Shopping for the Right Carbs

Butter is not a carb.

But carbs are. And if you ask me, they get a real bad rap. 

In a previous life, carbs sat at the top of the list of foods that haunted me. Bread, pasta, tortillas, wraps, noodles, desserts...all sorts of really delicious things whose absence tend to make life sad. Have you had carb-phobia, too?

You're in luck. Ditching carb fear and focusing instead on whole, unprocessed carbohydrates does a magical thing: it shows you that in their natural, unaltered form, many foods we've traditionally demonized are actually incredibly nutritious and have some pretty wicked health benefits. That's right baby, TOAST IS BACK. 

[Curious about what processed foods are? I'm a big fan of the way Lisa Leake explains it. Want to know what "real food" is? She's got a killer explanation for that, too.]

Our body needs energy, so it needs carbs. It loves carbs, and the right carbs love us, too. Vegetables and fruit are beautiful sources, as well as beans, legumes, and whole grains if your body tolerates them. (If not, let's talk — I've got you.) 

If you'd like to explore this concept more, McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped eloquently breaks down the reason our body needs carbs, and how to choose the best ones for you. Part 1 dives more into the science-y stuff and what carbs are composed of, while Part 2 shares whole food sources of carbohydrates + how to maximize their positive effect on the body. 

But really, the hardest part about getting good carbs into our diet is actually shopping for them, right? I know, it's the worst. Because I'd be devastated if you thought you could never have pasta again, here are a few of my favorite brands that transform traditionally empty carbs into high-vibe nutritional powerhouses. 

PASTA
Tolerant's red and green lentil, and black bean pastas. 
Jovial's array of organic ancient grain + gluten-free pastas. 
Banza chickpea pasta. 
Ancient Harvest's organic quinoa and supergrain pastas. 

BREAD
Food For Life Ezekiel bread — the only bread I buy. Sprouted, living whole grains means you'll find these in the freezer section. Their cinnamon raisin is children and husband-approved. They also have English muffins, tortillas, wraps, and gluten-free options. 

When shopping in the regular bread section of your grocery store, you want to look for whole wheat and/or sprouted grains, no preservatives, certified organic ingredients, and, if possible no added sugars. 

FLOURS
Bob's Red Mill is amazing. They have flours of every persuasion, as well as gluten-free baking blends and mixes (I adore their gluten-free pizza mix). They also have mixes for your favorite traditional baking desires, like cornbread, pancakes, and muffins.  

GRAINS
Might I suggest high-tailing it to the bulk-bin section of your grocery store? That's where I get all my favorite organic and non-GMO whole grains, including brown and white rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, rolled oats, lentils, and popcorn kernels. 

TORTILLAS/WRAPS
When it comes to tortillas, I prefer corn, and ideally a tortilla that is only organic corn, water, and salt. The extra stuff isn't doing you any favors. 

Food For Life has my favorite tortillas, because they are sprouted and good AF. 

Also, it is ridiculously simple and insanely gratifying to make your own tortillas. Not to mention, very impressive for guests. 

At the end of the day, when it comes to carbs, look for whole grains, and minimal, pronounceable ingredients that are organic and/or non-GMO. The farmer's market is also a spectacular option for acquiring whole grain foods like bread and tortillas. AND the farmers are right there in front of your face so you can ask them all the questions you want. Plus freshness. Plus local. Heck yeah. 

What's a new carb you can experiment with this week?


WEEKLY GOODIES



COOKING INSPIRATION
A vibrant, healthy garden pasta salad. 
Sea salt dark chocolate granola. (Take it on your summer road trips!)
Choco mint smoothie with greens. 
Cucumber mango miso noodle bowls. 
Creamy cauliflower kale mushroom pasta bake. (Perfect for experimenting with a new whole grain pasta.) 


NUTRITION TIP
When it comes to caffeine, matcha gives you the sustained focus of renewed energy without the ugly crash. Plus it's gorgeous. You'll want ceremonial grade for drinking, and culinary grade for baking and mixing into smoothies. 

An Ode To Face Masks

I recently wrote a piece for my friend Kate's fabulous skincare website, The Regimen, about my undying love of face masks. I profiled my favorites—all of which are completely natural and vegan—and you can enjoy a sneak peek below!


My best friend Jack and I enjoying a spa night in LA. 

My best friend Jack and I enjoying a spa night in LA. 

I love face masks.

I am smitten with their luxury. Namely, the high-brow experience of smothering my face in exotic ingredients, juxtaposed against the low-brow reality of watching Law and Order: SVU in my pajamas while drinking a glass of Rioja from a bottle that definitely cost less than $15. Luxury.

I haven’t always been this way. In my late 20s, I learned about the chemicalization of our food system, and its devastating connection to chronic disease. As I removed processed foods from my home and diet, I overhauled my makeup and skincare products as well. This shift unveiled a whole new approach to beauty, one powered by plants. And it transformed my skincare regimen into one fueled by anti-aging rose oil, detoxifying activated charcoal powder, cellulite-shaming coffee grounds, and the rich exfoliation of French pink, green, and white clay.

My teenaged years were highlighted by unruly, oily skin, with a penchant for breakouts. And now, in my 30s, the acne has abated, thank goodness, but my skin concerns have evolved. I’m not afraid of wrinkles, but who doesn’t want their face lit with a natural, youthful glow? To keep my skin eternally radiant, I’ve curated an army of vegan, all-natural face masks, each designed to target a particular issue. All of which feel delicious on the skin.


To read about my favorites (including one that's perfect for hangover face), head over to the post on The Regimen! 

Abstinence vs. Moderation

Abstinence isn't really my thing.

Let me explain. I read this piece by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) the other day, and she posed the question: "Are you an abstainer or a moderator?" I didn't even have to consider that question—I am a moderator. 100%. Don't get me wrong, there are things I abstain from. Dairy, meat, crack cocaine. But that's not because I'm withholding something from myself. It's because my body generally doesn't like those things (I mean, I've never smoked crack, but I'm guessing.), so finding alternatives makes me happiest. 

As a self-identified abstainer, Gretchen posed a point I had never considered—that maybe abstaining works better for some people than moderating. And that the act of moderating for an abstainer can be as painful as abstaining is for a moderator. 

So what do you identify more as, an abstainer or a moderator? And once you've considered that, what challenges does that approach help you overcome? What challenges might it present? 

I'll start! Some weeks, my "80/20" approach ends up being more like "50/50," and I don't get as many vegetables as I would like. That's when I know I have to bring a little order back into my routine, start the week strong, and stock a greener refrigerator.  

The most important thing is that you understand the approach that suits you best, mentally, physically, and emotionally. When I transitioned from abstaining to moderating, I lost weight, slept better, and have never felt happier. The stress of trying to abstain from everything was all-consuming, and in discovering moderation I fell back in love with food. And learned how to respect it. Understanding how your brain works is key to personalizing the lifestyle that brings you optimal health. Every single of one of us is unique—health is not a one-size-fits-all equation!


This is a chocolate malt I made. Because if you told me I could never have a chocolate malt again I'd lose my shit. The trick is frozen bananas and libido-boosting maca! Which means that yes, this malt is not only good for you, it makes you randy. 

This is a chocolate malt I made. Because if you told me I could never have a chocolate malt again I'd lose my shit. The trick is frozen bananas and libido-boosting maca! Which means that yes, this malt is not only good for you, it makes you randy. 


WEEKLY GOODIES




NUTRITION TIP
Sautéing soup veggies with vegetable broth not only reduces calories, but more importantly, adds tons of extra flavor. Try it! I guarantee you won't miss the oil.

This also works for plain sautéed veggies, but oil's going to get you a better sear. Since I'm a crispy, crunchy, burnt bits-loving lady, that's my preferred route. 

Walk It Out

A few weeks ago, I canceled every plan I had, did not socialize with a soul, and walked 16 miles in three days. 

After years of using exercise to punish myself for eating, I experienced a proud realization that weekend, when it occurred to me how drastically my relationship to physical movement has shifted. When I think about teaching a spin class, or going to yoga, or walking for an hour instead of taking the train, it's not because I'm trying to burn something away. It's because I love my body and am craving the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with it.

In our office-bound lives, the mindfulness of movement is more vital than ever.  I can't think of a time where I have been more in love with the daily routine of disconnecting, giving my brain a break, and spending some time with the gloriousness of all that goodness below the neck. 

Today I want you to think about what it means to spend time with your body. 

Not because you have to. Not because it's been tasked with getting you somewhere. But because you've chosen to create that time, to move your joints and limbs and things that flex. To exercise your mind-body connection and embrace the unstoppable creativity, energy, confidence, and endorphin boost that comes from putting your feet to the ground and heel-toeing your way to something fabulous. 

When I talk about movement, I’m not speaking solely about the gym. I happen to like the energy of a fitness studio, but I know many people who find it stifling and un-inspiring, and would prefer to connect with their body in other ways. Girl, you do you. I don't care if you ever see the inside of a gym again.

This week, I just want you to focus on walking. Get outside, say no being sedentary, breathe air, LOOK UP, take a slightly different path, and put one foot ahead of the other for at least 30 minutes a day. Do it because it's a nice day, because your brain is a bit foggy and you need a re-set, because the spine is not meant to parallel the back of a chair all day, because fresh air is glorious, because you need an energy boost, because your legs deserve a stretch, because a sunny day and a good podcast can fix anything. 

I promise you, a walking routine will change your life. Here's what you stand to gain:

—Decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, and all chronic diseases, actually
—Trimmer waistline
—Improved mood and mental clarity
—A spike in creativity
—More energy
—Strengthened bones and muscles
—Improved circulation
—Better sleep

Those things are pretty cool, right?

How can you add more walks into your life this week?

 

Recipe: Simple Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup (plus how to spin any vegetable into soup)

sassafras+health+turmeric+ginger+soup

I whipped this baby up one morning when I was craving a creamy, warm, savory soup for breakfast. (A practice I highly endorse). 

What I love about this recipe is that you can use it as a baseline to spin any vegetable into soup. All you really need are a few aromatics (garlic, onions, ginger), some chopped veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potato, parsnip, rutabaga, sweet potato, beets), a bit of liquid (broth, coconut milk, water), and then, if you're feeling really crazy, whichever herbs or spices best highlight what you're craving (curry powder or paste, lemongrass, turmeric, cilantro, herbs de provence). You don't even need the spices to make something delicious though. This is as simple as it gets. 

sassafras+health+carrots

Soups are nutritional powerhouses — a masterful way to load your belly with a variety of vegetables, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They last a week in the fridge, work wonderfully frozen in jars for toting to the office, can be ladled over rice or noodles for something heartier, and in their most basic form, like the recipe below, offer a boost of immunity and liquid nourishment to warm the bones.


Simple Carrot Ginger Soup

Ingredients:

7 medium-large carrots, chopped 

1 red onion, diced (white or yellow also work)

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

2-inch knob of ginger, minced

1 heaping teaspoon of turmeric

1 can full-fat coconut milk

Salt and pepper 

 

Directions:

— In a soup pot, saute the diced onion in a tablespoon of coconut cream (the creamy substance at the top of your can of coconut milk), over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until translucent. 

— Add the turmeric, and minced garlic and ginger, saute for a minute or so until fragrant. Stir consistently to ensure it doesn't burn. 

— Add chopped carrot, saute for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add a half a teaspoon of salt, and a few churns of fresh-ground pepper.

— Pour in all the contents of the can of coconut milk, stir to combine, raise the heat, and bring to a gentle simmer (coconut milk can curdle at high heat, like in a rolling boil).  

— Let simmer until the carrots are cooked through and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Once the carrots are cooked, either puree in the pot with an immersion blender, or in batches with a full-sized blender. If using a blender, fill it no more than halfway, and start it on low to let the steam escape, gradually building to high speed. Follow these helpful tips for pureeing hot soup without any explosions. 

— Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy warm. Perhaps topped with something special, like a dollop of coconut yogurt, toasted nuts and seeds, microgreens, some roasted tofu, or a drizzle of honey or chili oil. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Recipe Box: Plant-Based Meals To Inspire

Each week I'm going to bring you a round-up of meals from around the web to inspire plant-based eating (meals comprised of veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and grains, and free of animal products) and cooking at home. Getting into the kitchen is the key to optimal health. Nothing is going to help you lose weight, feel better, get more energy, and GLOW, like cooking up some plants. 

So let's have at it, shall we?

My first two are inspired by the latest additions to my cookbook collection: 100% plant-based gems that released this week, both from food bloggers. 

 

1. Jessica Murnane's One Part Plant Cookbook is the latest venture in her mission to get everyone to eat one plant-based meal a day. A plant-based diet helped her eliminate most of the symptoms of endometriosis, and she was able to stave off a hysterectomy that not one, but two doctors told her she'd have to have. Pretty inspiring stuff. 

On her website this week she shared a roundup of what fellow bloggers have been cooking from her book, including pesto-stuffed mushrooms, creamy lentil pasta, and double chocolate cupcakes. 

Image via: One Part Plant

Image via: One Part Plant

2. The First Mess is another blog-turned-cookbook I've been excited about, because Laura Wright has such a creative way of spinning plant-based ingredients into meals that are different and unique. She also featured a roundup of posts from food bloggers who've cooked from her book, and I have my eye on the miso millet polenta with eggplant bacon and the spiced cauliflower steaks with walnut sauce. MMMMMM. 

Image via: A Cozy Kitchen

Image via: A Cozy Kitchen

Also loving:

3. Smashed purple potatoes with sunflower and sumac-spiced dukkah // Sassy Kitchen 

4. Turmeric black pepper latte // Love and Lemons

5. Mexican fried rice nachos // A Couple Cooks

6. Vegan samosa shepherd's pie // 101 Cookbooks

What are you cooking this week? Share in the comments!

For more images + stories of what's happening in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen, follow me on Instagram. Don't forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter for exclusive nutrition tips, articles, and information available only to subscribers. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to get the goods. xx

HABIT SHIFT: TRAVEL HACKS FOR THOSE WITH SPECIAL DIETS

My husband Matt and I were in Marfa, Texas last week. It's been a destination high on our travel list for a while now, and we spent our five days soaking up the city’s art scene (and tacos), and traversing to Big Bend National Park for adventures in hot springs and hiking. He’s on a quest to see every National Park in America, which means that, coincidentally, so am I.

Although he happily eats every meat and dairy-free dish I cook at home, Matt and I have different diets, and when we vacation together it’s vital that every meal we share is a robust celebration of the flavors, nutritional profiles, and cuisines that excite us both. Eating is a soulful, social experience, especially when traveling, and I don't believe one person’s special diet has to dictate the culinary tone of an entire trip. Traveling when you have a special diet does require some compromise, and perhaps a few shifts in habit. But if I’ve learned anything it’s that with a little preparation, you and your travel partners can enjoy a food-forward excursion where everyone leaves satisfied.

Tried and true, these are my favorite hacks for keeping hanger at bay while on the road. 

 

marfa2.png

 

1. Research, research, research

You’re not going to get out of this without some upfront planning. But it’s fun! I promise. Before every trip I scour the local area for restaurants with dairy-free vegetarian options. Sometimes this means calling ahead to see how flexible they are, other times if they’re particularly popular it means making reservations weeks in advance. Happy Cow is an excellent website and app that lets you search by zip code or city to find all the vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-friendly restaurants/grocers available in the area. Once I've done all my research, I pull together a list of nearby grocery stores and the best places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, where they are, and any special hours. Tucking it into the "notes" app on my phone ensures it's always handy. I’ll often vet menus beforehand with my husband or traveling partners to make sure the offerings appeal to them as well. Being hangry is not a good vacation look. And I go white-hot blind when it’s feeding time.

 

2. Make sure to prep some snacks

Places that are not abundant with options for special diets: airports and small desert towns in the middle of nowhere. These are recurring themes in my life, so it’s helpful to make or shop for snacks before a trip so I’m not left wandering an airport’s food desert, or the literal desert, without something to tide me over until the next meal. Heidi Swanson has always inspired me with the gorgeous, flavorful, travel-friendly meals she shares on her blog. Homemade granola bars, a cold soba noodle salad, popcorn, cut fruit, a sandwich, granola, and giant bags of trail mix have each saved my life at one point. Toting my own water bottle helps too, reducing waste and saving tons of money on bottled water. That’s the other thing—eating healthy at the airport is expensive! I recently spotted a half-pound of raw nuts at LaGuardia boldly priced at $12.99. Nope.

 

smoothie+marfa+travel+hacks+sassafras+health

 

3. Consider an Airbnb

In a big city, hotels are a great option, but in smaller, more remote towns Airbnb is the way to go. A. It’s often cheaper, and you get a taste of how the locals live. B. When you have total control of your space you can load up on your favorite staples, so you have a kitchen stocked with food that’s nourishing for the entire group. It’s also easier on the gut and far cheaper than eating out three times a day. Our Airbnb saved us in Marfa. Although there were abundant options for breakfast and lunch, the restaurants in our area didn't have a lot of vegetarian food on their dinner menus (why do so many restaurants think that pasta and portobello steaks are the only thing vegetarians want to eat? Newsflash: no.) So each night we stopped by our new favorite place, The Get Go, picked up ingredients to make tacos, and cooked a big feast at home. It was charming, and cheap, and intimate, and way better than another balsamic-drizzled portobello steak. (No offense if that's your jam). 

 

4. Load up on stomach soothers

It’s a fact of life: traveling messes with your stomach. It’s dehydrating, your body is trying to adjust to habits outside your normal routine, and no matter how healthy your choices are, the excess oil and salt loaded into restaurant food is not a gut-friendly situation. I always travel with a satchel of my favorite teas: green, ginger, turmeric, and a detox or laxative tea like Smooth Move, to help ease my stomach through any rougher moments. Real talk: who hasn’t gotten constipated while traveling? Pair that with the bathing suit realities of a tropical vacay or an 8-hour hike in the mountains and you’re not sitting pretty. This is also a great time to load up on probiotics for all their gut-friendly magic, like boosting the immune system, easing digestion, fending off food-born illnesses, and increasing vitamin and mineral absorption. Friendly Force is my favorite, and it’s also available on Amazon Prime for those getting their act together at the last minute. Pro tip: double your traditional daily dose of hydration while traveling. It’s going to help flush out any toxins, decrease the noxious side effects of flying, reduce headaches and unnecessary bouts of hunger, and soothe the after-effects of that extra glass of wine you thought was a good idea last night. 

 

5. Ship ahead!

Don't be afraid to ship a box of your favorite staples ahead to a hotel or Airbnb rental! Order them on Amazon or Thrive Market (I'm a huge fan), and feel comforted that you're going to arrive having everything you need on-site and ready to go. 


Habit Shift is a new feature on the blog, where I'll share small changes you can make to encourage healthier, happier, more sustainable changes to your life and daily routines. What are some habit shifts you'd like to make? Let me know in the comments and we'll tackle them together! Or schedule a complimentary 60-minute consultation with me so we can talk more in-depth. 

xo Amanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A simple process for goal-setting and getting (plus a free, downloadable worksheet!)

When it comes to managing your health, the weight of what you "should" be doing can be exhausting.

It took me a long time to figure out which rituals work best for me (daily exercise), and which I just needed to let go (meditating for longer than 60 seconds). I've tried more times than I'd care to admit to master a daily routine that resembles the who's who of wellness: meditation, journaling, cooking every meal myself (with every component made from scratch), 45-60 minutes of exercise, not sitting at my desk or staring at my screen for more than an hour at a time, staying perfectly hydrated, treating everyone around me with utmost empathy and compassion, and, of course, getting a full eight hours of sleep every night. 

I don't know about you, but after a few days of trying to do it all I feel more chained to these routines than inspired by them. The burnout is real. 

I see it in my clients, too. They want to stand behind these sweeping goals and go from being someone who's never run one mile to a becoming half marathoner in three months. Or they're committed to going from a steady diet of takeout to cooking every single meal from scratch. The desire to be healthier, to create big change, is so intense that it causes them to leap beyond the most vital aspect of goal-getting: the process.

When you dive into big change without a proper process in place, it's not just more challenging to begin, it can be nearly impossible to sustain. Meaning you're more likely to get discouraged, give up on the whole thing, and go back to whatever you were doing before. You've got to take one goal at a time, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps, and then layer these small habits into your daily life — allowing you to achieve sustainable, lifelong change without having to slam yourself into a new routine all at once. 

Think about a goal you've been focusing on recently. Now I want you to ask yourself:

 

What can I do to make this experience easier? 

 

Is it a plan? Is it a particular set of resources? A time frame? What needs to happen to ensure you have all the tools you need — logistically and emotionally — to transform this goal into reality?

For example, one of my consistent goals is to cook 80-90% of the meals I eat. I know that for this to happen, each week I have to dedicate a certain amount of time to planning, shopping, and batch cooking. If those things do not happen, neither does my home cooking. And one of the questions I ask myself at the beginning of each week is "What can I do to make this experience easier?" Some weeks it's spending a good portion of Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, batch cooking all our meals for the next seven days. Others, it's about coming to terms with the time constraints of a busy schedule and committing to cook simply. These weeks, getting dinner on the table and into our bellies in under 15 minutes is the win. There's a reason we had avocado toast with fried eggs twice in a row this week. 

To help you move through this process, I've designed a downloadable Goal-Getter Worksheet (click the link!) In it I lay out a super simple process for helping you determine which steps you need to take to accomplish a goal, complete with moments of reflection on either side. As a bonus, there are also two pages of my favorite Goal-Getting resources, featuring books and websites I turn to when I need motivation, or wellness and home-cooking inspiration. 


Step 1: Articulate your goal

 

Step 2: Dig deep

 

Step 3: Break it down

 

STEP 4: ASSESS AND REFLECT 


At the beginning of every month, I light a candle, sit down with a glass of red, and go through these steps with each goal I want to accomplish over the next four weeks. I cannot tell you how much more manageable my goals feel now that I've started doing this. Throw in the added boost of success because you're actually achieving what you set out to do, and it's a pretty feel-good system. When you're done you'll be all: get, that, dirt off your shoulder

What's a big goal, hope, or desire that's been looming over you recently? Shoot me and email and let's talk it out. Let me know what you think about the worksheet, and whether or not it brought clarity to any of the goals you've been mulling over recently. I'd love your thoughts!

6 Ways to Alleviate President-Induced Stress Syndrome (PISS)

On Saturday I marched in the Women’s March in New York City. I marched because I am appalled, grief-stricken, and terrified by what this election means for the world.

Buttons Matt designed and passed out at the march.

Buttons Matt designed and passed out at the march.

As a woman who works to empower the health of other women, I am particularly concerned with the new administration’s obsession with passing legislation that puts women in medically-compromising positions with very serious health risks. So when I read the full-scale results of the march I was blown away by the staggering global response (ALL SEVEN CONTINENTS!), making it the largest protest in world history. I could cry writing that.

I’m going to be honest — I don’t love admitting this — but I did not realize the depths of our country’s sexism issue until this past election. I knew there was sexism, of course, and I’ve been subject to it many times. Sexually and emotionally in relationships that were unbalanced, in a work environment dominated by men who don’t listen because they spend the entire time you’re talking waiting to reply, bi-monthly in my paycheck. Socially as well, like when I express to someone that I do not want to have children and they respond, “Just wait...you’re not old enough yet. I said that, too, and then when I turned [insert age here] everything changed!” (Yes, sexism can be perpetrated by one woman to another.) Suffice it to say, the politics of 2017 are educating me in a big way.

I was so proud of what our global community of women and women-supporters accomplished on Saturday, and spent the rest of the weekend on a high, soaking up photos of clever signs, teeming crowds, and giddy faces of friends and strangers who proudly and peacefully stood up for gender equality.

Matt and I at the march. 

Matt and I at the march. 

Then Monday morning arrived, and the negativity rolled in. I saw female friends over and over again trying to calmly but firmly address negative, unsupportive messages being dropped into their Facebook feeds. I watched one friend try to stave off a family member’s diatribe against her right for reproductive freedom while accusing her of not sharing his religious beliefs. I witnessed another woman stand up to someone who was trying to diminish Trump’s history with sexual assault by sharing her own experience as a sexual assault victim, as evidence that yes, sexual assault is devastating and wrong. As is vile, braggadocios talk in support of it. As is a President who goes so far as to proudly embrace both.

My good mood fell. I spent the afternoon feeling frustrated, anxious, withdrawn, and on edge. I had conversations with these women, where we admitted we felt utterly exhausted by this new political landscape already, and wondered how were we supposed to sustain this energy for the next four years? I went to sleep agitated, which of course meant I woke up every three hours. I’m sure you can guess what kind of mood I was in the next morning.

This is obviously not sustainable for any of us. And if I’m feeling this way, I have no doubt you are as well. It’s easiest in these times to put ourselves last. To let this type of stress consume us in ways that impact our ability to sleep, eat a proper diet, and relax. We can’t fight the good fight if we’re exhausted and emotionally wrecked.

Below I offer six simple ways to recharge yourself, alleviate stress, and tune out political negativity. There’s nothing life-changing about how they read on the page. In many ways they seem simple and obvious. But in daily practice, their ability to relieve stress and create peace in your life is profound.

My challenge to you is to choose at least one of these a day and become an activist for your wellbeing. Even if you have to devote 15 minutes on a Sunday building these acts of self-care into your calendar that week. Allow it to become a ritual, something you look forward to, and can guarantee will be a soothing moment in each day.

 

Cook something for yourself

It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a morning smoothie, decadent five-course dinner, or every pie from This Rawsome Vegan Life’s mind-bending dessert lineup, but take the time to mindfully prepare a meal in your home. Cooking is therapy, especially if you focus on making it a relaxing, indulgent experience. Pour a glass of wine or make a mug of hot tea, light a candle, play your favorite music or a podcast, and settle in. Feeding yourself thoughtfully is a gorgeous act of self-love. Plus when it’s all over you’re rewarded with something delicious. No one hates that.

 

Move your body

There’s a reason people are saying they’re going to spend the next four years in a yoga studio. When it comes to mood elevators, there are few things better than exercise. It releases endorphins, boosts serotonin, gets the blood moving, lifts the mood, improves brain function, and reduces depression and anxiety. It’s also one of the first things to go when we feel down or unmotivated. Yoga, spin, some stretching in your apartment, a long run, a walk with friends — it all counts. And when you're feeling resistance towards getting up and out, be motivated by your future self and how that version of you will feel once you've finished. Have you ever completed a workout and said, “Well, I’m REALLY upset I did that.” Exactly.

 

Read something not on a screen. Preferably fiction.

One hour before bed. Put the phone away, shut the computer off, stash the iPad. This is your most precious opportunity to prepare your body for peaceful rest. Not only does it give your brain a rest from absorbing information that stresses you out, but these devices literally interfere with our brain’s functioning, making it an actual challenge to fall in a solid, deep sleep. Try as hard as you can to make this a habit. In the meantime, build in time every single day to read something that is printed and not news. This is a gift to yourself. Some days I only have 15 minutes, other days I carve out hours. Even when I think I want to sink onto the couch and binge watch The Real Housewives, or a television show with actual merit, working with my brain and reading literature is a much more positive experience than trying to melt it with TV. 

 

Stay hydrated

Dehydration is the root of all evil. It makes you tired, cranky, hungry for simple carbs and sweets, it gives you a headache, makes it impossible to focus, hard to sleep, makes you feel weak, supports cramping, and it creates adverse effects when you consume things like coffee or wine. All of these things suck, and they also happen to mirror symptoms of PISS. Drink water. (But not too much right before you go to bed, so you’re not heading back and forth to the bathroom all night!)

 

Deep breathe

Most people do not breathe properly, believe it or not, and deep breathing can help eliminate stress, hunger pains, help you regain focus and clarity, and encourage you to slow down and tune into yourself. When you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed by a situation, it can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking three deep breaths in and out through your nose. Try it out — how do you feel when you have three moments of mindful breathing each day?

 

Be kind to someone

One of the worst parts of being exposed to negative energy is how it makes us first draw into ourselves, and then radiate that negativity out to others. It's completely counterproductive. It's not healing, it's isolating, and it perpetuates the very stressor that affected us in the first place. When you're feeling your most stressed, take a moment to be kind to someone. Having a positive interaction with another human being reminds you of a few important things: that the world is not all bad, that community is vital, and that you have the power to refuse to own someone else's negativity. Plus, it makes people want to be around you more. And when you're a light in someone else's day that is a big, fat win for humanity. 

 

Part of being affected by PISS is the despair that comes from feeling powerless. No matter what it is, do one thing every day that is purely for your own wellbeing. Even when people are trying to take our rights away, we still have agency over our bodies and minds. 

As always, I'm here for you. Never hesitate to reach out. 

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An essay on self-care.

This essay comes to you courtesy of my three-week old cold, which landed in my throat on December 21st and has been snuggling up to my sinuses ever since.

Self-care is not always easy.

It’s crazy, really. Shouldn’t taking care of ourselves be one of the most natural things we do? Something that summits our priority list, every single day?

My life, personally and professionally, is centered around trying to make the healthiest possible decisions I can for my body, mind, and spirit. I do that for me and my health, and I do it for you, so I can have as many tools in my arsenal as possible to help you create your healthiest, happiest life.

So why, this week, was it my husband who had to tell me I was too sick to go to work? Why did it take me 24 hours of hemming and hawing over whether or not to cancel plans with a friend when my nose was a running faucet and I couldn’t stop sneezing, had zero social capital, and was d y i n g to just lay on the couch with a box of tissues and watch Grey’s Anatomy? Why did I drag myself to a yoga class that was 20-minute walk away in 20 degree weather when I was utterly exhausted?

Because I, like you perhaps, like so many of us, struggle with saying yes to expectation. When really, I, and you perhaps, should be giving ourselves a giant hug, a freaking NAP, and a mug of something warm and healing. Like the matcha tea below, which I have on repeat these days.

Self-care is, at its core, the art of taking care of oneself. And honestly, you generally know exactly what you need. So when we’re talking about self-care, it’s not about trying to figure out which course of action is best, it’s about listening to what your body is telling you and actually doing it. And I hate to break it to you, but this is particularly difficult for women, because we are hard-wired to nurture, bless our souls. I could write a novel on this topic, and the bitter irony that causes this instinct to turn on itself exactly when we need it the most, but today I’m going to break down a few expectations and habits you need to check at the door — especially when you’re not feeling well.

 

Get rid of the word “should”

This nasty little harbinger of guilt is just a limp commitment to something you know is not in your best interest. Ellen Burstyn did a riveting interview with Anna Sale of the podcast Death, Sex, and Money during which she talked about how she gives herself “should-less” days, which is a day where there is nothing she should do and she only does what she wants. This felt revolutionary to me, and when you are sick that is a SHOULD-LESS DAY. Except for when it comes to sleeping and eating nourishing foods and resting. Those things you should do. When you do use the word “should,” ask yourself why? Why do I think I should do this? What expectation am I giving in to that is pulling me away from what I need?

 

Skip the gym

This is the only time I’m going to tell you to do this, so listen up and listen hard. Unless it is restorative yoga in your living room with a candle burning and some Stevie Nicks on the Sonos, you need to take a break. When you are sick your body truly needs rest more than anything, and I hear you on the guilt of foregoing the gym, but just like running through a sprained ankle isn’t going to heal it, forcing your body to exert effort it does not have is only going to make you feel worse.

 

For the love of god, take the sick day

Guess who loses when you go to work sick? Everyone. Your co-workers, to whom you are now a contagion and whose hacking and coughing they have to listen to all day. You, who can’t possibly be giving 100% when all you have to offer are fumes. And society, because we all lead (or don’t) by example, and every time you go to work sick you perpetuate the notion that there is something more important than your health and wellbeing. That’s right. I said it. When you go to work sick you let society down.

 

Cancel your plans

It sucks. It’s the very worst part of being sick, feeling like you’re letting someone else down or having to say give up something you were really looking forward to. But I promise you, when you give yourself the gift of doing what you really need, which is to rest and relax, you will be so grateful for it and will truly feel its positive impact.

 

One of the most amazing things about our bodies is that they know exactly what they need to do to run properly and take care of themselves. They are incredible machines, truly the coolest, but they have limits and it’s important to know them. When you get a cold, or feel exhausted, or can’t summon the energy to do certain things, that’s not your body revolting against you, that is your body delivering a very distinct message. That it’s time to slow down for a sec and give it the love it deserves. It does a lot for you. Throw it a bone and love it up.

And in the meantime, here are some delicious, nourishing goodies to fuel yourself when you’re unwell.

Miso soup. Miso is a beautiful kitchen sink soup, so feel free to toss in any extra greens or veggies you have lying around, add some soba, or throw it over some brown rice for a heartier meal.

Heidi Swanson’s Immunity Soup.

Fire Cider!

Homemade fire cider. Image credit: Emily Han / The Kitchn. 

Homemade fire cider. Image credit: Emily Han / The Kitchn

Or go for a healing smoothie.

Warming, blended soups help detoxify and cleanse.

Have a super anti-inflammatory happy hour with this turmeric milk latte.

xx — a