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Category: Body & Wellness

Entries about fitness, exercise, food and nourishment.

Minimalist Skincare

Definitions

For some people a minimalist skincare routine is all about having a minimal amount of products. It might be to save time, space, money or to avoid over cleaning and treating their skin.

For others minimalist skincare is not about how many products they own, but using products with very few ingredients. The might focus on minimally processed natural ingredients. They might buy certain brands that contain few ingredients. They might make their own lotions and potions.

For some it’s about minimal packaging so they have minimal waste when they are finished.

My Minimalist Skincare Routine

Minimalism for me is about simplifying the things I do day-to-day and creating space to feel grounded and present. I hate feeling rushed. It makes me anxious. So I take my time with a short routine of rinsing my face with tepid water first thing in the morning and applying moisturizer and an eye cream. And later, after I’ve done my gratitude journaling, meditation, workout and had breakfast, I put on sunscreen and make-up. Though make-up is optional. It depends how polished I want to feel. I will write about my make-up choices in a future post.

In the evening I usually have very little energy so I want to gently cleanse my face and apply no more than a few products (serum, moisturizer and eye cream) and go to bed. I enjoy the process with a facial massage I learned from Reverse the Signs of Ageing: The Revolutionary Inside-Out Plan to Glowing, Youthful Skin, but often times I skip this step. I’m not a night person. At all.

In terms of the actual products I use, it’s varied throughout the years. I like to experiement – I’ve used drugstore brands like Neutrogena, fancy department store brands like Enro Laszlo, multi level marketing brand Arbonne, and small independent brands like Stark Skincare.

Right now, I avoiding ingredients that cause me irritation – read more about my reactive skin here – so I’m using products recommended by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki author of Beyond Soap: The Real Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow as well as a few DIY recipes.

This past year I’ve also outsourced some of my skincare. I see an esthetician for a monthly treatment following a plan she created for me after I had a Visia Skin Complexion Analysis. It has included a series of Venus Freeze treatments, IPL (in the winter) and a bit of microdermabrasion.

Creating Your Minimalist Skincare Routine

Learn your skin type. I think seeing an esthetician or dermatologist can help you figure this out, but they may try to sell you their product line. An impulse purchase is not what you want to do as minimalist so if you are still working on that you can determine your skin type on your own.

Ask yourself what you want from your skincare routine. Be specific.

Knowing your goals and what’s important to you ingredient-wise will help you decide on the right products and routine for you.

What is your budget?

How much time do you have for skincare?

Do you engage in any activities that may require specific products (like more sunscreen because you alpine ski)?

Do you have reactive skin and experience irritation on the regular. Do you know what is troubling your skin?

If you do have irritation you can see a dermatologist for a patch test to determine if you have a known allergy (I did that a few years back and it was helpful). Or you can consider going on a skin product detox. Much like a food elimination diet with a product elimination diet you remove the most common allergens and irritants for a period of time and then slowly reintroduce products one by one to figure out what is triggering what.

Then, when you have your answers, start researching brands that suit your needs and budget. Remember that there are effective products at all price points. Also, research DIY product recipes if that interests you. Two of my favourite blogs on the subject are Madeleine Olivia and Wellness Mama. There are some super simple, inexpensive and effective options in your pantry. I think a mix of both choices is a great way to go.

If you are looking to simplify your skincare routine, I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions for me please post in the comments or head over to Instagram. It’s the best way to reach me.

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A Skin Care Journey – Part 1

I’m not sure where or when this recently published book – Beyond Soap: The Real Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki – came on to my radar, but I know it did because when I saw it displayed during a recent bookshop trip I recognized it immediately as something that I had heard about and was a must-read for me.

I’ve always been a bit skin obsessed and doing what I can so that my skin is blemish free, smooth and bouncy. The more I learn the more I realize that most of my efforts (but not all) were misguided. It’s taken me more than two decades to truly understand that when it comes to the skin less is more.

As a teen I started with the compulsive habit of over cleaning (thank you Noxema ) and over exfoliating (thank you St Ives apricot pit scrubs). Later I spent so much money on awesome smelling and feeling products that unfortunately had unremarkable results. I layered product onto product in hopes that the effects of lotion 1 might be remedied by lotion 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5). Through out the years there have been breakouts (and picking), redness, stinging, itchiness and most recently extreme dryness, hives, swelling and rashes.

A few years back this started to happen

I was put on prednisone, had patch testing done (results all negative), took prescription anti-histamines whenever I felt the swelling start (it began with a tingle and an itch), and walked around with an epi-pen for a year. I tried to figure out what was trigging it and my best guess was alcohol (I was drinking pretty heavily back then). I was using all natural products without parabens and pegs in them so I assumed my skincare wasn’t at fault. I can’t know for sure. What I do know is that my life was a bit of a mess and had been since 2010. I had my last drink December 27th, 2012 and worked on sobriety big time. I haven’t had a reaction like that since then.

What I have had is very dry skin and redness

And weird breakouts

Now, this may be due to aging. I’m perimenopausal after all. Last summer I was diagnosed with fibroids, endometrial hyperplasia and severe anemia. I got treated (as well as an IUD for the progesterone) and those conditions have greatly improved. I’m also sleeping through the night for the first time in 4 years and have fewer night sweats. Lots has improved, but, my goodness, is my face ever really, really dry and still breaking out.

It’s not clear in this pic, but there were close to 100 pustules on my forehead. Yes, I counted. This blogger likes her data. ;-)

Now onto the book Beyond Soap and what it’s inspired me to do

Stay tuned for part 2 of this entry!

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Cheap Effective Natural Ways To Deal With Period Cramps

Fennel & Ginger For Cramps, Flow & PMS

One of my favourite sources for nutrition research is Nutrition Facts. Dr. Greger’s non-commercial, nonprofit, science-based website that provides free daily updates on the latest in evidence-based nutrition.

In reading up about the increased flow and PMS symptoms during early perimenopause I found this video on the benefits of fennel seeds and ginger. It’s been found that fennel seeds work as well as ibuprofen for reducing painful cramps (without the side effects and way cheaper too!) and 1/8 tsp three times a day of powdered ginger can cut menstrual bleeding in half. Ginger also improves PMS symptoms such as mood, physical and behavioural symptoms while fennel seeds can improve anxiety and depression during PMS time. Wow!

Both are definitely something I will include in my diet to help with my PMS and my flow week. Day two is particularly heavy and my flow lasts over 5 days – typically 7 since I entered my 40s.

More Nutrition Facts videos on menstrual cramps:

Benefits of Ginger for Menstrual Cramps

Ginger for Nausea, Menstrual Cramps, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dietary Treatments for Painful Periods

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Dull Dry Damaged Hair

I’m a fan of YouTube make-up and hair tutorials – especially when it comes to retro looks. My first discovery was Iris J. She was especially active with her uploads from 2007-2010 and I referred to her work for my burlesque styling on the regular. What I liked about her videos besides being amazed by her beautiful long, thick locks was that she was well-spoken, poised and charming. The quality of the video is poor compared to today’s standards, but this was also before the current YouTube age of drama, clickbait and fast cuts. If the content is good and without negativity and gimmicks I’m a fan regardless of video quality.

As I watched her videos I discovered she had many tips for no heat styling. My hair was long and dyed dark brown at the time and I was doing my best to keep it healthy. My hair doesn’t hold styles very well so to give it volume I used hot rollers, teasing and lots of hairspray for all my retro looks. They were fast and effective, but also harsh and damaging. In 2013 I cut my hair short and used wigs for burlesque in part to start over with healthy hair and healthier habits (less heat, less products, less chemicals).

Fast forward to today and I have short natural hair that is VERY soft and healthy. I have only used a hair dryer twice in 18 months. I’ve never used a curling iron, hot rollers or a hair straightener. While I don’t have much hair to work with as I’ve had a pixie, now growing it out and have some length to play with. My hair looks and feel very healthy and I want to keep it that way.

So what’s a person to do when they want some volume, curl and hold without the damage? Go back to the basics of no heat styling.

Pros of No Heat

Using heat can cause hair to become dull, dry and damaged. No heat styling will help prevent frizz, split ends and breakage. You can have shiny, bouncy hair without using chemically loaded products that come nearly always in plastic bottles. It’s also easier on your budget because you won’t spend money on expensive tools (buying them in the first place or replacing them when they inevitably break or get nasty with product buildup). If you like no heat styling you can then sell your tools or donate them – minimize and simplify!  Plus, no heat styling is environmentally friendly – you will not need to use any electricity (that saves money too).

Cons of No Heat

Not using heat means you will be air drying your hair and this will take some time. It reminds me of the 1950s expression for not being able to go on a date – I’m busy drying my hair. This was not necessarily an excuse. It was a reality. But I think setting the time aside for some body care can be selfcare. Plus you can read or watch a movie as your hair dries. It’s not time wasted in my opinion.

No heat styling also requires time and some patience as you learn a new skill. For a curly or wavy look that means pin curls, foam rollers and rags. Thankfully, there are many tutorials out there.

Setting your hair at night and sleeping on it can save you time. I’m a light sleeper and I find I can sleep in foam rollers, but not pin curls.

If you have wavy or curly hair, absolutely straight hair can be a challenge without heat tools, but some people have found some success. I’m curious to try this once my hair is long. Expect an update in 2-3 years. ;-)

If You Do Use Heat

Minimizing the amount of times you use heat tools will help prevent damage.

Don’t wrap or rub your hair with a terry towel after wetting it. Some people advise using a microfibre towels, but I’m not a fan of them because they are made from petrochemicals and do not biodegrade. They also shed their fibres (as all clothes do) in washing and these tiny plastic particles end up in our waterways causing noticeable microplastic pollution on coastlines. A better option is a worn out cotton t-shirt.

Use only using a hair dryer on slightly damp (not soaking wet) hair.

Use a flatiron with a ceramic plate and follow the manual’s time limits. Typically for a maximum of 5 seconds on dry hair.

Get regular trims! Every 4-6 weeks! This is what kept my long hair less damaged. I still had length and kept the split ends at bay.

Don’t use banana clips ever. My stylist told me she can always tell who uses them from the breakage she sees in certain spots. Elastics can do much the same so I made my own with old black tights and pantyhose.

Super Popular Video

For more tips on healthy no heat hair I suggest you check this video from Sarah Nagel of Holistic Habits. She is a big fan of hair oils and massage which of course so am I!

BTW – I’m working a blog post with step by step photos of me styling my short hair without heat and using foam rollers. My first attempt created a fun 1980s new wave look I think will be great for a night out. Stay tuned!

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My Hair Care Routine

My hair care routine is always evolving based on my lifestyle activities and the refinement of my values. For nearly twenty years I had long dark hair that I dyed to cover up my grey. Now I have short salt and pepper hair. You can read all about that here. My different looks have required different products and tools. What has always remained the same is I have never washed my hair every day.

When I Had Long Hair

When I had long hair I would wash it every three days. I worked out at the gym almost every day so it got a bit greasy, but I kept it feeling fresh by using the now discontinued Aveda hair freshener from their Light Elements line. I quite adored that product.

I didn’t want to wash it and dry it daily or even every second day because I found it a tedious process. Also slightly dirty hair is great for up-dos and retro styles which was important for my burlesque performances and glamour photoshoot.

The styling and the teasing began in the 1980s. This is from my high school graduation in 1988.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

This is a photo from the Montreal Burlesque Festival. My hair was professionally styled by Antoine. Most of it is my natural hair. He did stuff some hair to shape it. Slightly dirty hair makes these kinds of hairdos possible.

In terms of products I was a loyal client of Aveda for many years. When I had long hair I started off using Aveda Shampure Shampoo & Conditioner and then when I was colouring my hair every 6 weeks I used Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo & Conditioner, protected it during heat styling with Aveda Brilliant Damage Control Spray, and styled it with Aveda Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother and Aveda Smooth Infusion Glossing Straightener. I used Aveda Control Force Hair Spray for my hot roller styling and up-dos.

Now With Short Hair

I wash my hair every 7 to 10 days.

Last year I worked at a restaurant which is a smelly, greasy environment. My scalp became irritated with cysts (yeah, I know – gross) so I washed my hair every three days with Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo. The cysts were gone after one week of use. I kept using it until I moved to Ottawa and started my new non-restaurant job. Now I am using Aveda Brilliant Shampoo & Conditioner and swapping it every second wash with Lush Daddy-o Purple Shampoo for Blonde or Grey Hair (which has blue malva to keep grey hair from going yellow). Once I’m done with these products I want to move to either a package-less shampoo bar or make my own.

As for styling I’m finishing up containers of Confixor and Control paste. Once I’m done I have some products from Arbonne to go through. When I’ve finished them I will asess my needs and see if I should buy a new less plastic based line or make my own.

Healthy Hair

In my experience the way to healthy hair is twofold:

  1. Avoid damage from heat and styling. Be mindful of the clips you use as they can break hair.
  2. Get regular trims. Even while growing out my hair (which I’ve done twice as an adult) regular trims will ensure that your length is as healthy as possible.

Other tips:

Give yourself a daily scalp massage. It’s a relaxing experience and is thought to be beneficial to your hair. And I say if it worked for Jon Bon Jovi I might as well try it. ;-)

Don’t use too much product. Not only will it build up (especially if it is something that cannot be absorb like silicone) and weigh down hair, it can lead to facial breakouts.

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Protein Chia Seed Pudding

I adore Protein Chia Seed Pudding. I think one reason is because I’ve always enjoyed tapioca pudding. As a kid I liked the texture and the creaminess. When I have tapioca pudding today (usually the vegan coconut version at Chu Chai – a fantastic veg Thai restaurant in Montreal) it reminds me of the comforts of childhood.  Rich, creamy desserts are a powerful thing. Now I’ve discovered that Protein Chia Seed Pudding is my adult version of this. Bonus – it’s much healthier than the original dessert version.

I found this recipe from Georgie of Vegan Fitness TV (my favourite fitness YouTube channel). She and her partner Darren offer a free e-cookbook at their site. It features a similar recipe (plus many more) and a 7 day 3 meals a day eating plan.

Here are step by step photos of me making a simple version of Protein Chia Seed Pudding.

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Combine 1/4 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened soymilk. I used a fork to mix it up to avoid lumps.

Let the chia seeds plump up for 30 minutes or more depending on how thick you want it that day.

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Stir in 2 scoops of protein powder. I used Arbonne Vanilla Protein Powder.

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Top with 1 cup of frozen berries.

You can use fresh ones but this summer has been a lean year for berries in my area so I’ve been using frozen.

The frozen version adds a cooling and crunchy touch to the pudding that I quite like.

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Enjoy!

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How Not To Die – Video

As many of you know I am a bit of a nutrition information junkie and I really enjoy the work of Dr. Michael Greger. He claims to have read every nutritional research journal of the year (now that is a nutrition info junkie – wink), He examines the research and synthesizes it for the average person interested in how food affects health, quality of life and longevity. He also brings a critical eye to how research actually doesn’t translate to improvements to the food industry. As someone who wants to live a healthy AND a simpler, more frugal life his work has been a very useful resource.

Most of the things that make us healthy and keep us healthy are cheap and largely available without professional help or commercial prodding. – Michael Greber, M.D.

Here is a great (longer) video on his examination of the leading causes of death in North America. Super interesting and also told with a fair bit of humour.

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Pretty Happy – Book Review

I’m a huge fan of healthy lifestyle advice books. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time. I read those by doctors and specialists as well as those by celebrities. The first celebrity one I read was by Miss Piggy. It was 1979 and I was 8. I don’t remember any of her advice, but I do remember enjoying the book enough to take it out twice from the library. It may have been a satire, but I was drawn to its glamor and beauty aspects. The humour went over my head. Hey, I was 8 and my idea of true beauty was in its early stage of development as was my sense of humour.

As an adult, I’m a bit more cynical, but still drawn to beauty and lifestyle advice books. Why? I like a good makeover. A transformation story is optimistic and demonstrates some sense of agency and control over your destiny. I like learning what I can do on a personal level to be healthy and happy inside and out.

Yes, I know in a way I am buying into the idea that celebrities have it all figured out, but I know enough on the science of well-being and aging (as well that people are not always what they appear to be) that I can read these books and take from them what *I* find beneficial.

Now onto my latest read — Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson.

This book is Kate Hudson’s answer to the limitless amount of questions she gets about her supposed secrets to looking and feeling good. She goes into detail in the ways she has constructed her life in ways she cannot in quick 30 second sound bite of an interview. It all starts with being in touch with your body and learning to understand it.

For me, reading my body, paying attention to its signals and honouring its natural intelligence, is key to staying slim, fit, and healthy.
Kate Hudson

This is definitely something I have found key to my own road to well-being. In the past it was ever so easy for me to detach from my body and my feelings and engage in unhealthy habits – use food, drink, relationships and passivity as a pacifier in my day to day life. Connecting to my body and my emotions, observing them with gentle compassion has made a world of difference to me. reading this right off the top in Kate’s book made me want to read more about HOW she connects and what habits it involves. I like to always be adding to my toolbox of wellness strategies and habits.

She breaks this process down into what she calls her 4 Pillars of Health: Cultivate an Intuitive Relationship with Your Body , Eat Well (focusing on nutritional balance and Ayurvedic eating), Awaken Your Body (movement & exercise), and The Miracle of Mindfulness. The foundation of these Pillars is what she calls her Drawing Board – essentially a journal for various exercises and note-taking – that makes the reading the book and interactive process.

Things I liked: Her approach to mindfulness and meditation. I think doing a daily (or many times a day) scan of the body and checking how you feel physically and emotionally is such a useful tool.

Things I did not like: The word detox. I think it is overused and typically inaccurate.

Things I am now more curious about: Ayurvedic medicine body typing and eating.

I think if you are someone who enjoys self-reflection, then you will enjoy this book. I don’t think anything she recommends to be out of reach for the average person. I live a frugal yet very busy life with a small budget and many responsibilities. I was able to implement many of her suggestions without changing my spending habits. It meant more changing how I spend my time (like my sedentary habits of watching a few hours a day of TV).

Some people have not found the book as useful as I did – like the author of this snippy review. I’m not really into the online trend to hate on famous people. I get that people find it loathsome when a celebrity speaks from much privilege. But it is not like this kind of book is coming out of nowhere. Journalists and entertainment reporters are asking them ALL THE TIME what they eat, how they exercise and what they wear. I can see that they would want to take advantage of this interest by controlling the message with their own book. Plus, it makes financial sense for the 30 and 40 something actresses who don’t work as much as they used to in their 20s to take their celebrity and use it to continue to earn a living.

I much preferred this take on the celebrity lifestyle trend by Jess Allen. It’s a little more gentle and I think more self-deprecatingly humorous. Slightly in line with my 8 year old self and Miss Piggy’s book.

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Fitness Journey

These photos were taken 2 years ago over the course of 6 weeks of working out and eating 80% clean under the supervision of my trainer Sophie P Fitness. I think the results were pretty impressive.

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At the start point in early 2014 I was at around 160lbs.  Over the past 3 years I had gained weight (30lbs) and lost muscle tone.  Post-divorce I did a lot of emotional eating and excessive drinking as well as dealt with all the anxiety, depression, fear and over all stress that comes with struggling over how to rebuild one’s life.

When I got sober in January 2014 I dropped 10lbs quite quickly and then I lost another 10lbs by eating well and working out with Sophie during my 6 week programme. I was feeling pretty good, but I got off track by the end of 2014. I spent much of 2015 stressed and working as a waitress and manager at a restaurant. While it brought some stability to my life, it also took up all of my time and my mental and physical energy. It was not my ideal work/life situation. My healthy habits disappeared. My meals were not plant-based or centered around whole foods as it was more economical and convenient to eat at the restaurant. Then in the summer I suffered a back injury and after that I didn’t work out at all. While I was not living the same unhealthy lifestyle as before, I wasn’t making my health a priority.

I decided in January to change that. I started with small changes in my schedule, doing less of what was not working and doing more of what I know does work for me. Now I’m moving to a new space, being more consistent in my exercise and healthy eating. I have a ways to go as I want to be able to run and lift like I did some ten years ago.

I decided to share this photo to keep myself accountable AND to remind myself of what I can do in six weeks if I am consistent with my healthy life routine.

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My Favourite Kale Recipe

Ingredients

3 TBSP of Water
1 Clove of Garlic (crushed – though I love garlic so I thinly slice it)
1 tsp Red Chili Pepper Flakes
1 Bunch of Kale (or about four loosely filled cups – wash as you would lettuce and spin it but leave a wee bit of water on them)
1 TBSP Raisins
1 TBSP Coarsely Chopped Kalmata Olives
1 TBSP Lemon Juice (or more if you like lots of lemon) or Apple Cider Vinegar

Using a large sauce pan sauté garlic and red chili pepper flakes in water for a few minutes (I choose water instead of oil because I like to reserve oil for my nut butter cravings or for dishes that need the flavour – I find this one doesn’t). Watch it so it doesn’t burn.

Add kale to the sauce pan and give it a stir to get the garlic and red chili pepper flakes mixed in. Cover the saucepan to let the kale steam from the water on its leaves. I like my kale with a bit of crunch so I only steam it for a few minutes (until it is bright green). If you are new to greens like kale you might want to cook them more. Keep an eye on it though so if you need to add water you can. Burnt kale is not tasty at all.

When the kale is done I mix in the raisins and olives and squeeze in the lemon.

Voila!

Sometimes if I want to make a more complete meal I add in some cannellini beans and some brown rice. Both have protein and fibre. Fibre helps with digestion. Good digestion helps give you sexy glow and reducing bloating.

You can also make it with collards, beet greens and chards. Do not make it with lettuce or other delicate salad greens.

1 Cup of Cooked Kale has 36 calories, 1g of fat, 7g carbohydrates (3g dietary fibre), 2g protein, 354% of your daily requirements for vitamin A, 89% of vitamin C, 6% of iron and 9% of calcium.

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How Breakfast Changed My Life

Breakfast. It all started with breakfast. But first let me back up a bit.

After 17 years of being together I left my then-husband and went to live on my own. It was scary in many ways. It was the first time in my life that I ever lived alone. I was 39 and I went through a multi-year learning curve on the simple and complex aspects of being independent. One of the major adjustments I had to make was to learn to cook for myself – and only myself. I was used to cooking for us.

At the very beginning I was all about convenience foods that I could heat up and serve with steamed rice or quinoa. I didn’t have a stove at my place – only an electric wok and small steamer.

Once I got a stove I tried some recipes for one person, but found they required me to buy large quantities of specialized ingredients that would go to waste.

At one point I tried batch cooking, but I found it overwhelming to shop for large quantities of food. If I didn’t make the recipe in time the produce would go to waste. Plus, I found it depressing to have a lot of food. It emphasized how alone I was.

Later I went through a lengthy ordering-out phase and soon after had the bills and waistline to show for it.

Clearly these were not the strategies for me. Then I realized there was another way. I could take what was working for me and see if I could apply it to all of my meals.

So what was working? Yes, it was breakfast and it was always the same thing.

Oatmeal with blueberries and ground flaxseeds
Yves Veggie Sausages (the only processed soy I can digest – wacky, I know)
Coffee

So I looked at other simple meals I enjoyed and asked myself if I could also make them my standards as I did my oatmeal breakfast. After a little trial and error I discovered I could. Not every recipe clicked, but the ones that involved minimal preparation and cooking became my classics.

A favourite turned out to be a poached egg, a big bunch of steamed spinach drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a side of baked beans.

Here are 5 other of my simple meal classics.

– vegetable curry made with coconut milk

– lentil Bolognese (or if I switch up the spices it is a Sloppy Joe)

– tomato bisque *

– mushroom soup *

– tempeh cassoulet *

My favourites snack is a cold Granny Smith apple and some almonds. I also really love a sandwich made with a nut butter and some blackstrap molasses. I grew up having molasses as a treat so it is part nostalgia and part taste bud familiar.

I have eaten this way for over a year and feel so much better. The simplicity makes my to-do-list much shorter and a meal all the more pleasurable. From time to time I get fancy and make something from a cookbook, but it is no longer a chore or a challenge. It is a delight. As it should be!

From the book Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings—And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally (disclosure Amazon affiliate link).

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Public Declaration

Sharing this blog post is a bit scary for me. I am declaring what is important to me. This declaration is about me making a commitment to myself. It is about me sharing a vision of my life. It is about inviting others to share in my journey of exploration and wellness.

It’s also about making a list.

You see, I want to share some personal life goals and use this special space that is Love-Yourself Living to further document my journey toward wellbeing. I want to be accountable. I want to do what I say I am going to do.

I say all this knowing that I have publicly shared of myself in profound ways for many years. However, right now I feel so much more grounded and clear-headed. More than any other time in my life. It feels like a good time to be a little more specific and concrete with my goals.

I have laid the foundation with mindfulness work and discovering My Core Desired Feelings. Now I can set goals with soul as Danielle LaPorte says.

Sharing also makes me accountable. Not as pressure to live up to my goals. Not motivated out of fear of shame and guilt. More as a way to encourage me to check-in with myself and others.

It is about respecting the holistic. I’m relying on our interdependency. I’m a being that is part of a greater whole. I have a plan and sharing this plan with others helps me and it helps others.

So here it is – a list of definable actions inspired by My Core Desired Feelings of whimsy, full, purpose, radiance and poise.

Ready! Set! Go!

Daily Practice

GRATITUDE

I am a thankful person. I appreciate what I have. Definitely a glass-half-full person. However, my mind can sneak in some scarcity thinking which totally throws me down a rabbit hole of assumptions, comparisons and resentment. Doing a gratitude exercise every night is the plan and so far so good. I do a count of ten things I am grateful for. I have not made it to ten each night. I have actually fallen asleep. So this exercise not only helps my soul, it helps my body and mind ease into sleep. Bonus!

LUNG SUPPORT

All my asthma attacks and allergies were really getting me down. I had trouble breathing 24/7. My previous apartment did not help (it had a mould problem), but my breathing problems go way back. I finally got myself a family doctor (they are hard to find in Quebec). He practices integrative medicine so he has me dealing with my asthma with a combination of prescription medications and natural methods. I take the medications consistently. Now time to be consistent with the natural methods to support my breathing.

  • gargle with salt water every morning
  • neti pot (Not before yoga! If you have neti potted you know what I’m talking about!)

YOGA

My hips are very tight. I have trouble sitting cross-legged. My back is also tight from sitting at my computer desk much of the day. Yoga has helped me loosen up and expand. It also helps me start the day feeling grounded and present in the moment. There isn’t a yoga class in walking distance from my apartment so I last year I started following Tara Stiles on YouTube. I especially liked her little routine for opening up.

NOURISHMENT

I want it to be plant-based most of the time. Moderate animal product consumption for when I visit family.

For the past 4 years I have totally been struggling with my veganism. I was vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for about 15 of that.  Then I began to cheat. Yes, it was cheating. Guilty and shameful cheating. The reason being because I started feeling trapped by the NO aspect of veganism instead of feeling expansive by the YES aspect of it. This Scarcity vs Abundance type thinking and living went beyond food, but that is for another entry.

It makes sense now. I was in the depth of the pain of my divorce and used food to numb the feelings. This made the trapped feeling worse. Over a few months I explored the feelings behind the cheat-eating and the numbing. I was very gentle with myself. No judging. Radical Acceptance all the way. I became more resilient to difficult feelings and the desire to cheat and numb began to lessen.

Now that the tide has changed and I am leaning back into veganism once again. All the reasons for choosing veganism are still there for me. The bottom line is I just do not feel good when I eat animals.

Please know, this is about me and my choices. I don’t care what you eat. It is such a personal thing. Sure, I wish for us humans to be kinder to animals, the planet and ourselves, but unless you ask for advice, it is all up to you and your choices.

I have to say yes to greens and fermented foods more often. I love greens. They are easy to make. Simply steamed! I need to eat more of them. Same thing with (low sugar, low sodium) fermented foods. They are kind of magical. They help with digestion and are correlated to over all improved health. Tempeh is already my soy of choice. Now I want to add sauerkraut to my nourishing mix. I have an acquaintance in the burlesque world who makes and sells it. Hey Lise V, I must get a jar from you!

In terms of supplements I want to add pro-biotics and cranberry extract. This is super practical and oh so important for my lady parts. They help keep my vaginal flora in balance and my urinary tract happy. I find things has been wacky since I gave up booze. Not sure exactly why. Perhaps just a readjustment. Time to get the tract on track.

So that is my list – my self-care declaration for 2015. Adding new things slowly but surely over the days, weeks and months to come. Building a Daily Practice requires time, but it is so worth it. It’s such an adventure in self-love!

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Juice Cleanse

A few people had asked about the juice cleanse I’m doing this week so I thought I would write a little bit about it. For six days I am consuming nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juices (mostly vegetable) and getting daily colonics as well as engaging in other cleansing activities (dry brushing, Epsom salt baths and neti pot nasal irrigation). It’s a supervised cleanse with an experienced colon irrigation specialist and holistic nutritionist.

I decided to do it after we discussed various forms of fasting and cleansing in one of my nutrition classes. I have been eating very poorly or at least nutritionally inconsistently for the last few years and especially so since my separation. I know for myself that a cleanse or limited diet that clears the slate so to speak helps me get back to healthy eating and exercise patterns. I did it back when I was training for a half marathon and had awesome results (food cravings gone, no more asthma and loads of energy). I really need to get back in that place.

After my cleanse I’m going to continue to see a holistic nutritionist to address my issues (pms, asthma, and food cravings) and have her help me develop the optimal diet for me.

About the nitty gritty of the cleanse: it’s doable for me as it is 6 days of juicing bookend by days of transition eating. I do find I’m a bit hungry but not intolerably so. I consume water with psylium and bentonite clay 4 times a day which helps me feel full and pushes and scrapes things along in my colon. The juices themselves are not too bad though I have been experimenting with different combinations and some have not turned out so well. Keeping it simple helps: cucumber, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, and ginger is my favorite.

As for the colonics they feel odd but not painful. I have tremendous amount of bloating in my abdomen and I’m noticing an improvement in that. Same thing with under eye bags (which have been the bane of my existence for quite some time but in the past year have really become huge) and with my breathing.

I’m drinking a lot of fluid so I am peeing often. Very often. Number 2, poop or as I like to call it BMs are just fine. I’m pretty happy and regular in that department on any given day but they have changed with the colonics but nor in any detrimental way. I cannot believe I wrote about poop in my blog. A first! And let’s hope a last. Again, I’m a pretty healthy person when it comes to that department and I have to admit I do talk about it with appropriate friends and family members but it’s not something I journal about. Though you do end up thinking about it more than ever during a cleanse and when people hear the word colonic they just have to know the nitty gritty details. This is the best I can do. ;)

I have three more days to go. I looking forward to eating and chewing. I am looking forward to more variety in terms of flavoured and textures. But three more days of juicing I can do as long as I hang out at home, do my yoga and not watch any cooking shows!

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Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse

I am on Day 4 of my 21 Day Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse by Kris Carr. I feel great today. I had some withdrawal-detox headaches and a crazy runny nose on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that seems to have subsided or even gone away. I neti potted today and it as the best it has ever been. I have issues with asthma and allergies. I have cleaned up my diet before and it helped to greatly improve my breathing and diminish my symptoms to almost none. My diet has absolutely sucked this past year (part of my whole rebelling against my past thing) and my body is suffering because of it. It was one of the physical reasons I knew I need to clean up my diet again. Anyway, when I neti potted today it just flowed like a waterfall immediately as I started. It felt awesome.

One of the reasons I am doing the Crazy Sexy Diet 21 Day cleanse is beyond the physical. It is to get me back on track. Or rather I feel like I just figured out where the track is and I am ready to get on it. My track – not anyone else’s. After a year of rebelling and trying all sorts of things, of hiding, of escaping, of tuning out – I feel I know myself better. I know what I value more than ever before. I know what I want in my life. I feel like its time to put the focus on me and living the life I want to lead.

Great what a bit of a nervous breakdown, a year of therapy and and whole lot trial and error will do to a gal.

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Warrior 2 Past Present & Future

Warrior Two is my favourite yoga pose. I had an instructor tell me that when you are in Warrior Two pose you have one part of you looking at the past and all you have done, seen and learned, another part of you firmly in the present, living in the moment, and another part of you looking towards the future. It really resonated with me. The pose feels good physically and emotionally for me.

I have dabbled in yoga for a few years. I regularly took a class at the YMCA. I have had a membership at a fantastic studio called Breathe. I have done yoga at home. I have done yoga outside. I have done it with friends. What I have not done is do it consistently for more than 1 year. This lack of consistency is a thread that runs through my whole life from childhood until now. This is something I want to change. Not just with yoga but with all aspects of my life. I know I need spontaneity and such too, but I cannot live with only that. It is very draining and damaging. It is one reason I have been so out of sorts. Of course, I cannot expect for it to change over night. It is something I need to build over time.

When I think about consistency I think of words such as routine, regime, schedule and practice. And practice is the word I like best because it implies a work in progress and I like that. It also can be applied to individual interests and activities and the whole of who I am.

Today I also did the most yoga I have done in maybe two years. Today’s poses.

4 Sun Salutations
1 Mountain Pose
1 Forward Bend
2 Triangle Poses
1 Forward Bend
2 Warrior Two Poses
1 Mountain Pose
2 Tree Poses
1 Sitting Forward Bend
3 Cow and Cat Combo
1 Child Pose

I have been adding 1 Sun Salutation a day. I am doing it flow style so it took me about twenty minutes to do this series today, but I am going to hold them longer and I would like to have a 30 minute practice by next week. I listen to spa style music with birds chirping in the background and I find it both relaxing and invigorating.

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