Welcome to Episode 2 of Q&A Monday! As always, after the “live” on IG (which is every Monday @ Noon PT) I share all the details from the Q & As right here on my blog so you have it all in one spot and in case you can’t make the live.
Great questions this week, so let’s dive in! Don’t forget to keep sending in your Qs on all things health and wellness and I look forward to answering them!
Here we go!
Q1. Tell me about fermented foods! Do you eat them? Why should we eat them? What are the best ones to eat?
Yes! I eat them and YES you should, too! Naturally fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, miso and kombucha to name a few are chalked full of live microbes known as probiotics that have a positive effect on our microbiome. Our microbiome is comprised of microbes that live on our skin and line our bodies and organs. The most talked about and prominent is the gut microbiome, but it also exists on our skin, the lining of your esophagus and intestines and more. It’s everywhere – and researchers are learning more and more how important it is to keep our microbiome healthy. One easy way to improve the functionality and maintain homeostasis of our gut microbiome is to simply add a little fermented foods to our diet.
There is some evidence that fermented foods can help prevent or reduce risks of colon cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, they may improve digestion, boost immunity, promote a healthy weight and more!
You don’t have to go around eating cups and cups of sauerkraut, unless you want to (J), but simply having a few spoonfuls a day of sauerkraut or kimchi or a small glass of kombucha is enough to provide a benefit. It is best to start with small amounts and add more over time, as fermented foods can be a little tough on the gut if your gut and microbiome isn’t currently in tip-top shape. So, start with a few spoonfuls or gulps and go from there. Increase to where you are doing 3-5 TBSPs morning and evening or a pickle morning and night. Be careful with kombucha, as it often has caffeine, so you want to preserve this one for the AM hours.
You also want to make sure you’re consuming naturally derived fermented foods and not the Nally’s pickles you find on the shelf in the condiment aisle. You want to be sure your fermented foods are fermented with just salt and water, not vinegar. The natural fermentation process is what creates the microbes (healthy bacteria). Usually the high-quality natural fermented foods you want are in the natural food, refrigerated aisle of the grocery story. They are not cheap, so alternatively, I suggest making your own sauerkraut! It is SUPER easy and very cheap. All you need are a few old jars from spaghetti sauce (or any large jar will do), a head of cabbage and some salt and you are good to go! Here is an easy recipe.
The microbiome is a hot topic these days and I could spend hours on just that, so stay tuned for more!
Q2. I really want to start a regular meditation practice, but I struggle to quiet my mind. Any tips?
I hear you! And I believe this is what makes so many people quit before they have even really tried. They just assume they aren’t good at it and can’t “quiet their mind”.
Quieting your mind completely for a sustained period of time is nearly impossible. Your mind is made to think, after all! Having a perfectly quiet mind as a goal is what leads to so many giving up on meditating. It’s learning to bring the mind back to the body when it goes astray that is the key to unlocking a healthy meditation practice, because your mind willgo astray…many, many times.
For starters – just simply have a goal of sitting with no distractions for 5 minutes every morning. Here are some additional tips:
- RPM: Use the RPM tool (rise,pee, meditate). While you can meditate any time of day, first thing in the morning when your body is just waking up can be the best time to achieve a deeper meditation, especially when you are just starting out.
- Lighting: Keep lights down low, only turn on what you need to in order to get yourself to the bathroom and to your meditation spot.
- Location: Pick a spot that you’ll go to every day for your meditation (preferably not your bedroom for sure out of your bed!) – or you’ll just fall back asleep!
- Create an inviting space: add a little alter with some special trinkets (e.g. a special stone or leaf, a candle, incense, statue, plant) and have your favorite blanket or pillow or chair to sit on. The photo for this blog post is an example of my alter.
- Dress comfortably: be sure you’re warm enough and not too warm. Throw on a sweater and drape a blanket over your legs if it’s a cold winter morning. Set yourself up for success so that you’re not bothered with other distractions like being too warm or cold.
- Set a timer: I recommend the free app Insight Timer. Set a timer for 5 minutes, sit comfortably with your legs crossed if sitting on a pillow or legs uncrossed if sitting in a chair with your away from the back of a chair. Don’t obsess over your posture. Do your best to have your shoulders down and back, and your belly soft.
- Breath: Take 3 deep cleansing breathes in and out and then settle in. Close your eyes and just allow your mind to follow the ins and outs of your breath for the 5 minutes. Visualize the air cool air coming in through your nose, into your lungs and the warm going out of your lungs and through your nose. Sometimes it helps to attach a soothing color to your breath so you can picture this color moving in and out of your body.
- Keep coming back to your breath: Every time you notice your mind has left your breath, don’t adjust anything – just simply bring your attention back to the sound and feeling of your breath going in and out through your nose and into and out of your lungs. You may have to do this every 5 seconds – that’s ok! Some days it will be easier, some harder. Just get used to sitting and bringing your attention back over and over to your breath and your body and out of your mind.
- Mantra (optional): If it’s helpful, some like to add a word or phrase to their breaths to keep their mind on their bodies. This could be a simple single word like Om over and over, or it could be a series of words you repeat over and over like peace, joy, health or a simple phrase like “I am loved” or “I am at peace”. Just try a few different things until something feels right with you.
Over time you can add a minute every other day until you are doing this for 20 minutes every morning. The trick is to have very little stimulation from the time you wake up until you begin meditating. Don’t check email, social media or texts – just simply set your timer and go.
Once you have this down in silent form, you can then begin to play with guided meditations and background music. To start, it is best to learn and adopt a practice that can be done anywhere, any time without the use of a phone or audio. That way if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have access to these, you are still comfortable getting yourself to a relaxed place without. This came in handy for me recently when I was battling cancer and had to go through lots of treatments, surgeries and procedures where I was not able to have a device or distraction, and had to get myself to that calm place all on my own. Thankfully, my years of meditation helped me get there and provided a big source of ease and peace during some difficult and painful moments.
Over time, you can also begin to do a Nidra or sleep meditation before bed to help improve sleep quality. This is usually done lying down in bed and I rarely last for more than 5 minutes until I’m off in a deep slumber!
Most importantly, show yourself a lot of grace. There is NO perfect way of meditating. I still “work at it” every day and will until the end of my days. It will always be a work in progress, as most things in life are. Any time you give yourself the gift of slowing down your thoughts and tuning into your body, you are creating a divine experience that elevates your health and your consciousness.
Q3. What do you suggest for keeping peace in the home during this time of quarantine?
Self-care, self-care, self-care!!!
For me, the best thing I can do to keep the peace is be sure that I’m making time to take care of myself. It all starts with you. If you’re in a good place because you are taking care of yourself, you’ll be less likely to react negatively to what’s happening around you, or at least you’ll take it a bit more in stride.
Taking care of yourself looks differently for everyone, but for me it is meditating, doing vigorous exercise every day, taking a walk every day – solo when needed, keeping a routine and schedule to stay and feel productive, taking a nap in the afternoon when needed, finding something to do each day that brings me joy – baking, reading, a project etc. going easy on myself and letting myself have some downtime to watch a bit of Netflix or just chill out for a bit.
Bottom line, when your tank is full, everyone else will benefit! Stay on top of your self-care and you will be able to find more harmony with those in your household. Put a note on your bedroom door “I’ll be back in 45 minutes” if you need some alone time to do whatever you need to do. Communicate with your family about your schedule – coordinate with your partner on kid duty expectations if you have little ones so you each get a break and time to yourself.
I realize we’re all dealing with unique situations, and some are not in a good or even safe place right now where finding harmony is not possible. Sending you so much love and please reach out if you need an ear. Single mothers out there – the goal is just to survive this time in one piece. For you I say yes, self-care if you can find the time or have the opportunity, but mostly I just say GRACE – and lots of it, for yourself and your kids. Take ALL of the pressure of whatever ideal you have for yourself of “good parenting”. These are NOT normal times, so if they watch 11 hours of Disney channel, it’s ok. Survival, remember? Last I checked Disney shows didn’t kill anyone. Be kind to yourself!
Thank you all for following along the 2ndepisode of Q&A Mondays! Please continue to send in your great questions, and tune into IG every Monday at Noon PT for more As to your Qs!
Book recommendation of the week: Marie Forleo’s “Everything is Figureoutable”. Really good and actionable book for these challenging times and a good way to begin setting yourself up for success and crushing your dreams when this is all over.
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Hang in there! We’re truly all in this together. Until next week, Love ALWAYS Wins. Ciao!