to consider that, in addition to environmental toxins and stress, the ingestion of certain foods promote inflammation. For example:

  • Packaged and processed foods and drinks that contain additives, preservatives and other chemicals
  • Acid producing foods: red meat, refined grains (mostly gluten)
  • Dairy
  • Sugars
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Trans-fats: hydrogenated oils
  • Foods that can cause irritation and allergies:
  • nightshade family: tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, potatoes
  • Strawberries, chocolate, shellfish
  • Peanuts

If we reduce the intake of these foods, and add anti-inflammatory nutrients to our diet, like Omega 3 fatty acids (hemp, flax and chia seeds, walnuts, algae, fish and krill oil), curcumin (turmeric), plants that contain polyphenols, like all types of berries, raw plants that cool down our system and dark leafy greens that support liver detoxification (my favorite are dandelions), we limit our stressors and we cleanse our system regularly, we will keep inflammation in check. Dr Junger asserts that the root of inflammation is the “the toxicity of modern life, and our bodies’ weakness in dealing with it. Only when we start a treatment there, targeting the seed of the problem, can we truly begin to ward off disease” (11).

This is why I am so insistent on periodic detoxifications of our bodies. It’s not that I’m a broken record, it’s that periodic cleanses are the most effective and empowering practices to keep our bodies clean and healthy.

If reading this post has convinced you that it’s time for a tune-up, please check my upcoming DIY Mid-Summer Community Cleanse and Raw Food Preparation Class starting July 27. Your body and the planet will thank you for it.

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A course in weight loss: a confession and an invitation

weight lossI recently started to read some of Marianne Williamson’s books, an author that I had seen several times as a public speaker, but whom I had not read. I have to say that her words are making a deep impact in my life right now in many different ways, mainly, by keeping me honest about my dark sides and how used I am to cover them up by focusing on “serving” others.

One of her books that called my attention is A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. When I ordered it, it seemed like a great guide for my clients in their weight loss process, as most of them come to me for support as a health coach to accompany them in that journey. (Yes, I know: our clients will always mirror our own issues). I thought it would be so cool to offer a phone group coaching program using that text and having my clients work on the exercises included as a way to become reacquainted with the emotional and spiritual issues underlying excess weight. We would then share in the group setting and process together, as I coached each participant on ways to overcome the issues.

When the book arrived, I started reading it and doing the exercises myself. And suddenly it dawned on me: the volume was screaming at me loud and clear: “This book is first and foremost for YOU!”

Dah! Why didn’t I think about this before? I am the one with weight issues, I am the one who has survived eating disorders, I am the one who is still dealing with accepting her body as it is. “Hmmm…” I said to myself. “Now I get it! I became a health coach because I went through all this already, and I’m still working on it. But I tend to focus on other people and support THEM overcome THEIR issues.” “Come on, now,” said my Not Thin Me (la “gordita”)—a character I have been having extensive conversations with lately.  “Who are you trying to deceive? You have been hiding behind your ‘expertise and authority’ as a coach, when you can’t even release those last 15 pounds that need to melt away by the end of September, for your daughter Violeta’s wedding, so that you can fit into that lovely dress you bought two sizes smaller, as it was the last one they had in stock!”

Although that hurt, I had to agree with la Gordita. I bought this dress more than a month ago in the absolute certainty that if I decided to, I would release the extra weight by the wedding. But I was wrong: although I have been eating a quite “impeccable” plant-based diet, no sugar, no gluten, no animal products, no alcohol nor coffee, and I have been exercising six days a week, I haven’t lost a gram. “What’s wrong with my body?” I keep asking myself in despair. “I should be able to do this. I COACH people on how to eat better and lose weight, for crying out loud!”

Angered, I go back to Marianne’s book, and she reminds me that there’s still work to be done. I have not dealt with my “pain body”–as Eckart Tolle calls it: the stored repressed feelings that we carry around our body as a “padding,” (as Shirley likes to call it), as excess weight. And I humbly embark in a journey of introspection to get in touch with those unprocessed feelings that become the “burden” that I have not let go of yet.

So, early every morning, I dedicate my practice of journaling to really delving deep into those repressed  feelings that are hindering my ability to move forward. What is coming up is really amazing as it allows me to see clearly so many patterns in myself that I have hidden behind my outward behaviors: my alleged givingness to others as I support them in solving THEIR problems. What a wonderful and acceptable way of masking that core that is keeping me stuck in my old ways and is not allowing me to express fully, as it’s holding the “secrets” unsolved and stored in my mid-section!

The identification of these repressed feelings is not a shaming exercise. It’s a way of highlighting them to later press the “delete” key with the power of forgiveness. It’s quite a process that includes pain, sorrow and shame, and I know it’s helping me to grow in so many ways.

A necessary part of this growth process is to become honest in public.  This is very new to me. It’s my coming out as la Gordita. I usually don’t talk about myself, as I’m generally the one who is lending her ear to those who need to talk. But opening up is part of my own healing process. As I acknowledge publicly my own journey, I become a mirror for those who travel similar paths, reflecting back to them the face of a fellow traveler.

If this resonates with you, come walk with me. I will be offering an 8 session phone group coaching program using these principles and personalized attention starting Wednesday August 21, and ending November 27, right before Thanksgiving. I envision it to be quite a ride, and I will be there to support you and learn together. Please save the dates. For more info, please go here

Please sign up to receive information on my upcoming programs here.

Our body’s many cries for water

imagesAs we move through these interesting times, mostly in the recent weeks, with a cosmic alignment of three eclipses in a row, ending with a powerful full moon eclipse on May 24-25, our energies shift, we feel tired, overwhelmed, stressed out, sad, etc. Some of the authors writing about how to deal with these emotions suggest we go back to the element of water as medicine. I can relate to that as a Sirena!

Lena Stevens suggests that we “take care of the body in some way as the body struggles with new energies it does not understand. You may be experiencing aches and pains you never had before. Work with water, drink lots of it, immerse yourself in it and make sure you are getting enough minerals.” And Pat Liles mentions that in this alignment there is “such effortless, easeful energy available, especially from the water signs–our emotional, receptive, fluid nature where we just tap in and intuitively understand what is going on from our deep knowingness. This water energy is part of our learning as well at this time – how to be fluid, receive, use our feminine powers of cooperation…”

So, in this time of deep transformation and renewal, the astrological experts invite us to go back to the most simple and essential of elements. Why?

From a scientific point of view, F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. in his famous book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water assures us “you are not sick, you’re thirsty,” and recommends to use water as a cure for an infinite array of diseases: from rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain, headaches, depression and stress, to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

I always remind my clients to drink their good, fresh, clean water constantly. How much? The rule of thumb is 2-3 ½ quarts of high quality water per day, or half our weight in ounces. Drink more if you sweat a lot, like I do when I practice Bikram yoga. If we eat raw veggies and fruits, those will hydrate us and we won’t need that much water. Remember, though, that if you are eating a lot of dehydrated food, you will need more water to rehydrate it.

When should we drink it? At least one hour before and one hour after the meals, so that the water doesn’t dilute the acids necessary for digestion.

I have a reverse osmosis filter in my kitchen that I use to refill a metal bottle, so to avoid the waste of plastic bottles that also leach carcinogens. Spring water is the best!

Warm baths with Epsom Salts are great too, they relax our muscles when we exercise, help us calm down after a stressful day and provide the soothing environment to dream and simply chill.

We’ll be talking about this and many other seasonal tips in my next phone group coaching program Are you ready to benefit from the healing power of the summer season?

I have to go now. My mermaid’s tail is getting dry, it needs to dip into the oceanic womb of Iemanja.

Helpful tips to practice mindful eating and promote weight loss

One of the first recommendations I give my clients who want to lose weight and adopt a healthier diet is to be mindful during their meals. To just sit in front of their meal, give thanks for it, bless it and savor each bite in mindfulness: chewing thoroughly, paying attention to the flavor and the texture of their food. No multitasking, no TV, no phone, no computer. Just eat. A simple act, that when done mindfully, recovers its original sacred nature. When we eat mindfully we eat less and our digestion improves.

I have been enjoying reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Thich Nhat Hanh, in collaboration with Dr. Lilian Cheung: Savor, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. In their book they recommend these simple tips to practice mindful eating:

  1. Breathe before eatingsavor
  2. Honor the food
  3. Engage all six senses
  4. Serve in modest portions
  5. Savor small bites and chew thoroughly
  6. Eat slowly to avoid overeating
  7. Don’t skip meals
  8. Eat a plant-based diet, for your health and for the planet

I would add: enjoy the process! Bon appétit.

 

 

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Top Seven Reasons to Join A Group Coaching Program

Hello all!

I am launching an eight session intensive phone group coaching program in weight loss. From the convenience of your home, I will be coaching you on how to release the weight issues forever. As I know that many times we need someone to hold us accountable to make permanent changes to support our health, I designed this easy-to-follow program. I hope you join me. And, if you know of someone who might benefit from a program like this one (who wouldn’t?), please forward the information to them. For more info and to register, go here.

Group coaching programs are very beneficial, as the next seven reasons will show.

1.  Find a  Personal Support System

Group coaching gives you the opportunity to share your feelings with others and develop deeper connections, making your sessions more meaningful. Knowing you are not alone in your journey will help you develop the confidence to address your challenges and the motivation to succeed.

2. Higher Likelihood of Achieving Goals

When individuals are part of a group, they procrastinate less, accomplish more, and reach their goals faster.

3. Benefit from Collective Wisdom

You’ll brainstorm solutions, open creativity channels, and uncover opportunities you may not have discovered working alone.

4. Gain a New Perspective

When you work in a group, you’re exposed to a variety of insights that offer you multiple angles and motivate you to develop new solutions.

5. A Great Value

Get the same quality coaching, but at a fraction of what individual coaching costs. Group coaching is a smart and affordable way to receive top-notch guidance.

6. A Team Invested in Your Success

When you work in a group, the whole team supports you and celebrates your success.

7. Turn Work into Play

Working with a group is a social event that participants look forward to. You will join a close-knit group that is energizing, motivating and most of all – fun! Group members often become lifelong friends.

Please sign up to receive information on my upcoming programs here.

Dandelions: let food be your medicine

photoLlegó la primavera y el amor!

I love spring time! I love the weather and to be able to witness nature yawning back to life. How beautiful!

When I walk in the mornings or when I go out and feed the pack of (former) stray cats in my backyard, I am welcomed by a flourish of colorful and aromatic aliveness. Bouganvillia and morning glory blooming, jasmines of all types sharing their equisite aroma… And my favorite: yes, the loyal dandelions. Most people want to kill them, because they feel they are “weeds,” but I love to forage them because they are locally and seasonally grown and they are FREE!!!! And, of course, they have amazing medicinal properties.

According to a post by David Metz, Certified Clinical Herbalist, “Dandelions: from weed to medicine,” these herbs have “been known for perhaps thousands of years as a springtime cleanser and rejuvenator. The young leaves are perfect in the spring to cleanse your liver, kick-start your kidneys and release the winter stagnancy out of your muscles and bones.”  He adds that they are also “a premier digestive aid,” easing ” indigestion, gas and bloating.” Moreover, the bitterness of the herb helps the liver to release built-up bile,  “making dandelion good for gallstones, gout, jaundice, constipation, acne and eczema.”

Dandelions are also used as diuretics and a “potent anti-inflammatory, a cholesterol reducer, a type 2 diabetes balancer, and a reducer of muscular pain and swelling.  These qualities are due to its cooling nature. “

So, I invite you to try these amazing plants. How can we eat them? Well, I make the most delicious salad; simple, tasty and stimulating. Enjoy!SAM_0345

Dandelion Greens Salad

1 bunch of thinly sliced dandelion greens

½ cup chopped mushrooms

3 chopped garlic cloves.

a handfull of cranberries

Dressing: olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp. amino acids (Braggs) made with fermented soy beans.

Equipment: bowl, knife, chopping board

Gluten* and sugar- free fruit and nut cookies-Galletas de frutas secas y nueces sin gluten* ni azúcar

-DSC_1113smThis is a deliciously  healthy snack that can be dehydrated or baked

Ingredients

2 cups of assorted dry fruits (soaked 4-6 hours)
1 cup of pitted dates (soaked 4-6 hours)
1 cup of pecan nuts
1 cup of shredded/grated coconut
1 cup of flax seeds
1 cup of oat groats
2 tablespoons of raw agave nectar
Coconut oil to cover the cookie sheet

Preparation
Filter the water used to soak the dry fruits and dates and keep it.  Process the fruit and dates in the Cuisinart and place in a bowl. Frind the flax seeds and the oat groats and add to the bowl. Mix well, using the water used for soaking the fruits. Add chopped nuts, shredded coconut and the agave. Continue to blend and add the water as needed. The consistency should be firm, in order to shape the cookies. You can bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or dehydrate for 24 hours. Enjoy!

* thank you, Lorena, for your comment. Oats don’t have gluten naturally, but many times they are packed in facilities that handle other grains with gluten. Make sure to use uncontaminated oats to prepare this recipe.

 
Estas galletas son muy saludables, y se pueden hornear o deshidratar

Ingredientes
2 tazas de frutas secas variadas remojadas en agua filtrada por 4-6 horas.
1 taza de dátiles sin carozo remojadas en agua filtrada por 4-6 horas.
1 taza de nueces pecan (se pueden remojar también)
1 taza de coco rallado
1 taza de semillas de linaza
1 taza de granos de avena
2 cucharadas de nectar de agave
Aceite de coco para aceitar la asadera

Preparación
Filtre el agua que se usó para remojar las frutas secas y los dátiles y guárdela. Ponga las frutas y los dátiles en una procesadora y procese bien y pase a un bol. Muela las semillas de linaza y los granos de avena y agregue al bol. Mezcle bien usando el agua del remojo. Agregue las nueces picadas, el coco rallado y el agave. Siga mezclando y agregue agua cuando la necesite. La consistencia debe ser firme, para formar copos en la asadera. Aceite la asadera y ponga la masa en copos para hacer las galletas. Cocine en horno de 400 grados por 45 minutos.

* Gracias, Lorena, por tu comentario. Si bien la avena no tiene gluten naturalmente, muchas veces se empaqueta en establecimientos con otros granos que sí lo tienen. Para asegurarse de que la receta no tiene gluten, por favor, asegúrense de que la avena no ha sido contaminada.