7 Simple Choices you can make daily for yourself & for the planet

Let me first begin by saying that this blog is based on my research as a consumer. I am by no means an expert but I sure am someone who likes to make choices which are healthy for the body and considers the impact on the environment at large. My journey into being a conscious consumer was driven by my commitment to my personal health and my desire to understand the impacts of my everyday choices on the environment we live in.

Here are 7 choices I try and make almost every time I shop for myself:

  1. Eat more real, whole, organic foods – While some people think that organic farming is nothing but a marketing gimmick to charge high prices, I follow what my senses tell me. When I smell a bunch of organic cilantro it seems divinely aromatic versus a conventional one which doesn’t seem to smell as strong. My father was recently visiting from India and oatmeal happens to be his breakfast of choice. For the first 10 days he was eating the Organic Rolled Oats I bought from Whole Foods and when we needed to replenish he decided to buy the conventional variety. The next 2 days he ate the conventional oats and told me that he experienced a difference in taste between the organic vs the conventional one. From the environmental perspective, it makes sense to me to reduce the usage of chemical based farming products which may increase the yield in the short term but cost us the quality of the soil in the long run.
7 Simple Choices you can make daily for yourself & for the planet

2. Buy garments made mostly of natural fibres i.e. cotton, wool, linen etc. – Not many of us look at the composition of our garments and we perhaps no longer know what are natural versus synthetic fibres. Until now what I simply knew was that natural fibres help your body breathe better which is something all women who wear cotton panties understand very well 🙂 I did not know until this Sunday when I watched Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act on Fast Fashion that materials like nylon, polyester, acrylic and spandex are developed using natural gas or oil.

3. Reduce your consumption of animal products – In all the arguments made for animal protein, the one that I chose to listen to was that if you follow the food chain, the animals we eat are mostly herbivores who eat plants themselves, so , why not cut out the secondary digestive system processing of another organism and get to the greens directly? Aside from food, we also use animal products in clothing/furniture/cosmetics which can easily be avoided for more sustainable substitutes. Considering that 24 % of the global green house gas emissions come from the Agriculture sector (read about Methane release from cows if you haven’t yet), if we all consumed 10-20 % lesser animal products daily, it might just help our future. Watch The Game Changers on Netflix to find out why many world class athletes switched to plant based diets.

4. Source local when possible- I would think that this is true for all products we consume however we may not be able to source all products locally. In our quest for ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’, we have perhaps created a global disparity where the more populous and poor countries end up becoming manufacturing hubs without much regard to any fair trade practices in terms of wages, working conditions or dumping or waste into their oceans/air (which is ultimately the one single earth we have) . When you can buy local, you can not only honor the local economy but you would also be on an alert for any waste being dumped in your neighborhood. In my humble opinion , small and local is always better from the long term perspective. Personally, I do try and look for produce which is local but being in the northern hemisphere, I do have challenges around winter when there isn’t much local produce that I can buy. Just, do your best and be more mindful.

5. Use as less plastic as possible- find out what is recyclable and what’s not- I don’t think we have any idea of how much plastic exists in our lives in the form of carry bags, storage containers, shipping materials, water bottles, disposable cutlery etc. While we can remain ignorant in the short term, we can’t do so in the long run. Here is a link I found useful which is local to US to find out which plastics are recyclable and which will end up in oceans/landfills.

By the same token, I also avoid products that contain synthetic fragrances (parfum) since they are usually made of undisclosed chemicals. Thanks to my sensitive olfactory system, I can easily detect when I am in the presence of a synthetic fragrance in the form of scents/air fresheners/cleaning products/shampoos/conditioners etc. Often times we think of air pollution as something gray, dark, heavy and smokey where you can’t breathe easily, the irony of synthetic fragrance is that it momentarily makes you feel good but our bodies work a lot harder to process these foreign substances. Hopefully we all know that the Beauty industry has been taking advantage of how highly unregulated it is. For more on fragrances, check out Stink on Netflix.

6. Walk/bike/use public transportation more to get to your destination when possible – This bullet point here perhaps needs the least ‘push’ of all since we do understand the perils of breathing in highly unhealthy air quality. I do understand that not all cities have great public transport , in which case we can try and carpool often.

7.Follow circadian rhythms- Anyone wondering what this is? It is as simple as following the day/night signals set by nature. This is not only healthy in the long term for our bodies but would also lead to lesser consumption of energy if more of us tried to sleep/wind down around sunset and wake up close to sunrise. We try and instill this habit in our children but it definitely get difficult as we start ‘adulting’. In this age of gadgets, we could surely try and switch off as many gadgets as possible with sunset and reuse them in the morning. This may also prove to be useful for our real family time 🙂

Hope you find this info useful!

Would you like to share how you make practical life choices to co-exist with all other life on the planet?

7 Simple habits that have helped me stay fit

Over the years I have developed some habits which have helped me stay fit and I thought I would share those with you. Aside from helping me lose unwanted body weight and then sustain it, these habits have led to reducing the inflammation I experienced in my body earlier as tightness in upper back, bloating , acne, occasional headaches and PMS symptoms.

Many of these habits appear to be very basic and simple but my journey so far has been marked by sifting through the complex and reaching back to the basics. Many of these basics can be found in Ayurveda which is the ancient Indian science of longevity. Basics always work!

  • Getting good sleep– The past 4-5 years, I have averaged 8-9 hours of sleep per day. Prior to that I would get anywhere between 5-7 and I would actually feel like I am missing out on ‘doing’ something if I slept longer.  I have observed that functioning close to the sunrise/sunset cycles makes total sense for the body/mind. Quite naturally I sleep less in summer and more in winter. I had to learn to turn off all bright screens at least a half hour prior to bed. I do have my days when I end up looking at my phone later than I would want but overall I think I have developed good sleep hygiene. I don’t work with a laptop in my bedroom and I also don’t have a TV in my bedroom.

 I try and get max rest during my periods just as nature intended it to be. In my experience, sleeping well has also helped stabilize my body weight.

  • Eating real food– My definition of real food is good quality ingredients. I eat fruits/nuts/oatmeal for breakfast and good amount of veggies and beans for lunch/dinner. I follow my hunger cues and eat only when am hungry. I try and eat my meals at the same time every day. Based on my personal experimentation I have found that my body does better with no dairy/eggs/meat. I eat seafood occasionally and l have reduced the intake of grains by half. The grains that I eat are Quinoa, Farro, Brown/Wild Rice. I used to be a daily 2 times a day white rice eater which is now perhaps 1-2 times a week. Good fats are important and I love my Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil and Sesame Oils. I was using Clarified Butter/Ghee but I have reduced it only to get more plant based products instead of animal based.

Processed food is kept to minimal in my kitchen. One major change was to meet the ‘something sweet’ cravings with natural sugar found in fruits/dates/figs/raisins etc. I do buy Indian sweets from a local confectionery when I feel like.

If 70% of fitness/health is based on what you eat then I would say atleast 50% of what you eat should be seasonal fresh produce. Absolutely fresh is a luxury in today’s world and therefore I do the best I can. I don’t believe in ‘cheat’ days because I am not depriving myself of anything and feel satiated.

  • Cooking at home – I live by myself and I cook at home 90% of the times. I have found many people say how difficult it is to cook only for one person. I have my lazy days too when I don’t want to cook but for the most part my body drives me to my own home cooked deliciousness. My cooking base is Indian style and I have altered my ways to only lightly saute my vegetables with a good fat, some garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon. I am learning to let the ingredient shine instead of masking it with different spice mixes.

When I travel once/twice a month I do end up eating out. I do my best to pick places/foods which are closest to what I have come to understand as clean/pure/real. I resort to fruits and salads when I can but it’s also important to be flexible. When the situation calls for eating a dairy/meat based item, I eat it without any guilt because I know that on the whole I am taking care of my food intake.

  • Exercise– In a week, I try and give myself 4 days of 35-40 minute exercise. I do anything from weights, pilates, yoga, running, dancing, walking, to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I think I am now in tune with my body’s energy and choose the type of workout based on those levels. Regular exercise has helped me avoid the PMS symptoms that many women experience. I have found that the intensity of those symptoms increases when I have not exercised regularly. During summers my body doesn’t want to do intense workouts and a simple walk in the woods is enough.
  • Meditation – I meditate everyday twice a day for 20 minutes for the last 5 years. The benefits are well known and I must say that meditation acts as a great system refresh because it helps reduce the cortisol levels in the body. I try and do this no matter where I am. There are times when I have missed my evening meditation but my morning meditation has been going steady so far.
  • Staying hydrated – For the past 12 years or so I have had a 12-16 oz glass of warm water with honey before I eat/drink anything else in the morning. Last couple of years I started adding a few drops of fresh lemon juice to this morning honey water. A mix of honey, lemon and cinnamon is an age old Indian tip to boost the body’s metabolism and lose weight.

I love drinking my 2 cups of chai everyday and I balance that out by making sure that I drink half my body weight in ounces in water. For example, a person who weighs 120 pounds would drink 60 oz water. Room temperature water has always been my go to as against cold/ice filled water.

  • Probiotic and Multivitamin supplements– I tried a couple of different probiotics and then found what works well for me. Two that I liked so far are Garden of Life Probiotics for women and Liquid Plant Based Probiotics by MaryRuth Organics. Probiotics helped me lose unwanted weight and also keeps my acne in check. Sauerkraut is something new I have added and like.

As for Multi-vitamins, this is a new add for me since I tried to stay away from the unknown ingredients and the capsule materials which I didn’t want to ingest. A couple of months ago I found Innate Response Formulas Plant based multi-vitamins and I have found those to be a good addition to my daily routine. I added multi vitamins after I learned that B-12 is difficult to get from any food source. Every so often I give my body a break from these too.

If I were to sum it up it would be- get the sleep you need, increase plant based content in your diet, stay hydrated and get moving, switch things up every once in a while & most important of all is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

Feel free to visit lifespa.com for Ayurveda related information and Medicalmedium.com for clean foods/supplements.

Best,

Pooja

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by anyone to endorse their products/services. All statements in here are my personal experience/opinion and should not be taken as advice.

7 Simple benefits of Meditation

I have tried different types of meditations i.e. focusing on breath, focusing on a point of light, five senses meditation and the one that I have been able to stick to on a daily basis is a vedic mantra based meditation taught by Deborah  King. From what I know even Transcendental Meditation uses the same format.

The following are benefits I have experienced from practicing this meditation everyday for 5 years now:

  1. I feel lighter- I lost some unwanted weight which I had gained from not eating right over a period of 2 years and it didn’t help that I had to undergo a heavy dose of antibiotics at that same time. I also feel lighter mentally and emotionally.
  2. A healthy sense of detachment – issues that would bother me earlier, now tend to slip away quicker from my mind. I don’t hold on to someone else’s opinion of me or what I should be doing with my life or not investing time and energy in things that do not align with me. I stay away from talking to people who I know bring nothing but drama in my life.
  3. A heightened sense of purpose – the best word I have for this is a sense of alignment to your true core. Another word for this is being in alignment with your Dharma.
  4. Creating a healthier lifestyle- Meditation is sort of a reset button which over a period of time provides you with an upgraded version of yourself. Up until last 3 years or so, I wouldn’t mind having beer/wine when I met friends and sometimes I would go and buy it for myself but in the last 2-3 years I have no desire for it. I may have had 1-2 glasses of wine on New Year’s and that’s just it. It doesn’t feel like control, there’s just no desire. Your body also tunes into healthy foods and eating/exercising. I am no longer attracted to Starbucks Coffee and Lattes which I was almost addicted to!
  5. Sharper intuition- This is one of my favorite things to have developed. It’s a deep sense of knowing. It’s instant. It’s knowing things like when a cop is around you but you cannot see him/her or just taking a turn which helped you avoid an accident. It’s also a sharper sense of knowing when one of your friends needs to talk to you.  This sense also helps you attract the  authors/workshops etc..things that are in alignment with you, including people. And yes, I have also found that the relationships that fade away are also for good.
  6. Looking younger- with all the research that is now available on the physiological benefits of meditation, looking younger is a nice side effectreflective-bench-lake .You look younger because meditation helps your body de-stress much deeper at a cellular level.
  7. Maintaining calm in the middle of a storm- Over the years some people asked me how I could keep calm and see myself through the obstacles that I had, when I look back, in addition to the people who were supporting me, meditation was my true backbone that kept me still. It has kept me from entering a state of clinical depression/anxiety. Also, for those who are curious, check out research on how Meditation works on the HPA axis in our body. I read about it in Bruce Lipton’s book titled ‘Biology of Belief’.

In today’s high tech stressful world where we co-exist with thousands of invisible electromagnetic fields, meditation helps fortify our own energy field! It’s the recharge we need which is easily available to us.

7 Simple ways for healthy coping

Whenever you feel stressed out/off center, it is always better to address it quickly rather than to prolong it. Train yourself to be more in tune with yourself  to recognize any signs of stress. Why accumulate anything that doesn’t help. Right? Am sure we all know these ways of coping but a reminder never hurts and there’s some value in seeing it all in one place.

finn-from-maine-dan-lamberts-puppy

Find your way out of stress. (Winter storm Niko-Feb 2017)

  1. Exercise – Any form of exercise for 20-30 minutes will help you kick in those endorphins!
  2. Spend time in nature – Walk in the woods or sit by a lake/ocean. Use an app for sounds of nature ONLY IF there is no option for you to go outside.
  3. Talk to a friend who won’t judge you- I am sure you have at least one such person in your life. Please remember that texting cannot be the same as picking up the phone and talking or meeting someone in person. You can also talk to your furry friend.
  4. Prayer/Meditation- Connect with something higher than you and release your worries
  5. Watching videos which make you laugh/smile. Ex: Cute pups/kittens/comedy shows
  6. Art- Don’t worry if you aren’t a painter, just splash some colors or dance freestyle connecting to the music
  7. Journaling- This can be a notebook or even a video/audio journal. Two things I did as a kid and at times even now – Speaking to the trees around me and having a dialogue with myself as if someone was interviewing me.It works for me!

Find out what works for you and USE IT!

 

7 simple rules to practice self-love

Since we are still in the ‘Love’ month of February I wanted to share these 7 simple rules to show some love to our ‘Self’. After all, we can only share what we have.

img_1017

Practicing Self Love

  1. Wear an outfit that makes you smile and or wear make-up that makes you smile J
  2. Eat well- Recognize the foods/drinks which make you go off balance.
  3. Make time for what makes you happy.
    • This could be prayer/meditation/ time with nature/me time. Me time could also be time for painting, journaling, dancing etc.
  4. Get your body some exercise – experiment with dancercise, rock climbing, hiking, biking and find out which form of exercise you actually look forward to.
  5. Allow yourself time to not ‘do’ anything and just be. This can be for 5 minutes or 15 minutes depending on how long you can give yourself. If not doing anything drives you nuts then simply curl up in your bed and take a nap or get a nice bubble bath.
  6. Pay attention to how many hours of sleep is ideal for you. You would know this by the fact that you don’t need an alarm to jolt you up in the morning.
  7. Set boundaries with people at work, with relatives, with friends etc. Start saying NO to those situations/people who drain you out. Respect your life enough to leave work on time most days where you feel like you have a life beyond work.

 

7 Simple Nutrition basics I follow

I must admit that it took me a couple of years to sensitize myself to these basics in U.S. where all the good and the bad is available at once in your local grocery store. These rules improved my physical and mental well -being by 70-80%. Hope this helps someone else who is searching for info.

  1. When buying processed foods if the nutrition label has ingredients that you can’t understand or relate to, your body can’t either. Ex: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Benzoate, Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
  2. If a nutrition label has more than 3 ingredients that you can’t pronounce, you can probably do without it.
  3. Eat whole foods instead of the market ready processed alternatives. Ex: Eat whole oranges instead of Orange juice which perhaps doesn’t even have much nutrition value and instead has unwanted sugar in it.
  4. Avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, hydrogenated oils, bleached flour.
  5. Buy Cooking Oils that are packed in Glass jars instead of plastic. You don’t want the plastic by product in your oils..do you?
  6. Eat good fat and avoid fat free is you can. Good fat doesn’t include fried foods..sorry peepsL It includes Grass Fed Ghee, Avocadoes, Olive oil, nuts etc. Fat free is good when you buy non organic milk since most toxins travel through fat into our blood. Fat is the most stable form of energy for our bodies.
  7. Corn and Soy are some of the favorite ingredients used by the processed food industry and are genetically modified more often than not. I avoid them as much as possible except for when I want to relish some tortilla chips every once in a while.

I have listed a few resources that I found helpful on the resources page.

My best to you,

Pooja

7 simple ways to enhance your Self Esteem

1)      Stop the harsh inner critic and make way for mistakes

  •  You do not need to be perfect for anybody. We let a lot of people influence our lives and believe it or not they become our inner voice. Sadly enough, not all of these are loving voices.

2)      Learn to say NO

  • Understand your emotional, physical and mental boundaries. Respect yourself enough to say NO to requests or assert your disagreement. People pleasing is one of the fastest ways to get into a vicious cycle of hurt, blame and burn out.

3)      ME time

Self love

Boston White Flower

  • Give yourself some time in a day/week where you engage in an activity that helps you recharge/rejuvenate. It could simply be an hour of listening to your favorite music, taking a walk, etc.

4)      Stay away from Toxic environments

  • You know it when a certain friend, relative does not mean well for you. Try and limit your time with such people and environments where you do not feel loved/respected.

5)      Reframing your criticisms

  • Find a way to reframe the critical remarks you subject yourself to into statements that are loving, affirmative and non-judgmental. For example: Criticism: I just cannot do anything right.  Counter this statement with a fact saying: This is not true since I was recently complimented at work for my presentation. Reframe: I am generally good at work and just need to improve on my report making skills.

6)      What’s in your goodie bag?

  • As you spend time collecting all the negative remarks, make an effort to identify atleast 3 good things to counter one negative remark. Any and all the compliments you have every received need to be respected. Learn to pat yourself when you have kept your calm during a stressful situation or kept your commitment towards ME time.

7) Enhance your inner dialogue using affirmations.

One of the easiest ways is to begin with using the stem ‘I am’ followed by any thing you wish to grow in yourself.Remember to repeat this as often as you can. No harm repeating the good stuff, right? We have enough of negatives coming our way and most of us aren’t kind to ourselves.

Ex: I am loved.

I am beautiful.

I am successful in achieving my goals.

I love my job.

The road to Loving and Respecting yourself begins with making room for understanding and accepting yourself with a kindness that you would extend to a friend or your child.

Happy Self Loving:)

Mind-Body connection: According to Energy Medicine, the third chakra  located in the solar plexus region governs self esteem issues, our comfort/discomfort with our personal power, choosing to blame or assume responsibility and move forward. It is yellow in color. The physical organs connected to the health of this chakra are liver, gall bladder, pancreas, diaphragm, spleen, stomach and kidneys.