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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yummm, Ommm, and Ekkk!!! My top 6 ways to relieve stress....

Hello Fellow Warriors!

Since I last posted, I have been so busy enjoying this sweet life! My motto these days is, "forget about it", and this carefree way of thinking is really having an effect! Positive vibes all around.... Here's my top six ways to relieve stress:
*Note: I tried to do "top 5", but there is just so much to share!

6.) Cooking! 
Nothing makes me feel better than preparing my own healthy meals. 
This dish is vegan and gluten free.
 Gluten has been linked to exasperating PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome) symptoms, 
as well as decrease your serotonin levels (the "feel good" hormone in your brain), 
and runs down your adrenal glands leading to stress, fatigue, mood swings, depression, Fertility issues, to name a few....
 so I am completely cutting it out of my diet, where before I was much more lenient... 
and with tasty food like this, gluten who?
Quinoa and corn salad with roasted peppers:

  • 1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 tsp. salt (or less)
  • 2 cups fresh (about 4 ears) or frozen corn
  • 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup diced jarred roasted red peppers, or home made (*see how below)
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 to 5 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons) 
  •  1.In medium saucepan, combine quinoa, salt and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 12 minutes.
  • 2. Add corn, cover and cook until quinoa is tender but still a little crunchy, about 3 minutes. 
  • 3. Drain quinoa mixture and transfer to large serving bowl. Toss well with fork, fluffing quinoa. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • 4. Add basil, peppers and onion. Stir in oil and enough lemon juice to give salad a distinct lemony edge. 
  • Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.
  • *Make the roasted peppers fresh if you have time-- it's so easy, delicious, and your house will smell amazing! All you do is broil who peppers, turning every few minutes to blacken all sides. Then place in a brown paper bag for about 15 minutes.  Wipe off skin and slice the roasted pepper.

My Mom's Bean Salad:
1 cup steamed (or can) green beans 
*If using canned do use Organic to avoid BPA and other chemicals and additives, and always rinse to get rid of that extra, unnecessary sodium! I use Eden Organic which are boiled with Kombu, Kombu makes the beans (or you) less "musical".
1 cup (or can) Garbanzo Beans
1 cup (or can) Kidney Beans
1 small red onion chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped celery
Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 c. sugar OR ten drops of Liquid Stevia
Marinate over night, toss, and enjoy!
Fortunately for me, my sister (who is also a GF Vegan) made this delicious raw pie for our 3rd of July Party...
Unfortunately I do not have the recipe (sorry guys!) check out her blog here for the recipe and more of what she made.

5.) The number one supplement for happiness and stress relief? 
Some Vitamin L (ove).  
Being around people who make you happy does wonders for your health!
Here I am spending time with my little love bug of a niece, Audriana, at our Annual 3rd of July Party.

4.) Running in the direction of my dreams....

My Fiance, John and I purchased Vibrams and they are awesome! I LOVE them! 
I run in the woods, so there is a bit of caution needed-- Do run on your toes (takes a bit getting used to), 
do NOT land on your foot, in which case you may land on a sharp rock that bruises your foot..Ouch!
Aside from that, these shoes rock! I have been running with Nike Frees (Nike's version of Vibram) for over a year now, so I am used to running on my toes.  However, I have now discovered new muscles in my feet and legs. Best part, these shoes WILL make you feel and look like a rock-star-runner ;)

NOTHING helps me to relieve stress like running in the peace and quiet of the beautiful woods near my house.

3.)Yoga. My runs are always proceeded by an hour of yoga. 
Great for my recovery, and does wonders for my mind!
Lately I have been doing p90x2 yoga outside, with Avery, my Veggie Lovin' Maltese :) 
Max. outside time=great mood booster and stress relief, 
puppy time=even MORE (more Vitamin L!)
In Savasana with Avery
2.) Always challenge yourself, and have FUN doing it! 
I  ran my first race, and it was a MUD race! The Warrior Dash! 
3.5 mile, 15 obstacle race in the MUD
Here is a shot of us Warriors after-- 
David, My Brother-in-law Thomas, My sister Lauren, Me, and My fiance John
Warrior Sisters :)
Muddy Smooches for my Warrior <3

1.) My number 1 way to relieve stress? Meditation! And just in the nic-of-time (as always, You funny Universe!) the Chopra Center is hosting another FREE 21-Day Meditation Challenge!! Whose with me?? I have done all of the Chopra Center Challenges, and they just get better and better every time! Click here to join! Did I mention it was FREE!? Seriously try it, whether you are new to meditation or have been practicing for years... It starts Monday!

Well, that's that my little Warriors!
Take care of yourself and
Have a wonderful, stress-free day <3

Sunday, July 1, 2012

PCOS, my reason to proclaim Independence from STRESS

Hello Sunshine!

I must apologize for my extended absence. Things happen in life which we cannot control, and sometimes we just have to go with the flow and accept everything as a lesson in this journey of life.  These past few months I have had a lot going on (lessons!), and unfortunately I lost touch with my passion of writing and coaching others towards better heath. It wasn't until last week, when I was given a diagnosis that I was reminded of my passion and my meaning for life...

I am going to share a story with you, it is a true story, and one that takes a lot of courage for me to share.... Here it goes.

Nearly two years ago I was a healthy, vibrant, vegan, young girl who was placed in a classroom for the first time.  I always knew I wanted to work with children, and teaching just seemed like the perfect thing to do for the rest of my life. Little did I know or comprehend the stress and anxiety that would accompany this new, great salary, amazing benefits, big-girl job kind of job. The trending attitude in my home state of New Jersey these days, is that teachers have it so good. What an easy job, working 9-3 and for only 10 months of the year with a week off for Christmas and Easter... Well let me tell you, it is NOT easy.

My first year of teaching, I worked 7:30am to 9:00pm, preparing, creating, and crying. I know I am not alone on this first-year-teacher hell. My first year was so traumatic that even me, a healthy vegan who exercises 5+ days a week, juices daily, meditates and does yoga, literally made myself sick.

Last week I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). What is the cause of PCOS? Well stress, of course, along with hereditary. Who knew, stress could rival healthy habits? I thought I was invincible.

I am sharing this story because it is important for you to listen to your body, to take care of yourself, and to do everything in your power (or nothing at all) to ease stress.  Stress is that little nag within each of us that often times we cannot suppress. Stress is responsible for so many ailments and illnesses from acne to bowel issues, to cancer, to heart disease.

What I have learned in this week is that PCOS is very prevalent, affecting up to 10% of women of child bearing age. I have also learned (from experience) that PCOS symptoms are often over looked by doctors, for example: in April (of my first year teaching, over a year ago) while on birth control, my period vanished. I suddenly gained a fair amount of weight (while eating a plant based diet), and my skin looked like that of a 15-year-old. So, I went off of my birth control in October that same year, and still no period, no weight loss, and only slight relief of acne. After expressing my concern to my OBGYN, and getting blood work, then being told to go back for more blood work, I finally seeked a second opinion. My unnecessary weight gain, acne for the first time in  my life, and lack of period are all common signs of PCOS that were over looked by my doctor for the past year.

An internal ultrasound was all I needed for my new doctor (an IVF doctor) to give me a diagnosis.  My ovaries were "fully loaded" with cysts. I have been infertile since last April. Infertile? But I am the catalogue-picture-perfect child bearing shaped girl, who loves children and has always dreamt of having a family of two girls, one boy, with blonde hair like their father and green eyes and freckles like me...

To be told that my reason of being does not work properly, just a few months short of my wedding.... Realizing that no matter how clean I eat, and how much I exercise, I am not invincible.  Stress over powered all of my efforts. Some things, you just cannot control.

Well, I am declaring myself Independent (in leu of the 4th of July) from Stress!

The more research I do, the more I realize that if it was not for my clean way of eating and exercising, my symptoms could be so much worst (see below)... and I am confident that with my doctor's help, my continued health eating and exercising, along with a few extra yoga classes, more mediating, and certainly more relaxation, I will be okay, and I will have children some day.

Everything that occurs in life is for a reason, and is a lesson which we must learn in order to move on to the next phase of our lives.  As difficult as it has been for me to accept my diagnosis, I believe that there is a reason I have this so called "syndrome".  Perhaps this reason is so that I can successfully fulfill my dream of helping women with fertility issues get healthy and bring healthy bundles of joy into the world... and perchance, my lesson is in using my own body to learn how to do this.

I will continue to blog about my journey with PCOS, and in a few years I promise that my blonde hair babies will be living proof that we have power over our bodies, we just have to be willing to make changes and kick stress to the curb.

Much love and health to you <3

For more information on PCOS check out this article on WebMD. If you have some of these symptoms be proactive and demand an internal ultrasound so that you can begin healing your body.