5 Ways To Become Healthier ( Starting Now)

5 Ways to become healthier ( starting

All across the world, people are waking up to a pressing need for us to become aware of how to take care of our health, as well as making a positive impact on our environment and community. 

Through the internet, affordable courses, books, health leaders, alternative MDs, Moms/Dads/Kids, activists, chefs, and so have appeared. It can be overwhelming finding out what we should eat and how we can best take care of our health. On top of that, there is a belief that in order to be healthy you need to spend a ton of money on supplements or equipment. Sure, I love my Vitamixer and see real value in supplementation, but in reality you can start living a healthier life right here and now.

I’ve created my list of 5 ways you can take charge of your health without feeling overwhelmed. Start with one of these points or do all of them! Whatever feels right for you and your family. Remember, you are not in this alone!

1.) Say no to GMO

If you are concerned about Genetically modified food, pesticides, and other harmful toxins in your food, it’s time to switch to organic. It’s important to remember that even though organic food can cost more, it doesn’t have to; there are organic produce clubs you can join that send you an affordable box of veg/fruit every week, and at your local farmer’s market you can speak with farmer’s about seasonal produce.

Organic shampoo too expensive? Consider making your own ( youtube has many videos on everything from ‘no-poo’ to dry shampoo). No fluoride free toothpaste at your local store? Use baking soda and essential oil ( like peppermint) or even turmeric.

Remember to buy in bulk when possible so as to save even more. Your local health food store should have a bulk section for things like chickpeas, lentils, rice, etc You can also save by shopping at places like iherb which offers discounts and cheap or free shipping.

2.) Download my free workbook to determine your budget and assess your pantry

If you’re not sure where to start and are new to all this health stuff, download my free workbook and start filling it out. It will help you determine your budget, personal health goals, and what items in your house may contain harmful ingredients.

3.) Find the right exercise for YOU

Not everyone enjoys running, yoga, or cross fit. Find what YOU enjoy and do it daily. That’s your number 1 task: consistency. If you hate doing something, you won’t do it for long, so find out what works for you. If it happens to be running, then schedule it into your calendar and tell family/friends you are unavailable during that time for anything other than running. Or better yet, invite them along with you!

Enjoy yoga but no time to take a class? No problem, you can do it at home and fit it into your schedule. Read Emily’s post on how to not feel overwhelmed by yoga and know that it’s flexible for your needs and schedule.

4.) Start using and/or growing spices

You can do this right now! Write down your top 5 favorite spices on a sheet of paper and then google them followed by ‘health benefits’ or ‘how to grow’ and you will be amazed as to A. how health they are and B. probably how easy it is to grow them ( well, some of them)

I’ve written about the health benefits of ginger as well as cinnamon, and that is just touching the tip of the iceberg! Wait til I write about turmeric…one could write a book on turmeric as it’s a major superfood.

Once you’ve investigated the health benefits of your favorite spices and herbs, discover how to use them. The Herbal Academy of New England has excellent programs and articles for learning how to make poultices, cook with superfoods, make tinctures, etc. Meghan Telpner also teaches on her TV show and culinary nutrition program how you can use superfoods in your daily diet.

5.) Simplify

I can’t even begin to expound on how important it is that we all slow down and simplify our lives. That’s a challenging task in our fast paced keep-up-with-the-Joneses world, but our health and wellbeing depend on it.

A few ways to start slowing down and simplifying

-Declutter one room a week and donate or sell whatever you don’t use or need

-Journal 1 page a day. This will slow down your train of thought and get you into a contemplative mode. An excellent way to end the day. 

– Go on a limited info diet. I am not saying you shouldn’t stay on topic of topics that are important to you, I’m saying don’t be inundated with negativity that is dominate in media. 

– Spend time each day meditating and/or praying. 

-Take a nature walk with your family. 

All in all, remember that the journey to wellbeing is something that may not happen overnight. It can, and it’s great if it does but leave room to gradually improving your health too. No matter what health issues you are facing, you can do something each and everyday to get you closer to your goals.

Families Shopping Smart for Healthy Whole Foods

This Google Hangout took place on Wednesday, September 25th at 1pm EST. Enjoy!

A New Resource for Holistic Families

health docs pic

Not to long ago, I was living in the heart of Hollywood amongst the throngs of the silver screen hopefuls, brooding rockers, and general star-struck Californians.  Movies were the #1 topic in conversations everywhere.  And sadly, 90% of the promising films turned to duds and were forgotten as newer, more expensive releases arrived with their bigger bangs, hotter stars, and larger marketing budgets.

As an actor, I had a thirst for something more .  Enter Documentaries.

And while everyone was drooling and swooning over Michael Moore’s upcoming blockbuster, I was delving into Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Bible wishing for a mix of the two mediums – well produced health documentaries that went to the edge informing us about the truth regardless of the consequences.

And Supersize Me was the answer – one man’s journey of eating only McDonald’s fast-food for a full 30 days.  1 month before Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, Super Size Me became the health documentary that ushered in a new age of information pertaining to helping the individual learn more about living a holistic lifestyle and staying away from the harmful foods that were eaten with little regard to the consequence.  It was a hit in the theatres earning over $12,500 per theatre (only 41 screens) upon opening weekend, proving that documentaries could impact a nation of force-fed action flick movie-goers.

And more followed, much more.  The Gerson Miracle, Food Inc., King Corn, Killer at Large, Food Matters, The Beautiful Truth… the list goes on.

Movies such as Forks Over Knives and The Beautiful Truth changed our lives drastically. This isn’t just the case for me either. Whenever I am speaking with health conscious people about how they made drastic changes to their lifestyle, almost all of them espoused the benefits of documentaries.

A few months ago, I found out about a wellness minded site that has some of my favorite documentaries and then some. GaiamTV not only provides you with health and wellness documentaries, it showcases unique TV shows as well as yoga instructionals and tons of inspirational movies. I teamed up with Gaiam TV to provide you with my top choices in holistic health movies and shows, such as the upcoming TV show, Secrets to Health with Mike Adams from NaturalNews.com and Dr. Ed Group, an expert in heavy metal detox and other detox protocols and creator of GlobalHealingCenter.com.

 

 

Watch the latest episode of Secrets to Health on Gaiam TV!

 

In Secrets to Health, the co-hosts use hands-on experiments to expose the hidden truths behind today’s food and pharmaceutical industries. Group and Adams aim to promote holistic healing, positive thinking, and creating a clean environment, while empowering viewers to make informed decisions on their health and well-being.  The first episode airing on September 25th can be viewed here on Gaiam TV!

Stay tuned for reviews over the next few months detailing why these monumental films are life altering and not to be missed.  Or you can see the list and watch them on Gaiam TV right now!

Image source

 

 

 
Gaiam Banner

Swing Open Creative Doors

It’s been one of those weeks.  I find myself doing everything but what I should be doing.  And when that time comes to sit, think and create… all the energy has been sapped and I’m staring at a blank screen fighting my brain to jump-start itself back to life.

So, enter our Guest Blogger and Heroine of Inspiration, Adriana Tavarez.  Her advice helps the wanderlust find their spark and has helped me “once more, unto the breech!” – Holistic Dad

 

Source

photo-1

 

So today I set the intention to finish this article on swinging open creative doors when SLAM! It happened to me. The doors sealed shut. My thoughts drew blank and not a single hint of creative flow surfaced.

My first thoughts were to find my place of inspiration. And so, I surfed the net and read about creative opportunities and real life stories of those who found the key. But this did not swing open the doors to hope, endless ideas nor flow. It evoked a state of anxiety and the, “end all, be all” feeling of fear. Needless to say, fear is the antithesis of flow that engages state of mind in which whatever you’re doing feels nearly effortless.

Given my perceived fail, I then proceeded to sleep on the matter for about an hour only to wake up completely uninspired. The door, now, was a passageway to a life of misery, unhappiness and nauseating downward spirals. At this point, I did not want to swing open creative doors. I had an uncontrollable urge to run from them!

Too often do we allow our self-conscious to interfere with our life’s work as it did for the brilliant writer David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008. Wallace was interviewed in 1997 on NPR’s Fresh Air. Asked by Terry Gross whether, when he was a teen tennis player, his self-consciousness interfered on the court, he said, yes, of course. He went on to wonder whether perhaps those listening have “this part in their brain” that allows them to turn off thoughts of “what if I double fault on this point, or what if I miss this free throw. Wallace at first figured “this stuff” doesn’t occur to professionals, then added, “but when I hung out with pro players for the tennis essay, it occurred to me that they have some kind of muscle that can cut that kind of thinking off.” Such self-consciousness, he said, is “literally paralyzing. You can end up like a bunny in the headlights.” Wallace couldn’t turn it off and gave up tennis.

 

Along came the serendipitous moment when my inner voice began to rant…

 

Try This: “*I AM good enough! *I AM talented!

*I AM NOT wasting my time! *I AM NOT a fool!

*I AM NOT stupid! *I AM NOT offending anyone!

*People WILL LOVE my work!”

 

So, when we are “unsuccessful” in an attempt to do something, it makes us frustrated but, most importantly for creativity, it generates resurgence in us that no other situation has before. It appeared to me that ruminating positive thoughts and consistently trying things, I’d discover what I enjoy and what I want to do. Yes, I’ll be bad at first and make lots of mistakes, but if I keep trying, I’ll get better at it.  It’s not fun to try, and fail. But what if it wasn’t a failure, what if it was a learning experience on the path to master?

 

Try This: Place yourself in difficult situations. Observe and take in the feelings of frustration and anger. Then go off and FREE yourself of it. Write about it. Sing it out. Dance it out. Act it out.

 

We don’t need to run like hell from those doors. We just need to give ourselves permission to play around with the knob. Wiggle it a little bit. Turn it left and maybe right. Lift it up and down just a bit and voila, those doors will swing wide open for us.

 

It’s a matter of practice. It’s a matter of tolerating “mistakes”. It’s about accepting that I’m learning, and it’s okay not to do it right the first time, second time, or even the eighth, ninth and tenth times! For me that’s Adriana’s Healthy Secrets. That’s also the real “secret” of books like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, or Writing Down the Bones. It’s giving permission to try and to make mistakes and to practice, practice, practice! Experiencing this will give you the ideas that will swing open creative doors.

 

photo (1)  Adriana Nastasha Tavarez is the Chief Inspiration Officer of Adriana’s Healthy Secrets, a community she founded with a life’s mission to inspireYOU, educateYOU and scultpYOU into being your best self. Passionate about holistic healing and healthy eating, she studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition receiving her Health Counseling and American Association of Drugless Practitioners Certification in March of 2013. Adriana’s focus is to inspire the visionary champion in you!

 Learn more about Adriana  and her website!

  

 

Happy Earth Day and a Giveaway!

You Can't Have My Planet But Take My Brother Please
Today friends we have  an awesome interview with James Mihaley, author of the fantastic kids book You Can’t Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please.  Jim has a passion for living a holistic lifestyle and getting kids motivated to take care of the earth. He is a well known speaker in Los Angeles, talking to kids at bookstores, schools, and libraries about reading and the power of healthy living.
I had the chance to interview Jim about not only his book, but his lifestyle choices and what drives him to be grateful no matter what life brings him.
To celebrate Earth Day and the paperback edition of his book, he is giving away a signed copy of his book! 

 

1.) Hey Jim! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started on the holistic living path!

I had a ruptured appendix when I was nineteen that was misdiagnosed.  I almost died.  I lost fifty pounds in two weeks.   As is often the case, good comes out of bad and I developed, at a young age, a deep appreciation for the gift of life, gratitude for every breath I took.  Gratitude is the key and it’s something I keep working on.  Living in Los Angeles, I have access to weekly lectures by Marianne Williamson and Michael Bernard Beckwith.  They’re exceptional speakers and spiritual guides.  I do lots of yoga, Hatha and Kundalini.  As far as diet goes, wheat grass juice provides me with key nutrients.  I have a wheat grass presser, a manual one, old school.  I’ve been vegan for about a year and feel great.  I believe that the mind/body connection is a key to happiness.  Dancing is a big part of my life, jazz and hip hop.  I also do volunteer work at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.  That brings me deep happiness.  I’d say the two most powerful sources of inner peace in my life are meditation and prayer.  I spend a lot of time doing that.  The more I do, the more everything seems to fall into place. 

 
2.) You’ve mentioned before that laughter plays a powerful role in healing. Tell us more about that!

 

On our journey through life,  it often feels like we’re crossing a desert.  The soul has a canteen.  It’s filled with laughter.
The soul drinks from the canteen of laughter to keep from withering away.
If we don’t laugh we die.  It’s that simple.  
In Jewish culture and African American culture, people know how to laugh.  They really know how to laugh.  Why?  Because it kept them alive during periods of unspeakable hardship.

As a writer of children’s books, laughter also functions as an invaluable way to draw children in.  Kids love funny books, girls and boys.

3.) What inspired you to write You Can’t Have My Planet?

Earth is falling apart and I wanted to make children believe that they could turn things around.  Mine is a Utopian story, not Dystopian.  It harnesses the power of children to turn the world back into a paradise.

 

4.) What is You Can’t Have my planet about? What are some of the core elements of the book?

 

In my book it turns out that we humans are merely renting Earth.  Because we’re such lousy tenants, we’re about to get evicted!  A 13 year old boy named Giles must embark on a quest, along with three of his friends, to prove that we’re capable of stewarding the planet.
Along with the big environmental theme, the book also explores sibling rivalries, the importance of team work, the ugliness of bullying, the beauty of grandparent/grandchild relationships and the power of kindness.  KINDNESS FIRST.  ALWAYS AT ALL TIMES ALWAYS is Tula’s motto.  She helps Giles on a his quest.  Although only 12 years old, Tula is already a lawyer, an environmental lawyer.   She also happens to be an alien!  She goes around the universe, protecting the natural beauty on different planets.


5.) How can kids get involved in helping truly make a difference in changing how we view the earth and our place in it? How can they adopt healthier lives all around?

 

I think the first thing kids can do, and it often gets ignored, is to simply become aware of nature.  Look at a flower.  Take a few minutes and behold it.
If you don’t truly love something, you’re not going to try and protect it.
Fortunately there are dozens of environmental organizations out there that are designed specifically for kids.  Any child with a computer can easily get involved and discover what they can do around the house and in the neighborhood to help heal the planet.  One of these organizations is Grades of Green.  I’ve worked with them and they’re great.
Another thing kids can do to lead healthier lives and help the world is to simply enjoy being a kid.  There is an epidemic of children growing up too fast, losing their sense of wonder, losing their faith in the imagination.  Without wonder and imagination, we will never defeat cynicism and despair.  We will never heal this planet.

 

6.) What other projects do you have in the works?

 

I’m working on another Giles story and new novel for children.  I’m excited to be finishing up my first adult novel.  I also love to write poetry and have just finished my first Dr. Seuss-like rhyming poem about a boy and a hippo.  I’m excited to announce that we have a movie coming out soon to promote ‘You Can’t Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please‘.  It’s called The JimBot.  It will be released as Webisodes.  A dear friend of mine, Mike Pedraza, directed it.  Mike is also an editor on the 150 million dollar Matt Damon movie coming out this summer.  We had great fun making the movie.  I’ll let you know as soon as we have a release date!

 

Win a signed copy of You Can’t Have My Planet, But Take My Brother Please!

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Eat a Bouquet of Trace Minerals

wild plant salad mix

As I sat down to type these words (can’t think out loud at the moment as I’m oil pulling), my naked big toes have just sunken into snow – it’s the last trimester of winter here and tiny snowflakes are sifting steadily in our farmhouse’s yard.

So is it timely to write about how to actually eat bouquets of wild flowers? Well, for one thing, many of the plants I will feature here are cosmopolitan, just like the technology I’m using to deliver this present blog post to your lap, office desk, kitchen table or ultimately to your plate and (to be sure: grateful) belly. When it comes out, some of you may well be reading this post in real time full summer, poised to jump on your feet and run straight outside plucking those beauties into your salad bowl.

For those of you living on the northern hemisphere like myself, it might simply lend you a heart-warming heads-up how to more fully take advantage of the next growing season in and outside your garden. Perhaps even during hikes across pristine meadows.

I will make a little disclaimer here and advise you to always be on the prudent side of spontaneity and inform yourself before just blindly coloring your teeth with petals. That’s how we acted, too…

The people who actually got us hooked on eating from the wild, were two globetrotting volunteers at our ecologically managed farm a couple of summers ago. Both of them were vegetarian and although we are not, in retrospect greatly appreciate the life-long adventure of foraging they introduced us to.

Cheryl holding a horticulture degree and myself one in environmental studies with landscape architecture minor, we did have basic plant knowledge prior to these guys’ arrival, after all we had already homesteaded here for five years by then. Our knowledge, however, was way too theoretical and lacked the courage it often takes to really turn information into real benefit.

Reasons for making these amazingly colorful wild salads beyond the all-sensory bonanza they bring to your meals, are plenty. It is for instance the multitude of antioxidants and trace minerals and the whole slew of other beneficial ingredients herbalist literature will tell you about, that are either hard or impossible to find in the grown vegetables, especially nowadays. The roots of these wild plants are more often than not deep, therefore able to mobilize and build in those minerals that are depleted from the topsoil (largely due to improper farming procedures and the associated erosion), but are still bountiful underneath. These plants also happen to be very resilient to extreme weather conditions, such as extended heat and drought. When most other cultivated plants wilt, they will still hang in there for awhile.

Then there is that common sense wisdom informed by nature’s law that says: in diversity there is stability. This translates to nutrition as well – the more diversely one eats, the more wholesome the diet, the better one will feel. Let me just put it this way: incorporate, rather than refuse.

Again, being cautious, using intuition and keeping herb books about usage and identification, as well as the internet in our arms’ reach, we went plant (part) by plant (part) until pretty soon we were joyfully chowing down juicy salad mixes consisting of as many as 25 different plant species, most of them either wild or used in unconventional ways.

When making any salad one should bear in mind the potency, the flavor intensity of each added ingredient. I like to use my nose as advisor if I haven’t had previous experience with a plant (part) and add it to the whole accordingly.

To give you an example, coriander (Coriandrum sativum) has very penetrating, characteristic scent from root to flower, that could easily overpower the entire salad. The most commonly used dry seeds (pickling) are actually mellow in comparison to the fresh parts. Yet those tiny, light pink flowers are so adorable, one can’t help but pluck – a pinch.

You will find that goosefoot (Chenopodium album) on the other hand, in contrary to many edible wild plants, is not bitter at all and tastes much like floury spinach – pretty flavorful, actually. You can use this as one of the base plants of the wild salad, just check the underside of the leaves, because aphids like them, too.

Most of us know and love the spicy arugula or rucola (Eruca sativa), but I implore you to adventure in using its flowers, too, besides the leaves. They lend such wonderfully artistic look to the color and texture palate of your salad. They are off-white with a web of dark brown veins and megaphone shape.

Wild field poppies (Papaver rhoeas) will please you in so many ways: the silky touch of the petals, the gentle flavor and pink color they imbue salads with, the mild bitterness and velvety surface of the juvenile leaves.

And one could go on and on from the purple and blue bachelor’s button (Centaurea cyanus) petals with their scalloping like fingers, the white and yellow sweet clover (Melilotus sp.), the reds, pinks and whites of clover (Trifolium sp.), the orange of calendula (Calendula officinalis), the bright yellow of mustard (Sinapis alba) flowers, the deep purples and bright pinks of vetches (Vicia sp.) to the ubiquitous dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flowers, lacy yarrow (Achillea millefolium) leaves (this is another plant to use in moderation due to its strong bitter aroma) or the pink and white inflorescence heads of the chives and onions.

You can see, how the cornucopia fills in fast this way. In fact we went from the blend of 25, to a “cocktail” of over 35 different plants the following summer when we hosted a wild salad party for some open-minded locals.

From a gastronomic angle I recommend serving this wild goodness marinated in more familiar juices. I like to use a blend of water, sour cream (choose the raw kind and if you can from Jersey cow), apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, a dash of honey – making sure that the acid-fat balance is harmonizing with the plants.

Enjoy and share!

 

Roland Magyar is himself a holistic father, husband, homesteader in Hungary, enjoying a simple life with great potentials. You can find more of his writings at their family blog Handcraftedtravellers  or interact with him on Facebook 

 

A Peek into Our E-Book

Recently we hit our 20,000 like mark on Facebook and rather than copy/paste a ‘thank you’ picture that has little personal engagement to show our gratitude, I thought I’d take you a little into the world of making our first ebook, The Holistic Approach, and give you a sneak preview of one of the chapters!

The book is a monumental, thought altering, lifestyle changing holistic journey urging you to take the steps needed to become a healthy and thriving human being.  We tackle the struggles that you deal with daily as we focus your mind into doing what is right for you, and not what the popular diets say, or you friends preach, or a commenter recommends.

The book addresses Eating Real Food and understanding how your body is shaped around the groceries you buy at the market.  We’ll also give you action steps for gradually adjusting your diet, while paying attention to your own health situation, thus enabling you to be the best you want to be.

Holistic living encompasses more than just food.  Your lifestyle is a major contributor to your health, for good and for bad!  Stress, money, happiness, love all impact your life as we all know.  But, dealing with it is another matter.  Along with the help of a few friends, we give you a deep look into how these factors can be utilized or minimized, aiding you in taking back your life.

More than the food you know, it’s also important to have an idea of what else is out there in the world that hasn’t stuck in between your ears; things you may have heard, seen, or had dreams about but never knew how to use, where to buy, or even what the heck they were.  Some might be life-altering, others might be swift-disregarding but inside there will no doubt be something to utilize in your daily life.  We’ll look at herbs from around the globe, mainly Indian and Chinese, and how you can benefit from their life giving properties.  We’ll address spices, supplements, juicing, teas, detoxification and elimination and give you a good understanding on where you can begin to turn your life onto the fast track of Holistic Living.

So keep an eye out.  The monkeys are typing as fast as they can – I’ve given them GMO banana’s that have been spliced with Cheetah DNA.

And because I love ya, really, Here’s that sneak peek I promised.

The New Year has come n’ gone and by now, your holiday credit card bills have been sent and you’re staring at the envelope not wanting to open it.

Well, here at Holistic Dad, we have a calming solution that will empower you to face financial adversity with a sense of serenity.

Our Guest is Linda Esposito, LCSW – an Anxiety Saboteur who loves to help people resolve their emotional baggage, from  TalkTherapyBiz.  Her wonderful guide will be part of the Holistic Dad E-Book – along with a financial tracker download, but since we love you (and it’s soo helpful) we’re sending it out as a little teaser.

So, without further ado…

I give you Linda’s Financial Stress Guide.

 

The Holistic Guide to Handle Financial Stress

Is financial stress making you sick?

If so, you’re not alone.

Stress that isn’t resolved becomes distress. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Consider the following:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually. Source

The bad news is that part of your financial situation is tied to the economy.

The good news is you have more power over money than you think.

A holistic approach to wellness and health is all encompassing, and so is your relationship with money.  

“It is personal and different for each individual. In holistic and natural medicine, a doctor or herbalist seeks to not only treat the illness and its symptoms, but to get to the root of the reason why the illness manifested in the first place.”  Holistic Dad

The same can be said of psychotherapy. I’ve counseled hundreds of clients over the past fourteen years who suffered from anxiety and depression as a result of financial issues.

 

This post will highlight:

  1. How to change your relationship to money
  2. How to identify where your money problems originated
  3. How to budget for 2013

 

Life is not meant to be stressful. Money and material possessions should not have the power to dictate a good or a bad day.

Money, or lack thereof, is not the enemy. Money is neutral. How you attach importance to money, how you view it, and save or spend it is entirely up to you.

Money does not walk into a pub and disappear. Nor does cold hard cash sashay into a designer boutique and slink out as a name brand scarf that lines corporate pockets.

Believe me, I know. In my 20’s, credit card companies took up serious real estate in my mailbox, and their representatives practically accosted me on college campuses. It was as easy as spending four minutes filling out an application in the quad as I rushed to my Community Projects class. Need I mention the cool swag like colorful T-shirts, sturdy backpacks and best of all, 19-ounce bags of M&Ms… just for signing on the dotted line?

It was all good until I maxed out that $5,000.00 limit within 24 months.

And that was undergrad.

Luckily, by the time I entered my Master’s program, I got a financial butt kicking when a frugal friend stepped in and schooled me about just how much I was paying for things like a weekend getaway. That sun splashed excursion lasted two days but took me fourteen months to pay off. Somehow that 2.5-star hotel ended up costing as much as lodging at the Biltmore. And I didn’t even get to experience the “blending the bounty of the sea with botanicals from the gardens of Santa Barbara.”

The kicker was when I realized I was paying the college tuition of the VISA executives’ kids–Ouch! I did a 360, and became that gal counting coins and budgeting to the dime every month. I had envelopes filled with cash that I allotted for rent, food, gas, etc.

I could have lived in a monastery.

There was one problem: I was miserable. I had lived on both extremes of the financial pendulum: Carefree spending on plastic with huge interest rates, and living a life of scarcity while starving myself of simple pleasures like a movie or new Converse kicks. Friends stopped calling. Who could blame them? My low point came when I pondered sneaking a champagne split into a night club to avoid the two-drink minimum…I knew there had to be a better way.

Luckily, I found the financial middle ground, and it’s made all the difference in the world.

And you can too. You’re the expert on your life, which means you get to choose how to change your relationship with money. But you have to start with the commitment to doing things differently, because like Holistic Dad says,

“I cannot specify here all the ways in which you can be true to yourself, as you are an individual with specific needs. But here are some tips to help give you a holistic approach to life.”

And before I offer some tips to help give you a holistic approach to your finances, you’ll need to have an honest discussion with yourself and answer some questions. I suggest recording your responses in writing, and investing at least a couple of hours on this task. It might be helpful to call a sibling, or a childhood friend to gain some frame of reference, if you’re stuck on the origins of your relationship with money:

  • How was money handled as a kid?
  • Were your parents generous with cash, or were you made to know exactly how much you cost them?
  • Was money earned as a reward for meeting goals, or was it showered upon you freely?
  • Do you ever withhold material gifts from yourself because you feel like you’re not worth it?
  • Do you spend in order to satisfy a different hunger–think food, clothes, sex, status-seeking, luxury items, etc.
  • If you’re in debt, do you know why?
  • Do you take responsibility for your relationship to money or do you blame your parents, your spouse, your partner or your kids?

I can’t stress just how important it is to get a mental hold of your finances. The health of your mind and your body are dependent on proactive and prudent financial steps.

I hope you’ll hop on an inner financial journey this year, and give up the season tickets to the Debt-Express, once and for all.

4 Mental tips to reduce financial stress

1. Change your money mentality

So you used to pick up the dinner tab without so much as glancing at the amount? Well, that was yesterday, baby. Today’s a new day. You can still dine out, but you’ll need to scale back.

2. Be smart about where you cut back

Reducing what you spend on non-essential items is the first step towards financial independence. Be realistic about where to trim the fat, but don’t overdo it. Going from one extreme to the other will only leave you feeling angry, resentful and prone to over-spending.

For years, I wanted to hire a cleaning woman. I had the money, but with less income due to the recession, I convinced myself that I should return to the financially frugal days of yore.  But the stress took its toll. While the dishes piled up in the sink, and the dust bunnies took residence, I would snap at my son during homework time, and resent the Siberian huskies when they stared me down and dared me not to take them on their nightly walk.

The household mess made me more complacent because I knew cleaning my own home was costing me money. Once I made the commitment, I’ve never looked back.

3. Fund a luxury

As long as you’re willing to be financially prudent in most areas of your life, you can and should spend money on quality purchases such as hiking gear, or technology or a nice gym membership. And definitely invest in organic fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market.

Sure organic is more expensive, but so is the doctor bills when your asthma and allergies flare up.

4.   Healthy Living

“Dedicate yourself to spending time each day meditating, praying, walking in nature, or reading an inspirational book. If you are religious, take solace in your temple/ house of worship” – Holistic Dad.

14 Practical Tips to reduce financial stress

You’re probably familiar with many of these tips, but if you’re not sleeping soundly at night, you’re not doing enough of them. Choose the ones which work for you, and put a plan in place.

  1. Track your daily spending for at least two weeks.
  2.  Before you pull out that credit card, ask yourself if every purchase + interest is still a worthwhile buy.
  3. Call your credit card company, wireless carrier, cable telephone service, auto/home insurance company and ask if they can reduce your monthly bill.
  4. Brainstorm your skill sets and get creative about how you can monetize your talents. Can you babysit, walk dogs, do handy work, tutor high school math, set up websites, etc? Dig deep and go long. Then choose three ways to reach potential customers/clients and get crackin.
  5. Cancel your cable TV. If that’s really tough, try compromising with Netflix online which is under $8.00 per month. Go to the matinee showing of movies and bring your own snacks.
  6. Create an emergency fund, even if you’re in debt. It’s important to set aside money every month, even if you can only afford $25.00 to start. This will help you sleep better at night, increase your confidence, and build hope for the future.
  7. Take public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike somewhere at least three times per week.
  8. Walk to the store and bring your own shopping bags to ensure you’ll only buy as much as you can carry.
  9. Make Sundays food prep day. Plan a menu, freeze the leftovers, and remember to pack healthy snacks like nuts, carrots, and fruit.
  10.  Take inventory of the contents of your fridge. Try to eat everything before returning to the grocery store.
  11.  Check out a financial book from the library. One of my favorites is Rich Dad Poor Dad
  12. Hit up a mentor to help you create a product or business idea. Offer to take him/her to coffee in exchange for a brain picking session.
  13.  Invest in your education. This may sound counter-intuitive since your stressed over money, but the old adage that it takes money to make money is true.
  14.  Choose a cause or charity and donate time or money–even if it’s 30 minutes per week, or just 5.00 per month. You’ll get out of your head, and away from the endless obsessing over your finances. We’re all in this life game together, and helping others is always rewarding.

Look at the big picture. Just because you’re strapped now, doesn’t mean your life will always be like this.

The truth is, you do not have to be imprisoned by financial stress. And your self-worth is not measured by the contents of your bank account.

But don’t wait until you’ve racked up thousands of dollars in credit card bills to compel you into changing your spending ways. DO things differently NOW, not in the future. Because the future, my friend is NOW.

Set the intention to change your mind, and your finances will follow. We give Chanel’s “little black dress” and the new model Sedan too much psychological power, so in 2013, let’s practice taking it back.

Just be willing, and the resources you need will come to you. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but trust me; the freedom from that Debtor’s Prison you created in your mind is on the other side. Take off those psychological shackles, make a plan, practice gratitude, and stop stressing over what you don’t have. Somewhere out there exists a person whose biggest want in life is a laptop computer and access to an internet connection…

Linda Esposito, LCSW

Closing 2012 and Arising in 2013

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In the land of natural healing, holistic well-being, and healthy eating, we will all face a bit of negativity.

 

Someone else will doubt what you do, how you live or what you believe.  But I say to you, never let that alter your course, change your being, or destroy the ultimate goal you have laid out for you self.

 
We here at the Holistic Dad community support one another, offer advice and honest, deep rooted, and self-tested ideas, remedies, thoughts, inspiration and love.  We pass it on to save another, most likely unknown soul, in the hopes that they will grow and blossom to undertake the wonderful gift of sharing the love that comes from living a vibrant, fulfilling, purposeful life.

 
For all those in the circle open your hands because someone somewhere would like to join, they just don’t know it yet.  The new year is upon us.  Look back at where you were a year ago.  How was that person, physically, emotionally and mentally… can you remember it?  Where were you and now how far have you come?  It it a giant leap?  Perhaps a few things? Maybe one small push- but one full of promise and possibility?

 
Healthy living thrives on forward momentum.  Take one step and you can’t help but take another, and another, and more and more til finally you’re the one suggesting life saving foods, herbs, spices, vitamins and activities that quite possibly will cause the next ‘guru’ to come forward and do the same in your stead to their own community.

 
Health is not something to be hoarded or kept under lock and key.  The ideas are out there and they cry to be shared.
I bring you my thoughts and beliefs and knowledge because it’s what drives me to work harder, live more passionately, sing fuller, laugh deeper, and love with my bleeding beating heart.

 
I’m sorry, but I can do no less.  This coming year, may you find your calling… your reason to tingle head to toe in triumph… your path to a higher level of thriving – of being… in whatever and wherever your heart, mind and soul guide you.

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For 2013, the Holistic Dad website will be going upgrades as we strive to bring you that extra step closer to becoming the ultimate you.

 

  • Ebook – The Holistic Dad ebook will be released and available for download in the upcoming month.  Inside we outline the courses of action to take when starting at the first step.  We detail how to make the switches for both gradual and immediate change to bring your life into a fuller, healthier, happier 2013 and beyond.

 

  • Book of the Month Club – We will be rolling out a free to join club that finds the best health books, ebooks, and possibly videos and discusses the trends, impacts, and possibilities contained within.  Bring your questions, concerns, personal experiences to the monthly google hangout and share with Dad and the community!

 

  • Weekly Podcast – Dad will be putting out a weekly podcast detailing the latest health news, research, and articles.  On the show we’ll also be interviewing other natural health experts sharing their story and victories.

 

  • Video – Dad will finally be adding video to the site.  Someone smack me for not doing this sooner.

 

  • Practitioners, Coaches, Natural Health Professionals  Community – We currently are creating a community page where the world’s natural healers, health sages,wellness coaches, and experts can come and gather insight and find their voice on getting their word out to the rest of us.  Each of us has a story on how we got here and what drives our very being.  Share and be inspired to go to the next level.

 

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So, as the clock ticks on…

May I wish you the final bright moment of 2012 and a happy welcome to 2013.

May we all rise and overcome illness together

And Believe in yourself for you are eternally beautiful

 

Sincerely,

Holistic Dad

Is Agave Good for You? The Great Agave Debate

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Long, long ago… in a city miles away from here… I was introduced to a wondrous substance.

I was young.

I was naive.

I was inexperienced, to say the least.

I had no idea where I was headed.

I fell.  I fell…hard.

Yes… it was coffee.  But!  But…next to the coffee, served alongside the rainbow packets of sweeteners, was an odd bottle.  It was positioned upside-down in the wooden coffee sticks, dripping out into the bottom of the container.

I saved it from certain disaster, but not untouched.  It got me.  It found its way onto my finger, and hand, and sleeve and perhaps down the front of my pants a la honey on a bad day, but I can’t be certain.

Instead of wiping said substance onto the probably already fouled jeans, I unconsciously stuck said finger in to my mouth, and said something to the tune of… “wow!”

Yes.  It was agave.  And you probably guessed that from the title of the article, right?  I didn’t fool you one bit.

Now fast forward to now, like now-now.

The fence has been big and small at times, but I’ve always been riding it, the agave fence.  Which side am I on?

Obviously in the beginning I was on one side.  Thanks to copious amounts of advertising, marketing, and word of mouth praisers, I was convinced that agave was the end all be all of sweeteners.  I touted it’s wonders to everyone I could.

More recently though, I got back on the fence and proceeded to hop to the other side with the caution flag.  Let’s say, I would be considered a Turncloak in Dr. Seuss’ Butter-Battle Book.

There were lots of articles out there saying agave was a product of the marketing demons.  That agave is, was, and always has been a Fructose shock in disguise.  That the quoted “Low GI-Index” was true but had deeper evils that threatened diabetics and non-diabetics alike.

Now, I’m not going to make a final yes or no.  What I do, is what I do.  What you do, is due to your tastes, body, beliefs, family, budget, smell…etc.  So, how about I just give you the research and kinda make a few suggestions and in the end you decide which side of the bread the butter is on.

And a note… I’ve taken no money to write this article.  I don’t sell agave.  I don’t have friends that sell agave.  I don’t have business associates that give me money to say things about agave.  If you’d like to give me some, that’s fine, but this isn’t lobbying and I won’t change my voice… EVER…. capice?

Okay… here goes.  I’ve been researching agave for awhile and here’s what I’ve found… so far.

It seems we have a huge debate and what side you’re on, depends on what product you use, who you trust and how much FACTUAL info is available.  Some prominent health advocates (Mercola, Food Renegade, Rami Nagel) state that agave is dangerous due to:

  1. The refinement process with the possible use of chemicals, GM enzymes and other acids and ‘stuff’
  2. The high content of Fructose (55-90%) and naming it worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  3. The preparation – using the starch from the root of the plant and the extreme heat involved
  4. The long term effect on Insulin levels and the effect concentrated Fructose has on the body.

Now… I’ve also seen a website and a few articles defending agave and this one brand seems to put everything on the table.

It’s interesting to note that the president, Mr. Craig Gerbore, states that their agave is sourced from agave salmiana, a very different species from the traditional blue agave.  He discloses nothing in regards to the production of his nectar.  This is taken from an interview conducted a few years ago on Altered Plates in response to some agave criticism.

  • “The native people supplying the juice collect it from the live plant, by hand, twice daily. There is no heat involved in the removal. The juice is immediately brought to the facility to remove the excess water as it will ferment rapidly if left standing. It is during the removal of the moisture that the only heat is applied. The juice is evaporated and moisture removed in a vacuum evaporator. The vacuum enables the moisture to be withdrawn at low temperatures. The temp is closely controlled. Subsequently, our agave is handled and packaged at room temperatures. No other heat is applied. And, rather than convert the complex sugars of the juice thermally, we use gentle enzymatic action. Just as a bee introduces an enzyme to flower nectar to make honey, we introduce an natural organic vegan enzyme for the same purpose. The technical term for the conversion of complex sugars into their simple sugar components is hydrolysis. Inulin is a fructan which is hydrolyzed into the simple sugars composing agave nectar, fructose and glucose.”source

Now, that seems… promising.  It certainly paints a different picture from the productions mentioned in the articles describing a chemical process that is detrimental to our health.

But before you dig in or shun agave forever, remember that it all boils down to fructose.(ha!)

Remember, fructose is the evil guy no matter what product you use.  Fructose is responsible for numerous chronic diseases stemming from obesity, liver damage, and even contributes to higher risks of heart attack!  For all the reasons HFCS is bad, remember fructose is the culprit.  It doesn’t matter the source; honey, agave, HFCS, or sugared sodas.

But, don’t stop eating your fruit!  Fructose is different from levulose.  ~And always check with your doctor if your medicated diet restricts sugars and all fructose and glucose!

  • “Levulose is [fructose], naturally occurring in fruits, and is not isolated but bound to other naturally occurring sugars. Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine. Levulose is digested in the intestine.” source

And where does that leave me?

Well, I’ll be in the corner eating spoonfuls gluten-free oatmeal sprinkled with coconut sugar and black-strap molasses until someone uncovers some negative claims about them, where in I’ll cause a huge affair, a nasty break up worth of tabloid exposure and be seen running away from every thing sweet forevermore.

 

I hate sweets.

 

dad

One of the biggest problems holding people back from health

healh

There can be many, many different aspects that hold people back from attaining radiant health. There can be, in some cases, the lack of funds to be able to purchase adequate fruits and vegetables and other healthy items. There can be the lack of information on what to eat and the importance of health and nutrition. This is quite common, and it’s why I post so frequently on my Fanpage: to help people begin their nutritional journey.

But the most common thing that holds people back from living a vibrant and healthy life is sadly lack of motivation to implement said knowledge. I can’t tell you how often I have people writing me or asking me for nutritional help who then refrain from changing their lifestyle. It doesn’t matter how sick they are, what their financial situation is…the overall problem of not implementing what one knows about wellness is what is holding millions of people back from their health goals.

I’m not being harsh here, simply honest. It’s one of the reasons I became a Wellness Coach, because after counseling people on and off for years I realized most never followed my advice or the advice of others, because it wasn’t frequent enough. Sure, I was there for friends if they had a question. I would answer them and became the go-to guy for health. But I wasn’t working with them weekly, as a coach would do. And that’s what people need: constant motivation and constant reminders of WHY they need to change their lifestyle.

This lack of motivation for change pervades every aspect of society. I was just listening to a coaching book last night and half the first section of the book was regarding coaches simply not implementing certain things they know they should be doing to grow their business. They knew what to do!! Yet, many were simply not doing it. That’s where Business Coaches come in.

Don’t think I am in any way immune to this. We ALL struggle with lack of motivation in some areas of our lives. It’s human nature, and it’s why we have families to help show us the way. It’s why we have communities where we can help each other out. If we don’t we fail. A support system is the make-break point.

Having a mentor or friend or coach that hold you accountable is key to success, no matter what your endeavor is. If you want to lose weight, it’s imperative you find someone to help you on your journey. Or if you want to eat less meat and processed foods. No matter what it is: find someone to help motivate you!