By now, most all of us have seen this image of NYPD officer, Lawrence DePrimo, helping a homeless man put on the socks and boots he just purchased for the man. There is nothing I can blog about this morning that says more about finding inner peace, than this story. With so much despair in the world, we often feel that there is nothing we can do to change things. This is so far from the truth. I believe we ALL have the means to do something wonderful for someone else, which will always come back to YOU. As we move from the celebration of giving thanks, into the season of celebrating miracles, remember that it really is better to give than to receive….because when you do give, you receive the gift of humility and peace and those most special gifts, cannot be purchased in any store. If, like Mitch and I, you get bombarded with fund-raising solicitations, keep this quote in mind..it is EXACTLY what Officer DePrimo was thinking this week:
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”
Great article by Kevin Gray in this month’s issue of Men’s Journal. Titled Going Vegan in the NFL, Gray writes about the dietary changes made by players such as former Miami Dolphin running back, Ricky Williams, Atlanta Falcons tight end, Tony Gonzalez and more recently, Houston Texans running back, Arian Foster. Williams, who also was a big advocate of yoga, switched to a vegetarian diet in 2005 simply because he felt strongly that it was a healthier way to eat. Despite the drama that surrounded his career, he managed to carry the ball 1,121 yards in 2009 saying that his vegetarian diet “changed my game, and it changed my body…I had tons of energy.” Gonzalez follows the 80/20 plan, 80% plant-based, 20% fish and chicken, claiming the main reason for the fish and chicken is because he needed more calories than he could get on a 100% plant-based plan. Remember, these guys need to consume upwards of 6,000 calories a day to sustain the energy needed for their jobs! Gonzalez says he eats the way he does to because the kind of beating his body takes need the optimal nutrition to repair. NFL nutritionist, Mitzi Dulan, helped Gonzalez, who first tried an entirely vegan plan five years ago after reading The China Study, but then added back the small portions of fish and chicken, says that turning meat into much harder than turning grains and plants into energy. “Taking that fat and that density, it’s a lot more work. It makes your blood acidic and your body has to work to get your body in pH balance again.” While on a 100% plant-based diet, Gonzalez lost some pounds he didn’t need to carry, and felt the best he had ever felt in his career as far as energy and endurance, but did notice he was hitting the weights as well and needed a little more bulk for his position, hence adding in the small portions of fish and chicken. Gonzalez credits his best performance to his diet. He is quoted as saying “I have more energy, better focus and more endurance. I don’t get tired, I hardly every come out of the game and I’m strong as ever.”
As for Texan’s Foster, he finds the attention to his being a vegan distracting so he doesn’t talk much about it. (He says it’s not a cult thing, and according to some reports he may even make some exceptions–) He simply tells the press that he didn’t feel good when he ate big meals with meat. At 25 he had been cutting meat out of his diet for about six months before going to a plant-based diet. He is having his best season ever picking up more yards on the field than nearly any other player in the league! Though my heart belongs to the Miami Dolphins, I can easily see those Texans in the Super Bowl and clearly give credit to Foster for his contribution to his team who I believe have only lost 1 game this season, winning the other 10!
Many have questioned my heavy lean into a plant-based diet, given that I workout for a living. Not only do I feel physically great, but mentally and spiritually as well. If it’s good enough for these guys, it’s definitely good enough for me…and on this Vegan (feast) Thursday, I hope YOU will consider a meatless meal…or even a meatless day! It is clearly a win/win/win situation. If the way you are eating is working for you, that’s great…but if you don’t feel your best, if your energy isn’t where it could be, if your all important numbers (cholesterol, sugar, weight, BP) aren’t where you (or your doctor) would like them to be, get a hold of The China Study. Read it and decide for yourself…What we eat is completely and totally intertwined with how we feel. Of this I am certain!
Apparently exercise really is one thing we can do every day to improve our physical AND mental capacity. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh performed brain scans on more than 600 people in their early 70s and found that those who exercised didn’t suffer nearly as much age-related brain shrinkage and other mental decay as those who did little to no physical activity. According to this same study completing a puzzle, learning a new language and meeting new friends did nothing to prevent shrinkage (though I have to imaging those things are still really good for us). Researchers also found that exercisers had more gray matter—the area of the brain primarily responsible for muscle control, memory and emotions. Seems exercise might be the very thing we need to do every day in order to improve our physical AND mental capacity! Needless to say, I am a big buy in BUT I think of how much my mom exercised and wonder why she developed Alzheimer’s so, though I love the results of this study, I am personally cautiously optimistic. It remains to be seen, but I’ll keep at it forever!
So what exactly IS a biostat and how do you adjust yours? According to Deepak Chopra, we can help stall or reverse the aging process, memory decline and even most cases of Alzheimer’s disease by doing a few simple things. One is a very, very simple daily meditation. Sitting tall, close your eyes and set your biostat. That is a number that reflects the age you would like to FEEL (not to go back and do it all over again, just an age you would like to feel). He says you picture setting it just like you would a thermostat. Then, say (to yourself or aloud) the following: Every day, in every way, I will increase my mental and physical capacity. Then say to yourself: I am (__) saying the number (your biostat) that you picked. Repeat 5 times daily.
Since meditation is so good for us, and this one is so simple, I have been doing it daily (though probably not 5 times). If nothing else it does make me think about ways that I can be increasing my physical and mental capacity each and every day! Chopra also suggests that we need to keep learning new things and keep trying things a little differently (aka if your a righty, use your left hand to brush your teeth or hair).
We exfoliate our skin, sloughing off the dead stuff, and letting new skin come to the surface. Brain cells die off, too, but we need to do the kinds of things that make new brain cells replace them. As Tom Petty once said “I don’t know but I’ve been told, you never slow down, you never grow old.” I get it now, Tom.
Whenever a holiday or special occasion has found me bloated and overstuffed, I always turn to a big pot of vegetable soup to help me get back to my “normal.” Yesterday, with assorted veggies left in the house from Thanksgiving, I sauteed up some chopped onions, celery and leeks (just the white part—then I planted the bottom of the leek and bet it will grow just like the scallions!) and then added about 2 cups of vegetable broth and about 4 cups of water. In the pot I threw some chunk-ed up carrots, string beans and more celery, along with some ground pepper and let cook for about 30 minutes. Then I added a rinsed can of northern beans, some corn cut off cob** (already cooked from Thursday) and shredded spinach leaves. I had a bowl at lunch with a salad and at dinner with another salad and some grilled tofu. Filling, nutritional, low in calories and high in fiber and water content, this morning I already feel much less “fluffy.” Today, along with a good amount of protein, I will have the soup with lunch and again with dinner. By tomorrow I should be done paying for all that stuffing, those delicious desserts and the martinis! Well worth it. Chicken soup might be good for some people’s souls, but I’ll take the veggie version, thank you.
**Since corn is a pretty starchy vegetable, I just added a little for color and because I really didn’t want to throw it out! Obviously, YOU can add whatever veggies you like, but remember if you are adding potatoes or corn, make it a small amount and if you are using broth, go easy—the sodium will work against you!
What a great time we had Saturday seeing Kyle and Nicole and meeting Nicole’s dad and mom, Gary and LeeAnn. We had a great time and can’t wait till we get to do it again!
This week was all about expressing gratitude, and we did take a few minutes before eating on Thursday to go around and each express what we were grateful for. People hate being put on the spot, I know…but I really believe encouraging people to open up about what they are grateful for, makes them feel happier. I hope it worked!
It was a super busy week working, shopping, cooking, baking, hosting, cleaning and of course eating and drinking! Yesterday was my day to REST and eat leftovers and I did a lot of both. Since I don’t eat turkey, I couldn’t be more carbed out– so today, I am totally looking forward to a good morning workout. Then Mitch and I have still more to be grateful for as we get to see Kyle and Nicole and meet Nicole’s family! Very excited!!!
Meanwhile, out in the garden, the herbs, lettuce and tomato seeds I planted last month are growing nicely, but I have to admit, it is the “recycled” scallion tips that are not only growing like crazy, but still just an awesome science experience to me. Teachers, parents with kids of all ages and anyone that thinks they don’t have a green thumb need to try the scallion gardens. Once again, just use your store bought scallions as you would and then take the little end that is left and stick in some dirt. Add water and in just a few weeks you will end up with these…(I have a lot of them, just couldn’t fit them in the pic)
If, like me (and most everyone) you over indulged, get up and get those muscles moving. It will be good for your body and your head. One thing we know now for sure is that the body and brain cannot be disconnected from one another! It is just not possible. Thank you, Dr. Chopra, for reminding me of how deep that connection is. And more about that next week! Until then, enjoy your weekend.
Yesterday I got to talk to my sister, Arlene early in the morning, Kyle and Nicole a little later in the morning and then Derek and Jolene. Everyone sounded great and so my Thanksgiving was already filled with joy and gratitude. That was before the family and friends came and the joy and gratitude just continued on from there. This morning my belly and heart are full. The only thing that could make me any more content, is knowing your bellies and hearts are full, too!
Mitch and I will be taking today as a rest day. No shopping for us. No working or working out for me, today…but I will be back at the gym tomorrow for 9:30 cardio combo and if you are going to join me we will try to work off a bunch of calories. Then I am off to prove to a certain someone that I do know how to eat and drink!!!! She knows who she is and says seeing is believing. Can’t wait to break bread (or french fries and drinks) with her and try keeping up with the Jones’…More about that, next week….
Whether shopping, working, resting or working off your stuffing, make it a great Black Friday.
Along with all the food and drink, along with family and friends, along with the infamous Publix “lilgrims” sits this poem on our Thanksgiving table…though I posted it last year, it is always worth a read. In fact, when we take it off the table, we just move it somewhere else in the house because every day there is so much to be thankful for. Though Derek and Jolene will be having a Californian Thanksgiving and Kyle and Nicole will be having a Jensen Beach Thanksgiving, we are thankful they are with loved ones and wish them all a wonderful holiday…and are thankful for the family and friends we will have at our home today. Did most of the baking yesterday, (chocolate chip cookie dough truffles, peanut butter banana bread, pumpkin oatmeal raisin sugar cookies, and a cornbread to go into the stuffing) so now it is time to clean the turkey (yes, we always grill a big one along with a couple of oven cooked Tofurkey — it is, after all, all about choice and aren’t we always lucky to have a choice?) and get it going, and start prepping all the other sides. Wherever you are, who ever you share this day with, I wish you more than enough…Not sure who authored this poem, but it sure says it all….much love and gratitude, today and every day!
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations, Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge, Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes, They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, Because it means you’ve made an effort.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they will become your blessings.