Guest Post: Positivity

christina ross

christina ross

Christina has an incredibly positive and uplifting personality. I could feel her positive energy while shopping in Sur Le Table one day, and sure enough she soon began helping a fellow shopper pick out a juicer. They began talking about her business, PattisseRaw, and her blog, love-fed. At that point I joined in on the conversation and we all exchanged information; I was excited to meet someone who was also living and sharing her healthy lifestyle, but more importantly someone who was incredibly positive.

I recently asked Christina to jot down some notes on what she does daily to stay so positive, and here is the list she made. I am incredibly proud that she references some of the methods I’ve already featured on Fresh Grit!

  • Practice gratitude: Whether I take one minute to acknowledge some of the things that I am grateful for or fifteen minutes it always feels good. It’s an instant pick me up especially when I catch my mind wandering off into the trap of not having enough or not being good enough.
  • Get outside: This is my daily vitamin, Rain or shine I must go outside! I love waking up and first thing going right outside when it’s calm and peaceful before the day gets busy! I’m always in instant appreciation for a bright new day, fresh air provided by the trees, and the beautiful birds that sings songs to me upon waking. Being outside, quiet with nature is a powerfully moving experience. I feel centered, inspired and infinite perhaps because in nature there are no walls, growth is abundant, and anything is possible!
  • Eat a healthy breakfast: I love starting each day with a juice, this helps me set the tone for my day, choosing to treat my mind and body with nutrients that encourage positive growth.
  • Exercise: At the very least I walk daily. Sometimes, I only make room for 15 minutes.  No matter how long or short I have to move to stay positive. I find moving my body helps me release energy that I am holding on to. I also find the moving my body helps fight fatigue, which can sometimes cause irritability, and mood swings. When your feeling blue it may be hard to do so but get to moving, chances are whatever feelings or emotions were weighing you down will have passed right through.
  • Breathe: Much like moving the body, breathing helps me to focus my mind on my breath therefor taking my mind off of distracting thought patterns that tend to interfere with my clarity or positive attitude. Break free from constant mind chatter by taking a few deep breaths and you will notice an instant reset.
  • Be aware of thoughts: By paying attention to my thoughts I am able to correct the ones that are not in alignment with my beliefs. For instance, if a negative thought passes through my mind instead of getting tangled up in it and possibly depressed by it, I can choose to acknowledge the thought as passing by, but I certainly do not need to feed it. If I don’t feed the negative thought it will starve and then I can replace the thought with something positive.
  • Refill my creative heart: When feeling a little less creative or in need of new inspiration I take these feelings as a sign to do something new. Check out an art show, look through cookbooks that I may not have ever considered before, take a different street when I walk. I use boredom or lack of new ideas as a gentle reminder to try something new, to go out and explore. This always helps me refill my creative well!
  • Create something: make time for creativity! Sometimes my creative time is also my mediation time. Just as you might make time for exercise, seeing friends, or eating, make time for creating. We all have great ideas and our ideas deserve some attention too. I find that I always feel fulfilled when I create whether it be a new recipe, painting or planting a new plant in my garden. Creativity is a birth-gift, why not share yours with the world?!
  • Doing kind things for others: Whether it’s buying a tape roll at the post office for the next customer to use or leaving a dessert in someone’s fridge I feel a great sense of joy when I do something for others. A great way to take my mind off of myself is wishing the best for those around me.
  • Walk with a smile and live out loud: I can’t tell you how uplifting it is to meet someone new all because I was smiling, wearing a bright outfit or simply because I said hello! I love walking around my neighborhood and taking a moment to say hi to people, if not with my words then with my smile. It’s amazing how a reciprocated smile can hug me straight in the heart.

Guest Post: Why I am a vegetarian

twainblushquoteSometimes it occurs to me that the people around me still eat chickens, cows and pigs. And it weirds me out. Really? People still eat meat?

Who do I think I am, right? And how did I get into this ivory tower, anyway?

I took an Environmental Science 101 course my freshman year of college. In our textbook, there was a paragraph breaking down the amount of acreage needed to raise livestock compared with growing vegetables, and the amount of people that are fed by each. That to feed the same number of people, you would need, say, 10 acres for livestock to roam on and another 10 acres required to grow food to feed to the livestock, versus the 10 acres required to grow food to feed directly to us humans.

So I made a logical decision to do less harm to the environment, and to spread the food wealth a little to give poorer nations a better chance to not starve. As with most conservation-minded initiatives, vegetarianism is as much a humanitarian endeavor as it is an environmental one.

The reasons I remain vegetarian have expanded since I made this commitment. A plant-based diet is healthy, for one thing. I’m not here to explain the ins and outs of iron or B12; you have other sources like this blog for that (but protein is literally in everything – ask anyone with a kidney disorder and they’ll tell you how hard it is to avoid protein). And hey, look at me! I don’t take vitamins yet I haven’t been sick in over a year and, most importantly, I have a lot of energy. I’m a normal, functioning human being even though I haven’t eaten meat in 13 years.

Let’s get real now. What makes me sad when I realize that the people around me are eating actual limbs of actual animals is that I know that most of them have animals at home. Or they knew animals as kids. And yet the gap is so vast in people’s minds – the gap between the animals we love and the animals we eat.

I know, I know – we’re at the top of the food chain! We can do whatever we want! We have dominion! Meat is delicious! But with freedom comes responsibility, right? Man is separate from animals, but what separates us? It’s our critical thinking and self-control. And it’s our morality; we have the ability to think about whether what we are doing is ethical. Our greatest quest as a species should not be our dominion over this planet, but our stewardship of it.

Most people have seen a cat get scared when the garbage truck rolls by, or a dog whimper in pain when its tale is accidentally stepped on. And yet they can’t superimpose those same qualities – wit, loyalty, fear, pain – onto a cow or a pig. Or they do, but they would rather eat bacon anyway. We have the self-control to do what we want, not just what we feel like. Our bodies have the ability to operate on either an omnivorous or an herbivorous diet. With these choices, with these abilities – why would we choose to eat animals when we can choose not to?

Cooking Basics from a Professional

Hundreds of cookbooks, websites an magazines feature quick meal ideas, but the most important thing is to start with basic skills so you can evaluate a recipe, and have the knowledge to not only follow it, but adapt it to your needs, the ingredients at hand, the tools at your disposal, and the tastes of your family. Add seasonality and freshness, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Read new recipes through and then think them through before you start, making sure you understand them. After a while, you’ll find ways to modify your favorites to make them your own. Check to make sure that you have all of the necessary tools and ingredients before you start.

Hone up on basic techniques

The first thing I teach my own students is how to hold a chef’s knife. Remember to hold your wrist straight, and hold the knife with thumb and first finger on either side of the blade, and the other three fingers curled around the handle and you’ll have better control. Here is a demo I found on Youtube from Chef Drew Tait.

knife-onion

The second thing to learn is how to cut an onion. Remember that the root end holds the whole thing together, so cut up to it, not through it. A lot of savory dishes start with a chopped onion. If you and your sharp knife can do that quickly and easily, you will have a quick start. Practice this basic technique until you are confident and you will become a better cook. Again, there lots of Youtube videos on the subject but there is a lot of misinformation out there and I could not find a perfect demo. Here’s the best (none are perfect!) video on how to cut an onion featuring Chef Curtis Stone. My only quibble: if you cut the stem end first, and stand the onion on that flat surface to cut in half, it’s safer than cutting through a round onion.

Choosing and maintaining knives

Keep your knives sharp, store your equipment logically so you can find it when you need it, and you’ll save a lot of time and work safer. Keep a sharpening steel in your knife block, and use it every day. There are numerous videos on how to do this. If you keep your knife steeled, it will keep its edge much longer.

If you don’t have a decent set of knives, go to one of the many cookery stores and get demos from the staff. Figure out what you like, what feels comfortable for you, and what you can afford. But start with knives that are sharp, and suited to the task at hand, and you will be a happier cook.

In my kitchen, because I have so many knives, I buy relatively inexpensive ones. The trade-off is that I need to sharpen more often, because they don’t hold their edge as well. Be sure to have high carbon steel, not stainless — it’s too hard to sharpen.

About Terry’s business: Paulding & Company

The Paulding & Company kitchen is located in Emeryville, California, one freeway exit from the Bay Bridge and is accessible by public transportation from San Francisco and the East Bay area. The 2400-square-foot, state-of-the-art kitchen and dining area was built in 2003 by Terry Paulding, as a combined teaching and catering facility. The kitchen is a warm, friendly, clean space that combines lots of room for group work and dining, with a professional catering kitchen set-up. Combining teaching and catering allows Terry to share her love of good food and her creativity in the kitchen with her students, her corporate team building clients, and her many catering clients.  For more about the company, click here.

Guest Post: Holding yourself accountable

couple-workout1

In 2012 when I decided to try P90X for the first time, finding the motivation to begin was easy.  It was new to me and my lovely Agata was willing to try it out with me.  So I gave it a shot.

The first unofficial week, I worked out 2 of 7 days to get a feel for the program.  I knew it would take some serious dedication because a ton of people I knew had done it but failed completing it;  1 hour 6 days a week and following the nutrition guide to a “T” is not easy.  I decided to hold myself accountable by telling everyone on facebook what I had planned to do.

I got instant likes and comments about the program, mostly encouraging me to do it.  Sure enough, after a while, I felt like I had to continue otherwise I’d let them (and my wife and I) down.

I posted methodically.  First day; second day; first week; second week; first month; second month; finish.  Each post encouraged me to keep going, not only because I wanted to post it to tell others, but more importantly, everyone else was encouraging.

I simply could not have held myself accountable without everyone else knowing as well.  The momentum from the first post built up, and carried through until I made working out a habit and completed my goal.  I now work out regularly just because I enjoy it and have trained myself to be self-motivated based on past positive experiences.

As I wrote at the top, this doesn’t just apply to fitness.  If you have a goal, tell people about it.  Tell your closest friends, tell your acquaintances, even tell random people when the subject comes up; according to one study you’ll at least be 1/3rd more likely to complete it by doing so[1].  Motivation will snowball and you’ll find it easier and more fun each day to get closer to completing them.

Try it and see if this will keep you holding yourself accountable. By posting a goal you may be more motivated to stick to it., especially if you share it with people who will check up on you! Just remember to keep them realistic.