daria howell
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Is Your Energy Up to Your Mission?

“People who are open, empathetic, optimistic, flexible, generous, warm, connected, creative and interesting seem to have a much easier time. They’re more able to accomplish their goals, influence others and most of all, hang out with the people they’d like to be with.” ~Seth Godin

“High achievement and extraordinary results require big energy.” ~ The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller

If you want to have an amazing life, you simply can’t be chronically tired or feeling less than your best. It’s bad enough when fatigue hits only occasionally, as in when you’re coming down with a bug or doing a detox. It puts quite the damper on your empathy, optimism, generosity, and creativity when energy is consistently below par.

While lots of people are tempted to keep throwing back cups of coffee or energy drinks to stay powered up through the day, perhaps they don’t realize the damage that does to the delicate systems that keep everything in balance in the body.

Like other symptoms or conditions, lack of energy has root causes. It’s not just something that happens to you because you’re getting older. And it likely doesn’t exist by itself. It probably has friends in the form of digestive difficulties, skin issues, or weight challenges.

You don’t have time for this!

You are up to big things. You’re committed to your mission. You want to make a difference. You know you need all the energy you can have to do all the work you’re here to do, to contribute in the way you want to.

What’s really frustrating is when you’ve tried to change your diet to make more healthy choices. You’re getting regular check-ups and your doc says you’re fine. You do what you can to exercise and take care of yourself, but – you have a lot of other responsibilities you have to care for too, you know?

Never give up hope!

Virginia, like many driven women entrepreneurs, is juggling two businesses and a household. And while she thought she was doing most things right, she struggled with her energy and her weight. That affected her confidence level and held her back from seeking the visibility she knew she needed in order to grow the business she loved. Although she was quite successful in one business, she lacked the energy and focus to work on the mission-driven one.

She really was already doing a lot of the right things. She was careful about avoiding GMOs and chose organic and local foods whenever possible. She got regular massage and performed physical therapy exercises and used a recumbent bicycle. And she was diligent about following her doctors’ advice.

She had tried working with another nutrition coach, but found the program too restrictive, and her inner “Irish girl” rebelled. When we started working together, we focused on making small changes that would move her toward better health overall.

I customized my food recommendations to take into account her preferences and sensitivities. Gradually we incorporated other lifestyle changes that influence things like self-esteem, self-image, sleep patterns, even time management.

And it’s working. Better than anything she has tried in the past! In her words, “I never feel pushed. I feel supported and encouraged. And I feel better, both physically and mentally, now that I’m accomplishing my health goals.”

“Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity.” ~ The ONE Thing

Caution: Boundaries Needed

This is another thing that puts a damper on your energy, empathy, optimism, generosity, and creativity – lack of proper boundaries. While that’s an entire blog post (or two) in itself, what I’ll say is that having firm boundaries about the requests of others, how you apportion your time, what you choose to eat, drink, and put on your body, and who you allow into your mental/emotional space WILL have a huge impact on your energy level and personal power.

Discovering your personal boundaries and the effects that stress, use of time, and mixed-up priorities – such as always putting business or other people’s needs first – will give you new insight and motivation to make the lifestyle changes you need to create the moxie you want.

“Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.” ~The ONE Thing

One Size Does Not Fit All

Here’s the thing. Really successful people and high-earners among entrepreneurs have a radiant vibrancy that’s compellingly different from the average person. That energy is part of their success. It’s the most important thing, in fact.

If you have a big mission in the world, you need your body as a vehicle and a vessel to get that vision out there. You have to have energy. You have to have your health, your focus, and your self-confidence.

Unfortunately, there’s no cookie-cutter plan that will address all of the moving pieces that could be messing with your pizzazz. The best plan is one that teaches you to listen to the wisdom of your body so that you come to trust it, one that will look at the whole of you and find the holes in your self-care routines. Or if you have some stubborn symptoms that haven’t responded even though you’ve put forth lots of effort, it often takes an expert eye to find what may have been overlooked.

Once Virginia was able to truly see herself as successful and to strengthen her personal boundaries, coupled with an eating/exercise/lifestyle plan customized just for her, she started shedding weight consistently. And now that she’s feeling more energized and confident, she’s moving ahead with her most important project – the business she loves.

If you’re interested in getting these kinds of results, let’s talk. Email me at daria@dariahowell.com and we’ll book a time to chat. Let’s make sure your body is up to your next big project!

Is Your pH Out of Balance?

Rust.rost

 

You work at a stressful job and hardly ever take a break. Getting out of the house in the morning, you barely have time to grab some cold cereal and coffee, let alone pack a healthy lunch. You grab a mocha latte on the way to work to help fuel your morning. You order fast food takeout so you can eat lunch at your desk. Maybe some charitable workmate brought some goodies for the break room that’ll help quell your afternoon hunger. You get a good whiff of exhaust fumes on the way home. And when you do get home, there are all the other stresses to face: kids, relationships, chores, bills. And what to do about dinner?

 

Unfortunately, many of us can identify all too well with this picture. And all of it–poor food choices, toxic exposure, and stress–contributes to acid buildup in our bodies.

As with most things related to health, there are varying opinions about the nature or relevance of excess acidity in the body. Some researchers point out that our blood pH is tightly controlled by mechanisms in the kidneys and the lungs, so that it’s always kept at its slightly-alkaline measure of 7.36 to 7.0. (http://authoritynutrition.com/the-alkaline-diet-myth/)

Others, many of whom are well-known doctors, point out the association between excess acidity and everything that can go wrong with the body, from hormonal imbalances to cancer.

Dr. Lynda Fassetto, a researcher at University of California, has found that excess acid wastes are being stored as solids in the form of cholesterol and crystalized uric acid in the body tissues. This stored acid is highly inflammatory and corrosive—just like rust.

Stored acids are uncomfortable, contributing to aches and pains, obesity, low energy, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and most of the chronic diseases. They interfere with your hormones and your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from food. They clog up the works so that cells can’t function properly. They even contribute to skin wrinkling and mess with your moods!

While our bodies are designed to process acids and alkalis routinely, most of the foods we choose to eat in our modern diets have a very acidifying effect on our system. Many of us rely heavily on sugar, meat, dairy products, and refined grains as our staples, with only an occasional nod to fresh, raw or lightly cooked vegetables and fruits.

To turn that around….

  • Eat 8-10 servings a day of fruits and especially vegetables.
  • Have a mug of warm fresh-squeezed lemon water first thing in the morning.
  • Have at least a cup of greens every day, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, collards, mustard greens, or bok choy.
  • Make green smoothies for breakfast. Powdered green food supplements can be helpful for this.
  • Certain vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful, such as buffered vitamin C and magnesium.
  • Olive oil is less acid-forming that other oils.

Ah, the benefits!

Just to be clear, your body needs a balance of both acid and alkaline foods, along with proper exercise, deep breathing, restful sleep, avoiding toxins as much as possible, and adopting good stress management strategies. Adopting a more alkaline diet—one that emphasizes lots of vegetables and unprocessed foods—is a really healthy move that will make your body very happy.

And that means you look great, feel great, and have plenty of energy to play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Need Blood Pressure Meds? Natural Rx For High Blood Pressure (Part 2)

In Part 1, I talked about the causes of high blood pressure and the tendency many have to run to the doctor for medication to bring it down.

Drugs, unfortunately, are designed to deal only with the particular symptom – in this case, high blood pressure. But drugs do nothing to address the cause or to improve your health.

In fact, very often they have other effects that actually make the situation worse.

According to Al Sears, MD (alsearsmd.com), if you start taking a beta-blocker, for instance (a commonly prescribed drug for high blood pressure), it will artificially bring your blood pressure down. But it will also negatively affect the conditioning of your heart and its ability to beat strongly. That means it will be really hard to get benefit from any exercise you do.

As Ageless Beauties, what we’re aiming for here are things that will keep us in top condition – youthful and strong – that enhance our body’s natural healing capability.

Keep in mind the thing about diet, supplement and lifestyle “prescriptions” is that they may not immediately wipe out symptoms like meds do. But our symptoms WomanMeditatingOnBeachare there as a wake-up call that it is indeed time to start paying closer attention to our needs.

Here are some great natural healing prescriptions to consider:

  1. To counter the fight-or-flight nervous system response, incorporate relaxed breathing exercises, meditation and/or yoga daily.
  2. Speak your truth. That means taking responsibility for yourself. It also means checking in with your body and really listening to its messages and asking for what you need.
  3. Incorporate lots more vegetables into your diet. Beets and members of the cruciferous family help relax blood vessels. Become veggie conscious!
  4. Supplement with magnesium (citrate, aspartate, or glycinate). Researchers have found that most of us are deficient, and this one mineral really makes a difference in so many body functions. It’s naturally found in nuts, seeds, pasture-raised dairy products, and dark green vegetables.
  5. Decrease systemic inflammation by avoiding sugar and anything that spikes insulin production in the body. It’s not just the white stuff that gets you!
  6. Avoid eating processed and/or fried foods prepared with soy or other vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. These disturb the balance of omega-3 and trigger more of that nasty inflammation.
  7. Instead of vegetable oils, look for and use extra virgin olive oil, pasture-raised butter, sesame or coconut oil.
  8. Supplementing with CoQ10 (the ubiquinol form) is good for all things cardiovascular.
  9. You’ll like this one – according to Dr. Sears, you can enjoy an occasional glass of champagne! Yes, champagne specifically. Because it’s fermented twice, it relaxes the blood vessels and helps keep blood pressure low.
  10. And – I saved the best for last – GET REGULAR MASSAGE! Craniosacral therapy is especially stress-reducing and has been likened to having someone else meditate you.

Lovebirds@FriendsXmas

Despite the fact that both of my parents suffered with high blood pressure, my own BP was 110/63 the last time it was checked. Besides that, my husband was taking BP meds when we met and after following the above suggestions (mostly), he now has normal blood pressure. So, I know these prescriptions really work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Need Blood Pressure Meds? (Part 1)

Blood pressure measuring studio shotMy client is a surgeon who’s frequently under a lot of pressure.  When he checked his blood pressure recently, he saw an alarming number register on the device.

Although it returned to normal with a few relaxing breaths, he thought to himself, “If this is really how I am all day when I’m at work, maybe I need to be on medication.”

The look on my face let him know exactly what I thought of that idea!

Now, I’m NOT a big fan of medication.  I know there are times when it can be absolutely lifesaving.

But for most of the chronic conditions that affect more and more of the population, meds are a bandaid at best.  They often create even more problems due to side effects.

Worse still, they can be an invitation to ignore what caused the problem in the first place.

So, let’s get to a few causes….

Fight-or-flight.  We all deal with it to one degree or another whenever we’re not feeling safe. When the adrenals react to chronic stress by repeatedly pumping out more cortisol, the system gets rather stuck in that mode.  That leads to many health problems, high blood pressure being one of them.

The other major contributor to blood pressure problems is inflammation in the body.

In massage school we learned that classic inflammation has four signs: redness, heat, swelling, and pain.  It serves a useful function in the body’s repair process when we have an injury or an infection.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not so helpful.  Healthy cells are damaged. The inner environment of the entire body is affected.

You may not even know you have it as it silently contributes to the development of degenerative diseases and robs you of youthful function.

The type of diet that we select on a regular basis has a lot to do with this.

More and more folks are figuring out that the old advice to “eat low fat” is just plain dangerous, because it’s the sugars in our diet that mess with insulin production and create inflammation throughout the body.

2Processed foods and deep fried foods are also loaded with an overabundance of Omega-6 fats because the oils used are generally soy, corn, safflower or other polyunsaturated vegetable oils.  These oils imbalance the Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio and also contribute to inflammation.

My client is already choosing at least one great self-care strategy for managing his blood pressure by coming in (to see me!!) for craniosacral and massage therapy on a regular basis.  I gave him a few more tips to consider in addition, and I’ll share those with you in the next post.

 

In the meantime if you want to stay at your ageless best, I encourage you to always search for the cause of your physical symptoms before running to the doctor for a pharmaceutical solution.   And if you want my help figuring out what that might be, fill out the contact form here.

A Day in the Life of an Ageless Beauty

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“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be” – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou lived an extraordinary life and is someone I would consider an ageless beauty.  She was beautiful inside and out and didn’t accept the established ways of viewing things.

I don’t know what her self-care routine consisted of, but I propose that we adopt her belief about our ability to be amazing.

 And that we ditch what our culture regards as normal aging (read: disability, decline and dysfunction) and shoot for amazing, attractive, and admirable instead.

What might a day in the life of an ageless beauty look like?

 Here are some extraordinary self-care tips you can begin incorporating:

  • First thing when you wake up, think of 5 things you’re grateful for.2
  • Take a few minutes as you get out of bed to stretch in every direction and be sure to move your body in unaccustomed ways to loosen and lubricate all your connective tissue.
  • Have a cup of warm lemon or apple cider vinegar water to help counter acidity.
  • Use a tongue scraper before you brush your teeth.
  • Spend a few minutes in meditation – sitting or walking is fine.
  • To keep strong metabolism and good lungpower, perform up to 15 minutes of high-intensity intervals or a similar program.
  • End your workout with a few yoga poses. Or even just one.
  • On alternate days practice yoga instead of cardio.
  • Choose to incorporate vegetables at every meal: greens in your smoothies or omelets, salads, soups, stir fries.  Think of eating the rainbow of colors. There are so many interesting ways to prepare vegetables!
  • Get outside for at least 30 minutes every day to assist your circadian clock.
  • Take slow, deep breaths whenever you think about it throughout the day.
  • If something triggers your fight or flight system, pause to feel the sensations in your body and treat them with gentleness.
  • Spend time relaxing with people you love.
  • Find something to do that brings you joy.
  • And finally, make some herbal tea and…

“Drink your tea slowly, and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

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You don’t have to be “normal” by our culture’s standards of aging.  Trust that you can be an amazing ageless beauty. Believe it, act on it, and you will see it.

Can You Be A Health-Conscious Foodie?

“What do you eat? I mean, like in a typical day?”

I was putting on a workshop about Five Super-Powers for Ageless Beauty, so of course I was talking about healthy food choices as part of it.

Talking about what I personally eat wasn’t part of the presentation I’d planned. So, here I was – on the spot.

Let’s see. What did I eat today? I’d had a big smoothie for breakfast that consisted of hemp protein, maca, raw cacao powder, flax seeds, spinach, half a frozen banana, maybe a little coconut oil and a dash of vanilla.

For lunch I’d had a big mixed greens salad with radishes, carrots, beets, and tomato topped with chopped turkey and homemade vinaigrette dressing.

For dinner I was having homemade hummus with cucumber slices and some pear with almond butter, because that was what I’d brought for treats to the workshop. Not my typical dinner, mind you. But it was all I’d had time for.

My guests were worried that they couldn’t possibly enjoy their food if they suddenly started eating “healthy.” “We’re all foodies here!”

Well, guess what? I am too! My main creative outlet these days is to cook up something wonderful. I’m always experimenting in the kitchen and, as my husband is fond of saying, “We eat good.”

With all the debate about what type of diet is best – vegetarian, vegan, paleo, raw, low-fat, high-fat – I’ve come to the conclusion that no one diet is “right” and no one diet is even right for you all the time.

It’s best to pay attention to how you feel after eating – and in general – in order to begin to assess what your own body’s needs are. I do, however, like Michael Pollan’s advice from In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Eat food. As in, recognizable as such by previous generations. Not something generated in a laboratory with flavor enhancers and preservatives added. Not something with seventeen unpronounceable ingredients. Not genetically modified, artificially colored, irradiated, extruded, or formulated for convenience.

Not too much. We don’t need to go for super-sized anything. Other cultures limit quantities by using small plates to serve or simply by being aware of how full they are and stopping at, say, 80 percent capacity.

Mostly plants. This one is really key. People who eat plenty of vegetables along with modest amounts of fruits, legumes and grains get a host of benefits that can’t be had in any other way: vitamins, minerals, enzymes, co-factors, antioxidants, fiber – the list goes on.

So be a healthy foodie! Learning to incorporate plant foods at every meal satisfies the urge to be creative at the same time keeping us healthy and radiant.

Sure, it’s so much easier to grab a container of processed yogurt or a bag of chips or a frozen pre-made casserole. But the payoff for choosing real food on a consistent basis is more than worth the effort.1

As for dinner tonight? I threw together a quick marinade for chicken fajitas, then sliced onions, bell peppers, and zucchini for my husband to grill outside. I whipped up some guacamole to top it off and served everything over a bed of greens.

No deprivation there, I can assure you!

Do You Treat Yourself With Kindness?

fruitsThere’s a whole set of people who believe that if you eat healthfully all the time and exercise, it’s because you’re slightly narcissistic or you do it because you have a need to lose weight or have some particular health challenge. To them, treating yourself with kindness means indulging in whatever sugary, deep-fried or salty comfort food is at hand while relaxing in front of the TV.

Another set, of which I am a member, believes that you choose to eat healthfully (almost) all the time and exercise because it’s the only way to live a long, luscious, lovely life pursuing your dreams and desires. To this set, treating yourself with kindness means taking exquisite care of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual body and using time and resources to share a greater purpose with the world. We all have a choice.

My top picks for treating myself kindly?

beau• I prepare most of my own meals from scratch, using fresh, organic ingredients and including lots of veggies.
• I do some type of movement every day. It doesn’t always have to be an intense cardio workout to show your body love.
• I shun violent forms of entertainment and avoid listening to the news.
• I take time to connect with my emotions rather than shutting them down.
• I include some time for spiritual practice every day, be it meditation, gratitude practice, visualizations, or inspirational reading.

Being kind to yourself may not always be the easiest choice, but in nurturing your body and spirit in healthful ways, you will put yourself on the path to ageless beauty.

Those Eeeeekk! Moments

1Maybe you’ve had an eeeeeeekk! moment or two yourself lately and can identify with this. I was at an event recently – actually one of those fairly “Portlandia” style ones – called “Paint Nite” where the participants come together to get their “art” on by imbibing lots of palliative liquids while producing a painting as they follow the instructions of the local artist who’s leading the show.

Sounds like fun, right?  I was there at the invitation of a friend of mine, and since it had been a long time since I painted anything, I thought it could be good for me.  Besides, I would have a chance to listen in on what was on women’s minds.

Sure enough, the woman across from me – as soon as she heard what I was up to these days – confided that she had one of those eeeeekk! moments recently when her little dog was in her lap and she decided to take a photo.  She turned the camera to focus on the two of them and was suddenly aghast – whose neck was that?!

She then went into a spin considering her options, which in her mind were plastic surgery here (too expensive and the downtime would be ugly) and plastic surgery in Thailand (which would be cheaper and she’d be away from everybody during the recovery). She also regaled me with stories of peels she had, which took her out of commission for a week or so at a time.

3I’d like to propose another option. How about becoming aware of the habits and choices we make that contribute to unhealthy aging and old-before-your-time skin and then choosing differently?

These are the most common hijackers of healthy radiance:

• Dis-stress
• An unhealthy diet
• Lack of appropriate exercise
• Prescriptions meds
• Exposure to toxins and pollutants
• Nutrient deficiencies

Want to get the most bang for your buck beauty-wise? Make sure you engage in regular – let me repeat – regular exercise! I just read a somewhat shocking figure in the current AARP magazine (April/May 2014) that JAMA Internal Medicine reported that only 35 percent of boomers exercise regularly and more than half have no routine at all.

joggingThat’s sad because exercise is one of the best ways to manage cortisol levels and to tone, not just our muscles, but also our skin.  Exercise triggers the production of one of the most important antioxidants in the body – glutathione – which slows down the aging process and helps ward off wrinkles and sagging.  Exercise boosts the natural production of collagen, which improves skin thickness.  Resistance training in particular helps build up muscles to create lifted, taut-looking skin.

Here’s something to be cautious of:  not all exercise is created equal.  Excessive cardio is not recommended!  Too much spinning or aerobics causes an overproduction of cortisol – your stress hormone – which is exactly what you don’t want for your skin or your waistline.