This is my response to the article ”Why Women Should Not Run“.
Ok, I’m not going to argue that point, but I will argue with the title of the article “Why Women Should Not Run”, which very effectively got my attention and that of about 60,000 other readers.
I am a runner. I love to run. I run 35-65 miles a week depending on my mood and whether it sounds like fun or not. I am also a recovering exercise-bulimic. Which is not as odd or rare as you might think. In fact, the women in the article above are all apparently overeating and then compulsively trying to run the calories off – which is the definition of exercise bulimia. In fact, most of the long distance runners I know admit to using running as a way of managing their weight and the effects of overeating (or drinking). Exercise is considered a socially acceptable way to burn off excess calories, after all, how can doing something as wholesome and noble as sweating to work off a meal be problematic? But the truth is (as revealed by this article) sweating off your lunch is just as stressful as puking it back up.
The stress caused by exercise-bulimia is the actual problem with running, not running itself
I can attest to the fact that over-running to over-eat is a very stressful. Not only is chronically overeating emotionally and physically stressful, but over exercising with a punitive, calorie-burning attitude is a double whammy that can indeed result in a hypothyroid, depression and yes even weight gain. In college I was one of those women that went to the gym late at night (after getting up before sunrise for ski practice, studying all day, and then working minimum wage for several hours). I would pound away on the ergometer or stairmaster ticking calories off while I watched the endless barrage of CNN newsflashes overhead. Talk about stress! And just as this article points out, I never lost a pound. In all the thousands of miles that I have rowed, hiked, swum, run, skied and skated, I weigh the same today that I did when I was 18. That’s a whole lot of calorie burning, for a whole lot of nothing. . . .
I would (almost) do it all over again
My greatest wish is not that I didn’t work out so much when I was younger, but that I didn’t stress out about it so much. Because the truth is, I gained a tremendous amount of self-esteem and personal power from being fit enough to hike, run, ski and bike as far as I wanted to. Throughout my 20’s I confidently strode miles, days, weeks, even months off the beaten path. As a young woman I loved moving solo through the wilderness relying entirely on my own cultivated strengths and skills to hike 40 miles a day through canyons, rivers and glaciers. I hiked and ran myself to the ends of the earth and came face to face with myself, utterly capable and wildly self-reliant. Despite the pain and injuries I caused along the way, I wouldn’t trade-in those years for anything.
But then I was forced to
As wonderful and romantic as it all sounds, about ten years into this crazy-making calorie-burning gerbil-wheel routine I stopped. I was forced to stop. My body was in too much pain to keep going – broken, torn and tired, I was forced into a life-saving period of senescence. It totally sucked. I sought out all kinds of healing gurus, from yoga teachers to chiropractors, past-life mediums to physical therapists – anyone that could get me back on the gerbil-wheel.
Ten years passed, I lost some weight, I gained some weight, I ran a little, I yogaed a lot, I lost some weight, I gained it back, I lost it, I birthed two babies, I nursed them, carried them, lost sleep over them, gained and lost more weight, and miraculously, life went on without me having any idea how many calories I was eating or burning and miraculously, ending up at the exact same weight where I started. Hmmmm. Maybe there was an easier way.
Movement is freedom
Then my babies became girls. And I missed the feeling of freedom, the feeling of complete trust in my body and that it could take me anywhere. The feeling that I could propel myself through a 1,000 miles of wilderness, up a big wall, or over an entire continent. I missed my own independence and wildness.
So I started running again. Barefoot of course. Through the woods, over mountains, on beaches, and along the sides of gorgeous, fir-lined narrow frost-heaved Maine roads. But I made a deal with myself. I’d only run for fun. No calorie counting, no rationalized food-binges, no added stress. I had to continue eating a good, nutrient dense diet and if running impinged on my ability to dance, sing or paint, or made me grumpy at night with the girls, or kept me from having fun in any other way, I’d have to cut back. (Or take to Dance Walking through Blue Hill.)
Just because running is a perilous game doesn’t mean we need to play it safe
So how’s my experiment going? At the moment I am giving myself a C with a call to improve starting immediately. I missed out on dancing with my girl friends last night because the top of my foot hurt too much, and last weekend I ran 34 miles and couldn’t sleep Sunday night. That’s a bad sign. Too much adrenaline and cortisol in my system and I was left run down and unenthusiastic for the rest of the week. The reason for this overdoing is that I temporarily left behind my intuitive, responsive self in favor of ticking off the miles in preparation for the Pineland 50k next month. (Something my wild animal friends would never do.) Like so many women before me, I let the fear of being under-prepared keep me from being present in the moment. This lack of presence, of striving to complete a goal at all costs, causes the very same stress as calorie-counting and midnight gym sweating.
But I’m not giving up. I didn’t quit yoga when learning dropbacks hurt my back. I didn’t quit drawing when I wanted to cry over the gray lump that was supposed to be a kitten. I didn’t quit dancing when I flunked out of ballet in 3rd grade. We women are smart, evolutionary creatures. I learned to drop back gracefully and painlessly, and I can learn to run again too. Not for the sake of running, but for the sake of evolution. The question is not “am I strong enough” but rather “am I sensitive and responsive enough.” It’s a game totally worth playing, and worth getting better at.
So here’s to running happy. To feeling the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and the earth beneath my feet. To hearing the raven’s quoark, the peeper’s peep, and deep woosh of great blue heron and goshawk wings taking flight. And here’s to women being sensitive enough to play by their own rules.
The first ever Maine Yoga Fest is happening July 13th-14th in Portland. Over 20 of Maine and New England’s finest yoga teachers are going to rock the East End with all kinds of yoga fun. I’ll be heading down to teach a yoga class for all of Portland’s weary runners (the Portland half marathon is the day before). Hmmm, I think I might even place a shoe recycling bin at the entrance to my class.
I love the way Justine, Dana and Regan have pulled together this awesome, homegrown and sustainable event right here in Maine and filled it with talented yogis and yoga-related activities that will pull our community together for a weekend of great company and fun.
And here’s your chance to WIN A THREE-CLASS PASS to the Maine Yoga Fest. At 10am on April 15th my daughters will pull one lucky name from a hat. Here are the four ways that you can get your name into that hat (you’ll get one entry per action):
1) Subscribe to Wildopenheart’s email list:
2) Like Wild Open Heart on Facebook
3) Attend class this week (you earn one entry per class)
4) Register for my Spring Cleanse (which starts April 22)
So go for it. The pass is transferrable, but I suggest you take yourself on a date to Southern Maine this July. (Just a heads up, there is a $3.95 processing fee to register once you win. Peanuts).
Does what you eat really matter?
Many years ago when I first started looking into alternative healing methods, I had a little pet peeve. As an Ivy-leagued trained ecologist I was used to the exactitude of science. The results of a good double-blind study showed a clear relationship between two things, nothing more, nothing less.
So when any number of health authors proclaimed that their unique diet could cure every possible ailment, from asthma to eczema, depression to hyperactivity and everything in between, I was annoyed. How did these guys they get-off making such broad and casual correlations between diet and every possible ill humankind has ever experienced?? Their eagerness to make their particular diet all things to all people made them a lot less credible in my view.
The unhealthy truth
The thing is, while specific methods and diets are rarely tested in any meaningful way there is no doubt that the overall health of Americans is declining. And fast. In my experience, very few of us think that means us. But here are the facts, – as tempting as it might be to believe you are an outlier: just one juice box has over 15 grams of sugar in it, more than our ancestors might have eaten in an entire week. A single-serving of canned (even organic) soup has more sodium than our ancestors would have eaten in a day. Our livers, pancreas and kidneys are not made to handle the incredible stressors of this radical modern diet.
The result is that like our humble cow friends in Concentrated Animal Feedlots that are forced to eat grain instead of grass, we too are utterly dependent of drugs to keep us alive. Perhaps you think I’m exaggerating, or perhaps you consider yourself above such diet-induced illnesses.
What does true health look like?
- One or two minor colds a year.
- Deep and satisfying sleep
- No infections that require the use of antibiotics (a healthy immune system will keep even the most robust germs in check).
- Clear, shiny, fungus and virus-free skin, hair, nails and eyes.
- A clear, bright mind and attitude.
If this picture of health seems far-fetched or idealistic, picture a wild animal in a healthy environment. Shiny, abundant fur, bright eyes, alert, relaxed, sensitive, at ease and in sync with its environment.
Why do we settle for less?
Perhaps because as a culture have been taught to accept a bare-minimum of personal health accountability? Perhaps because we have been taught to believe that the food we put in our mouths 3, 6, 8, even 10 times a day has less impact on our overall health than that little blue pill we take every morning?
Ironically, there are real studies that show a significant connection between diet and diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, and yet most will still choose to primarily treat these diseases with drugs.
“But I’m different . . .”
If you’re reading this blog you’re likely response is “Well, if I had one of those serious diseases I would definitely change my diet.” But what if I told you that your general malaise, toe fungus, bloating, constipation, restless sleep, sore throat, frequent colds and eczema are serious diseases? If you saw a wild fox wandering around during the day with a runny nose you would be very concerned for that animal’s health. And yet, somehow we’ve been taught that our stuffy noses and poor sleeping habits are completely normal. They’re not. Nor are your migraines, acne and achy low back. Like the increase in rabid animals, these are symptoms of a system out of sync.
Being out of sync hurts. And sometimes we are so out of sync that we can’t even tell night from day, or real food from fake food. We look to external authorities to tell us what, when and how to eat because we’ve completely lost touch with our own wild and deeply intelligent instincts.
Getting back in sync and become your own heath authority
A good seasonal cleanse can do you tremendous good. Imagine that you’re one of those CAFO cows and that my Spring Cleanse is like rescuing yourself and putting yourself back out to pasture. No more antibiotics, no more joint pain, bloating, or identity issues just happy, contented chewing of life-force filled food.
The goal of my Spring Cleanse is to gently and persistently guide you back to your own native food environment. To re-awaken your own inner health-instincts and become your own authority, no studies needed.
For a one hour audio lecture I recently gave on this topic listen here
Compassionate and Empathetic people don’t eat animals!
At the age of nine I declared myself a righteous protector of all animals feathered, furred and scaled and stopped eating meat. I already hated milk (something to do with the stinky raw goat milk we got from the farm down the road) and rarely ate eggs (too fattening). By high school I was a competitive athlete and my main sources of calories were refined grains, sugars and processed oils. I was a classic uneducated and undernourished “toast and tofu” vegan.
The bad habits of an uneducated vegan
My Senior year in high school after rowing the Head of the Charles crew race we went out for a celebratory meal which consisted of two heaping plates of French fries and a liter of Diet Coke. That was how I refueled and rebuilt after an entire season of training for (and winning) the Head of the Charles. The following year I remember grocery shopping with my older sister for a climbing trip to the New River Gorge where we bought bananas, several packages of Fig Newtons (probably fat-free) and SnackWell’s, which was a brand-new-fangled cookie and I was thrilled because they were also fat-free and vegan!
Malnourished vegans aren’t doing anyone any favors
Fortunately, I have a lot of earth and water in my constitution (Kapha) which means I was surprisingly physically strong and resilient and I got away with this nutrient and prana-free diet for a long time. The mouthful of cavities, chronic sinus and lung infections, monthly dose of antibiotics and corresponding yeast infections hardly slowed me down. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that things really started to fall apart. I was routinely bingeing on sugar and carbs and exercising to burn it off and bingeing and exercising over and over again. I wasn’t refueling any of the minerals, enzymes or vital life force that my bones, muscles and connective tissue needed to repair and renew and my gut was a biotic wasteland.
I literally began to fall apart at the seams, tearing tendons, ligaments and muscles and stress fracturing bones (including my femur). Around that time I was leading backpacking trips for NOLS in the Yukon and I was so sick that almost every day I woke up at 4 AM with diarrhea. The rest of the day I felt like throwing up and while nothing seemed appetizing, my cravings were intense. Many years later I would come to have the exact same symptoms with morning sickness and discovered that in Ayurvedic terms, these are signs of extremely low Prana, Agni and Ojas. [Prana is the etheric, air-like energy, often equated with your breath. Agni is the digestive fire, but it is also described as the essential spark that transforms substance into life force. Ojas is the vital and nourishing "juice" of life.]
Meat as medicine?
When I got back to the States that fall, I went to a Chinese doctor who prescribed meat. I didn’t like her answer so I went to another alternative doctor who also prescribed meat. In all, five different health professionals told me that I needed more animal protein to heal. Ridiculous. I wasn’t anemic, I was technically strong as an ox, but less technically, I was totally miserable. I practically killed my future husband with my spectacular flatulence, I had more yeast than an industrial bakery, I had one cold after another and my face was studded with acne.
Finally, I decided to give it a try. The only meat I could ethically handle eating was road kill and fortunately I was living in Vermont where they sold road kill moose by the pound. It was cheap, lean, organic, free-range and sustainably, if not humanely harvested. Within a few months of eating moose and cutting out gluten and a few grains, I started to feel much better. My gastrointestinal symptoms started to clear. My mood perked up, my attention span grew, and I started running marathons again.
Finding Prana, Ojas and Tejas
It took me many more years to truly rebuild my body because it wasn’t just the minerals and protein from the meat that I needed. What I really needed was life force. It took me a while to figure out that life force isn’t something that can be packaged, canned, frozen or cooked. It comes in the form of breath, joy, love and connection. It comes in the form of plants, specifically leafy green plants, nutrient-dense roots, oily nuts, juicy berries, and fresh fruits and vegetables grown in mineral rich soil. And it comes from eating quietly and attentively, with care and calm.
After I made this discovery I went back to being vegan in various ways. Some months I ate only raw foods, some months I was more of a paleo-vegan (yes, you read that right), I drank ridiculous amounts of green juice and green smoothies and ate my weight in chia seeds, and mostly I started to thrive, feeling better than I ever had as a young woman.
But, I am a very physical being and I live for movement and adventure. My idea of a great weekend
is 32 miles of trail-running followed by a two-hour handstand workshop. I am also a mother of two little girls and to be totally honest it is not my highest priority to commit to the enormous amount of time required to fuel my family entirely on living plants, seeds and nuts.
Not that it can’t or shouldn’t be done. In fact, some of the best athletes I know are competing at the top of their field as plant-based vegans (as opposed to tofu and toast vegans). And I have close friends who devote wonderful hours prepping homemade sprouted seed bars, kale chips and wild green teas. So yes, absolutely it can be done. But to do it well takes some serious grit. And given my own early experience, half-assed veganism (where I replace the meat in my girl’s lunch box with empty carbs, processed oils, salts and sugars) is not a valid option.
That’s right. I feed my kids meat because I don’t like preparing food all day. I’ve compromised and every day I give thanks to the animals that have compromised their lives for me to live this fast-paced modern lifestyle.
I use my strong plant-based vegan and raw food repertoire as the basis for our meals. But I add in meat as a condiment. A kind of potent medicine that helps us ward off sugar and refined grains. I use it to fill the small corner of their lunch boxes that is left over after I’ve put in the carrot and red pepper sticks, walnuts and chia seed pudding. I still have green juice or smoothies every day, eat a ridiculous amount of hemp and chia and use coconut water to fuel my runs. But I add in three or four servings of meat a week when I’m training hard. Meat from animals that I’ve very likely met (well, not the wild Alaskan salmon), and that my husband may have helped killed.
Sometimes I feel like a lazy, unenlightened, yogi-fake. But mostly I feel good about my decision to trade in sugar and refined grains for a little bit of animal protein.
In Part Two of this Un-Vegan post I will investigate the broader moral and ecological implications of various popular modern diets (SAD, vegan, localvore and aboriginal).
You can also learn more about how to rehabilitate your own gut and settle on your own optimal diet in my upcoming Spring Cleanse, April 1-14th.
Bring yourself back into balance
We live busy, full lives and despite our best efforts to eat and live well we often find ourselves making compromises that over time compromise our health. This cleanse is a chance to come back into balance. To give your body and mind the time and attention it needs to detox, heal and renew. Ayurveda recommends that each Spring and Fall we can take the time “start fresh” and remind ourselves of how good, good feels!
This Spring we will be focusing on creating a healthy gut ecosystem. I learned first hand this past year how incredibly beneficial it is to pay attention to the critters in your gut. Our gut take the brunt of the stress in our lives, whether it be dietary, emotional or environmental. Focusing on gut health means exploring our relationship to food, feeling our gut feelings, and noticing how our internal ecosystem reflects our external ecosystem.
Recently there has been an explosion of research showing a vital relationship between our gut biota and our immune system, our moods, and of course, our food cravings. Just as growing a healthy garden requires great soil, growing a healthy YOU requires a great gut!
Spring Cleanse Specifics:
1. A total of four conference calls/webinars which you can join live to ask questions either via internet (free connection) or your phone. You have the option of watching informative and fun slides on your computer while we talk. You can also listen to and watch the recording later on your computer or download the audio to your mp3 player. Calls will be from 7:30-9:00pm (EST) and recordings will be available soon after the call is complete. The first call is Sunday, March 31st at 7:30PM when I will explain everything you need to know to start the cleanse on Saturday.
2. The comprehensive CLEAN LIVING GUIDE contains all the information you need ahead of time to prepare for the Spring Cleanse including menus, recipes, daily practices and much much more. It will be available as a pdf to download once you register and pay for the course (the latest version will be sent be email March 29). For now this guide is only available to cleanse participants. Returning cleansers will receive a guide ADDENDUM full of great new articles and recipes.
3. Online group forum to discuss, ask, collaborate, inspire and commiserate with fellow participants.
4. Three local meetings in Blue Hill for local participants to meet each other and share our experience. (most likely Sunday and Friday afternoons).
5. Hand-holding. You can call me, email me or bump into me on the street. I’m here to guide you into (and out of) an optimal cleanse experience.
What’s on the menu??
There are two main levels of plans to choose from and you can switch between the two and modify as needed.
Plan 1 is for those feeling depleted, run-down, tired, weaker than normal, get cold easily, don’t like to fuss about food, or if you are a nursing mother (baby is at least 12 months old). This plan includes eating the traditional Ayurvedic kitchari mono-diet (a specially spiced one-pot-meal of warm mung beans and rice) for up to a week, with a gentle liver cleanse using specific bitter herbs, spices and greens. It also includes a week of nourishing vegetable-based dishes with lots of pre and pro-biotics to help soothe, nourish and restore your entire digestive system.
Plan 2 Is all about vegetables. This is a low-glycemic, mineral, pre and probiotic-rich, super-alkalizing diet plan (green smoothies, raw and cooked soups . . .) that will create a vital relationship between you and your gut. The plan ends by slowly integrating a more diverse array of fruits and vegetables back into your diet to help you prepare for the warmer months ahead.
Both plans are complimented by the use of traditional Ayurvedic herbs and spices.
There is no perfect cleanse. There is no one way to detox. I am here to support you in developing your own deep-listening and so that your relationship to food is joyful, creative and naturally intuitive!
Cost (your personal health investment)
First Time Cleansers: $135
Repeat Cleansers: $85
To register you can:
1. Send or hand me a check (Charlotte Clews, POB 1333, Blue Hill, ME 04614)
2. Pay in full using the paypal buttons below($3 is added to cover processing fees). Please indicate in the address line if you are planning to participate in Cleanse 1 (April 1) or Cleanse 2 (April 22).
Avocado on toast
So simple, so yummy, so perfect on a blustery March morning. I’ll never forget how I was introduced to this breakfast. It was the fall of 2001 and Jerome and I were in New York City to practice Ashtanga yoga with K. Pattabhi Jois for a couple of weeks. It was just post 9/11 and the city was in a fragile, traumatized state but there we were, devoted yogis getting up at 4am to sweat and wiggle our legs behind our heads. By 8am we were done for the day and ravenous. One morning, wandering around the Puck Building looking for more than green juice, we stumbled on a little French café with white and blue-checkered tablecloths. And that is how I came to love avocado on toast. An entire avocado mounded up on two pieces of toast with coarse sea salt and black pepper sprinkled on top.
Every time I eat avocado on toast
I am reminded of that clear, blue fall morning. The ashes of the World Trade Center mixing with the incense at Eddie Stern’s purification ceremony. Well-intentioned, narcissistic yogis polishing their bodies with castor oil and sandal wood powder, chanting Vedic prayers, honoring the burned bodies, the families, the entire community’s losses.
Food that Balances
I usually ended the Ashtanga second series feeling jittery and wired, so I remember how that cool, oily avocado left me feeling unusually grounded and content. This might be my first memory of food as medicine in the way that I have come to know it through Ayurveda.
Now, as we pass from winter to spring through the windy, wet, vata-aggravating month of March, the unctuous, sweet avocado is just what I need before my longer runs. Add in a hot cup of earl grey for the bitter and astringent taste and I’m feeling close to perfect. (And yes, more than a little creative in my application of Ayurveda.)
Passing it on
My daughters know nothing of my memories or dietetic logic, but have happily joined me in my love for avocado on toast. And not just because it means they get to eat toast. They also report that their friends think that the idea of avocado on toast is “soooo gross”.
Someday I will take them to a little French café in New York City, and I won’t make them do the primary or second series first . . .
[Discover more about your own relationship to food and how to nourish yourself in line with the seasons by joining my upcoming Spring Cleanse].
Find Wild Open Heart at the Maine Yoga Fest this summer. I’ll be teaching Yoga for Athletes on Sunday – come get your feet and legs on straight for marathon/triathlon season!
Two hour Sunday Workshops at Blue Hill Center for Yoga
January 27, 9-11am Yin Yoga: In this gentle and nourishing practice we hold seated and supine poses for up to 7 minutes. The
longer holds help nourish the more “yin” tissues in our body, including bones, tendons and ligaments. Plenty of props are available and the room with be comfortably warm to help you relax and stay present in your body.
March 10, 3-5pm Arm Balancing 101: This was the most requested workshop in my online survey! So, here we go. For everyone that has every wanted to do a handstand or one of those funky breakdance skateboarder moves, you’re on! This workshop is for people who want to learn how to do arm balances, which means you don’t have to already be able to do arm balances to come. We’ll cover proper care of your wrists, using weight-bearing on the arms therapeutically to recover from shoulder injuries, and how to slowly build strength and confidence in a number of fun and funky upside down and sideways poses.
April 28, 9-11am Strong, flexible feet, legs and hips: This is my popular and very helpful “foot clinic” class for everyone who has feet. Taking care of your feet is a vital part of being bi-pedal. We’ll work our way up to knees and hips as well, addressing common mis-alignements and therapeutic strategies to get you back on track. Repeat students are always welcome – it’s a great excuse to go through the full 90-min foot/leg routine and pamper your 10 little bunnies!
All workshops are open to all levels of students. No pre-registration required. Cost is $20/workshop.
It’s rough out there
I’ve been watching my healthiest, most cold-resistant friends drop like flies with the flu this season. Entire families have been taken down for a week or more and are returning to the land of the living with a wild, hollowed-eyed look and a hacking cough to match. This is rough stuff. Especially in this dark corner of Maine where we’re already running low on sunlight, warmth and fresh, vital food (after five days in a truck, even the California kale looks like it has a head cold).
So far my family has resisted this plague. I really hope this post doesn’t jinx us, but even if it does, these tips will help us get through with a little less damage.
Nine Tips for Staying healthier in flu season
- Stick to an early bedtime, even on the weekends, even on holidays. According to Ayurveda your liver begins the all-important process of assimilation and detoxification around 10pm and being asleep by then lets it do this work more efficiently. A strong, healthy liver is important for a strong healthy immune system.
• Adults: get yourself in bed by 10pm.
• Children 9-11 years old need 11 hours of sleep. Every night. For most of us that means in bed by
7pm. As a bonus, a regular, early bedtime routine for kids makes parenting so much easier in
so many ways.
• Children 10-18 years old: need 9-10 hours of sleep. Every night. Especially teenagers. Do
everything you can to get your teen to sleep by 9pm and I swear they will have fewer colds and
- Finish eating for the day by 7pm at the latest. The idea is to give yourself enough time to fully digest dinner before you go to bed. With digestion complete and your stomach empty, your body will have more energy to devote to nutrient assimilation and detoxification while you sleep.
- If you feel at all worn down or think you might be getting sick, stick to light, easy to digest meals and finish eating even earlier (by 5 or 6pm). The less energy you have to spend on digestion, the more energy you’ll have for fighting off germs.
- Drink a ½-1 liter of warm (or hot) water in the morning before eating or drinking anything else. It’s amazing what a little morning hydration can do for your overall health. Your digestion will be stronger (pre-hydrating your stomach lining helps with HCl production) your skin will be clearer (hot water helps thin your lymph, which carries nutrients to, and toxins from your skin) and you might even pass over that first cup of coffee (less caffeine = fewer colds).
- Eat less sugar of all kinds. Sugar stresses out your entire endocrine system and depresses your immune system almost as soon as it’s eaten. Sugary drinks and snacks make you super-vulnerable to any germs that are already in your system or your local environment.
- Eat simple, warm one-pot meals. This is the best time to break out your crock-pot or rice cooker. Soak two cups of beans in the morning before you head out to work and that night throw them in the crock pot with some stock and bunch of chopped celery, carrots and an onion – voila, fool-proof instant soup ready to go into thermoses to take to work or school the next morning.
- Avoid cold, frozen, dry, processed and hard to digest food combinations. The perfect storm is cold, pasteurized, fruity yogurt packs with granola sprinkled on top. This mom-favorite is a great recipe for poor digestion and reactive, snotty mucous. Eat your fresh fruit alone or between meals (oranges are great at this time of year!), if you must have dairy, keep it raw, fresh and warmed up (I love a little whole raw milk in my Earl Grey at this time of year.) And hold off on vata-aggravating dry cereals such as granola until late spring or summer.
- Spend time outside everyday. Think of it as a daily nature-bath. Smell the moist piney air, feel the cool light on your cheeks, listen to the chickadees and nuthatches twittering in the distance.
- Spend time with family and loved ones and laugh every day. Laughter really is the best medicine.
And if the ship is already sinking . . .
Let’s say you had/have the flu or feel that it might be imminent. Here’s what people are saying has been working well for them for this particular flu season:
- Elderberry and black current syrup (or pills) 2xday.
- Vitamin D3 – 5,000 IU’s a day
- Vitamin C – 2,000 mg per day (or more if tolerated)
- Ashwaganda - two pills every morning
- Usnea tincture (to treat post-flu cough and prevent a secondary lung infection.)
And if you are one of the strong, healthy ones, make some soup for your sick friends, offer to help them with their laundry, bring them a funny movie and watch it with them, or dress up like batman and sing them a funny song. There’s nothing better for your health then being a friend to a friend in need!
Here’s the live-recorded version of the slide show I gave at Blue Hill’s Pecha Kucha night December 5, 2012. The Pecha Kucha format is that each presenter shows 20 slides for 20 seconds and gets to spout off on anything they like. Naturally I chose bare footing.