The Feat of Meditation.

Finding peace through meditation, I feel this concept is a load of blissful crap. Still, every day I encourage myself to meditate.  One day I will find this third eye of mine. Mainly I meditate because I want to overcome a part of me I dislike. One day, I will learn how to maintain my composure when things are out of my control. Hillary-33

Today I tell myself, meditation is all about practice.  If I just focus on how my inhale feels, it’s nice and cool; I can feel new energy enter my mind. Or maybe if I focus on my exhale, it’s warmer…I am starting to trail off onto another thought. Ugh, I am never going to get the hang of this. From what I have read, meditation is all about beginning again. So, I begin again.

How about I focus on one word.  Okay, so I will meditate on JOY, it’s my middle name; it should be easier to meditate on.  Oh JOY.  What brings me joy? Pastures, the rolling hills of beautiful green grass and moo moos grazing, or goats; goats are just adorable.  Oh now I am thinking of that spoof, the Taylor Swift spoof…AHHHHH.

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I actually saying AHHHH, my hip flexor is tight and my foot is going numb. The only other comfortable way to meditate is to lay down.  Ooh like savasana. I LOVE SAVASANA.  Only then am I usually able to quiet my mind for at least 1 minute.  I guess because I am so physically relaxed my mind doesn’t want to bother with thoughts.  In savasana I feel a sense of energy swarming over me, it gets a bit heavy, but it is comforting. That feeling seems lovely right about now, I will just mock savasana. So, I am going to just lay down right here on this cold wood floor, where dust bunnies run rampant, and practice my mediation. Hmm this is not as pleasant, it’s not 100 degrees in this room. Ugh, maybe if I am warm it will be relaxing. I’ll just grab this comforter. Okay this is nice, ooh especially if I grab a pillow. Yep, this is better.  I think my meditation timer went off like 10 minutes ago, I will just set a sleep timer for 15 minutes.  Then I will get up and start my day.

No part of me pats myself on the back for trying meditation every morning, its become a habit now.  That is actually great (one pat earned). I am trying something even though I feel defeated.  That is determination (second pat earned).  Instead of being so hard on myself, I am going to give myself a break.  I cannot get everything accomplished in one day.  I cannot get to the big picture without taking small manageable steps.  Maybe I am learning something from meditation.  Even though I do not know the color of my third eye, I am at peace with the fact that all I have is this present moment. In this present moment I am the happiest I can be.

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Have you started a meditation practice?  Comment your experience!  Let me know your favorite mediation tunes, apps, or books!  This evening I am trying a Sound Healing Meditation with Journey There Wands’, Autumn Austen.  If you missed this event Haylo Healing Arts Lounge plans to host this event again in the near future.

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The Power of You and Support.

FallFall is my favorite season, yet I fear it.  In 2012, the bubble I had lived in popped. I no longer had school as a safety net, I no longer knew my purpose.  I began interpreting life in an unfamiliar way and it overwhelmed me with dark, deep sadness and angst. My diagnosis was mild depression triggered by anxiety. I was comfortable as a victim of my genetic predisposition.  As I became my diagnosis, the stories of my past became the answers of my present.  My future would be as it was. My story was my truth and it could not be unwritten.  I will never forget what depression feels like. My entire body was on pins and needles from overworked nerves. Should one thing have disrupted my routine, I would immediately spiral into a manic state.  In those moments all I wanted was to be out of my own skin.

My family and close friends supported me with grace and love.  We thought things were getting better. In January 2013, my wonderful grandpa passed away. My heart was broken, he was my hero.  He still is the kindest man in the whole world. He loved and lived with a deep sense of purpose. His passing shifted my depression into overdrive.  Medications and countless conversations with a therapist did not tune me in to what I was actually feeling. I was uncomfortable with the idea that I could change.  I had my limit, there was nothing more. I was a broken record; dying longer and living shorter.

One day in Spring 2013, I took my first step on my 10,000 step journey toward happiness.  Still, every fall my heart becomes weary. Recognizing that the moment I fear vulnerability or being uncomfortable is the moment that I stop growing.  Everything within me has the power to shift. That being said, there are days when things go to shit. Mismanaged stress triggers my anxiety and I am a ball of negativity.  However, I am by no means jumping on that slippery slope toward depression ever again.  By no means is my journey over.

Yoga and practicing meditation has certainly made the road less traveled on manageable. I now search for apps and self improvement teachings, to make mindfulness simple.  I currently am reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and enjoy listening to audiobooks instead of the noise played on the radio. Cooking has also become an activity that feels therapeutic and taps into my creativity. By eating less processed and caffeinated foods I have noticed my body looking and feeling well. Also, I have more energy, and sleep better too. Benefits from good food and mindfulness have brought about a yearning for more stress management tools.  I now have gained appreciation for the power of my breath. By taking a deep breath in and out of my nose deeply, generates energy; massaging the heart and activating the parasympathetic nervous system.  Try it, count eight deep nasal breaths and then begin again. Did you feel that sense of ease wash over you? Imagine if you breathed like that every day.

Living is a practice, it means loving yourself and taking time to reconnect. Yes, you do have the time. So, rebuild your relationship with yourself and seek support from loved ones, or wellness professionals. Dig deep and find connection with your body, mind, and soul. You are worth it! Take your first step on your 10,000 step journey, right now.

The Dis Ease from Gluten

Is gluten intolerance a hoax? As our main food group in the food pyramid consisted of wheat, until just recently, American’s consume a lot of it because its healthy, right? Well, in moderation, and for some people not at all.  When an ingredient such as wheat or gluten is in everything, from breads, to marinara sauce, to fillers for meats, you may have to start thinking about the ingredient as a ticking time bomb for your gut; especially when its combined with high fructose corn syrup (hfcs). Consuming either or both ingredients, gluten and hfcs, causes our body to react with an inflammatory response. Gluten acts like glue and hfcs goes straight to our liver where it cannot be processed, so it is turned into fat.  If tons of foods we eat have one or both ingredients in our breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks our gut flora severely diminishes and we cannot lose weight. In turn, we are left feeling like either what we aren’t doing or doing a lot of on the porcelain throne. icecream

When your body has a ton of inflammation, you bloat, you may have symptoms of IBS, you experience foggy brain, and you may become irritable and/or fatigued.  Since Ciliac dis ease has become more common, the branding of “Gluten Free” has arrived. I am pro labeling; however, I do not agree with products labeled and sold as “GF” that have a ton of sodium and sugars to maintain the convenience eating addiction.  What taking gluten out of your diet really means is getting back in the kitchen and taking ownership of what goes into your body. You will find more recipes full of vegetables and quality meats, and you will definitely be eating less processed foods and refined sugars.  In theory, eating a more whole foods diet will make you feel like a million bucks.  You also will spend less, if not now, than in future medical costs. If this soap box stand is getting too much for you, allow me to shift gears.

My clients weight makes it difficult for her to exercise and so, she has told herself time and time again, I just need to lose some weight before I start exercising.  She has tried everything on the market to help her shed pounds and nothing has really worked. Her inner voice had affirmed that she can’t do anything and ultimately she had given up on herself.  Fortunately, she was open to a complimentary coaching session. After just one 45 minute session, I had noticed a sense of relaxation wash over her, and all I had done was listen to her story.  In our first coaching session, we talked about all the things that were coming up for her.  I observed that she really wanted to lose weight and was desperate for relief from her ailments.  The first challenge we worked on was motivating her to drink more water.  Flushing her body of impurities and really hydrating her body was our top priority.  Gifting her with a 64oz. water bottle, she got to work and was drinking well over her 64oz. goal.  During our follow up session, she remarked that she was feeling hydrated but, was still having issues with her digestion.  I suggested trying a gluten elimination diet for 3 weeks.  I sensed hesitation from her which is understandable.  I myself had a love affair with bread, but I reassured her I would be advocating for her every step of the way.

Today is day ELEVEN of no gluten for my client.  She tells me every day how AMAZING she feels! She loves not having to rush home to use the restroom, she is not experiencing bloating, and she has not had any headaches.  I can tell my client is hooked on feeling good.  Her sports bra fits her more comfortably, and her pants are not as tight.  She feels motivated to drink more water, and has started walking at least 3 days a week for 30 minutes. The greatest moment for me, was when she told me she was getting the hang of cooking and starting to enjoy it. She let me know that the first week of no gluten was really hard for her. She didn’t know what foods did or didn’t have gluten, and she was still trying to maintain her convenient eating habits.  In our second session, I provided her a grocery store tour.  Together we found easy flavorful recipes that she and her family would enjoy.  After we created the food list, we went to her local grocery store.  Starting out at the produce section was crucial and from there we went through each aisles (avoiding some), reading labels, and getting her to realize how affordable eating healthy can be.  My client posted a brilliant photo the other day that exemplifies the transformation that is occurring within her.  Before, she would eat take-out at least 3-4 times a week. Now she wants the good stuff and only the good stuff nourishing her. You see, it just starts with one small shift, and from there you and your body can transform. Louise Hay

Homemade Mac & Cheese: The Tipping Point

What usually happens when I decide to play in the kitchen is nothing short from fun at the beginning. The reason is, I am indecisive and hardly ever remember to bring the grocery list I spent 20 minutes concocting.  Which is why I usually am going back and forth between aisles and end up only getting staple items and I walk out of the store telling myself, I’ll try that cool recipe another time.  Well that “next time” attitude gets me nowhere. So I intend to be present in this very moment and make the shift.  Besides, my palette has been craving things that do not serve my body, which means I really need to switch it up!! So first it’s the grocery store debacle.  What and how many ingredients do I need for a particular recipe, and how many grocery stores do I have to go to.  That being said, I keep new recipes simple.  The best thing I ever did was stock up on key spices and condiments (for more info email me at HealthbyHillary@gmail.com).

I was browsing various FB posts and came across a whimsical BuzzFeed video for Vegan Mac & Cheese, it met my requirements for minimal shopping; I already had carrots so I just needed potatoes, an onion, and pasta. Now I have just recently moved from the glistening South Park area.  I am familiar to only the finer grocery stores.  So having to shop at Food Lion, was the most daunting idea for this self-proclaimed grocery snob. A brand new shiny grocer moved in beside the Harris Teeter in town, and you can cut the rivalry with a butter knife.  But, let me say Publix is far from being my ideal grocer; after watching Food Chains, I really have a hard time spending money at conventional grocer’s in general. Alas, I was not taking a 35 minute drive to go to my familiar cozy health food store of choice.

Walking into Publix an aroma of pumpkin spice overwhelmed me and my eyes saw local produce front and center.  There was a small section of overpriced organic produce, but most of the dirty dozen produce were not available as Organic (for more info email me at HealthbyHillary@gmail.com).  I decided to find that darn video on my phone to make sure there wasn’t any ingredients I forgot about.  Sure enough I played the video numerous times and got the jingle stuck in my head.  After I found the produce needed for the recipe, I decided to look around and see what Publix had to bring to the table.  I think the best part of the shopping experience was how freaking nice the staff was. They could tell I was hunting for various things, so they kept asking with a smile if I needed help.  I am quite stubborn, so of course I said no and went down the same aisle probably 5 times. Side note, I also really dislike conventional grocer’s because to me its like comparing Walmart to Target…do you get it now? I mean why is coconut water and bottled water where the bread is?

So now to getting in the kitchen and make some mac & cheese.  Guess how many times I played this video while cooking? Probably 20 times, only because I am so Type A, and have to make sure I get the recipe exactly right.  When I started to peel the potatoes and had watched the video yet again, I realized I had bought the wrong type of potatoes. Crap, oh well; that’s me liberating myself from a Type A disfunction.  So I boiled everything and threw it in my badass repurposed and much cheaper Vitamix. Then I boiled the noodles and was looking for nutritional yeast to add to the ‘cheesy vortex’; I love my memory of the way cheese tastes and I was not convinced 2 potatoes, 1 carrot, and 1/4 onion could taste cheesy. That’s right I said it, I love the way cheese tastes.  I have been a Vegan for 6 years and I still remember the deliciousness that cheese is.  So I look through the cabinets and ask for some assistance, and the answer I get is “do you see what we have in this house, do you think we would have anything that starts with ‘nutritional’?”  … we will come back to this topic. So without the nutritional yeast, my first batch of Vegan Mac & Cheese was a success, I added fresh basil and I think next time I am going to bake it with Kale. Vegan Mac & Cheese

Ya’ll today was a good freaking day.  I explored a grocery store with it almost empty, the weather was beautiful, and I made something absolutely delicious!  In the end,  its all about finding the simple things that bring you pleasure, and letting go of the nuances that may pop up.  Let me know how this recipe goes for you!  Even better, let’s talk about the movie Food Chains.