Mindfulness: What Is It and Why Is It Important for Nutrition?

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Mindfulness: What Is It and Why Is It Important for Nutrition?

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. When we talk about mindfulness-based nutrition counseling, this allows individuals to check in with their bodies and make mindful decisions in the present moment, based on their own cues and values.

Mindfulness is a practice; to stay in the present moment requires consistently catching yourself and bringing it back to the "now".

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Mindfulness + Your Health

Scientific studies also demonstrate the benefits of mindfulness-based exercises in improving acceptance, feelings vitality and coping strategies (1). Mindfulness is commonly used as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, external eating (eating that takes place based on external cues rather than physical hunger cues) or impulse-based eating (2). In reviewing the effects of mindfulness-based strategies on women with disordered eating practices, one study found that emotional and external eating, cravings and body image disturbance decreased with mindfulness interventions.

Mindfulness is important in making a food decision-making, but can also be practiced when eating. Mindful eating brings present awareness to all of your senses when eating: the taste of the food, the smell, the colors, the mouthfeel. When you’re cooking, the sounds of ingredients sizzling or the feeling of the food in your hands when preparing your meal can help bring mindfulness to that present moment and bring enjoyment to the experience - this I call mindful cooking.

While employing mindfulness-based therapies can positively impact food decision-making and eating behaviors, it can also greatly impact your mood, including increased energy and reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and mood problems (3).

Practicing Mindfulness

We can employ mindfulness into the everyday, normal practices of our life, starting by bringing awareness to the present moment and observing (not attaching) to thoughts, non-judgmentally. We can fully accept the present moment for what it is, without creating stories or labels.

To get a sense of what mindfulness is like, here are a few exercises from the writings of Eckhart Tolle to practice:

All exercises from Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

1. Free Yourself From Your Mind

Take any routine activity that is normally only a means to an end and give it your fullest attention. 

Choose one or two activities that you do routinely and bring your attention to them: 

  • Every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every moment... even your breathing. Be totally present.

  • When you wash your hands, pay attention to all of the sensory perceptions associated with the activity: the sound, the feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap, etc. 

  • When you get into your car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent powerful sense of presence. 


2. Listen for the Voice in Your Head

A few times a day, listen quietly for the voice in your head, the stream of continuous self-talk. Then, ponder the following questions. Just be with the questions. Don't necessarily try to answer them. 

  • Am I the thoughts that are going through my head?

  • Or, am I the one who is aware that these thoughts are going through my head? 

Pay attention to the gap between your thoughts - when one thought subsides and before another arises. In this way, you draw consciousness away from mind activity and create a gap of no-mind in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking. When these gaps occur, you disidentify from your mind and feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the essence of meditation and the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment. 


3. Grow in Presence

Are you so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there? There are simple things you can do to bring your attention to the here and now. You can measure your success in this practice by the degree of peace that you feel within.

Try This:

  • Be patient. It is not easy at first to be there as the witnessing Presence, especially when the ego is in survival mode, but once you have had a taste of it, you will grow in Presence power, and the ego will lose its grip on you. The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into the world.

  • Become aware of your breathing. Feel the air flowing in and out of your body. Feel your inner energy field. All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life—as opposed to imaginary mind projections—is this moment. Ask yourself what "problem" you have right now, not next year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now. What is wrong with this moment?

  • Give up waiting as a state of mind. When you catch yourself slipping into waiting...snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything. So, next time somebody says, "Sorry to have kept you waiting." You can reply: "That's all right, I wasn't waiting. I was just standing here enjoying myself."


4. Use and Relinquish Negativity

Recurring negative emotions do sometimes contain a message. Any changes that you make, whether they have to do with your work, your relationships or your surroundings, are ultimately only cosmetic unless they arise out of a change in your level of consciousness. When you reach a certain degree of presence, you won't need negativity anymore to tell you what is needed in your life situation. But as long as negativity is there, use it. Use it as a kind of signal that reminds you to be more present.

Try This

  • Whenever you feel negativity arising within you, whether caused by an external factor, a thought or even nothing in particular that you are aware of, look on it as a voice saying, "Attention. Here and now. Wake up. Get out of your mind. Be present."

  • Feel yourself becoming transparent, without the solidity of a material body. Now allow whatever you are reacting negatively to—the noise of the car alarm, the dog barking, the traffic jam—to pass right through you. It is no longer hitting a solid "wall" inside you.

  • Become like a deep lake. The outer situation of your life, whatever happens there, is like the surface of the lake—sometimes calm, sometimes windy and rough. Deep down, however, the lake is always undisturbed.


My personal favorite way to practice mindfulness is to just be still in nature. Find a quiet spot in nature and just breathe and be. Find a tree or flower to look at. Do not label it or judge it, just take it in, observe. Let your thoughts pass by like clouds in your mind. Be at peace and one with the nature that is around you, let it show you how to be quiet and still.

A philosophical teaching I once came about taught the following message:

There are two people walking through a field. One person walks past a flower and acts as if it was just another common part of life to encounter.

The person walking next to them encounters the flower, stops, becomes still and marvels at its beauty. Without thinking, she took in the flower for every ounce of magic that it was. She did not judge, but was fully present and one with this piece of nature. She found peace and joy by being present with even the smallest of things.

And this is the true meaning of life.

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How to Enter 2019 with Intention.

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How to Enter 2019 with Intention.

Happy New Year! First and foremost, I need to tell you that the new year does not have to bring a “new you”. You are enough exactly the way you are. Do not allow this time to make you think of your faults or what you didn’t accomplish this past year. Let it serve as a powerful time where we can begin to see the possibilities for healing, for beautiful endings and miraculous beginnings. Let it serve as a reminder for all that you have accomplished so far, how strong you are, how resilient you have become, and how you will continue to grow into your unique, powerful self.

We can collectively shift our thinking to view the mark of the new year simply as a time to pause, re-evaluate where our intentions and values lie and choose where we wish to place our energy for the upcoming year. Writing your intentions during this time is a powerful ritual, however if you feel more called to sit and acknowledge simply how far you have come, then that’s just as beautiful and empowering as well.


Healing with intention.

While trying to find the right words to explain what I mean by “intention” in the title of this blog post, I did probably what most people do: I googled the definition. The below description came up.

First of all, “a thing intended” is useless when searching for an actual definition. Secondly, how amazing is the second meaning. While I began this blog post by thinking intentions would solely mean where/what you are putting your energy towards during this time of year, it also means “the healing process of a wound”.

What a beautiful reminder that sometimes our new year’s intentions do not have to be all “light, love and positivity”. Going into the new year with intention can mean gently promising to explore the shadow parts of ourselves and trying to understand those areas a bit more. These can be past wounds, past trauma or hurtful memories taking away from present peace. They can be any behavioral patterns you feel no longer serve your highest purpose or resonate with who you feel you truly are at your core.

Focus on healing the parts that need it most. Focus on some self-care medicine, whatever that looks to you. Practice compassion and patience above all. Let’s have this New Year’s serve as a reminder to heal wounds, so we can continue on the path of being our best selves and reaching our soul purpose (for us, others and the world). Use this time however you may need.

The table and worksheet below can serve as a guide for some new year writing. You can use this to write your intentions for the new year and explore how you think you can best bring healing to your life. If you feel a certain area of your own personal life is missing in the guide, add it! This is for you. Use it and modify it however you will.


What to do.

More importantly, what do you want to do? The possibilities for what you can accomplish, with the right amount of work, is endless. You really can do whatever you put your mind, heart and soul into. This I know. So, what do you want to accomplish?

The Dimensions of Wellness wheel, shown below, is a model used to check-in with your overall lifestyle and individual wellness. The wheel explores not only areas of physical health like nutrition and exercise, but also prompts you to check-in with emotional, spiritual and intellectual health, too. You’re probably asking what something like “intellectual health” may mean - but each part of the wheel offers a brief, concise description to help guide you in creating new year intentions that lead to overall healing - ones that work specifically for you.

Using this model and worksheet, check-in with the different lifestyle dimensions that lead to balanced overall health and wellness. The wheel contains all the different aspects of your life that contribute to your well-being. The table below guides you in creating a specific intention according to that area of your life, as well as establishing the purpose behind your intention. Print the below images from this page, or download the PDF worksheet here.

 
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Keep moving forward.

For more new year-inspired writing, read last year’s blog post “Your New Year’s Guide to Honor the Old + Welcome the New”. There are 11 guided journal questions there to focus your intentions on ending the chapter that was 2018, and turning the page to 2019.

Make it a daily, weekly or monthly ritual for you to sit and revisit your goals, or just simply write. You can write what you feel grateful for, three things that happened to you that day and how they made you feel or simply one word to describe how your overall day went. Writing down your hopes, wishes, feelings and memories is healing work in itself - no matter how simple or grandiose the process.

Practice your positive affirmations, daily. Affirm your true beliefs. You can use some of the following or create your own: “I am enough as I am.” “I am strong.” “I am exactly where I need to be at this very moment.” “I am grateful for all I am, all I have and all that is.” “I let go of that which no longer serves me, and welcome all things that bring me closer to my highest good.”


Here’s to a great start to 2019, full of intention! I hope this year brings you all the healing and blessings you are worthy of. xx

“Find out what makes you kinder, what opens you up and brings out the most loving, generous and unafraid version of you - and go after those things as if nothing else matters. Because, actually, nothing does.” - George Sanders

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10 Ways To Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Food During the Holidays

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10 Ways To Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Food During the Holidays

The holidays have arrived - whether we are ready for them or not! While these next few weeks can be an overwhelmingly exciting time, it can also mark a time of increased anxiety and stress. These feelings of anxiousness can be further triggered by food decision-making that is outside of our normal realm of eating. Here are a few tips to stay balanced and hopefully decrease the stress around your food choices this holiday season.

1. Check in with your hunger and fullness cues.

When there is food in excess at every family or holiday event, we can make impulsive versus mindful decisions. Check in with what your body is telling you before, mid-way and after each meal. Are you hungry? Are you full? Are you starving before? Overly full after? Is this physical hunger? If so, eat something! Are you emotionally or mindlessly eating? Check in.  


2. Don’t starve yourself before your “big” meal.

The notion of “saving your calories” until your holiday dinner is not helpful in creating or maintaining a healthy relationship with food. You have every right to eat normally before a holiday dinner. In fact, it’s encouraged. Starving yourself for the entire day only sets you up to compulsively binge eat , feel overfull and be sick afterward. Start your day with balanced meals full of fiber and protein. This will actually help you eat more mindfully at dinner and be less likely to overeat until that “sick full” feeling sets in.


3. Make a plate, sit and eat mindfully.

Take a look around at the next holiday gathering. Take notice to how the people graze through the food. A lot of the times, people mindlessly “pick” instead of creating an actual plate, sitting down, eating and enjoying their food. Make a plate of the things you want to eat. This helps in sticking to healthy portion sizing and making sure your meal was satisfying.


4. Keep your goals in mind.

Remember how you want to feel before, during and after your meals. Set the intention and keep that in the back of your mind at meal times.


5. Scope out the healthy options first.

Loading up on fresh fruit, veggies or salad in the beginning of the meal can help prevent cravings later on. You can also bring a healthy platter of your own so you can guarantee at least one option will be in line with your goals.


6. Enjoy the special holiday foods you don’t normally get to have.

Diet mindset is truly a difficult thing to break. We need to forget the restrictive rules so that diets in mass media have taught us (ie “don’t eat carbs, they make you fat!”) and listen to our bodies to guide us along the correct route. Plus, if you want to eat the cookie, and you deprive yourself in that moment, more likely than not you will continue to think about it until finally you cave and have a much larger portion of cookies than you originally intended. Eat the cookie you want to begin with, then move on. It’s important to eat a satisfying, realistic diet (it’s not realistic to never eat a cookie). It’s okay.


7. Drink plenty of water.

Especially if you plan on drinking over the holidays. Make it a goal to drink one glass of water between each drink. Try to limit alcohol as well if possible.


8. Stay active.

Move your body at least once a day. Whether it’s stretching, taking an exercise class, going for a run, or just walking around your neighborhood - try to stay physically active. This will help improve your overall energy and mood during a time where stress may be high, causing you to feel fatigued. Meditation is encouraged during this time as well. Just taking 5 deep breaths a few times throughout the day can make a difference.


9. Prioritize self-care.

Self-care can still be and should be top priority over the holidays. The holidays can trigger a range of emotions. It’s important to be patient and compassionate with yourself. Take the time to take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. This also includes healthy boundaries. If someone is trying to push food on you, you have every right to decline and not feel guilted into taking it. You can simply say “I’m here for the people, not the food”.


10. Focus less on food and more on your values.

What is something you’d like to remember looking back on this year? Try not to put so much energy on food and weight loss during this time. Additionally, don’t beat yourself up if you chose a portion of food that may not “be in line with your goals.” Move past it. It’s fine to indulge a little. Focus on the people you’re spending time with, the great food that comes once a year, and remember to practice gratitude for all that you have.


Cook up some healthy meals to have on hand for before and after big holiday get togethers. Check out the Well Made Recipe Book - full of yummy, plant-based recipes to keep you on track this season.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful and healthy holiday!

With gratitude x

Chelsea

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10 Foods to Boost Brain Power

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10 Foods to Boost Brain Power

While brain-power foods may sound like just another health trend, research shows that there is a direct connection between your nutrition and brain functioning. There really are certain foods that can boost your cognition and improve your overall mood. From memory to stress reduction, these foods provide key nutritive properties that clear your brain fog, enable you to think more clearly, optimize your cognition and even allow you to feel happier.

1. Fermented Foods

Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut positively impact your gut microbiota and directly affect your mental health. A healthy gut microbiota is also responsible for warding off neurological and psychiatric conditions from Parkinson’s disease to depression (1). In fact, probiotic-rich fermented foods can not only enhance human behavior and mental health, but can also be used as a treatment of mental health disorders and other diseases (2).

2. Spinach

Spinach and other dark, leafy green vegetables like kale, collard greens and broccoli contain high amounts of nutrients like folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K and lutein, all of which promote a healthy brain. Research suggests that this particular group of plant foods may slow cognitive decline as you age (3). Folate and vitamins E and K found in dark leafy green vegetables also aid in boosting memory and mood.

4. Broccoli.

In addition to being loaded with antioxidant-rich phytochemicals, broccoli contains two key nutrients that are key in improving brain functioning: vitamin K and choline. These little green trees also contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can help protect the brain from damage (4).

5. Berries

Berries contain some of the highest amounts of antioxidants out of any other food category. They are mini superfood powerhouses. These powerful antioxidant properties are what help berries in protecting the brain from free radicals, keeping you mentally sharp and cognitively aware. Blueberries also improve memory abilities and may protect against Parkinson’s (5).

6. Prebiotics

Also known as insoluble fiber, prebiotics include fresh, raw foods such as onion, garlic, leek, wheat, barley, oat, banana, apple, asparagus, Jicama, Jerusalem artichokes and chicory. Prebiotic-containing foods are non-digestible by the gut and can only be metabolized by probiotic microbiota. Therefore, they stimulate the growth and activity of probiotic microbiota in the gut, keeping you physically and mentally healthy (2). This is why keeping your gut healthy is so crazy important!

7. Whole grains

One study compared Western dietary patterns (frequent intakes of red/processed meat, saturated/trans-fat, refined grains and sugar) and a more “prudent” dietary pattern (more frequent intakes of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish and water). The evidence from this research showed that Western dietary patterns predicted cognitive decline, whereas the healthier dietary approach, which included whole grains preserved cognitive function and counteracted the adverse effects of a Westernized diet on brain health (6).

8. Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are acknowledged for their benefit to healthy brain development, aiding in memory and improving mental health. Zinc, also commonly found in seeds, aids in healthy brain function, too. Seeds also contain magnesium, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and induce a calming effect on the brain.

Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, a nutrient that can reduce feelings of mild depression. Tryptophan converts to serotonin in the body and can help in handling stress, regulating moods and improving sleep. (7)

Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, with their high levels of omega-3, aid in overall brain health but also reduce the risk of depression and improve positive thinking. Proof you truly can boost your mood with nutrition.

9. Nuts

Think it’s just a coincidence that a walnut looks like the human brain? Walnuts contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, essential for nourishing the brain and preventing depression. They’re also high in vitamin E and vitamin B6, two nutrients that aid in nerve functioning. A healthy nervous system helps with clearer thinking and more positive thoughts :)

Nuts like cashews, walnuts, and almond contain high levels of magnesium which aid in healthy blood flow to the brain. When more oxygen-rich blood flows to the brain, it functions at a better level. (8)

10. Polyphenols + Flavonoids

Polyphenols are a group of phytochemicals, which are micronutrients found in plants. These nutrients are what give plants their vibrant, bright colors. Dietary polyphenols, including dark chocolate (yes!), berries, fruit, beans, nuts, vegetables, soy, tea and red wine have the ability to promote brain health by protecting neurons against oxidative stress. Polyphenols reduce inflammation on the brain, therefore reducing the risk for neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration (9).

One group of polyphenols is flavonoids, phytochemicals (or plant nutrients) that have recently been studied for their health effects on the central nervous system. Due to their antioxidant effects, flavonoids help to prevent cognitive decline (10).

By introducing flavonoid-rich foods into your diet, including tea, citrus fruits, berries, red wine, apples, legumes, and fruits and vegetables, you can help protect the neurons in your brain and enhance their functioning. Flavonoids also help with enhanced memory, learning, cognitive performance and processing speed (11). Additionally, diets rich in flavonoid-containing foods may delay the initiation of Alzheimer's Disease (12).


Notice a trend? They’re all PLANTS. Nature provides the vital nourishment to a pretty serious organ: your brain. With the introduction of these nutrient-dense foods, that are loaded with antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, you can guarantee an improvement in your overall mental functioning and mental well-being, too.

Additional foods to boost brain power include:

  • Coffee

  • Avocado

  • Turmeric

  • Tea

  • Dark chocolate

  • Potassium

  • Beans

  • Tomatoes

Important lifestyle factors for a healthy brain:

Food is just one area of our multi-dimensional lifestyles. The following are equally important in maintaining not only a healthy functioning mind, but a balanced, healthy life.

  • Social connections

  • A purpose in life that centers around your values

  • Challenging tasks that stimulate your brain

  • Deep breathing and meditation

  • Meaningful relationships

  • Stress reduction

  • Daily exercise

  • Removing toxins

Key takeaway: focus on whole, plant-based foods, move your body daily and create a life that makes you feel good: mentally, physically and emotionally.


For more information on boosting your brain health through whole-food, plant-based nutrition, schedule a Complementary Nutrition Consultation online.

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Plant-Based Weekly Meal Plan for Fall

Plant-Based Weekly Meal Plan for Fall

Fall is the time of year when so many beautiful ingredients come into season. Fall favorites like pumpkin, apples and squash are readily available along with the lesser known in-season foods like pomegranate, pears and persimmons, too. Nourishing, cozy and warm ingredients and spices are what this season is all about. By using what’s in season, we can ensure that fruit or vegetable is at its peak nutrient density and therefore, will best nourish our bodies. So, cozy up in the kitchen and get cooking! Here are just a few fall-inspired, plant-based recipes from Well Made and other trusted online food sites to nourish your body this fall.

Breakfast

Pumpkin cinnamon overnight oats include a mix of oats, chia seeds, pumpkin, raisins, almond milk and cinnamon to create a gooey bowl of goodness to start your morning. Packed with fiber and protein - this breakfast will help you feel satiated while providing long-lasting energy.

Sweet potato waffles are the perfect Sunday morning breakfast (or brunch) option. While there’s a little more prep time needed, these waffles are worth the wait. Super nutrient-rich and full of fiber and antioxidants, these is not your typical processed waffle mix.

Pumpkin pie smoothie is a solid option if you’re in a rush to get to work in the morning or if you want something super quick satisfying post-workout. The added greens to this mix ensure you’re getting even more antioxidants and nutrients while enjoying the taste of pumpkin pie!

Lunch + Dinner

Sweet potato black bean chili is a divine recipe from Minimalist Baker; who, as the name implies, uses minimal plant-based ingredients and minimal time in all of her recipes. I don’t know about you, but literally nothing sounds better to me than having a warm bowl of veggie chili on a cold fall night.

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Roasted pumpkin leek soup: a remix on your typical potato leek soup using seasonal fall ingredients instead to create this cozy, nourishing recipe.

Sweet potato black bean tacos are a quick, easy and satisfying weeknight dinner. Using almond flour tortillas in place of traditional refined wheat tortillas ensure your nutrition is at the forefront of this yummy, spicy meal.

Spicy lentil curry with mashed garlic cauliflower: while this one doesn’t have a specific recipe, it’s super easy to create based off of the ingredients listed. To make this meal even quicker - use organic canned green lentils, cook them with some onion, garlic, asparagus and curry powder and that’s it for your lentil curry. Steam some cauliflower in a pot, mix in a blender with some garlic, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil and guess what? You have mashed cauliflower. :)

Vegetable escarole and white bean soup: a go-to fall meal prep recipe that requires just one-pot and will last you the week! Make this recipe your own by adding whatever spices and veggies you want to it - you really can’t go wrong here.

Sweets

Apple crumble, fall’s most renown recipe besides apple pie. This super simple, under 10 ingredients vegan recipe is to-die-for. Coconut oil subs in for traditional butter and toasted oats make for a nourishing, crunchy topping. To make this decadent dessert even more Well Made approved, sub the brown sugar in this recipe for some maple syrup.

Snacks + Sides

Pumpkin energy bites are easy to prep and travel with, making them the perfect on-the-go healthy snack. Loaded with healthy fats and fiber, they’re the perfect combination to satisfy a sweet craving while delivering powerful nutrients.

Sweet potato stuffed mushrooms (and all the recipes from Forks Over Knives) are bound to deliver plant-powered nutrients straight to your body. This recipe in particular includes warm, antioxidant-rich spices with seasonal fall ingredients that’ll make it pretty difficult to just eat one.

Use these unique recipes to create a super nutritious weekly meal plan and more importantly, to bring nourishing and comfort to your fall season. Want to create a solid weekly eating plan and prep list? Download and fill in the Weekly Meal Planner - a Well Made nutrition tool that helps you keep your week organized when it comes to meal ideas, cooking and food shopping.

10 ways to care for your body on a snow day.

10 ways to care for your body on a snow day.

With another winter storm coming our way, many of us may just be the lucky ones that have a snow day. Truthfully, is there anything more exciting than a text, e-mail or call notifying us to stay home from work (read: stay home in pajamas ALL DAY). No, there really isn’t. As enticing as it may sound to lazy out and Netflix-binge, a snow day also leaves room for some extra self-care time. Below are just a few ways you can take this time to improve your body’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.

 

M I N D

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1.) Read - have a book you’ve been meaning to read that’s collecting dust on your shelf? Cozy up with a good book, relax and dive in. Not only does it increase intelligence, but it can also boost your brain power1 and make you more empathetic2 (a skill that definitely could be used in the sometimes cold world!). By putting your brain to work and keeping it active, studies show reading also decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s3. Choose a book with a purpose. My current recent reads include: Untethered Soul, Trust, The Four Agreements, Moonology and Back to Love.

2.) Journal. Pick up a pen, grab some paper and write. If you don’t know what yo write about start with three areas - what you are presently grateful, what you wish to let go of that no longer serves you and your wishes for the future. Let your mind guide your hand and write about whatever you feel you need to. Alex Elle, a self-help author is always posting amazing journal prompts on her Instagram which I definitely recommend following.

9.) Learn. Netflix + food education is where it’s at. The most recent in food education that made its Netflix debut is Rotten - a documentary that exposes the corruption in America’s agricultural system. Other important documentaries to learn more about Big Ag, Big Pharma, animal welfare and nutrition include: What the Health, Cowspiracy, Food Inc., Earthlings, What the Health, Forks Over Knives, Food Matters plus so many more.

 

B O D Y

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4.) Make something warm - Not just physically warm, but warming to your soul.  What makes you feel warm, toasty + cozy? Whether it’s a bowl of homemade vegetable soup or a hot cup of calming herbal tea - create something that warms you up, relax and enjoy! Warming herbs to keep you cozy (and sniffles-free) during the winter include:

  • ginger
  • cinnamon
  • cardamom
  • black pepper
  • cloves

5.) Cook. One pot recipes are my go-to for a frigid, stuck-indoors kind of snow day. My favorite recipes include vegetarian chili, this simple veggie soup, or this super flavorful spicy coconut milk soup with roasted sweet potatoes + cauliflower. You can also take the free time to meal prep for your upcoming weekdays.

 
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6.) Do Yoga - The cold can make our muscles and tissues tighten up. By stretching you not only release built-up stress in joints, but you also loosen and elongate the muscles that have been constricted by the cold weather. Even if it’s for 15 minutes, roll out your mat or simply find a space on your floor and try these yoga poses to warm your body up.

7.) Meditate - By now you probably have heard how beneficial meditating for your mental, emotional and physical health - even if only for 5 minutes a day. Many studies prove meditation can reduce blood pressure, reverse symptoms of IBS, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and also help with insomnia. For a quick 5-minute meditation exercise try this in a comfortable seated position at home. 

8.) Exercise. There are so many at-home workouts you can do on your snow day. Check out my amazing, strong friends Vic + Kyle. They post full body workouts on their Instagram that you can do right in your living room. Feel free to reach out for some ideas from them as well!

 

W E L L N E S S

9.) Organize - Clutter and mess in our homes can directly add stress to our lives. Take the time you have on a snow day to organize + tidy up any of the areas of your home that need a little extra attention. These areas can carry stagnant energy and block the flow of positive energy in a home. There is power in the intentional act of getting rid of things that no longer serve a purpose, and taking care of the items in your home that are necessary and you are grateful for. In the book The Life-Changing Power of Tidying Up, author Marie Kondo says to purge first all at once and only keep things that you love, only possessions that spark joy. If you need some inspo watch Minimalism on Netflix to ignite some life-changing home cleansing.

10.) Relax. Just be. Enjoy a nice warm bath with salts and herbs. Enjoy the present moment and the fact that you do not need to be anywhere else but here.

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Your New Year's guide to honor the old + welcome the new.

Your New Year's guide to honor the old + welcome the new.

You do not need a new you. You are perfect the way you are. You are where you are meant to be at this very moment. The days of “new year, new you” are over. You are enough exactly as you are. This is a time to reflect, release and manifest: reflect on your 2017 and what you have learned, release that which no longer serves you and manifest all the new hopes, wishes and desires you have for 2018 to bring. It is a time to say goodbye to 2017 with intention and to honor the lessons it has taught us, a time to love exactly where you are as you create hope for where you want to be. Whether this past year has brought painful challenges or incredible joy, to send 2017 off with love and gratitude is a special ritual we can do to honor the past year of our life. Take a moment. Breathe. Remember you are on a great big earth in the middle of space. Feel the immensity of that simple statement. 

Use the guided writing prompts / journal questions below and Full Moon ritual to peacefully welcome your 2018 with hope, love and strong intention. 

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G U I D E D  W R I T I N G

On New Year's Day, or the day before, make a sacred, quiet space in your home where you feel comfortable. Light some candles or incense, play some meditative music and focus on the very moment. Take three deep breaths into your belly. You do not need to be anywhere else but there. Use this time to come back to center, ground yourself and work on some self-care and love. In your journal, use the following questions to guide your writing. Record any feelings or thoughts that surface. Just get it all down on paper. Write down your wishes and intentions and let the manifesting begin! End your writing with immense gratitude and know that the universe is working in your favor every step of the way. 

  1. How have I evolved in 2017?

  2. How has my self-love evolved this year?

  3. List 3 things related to healing and self-care that you plan on implementing in 2018.

  4. What am I leaving in 2017 that no longer serves me and why? What am I replacing it with in 2018?

  5. How can I further nourish my body in 2018?

  6. How will food play a role in my health and wellness in 2018?

  7. What am I most looking forward to in 2018?

  8. How will I challenge my body in the upcoming year?

  9. List 3 things my body has done for me in 2017 that I am grateful for.  

  10. What experiences characterize my last year? How have they transformed me as a person? Do I feel as though they’ve led me to who I am meant to become?

  11. Record your wishes and intentions for the new year. Spare no detail - the universe will return to you what you put your mind to. 

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F U L L  M O O N  • J A N. 1

On January 1st, 2018 there will be a Full Moon. This is a time to “burn away” aspects of life that no longer serve you (attitudes, emotions, relationships, people, illness, pain, habits, addictions; whatever you want to release). This can be figuratively or literally write down what no longer serves you and burn it over a small flame. Replace the unwanted with your own personal “I am” statements. Address limiting beliefs and energies that prevent you from reaching your dream. On all Full Moons, but especially the one on the first day of the new year, it is super powerful to reach into the act of forgiveness and letting go. 

I release that which no longer serves me.
I am ready to heal and let go.
I welcome transformation.
I welcome growth.
I welcome abundance.
I know what I need.
I embrace my ever-evolving journey.
I am moving forward toward my highest and greatest good.
I am ready.

Wishing you the most peaceful, joyous New Year full of lots of love! 

With gratitude always xx

Chelsea