Yoga and Healthy Living on the Road

Susan smilesWonderful seeing men in our morning yoga classes!With very little sleep and a lack of desired preparation for today’s ‘Healthy Living on the Road’ workshop, I was running on pure adrenaline in addition to being a wee bit nervous about standing up teaching about what I deem healthy choices in my life. slaDE was laid back and open to me being the commander to our onstage workshop — it sure has helped that I’ve spent a lot of the winter preparing material for this very workshop. The confidence boost I received from our yoga students during our class was a welcome burst of energy (the Vita-Mix smoothie helped with this as well — recipe Day #2 is published at the end of the post) that carried me through, feeling on top of the world. Again this morning, another 40 students blessed us with their presence. I am blown away by the unexpected but amazing interest in yoga this year. Packing the tent full each day with breathing and stretching beings has offered an incredible energy and lightness to Alumapalooza 2011, and I felt that this was a missing component last year.

We were absolutely delighted to run into our Canadian Airstreamin’ friends whom we made a wonderful connection with last year. Turns out that we were to be staying in their home town once we made our way north of the border. Synchronicity is such a delightful component to our adventurous life, like a puzzle that strangely falls in to place without the slightest effort or know-how. In this puzzle that we call life, I feel that what is most relevant is the intention and authenticity behind the love, relationship and gifts that we extend in to this world.

Fast forward a few hours …. the ‘Healthy Living on the Road’ workshop turned out to be a marvellous success. At least 80-100 people spent the full hour listening to me provide a steady stream of alternative options for health that have allowed slaDE and I to lead a very healthy lifestyle when travelling in our Airstream (practicing what we ‘preach’). slaDE led the audience through an active stretching session that would hopefully inspire movement in the participants’ daily lives. Time passed incredibly fast and I was able to whirl up a quick smoothie for tasting in our handy-dandy brandy-new Vita-Mix (with a shiny stainless steel brushed finish). The concoction must have been a hit with it disappearing within minutes! After our workshop, slaDE and I demoed yogaFLIGHT after the happy-hour draws and announcements. From there, a man name Jerry volunteered to try this form of ‘yoga flying’. You see, Jerry was easily 300 lbs and 6’4″ tall. Yikes! Many people were contemplating the intelligence of slaDE offering his services to Jerry, but it’s amazing the strength and flexibility my husband has! This moment in time captured was priceless, for all those involved and witness!

Child's PoseVita-Mix Smoothie Recipe Day 2: Morning Zing Smoothie

• ½ blender of water and ice
• 2 stalks celery
• 2 sticks carrot
• small handful of kale
• handful of spinach
• ½ inch fresh ginger root
• 2 apples
• 3 large wedges of watermelon (without rind; any seeds liquify beautifully in the VM)
• 1 tsp cinnamon and cardamon
• 2 tsp of lemon juice to cut any green taste (for newbie green smoothie drinkers)

A Season of Change – Are We There Yet?

The clock ticks ever-closer to the dawn of the calendar changeover — December in to January, another year, another 12 months alive on this planet.

What are you going to do to welcome in this New Season and New Year?? Are you able to fully embrace what 2011 will hold? The unexpected, the change, the fabulous, the good, the bad and the ugly? It’s all about choice. Rolling with the flow and accepting our fate as we set out to conquer the world, communicating honestly and with integrity. We have control only over our present moment and thoughts, and how we perceive the world and the situations we might find ourselves in. Can you breath through the chaos, laugh through the insanity, feel through the pain and sorrow, and embrace the happiness which might alight itself upon you? Easier said than done, you say!

Truly. Madly. Deeply. I feel and experience it, along with my weaknesses, my imperfections, my stumblings. Hoping to be responsible for / to it. I live it, daily. Not even close to perfection. But in the end, I keep breathing, hoping, praying.

  • Learn, Live, Love, Breath ……………………….. Redo. (and hopefully add a few laughs and yoga asanas mixed in with the equation)

My wish for you through this season of change:

  • embracing the unknown and changes of 2011,
  • finding freedom and independence in your strengths, successes and joys,
  • finding a clear vision of oneself that looks authentically at both what you are doing and how you are doing it every day,
  • accepting defeats with wisdom, patience and desire to overcome, shining a light on the deep corners inside of you,
  • sharing love to all, spreading peace and good fortune, and
  • asking for help when you might need it most.

Wishing you much joy and moments of happiness through out the holidays, and always, in all ways.

Massage times 2.

When the body is aching and the soul needs a lift in spirit, what do we crave and search for? A massage is the perfect remedy in my mind … and somehow we managed to stumble across David Henderson (http://outerbanksmassage.com) here on the Outer Banks. David is a therapist gifted with the touch of grace and restoration, not only accepting the path of his art and skill with dedication and joy, but also managing to instil a gift of healing when performing his bodywork — which for us included hot stones to complement his deep-tissue technique. This being the second of our massages this week, I truly believe that my knee is in a much better state of health right now because of the time and work he has put in to stretching the fascia, ligaments and muscles surrounding my injured knee.

We couldn’t recommend David more highly. Not only does he have a brilliant practice, magical green space and a fabulous music library, but both his sense of humour and ability to intuitively listen with his hands places David within the top 3 on my list of favourite therapists ever! Pretty high praise for seasoned massage recipients (does that make us connoisseurs?) like uS ;), who have travelled the globe in search of supreme healing bodywork.

To top the day off, we were introduced to the prime top secret feeding hole of the Outer Banks. So if you’re lucky enough to be reading this blog and to have the opportunity to visit Kill Devil Hills in the future, you’ll be thanking me for letting you in on this hidden gem frequented mostly by the locals (Thursday Fish Taco Night is a local favourite). Food Dudes is THE place to come for delectable casual seafood divinity. slaDE~ and I shared a seafood tomato bisque for a starter, a chicken pesto goat cheese wrap accompanied by yummy tortilla chips and avocado pesto, and paired that with a blackened tuna and crab (with a side of yummy rice and beans) entree.

Road Trip Choices

road trip guidelines

Jamie Oliver has been encouraging and motivating people around the world to change their diet and lifestyle. The blog by Canadian Karen ,”The Scattered Mom”, is one such example of a motivated Mother searching for healthy choices within her family and travelling lifestyle.

Karen’s inventory below is truly an inspiring checklist to follow on our next Airstream road trip. For the most part, we follow the guidelines below, to a T. I realize that I’m a big part of the driving force behind our healthy lifestyle that we lead. But of course, I’m human and have my weaknesses (before slaDE~, I never ever ate chips or junk food — apart from sugary items like liquorice or sour chewy candies, but now I’m rather feeble in my willpower if he feels inspired to indulge). As I get older, my body and metabolism is changing, and the need to be conscientious, consistent and diligent with my food / non-food intake is top on my priorities. So having a repertoire of ideas and a reminder of why I chose this lifestyle in the first place is a step in the right direction to a happy and healthy life filled with nutrition and goodness.

The Food Revolution Road Trip Goals / Rules / Guidelines:

1. NO fast food or gas station food. We can stop for a bathroom break if we need to, but that is it.

Every year on a road trip we stop at least 5 times in a two week period at a fast food place-usually McDonalds for breakfast, or Subway for lunch. No. Not this year. (exception: Starbucks is our coffee place of choice and not considered fast food. We don’t really eat their food anyway)

2. Eat only ONE meal a day in a restaurant. Breakfast is easy, as it’s always covered with a hotel breakfast bar. Lunch is where we need to be creative and make our own. We’ll be traveling here and there; whitewater rafting, jeeping, driving, hiking. Can we do it?fast food nation

3. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/flavors, and anything highly processed. This doesn’t just mean in what I buy, but in the food at the hotel breakfast bar. How hard can it be to find healthy food, anyway? It’s pretty easy here. And is the USA really that different from Canada?

4. Snack on lots of fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and real food. That’s easy, right? Storage might be an issue. It should be pretty cheap, too.

5. Occasional treats are allowed because you know, this IS a vacation. Treats would be a chocolate bar, ice cream, or the fries with a restaurant meal. The fries will be hardest to avoid, but since we are on vacation a couple times each can’t hurt.

How about you? Do you make choices in your daily regimen to eat and be more healthy? Do you find that road trips tend to challenge your choices and restraint?

The Story of Cosmetics

The ugly truth of toxins going in, toxins coming out? That would describe the ‘Story of Stuff’ project called “The Story of Cosmetics“. In our current day society, a large percentage of what we consume and utilize on this planet has been over-processed, under-tested and mis-handled. The closer we get to natural, the better it is for us. Period. But petroleum products, plastics and chemicals have ‘simplified’ our life, compromising the health of our planet and our bodies. Any personal care product that we use is absorbed by our body’s largest organ, our skin! Whether we wash our hair, brush our teeth, launder our clothes, moisturize our skin or consume as a food / liquid source, the skin will absorb it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Many people are finding themselves suddenly with chemical sensitivities (myself included in that one), and question why? Perhaps it’s due to the onslaught of continued product usage, and the body saying “enough already”? Or maybe it has to do with the fact that chemicals can stay in the body for a lifetime, so past exposures might be responsible for current vulnerabilities and symptoms.

The term cosmetics goes beyond the visage of ‘makeup’.

chemical in our stuffnoun (usu. cosmetics)

* a product applied to the body, esp. the face, to improve its appearance.

* Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and gels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetics in the United States defines cosmetics as: “intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or functions”. Soap is not included in this classification, by the FDA.

I think the true difficulty behind the issues of cosmetics is that North American Federal Agencies are not regulating or labelling many toxic ingredients (substances which may cause cancer or fetal, hormonal or reproductive toxicity), leaving the public at risk, confused and misinformed. I personally try to source natural ingredients with the basic cleansing functions in my skincare products necessary to achieve the results I’m going after (i.e. toothpaste, shampoo, face & body cleanser / moisturizer, etc). I strayed a long time ago from the use of makeup as I prefer au naturel. And Essential Oils fill my sensory needs for fragrance. Plant based authentic 100% aromatherapy. Simple joys, small pleasures. Let’s just hope that essential oils never come under the gun of federal regulation. Don’t get me wrong, quality control of any publicly offered substance is vital. Knowing the quality, grade and authenticity of our cosmetics is necessary, as I personally believe in making educated and qualified self-decisions. However, there’s a fine line between managing for quality vs controlling because of vested interests and misinformation / miscalculation of what constitutes afforded protection.

But that’s another post in the making :).

Check out the shockumentaryThe Story of Cosmetics” … well worth your time, for the sake of your health, your family’s safety and our environment.

There are different ways that we can make a difference.

» SHARE The Story of Cosmetics

» JOIN The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

» THROW A Story of Cosmetics Viewing PARTY!

A whole lot of Angry, a whole lot of Compassion

Today I read a blog that sparked a detailed response to a posting from a ‘celebrity’ who qualifies herself as an inspirational guru of health and fitness. Man, is she One Angry Chick (her words, not mine)!

I’m not sure if Brittany will delete my comment in moderating her blog entry of ‘The Revolution is On‘, but just in case she does, here’s my long-thought-out comment for your reading leisure. I actually suggest you read her blog entry first (http://brittneykara.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/the-revolution-is-on) before reading my response. And I welcome your thoughts, ideas and / or any additions!

Namaste ….

Hi Brittany

disinfecting fruitBeing a yoga teacher myself who diligently lives a clean, healthy, hydrated life (all the while reading labels, like yourself, and meticulous about most things which enter my body), it’s so easy to see and experience the less than ideal choices others make — whether that be food, alcohol, drugs or the like. Aside from ones own personal choices about what we put into and onto our bodies, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the food and water we need to survive being sabotaged by chemicals, filled with potentially toxic and carcinogenic substances (such as artificial fragrances and harmful & needless antibacterial additions to our everyday household goods), along with the circus of false claims and advertising, inaccessible price gouging and shrouded ingredient listings.  There’s a lot of barriers out there for living a clean healthy lifestyle. Bombarded by a media which offers every kind of diet and product out there to maintain youth, beauty, fitness and everlasting mortality (tongue in cheek), it’s an incredibly complex task trying to maintain a lifestyle that is complete, wholesome and health-giving. One of the most challenging hurdles to living a healthy life is the lack or shroud of truthful education. So many conflicting opinions and (mis)information to wade through. I consider myself highly educated on the food my family consumes, and yet I still find myself confused and swayed by studies which are often backed by corporate and vested interest groups. A perfect example of this would be my belief in agave, a touted superfood, until the recent studies and findings on agave’s high fructose content (http://www.sacredchocolate.com/agave-blues-david-wolfe).

Living, breathing and advocating for a health-giving lifestyle is a full-time endeavour, truly. Considering this statement, very few people have the education, funds and time to apply such dedication and vigour. This is not an excuse but rather a fact of life. On top of this, living with and making ‘unhealthy’ choices is far easier and a whole lot less expensive. Our societal values have changed, shifted with the paradigm of a materialistic world that wants information / food / results quick, fast and with ease. This is a huge battle and wall that each and every one of us face.

Education is key. Access and clear honest information is needed. Building community which revolves around healthy organic grassroots living is an ideal situation. But laying fault and judgement on those that don’t necessarily have the means or information only creates a chasm between ‘us’ and ‘them’. I am so incredibly blessed to have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips through consistent research on the Internet, through my studies of yoga and teacher trainings, mentors and friends.

There is so much more than what meets the eye on the surface to whether a person is actually living a healthy lifestyle. Who are we to deem what is considered ‘Fat’? Is being overweight by 10lbs, 20lbs, 50lbs, 3 lbs considered fat? In some cultures and certain epochs, extra flesh and fat is considered highly attractive. Curves, cellulite, breast endowment (breast tissue is both fat and muscle) …. what makes one more attractive and healthy than the other?  For example, the yoga teacher who you deemed overweight. Who knows what her background is? She could have been 100lbs heavier, found yoga and is on a journey to leading a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps she looked exhausted, dehydrated and unhealthy because she is a single mom who just had a baby, is raising that child solo, through postpartum depression and is struggling to maintain a semblance of health and vitality in her life by teaching others. The fact that people showed up to the class is a step in the right direction to health, making that choice to live and breath and move. Who knows what your yoga teacher’s story is? But knowing that unless we live in her shoes and her experience, how can we define what is best and healthy for her? A vision of a slim, lean, attractive teacher is very much a western ideal based on yoga as a fitness factor rather than that of a practise in preparation for meditation and conscious breathe.

I also disagree with your statement that ‘We are all capable of being in great shape and healthy’. We all have the potential for greatness, but again, what is considered ‘great shape and healthy’? Who defines such terms? Media has done a ‘bang up’ job on our societies vision of body image, beauty and physicality. Celebrity hasn’t helped the cause. All I really know is what I perceive to be best for me. I can help others through education, empathy, compassionate vision and offering constructive choices towards environmentally wise and physically healthy options available to us.

Choice. Circumstance. Environment. Education.

We all have our own battles in this life. We here in North America are blessed to have so many viable and healthful options. Travel to a third world country, and you will see how truly privileged we are. Clean water. Fresh air. Food in abundance.

I invite you to share your breath, compassion, education, inspiration, and motivation to each and every person, regardless of age, race, size or deemed physical stature. We are all one family. We all deserve the best in life. We are all human. And most of all, we all deserve many chances to learn and grow.

Good luck in your life ventures. I wish for you much success in making our world a better place, one breath at a time.

The best doctors anywhere!

The sun is shIning brightly and the temperature is just so perfect. Wanting to make the most of this postcard perfect day, I went for a gorgeous speed walk this morning, feeling alive, vibrant, happy and healthy. What’s the recipe to health and happiness you might ask?? Well here’s part of the answer for me, as quoted from a nursery rhyme written by Wayne Fields.

sun & sky on Canada Day

What the River Knows, 1990
The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.

Sunscreen: to use or not to use??

sunscreenI truly believe that sunscreen can be potentially good and a necessary accessory when I’m out for long jaunts in the sun, where a ball-cap and clothing fails to protect my barren white legs and wrinkle-prone face (think summertime at the beach). Skin cancer is a very real phenomenon, one which I dare not risk, especially having very freckled facial skin. I personally use an organic sunscreen made by Badger with just Zinc. I’m still up-in-the-air about using Titanium dioxide in a sunscreen, as it’s not known as of yet whether this could cause potential health problems. As stated on the Wiki website: “The safety of the use of nano-particle sized Titanium Dioxide, which can penetrate the body and reach internal organs, has been criticized.[36] Studies have also found that titanium dioxide nanoparticles cause genetic damage in mice, suggesting that humans may be at risk of cancer or genetic disorders resulting from exposure”  Nano-technology and nanoparticles could be a new incubus in itself! Technology may truly be our downfall, in the end. But I’d rather use a sunscreen that is mineral rather than chemical based. The question is, how does one know of it’s origins, unless the product is specifically labelled?

I find it difficult to unearth and believe research online that is factual, informative and above all truthful. How do I know that what I’m reading about is in fact trustworthy and not biased by the ever-motivating profit margin and vested interests of the author / company?  In the end, it comes down to being fully responsible for my own health, through education, cross-referencing ‘facts’ and continually learning, learning, and re- learning. The internet is marvellous for that. Having said that, I preface the below article as information to not necessarily take my word for (or Dr Mercola’s), but rather a start to your own investigation. I would love to hear your feedback and opinions on the subject, and any subsequent relevant fact-finding that you might do, on sunscreens and body care products.

Below is a lengthy excerpt from an article from the Dr. Mercola’s website. I don’t necessarily promote the Doctor’s views (which I find at times seem to be over-exaggerated and biased), beliefs, website or products, but I do find the article interesting.

It’s Time to Expose the Sunscreen Smokescreen!

I’m talking hundreds of sunscreens that I believe are toxic because they contain man-made chemicals … chemicals I believe can cause serious health problems and increase your risk of disease. Here’s why.

The main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out ultraviolet B light is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses.  Plus, it was also shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. And guess what?

OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!

But that’s not the half of it. A common ultraviolet A filter, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, has also demonstrated toxic properties.

Furthermore, several studies show that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream. Not good. So…

If Your Sunscreen Contains Any of These Chemicals That I Consider Dangerous and Potentially Life Threatening, Do Yourself a BIG Favor…

Dump it in the trash now .

Yes, that’s right. Toss your sunscreen in the trash if it contains any of these questionable chemicals:

Toss your sunscreen in the trash if it contains any of these chemicals I consider to be potentially harmful.

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene

[ And two more which I might add]

  • Octinoxate or octyl metghoxycinnamate
  • Octisalate

Potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone (two chemicals I just mentioned) are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man!

And a note to moms … You are undoubtedly very conscientious about caring for your children.  But when you lather up your son or daughter with sunscreen thinking you’re doing the right thing, you could in fact be doing more harm than good.

So check the labels on your sunscreen, and throw them out if they contain any of the potentially dangerous chemicals named above.  After all, your skin is your largest organ, as your child’s skin is theirs.

Essential Oils and Herbs, in all their glory

That which exists in Nature will save us. All the high tech gadgetry and artificial replications of Nature’s tools will never replace what can be found living in our own backyards. Here’s a perfect example about the herb Thyme, as published in the UK Daily Mail:

Scientists have found that the common cooking herb, thyme, could be a miracle cure for the deadly MRSA bug.

Researchers at the University of Brighton, East Sussex, discovered that oils extracted from the plant can kill the bug – linked to at least 8,000 deaths each year – within two hours.

An extract from thyme has been found to kill MRSA in two hours

They hope the findings, published in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics, will be the first step in developing a new treatment to stop the spread of MRSA.

The infection is rampant in many hospitals and resistant to antibiotics.

Herbs: Natures true wonder drugs.

Organization 101 – – a start

declutter houseI’m starting to get into that mode of de-cluttering. Or at least think about it. But where to start? Starting the task of clearing out the ‘stuff’ is always the most difficult part of the challenge, for me. Because there’s always SO much to do. But once I get into that mindset, that mode, the task becomes easier.
Here’s some tips on starting in the bedroom with your closet. One of my own personal tips (adopted from my husband) is to roll all my clothes, when they’re not hanging up. Allows for much more storage and I can then also see everything when they’re not stacked, but rolled instead.

Starting with the closet —

7 Tips For a More Organized Master Closet

1. Keep all clothing and shoes off the floor

2. Keep the floor clear easy to clean

3. If you don’t have built in shoe cubbies and you have extra pole space, use hanging bags for shoes

4. If you need more drawer storage and you have the extra pole space, use hanging shelves for jeans, sweats and other bulky items

5. Use space bags or plastic bins on the top shelf for off-season clothes

6. Remove lids from hampers so clothes actually go into the hamper instead of getting stacked on top

7. Separate and organize clothing items by the way you determine what to wear in the morning. Variations include dividing by color, occasion or warmth.

Moving into the kitchen —

5 Tips For an Organized Kitchen
1. Keep all papers off of kitchen countertop

2. Create zones for each type of activity ie prep, store, cook, bake

3. Keep tools for each activity within reach of that zone

4. Use large lazysusans for deep, hard to reach cupboards

5. Use stacker shelves to keep track of canned good inventory

Now the question is, can she come and help us organize our Airstream, with all the curved cupboard space and limited allotment for weight storage. Time to start thinking about cut, cut, cutting back. That’s HUGE for me. The sacrifices one must make to live the dream :). I’m ready for the challenge! Now I need to find me one of those container stores.