Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Resolution Solution

Don’t you love New Year’s? It’s the only time during the year that we can wipe the slate clean. Last year doesn’t matter. We all get a do-over at midnight on January 1. Isn’t that the whole point of a New Year’s Resolution? You get a fresh start to change your life.

According to Livescience, the most popular New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. Quit smoking

2. Get fit and lose weight

3. Quit drinking

4. Enjoy life

5. Get out of debt

6. Spend more time with family

Those are all worthwhile goals for sure. But if you look at them holistically, you really don’t need ALL of those Resolutions. You can boil all of the above down to one 1980’s Journey song:

“Be Good to Yourself.”

Pretend for a moment that you are not you. Pretend for a moment that you are someone you love dearly… you may be your child, your parent, your spouse, or your best friend. If your loved one was smoking, eating crappy food and gaining weight, drinking too much, spending more than they make, ignoring their family, and leading a miserable life, would you be concerned?

Of course you would! You’d “Faithfully” go to them with “Open Arms” and offer “Only Solutions” to their problems. Too much with the Journey songs? What can I say? I’m a child of the 80’s…

The fact is, nobody wants to see someone they love lose their groove, especially at that magnitude, and especially when those mojo-minimizing maneuvers can be life-threatening.

Why, then, do we seem to have no problem when that same groove-reducing, mojo-minimizing, life-threatening behavior belongs to us?

Somewhere along the line, we were taught not to value ourselves. The same insidious behavior that pains us to see in someone we love, somehow seems okay… and even commonplace… in our own lives.

But it’s a New Year. So now we get a do-over.

Starting today, treat yourself like you would treat someone you love dearly. Take care of your health because you won’t realize how valuable it is until it’s gone. Enjoy life because it’s the only one you have. Get out of debt because you don’t need more clothes, a better car, or a bigger house to prove that you’re worth it. You were born worth it. Spend more time with family because they are the most important people in the world to you.

Remember, life’s a journey (pun intended). Every morning that you wake up, you get to decide how you’re going to live today. You don’t have to wait until next January 1.

Be good to yourself… no matter what the calendar says.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Clobbering Cancer

Someone I love was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m optimistic that she’s going to be just fine, but I know that she has a lot of decisions to make about treatment, both conventional and alternative, in the near future.

Since I’ve worked with cancer survivors for nearly a decade, and since I’m also a Holistic Health Counselor, I have a lot to say about cancer.

Namely, cancer sucks.

That profound statement aside, I’ve seen hundreds of women overcome this feared foe. I’ve even seen many come out the other end better for it. That might sound cliché, but it’s true. Several cancer survivors I’ve worked with have told me that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them… their cancer diagnosis helped them get their priorities straight. Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to make that happen.

It’s unfortunate that we wait until we receive life-changing news to actually change our lives. What would happen if we treated ourselves the way we should be treated all the time…. Before we ever get sick?

Here are my top 5 tips for taking care of yourself… before, after, or during a devastating diagnosis.

1. Eat your veggies.

The first thing my loved one who was diagnosed said to me was, “I’m going to take out my juicer and start using it.” I think that’s great. I think it’s even better if we start treating our bodies with the respect it deserves before we receive a nasty diagnosis. No judgment here, friends… I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I’ve not only heard all the excuses, I wrote the excuses book. It’s too cold to juice. The store is out of cucumbers. That carrot cake counts as a vegetable. I’ve used ‘em all. Excuses can’t save our lives… but maybe cleaning up our diets can. For more info on this, please visit crazy sexy cancer survivor Kris Carr's site.

2. Stop the stress.

This is a big one. Persistent stress wreaks havoc on your body. Stress is a mojo-massacring, spirit-stealing, health-harming enemy of the worst kind. Studies show time and time again that constant stress puts you at risk for all kinds of deplorable diseases. Stress messes with your body’s hormones, and it ravages your body’s natural rhythms. Don’t take this lightly, my pressured peeps. Remember this motto; “Too much stress and you’ll be a mess.” Do you like that? How about this one: “You can be tense at your body’s expense.” Pretty good, eh? Here’s one more… Humor me: “With all that worry, you’ll be sick in a hurry.” The point is, do what you have to do to reduce the stress in your life. Don’t make me rhyme again.

3. Don’t worry. Be happy.

We’ve already covered the “don’t worry” part. Now let’s talk about “be happy.” Research shows that, in general, happy people have a 35% lower risk of death than unhappy people. So what makes people happy? Psychologists have been trying to answer that question for centuries, but they’ve actually come close to figuring it out. Turns out happy people have some things in common, such as: they spend time with family and friends, they enjoy intimacy, they don’t compare themselves with their neighbors, they enjoy daily activities, and most importantly, they know how to forgive. For a reminder on the all-important forgiveness factor, I urge you to take a minute to read Your Groove on a Grudge.

4. Move it.

We all know it’s true, and in case we need a reminder, we can always re-read You Gotta Move if you Want to Groove. We know the physical benefits of exercise (controls weight, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, boosts energy), but added benefits include a reduction in stress, a better sex life, and increased mental focus. Additionally, recent studies show that exercise decreases the chance of cancer recurrence. That’s a pretty good reason to exercise right there, but in case you need another… Exercise lets cancer survivors feel in control of their bodies; which is incredibly empowering after you feel like your own body has betrayed you. I’ve seen this first hand. As the founder of Team Survivor Tri-State, an affiliate of the National Association of Team Survivor, I’ve seen how exercise changes lives. If you’re a cancer survivor, I encourage you to find an exercise program. There are so many wonderful programs exclusively for cancer survivors. Find a Team Survivor in your area. If you’re a breast cancer survivor in NJ, contact Moving On. Livestrong has programs through some YMCA’s. Now, go get ‘em. Kick cancer’s ass.

5. Live your best life… NOW.

Don’t wait until you’re facing a potentially deadly disease to live with purpose. Do you want to become a teacher when you’re currently a phlebotomist? Go take classes. Have you always dreamed of competing in a triathlon? Start training. Yearning to travel? Buy a plane ticket. Do it NOW. There is never a perfect time to do anything. You have to create the perfect time. That perfect time is NOW, because we don’t know for sure when we’ll get another chance.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Groove of Giving

I never shop on Black Friday, mostly because I don’t like to shop. I also don’t like crowds or lines, and combining shopping with crowds and lines makes Black Friday about as appealing as a root canal.

Plus, as you may remember from my previous post, The Stress of Mess, subtracting stuff means multiplying mojo. But what do we gift-givers (and gift-getters) do for the holidays? No fear, my mess-less mates! I’ve compiled a list below. Honor somebody special this year, or put these groove-growing gifts on your wish list.

1. The Gift of Giving

One of the nicest things you can do for someone you care about is to honor something they care about. If your BFF loves dogs, make a donation in his or her name to the ASPCA. If your sister thinks pigs are the cats meow, take her on a trip to visit Farm Sanctuary (there’s one in New York and one in California). Perhaps you can give your spouse a special short-term volunteer trip with Habitat for Humanity. You can both enjoy the sights of a fabulous destination while building a home for someone who needs one.

2. The Gift of Green

There are so many sustainable ways to say “Happy Holidays!” Plant a tree in the name of a loved one, cook a meal made with fresh, organic ingredients and invite your friends over to share it, or head on over to You’ll find loads of sustainable gifts for everyone on your shopping list.

3. The Gift of Health

There are so many books and movies on how to get healthy... how do you know where to start? No worries... I'm here for you! I've done all the research so you don't have to. For those in your life who may be going through an illness, or even those who just want to feel inspired to improve their overall health and well-being, here are a few gift-worthy titles:

Forks Over Knives - DVD
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead - DVD
The China Study (by T. Colin Campbell) - book
Eat to Live (by Joel Fuhrman) - book
Crazy Sexy Diet (by Kris Carr) - book

4. The Gift of Time

Time is something that everyone could use more of. So how can we give the gift of time this holiday season? You can offer to clean your very busy friend's house, or if you're domestically-challenged like me (don't laugh... it's a real disorder!), you could hire someone to do it instead. Your parents would probably love to spend some time with you. Why not take them out to dinner, or invite them out to see a show? Surprise your kids with a special "kids" day... pick a weekend and tell them that you'll do anything they want (within reason, of course... jumping off the roof onto a trampoline doesn't count as "within reason"), and then be prepared to give them your undivided attention.

Fortunately, most of these gifts don't require trips to the mall, long lines or crowds, and, better yet... they won't clutter up your house! Do you have other groovy gift ideas? I'd love to hear about them!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Money or Your Mojo

We humans have a very strange relationship with money.

We don’t talk about how much we earn. We lie about how much we spend. We judge other people for not having enough. We judge other people for having too much. Some people spend all their time thinking about it. Some people refuse to think about it. We feel bad if we don’t have more. And we always feel like we should have more.

Money is a big source of relationship strife, too. According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, about 30% of couples say finances cause the most stress in their relationship, followed distantly by intimacy (11%), their children (9%) and their in-laws (4%).

That’s a lot of power for a flimsy piece of green paper.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my own relationship with money, and I realized that the two of us could use some therapy. I imagine our session would go something like this:

Therapist: So, why are you here today?

Money: She totally ignores me, except when she needs something. And then she’s angry at me if I’m not there for her.

Therapist: Is this true?

Me: Yes, yes it is. I want Money around when there is something I need, but other than that, I don’t really care for him. In fact, I dislike him!

Money: That really hurts my feelings.

Therapist: Why don’t you like Money?

Me: Well, I’m not supposed to like Money. I’m supposed to care about making the world a better place. Everyone knows you can’t have both… you have to choose one or the other.

Therapist: Who said you have to choose?

Me: I don’t know. I guess I just have that belief that it’s either my money or my mojo.

Money: You really know how to hurt a guy.

Therapist: What if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could have both Money and Mojo?

Money: Maybe if you treat me like a partner instead of this hot-and-cold, back-and-forth, one-sided relationship we’ve had, we could do beautiful things together.

Me: Really? Is that possible? We could actually work together towards a common goal?

Therapist: How should I know? This is your imaginary therapy session.

So, I started thinking about what Money said, and I realized he was right. We have so many assumptions and perceptions about money, most of which were formed subconsciously, long ago. What if we didn’t give money so much… value? What if we thought of money like we think about the other necessities in life that we’re grateful to have, such as electricity, running water, or heat? You never hear anybody say, “I need more electricity!” or “My running water isn’t enough for me!” or “That person has way too much heat. Who does he think he is?!” Of course not. When it comes to those resources, we take just what we need. Sure, it’s valuable because it makes our lives more comfortable, and we feel badly for those who don’t have it, but we don’t have any excess energy on it.

Can we approach money the same way? What would happen if we used what we needed, were grateful for what we had, and shared what we could?

You know the old saying, “Money is the root of all evil. I don’t think that’s true. The saying should go, “Our notions of money are the root of all evil.” If we stop looking at money as evil, if we stop connecting money with fear, if we stop putting anger and resentment towards money, I’m willing to bet our financial outlooks will change for the better.

The next time you’re feeling anxious about your funds, take a deep breath, smile, and give Money a hug. Get rid of all your preconceived notions about Money. Give the poor guy a chance. Start fresh. Remind yourself that you and Money are partners, and although you will have your ups and downs, you’re in this relationship for the long haul.

What’s that other old saying? “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Let’s start using honey to catch money… and see how our fiscal future unfolds.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Trend Is Your Friend

I have this somewhat useless talent of being able to pick up on food trends. I couldn’t tell you the next big fashion statement, or the next hot song, or the way the stock market will go, but if you want to know about where the future of food is headed, I’m your gal.

Back in the day I predicted the passion with protein, the fetish with fat-free, and the curb of carbs. More recently I predicted the organic obsession, the local lure, and the kale craze.

What can I say? Some people read palms; I foresee food fads.

When I became vegan in 2004, the people who even knew what that word meant (and there weren’t many of them) thought I had lost my mind. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked, “But where will you get your protein from?”… Or, worse yet, the people who didn’t say anything and just stopped talking to me, muttering “freak” under their breath as they headed for the nearest burger joint.

Being a social outcast didn’t faze me much. A vegetarian for twenty years prior to that, I was used to the absurd questions and comments that people felt compelled to share simply because I didn’t eat animals. Plus, I had just read Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” followed by T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study,” and that re-affirmed what I already knew almost twenty years prior when I experimented with the diet plan in Dean Ornish’s “Eat More, Weigh Less.” Not only was there no reason to eat animals, but research has proven time and time again that NOT eating animals is a healthier way to live.

But I digress…

This post really isn’t about whether or not to be a carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, or chocolateivore (I made that last one up… all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once). This post is about food trends.

I usually shop at Whole Foods, simply because there are so many wonderful options for me there. Where else can I get a gourmet meal, complete with a fresh salad, a savory hot bar, steaming soup, and some vegan chocolate mousse to top it off (remember, all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once)? But today, it just so happens that another grocery store was on my way home. And, since we only needed a few things, I figured I’d run in there. It had been a while since I shopped at a grocery store besides Whole Foods, and I was pleased with what I saw.

First of all, the “natural foods” section was packed. And I mean, packed! I bonked my cart into someone else’s cart at least half a dozen times. (Although I am great at choosing healthy foods, I’m not so good at cart driving). Next, I noticed that the produce section was bursting with some great-looking, and sometimes organic (!) produce. And better yet, people were buying it! The coffee bar in the store had soy milk. SOY MILK! And, to top it all off, they even had a section for gluten-free products... it was tiny, but it was there! What a beautiful sight!

Nowadays, people don’t sneer too much when I tell them I’m vegan. Sometimes I even run into people who tell me they’re vegan, too. I send my kids to a school that serves only vegetarian lunches… and guess what?! Other parents send their kids there, too! And they LIKE, or at least DON'T MIND, the fact that the lunches are vegetarian. Even better… there’s a waiting list to get into this school! I’m telling you… this didn’t happen seven years ago in my part of the world. I’m no longer an outcast. I’m almost… dare I say it… normal!

Even for people who aren’t vegetarian (and I still love you), the trend is moving in a healthier direction. Everyone is eating more vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed foods. Thanks to national television shows like “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” and countless shows on the Food Network, people are becoming educated on healthy, sustainable foods. Authors like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser are on the best-seller list. “Food, Inc.” and “Supersize Me” are blockbuster films. Everybody’s catching the sustenance subway, and everyone will benefit from that ride.

So what’s next? Here’s my prediction… the future isn’t only about what we eat. The future is about how we live. Being a junk-food vegan, living off of Doritos and Coke, isn’t where it’s at. The future of food will be about health and harmony. Are we eating sustainably? Are we wasting less? Are we embracing quality over quantity? Are we eating real food that is created by nature and not in a factory? Are we treating food as medicine, recognizing that it has the power to make us sick… or not? Are you ready to ask yourself those questions? The answers could shape your future.

Food is not just food. It’s culture and wellness. It’s health and happiness. I believe that as our food choices improve, our communities in general will be more peaceful, our citizens will live longer and better, and our priorities will shift. We’ll choose people over principles, kinfolk over cash, and giving over greed. We’ll not only add more years to our lives, we’ll add more life to our years.

A pipedream? Maybe. But the trend is my friend. I haven’t been wrong yet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why Try?

The English language should remove the word “try” from its vocabulary. Or at least I should remove it from mine.

It seems that whenever I use the word “try,” I’m really saying “I say I’m going to do this but really I’m not.” For example…

“I’m going to try to exercise more” really means “I say I want to exercise more, but I'm not willing to put in the effort.”

“I’m going to try to eat better” really means “I say I want to eat better, but I'm not willing to put in the effort.”

“I’m going to try to go to bed early” really means “I say I want to go to bed early, I'm not willing to put in the effort”

Do you see what I mean? Saying I’m going to “try” makes me feel better than saying I’m not going to change anything. But does anything really change?

Now what would happen if I truly commit to something, instead of “trying” to commit to it…

“I’m going to exercise more” really means “I’m going to exercise more.”

I’m going to eat better” really means “I’m going to eat better.”

I’m going to bed early” really means “I’m going to bed early.”

Here’s an experiment:

Stand up.

No, really, stand up.

You up?


Now, try to jump.

Go ahead. Try to jump.

My guess is… you either jumped or you didn’t.

Am I right?

Trying is really irrelevant. You either did it or you didn’t.

Trying to do something is much safer than fully committing. If you try, then that automatically means you may fail. The word “try” by definition is “to make an effort to do or accomplish something.” If you make an effort, you may, or may not, succeed. But if you fully commit to something, your chance of success is much greater, simply because of the change in your mindset.

Let’s use another example... you don’t have to stand up for this one!

You “try” to train for a 5k race. You decide to “try” to see how far you can run without stopping. You go outside and start running. You become uncomfortable after half a mile, so you stop. You tried.


You commit to train for a 5k race. You commit to run one mile without stopping. You go outside and start running. You become uncomfortable after half a mile, but you keep going. You keep going because you committed to run one mile without stopping. There is no “trying.” There is just “doing.”

The act of committing is the difference between failure and success. “Trying” simply means that we’re not ready to commit, but we just don’t want to admit it.

Of course, we never have to “try” to do something we really want to do. When was the last time you tried to have fun with your friends? Have you ever tried to enjoy that triple chocolate layer cake? I’m sure you don’t have to try to look forward to vacation. We only have to try things that we don’t feel sure we’ll succeed at.

Making a full commitment to something is scary. It means we put our hearts and souls into it, and that could take effort. But if it’s something that’s near and dear to you, it’s effort well spent. Can you imagine saying that you will “try” to take care of your kids, or your spouse, or even your pet? Of course not! There’s no doubt in your mind. You’re fully committed, so you just do it.

What is one thing that you’ve been trying to accomplish, but haven’t? Are you ready to stop trying, and start doing? Join me in eliminating the word “try” from your vocabulary. Fully commit to making one change in your life that will maximize your mojo and propel your power! I can’t wait to hear about the results!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

No Power, No Problem

Just like many of you, I was affected by that horrible hag Irene last weekend. The wind and rains knocked out our power for several days and caused many of our local roads to be unpassable.

I wish I could tell you that I used the opportunity to find peace and serenity in my newfound unplugged world. I would love to say that my family and I told stories by candlelight and heated our meals on a cozy woodstove. How nice it would have been to practice yoga outside on the patio while the rest of the world went on as usual. It would be great to tell you that I spent the dark nights in a deep, restful sleep and rose early in the morning ready to greet a day with nothing to do.

But none of that happened.

Truth is, I panicked.

We lost power during the storm; right in the middle of a riveting TORNADO WARNING on the Weather Channel. Just after the heart-stopping beep, beep, beep sounded, and the big red ticker flashed at the bottom of my screen, everything went dark.

I had no idea what to do. Should I wake my kids up and hide in the basement? Should I power up the portable radio? Should I try to surf the web on my not-so-smart smartphone? Should I go to sleep and hope we don’t wind up in Oz the next day?

I felt so isolated. So confused. So POWERLESS.

And that got me thinking…

Before people had all these “luxuries,” like electricity and plumbing and telephones and Whole Foods, how did they survive? They couldn’t rely on the Weather Channel to tell them a storm was brewing; they had to … *gasp*… look outside. They didn’t rely on a GPS to get them to where they wanted to go; they had to explore, or maybe even… *gasp*… use common sense. They wouldn’t be able to rely on the USDA or Jenny Craig or count points to figure out what to eat. They would… *gasp*… eat what was available, and… *gasp* *gasp*… eat when they were hungry and stop when they were full.

All of this is a completely foreign concept to most of us today. Look, my plugged-in peeps, I’m not judging here. I was the crazed woman sitting in the car charging my phone in the middle of the night “just in case” I needed it to call 911 if the flood waters rose up to my bedroom. It was me running around the house checking the batteries on the carbon monoxide detectors because there could be a gas leak in the house and what if the battery back-up system didn’t work? And although I didn’t wake my peacefully naive sleeping children to hole up in the basement, I came damn close.

But hindsight is so enlightening, isn’t it? I can look back on these things now and see the ridiculousness of my ways. Now, with the comforting glow of my computer in front of me and the soothing hum of my refrigerator in the background, I know what I should have done instead.

I should have relied on my gut instincts. You know what they are, right? We all have them, but we rarely use them.

Have you ever had a really strong feeling about something? Maybe you felt an oddly familiar fondness when you first met the person you would eventually marry. You couldn’t explain it at the time, but you just knew. Or, maybe you met someone who seemed perfectly harmless on paper, but your gut told you to run away as fast as you can.

Often, our gut knows things before we do.

There have been times when I haven’t listened to my gut, and I’ve always regretted it. I remember an occasion where I hired somebody because they had all the right qualifications for the job. Funny thing was, every time I was with that person, my stomach tightened, my muscles tensed, and I literally felt a wall go up around me. But since there was no logical explanation for my feelings, I ignored them. Not long after, my brain realized what my gut already knew, and we parted ways.

So if I had listened to my gut last weekend, instead of the anxiety that surrounded the feeling of uncertainty and helplessness, I would have fared much better. Had I relaxed and looked within, I would have found that tranquility that I couldn't find in the eye of the storm. Maybe we would have told stories by candlelight (although those stories probably would have been tinged with my kids complaining about how much they miss the computer), maybe we would have heated our meals on a cozy wood stove (except for the fact that we don’t have one), and maybe we would have practiced yoga on the patio (except that the patio was under water). Oh well. Nothing’s perfect… but I bet we could have made it a happier experience than it was.

The point is, one of the reasons for the dip in our zip is that we don’t trust ourselves as much as we should. We rely more on our external rules than we do on our internal tools.

The next time you’re in a sticky situation, turn off the tv, back away from the Blackberry, and get off of Google. Instead, use your inner compass as a guide. You just might find that, plugged in or not, your intuition is your best technician.