Mindful Monday: A First

I’ve decided to introduce a new staple to my blog–Mindful Monday! This series will be focused on living mindfully and what that means day to day. Mindfulness is a huge buzzword, but what does it really mean? There are dozens of definitions out there…

According to google,

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 11.43.13 AM.png

Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center describes mindfulness as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” The site goes on to mention the importance of acceptance of self, thoughts, and feelings.

15936036_696a216229_b

Merriam-Webster defines it as ” 1. the quality or state of being mindful 2. the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also:  such a state of awareness.”

I think mindfulness can be achieved in almost any moment, yet it is still so challenging. I find it particularly challenging in that I have a mind that does not turn off, which is something I think many of us can relate to! I am always thinking about things on my to-do list, worries, or things in the future–which is certainly far from mindfulness. While I have not started a mindfulness meditation practice, I am working to incorporate mindfulness more naturally into my life.

459679127_1280x720

I take a shower mindfully, I try to practice mindfulness in bad traffic, I cook a meal mindfully. All of these moments, however small, punctuate my day and add a moment of calm and a sense of being even just slightly more centered. I think the key lies in taking baby steps. Adding a twenty minute mindfulness meditation every morning to start is just a little too ambitious for me and where I am in my life right now, but these little moments count. For me, it is more about sustainability and quality rather than going all out–and I am okay with that.

In an effort to share my practice, and hold myself accountable, I am going to begin a weekly series focusing on mindfulness and reflections of my mindfulness practice.

***

Do you practice mindfulness? What does your practice look like?

15655214702_0ca539aba7_b

Ted Talk Friday: Know your worth, and then ask for it

Time and time again I have received the same advice from mentors, supervisors, and business-oriented friends…know your worth and ask for it. After listening to a Freakonomics podcast on the gender wage gap a few years ago, I have been thinking more about the reasons why. There are two major narratives: 1) We are a sexist society and thus pay women less because we believe they are worth less 2) Women don’t ask for higher salaries

I think it is a combination of both and this Ted Talk by Casey Brown is a wonderful reflection on this problem. I hope you enjoy!

***
What do you think? Do you know how to communicate your value?

Coach Training Accelerator: A Review

I love learning, but I’ve always been a bit skeptical about online learning courses. When Coach Training Accelerator gave me the opportunity to complete their Certified Coach online training, I couldn’t turn it down–I had to try online learning for myself!

Confession: I was wrong about online learning.

This was amazing.

I was so surprised by how much I learned through the series of 20 lessons. The content is a supplement for the CTA Certified Coach Program and is delivered through audio and transcribed lectures that covers content ranging from interpersonal skills to financial decision making. As a psychology major, I thought I had a fairly good knowledge base on how to motivate and change behavior, but I learned so much more during this 20 class graduate-level online course series.

336x280d

I have never thought about the idea of self-employment, or taking on coaching as a part time job, but I am deeply interested (and qualified!) after taking this course. Coaching is not just weight loss or career focused; coaching can extend to a variety of unique domains. This course explained that you can become a coach for whatever you see yourself as an expert in; for example, I feel very connected to college aged women seeking holistic wellbeing. My knowledge and skills align with this population and I can relate well to them, which would make me a more helpful coach that I might be for a busy mom looking to lose weight.

336x280c

Beyond the basics, the course really goes step by step through what it takes to get your business started. These lessons were some of the most technically helpful and the weekly timeline is perfect. Every lesson has direct, clear goal-focused “homework” to help you get your business started and avoid the endless “I’ll do it later” excuses. I would recommend sticking to a routine when taking the course; putting the weekly lesson in your calendar and sticking to it is so helpful. Some days I honestly struggled to stop at just one lesson!

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 9.21.45 PM

When I missed a week in the midst of finals and my college graduation, I received an encouraging email from the program checking in on my progress and making sure I didn’t have any questions. I think this is one of the most unique aspects of the program; there is a clear line of communication to a support system within the program for questions, mentorship, and advice. Plus, this connection is not just while you are taking the course, it is a life-long connection.

Crescent_City_Connection_-_seen_from_the_north_-_P1110530

I learned strategies that will be immensely useful both in coaching, and in my everyday relationships and business endeavors on the whole. This course is unique in that it goes beyond basic coaching content–it includes so much about the business side of coaching and the importance of professional development. I’ve gained so much unexpected knowledge and I love knowing that I’ll always have access to the resources of CTA. Please let me know if you have any questions about my experience or any specific aspects of the program!

Click here to try the course!

Royal Hideaway Playacar

My parents were so generous and kind enough to book us a trip to Playa del Carmen as a congratulatory graduation gift! It was something of a mess getting there in one piece (I discovered my passport was missing only days before my flight!), but stepping off the plane into a cool Mexican evening felt spectacular.

We stayed at Royal Hideaway two years ago, but it has completely changed–and not for the better. I hate to sound ungrateful, travel is such an amazing opportunity, but I just want to share my experiences so you can choose a different hotel if you choose to travel to Playa del Carmen.

First, given that this is a food blog, let’s talk food. I remember delicious fresh salads, ceviches, afternoon snack buffets full of tasty, healthy options. Now the menu consists of hamburgers, French fries, and the “catch of the day” is always a (somewhat questionable) sea bass. Don’t be fooled by appearances, this fish tastes bland and was doused in heavy butter sauce (as were the steamed vegetables). 


Let’s just say I didn’t leave many meals satisfied and am grateful I brought a large stash of snacks.


There was a large corporate group at the hotel during our stay, which meant we had to eat at the same restaurant twice a day, every day. We were not told about this when we booked, which makes sense, but it really took away from our trip–and the food! My friends even remember my rants about the amazing options from my trip two years ago, but so much has changed.


The hot tub closest to our room was broken the whole time and my mom was scalded in the shower by temperatures that switched from hot to cold without warning. In addition, one of our sinks broke!

I have to say the general wait staff has stayed as wonderful as ever–the waiters, Concierges, and maintenance staff are so thoughtful and helpful. I would say all of these issues link back to corporate changes and attempts to cut cost at the expense of quality. All in all, the quality of the hotel has really decreased (while price has not!) so save your frustration and I definitely you go somewhere else. The beach is beautiful, but you can get the same beach somewhere else in Playacar. 

We met with management (Sergio was very receptive), but I’ll be curious to see if anything changes before we leave tomorrow. I’ll definitely keep you updated if things improve! 

                                ***

 Do you have any Playa del  Carmen hotel recommendations? 

Is Glycemic Index Useful?

“Glycemic index” is a common indicator of how a food impacts blood sugar, or how quickly blood sugar rises after consumption. High glycemic diets are linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a variety of cancers, and cardiovascular disease.[1] Glycemic index helps classify carbohydrates beyond the categories of simple or complex; simple carbohydrates are sugars or highly refined grains compared to complex carbohydrates, which include unrefined grains, whole grains.[2] This has led to recent trends focused on “low glycemic” foods and sweeteners, like agave syrup or coconut sugar.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 7.24.12 PM.png

The glycemic index (GI) is based from the glycemic impact of glucose, or simple sugar, which has a has variable GI depending on the GI reference list used. GI scores differ across different sources, but always use glucose and white bread as reference points within the index. While this variability in scores has been attributed to methodological differences in the past, it is becoming more clear that GI may be more complicated than researchers once believed.[1]

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 7.25.24 PM.png

A recent study at Tufts University found that GI can differ as much as 25% among individuals and 20% within an individual. This study found the same food can have low, moderate, and high glycemic impact, which makes it difficult to create categories that are accurate across individuals. The study used white bread, which is often villainized as a high glycemic food, yet in the study it had moderate to low impact for a number of participants. Additionally, the same foods have variable impact even within the same individual. The results suggest that glycemic index has far less value than was previously believed.[3]

Anadama_bread_28129
While glycemic index promotes healthy choice in theory, it is not a reliable measure. A senior author of the study suggests that individuals should choose whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and lean meats. Glycemic index also only observes the impact of carbohydrates in isolation, rather than looking at the effects of a whole meal; individuals eat more than carbohydrates in any given meal, which renders the isolated effects of a single carbohydrate source far less meaningful in real life situations. While advertisements may continue to tout the benefits of low GI food products, research has shown that the benefits are limited.

References: 
1: Foster-Powell, K., Holt, S. H., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2002). International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. The American journal of clinical nutrition76(1), 5-56.
2: Saris, W. H. M., Astrup, A., Prentice, A. M., Zunft, H. J. F., Formiguera, X., Verboeket-van de Venne, W. P. H. G., … & Vasilaras, T. H. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN study. International journal of obesity24(10), 1310.
3: Matthan, N. R., Ausman, L. M., Meng, H., Tighiouart, H., & Lichtenstein, A. H. (2016). Estimating the reliability of glycemic index values and potential sources of methodological and biological variability. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition104(4), 1004-1013.

This post was originally featured here on 03/29/17. 

Easy Amore Spring Pasta

Everyone knows that familiar feeling…it’s 6PM, your stomach is growling, you have no idea what to make for dinner…

An easy option is pasta, but then comes another question…what kind of pasta? Amore has tons of solutions! Our family loves using the Amore herb paste (a tasty mix of fresh herbs in olive oil) to toss the pasta and some freshly sautéed spring veggies! 

The paste is vegan, all natural, and tastes just like fresh herbs! A little goes a long way and adds the perfect light flavor to a pasta dish. A mix of whole grain pasta, herb paste to taste (2 tsp or so), and sautéed asparagus, bell peppers, and yellow summer squash is colorful, flavorful and healthy! 

The perfect side for salmon, or a tasty light dinner on its own!

***

What’s your favorite easy go-to dinner?

Ted Talk Friday: Good Boundaries Free You

I have found that boundaries are one of the most challenging things to maintain in relationships. We are not taught them, and they are often seen as cold, unkind, or distant. I love this talk because it highlights the real benefits of boundaries and how they can improve both your own life, but also your relationships. Boundaries in work, relationships, and with ourselves are crucial and I think Sarri GilmanSarri GilmanSarri Gilman does a great job explaining that.

***
How do you practice good boundaries? Where do you find boundaries the most challenging?

Wise words from a professor

As a senior in college, I am facing some major life choices as I decide where to go and what to do next. I struggle with change, and making this decision has been a great challenge for me. As such, I have been reaching out to numerous friends, mentors, and professors to gain their insight and advice. While advice can only get you so far, I have found that many lessons and ideas have helped me reach my own conclusions in a more confident way.

2000px-Mentor_learner_co-op.svg_

There was one conversation that was particularly striking; I met with one of my favorite professors (and mentors) on campus and we discussed his experiences, my options, and his philosophy on living. He is a deep believer in finding a career that combines work and play. While I agree, it is difficult to use that belief as guidance as you embark on a first career choice–a time when there are innumerable paths and options.

Given this problem, he told me about his bucket theory. Here is the idea:
1) You have three buckets
2) Time, Security/Financial Security, Loving what you do
3) Make sure at least two are full, while filling all three is ideal…it might not always be possible

Don’t mind my scribbling, but this is the picture I drew as he described his theory to me:

Using this theory, I decided on the next step in my life. I made a difficult choice…but I know I will be filling the buckets of time and loving what I am doing. It might not be secure, which scares me, but I am beyond excited. I am so grateful for guidance from such wonderful people and can’t wait to start my life in the grown-up world!

***
How do you make big decisions? Do you have trusted mentors to turn to?

Queen Bey Likes Popcorn 

I used to always be the party host in high school, but after coming to college I let go of that role. I loved it, but I can’t say it was always easy. The host has to plan, coordinate, invite, which is all fun, but also comes with a lot of responsibility! If you forget someone, you hurt their feelings. If you forget chips, the guac gets lonely. If you’ve ever hosted, I’m sure you understand! I’m a host of imperfection, and you see past all that (Beyoncé, 2006).

Now this imperfection bothers me less so when one of my good friends at college and I came up with a brilliant party idea, I knew it was time to bring back my host identity. And the planning for a baby shower for Beyoncé’s newly announced pregnancy began. We made sure to plan a few things ahead of time, but a lot of it was kept very low key. We divided the tasks and she generously offered her apartment for the venue. It could not have been easier or more fun!

Our guests were welcomed starting at the front door:

Obviously we also had plenty of (spiked) Lemonade

Blue(berry) Ivy Lemonade


When I learned from an article that Beyoncé LOVES popcorn, I knew that had to be on the party menu. Luckily, Live Love Pop was happy to provide some delicious popcorn to fuel our night of Beyoncé. Our snacks in formation:

 

Live. Love. Yoncé.

A bowl of my favorite salt and vinegar flavor, which was followed by getting down on the dance floor…

Get it poppin’

 

I love sharing my love of Live Love Pop–thank you!

And an even bigger thank you to my first college friend and fellow Beyoncé lover, Naomi:

“Freakum dress out my closet, Yoncé filling out this skirt I look damn good, I ain’t lost it.” (Beyoncé, 2013)


***

Are you always the host? What’s your favorite party theme?

Ted Talk Friday: Balancing our Adams

Most of the Ted Talks I post are about fifteen minutes long, but here is a shorter talk that still packs quite the punch. David Brooks gives a great five minute talk on two types of virtues; the dichotomy he describes between Adam I and Adam II really rang true for me. I constantly catch myself caught up in my Adam I virtues–striving to get into this or that program or wanting to get a certain grade. While Adam I certainly has a role in our lives, it is important to respect and nurture the virtues of Adam II in order to live a truly rich, fulfilling life. I plan to do a more in-depth post on this in the future, but for now…here is the amazing 5 minute Ted Talk!

***

Can you think of moments where one Adam takes over in your life? How do you handle those moments?