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Drink Your Greens! Simple Detox Smoothie

Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder got me hooked on the green smoothie! (courtesy kimberlysnyder.net)

Want to do a little detoxing without doing a full-on cleanse? Try this smoothie from Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist to the stars, author of The Beauty Detox Solution, and all-around detox queen.

In essence, all you do is combine:
  • Greens of your choice: kale, spinach, a little watercress, anything you have around. Blend that up with a little water til smooth.
  • Apple cut up into chunks (I recommend organic since apples are one of the most heavily pesticide ridden produce out there-and if you want to detox, silly to take in more pesticides, right?) My favorite is green apple.
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice (this makes the whole thing zingy and delish–just squeeze half a lemon, more if you want)
  • Blend til smooth!
And that, my friend, is it. You can experiment with whatever you like: carrots, ginger, cucumber, romaine, etc. You can also add a squeeze of honey or agave nectar if you like. A pinch of cayenne pepper can give it some kick.
Again, this is just a suggestion. You can’t go wrong–especially if you make it part of your daily regimen.
Why is this detoxifying?
What I learned from about.com’s alternative health expert and nutrition expert Cathy Wong, N.D., is that while we think of detox as what we take out of our diet (namely excess junk, sugar, additives, and so on), it’s also about what we put in. And when you feed your body fresh, healthy produce, you’re helping your body do its job in eliminating the things it doesn’t need. For more, check out her book, The Inside Out Diet.
(I promise to show you more step-by-step instructions when my much-anticipated Vitamix blender comes in! I ordered it a few weeks ago and am currently waiting by the door for it.) 
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Go Hear Someone Speak (Especially If It’s Deepak Chopra & Arianna Huffington)

Rapt attention as Deepak, Agapi, and Arianna speak

The other night I had the good fortune of scoring a pass to a very special event: A book launch event for Agapi Stassinopoulos’s  Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity, And Unconditional Love. Agapi, of course, is Arianna Huffington’s baby sister, and the two of them joined none other than Deepak Chopra on stage for what an intimate and lovely evening at ABC Carpet & Home in Manhattan.

Why Deepak? Turns out he not only has known the two sisters for 20+ years, but was close to their mother Elli, a powerful influence for not just her two daughters but the many who knew her (Elli apparently stood down Nazi soldiers at one point. Tough broad). (Read more about Arianna’s relationship with her mother in this story in Success magazine)

(It was even stranger to see Arianna days after she was spoofed on SNL: Check out Arianna’s “appearance” on Weekend Update with Seth Myers.)

 

 

 

Agapi Stassinopoulos, author, "Unbinding the Heart"

Agapi, however, was clearly the star of this show–and she really owned it when, at the spontaneous invitation of Deepak, she stood up and delivered Jocasta’s monologue from Oedipus–COLD, mind you. Not a single stumble. She was absolutely gripping. You wouldn’t forget her after that for sure.

Two Sisters

Agapi and Arianna shared stories of their mother Elli, and got quite personal, sharing their mother’s heartbreak at their father’s endless philandering (and her powerful forgiveness of him in the end), and of their mother’s last day. Arianna became weepy several times, allowing Agapi to finish the stories, which she did with flourish.

And while you, like me, may have scratched your head at some of Deepak’s written works (it does get heady at times), the man himself truly couldn’t be more warm and playful and personable. And, dare I say, adorable? With his patent black clogs and thick black frames with bling on the sides? I wanted to hug him (but I didn’t get the chance). The three of them created a lovely dynamic, and there was as much laughing as there was were truly moving moments.

I had never, for instance, thought of Arianna Huffington as a person before (as opposed to a “force”)–and definitely not as a young Greek girl who, seeing a picture of Cambridge in England, said, “I want to go there.” And when other people told her it was not going to happen, her mother borrowed money to take her daughter there to check it out. It’s so sweet to think of a young Arianna walking around Cambridge with her mother, wondering if she could make a life for herself there. Which, of course, she did.

Arianna speaks with a fan after the event

When, later, an audience member asked how they all had learned to trust themselves, Arianna shared some personal insight into her long affair with one of the loves of her life and greatest mentors, Bernard Levin, and how, when she knew he would never have children with her, and she wanted to raise a family, didn’t  trust herself to stay away–so she left London altogether. And if she hadn’t done that, of course, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

“In life, the things that go wrong open doors for the things that go right,” she said.

Showing up to this was without question the best decision of my day.

Agapi's new book, Unbinding the Heart

(Special thanks to Beth Grossman!!)

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Don’t Be a Martyr On Valentine’s Day

Courtesy of aiwaz.net

If you’re not in hot, sweaty love at the moment, in the relationship of your dreams, or in a relationship at ALL, it’s easy use today’s date as another reason to do a self-loathing pile on and beat your esteem to a bloody pulp.

Let’s not do that.

The temptation is there, I grant you. The only thing Americans love even more than BEING in love, is torturing themselves over it in all its iterations (love that was, love that wasn’t, love that could be, may be, but isn’t).

But just because St. Valentine’s Day is named for not one but several Christian martyrs doesn’t mean you have to be one of them.

Let’s gain some perspective, shall we? Do we rail against the Fates because we don’t have the perfect Rockwellian family on Christmas? Do vegans weep because the most widely celebrated holiday in this country has a turkey at its center? (Well, some might.) It seems to me that faulting yourself or feeling bad that you don’t happen to have the ideal romantic situation on this specific date in the calendar year is, well, like being upset that you’re not Irish on St. Patty’s Day. (OK, not quite, but you see my point.)

I have seen all kinds of mixed-up, contradictory advice being handed out like pennies on Halloween–cheap, disappointing, WTF kind of advice. One blogger on yahoo shine recently said in one breath that she didn’t see single as being a problem (agreed), and then in the next breath warns singles not to hang out with other single girlfriends on Valentine’s Day because it will remind you that you’re single. ??!! What? What does she suggest—being a third wheel on someone’s romantic date, or staying at home and sobbing to “Someone Like You?”

Here are three things NOT to do today:

Don’t be a martyr. And by that I mean, don’t act tortured, fall on your sword, or walk around dripping your bleeding heart onto everyone. Just because you’re not partnered doesn’t mean your life is half-baked or somehow an utter failure. As I said previously, there are more single people than ever–more than half of the households in the U.S. are headed up by unmarried people. Playing the victim gets you nowhere fast–not with your fellow lady friends, and certainly not with the opposite sex. You’ll either make dudes feel bad for you, or, let’s face it, attract the wrong kind of dude altogether.

Don’t be a hater. I also don’t really quite get the need to be part of the whole anti-V-Day movement. What does that do but put yourself in the misery club (and in truth I think this is what that other advice blogger was getting at–that you don’t want to stand around in a hateful coven, stirring a bitter brew). It’s a day to celebrate love and romance in all its manifestations. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy it, just because you don’t happen to have some dude standing on your doorstep with dimestore flowers

Don’t confuse alone with lonely. There are many unsung benefits to being single—and last I checked, the status of being unmarried was not synonymous with being lonely. Hardly! Eric Klinenberg writes about the rise–and the appeal–of living alone in his new book Going Solo (which is excellent). (Check out the interview with Eric in the NYT).Cherish and embrace your solo-hood today. You are in complete possession of that delicious blend of total freedom and complete and utter privacy, and that, my friends, is what romance is made of.

 

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Pull the Plug on Stress with the 4-7-8 Breath

Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz rap about holistic health

Recently, Dr. Andrew Weil appeared on Dr. Oz to share some of his expertise into the field he has arguably pioneered in this country: holistic and integrative medicine.

I’m a fan of Weil’s, of course–having worked with his staff at the now-defunct Self Healing newsletter, when it was a sister pub of Body+Soul (now Whole Living magazine). And while he knows pretty much everything there is to know about food, fitness, meditation, supplements, you name it–I’ve heard him say again and again that when people ask what’s the one thing they can do TODAY to improve their health, it’s always this: Breathe.

Not just any old breathing of course–mindful breathing. There are tons of different breathing and meditation exercises. And the fact is if you do any of them regularly you’ll be better off than you are now–simply because focusing on your breath brings you back into your body, out of your head, and with that simple act comes a host of physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

But there’s one exercise in particular he recommends that is worth trying. I do it (not as often as I should). It’s called the 4-7-8 breath.

What It Can Do For You

Weil says this simple breathing exercise relaxes mind and body; he calls it a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. However, unlike tranquilizers, which can knock you out first and then gradually lose their power, he says, this breathing exercise, while subtle at first, gains power and effectiveness as you do it more. Weil mentioned on the show that it can also lower your blood pressure and improve focus. Not bad for something that anyone can do. For free.

How to Do a 4-7-8 Breath 

(These instructions come directly from Weil’s site)

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Weil adds that you should not do more than four breaths at a time during your first month of practice, and to do it twice a day. You can gradually extend to eight breath cycles. He says it’s normal to feel lightheaded at first, and that it should pass.

Read more about Weil’s recommended breathing exercises.

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3 Reasons to Be Single on Valentine’s Day

Attention all the single ladies.

So you’re single on Valentine’s Day. Good for you. Fear not–I won’t patronize you with ridiculous advice that 1) presumes you need pity, 2) insults your intelligence, or 3) suggests that you need a bubble bath and a new pair of shoes because you don’t have a boyfriend.

Ok, so maybe some ladies LIKE to celebrate the holiday with a hot bath and a journaling session. Some seek to mark the holiday with a decadent meal or a pricey purchase. And still others enjoy belting out a round of “I Will Survive” before weeping soundly into a glass of Veuve Cliquot. But I think we can do better than that.

I think what bothers me most is that this cultural stance (not to mention the caricatures I’ve just drawn for you) presumes that single women should feel bad about Valentine’s Day, and worse, that we can do little to stave off the despair besides crying or consuming–or both.

Where Valentine’s Day Went Wrong

How did one of the most innocuous holidays become so completely polarizing? The holiday itself is arguably kept afloat to give consumer products (namely greeting cards, jewelry, flowers, and candy) a mid-winter boost. The long, yawning weeks between New Year’s and Easter could use something, anything, to break up the winter doldrums. Sex and chocolate isn’t such a bad idea.

But somewhere along the line we got the idea that the holiday was only “for” couples; that single people are second-class citizens, all hail the couple. Why you’d assume that anyone in a relationship is generally happier than someone who isn’t is beyond me–and assuming that having a partner on Valentine’s Day somehow makes your life better (than, say, being Irish on St. Patrick’s Day) seems just insane.

Single? You’re Hardly Alone

Need I remind you just HOW many people are single in this country, on Feb 14, as well as every other day of the year? The U.S. Census reported in 2009 that there were nearly 100 million unmarried Americans. And 53% of them were women.

A 2010 census shows that 51.6 percent of households are headed by unmarried adults–up from 44.9 percent in 1990 (source: unmarriedamerica.org). So if you have this image that you’re cutting a lonely silhouette against a world of couples, think again.

3 Reasons to Love Being Single on Valentine’s Day

Yes, Valentine’s Day celebrates romance–but it’s also about romantic ideals. That’s something we can all partake in if we want. Hating romance just because you don’t happen to be in one is like hating beaches because you’re not currently on vacation on one.

(And I’m pretty sure if you asked most couples if they are living a “romantic ideal,” at the moment you’d get a lot of laughing in response). Here are some reasons why being single on this great Hallmark holiday ain’t so bad.

1. Pressure’s off. Being single on Feb 14th, if you ask me, is a free pass. If anything, pressure is on for couples–if it’s a new relationship, it’s all about what the dude did to make or break this one day. If you’re in an older or more seasoned relationship, this holiday can sometimes serve as an unwelcome benchmark–what did you used to do that you don’t anymore, etc. I think there’s a lot of pressure on couples to prove something (to themselves, each other, or other people) and I don’t envy that one bit. Think I’ll pass this round.

2. We have the luxury of uncoupling romance from relationship. Last I checked, romance and relationship were not synonymous. Romance is not limited to being in a relationship, let alone being married. Some of the most romantic things I’ve ever done I did when I was single. The point is this: Your life is what your life is, and to take an occasion such as this to magnify your own misery and denounce yourself utterly unlucky in love is–well, it’s wasted effort if you ask me.

3. We singles have something that coupled folks don’t have: The air of romantic possibility. There’s something far more romantic about being single if you ask me–an air of mystery and potential that, let’s face it, people in 20-year marriages do not necessarily have (unless they have a special arrangement). How you view your life creates your experience of it, and so if you choose to see it as a tragedy, that’s probably what it’ll feel like. But view it as a romance–which by definition is a narrative filled with heroic deeds, pageantry, and romantic exploits–and the world opens up. You might take a risk, reach out to someone new, try something completely out of character. If you see your life as a romance, then you can assume that it can have a happy ending, whether you’re part of a couple or not.

 Want to read more? If you haven’t checked out this stuff, you should: 

All the Single Ladies by Kate Bolick, The Atlantic Monthly 

Single by Choice by Janelle Nanos, Boston magazine (full disclosure: I was interviewed for this one)

One’s a Crowd by Eric Klinenberg in the NYT (his brand new book is Going Solo)

Singled Out by Bella DePaulo, PhD (LOVING this book; really a must-read for singles)

Alone Again, Naturally by Dominique Browning (NYT)

 

 

 

 

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Refill Your Green Tea

Image courtesy of walax.org

I hesitate to even tell you to drink green tea because you may fall immediately asleep out of boredom because you’ve heard people touting this beverage for at least a hundred years. Or so it seems.

But I’m sorry. Some things are just worth repeating. The research keeps piling up.

What you may know already is that green tea is packed with free-radical-zapping antioxidants, which means reducing your risk of all kinds of age-related conditions and diseases. It’s worth nothing that a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a large Japanese study, suggests that those older adults who drank the most green tea were the least likely to become “functionally disabled.”

Reuters reports: “Specifically, almost 13 percent of adults who drank less than a cup of green tea per day became functionally disabled, compared with just over 7 percent of people who drank at least five cups a day.”

They report though that it’s not like green tea alone is some magic juice: “Green-tea lovers generally had healthier diets, including more fish, vegetables and fruit, as well as more education, lower smoking rates, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and greater mental sharpness.”

The point is, if you drink green tea, chances are you’re doing a few other things right too.

Look, I love the stuff–from the roasted hoji cha to the toasted-rice-flavored genmaicha, to straight up sencha. But if you’re not used to green tea, it can be a bit of jump, especially the more vegetal flavors. There are, however, plenty of green tea makers out there that offer teas infused with fruit essences and what have you. There are enough kinds of green tea at Whole Foods to line an entire wall of your home.

So, experiment. Try a bunch of different ones–and in the name of staying spry, drink it. Often.

 

 

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Eat Slower With Friends (or Eat Alone)

Image courtesy of sxc.hu

Did you know that you eat way, way more when you dine with other people? Funny, because so often I hear people say they honestly think they eat LESS when they’re out with friends or colleagues because they’re “so busy talking.” Well, I’ll tell you right now that’s a load of bull. Most of us are talking with our mouths full. Or listening as we chew. And chew.

I am not going on anecdotal research here, either–for matters like this I turn to one of my favorite experts, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., head of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab at Cornell and the author of Mindless Eating (a must read if you have any interest in peeking under the hood of your own eating habits and changing them).

I’ll add that he’s the lead author of over 100 academic articles and books on eating behavior, and a man who’s been called the Sherlock Holmes of food. So there you have it.

Wansink says if you eat with one other person, you’ll consume about 35% more than if you ate alone. Get a table for four, and you’ll take in as much as 75% more. Did you even know you could eat that much more? Now you do.

I’m not blaming you, by the way, nor implying that you’ve got lousy self control. The reason this happens is likely due in part to our natural instincts as social animals–to eat while others are eating, and sometimes keep on picking if your dining companions continue to graze. (It doesn’t help that most single restaurant servings could serve a family of five.)

What to do? Wansink suggests this tip: Try to be the last one to start eating when the food is served, and to pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table. And, he says, skip on seconds.

Here’s what I do: I try to let pleasure, appetite, and satiety rule by paying close attention to how the food tastes and how I feel as I eat. The first few bites are ALWAYS the best. So as soon as I feel that flame of appetite sort of snuff out, and realize that the food just doesn’t taste as good as it did in the beginning, I put my fork down and let the whole situation cool off–my appetite and the food itself. I’m done.

Now, of course I don’t mean that you have to eat alone to lose weight, etc. And while eating alone can be very calming and restorative, I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t eat out with a gang of folks. Please–one of the great pleasures on this planet is sharing food with friends. But tuning in to where you’re at with your meal and pacing yourself can make a big difference.

 

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Don’t Hit Send (Trust Me)

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and David Castillo Dominici

So…you’re mad. You got an inexcusable, dismissive, or disrespectful email that you are ready to smack right back across the digital fence. It’s easy, right? Too easy. And THAT perhaps may be one of the most temptingly dangerous fruits that instantaneous communication lays at our feet.

Because it’d be a whole different story if you had to get out a piece of looseleaf, write down your response long-hand (not to mention tear it up and start over when you got it wrong), reread it (which chances are you may not do with email), sealed it into an envelope, got up, put pants on, a coat, grabbed your keys, locked the door behind you, and walked a few blocks down the street to mail it.

There would be many chances to turn back in that old-fashioned scenario. But not now. Before you’ve even fully articulated or completed your thought, you can punt it right back out with a single keystroke, without so much as a reread. Without so much as pants, for that matter.

And this can spell trouble for our personal and professional relationships.

My advice: Stop. Before you hurl reciprocal vitriol into the ether, let the heat of the moment pass. Maybe you write your response, but do NOT put a sender’s email/name in the box yet (one faulty tread of a curious cat could prematurely deliver it). Save it in drafts, close it.

Then, later, when you have off-gassed some of that initial toxic fume to a friend or coworker, calmed down, perhaps eaten something, you can reconstruct, revise, or rethink altogether what exactly you have to say to this person.

The delay you build in will not make you softer or less sharp–in fact, it will make you wiser, and, just maybe, a little kinder.

So put down that match. Don’t burn those bridges just yet. It could be the best decision you make all day.

 

 

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Don’t Booze Right Before Bed (And What to Do Instead)

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Sure, that glass of pinot sounds like a good idea right before bed, especially when you typically have trouble transitioning to shuteye. But beware bedtime drinker: While that vino (or vodka, whatever your pleasure) may “take the edge off” and make you drowsy, and help you ease into sleep–it won’t keep you there.

Why Alcohol Sucks as a Sleep Aid

There’s lots of research and press on the topic, including this study published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, that found that while alcohol may initially improve sleep in nonalcoholic people, the effect of high alcohol doses can disrupt sleep cycles–primarily the second half of the nocturnal sleep period (you know, those deeper, juicier layers of sleep, without which you don’t feel as refreshed).

What’s worse: Tolerance goes up, so that you need more and more alcohol to produce the initial effects, which then only serves to further disrupt your sleep.

Alcohol, in short, is great at making you sleepy, especially when you want to be awake, and yet lousy at keeping you in the very stages of sleep you need so you don’t feel sleepy. That’s the worst ad for a sleep aid I’ve ever heard.

While experts say a little wine at dinner, etc, is probably fine if that’s your norm, using alcohol to get yourself to fall asleep is a slippery, sleepless slope.

What To Do Instead

The Mayo Clinic offers some very basic tips on sleep–and if you feel like you’ve heard it before, you’re right. So have I. But that’s because there’s a grain of truth to all the sleep wisdom: In order to get better sleep, you have to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, not eat or drink right before bed (not a ton, anyway), and maintain a cool, dark room.

Sounds like a no-duh. But how many blinking or bright LED lights are in your sleep space? (Think: phone, alarm clock, etc). Is there a streetlight peeking through your blinds? Shut them off, turn the clock away. Those tiny little beams of light really can affect (read: screw up) your ability to sleep because your brain and all the glands/hormones associated with creating the conditions for sleep are wired to respond to light. So, lights out. You might also want to make sure that you’re bed is comfortable for you, for example, you could try something like a full size mattress for better sleep.

You may also want to swap out your hot toddy for a hot bath or shower. Why? Because afterwards, your body temperature drops–and that drop signals to the body that it’s time to sleep. Don’t believe me? Ask Stanford University.

And then of course there are always natural methods to help you switch off and get a good night’s rest. Some people like to use CBD oil as part of their night time routine. If you’re someone who struggles with late night stress and worries then alternative medicines like the best cbd oil uk could offer a solution thanks to their calming properties.

My point is this: Give yourself a last call at least two hours before bedtime. And try the hot shower. It could be the best decision you make all day–or night.

P.S. One of the foremost experts on sleep, whom I interviewed on my show on Sirius XM, is Dr. Michael Breus, aka “The Sleep Doctor.” If you have trouble sleeping, check out his insomniablog.