Mindfulness

She Geeks Out Podcast

rachele-podcast SGO Have you ever met people that you just instantly click with? Like, at a cellular level? Rachel Murray and Felicia Jadszak from She Geeks Out are two of those people. Hysterical, smart, driven and, best of all, they just overall get it. We had an awesome time recording this podcast in my office at Simmons College. We cover topics from fitness to cells dividing, to vitamin D, to yogurt and we wrap it up with personal motivation. And we laugh...a lot. Check it out.

Also, check out She Geeks Out. They are an incredible organization of empowerment that provides a welcoming network, enables mentorship, supports girls, advances women, and encourages every woman to proudly fly their geek flag. THEY ARE AWESOME.

https://www.shegeeksout.com/podcast-episode-23-fitness-nutrition-rachele-pojednic/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fitness-and-nutrition-with-rachele-pojednic/id1128497037?i=1000380902783&mt=2

Mindfulness Blog Tour - Getting Real Food on your Plate

I'm so thrilled that this post is part of the Mindful Habits Blog Tour, a virtual “tour” where 13 women post on 14 different days about the power of habit for running a business, being healthy, and getting creative. The Tour is run by Sarah Hawkins of True North Business Management. Check out the full lineup of women posting as part of the tour here. Eat real Food

Everyone eats. But not everyone eats food. Less than 25% of Americans get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet but the annual sales of dietary supplements exceeds $36+ billion. Perhaps worse, recent studies claim that over 60% of the food we eat is highly processed crap, and that only 2.7% of Americans follow the four pillars of healthful living - eating healthy food, getting enough exercise, maintaining a normal weight and not smoking. TWO POINT SEVEN PERCENT.

Yet, despite our dismal behavioral choices, we are a culture obsessed with quick fixes, shiny packages, flashy logos, and gimmicky tag lines. We are hard wired for novelty and have become obsessed with instant results, rather than long-term health. As a result, we are constantly searching for the next diet miracle, ever distracted by the immediacy of now. And in a quest for instantaneous perfection and promised immortality, we have completely diluted our diet of food – real food.

With cruel irony, we have become obsessed with the prophesies of healthful eating, despite that fact that more often than not, we rarely stick to any particular fad long term. The average diet lasts five-weeks-two-days-and-43-minutes, before we begin to stray. And with the advent of 3-7 day juice cleanses and detoxes, that average is rapidly declining. Once the diet is over, we go back to our old eating habits. We blow it. We become retoxified, decleansed, contaminated, and the weight comes back. Along with the uncertainty and trepidation.

And, inevitably, the story changes. Coffee’s in, chocolate’s out. Or was it the other way around? Each flip-flop making us question the choices in our food truths, perhaps even inciting anger and frustration. Are green smoothies really the secret weight loss trick? Will lemon water actually detox my liver? How dare someone suggest that eggs are unhealthy! Do I need a vitamin?

Tragically, less than 30% of the food we eat is actually minimally processed or not-processed at all – meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, pasta. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, it gets worse. Only 13% of Americans eat one to two cups of fruit each day, and even more alarming, only 9% eat the recommended two cups of vegetables.

Salad with Hummus

You may think this sounds a bit hyperbolic, but take a second and think back on the food you’ve eaten throughout your life. I hopped on the “Eat-More-Kale” bus in my mid-20’s, but before that I ate terribly, and I had no idea how bad the food really was. My mother worked hard to cook dinner every night, and we were a pretty standard meat-and-potatoes kind of family. But that’s pretty much where the real food ended. Every morning, my sister and I would fight over who got to read the back of the box as we shoveled down marshmallow laden cereal and slurped on pink, blue and green milk. For lunch, we had peanut-butter-and-jelly or ham-and-cheese on white bread, hold the crust, with chocolate milk and a pudding cup. On Friday we had giant greasy squares of pepperoni pizza, fries and a syrup-drenched fruit cup. We grabbed snacks of chips or candy from the school store on the way out to the bus. Dinner was typically a bit better, meat (chicken or steak), starch (rice or potatoes) and vegetable, with milk. Or, sometimes we had spaghetti and meatballs, or tacos, or Hamburger Helper. Rarely did we have salad.

So, how do we overcome the lure of shiny labels and right-now headlines? Especially when that nurturing and temptation starts in our early childhood? How do the Worried Well truly stay well?

This is where the mindfulness part comes in. And I'm not talking about contemplating the wrinkles in a raison kind of mindfulness. I'm talking about setting yourself up throughout the week so you can actually be a little mind-less. Because, while it would be awesome if you had time while you're on a conference call on a Wednesday at 12:30 pm to be chewing your perfectly portioned bento box 100 times per bite, it's just not reality. Instead, put a little thought into your food early on so you're not caught in a proverbial pickle as you make your way through your frantic days.

MINDFUL HABITS, people.

Now, these aren't easy, but here are three simple tips to get you started:

  1. Plan Ahead - Listen, this whole business of cooking a literal feast on the weekend so you can pack away (previously mentioned) perfectly portioned bento boxes all week completely escapes me. I can't do it, and frankly, I don't want to eat 5 day old salad in a mason jar. BUT, you can make a healthy 3-5 day meal plan, buy the ingredients in one single trip to the grocery store, and set yourself up for success throughout the week. And, if you're really clever, you can make a little extra healthy dinner to pack for your lunch the next day. One way to make that happen is to portion out your lunch before you serve yourself supper. In this way, you not only have a real food meal for a mid-day meal the next day (instead of a bar you had in the bottom of your bag and some crackers you found in the break room), but you also keep your portions and calories in check at dinner.
  2. Don't Buy Crap - If it's not in your kitchen (or desk drawer), you won't eat it. Instead, put a bowl of fruit on your counter. Research says that women who had a fruit bowl visible weighed about 13 pounds less than neighbors who didn’t and that normal-weight women were more likely to have a designated cupboard for snack items (and less likely to buy food in large-sized packages) than those who are obese. So, just don't buy it. But if you do, buy a treat in a small package and put it away in a place with a door to keep it out of sight.
  3. Avoid Packages - Food that comes in packages is way less healthy than food that does not. It's really that simple. An apple is better than a protein bar, and is equally as portable. In fact, most fruit comes with its own wrapper (unless you shop at Whole Foods and they peel an orange for you and sell it in a plastic container...wtf...). Add in some nuts and intact fish and meat (not fish sticks or cold cuts). From there, go to one ingredient containers - rice in a bag, quinoa in a box, and beans or tuna in a can. Then sprinkle in some multi-ingredient food as needed - pasta, hummus, yogurt, cheese.

And, that's it. It's that simple.

It's funny, I teach a course on nutrition and wellbeing at the Harvard Extension school, and every year, the students leave feedback that run the gamut from, "Life altering..." to "...all we did was talk about eating healthy" and they always make me laugh. Because, THIS IS SIMPLE STUFF! It is just so effing hard to make happen.

Remember, there are no tricks, or diets, or made-up super-foods that can save us. But, we can do this. We must simply #EatRealFood.

Don't Eat Crap

  • If you’d like to continue the conversation on getting real food on your plate please join me and the other Tour Guides in the private Facebook community.
  • Learn more about Tour, and meet the 12 other Mindful Habits Tour Guides here.

The Ultimate 2016 Cleanse

As featured on Huffington Post Now that we are two weeks into 2016, past the juice cleanse cayenne pepper detox coffee enema phase, it’s time to get real about making some lasting lifestyle changes. Sure, maybe your karma was through the roof and your toxins were at an all time low when you were subsisting solely on tinctures of carrot mango dandelion essence, but can you really commit to living next door to a cold press juice joint for the rest of your life? And let’s be honest, after a week on a liquid-only purge, do you truly feel like you’re “basking in a post-cleanse glow” or are you now binging on crunchy chips and salty cheese and frantically airing out your bathroom?

Right. Now you’re left trying to figure out how to transition back into real life, with all the daily challenges that come with it. And here’s the real buzz kill. All the overpriced low glycemic gluten free organic elixirs that you just tortured yourself with for the past 3-7 days were only temporary – the karma, the toxins, the glow, gone. The second you popped that first nacho in your mouth, it was over. Back to pre-cleanse internal disaster area.

But, rejoice, all is not lost! You have grown! Despite the migraines, cramping, and five packages of toilet paper, you have started on a really important journey to wellbeing. Don’t give up on all the healthy habits you have jumpstarted this past week, even if you never want to down another green smoothie again. Lasting change can truly happen. A three day cleanse isn’t going to heal you forever. But, there are long-term strategies that will.

So, as a guide back to sanity (…and solid food…) here are four ideas for true lifetime cleansing.

Warning – these tips are crazy simple and yet super hard to implement. They take your whole life to get right. But, with dedication and determination, they will work.

  1. Stop dieting: Diets don’t work. Actually, they work for a few months, and then you gain the weight back, no matter what diet you go on. In fact, recent studies show that if you are normal weight and diet anyway, your body has a tendency to regain more fat than had been lost in a “fat overshoot” correction by your metabolism. Instead, start crowding out the crap in your diet with real food, not diet food - fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish. These foods have not only been shown to result in weight loss, but also have incredible health benefits that will truly bring out your lasting inner glow!
  1. Drink Responsibly (or not at all): After the amount of pickling you did to your liver over the holidays, maybe your go-to detox was a dry-January. If so, vow to make the long term change in your drinking habits from weekend booze-hound to either a committed one to two drinks per day or forever-teetotaler. While zero to moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce rates of some diseases, hitting it hard only on the weekends has the complete opposite effect. So lay off the Friday-Saturday benders, and instead, start buying and savoring a couple gentle pours of a good red (…or stick to tea).
  1. Move your body: While what you put in your mouth certainly is critical, physical activity has an equally important effect on overall health, no matter what weight you are. And it doesn’t make any difference what you do, as long as you do something! Go to yoga. Do cartwheels. Take the dog for a walk. Hit the gym. Run intervals up mountains. Just do whatever makes you happy and keeps you coming back for more.
  1. Let all that other –ish go: If you truly want to wring yourself out from the inside, stop dwelling on all the negative crap in your life. Instead, sit quietly with yourself a few minutes every day and practice mindfully focusing on the positive moments. This mindfulness meditation has been shown to slow cellular aging by lengthening protective DNA factors called telomeres. That’s a much more impactful and scientific approach to successful aging than a questionable and overpriced online kit for a colon cleanse.

As it turns out, health doesn’t come in 3-day spurts of righteousness. Wellness takes practice and commitment, every single day. It doesn’t come in a bottle or a pill or test tube. True health requires a realization that moderation actually is the shiny and sexy alternative -- that the latest purification regimen is fleeting, a distraction that draws your attention away from the true elements of healthfulness. Wellness comes with the understanding that oatmeal, bananas, and taking the stairs indeed are the path to the promised land, not simply a boring sermon. So, rather than wasting money and precious time on temporary fixes guaranteed to bring about bliss and immortality, take the inimitable long view. Walk to the grocery store for some good old-fashioned apples and oranges, taking note of one or two things that make you smile in the world around you.

As featured on Huffington Post

When East Meets West: Separating Science from Woo

My work toes the line of health related subjects to which many lay claim -- food, exercise, behavior, wellness. Scientists, dietitians, personal trainers, nutritionists, yogis, exercise physiologists, healers, physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, bloggers. Vaccines, juicing, acupuncture, pesticides, massage, supplements, wine, cleansing, intervals, gluten. How do you know who's right? Doctors? Bloggers? Researchers? Healers?

Holistic Healing

I do work and research on lifestyle as medicine. I truly and honestly believe that eating the right food, moving your body, sleeping well, and taking stress out of your life are essential to health. But, I'm also a scientist, and I know that modern medicine -- vaccines, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, blood pressure and cholesterol medication -- keep us healthy and alive. They are necessary in the treatment of illness, not simply the prevention of it.

Is there room for both? Of course. And we should embrace the combination of evidence-based natural health remedies AND modern disease treatments. I believe the best thing we can do is take what we have, what we know works, and blend the East with the West. But this doesn't mean we latch on to every tincture, herbal supplement, and naturopathic therapy (...oil pulling, I'm looking at you...). Nor does it mean we treat every runny nose with amoxicillin.

An example: I have been sick for the past three weeks. I don't mean sniffle, sniffle, sick. I mean, green snot everywhere, coughing all night, raging headache, no voice kind of sick. It's been a b*tch. It's also a virus, which means there's no pharmaceutical that can treat it. BUT, there are some promising natural remedies -- elderberry, garlic, and oregano have all been shown to exhibit anti-viral properties (although the evidence is pretty weak). However in my pathetic  and desperate state, off to Whole Foods I trudged (through 7ft of snow) to drop $65 dollars on extracts and pills. BUT, because I am a person of science with professional responsibilities, I can't rely simply on nasty tasting herbal pills to work their maybe-magic. I also went next door to CVS and bought some Advil with Pseudoephedrine -- because my head was pounding, my sinuses were completely clogged and I needed something to take the edge off. East. Meet. West.

East Meets West

Another (tragic) example: Over the summer, a friend burned herself. Bad. Grabbed a hot cookie sheet from the oven with no mitt on. While running her hand under cold water, it had already started to blister. Using her good hand, she implored the facebook universe for a "natural" remedy to what seemed like a 2nd degree burn. She specifically stated that she did not want any modern medicine. The responses were wide and varied - ice, salves, creams, tinctures, ointments, dietary supplements. As I read the posts, I started to wonder two things: 1) Why didn't my friend want a modern remedy for an injury that could potentially get ugly (especially if she induced an infection from these "natural remedies"), and 2) Where the hell were these people getting their information about all of these potions?

Now I'm all for a good dose of witch hazel on a pimple or some chicken soup for your cold, but this irrational fear of scientific progress and complete regression to witchcraft has got to stop. Using modern medicine -- when you need it -- is why so many of us live long, healthy lives today. It's why we can live with, and through, diseases that would have previously killed us. In an effort to return to our ancient roots, we may be seriously hurting ourselves in the process. Between anti-vaccination campaigns, treating cancer with raw food, or cleansing the liver, this anti-science, anti-medicine campaign has gone off the rails. People, we are smarter than this and we need to stop letting our fears dictate our actions. What's more, we need to stop feeling guilty and ashamed when we turn to modern medicine. Yes, we distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. Do they do sh*tty things? Unfortunately, sometimes they do. But, on the whole, their products keep you alive. ALIVE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQZ2UeOTO3I

I know that if you get cancer, you should get chemo or radiation. I know that in order to prevent measles, you should get your MMR vaccine. In know that to avoid infection of your burn, you should use an antibiotic cream. Is it a perfect system? Does it work 100% of the time? No. Nothing possibly could. We live in the real world.

But, in a world where we used to die from papercuts and now kill ourselves with fast-food induced heart disease, I would say we need to start looking at how and why we use food, herbs, and drugs. Imagine you ate a perfect diet, exercised every day, slept 8 hours a night, and were never stressed...and STILL got a massive bacterial infection because you stepped on a piece of dirty glass. Would you take an antibiotic? Or would you take your chances on self-healing and oregano oil? If you got cancer, would you go to an oncologist? Or would you roll the dice with raw organic broccoli alone?

I think you should trust the science. Because, the consensus of data will point you in the direction of health -- and that is better than any ancient promise, guilty feelings, or big-pharma distrust. Don't ignore or deny science because someone on google said vitamins can prevent Measles. (They can't, but Vitamin A can enhance the effect of the vaccine).  Take your elderberry extract when you get a cold-virus, but take the Advil and Pseudoephedrine too. Because you have better things to do than wait around for supplement companies to fill the vacuum of pharmaceutical companies.

 

Who Am I?

Dear SP Readers, Today is an incredibly exciting day for me. Today is the day I join forces with my amazing sister, Leia, and open up the Strong Process world to her wisdom and thoughtfulness. While my focus has always been the evidence from science, she is a master thinker - introspective and infinitely aware of the subtleties of our world. I believe our combined voices will help bridge the divide between the evidence of our day and the knowledge we have gleaned by simply living life. She is the yin to my yang, and you are going to love her guest posts. ~RMP

From Leia:

leia 2

"Who Am I?"

Every single day we are engaged in a miracle that we do not even recognize, or should I say, millions of tiny, microscopic miracles.  So before we can even begin to ask who am I, it is more essential to ask what am I?  In this modern era of technology, it is all too easy to become overwhelmingly distracted by societal pursuance and compulsively driven by everything that exists externally.  Many fail to recognize and respect the perfection of this innate intelligence that permeates every living creature, let alone its mere existence. Rare is the man that consciously chooses to dive into an understanding of the vast reality of the mind and intricacy of human physiology - microscopically examining the trillions of processes that occur simultaneously and then further the perplexity of the level of the soul.  For most, it is far too much to think about and seems to lack importance when compared to the stress and immediate pressures of everyday life and making it to the end of each day.

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I want to know - where exactly is this invisible field that, all on its own, promotes biology in every single living organism, supporting natural order and progressive growth?  All processes work together in the most fascinating way to bring us back to a natural state of balance – always.  Why is this the case?  We know that our bodies mimic nature, in that, we have built-in evolutionary mechanisms that follow a progressive rhythm, while promoting a homeostatic environment for us to maintain life.  Charles Hannel states, “No arbitrary condition can exist for one moment – all human experience is the result of an orderly and harmonious sequence”.  And this must be the case, otherwise our Universe would be in a state of chaos, not cosmos.

This perfection exists and pulses without us needing to interfere one bit.   In fact, it appears that our interference may actually be the reason we manifest dis-ease and disorder of the systems. So if you can interfere and cause disease, there must be a way to link up these gaps in our self knowledge, tap into the mainframe, so to speak, and accomplish just the opposite – live a life of unbounded potential in every single aspect.

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While the big questions remain unanswered in a sense, I am confident in one thing.  Optimal health and vitality is available for every single person on this planet.  However, it does not come without personal contribution of a passion for wisdom and understanding of the bigger scope of life.  We can choose health over sickness.  We can choose to be energetic over being overtired.  We can choose happiness over suffering.  But here is the key – we have to make the choice.  It is each of our responsibility to be honest with ourselves, separate from the ideals of others and discover our true and authentic purpose. The only way to achieve that is to take time out and explore the subtle world within and take responsibility both physically and emotionally.  Doing so will gradually result in a sustained sense of balance and true alignment with what we are meant to accomplish and learn.  We must stop taking this extraordinary life for granted.

The power of our minds is the ultimate key to unlock true health. Through recent rapid advancements in the field of neuroscience, the mainstream, western world is finally starting to openly admit the importance of “tuning in”.  In fact, the interaction between mind and body processes has become one of the most exciting and revolutionary areas of medical research and trends of our era.  We are (re)discovering that the vastness of the mind isn’t limited to the small space inside of our skull.  This isn’t a new concept by any means – it is an essential and intimate element of being and human history - the majority of progressive researchers of the modern era have just simply lost touch.  If you are ready for a complete shift in perspective, read the short but potent, “As a Man Thinketh”, by James Allen.  If you have already read it, I suggest reading it again.  And again…

 “The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed. At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay; at the command of glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty. Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought. Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet, and they are continually killing thousands of people just as surely though less rapidly. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the entrance of disease; while impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon shatter the nervous system.  Strong, pure, and happy thoughts build up the body in vigor and grace. The body is a delicate and plastic instrument, which responds readily to the thoughts by which it is impressed, and habits of thought will produce their own effects, good or bad, upon it.”

Whether grand or small scale, contributing and living a life of service to others and to our planet should be our priorities – to me, it is the core meaning of “Strong Process”.  Keep it simple and direct.  Realize your own limitless potential.  Take responsibility for yourself and discover the things that make your heart sing.  Every single “now moment” should be carried out as a thoughtful and well balanced pursuit of excellence, and nothing less than.  We should strive for happiness in everything that we do – an unwavering and potent sensation of pure joy.

Leia on the MTN

So – perhaps it could be said that the meaning of life is whatever meaning we give to it.  As science takes us on the rapid journey of discovery and understanding of the physical self, we have the amazing gift and ability to personally give our own unique meaning to every single moment in time.  Cause and effect is real and pertinent, and our minds harbor the dormant seeds of our thoughts, good and bad – ready to sprout at the moment we choose to nurture them to fruition.

“Man is the master of thought, the molder of character, the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”  - Allen.

Discovering your purpose is up to you alone…you, the sole master of your life.