Commitment Therapy / 7 Posts in 7 Days

Today brings my week-long blog writing challenge to a close. I’m feeling pretty groovy: proud that I accomplished what I set out to do and grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the MBP community.

butterfly lens flare - MindBodyPlate

When I started, I made the disclaimer that the posts “probably won’t all be home runs, but they will get written.” And yet I’m delighted to report that I truly poured my heart and soul into every single post and was proud to hit the publish button each time.

We talked about a lot this week:

A little mental health, a little physical health, and a little nutritional health: mind, body, plate.

There were days when I worried that I had nothing to write about. Then, usually over an almond milk iced latte at  my neighborhood coffee shop, I’d come up with a hook, with a little seed of a thought. And to my surprise, those seeds never failed to bloom into fully realized conversations.

Regardless of the quality of the work, what surprised me most about this process was the incredible energy I felt in response to carrying out a commitment. To say you’re going to do something and then actually decide to do it creates a kind of power inside of you, a kind of secret pride that actually makes more space for possibility, not less.

It’s addictive, in a way; perhaps commitment begets more commitment. For instance, five days ago, my husband and I began a new regimen of early morning runs. We’ve been up at 6:20 AM every single day, just making it happen. And now that this week-long challenge is finished, I’m wondering what new area of my life could use a little commitment therapy, as it were.

What area of your life could use a little commitment therapy? What’s the difference between saying you’re going to do something and then actually doing it? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for a wonderful week!

Advertisements

Balancing Omega-3 & Omega-6

We hear again and again about the benefits of essential fatty acids in the diet, particularly omega-3s. But what’s the difference between omega-3 and omega-6? If you prefer visual learning like me, you’ll love this explanatory info-graphic, which I based on an article by Andrew Weil, M.D. with complimentary research from The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington, DC. omega-3 omega-6 balance infographic - MindBodyPlateCheck out the two pie charts at the bottom: the left is what our Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio should look like (1/1), and the right shows a fairly generous average ratio for a Western diet (15/1). Yikes! We’re pretty far off, and yet it’s so important that we strive to lower that ratio. In their academic article, The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, Simopoulos explains that a lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio is effective in “reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases of high prevalence in Western societies, as well as in the developing countries, that are being exported to the rest of the world.” In particular:

  • “In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality.”
  • “A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer.”
  • “The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk.”
  • “A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”
  • “A ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma.”

The clinical benefits of increased omega-3 can also be seen in:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Brain Trauma
  • Chronic Pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skin Disorders
  • Fertility
  • Fat Loss

Because the western diet is overflowing with omega-6 fatty acids, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is simple: just eat more omega-3s. Eat more salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish. Or buy a high-quality fish or krill oil (mine is a liquid that is extra purified for safety and tastes like lemon). Vegetarian sources such as flax seeds and walnuts are wonderful too, just remember the body has to go through the extra step of converting them to EPA and DHA (the two critical kinds of omega-3s). How much is enough? Well, in a lecture I attended by Dr. Barry Sears, he gave the following guidelines:

  • Everyone would benefit from: 2-2.5 g (2,000-2,500 mg) per day
  • For those suffering from obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease: 5 g (5,000 mg) per day
  • For those battling cancer and chronic pain: 7.5 g (7,500 mg) per day
  • For those with neurological disease: >10 g (at least 10,000 mg) per day

Ideally, one would consume a fish oil or omega-3 supplement in conjunction with anti-inflammatory meals, moderate exercise, and stress reduction techniques. As always, remember that I am not a medical professional nor a registered dietitian. Please consult your physician before making any abrupt changes to your diet. References: Simopoulos, AP (2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 56(8), 365-79. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909

MBP Daily Three: Baby It’s Cold Outside

MBP3 IS A SERIES DEDICATED TO WALKING THE WALK. WHAT ARE 3 THINGS YOU’VE DONE TODAY TO NOURISH YOUR MIND, YOUR BODY, & YOUR PLATE?

snowy nyc cab

Body: Despite icy New York City streets and 10 degree weather, I managed to tackle two yoga classes yesterday. The first, my usual Thursday morning vinyasa class, is one of the most challenging classes I take all week. When I started attending well over a year ago, I used to joke with my husband that “it wasn’t a Thursday morning if I didn’t fall on my face!” Well, I have to say, I’m pretty proud that I now have the stamina not only to protect my pout, but to go back for more. Mind you, my second class was a restorative one, but still… I’m happy that I didn’t shy away from added activity, especially when this wintry weather makes it so difficult to stay outgoing and uplifted.

Mind: Speaking of staying uplifted, I made the executive decision not to spend my free day cooped up home alone re-watching old episodes of Law and Order SVU (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, I decided to stay cooped up in Brooklyn, along with my dear friend and her beautiful new baby girl. Often when I’m exhausted, my natural tendency is to isolate myself, which seems right in the moment but leaves me feeling a bit depressed in the long term. Sometimes I have to push myself to be more social even if it’s not my first instinct, because I know in the end it will leave me feeling more stimulated, uplifted, and inspired. Plus, I had the added benefit of knowing I brightened someone else’s day! After all, it’s not easy to be a new mom stuck at home in the dead of winter.

mother and baby

Plate: The bountiful salad I had for lunch filled me so substantially that I was able to eat a relatively light dinner (1/3 c baked butternut squash, a handful of carrots, and 3 Tbsp hummus) and feel completely satisfied. Making breakfast or lunch your biggest meal of the day is not always easy, especially in our siesta-less American culture. But it is important: not only do our bodies utilize caloric energy most efficiently before 3 PM, but we also tend to sleep better when we’re not overly stuffed. In my mind, these are reasons enough to start “front-loading” your day.

An early 17th century family supper. Image via www.historiccookingschool.com

An early 17th century family supper. Image via http://www.historiccookingschool.com

Here’s a fun fact: the word supper comes from the word for soup, because from the Middle Ages until the 18th century, the last meal of the day was typically a light snack, like a bowl of soup, perhaps sopped up with bread. The middle meal was traditionally the largest and main meal of the day and was called… wait for it… dinner!

Yesterday turned out to be rich and rewarding despite freezing weather, but today is a new day calling for a new MBP Daily Three. What will you do today to nourish your mind, your body, and your plate?

MBP Daily Three

MBP3 is a series dedicated to walking the walk. What are 3 things you’ve done today to nourish your mind, your body, & your plate?

MBP Daily Three

Welcome to the inaugural post for MindBodyPlate’s new weekly series: the MBP Daily Three! The MBP Daily Three strategy is simple: do at least one thing every day to nourish your mental health, physical health, and nutritional health. I’ll be using these posts as way to ensure that I’m not just talking the talk (blogging the blog?), but also walking the walk.

Once a week I’ll let you in on an example of my attempts to integrate the MBP Daily Three, shedding light on my successes, challenges, and the surprising interplay between these three aspects of health. I hope to inspire you to do the same for yourself and to share your creative approaches in the comment sections below each post. Let’s start a revolution of self-care!

MBP Daily Three

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Body: I started the day off with my favorite Thursday morning yoga class. What I love about Marko’s 90 minute Vinyasa flow is that I’m guaranteed an intense workout, but he also incorporates yoga philosophy, stories from the Bhagavad Gita, and chanting accompanied by his beautiful harmonium. I always leave feeling exhausted yet uplifted. Already, we’re seeing that one act (yoga, for instance) can benefit more than one aspect of the MBP Daily Three (in this case, body AND mind).

Plate: For lunch, I was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows, to create my own ultimate vegan sandwich. My version was unique to what I had around the house, and I decided to do something special for my body by making my own hummus. Oftentimes, store bought hummus contains preservatives or oils that don’t really jive with me. When you make it at home, you know just exactly what went into it – and it’s super easy!

Pickled Jalapeno Hummus

Pickled Jalapeño Hummus

Vegan / Gluten Free / Soy Free

For my homemade hummus, I just tossed the following into my Vitamix:

    • 1 can garbanzo beans
    • 1/4 c tahini
    • 1/4 c – 3/4 c water*
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 15 pieces of pickled jalapeño**
    • Juice of 1 small lemon
    • salt and pepper to taste

*I used 3/4 c water so it would blend smoothly in my Vitamix, which made it pretty thin. I’d go with less water if you’re making it in your food processor and/or you want it on the thick side. Either way, it’s delicious.

**You could use anything here in place of the pickled jalapeños. Experiment with whatever flavors float your boat: roasted garlic, chives, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers…

Mind: By 11 PM my head was still buzzing, so I set my iPhone Insight Timer for 15 minutes and sat down for a formal meditation practice. Afterward, I decided to refrain from checking my email or Facebook before bed. It helped me center down and set me up for a great night of sleep.

What do you think – are you up for the MBP Daily Three challenge? Let me know in the comments below!