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Last weekend I was invited to be a guest demo speaker for the second annual San Diego Veg Festival. I was asked to share my experience as a raw food educator and holistic healer, and it was a great opportunity to meet people ready to recover their health by choosing healthier food options. Here’s the interview:
I enjoy the fact that it’s growing so fast. More and more people are getting into a plant-based diet and becoming much more aware of the issues related to the eating of animal products. In my own area of raw food, I see people experimenting with green juices and smoothies daily, and seeing the incredibly positive effects that these have in their health. I feel there is a change in consciousness in many areas, and food is one of them. People realize that to change the world, we need to change individually—as members of a larger community—and one of the ways is by paying attention to how we fuel our bodies, that is in accordance with a sustainable way of preserving our planet. Moreover, as a food justice activist, I believe in autonomous and vibrantly healthy individuals and communities, and that our bodies are the ultimate site of self-determination. So, in order to become really autonomous, the first thing we need to do is decolonize our bodies from commercial, processed food and other substances that keep us lethargic and lacking in energy.
Fortunately, I started exploring a raw food diet and cleansing in January 2002, when I participated in a program called The 21 Day Detox, led in Los Angeles by two amazing individuals, both naturopaths, Richard D’Andrea, M.D., and John Woods. I learnt so much from them, that I think they prepared me very well to go on my own journey safely. That’s why I have taken it to heart to teach other people how to develop personalized cleanses that are effective and safe. I felt the duty to share my experience with the Chicano/a Latino/a communities with whom I interact daily, as there is a lot of chronic disease and obesity in these communities due to a less than optimal diet resulting from the lack of good fresh produce in the “food deserts” where many of these people reside.
I was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the ingestion of meat is overwhelming. When I arrived in this country in 1988 to pursue a doctoral program, luckily, I started eating much less meat because I felt it didn’t taste as good as back home. I also come from a history of emotional eating, so the idea of exploring a raw food diet and periodic detoxing was very appealing to me. It happened right at a time in my life when my spiritual practices were becoming much deeper, and it was natural for me to change my diet to support that process.
After years of hosting seasonal community cleanses and raw food preparation classes, I decided to retire from my position as a college professor and work full-time in the area of health. I became certified as a holistic health coach and have been growing my practice since late 2011. I am using everything I learnt in my own journey to support post-menopausal women to recover their power over their bodies, and debunk disempowering beliefs about aging. As a holistic healer, I model for my clients how to courageously step center-stage in their lives by unleashing their unique personal power, creative self-expression and overall wellbeing. I offer bilingual programs that inspire individuals to reconnect with their bodies, minds and spirits by going back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle: a personalized nutrient-rich diet, energizing physical movement and a meaningful spiritual practice. I specialize in weight management for women in their prime through life-changing programs that include DIY detoxifications, live foods and powerful transformational techniques. I also offer wellness seminars in English and Spanish.
Every six months I spend a week doing a deep detox at the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, an amazing institution that firmly believes in the power of food as medicine. They follow Anne Wigmore’s principles of using the healing power of live food (sprouting, fermenting, juicing, lots of wheatgrass) to restore health. Every Friday morning, guests have the opportunity to share to the community their testimonials about healing with the power of plants. I have seen time and again hundreds of cases of individuals with “incurable diseases”–as defined by the traditional medical industrial complex–, make a 100% recovery and regain their health and vitality by sticking to this type of diet. Everything that I’ve learnt at OHI I share with the participants of my workshops and cleanses. I am looking forward to continue to collaborate with the San Diego Veg community in spreading this information to the public.
I would invite individuals to consider practicing a plant-based diet. I have seen many vegetarians and vegans who eat a lot of processed food, fake meats, etc. I think that the power of being on a veg-friendly path is to get acquainted with the amazing power of plants. That’s the natural fuel that our bodies need. And, if some “slips” happen, to just recommit and continue on the path. There are so many different varieties, flavors, textures, ways of preparing plants, that there is no way that we would feel deprived (not even in the intake of protein!). Also, I would suggest that individuals explore and pay close attention to their ancestral diet. According to the principle of “bio-individuality,” the great diversity of body types demand different types of diets. Usually, whatever our ancestors ate, our bodies do well with. We can always modify those traditional dishes with choices that are more congruent with the diet that we choose now.
I like very simple flavors, and I eat mostly what I prepare at home. I love greens, and I prepare them in juices and smoothies, salads and wraps. I always tell the participants of my food preparation workshops that I am not that interested in gourmet raw food, that my diet mostly responds to the requirements of a “colon boot camp.” I’m interested mainly in food that makes me feel vibrant and healthy and that keeps my body clean. That’s why I am very much into fermentation and sprouting. I always sprout my beans, grains and nuts, and if I happen to prepare a cooked quinoa dish (my favorite grain/seed), I will sprout it for a couple of days first, so that the life force and enzymatic power gets unleashed and becomes more digestible and nutritious.
8. What advice do you have for those that are interested or curious about being a vegetarian/vegan?
I usually suggest to my clients to start slowly, adding veggies and fruits into their diet. The best way to do that is with green juices and smoothies. I have seen time and again that as people start to add these delicious and nutrient rich drinks into their diet, their taste buds get used to the natural flavors, they start to crave veggies and fruits due to the fact that they feel much better eating clean, and slowly, their diet starts transforming completely. This is a wonderful way to jump start a journey towards a plant-based diet. Enjoy the process, and don’t become too dogmatic, just find pleasure in your new choices!
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Lately I’ve been watching closely how women my age and beyond are staying active and some of them, amazingly young-looking and vibrantly healthy and energetic. I saw a picture of Raquel Welch recently, who at 72 looked hotter in a leopard printed dress than Heidi Klum, who wore the same one. I’ve seen pictures of 79 year old Sophia Loren, who looks really stunning and still sexy. And of course, there is exercise guru Jane Fonda, who has been able to keep her body youthful and strong at 76, and recently released some of her secrets on a yoga DVD for women in their “prime time.” It seems that, as women who take care of themselves approach their seventh decade, they are pushing back the expected prime age for women way beyond the 50s.
Fonda confesses that as she was researching for her last book, titled Prime Time, she found in many of her sources that “staying physically active is just about the #1 factor in whether you have a good Third Act or not.” As we age, exercise keeps us healthy; she further asserts, “[a]ctivity strengthens the heart and bones, improves circulation, reduces obesity, thickens the skin and can help with depression because of the endorphins released into the system. Endorphins are brain chemicals that give relief from pain, enhance the immune system, reduce stress and bring us a sense of well-being.”
Another amazing icon mentioned above who has aged divinely is 60’s bombshell Sophia Loren, who, at her prime age of 79, believes firmly in the power of the mind to stay youthful “There IS a Fountain of Youth. It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age,” she affirms.
Exercise may be the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits.
The range of health bonuses now attributed to exercise has surprised even doctors. Research suggests that workouts may do the following:
So, what are you waiting for? Get off the computer, and go out to play!
But please stay tuned! Coming up a special empowerment workshop for women in their prime Life is not over at 50, ladies! More info coming up soon!
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“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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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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I 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
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As 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.
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:
I would add: enjoy the process! Bon appétit.
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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.
Llegó 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!
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