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When To Buy Organic

I know it’s hard to buy organic food all the time, especially when you are low in cash, but I feel strongly that if you can, you should try to buy fresh, local, organic food from farmer’s markets. Most of the food that is conventionally grown is covered with pesticides and chemicals, not something I personally want to put in my body. Also, once the food is shipped from Mexico (or wherever) and finally in your grocery store, it has lost a lot of its nutritional value.

If you are interested in eating organic, the Environmental Working Group has come up with a list that they call the dirty dozen, and the clean 15. This is a really good guide to figure out what to buy organic, and what you can get away with if you can’t go fully organic. Notice the safe foods have thicker skins or skins that you peel off.

The dirty dozen:
1. Peach
2. Apple
3. Bell Pepper
4. Celery
5. Nectarine
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (imported)
11. Carrot
12. Pear

The Clean 15:
1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet Potato


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The New Year

I love  the new year. It feels so exciting and fresh. It’s like a new journal when you open it up to start writing for the first time, there are so many things you can write, it’s full of endless possibilites. I am inspired by Camilla at Champagne Bubbles when she talked about writing up her new years resolutions and posting them on her wall. It is such a good idea because normally I will just think of the resolutions in my head, maybe write them down, but never see them again. Having them on the wall, and being able to cross off the items once they are completed seems inspiring and fun!

It’s like having a vision board. Last year I decided to make one, so I just put images of things I wanted on a cork board and hung it up on the wall above my desk. I tried to put photos of non “superficial” items, such as images of friends sitting around and enjoying each other companies, but I also included photos of travel destinations and items I wanted to get. The crazy thing is about half of the things I put on the board came true. I got the macbook pro for a birthday present. I ended up going to Mexico, Europe, and Tahoe this year when I was not expecting to travel (all of these places were on my list).

I want to re-do my vision board with new images, and this year I will add my resolution list. Happy New Years!

View From Hotel in Mexico

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Cute biker in Slovenia

The past three days I have been in Tahoe snowboarding, and seeing all the people out on the slopes reminded me the lesson of doing some sort of movement that you love. That way, you will want to keep on moving, and you will have fun! That is the most important thing. It’s so easy to get sucked into the attitude that exercise is a chore, and that the only way to get through it is to suffer at the gym while blaring music or watching tv to distract yourself. Instead, try focusing on your body, really feel what it’s feeling, notice your breathe, your toes, your arms.

And, do something you love! Think of exercise as a gift to your body, not a punishment to lose weight, or to work off the food you ate and felt you shouldn’t. For some people this will mean going to the gym, for others it means going outside and walking in nature, it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it. It’s also important to mix it up. Don’t just run everyday. Try biking, or surfing, or a fun exercise class at the gym. I recently did a bootcamp exercise class in the park, and it was fun (and a challenge)!

A nice body awareness exercise is the body scan. Lie down and take a moment to focus on your breath. Then, move your attention to your right toes, then your right foot, your ankle, your calf, you get the point. Then move to the left side until you make it all the way to the top of your head. While doing this you might realize that you haven’t been aware of certain body parts in a long time (unless it is injured). So, take some time out and see what you notice. See what your body is telling you, and don’t judge, just observe. The act of observing is healing in itself.

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It’s really easy to judge people, isn’t it? I’m reading in The Spirit and Science of Holistic Health about judgment, and it’s reminding me the importance of not judging. Really. I mean, who are we to judge anyways? Especially in a health setting, it’s easy to say, “oh, well that person obviously doesn’t have healthy behaviors, no wonder they got sick.” But what is really “healthy” and who are we to judge? There are millions of reasons why people get sick, there is no way to pin point it, or put everyone in a box and think that a certain behavior or lifestyle is the cause.


There was a good example in the book. Imagine you are on public transportation, and there is a man with really rowdy children. They are yelling, pushing and shoving and it’s really bothering you. The father isn’t doing anything and finally out of frustration and spite you ask him what his problem is and why he can’t control his kids. It turns out they had just left the hospital where the mother had died. That changes everything doesn’t it? In that situation you would switch from anger to compassion and want to help him.

Many people want to just fix a problem instead of listening, when sometimes listening is the one thing someone truly needs. Next time you are talking to a friend or someone who is having a bad day, just listen, don’t judge, and don’t try to fix the problem. Just be there and truly listen. See what happens.

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Integral Health

I don’t mean to be dissing out modern health care. In fact, it has saved millions of lives and has advanced in many areas. For example, we don’t have to worry about TB or polio as much as in the past. Or, if someone breaks a bone, or is in a serious accident, we have surgeries and physical therapy to help the person walk again.

What I’m learning about in class is the integral theory which combines the best of both worlds, the modern health care system and holistic system, focusing on mind, body, spirit and cultural aspects of our lives. Putting all of this together creates a powerhouse of ideas, knowledge, and health practices that can help heal the whole body, not just the parts. As I have said before, there are so many aspects of health and healing. Modern medicine focuses on one area, so we just need to bring in other aspects: the mind, emotions, worldviews, shared beliefs within a community, collective ethics and norms, economic systems, health care, human systems (and much, much more) and we have a holistic and integral approach to health and healing.

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An Experiment

I have been known to lean on the pessimistic side of things (or maybe I’m just realist? ;-)) and the more I keep on reading about how our attitudes and beliefs affect out health in a profound way, the more I want to change my thoughts and start looking at the glass and see it half full.


SO. For the past few months, every time I have a bad thought about myself, or another person, or I tell myself that I can’t do something, or I’m not good enough, etc, I replace that thought immediately with a positive thought. If I say “I can’t write this paper” I switch it around to, “I CAN write this paper”. And the funny this is, it’s starting to work! Of course I still have my bad days, but I have noticed that I am more aware of my thoughts, and sometimes before I’m about to say something bad about myself out loud, I catch myself, and either don’t say it, or just switch it around and say some positive.

Another thing I’m trying to do is remind myself what I’m grateful for. This helps me stay positive. Some things I’m grateful for at this moment:

My warm bed, my love, my pink mug, my family and friends, the view of the SF and the bay as I go through the tunnel, and cute mittens that I’m going to buy soon to keep my hands toasty warm.

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Who Will Heal the Healers?

I read a very interesting article titled Who Will Heal the Healers? in which Patricia Wilbe talks about her own experience being a MD and coming from the world of HMO’s (health-maintenance organizations, think Kaiser, or a big, bureaucratic hospital)  and switching to running and working at a community wellness center after burning out. In a study done with 12,ooo US primary care physicians, 75% said they were “overworked and overextended”. Instead of seeing the patients for 5 minutes, Wilbe now gets to spend as much time as she needs to talk with the patient and really get to know them and their history. Something I feel that is very important is she now not only hears about their health history, but their life history, events that could of made an impact on their current health. As we know, traumatic events affect us physically.

My dream is to see many wellness or integrative centers in all of the cities and towns in our country. This way, if something is wrong, people can go see the MD’s and holistic health educators, who have more time to see them and to really get to the heart of the problem. If surgeries or other intensive procedures are needed then the patient can go to the hosptials where it won’t be as over crowded and rushed.

The thought of all these well intended doctors running around, overworked and unsatisfied breaks my heart. I know that they entered into this profession because they wanted to make a different in people’s lives, but I don’t think they have to do that while sacrificing their own health. And, unfortunately, the way things are going, with so much demand and not even education about prevention, I’m not sure the majority of people are getting the health care they truly need.

Article is from The Sun, November 2009

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