Sunday, October 23, 2016

Go big or go home... Ugh!

This saying is so last year. Not only that, it's wrong. When it comes to eating, that is.

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet these days - hence the reason I rarely blog. It's such a challenge to find the truth. There's some good in this, however. The truth is simple: you can't read the truth on a blog, in a book or even hear it from your friend. Only you can find it out to be true for you and the only way to do that is try it out for yourself!

That being said... I am a believer in small meals. I've seen the websites saying that this is a myth, but I've found it to be true for me and this is the way I've eaten for a number of years and I continue keep my weight in balance. Furthermore, big meals jam up your digestive system - think of it like rush hour traffic. When you eat smaller, frequent meals in conjunction with yoga or other beneficial exercise, you are better able to keep your metabolism working in harmony with the other systems in your body.

Check out this blog from Duke, it explains the medical lingo and vernacular that we yoga teachers don't possess. Also, be sure to check out my yoga blog - I'm rarely on this blog anymore and I don't want you to miss out on any yoga nuggets you may find helpful. Visit See you on the mat!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Balls to the wall!

"Yoga is not for the man who overeats..." Ok then, so what are we to do if we do overeat or over indulge or over consume... or are, simply put, Americans? You have to start somewhere, right? We are told by our teachers, "begin where you are." Begin by appreciating your own self worth. Put your oxygen mask on first, etc. Sounds easy enough. Ok then, I'm going to start.... now! Waiting... and waiting... hmph. Why doesn't it magically work? Because like anything else, it requires training. This can be frustrating when we begin the practice of yoga with it's stereotype: twisting into a pretzel while trying to control our minds then mumbling something in Sandskrit as we leave. Then we say, "You know something, I tried yoga and I didn't like it, or it's not for me, or it's too hard, or I'm not flexible, or I hated the teacher or it was boring or too structured or that's not what yoga is because I know everything about yoga..."
Remember that dissatisfaction with learning is a sign of learning failure so a change in curriculum is obviously necessary. Patanjali begins the 8 limbs of yoga, not with asana or posture, but with the yamas: abstention from harming others (ahimsa), falsehood, theft, greed and being chaste. Next the niyamas: the observances of purity, contentment, self-discipline (tapas) and study. So the answer is, not only should you begin where you are, how about this brilliant idea: "begin at the beginning."

In my personal practice of yoga, one of many discoveries has been an imbalance in tapas or the practice of conserving energy for the use of achieving yoga (union of the body and mind). This requires self discipline. Self discipline... yes... I can do that. Deprive myself of stuff, push my body really hard and just go balls-to-the-wall, right?

Through the proper study and practice of yoga, a yogi learns and eventually knows that when we are practicing self-discipline, we have to be very careful that we don't become fanatical and self-punish. True discipline is in quiet self-control. But, that sounds hard! And yes, it actually is. The good news is you can begin again, right where you are. Yoga is simply a method. It's a way to break contact with pain and unify the body and mind. Whether your mind be restless, scattered or overly passionate, every mind can be transformed to be able to attain a "perfect" yoga. It's only a matter of practice.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Who are you and what have you done with Lori?

"You only know how a snake crawls when you become a snake."

As a teacher in yoga, if you have not examined yourself thoroughly, completely and continually, then you can not help your students.

As human beings, it's part of our nature to seek balance and understanding.

Like most of the western population, I've been running 90 miles an hour with my hair on fire, basically living life in a controlled fall. When I began to slow down, I realized just how much I depended on momentum to keep going. Not only did I discover that I was grotesquely out of balance, I learned that if I did nothing to correct the imbalances, they would certainly continue to manifest themselves in my life in exponential proportions and ways that were completely unmanageable.

Yoga provides us the tools to find balance in our lives. From self-awareness to form and asana practice to the bones of yoga: breath. Your breath is the bridge between your body and your mind. When your mind is agitated the fluctuations are reflected in your breathing patterns. Breath not only reflects your state of mind, it also can be recruited to calm your mind. Indeed, there is a neurological sensory and motor response between your breath and your mind. Prana or life force energy is brought into the body primarily through your breath. So, if you aren't getting enough, you are cheating yourself of oxygen AND PRANA. If you are running 90 miles an hour, if you have injuries, disease, stress, a poor environment, unresolved grief (who doesn't?)... all of these things contribute to our inability to breathe fully. The result? Your body becomes stressed and this creates even more anxiety further tipping you out of balance.

When you begin to MANAGE your breath, you can begin to "take the tooth out of the tiger," you can relax your mind and FINALLY come into to balance, the gap, the stillness within.

Is your yoga practice ALL physical? (yes Bikram yogis, I'm talking to you!) Well, then you can rest assured that you are indeed out of whack. If you are out of whack in your yoga practice, guess where else you are screwed up? Do you want to live your life just getting by, dulling the pain with more pain? Pain doesn't cure pain, stillness cures pain - understanding cures pain - freedom cures pain and the recipe for success all begins with balance.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Breath of Fire - foods for the year of the Dragon

In the lunisolar calendar, 2012 is the year of the Dragon. The lunar new year is in it's 4710th (or there a bouts) year and began this past January 23rd and, as it turns out, the Dragon is considered on of the luckiest years in the Chinese Zodiac.

Ah yes, a Dragon... indeed... a very mystical creature and quite an auspicious sign. In fact the Dragon, a symbol of good fortune and intense power, is the only animal of the 12 depicted in the lunar calendar that isn't actually real (or is it?).

"Luck. Money. Ambition. Initiative. Success."

According to the Economist, stock markets like Dragon years. It's apparently a great year for giving birth to small businesses, babies, you name it.

"Dragon years can be tumultuous, so be prepared for the unexpected...Be bold, be brave. Make your mark. After all, a fire-breathing, tail-wagging dragon would likely carve quite a path wherever it goes." - Rhonda Abrams, USA Today

As someone who was born in the year of the Dragon, I am quite intrigued. I am not an avid astrologist, but it intrigues me none the less. The Chicago Tribune recently posted the top Ten lucky foods for the year and while I adore dumplings, spring rolls and and noodles, I reserve eating them for special occasions. I am a huge proponent of whole fish and oranges, also on the list. The rest of the top ten foods are: red-cooked chicken (braised in soy and sugar), tea eggs (eggs stewed in black tea, soy and spices), lion's head meatballs (pork balls braised in greens), stir-fried lettuce and barbecued duck. um, huh?

In breaking down the list, dumplings - while they symbolize wealth, they have a lot of dough and are high in calories, usually fried (though I do like this recipe). Spring rolls - golden color means good fortune, but the golden color also means deep fried. Nope. Noodle dishes - do I really need to expand here? Noodle dishes... long noodles equal long life. In our culture, which is overladen with high calorie, preservative rich foods full of unhealthy fats, noodles should be kept as a small side dish, not a main dish. Too much fat, calories, and just plain junk, unless of course you are making the noodles yourself and cooking them at home, then go for it, just be sure to watch the oil and include plenty of vegetables. Instead choose Bikram's saying, "healthy spine equals a healthy life" and go to yoga. Stir-fried lettuce - greens are good fortune. Completely agree. However, if we can avoid stir frying them, I think that would be a healthier option (duh). Red-cooked chicken - red is a lucky color, indeed, but the redness comes from sugar and soy, so we will have to scour the internet to find a healthier version of that... pass. Tea eggs (fertility), let's just skip that one for obvious reasons and go with poached (my fav) or hard boiled organic eggs instead. Lion's head meatballs - power and strength. Pork balls braised in greens. I think we can do that healthy - choose lean ground pork, organic please! And again, keep the oil minimal. Barbecued duck - fidelity. How about we barbecue without barbecue sauce? Remove the skin and relish in an abundance of integrity.

In honor of the dragon and breath of fire, I'm making Grilled All Natural Pork Tenderloin marinated in Spicy Soy Sauce (recipe here), this marinade can be used on chicken or beef, just be sure to try and get lean organic and natural meat.

If you are headed out to a Chinese restaurant, you may not know what to eat to stay healthy and watch your weight. A sure bet is steamed or poached (jum) chicken or tofu and Chinese vegetables with a few tbsp's of MSG free white sauce, low sodium soy and steamed brown rice (more fiber). Try to keep portion size down and steer clear of chow mein (fried). Avoid the fried appetizers and the tasty crunchy fried garnish. Stay away from "Sweet and Sour", Kung Pao, General Tso and fried rices. Better yet? Make it at home!

Oh, and remember to brush and floss. The breath of fire thing was a play on words (Dragons, Kapalbhati breathing, get it?) not to be taken literally. Thank you. Everyone thanks you.

Happy Lunar New Year fellow Dragonians!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Confessions from a former sugar addict

For years I've been towing the line that sugar is addictive. People smile, laugh, give me a wink and are usually in agreement but, for the most part, ignore the seriousness of the subject. Now, finally, there is growing scientific research to back up my yogic rants on the truth of the matter. Check out this link:

Fatty Foods as Addictive as Cocaine in Growing Body of Science

Next time you are hiding in the corner shoving a cupcake in your mouth before anyone notices, sneaking your kids' granola bars and cheeze-itz, or eating bowl after bowl of "healthy" cereal at 11pm, you might want to take a deep breath and think about what you are doing. Being mindful is not a happenstance occurrence, it's a full-time gig. And, as fun as it is to be a pig, well, the truth is, it may not be as "fun" or "funny" as you think. It may just be a little bit sad. Buck up young foodies. There are always options.

My new favorite thing in the world: Taste Nirvana Coco Aloe. This stuff is the nectar of life. It is refreshing, delicious, hydrating and makes you feel amazing, plus the added fiber and detox properties from aloe is quite nice. As I always say, you are nothing if you are not hydrated. If you haven't tried coconut water yet, crawl out from under that rock and buy some!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oh Butter, My Butter

So, I am learning a lot these days. It's safe to say I'm back in school. The school of butter. Is butter bad for you? All the info out there is so convoluted, I don't even know myself. So, let's take a moment and do a simple pro's and con's list.

Margarine Gate: According to the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Martha Grogan, "Margarine, which is made from vegetable oil contains no cholesterol. It is higher in "good" fats," (which we will deconstruct here in a second) Poly and Mono. Poly and Monounsaturated fats help reduce LDL cholesterol, LDL = bad, while saturated fat increases LDL. BUT - not all margarines are the same. Margarine is highly processed and most of the conventional margarines on the market are actually worse for you than butter. The packaging is deceiving and most are loaded up with trans fats (anything that says trans fat, trans fatty acids, hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated are all trans fats). Trans fats are man made and are worse for you than saturated fat that is found in animals (ie: butter). Hydrogenated oils/trans fats used to be considered as a healthier alternative to the saturated fats found in butter, BUT studies now show that these trans fats are actually worse than saturated fats. Yes, saturated fat raises bad LDL cholesterol levels, but trans fats do the same and also strip levels of good HDL cholesterol, the kind that helps unclog arteries. HUH?

Cholesterol...Cholesterol (needed to produce hormones, protect nerves and cell structure), in a nutshell, must be transported between cells by carriers - these are the LDL and HDL cholesterols you hear about. LDL = bad, HDL = good. When there is too much LDL in the blood (increased by too much saturated fat), it slowly builds up on the arteries inner walls - these arteries feed your heart and brain. Not a good place to clog, eh? HDL, on the other hand, is high-density lipoprotein. High levels of HDL in the blood protect against heart attacks, and as you guessed, low levels of HDL increase the risk of heart disease. Most margarine has high LDL and strips the body of good HDL - a double whammy.

To recap - with it's high saturated fat content (which again, increases LDL cholesterol), Butter does get a con. In the argument against margarine however and with it's good levels mono fat (which again, helps reduce LDL cholesterol), Butter gets a pro.

Moving on.

With Margie out of the way we can address the question at hand. Is Butter bad for you?

Good fat vs. bad fat? Butter is fat. Nothing smells as delicious as melting butter, that little something in your sauce that makes it so so tasty, butter. Butter is used in basically all elements of classic French cooking - the basis of the food that many of us eat. Should you use it? Can you lose weight and still eat butter? What if you have high cholesterol and are tying to monitor your saturated fat and LDL cholesterol? Good questions.

The old school of thought on Butter is rapidly and thankfully changing. Fat is good for you. Say it with me, "Fat is good for you!" Rejoice and be merry! We now have plenty of research data that has made things more clear - fat is good for you BUT all fats are not equal.

Unsaturated fat = good fat. This is your mono and poly. Mono, in case you were wondering, lower LDL (bad) and boost HDL (good) cholesterol. Poly are a "good source of Omega 3 fatty acids which help lower blood pressure, combat LDL (bad), fight inflammation and protect the brain and nervous system," according to Fiona Haynes (Good Fats, Bad Fats, Worst Fats). Canola oils, olive oils and fish oils are mostly unsaturated fats - this is why you hear about them so much.

Saturated fat = bad fat. These are the meat and dairy artery-clogger fats. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature (ex: butter - solid, Olive Oil - liquid). HOWEVER, an analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 found "no link between saturated fat intake and increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease." At the same time, another study done by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2010 found that "replacing saturated fats with an equal amount of polyunsaturated fats did indeed reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 19% (from Good Fats, Bad Fats, Worst Fats)." Erg, confusing. But...

Maybe saturated fat isn't so bad after all? Did you know...Coconut oil? Oh yes... the coconut is all the rage these days. Well, it's a plant based source of saturated fat. There is overwhelming evidence that saturated fat may be more middle of the road than previously thought, maybe even nutritious.

As far as calories go...

Fat is fat and has calories. Let's break it down now:

1 TBSP of unsalted butter has 100 calories, 11 g fat (7.5 g of saturated fat, .5 g poly and 3 g mono) and 30 mg cholesterol.

1 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil has 120 calories, 14 g fat (2 g of saturated fat, 1 g poly and 11g mono) and zero cholesterol.

So, if you always use a small amount of EVOO in cooking (which I do), you can safely add a little butter to that too! Horray! If you have ever fried an egg in a little butter... oh it's just heaven.

But if you are watching your cholesterol, you do need to be careful here. Stick with Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing and Canola Oil for higher heat cooking. I also highly recommend the Vegan butter spread, Earth Balance, which is great on toast and cooks well too. This is a fantastic substitute for butter and is great in baking for your Vegan friends (or Vegan self).

Calorie counters - yes, you can use a little butter, just watch portion control. Remember, one tbsp has 100 calories. Yes, 100 calories of flavor! But, it's still a whopping 100 calories. So use it, just watch how much you use and be sure to add it up at the end of the day with all the other calories you've eaten.

Ok. That's enough for me. I am off to make toast now with one Tbsp of butter. REAL BUTTER.

Mmmmmm.....butter... (Homer Simpson voice)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Please pass the Vitamin D to Charlie Sheen!

EVERYONE is talking about it. It's one of the top searches on Google and in magazines all over newsstands. NO, not Charlie Sheen, VITAMIN D!

Did you know: deficiencies in Vitamin D are linked to mood swings, depression, and also conditions like heart disease, diabetes, allergies, cancer, parathyroid problems, immune system and yep, you guessed it - weight loss.

Forget Chuck and his issues, let's stay focused. Everyone already knows that your body needs Vitamin D to properly absorb calcium (and if you didn't, now you do). But, if you are having trouble losing weight, could a deficiency in Vitamin D be a factor?

Let's discuss.

Firstly, if you are still living off of your regular daily vitamin or worse, nothing at all, you are living on "minimum wage nutrition." According to Jonny Bowden, PHD, Taking the "recommended daily allowance" for Vitamin C, enough to prevent scurvy (which is rampant in the States), the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin B1 (thamin) is enough to prevent beriberi. She says these amounts, again "minimum wage nutrition," are utterly irrelevant to those interested in optimal health and well-being. And I agree.

There is a vast amount of literature on Vitamin D and some of it is scary. Just this past November, the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board released a report that said taking Vitamin D in any amount over 800 IUs is "unnessary and could even be harmful." BUT, the committee only studied the amount of Vitamin D needed for bones. Again, to quote my friend Jonny Bowden, "That's like evaluating an iPhone based solely on the ability of its built in calculator to add and subtract. The calculator is one tiny feature of the iPhone, but its hardly a complete picture of what a good smartphone can do." Agree yet again.

The Vitamin D Council, a much better judge of Vitamin D's good and harm, says that the correct figure for a minimum daily requirement of D is actually 4,000 IUs (from Zoltan Roma, MD, Author of Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin).

So what does this have to do with losing weight??? A recent study which measured blood levels of Vitamin D in overweight men and women has shown that for every increase in blood levels of Vitamin D in the blood stream, those folks ended up losing almost half-pound more on their diets. ALSO, the higher the baseline of Vitamin D, the greater the abdominal fat loss. HORRAY!

Studies over the years have also shown there is a direct correlation between higher blood levels of Vitamin D and leaner body mass. There is also a direct correlation with Vitamin D and insulin... but doctors still don't understand the complete scope of how it relates to our individual biochemistry.

So, is toxicity something to consider with Vitamin D? Well, as long as you stay under 10,000 IUs a day, you are out of the "toxicity MIGHT happen" category set by the Food and Nutrition Board.

I'm all about me some Vitamin D right about now. Time to get in bikini shape by summer! My pick? Gummy Vitamins! Yes, I know... sugar. There is something to be said for moderation as well as having your gummy bear and eating it too. Pick and choose your battles an in this case I say absolutely!