Yoga and Verbal Behavior

I’m about to nerd out hard on you guys!

Basically, I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t had any time to cook, eat healthy, workout or anything for myself really. Which is fine, because this is the life I chose and it’s only for one more year. I can do it!

Ever since I moved to L.A. I’ve had a hard time relaxing. My mind is whirring a million miles a minute. I have too many places to go, too many things to do and it never ends. I have at least 3 “organizing” apps on my phone and computer with variations of my “to do list”, not counting my calendar!

All this is a new development. Until last year, I lived in a small, slow surfer town. I worked 8-4:30 Mon-Fri and had the rest of my life to myself. Not that I used my time wisely. But I could have if I wanted to. In Santa Cruz my yoga practice began, grew and flourished. I finally learned what it was like to “be in the moment”, forgetting time while you breathe and move. Repetitive movements and rhythmic breathing can lift you up and let your heart sing.

Until it can’t. And you can’t. And your mind is stuck in a loop. You want to relax, but you can’t stop thinking about everything you have to do! Ever! No matter how hard you work out or how hard you zen, you just can’t get to that moment.

Every time I try to practice yoga, my mind gets into a flurry and I can’t stop thinking of how I’m supposed to be relaxing. Then I feel like a failure for not relaxing right! As if I need that stress, right? At this point even thinking about practicing is aversive for me because I know I just won’t be able to do it.
Then I did something brave. I emailed a professor about my problem (it tied into the last few weeks of class and she’s into yoga) and she wrote me back and totally helped me out!

She explained that in moving, starting a new job and a new school I’ve been training my brain to engage in more verbal behavior all the time. New places, tons of reading, new responsibilities and a LOT more driving! So of course it makes sense that now, when I try, I can’t put my inner monologue on hold. I’ve been training myself to do more, think more, notice more for the last year!

She gave me some good advice that I’ve been following and I think it’s going to help me get back to my practice. I’m forgetting about yoga, and practicing meditation. I put on some nature sounds, lay on the floor with my feet flat, hands on my stomach and breathe in and out, pushing my stomach in and out as much as I can with each breath. I have a saying I repeat (a mantra), it can be different each time or the same. I repeat it to myself while breathing. If I catch myself thinking about something else, I start counting. If I catch myself thinking about something else while counting, I switch back to my mantra. I set a timer for 5 minutes and that’s all I’ve been doing.

It’s the best advice anyone could have given me. I’m relaxing more, a little bit at a time. I’m retraining my brain to relax and stop engaging in constant inner verbal monologues. And since the time is so short, it’s super easy which makes me feel confident and successful! It’s a small victory but a victory nonetheless. A lesson that sometimes, when the task is too hard you need to cut back your expectations!

I will gradually increase my time, then bring yoga practice back into my life when I’m ready. I have to give myself time to shape my private verbal behavior back to where I need to be!

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Filed under behavior, Healthy Living, yoga

How do you find balance?

The past few weeks have been at best, stressful.  Long hours at work, working on my thesis and crazy long assignments for school!  Not to mention I’ve been having health problems again, I’m pretty sure its an ulcer so I have to go back to the doctor this week.

I’m exhausted all the time.  I have 4 days off a month which I spend cleaning, organizing, and working on homework if I have the energy.  If I don’t, I zone out on the couch watching TV for hours because sometimes my brain just needs to be off.  I’ve also been going out more, which results in me spending too much money, eating too much bad food and drinking which DOES NOT help the ulcer situation! And then the next day I’m hungover and worthless.  Then I get anxiety about how I’m wasting my day off and  I have so much stuff I need to be doing!

Which leads me to my question: How do you find balance?

Gymnast feet on beam.

Gymnast feet on beam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems like there are a lot of healthy happy people out there who have even more going on than me.  Moms who work full time and still have time for yoga and jogging and cooking healthy delicious meals. Girls who work the same job as me, are in the same school program and have time to go out at night while still being skinny and beautiful. People like that.  How do they do that?  I feel drained from the moment I wake up until when I creep into bed at night.  I miss my regular workout routine but don’t know how to squeeze it in. And now I’m at the point where, if I do have time, I just don’t want to work out 😦  I need to find a way to fit everything I want in my life and prioritize.  If on my own, my priorities would be cooking healthy meals and exercising regularly.  With work and school though, my priorities have to be finishing my schoolwork and making it to work.  (I can’t even have a sick day which has been pretty miserable).  I know I shouldn’t complain and I should just find ways to alter my behavior.  But I really don’t see how, if I work from 8-6 every day, then come home and do 3 hours of homework, I can fit a workout and cooking healthy dinner in my life. I’m losing it! How do I fit it all in?

If anyone has any helpful resources, tips or words of advice I’d love to hear it.  How do you balance your life between things you have to do and things you want to do?

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Miso Mushroom Butternut Soup

Sometimes I eat things that are not butternut soup. Most times, actually. I guess it’s just butternut madness time and I’m always sick so I always want soup. Also, it’s still 85 degrees here in October! So who doesn’t want a bowl of hot liquid for dinner?
This soup is so umami. I love it’s earthy hearty flavors that are paired so nicely with the sweetness of the squash. It is missing a little something, though.  I wish that I had onions and garlic to add to the mix to just kick up the flavor a bit.  Still, it’s a filling, healthy and quick dinner that will make you smile! It probably tastes better when it’s cold outside, but I wouldn’t know.

Like most things I make, especially soups, I didn’t actually measure anything I put in.  I just dumped it in a pot and let it boil.  I put in approximate measurements to the recipe so you have a clue where to begin, but keep in mind I made a GIANT batch!

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Miso Mushroom Butternut Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 box low sodium broth (I used trader joe’s vegetable but I think chicken might be better in the future)
  • 5 cups water
  • 10 large baby bella mushrooms, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 cup frozen kale
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • Garlic Powder and Old Bay seasoning to taste (or fresh garlic if you have it!)
  • 1/4 cup miso paste (I used low sodium red miso)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped

Mix ingredients except for green onions in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for 30 minutes, until mushrooms and squash are tender.  Put green onions into the mix at the end and continue to cook for another few minutes.  Serve piping hot as an appetizer or meatless main course!

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Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegetables

Curried Butternut Soup

Oh Butternuts!

I LOVE butternut squash, which is good, because other than zucchini, those are the only things that actually grew in my garden through the abominable heat wave of 2012 (aka summer in L.A.).

And grow they did.  I currently have 5 squash I already harvested, ranging from 1-3 lbs. I have at least 4 more in the garden that are becoming gargantuan as we speak! And I couldn’t be happier about it. But check back in with me in the winter.  It’s been too god awful hot to even think of roasting a squash, much less boiling a soup.  But I’ve been weirdly sick for a while now, and all I want to eat is CURRY and KIM CHI.  Sometimes together.  Usually not.  Are you judging me?

I’ve been a little intimidated by the pounds of squash just staring at me, waiting to be peeled, chopped, scooped and roasted.  So much work! So much responsibility!  Luckily I found this website with easy steps for peeling and cutting the squash, and it made my life so much easier! So, I’m about to embark on Butternut Madness 2012.  Usually I do Pumpkin Madness by picking up a few pumpkins, roasting and pureeing them, and then making as much deliciousness as I can!  I think this year, I’ll skip the pumpkin madness and stick with my butternuts.  A girl can only roast so much squash.

This recipe is adapted from an old family holiday favorite, from Gourmet magazine.  By “adapted” I mean, I’m lazy and don’t have leeks.  The original is to die for, so I suggest trying that one also!

This soup is hearty enough to fill you up, but low in fat and healthy too!  It’s perfect for a cool autumn day for lunch, or serve with salad and a crusty baguette for dinner.  I have a feeling it would be fabulous with a little goat cheese crumbled on top, too! But that’s for you to decide.

Curried Butternut Soup

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cubed
  • 1tbsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and Fresh Ground pepper, to taste

          

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Sautee onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add curry powder and cinnamon and continue to cook for another 2 minutes
  3. Add chicken broth (make sure all the veggies are covered, if not add some more) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes, until squash is tender and easy to smash.
  4. Transfer soup to a blender (or use a hand blender if you have one! Less dishes!) and blend until smooth.  Return soup to pot and season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika to taste.  I added more curry powder and cinnamon too!

So that’s the start of Butternut Madness! Any recipe suggestions? Here’s what I have planned so far:  Butternut Lasagna (this WILL happen!),  butternut pasta sauce, and butternut mac and cheese.  Hmm…any non-pasta suggestions?  Send me a link!

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Chocolate Chia Raspberry Pudding

Oh, hey guys.

I have been totally MIA for well, a while now!  Mostly because I have been sick, and school and work are kicking my booty to next tuesday!  These are also excuses I’ve been using to not exercise, unfortunately.  Along with me being sick has come the inevitable slide away from my healthy eating.  I don’t know, something in me just craves salty, spicy cheesy things when I’m sick!  And curry.  Not to mention it’s 100 DEGREES outside in OCTOBER! Which is not the greatest feeling when you are sick and stuffy and sweaty all at once, gross.

Nonetheless, I wanted to make a quick, healthy recipe to post to make me feel like I still have a reason to have a blog.  I was craving CHOCOLATE a lot lately, so of course I had to find a way to work this in to my (trying) to eat healthy goals.  I love this Chia Pudding recipe from Skinnytaste, but it doesn’t fit the chocolate bill.
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So I made my own!  And it’s amazing! Chocolatey and coconuty and all those things a good pudding should be.

Afraid of Chia pudding? Don’t be! Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and Omega-3s, and super good for you!  Yes, if you leave them on a clay head they will sprout some “hair”.  But when mixed into smoothies, coconut water or pudding they are a nutritious addition that I love!  I thought it was weird too, but I’m so into it now, I could be obsessed.

Also, the batteries in my camera died so you will have to do with my hipster cell phone photos.  But believe me, it tastes even better than it looks!
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Chocolate Chia Raspberry Pudding

Makes 4 1 cup servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Trader Joe’s 100% cacao powder)
  • 3 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • drizzle of Agave or Honey, to taste

Put almond milk, coconut milk, agave or honey and cocoa powder in the blender and mix until smooth.  Mix the rest of ingredients and milk mixture in a covered bowl or tupperware, and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  Enjoy! Top with more fresh raspberries, walnuts, or with frozen bananas!
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Filed under desserts, Healthy Living, Recipes

Favorites for September

Here are some of my favorites/obsessions from the past month!

Japadog

Japadog

Japadog (Photo credit: sean lancaster)

Weird hot dogs with crazy Japanese toppings!  I haven’t been to one but I’m fairly obsessed.  I know I would love it.  Make one in LA and I will go to there!

I can’t decide if I want the one pictured, with seaweed and japamayo, or one with croquette, or the one with kimchi!  And also, seaweed fries?  Yes please!  Maybe there is a reason to visit Canada after all…

Okonomiyaki or Japanese Pancakes 

Ok, it’s safe to say I’m just actually obsessed with Japanese Mayonnaise, slathered all over all sorts of fried delicious things.  Such as chewy, savory pancakes filled with cabbage, onions and whatever else you like! I actually did try these this month and I AM IN LOVE.  If fried things that are both sweet, mayonnaise-y and incredibly salty are not your deal, then just keep on walking, mister.

Cute Hipster Moustache iPhone cases

Not sure if I could really pull one of these off, but I’m definitely considering ordering the octopus one!

Skinnytaste Turkey Meatballs

I have been making these once a week and eating with pasta, barley, seaweed salad, or on a sandwich!  Healthy and tasty, a dieter’s staple.  And a good way to use up my plethora of zucchini from the garden.

Eggplant

Eggplant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bhangan Bhartha If all the eggplant in my garden hadn’t died, I would be making loads of this!  I love the smoky, spicy, rich eggplant dish that is a favorite at any indian restaurant.  I can’t wait to try out this recipe!!

Miso Eggplant  While we’re on the subject of eggplant, I’m madly in love with Japanese miso eggplant. (I guess I’m just feeling japanese food lately!) This recipe looks amazing, and I also made a pretty good miso eggplant-tofu stir fry!

Kelp Noodles  I know, I know, it sounds super weird.  But they are delicious!  They are great cold and crunchy in a salad, or even with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce!  The only downside is they have no fiber as compared to pasta.  But ONLY 6 CALORIES A SERVING?  I’ll have 3!

 

And finally, a really important, serious, artsy one!  Julia Kozerski’s art is inspiring, feminist and body positive.  She lost 160 lbs in a year and chronicled photos of her changing body in changing rooms.  It’s real and raw, and her triumph is also a sad inability to recognize the person in the mirror.   I also like her other work, Tag, where she flashes images from tumblr that she found by searching tags of “beautiful”, “perfect” and “sexy” on the wall and tries to match her body to the image. It’s a really haunting video that reminds me of how we all compare ourselves to images we see, and we never match up! Check her out, it’s heartbreaking how honest her work is!

 

Well, that’s all for now folks! I’ll have more things to post about some day, I promise!

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Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Since one of my Skinny Rules this week was to EAT YOUR VEGETABLES (come on! just do it!), I wanted to eat at least a few fresh salads.  Also, I had planned to do a post of “hey, what’s in your CSA?”  but put everything away before I remembered, and was NOT going to take it all out!

figgy goodness.

Well, what WAS in my CSA was…FIGS!  Fresh, sweet, and oh so almost mushy! I had to use them, quickly.

I had an idea in my head for a light, goat cheese and fig salad. Can you blame me?  I needed protein, so I went with the old classic, chicken.  I wanted it to be flavorful and tangy to compliment the figs, and not boring.  I called the boy on my break and told him to marinate the chicken so I could make it when I got home!

I had the boy marinate the chicken so only he knows exactly what went in there.  Friday night it was almost 100 DEGREES in my house so I didn’t want to broil the chicken to make salad, which was my plan.  So, I got Thai takeout (ugh another eating out meal this weekend I forgot, and it wasn’t even that great) instead, broiled the chicken later when it cooled off, and made it for lunch the next day.

Delicious! This salad is light, tangy, flavorful and healthy.  The fresh figs lend a sweetness that perfectly compliments the tang of the vinegar and goat cheese.  If you don’t have fresh figs, you could substitute apple, strawberry or any other sweet fruit you think would be good with goat cheese (ooh! I know! Pear!)  This salad would be great without chicken, and the chicken would be great without the salad! But they compliment each other so nicely, they are perfect together.  This is a super easy recipe that can make you at least 2 dinners or lunches!  If you are making it  a head of time, don’t dress the salad until you are ready to serve.  The figs will get super mushy.

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave, honey or brown sugar
  • garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Always rinse your chicken and pat dry! Always!  Marinate breasts in a bag with the ingredients for as long as you can.  If you are short on marinade time, cut the pieces ahead of time.  Actually, do that first anyways.  The more marinade the better!  Cut the chicken into (large) pieces.  Not too small, you don’t want them to burn!

Broil under high heat for about 10 minutes, then turn pieces and broil until the sides are crisp and just starting to burn!  The sugar and vinegar caramelize so beautifully! You could also grill the chicken with great results, just cut bigger pieces so they don’t fall through the grill.  Let chicken cool.  Serve by itself, with cooked vegetables or with a salad!

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glazed Chicken

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Balsamic Glazed Chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4-6 fresh figs, sliced
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Arrange ingredients in a bowl so they look pretty!  Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine!

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Filed under chicken, Healthy Living, Main Courses, Recipes