Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What did you do today that scares you?

Eleanor Roosevelt famously gave the advice to "do one thing every day that scares you." That's a tall order, Eleanor. How is one supposed to carve out the time to make a daring decision, not just monthly or weekly, but daily? In our always-on, always connected world, it's easy to do something scary but ill advised: a dissenting comment on Facebook or an inflammatory tweet, perhaps. Surely running into oncoming traffic would get my adrenaline going, but I don't believe that is what the former First Lady had in mind. So I would add a huge caveat to this advice, to make sure that the thing you choose is not dangerous but useful. The greater challenge is not to make a scary choice with such regularity, but to carefully choose a task or step that will not just scare you, but bring greater benefits.

What might a scary but useful choice look like? Maybe it's a feat of strength that catapults you out of your boring gym routine. Or you could speak up in a meeting without having all of your points carefully crafted in your head. How about merely taking a detour from your usual route home to see if it's faster?

My perfectionist tendencies often get in the way of taking a calculated risk. In an uncharacteristic move, I took a chance last week and was pleasantly surprised with the results. One of the many amazing benefits my company offers is an indoor pool. I've been swimming laps at least a couple of times per week since I started. I never belonged to a swim team but I love the water, and was a lifeguard and taught sailing. So, with little formal training, my technique is a bit lacking. I'd gaze over in wonder at the more advanced swimmers doing the flip turns in the lanes next to me and wish that I knew how to do it.

Last week, I decided that I would give it a try, even though I had no idea what I was doing. I fretted as I approached the wall, wondering if I would hit it with enough force to bruise my face and my ego. Then, at the last second, I flipped over, kicked off of the wall, and surfaced, almost in one smooth motion! I grinned, well, as much as one can while rhythmically breathing, and tried it again. My turns haven't all gone as well as that first one went, but I haven't completely missed one, either. I'm enjoying the opportunity to improve my flips with each swimming session. 

Swimming-themed birthday card from my friend at work

Thinking back to the last time I took a chance in a physical sense, I was on a yoga retreat last autumn and did a supported wheel pose. It was the first time I'd gone into the position and the feeling of dropping back while my head was upside down was terrifying. I was grateful for my supportive yogis and instructor, but I was not at all comfortable with being upside down. However, I felt accomplished after I finished. 

I'm sure I didn't look nearly as graceful

These have both been such positive experiences. I hope that I the next time I try something new it will not take me nearly a year. I am sure that there are plenty of other opportunities to do something that, while a bit frightening at first, will turn out to be rewarding. 

What are you holding you back on based on some preconceived notion that you don't have the information, power, permission, or experience to do it right? Jump right in, the water's fine!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My favorite go-to breakfast

I have a love-hate relationship with breakfast. I know it's the most important meal of the day, but it's also the time of day I'm most pressed for time. For a while, I tried hard boiled eggs in the morning. They were filling, but uninspired. Cereal is boring, and not the healthiest option. And I only have time for brunch at my favorite spot Centre St. Cafe a couple of times a month. So, to start most days right, I've found a breakfast that is nutritious, filling, and easy. Did I mention it's quick to make?

Wait for it ... it's a green smoothie! Gross, you say? That's what I said, with an unconvinced expression to my colleague who suggested it to me. Nothing like kale in the morning. Ew. She suggested not to knock it before trying it, so I gave it a whirl. Around the same time I got a Nutribullet for my dad's birthday and got one as part of the deal. I've been hooked since then. I've included a few recipe links at the end of this post.

Here's the one tip that makes my smoothie-making life, well, smoother. You know how this is so true of avocados?

Well, this was causing a problem with my green smoothies. There was about half a day during which avocados were perfect for my smoothie, but I only needed about 1/3 of an avocado for each smoothie.  When I stored the other half of avocado in the fridge, I did not like the results the next morning.

Not wanting to frequent the grocery store on a daily basis just to get fresh avocados, I invented the 'Cado Cube. 

To make, just scoop fresh, ripe avocados into your blender or Nutribullet. Note that you may want to time your avocado purchase accordingly so you won't be at work when they ripen. Add a few tablespoons of almond milk or water, and blend. Scoop into ice cube trays and freeze. Keep your 'Cado Cubes in a ziplock bag in the freezer, and add 2 to each smoothie.

Now that it's farmer's market season, I can easily pick up some fresh kale for my smoothies, like I did tonight. I also got radishes, upon Lu's request, oddly enough. Stay tuned to see if she will eat them.

Here are the smoothie recipes I promised. This entire site is devoted to them! I usually put these ingredients in my smoothie:

a couple of handfuls of spinach or kale (fresh or frozen), or 1/3-1/2 up to the Max line on your Nutribullet
1 banana
2 Cado Cubes
1 tsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. bee pollen
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. black elderberry syrup
a few tablespoons orange juice
a few tablespoons water if needed
whatever fresh or frozen fruit I have on hand. Peaches, mangoes, pears, apples, berries, and kiwis all work great.

Edited 10/25/19 to add, don't forget to soak your chia seeds (overnight or at least a half hour) to get the optimal nutritional benefit. 

Here's an official recipe:

Kimberly Snyder is nutritionist to the stars and author of The Beauty Detox Solution, published in 2011 to critical acclaim and praise from such names as Dr. Mehmet Oz, Drew Barrymore, Fergie, Hilary Duff and Owen Wilson. She prepares food for clients on Hollywood’s biggest film sets and gets them cameraready for starring roles and red carpet events. Snyder’s nutritional philosophy is rooted in the belief that health and beauty are entirely synonymous: outer beauty is a reflection of inner health. www.kimberlysnyder.net

Ingredients (64 ounces / 2-4 servings)
  • 1 ½- 2 cups very cold, filtered water
  • 6 cups spinach, chopped ( I use Kale instead of spinach b/c I use spinach in my salads)
  • 5 cups organic romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 stalks of organic celery
  • 1 organic apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic pear, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1–2 tbsp. fresh organic lemon juice
Optional Ingredients
  • Ice cubes (the extra coldness can help newbies with the taste)
  • 1/2 cup of organic cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of organic parsley

Add water, spinach and chopped romaine to the blender. Starting the blender on a low speed; mix until smooth. Gradually move to higher speeds and add the herbs, celery, pear, and apple. Add the banana and lemon juice last.
*For 1 serving, cut out one of the fruits and the cel