Friday, July 31, 2009

not quite zen... but almost

Somehow, someway, in the busiest moments, when I should feel tired beyond belief, I appreciate the adrenaline and stress. It's all that keeps me humming along! Then again, coming back down from that place is tough. This past week I received a Vital Juice email about an energy healer and her breathing exercises... even just reading about their experience with her relaxed me.

Breathe in threes. As she massages scented oils on our chakra points, Stephanie shows us how to fill our bellies with air, then our lungs, exhaling through our mouth. The three-part breathing technique quiets the mind and gets energy moving through the body. It's a natural high. Within five minutes we feel practically drugged. Finally, we're completely still, almost heavy with relaxation. (Tears have been known to flow, a result of truly letting go.) Go back in time. We end with normal breathing (now a cinch) while Stephanie asks us to picture our seven-year-old self and tell her what she has to look forward to, from our first kiss to falling in love.
I would love to go for a session with this chill lady and her methods but considering my poor college student status, I'll settle for daily yoga, and possibly a massage if someone feels like treating me ;). I would by no means call myself a yogi but I've always been able to appreciate yoga, whether it's a fast paced, heart pumping vinyasa routine or a meditative hatha session. And avocado toast with a bowl of berries, cherries and banana was the perfect morning fuel for both.It is re-centers me, if that makes sense, which makes it an essential in my daily life even if I don't always get it. In addition to my self-promises to sleep more and pack a healthier lunch, I'd like to bring more yoga into my life. Currently I've been using Gaiam DVDs by Rodney Yee, but after talking with an amazing friend about it, I'm considering investing in Polly's yummy yoga.
Gosh, pretty soon I'm going to be as blissful and meditative as a monk ;). On that same token, when I was at the running peak it had a similar effect on me. While I was living abroad my favorite time of day to run was in the stillness of sunrise when the cities didn't feel intimidating, or even foreign, as each day brought exploration of another beautiful neighborhood. It's simple, really, but I'd like to get that state of mind back, it's all I could do to enjoy running for the sake of running. How does moving move you?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

sunshine ahead

The weather forecast may disagree with my claim but I don't mean good ol' Mr. Sun anyhow, I'm talking about optimism, positivity, and a sunny outlook on life. Yesterday I read my first issue of Ode magazine and Alison just happened to ask about it. Haven't heard about it either? I'm not surprised. Ode actually began in the Netherlands and was solely published in Dutch for the first nine years of their existence. Now, nearly four years since it was launched in English, the "print and online publication about positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better" boasts a global circulation of 100,00+.

That's certainly something to smile about :). I stumbled across the magazine at Fitness' wonderful giveaway table last week, was intrigued by their cover story, Fat is Where it's At and seemed to have become a huge fan overnight. In addition to the stories about "positive social, environmental and economic change" I took special interest in this fat article because of my newfound knowledge concerning the food group.

I was already aware that fat doesn't make you fat, that I need more Omega-3 fatty acids in my diet, that monosaturated fats promote health and reduce the risk of the number one killer of women in America, heart disease... what I didn't know was that saturated fat shouldn't be feared either. I finished reading Dr. Michael Aziz's book, The Perfect 10 Diet just last weekend and have began to look at butter, dark meat, and full-fat dairy products in a brighter light. Have I gone mad? Of course not, I'm just more informed than ever. Did you know that...?

  • Dr. Mary Enig personally analyzed the USDA data and essentially concluded that the use of vegetable oils seemed to predispose to cancer while animal fats seemed to protect against cancer.
  • Greece, for example, had less than one-fourth the rate of breast cancer compared to Israel but the same dietary fat intake.
  • Spain had only one-third the breast cancer mortality of France and Italy but the total dietary fat intake was slightly greater.
  • Puerto Rico, with a high animal fat intake, had a very low rate of breast and colon cancer.
  • The Netherlands and Finland both used approximately 100 grams of animal fat per capita per day but breast and colon cancer rates were almost twice in the Netherlands what they are in Finland.The Netherlands consumed 53 grams of vegetable fat per person compared to 13 in Finland.
  • A study from Cali, Columbia found a fourfold excess risk for colon cancer in the higher economic classes, which used less animal fat than the lower economic classes.
  • Saturated fats enhance the immune system, are necessary for healthy bones, provide energy and structural integrity to the cells, protect the liver, and enhance the body's use of essential fatty acids. Not to mention that stearic acid, found in beef tallow and butter, has cholestrol lowering properties and is a preferred food for the heart.

I sure didn't. Thankfully Dr. Aziz and Janet Paskin, a contributor to Ode magazine, exposed me to this under-covered news. Our focus should be on low-sugar, unprocessed, and organic... not fat.
Now before I go, I want to make sure you're not completely disheartened because you were fed the "healthy diet" that turned out to be so totally wrong and untrue. Ode's ten rules for an optimistic life are as follows:
  • Fall in love
  • Feed your positive thoughts
  • Indulge your passions
  • Laugh
  • Keep a feel-good journal
  • Enjoy the simple things
  • See the glass half-full
  • Find positive friends
  • Volunteer for a cause you believe in
Their tenth is a suggestion to subscribe to Ode... but I'm just an realistic optimist and I don't work for Ode magazine, I'll leave that choice up to you and your bank account. Hope you have a phat day blog friends! ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

my secret garden(s)

Do you know I actually got busier in the office after I posted earlier? I ended up having to leave early, after getting in late too! Truth is bloggies, I have to get my wisdom teeth out. My dentist has been pestering me about it for about a year and a half but I was going to Chile, then to France, and haven't gotten around to seeing the oral surgeon until now. I know I've been home for a while but I've been putting off the appointment because... I'm nervous. And, this weekend it all caught up with me in a major and killer toothache :(. I'll probably have them out by the end of next week. Au revoir solid foods!

Anyway, let's please discuss happier things! What was I talking about before? Oh yes, those special places of mine: gardens.

I went to a spectacular one this past Sunday with the boy :) and it all started with an adorable picnic.

We both got huge salads from the supermarket; I also bought bread and had brought a ripe avocado with me (ha, I'm always prepared.) Together it all made for a very nice meal, light and healthy too which was ideal for the hot summer day we had.

There was a pretty setting sun from our picnic spot in addition to picturesque views of the Hudson river.

Not to mention that I was in incredible company. What a handsome boyfriend of mine :)
Have I mentioned that we were spending our day at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY?
Not at all the boy's home like he mentioned ;) but the grounds were absolutely beautiful.

And so, after our meal, we made our way to the Vanderbilt's Italian Gardens.

As I said before, I love gardens because they make me feel relaxed, at ease, centered, grateful.
There's something about the natural beauty of the flora, the stones, the water that I find so touching.
It's really almost magical, and no, I don't mean that in a cheesy way at all.
Being whisked away by all that is natural beauty has always been my answer to life's countless stresses.
No matter what the season I find appreciation for it all and get the utmost pleasure out of the experience.
At school last year I insisted on walking the two miles from my apartment to and/or from campus.
I've mentioned that I go to school in Syracuse, right? It snows a ton! But I still make sure to get out.
It was my favorite part of my day, unwinding while I walked past the frozen gardens and quaint houses.
It also served as my primary form of cardio. I was at my lowest weight last spring because of all my walking.
And even though I'm quite a few pounds up from that place, I can always count on walking as exercise.

(By the way, the boy took a silly mini-photo shoot of me, hehe)

I'm sure could tell that I had a wonderful time :) I felt entirely in my element,

surrounded by natural beauty, fragility and allure.

I feel as though it all gives me a clear sense of perspective.

Even if the boy did manage to get an extremely out of focus shot of me ;).

The great thing about gardens is that I was able to discover the best of these personal havens no matter where I was living. Natural beauty is very much a global thing :).
Where is your ideal place to find inspiration? escape from stress? reflect on life?

Monday, July 27, 2009

lady luck?

Aloha my darlings. Can you believe it is Monday again? When did this happen?! I certainly was not too thrilled about another work week when I woke up this morning. However, following a lunch with C (my freshman & sophomore year roommate) things turned around quite nicely.
This was Friday night's dinner, one of my all time favorite meals, stuffed peppers alongside a crisp salad. I skipped the usual ground beef and white rice combo and filled mine with pinto beans and brown rice and as much tomato sauce as I could muster. Absolutely delicious!
What happened today you ask? Oh, well, I caught up with a best friend, and then upon my return to the office, my boss called me over. Turns out they need another person to attend red carpet events/parties and conduct interviews with models and fashion designers... and they think that I'm the girl for the job.
I can't believe it, I had no idea I had impressed them that much. I'm so nervous yet positively excited about the opportunity! Wow. Another flashback meal, this was Saturday's lunch eaten in pleine aire while I worked on yet another tedious work responsibility, reading a pre-released nutrition book for Fitness.

Is this what it feels like when all of your internship dreams come true? I sure think so! Oh gosh, I feel like celebrating, I think I'm going to go to Trader Joe's ;). If you're interested in reading nutritional tips from the VS model I almost had the chance to meet tonight, click here, hopefully I'll be able to talk to her later :). Hope your Monday was more than mediocre too my friends!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

city bites

Good morning all, happy Saturday! I slept in today (gasp) for the first time in a long time and am so excited to have a similarly laid back and rejuvenating weekend ahead :). This past week I had the unique opportunity to experience two of the city's finest restaurants for a fraction of the usual price... otherwise known as New York City Restaurant Week.
Restaurant Week is the perfect chance for myself and others to try out a restaurant that may usually be outside of budget, or test some new restaurant locations with less of a financial risk. Last weekend my best friend, K, and I had a great three-course lunch at Bar Stuzzichini.
Thursday night the boy and I went on an overdue date to the Rocking Horse Cafe, a casual/contemporary restaurant with innovative dishes, modern colors, and pre-Colombian works of art, all accented by the bold Mexican culture. The dark photos display the sleek ambience ;).

For some odd reason I wasn't that hungry so I just had a glass of Chilean CabSauv, a plate off of their regular menu, and relied completely on the boy to order the Restaurant Week special so that I could sample :). He began with a fantastic Watermelon Margarita.

Followed by a well-dressed salad with blue cheese, onions, tomato, and avocado. Yum!

But not enough to ruin my appetite for this beauty! For dinner I'd ordered a Burrito stuffed with grilled vegetables, watercress, avocado, a perfectly Mexican-spiced sauce and topped with pickled radishes.
Does that not sound amazing? Because trust me, it was :). I only made it through two though :(.

There was also a small bowl of black beans and basmati rice on the side which he and I split.
He had all this plus his main dish, the Carne Guisado, jalapeño braised brisket in a rich tomato-lime broth over garlic mashed potatoes. Not my thing but he enjoyed it and completely cleared his plate.

For dessert he chose the Napoleone de Platano, which consisted of layered cinnamon tortilla chips, whipped cream, banana, and a warm chocolate sauce. I very much enjoyed my two bites! My only complaint of our entire dining experience was that I felt rushed at the end when the waiter was trying to clear the table for new customers... other than that, a wonderful dinner.

To make up for it though we went to a nearby saloon for Guinness before going home. I usually go for light beers but there's something about this dark and creamy variety that is so comforting and dessert-like even. Although Guinness is much better in Ireland, there, I said it :). Have you every had a classic in it's country of origin? Isn't it the best? They were definitely the highlight of my travels!

Friday, July 24, 2009

merci very much

I'm busy, busy, busy girlies and my internships aren't over... yet I am obliged to take this break :)
This past week I've attended multiple health-related events, walking away with many sweet things. Sometimes it's accessories, a press kit and gift card all because of a new product launch. Other times I've been lucky enough to get books, I love learning about what's new in nutrition.
In addition to having the opportunity to recreate catered nyc food in my own kitchen. Yum!

And then, there was that one in which I really hit the gift bag jackpot... and received a hot new product.

But most of all I appreciate the way that the magazine appreciates their interns. Feeling respected, valued, and trusted is so gratifying and it's had such positive effects on me.

It's nice to know that I'll always have the editors support as I embark on my uncertain future and hopeful career. Not to mention that the recent lunch time chat and q&a with editor-in-chief was priceless.
I feel as though I've really had the opportunity and experience to blossom as a magazine journalist and I'm oh so thankful. I'm also thankful to you all for your constant encouragement in all areas of life. Please accept these flowers from the garden in Monaco as a token of my gratitude ;) and have a great day. That is all, (gee that felt good) see ya later alligators.